What if your partner does not consent?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

This blog entry is part of the series on BDSM and psychology

Lately I watched a documentary on transgender persons that touched me very much. I have to admit in advance, that the Dominion in general and Sir Cameron in particular is very open minded to most sort of sexual deviance and wishes to be supportive to transgender, transsexual and cross-dressing persons.

Yet, what we shall discuss in this blog is not the theory of gender and sex, nor the possible sexual orientations of LGBTQ persons, but that of their relationship with their partners. For as far as BDSM is concerned, I think we might learn a lesson by the old instrument of analogy. After all, whatever brand of sex or sexual identity you are in too, consenting partners will always be an issue; particularly with kink as it forms one of the criteria by which we regard ourselves as sane or as sick.

As ever, we are exploring, not rejecting. Please feel no offence when we address things that might hurt you; it is not intended.

The fear of being a 'not-normal' person
This might be a tough thing to understand, but whatever issue comes up that involves a gender role, sexual orientation, fetish or kink, most people in our society, neighbourhood, friends and relatives still react on any deviation with disbelief, rejection, repulsion or fear. How much this may hurt, I have always pleaded to remain tolerant, also to those who are not showing tolerance towards us.

Beside, even amongst kinky insiders, old age beliefs regarding gender duality and the classical male-female roles are still very much alive. One of the most frequent questions I get when I admit that I – as a sadist - play kinky scenes with both men, women and transgender persons, is that if I am a homosexual person. My answer is always the same; my whip has no gender.

Yet, I of course understand the need for labels and I use them frequently in this blog. As BDSM theorist one can simply not write adequately without them. On the other hand, a label as a theoretical description is mainly for clarification of a particular urge or behaviour, as a person we are always much more than just this or that.

Are such questions wrong?
Basically, I do not think so. For a start we may simply conclude, that by asking such a question - regarding sexual orientation, perversions being sick or the fear that we will get off track even more – can be a genuine one. It may be that our worldviews collide, it may be an expression of worry, it may be an expression of intolerance; but it is a mere fact that many people carry misconceptions and by being insulted we lose the opportunity to explain. In addition, we force ourselves in the defence, a role that gives us less power and less satisfaction, as we most likely react negative while we feel hurt.

This is one of the points that will be very much depending on where you as a kinkster or person that is outing a sexually different role do live; what place, what culture and in what family circumstances.

The younger generations who grew up with more sexual freedoms as their parents might find many things a bit far-fetched or not an issue at all. I pleases me if that is the case, because it means you are freer as many in the scene actually are or can be.

In the documentary there was a transgender person who outed transsexually as male to female, and who had real fear of being a homosexual. Now, we all know that is nothing to be afraid of, but for this woman, being regarded as a same-sex oriented man felt wrong. So, I do emphasize, in her case, her fear was understandable. Unfortunately, she was married and had children. So once she outed her spouse and her child refused her choice, rejected her sexuality and eventually kept calling her by her old male name. Which, of course, is an utter insult and shows how intolerant, discriminating and hateful people can be, even those you love and care for.

This is the kind of pain many kinks and LGBTQ can understand, as most of us have experienced this kind of reactions and thus we know how it hurts.

Why is consent such an issue?
In my last blog I stated that; “generally speaking we can regard kink as sick when we lose control over our urges and get other people involved without their consent. So we can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy BDSM depending on the presence of mutual consent. Not consenting BDSM is dangerous and can lead to the kind of situations that are used by non-kinks to label that what we do as sick.”

I have to admit, that we – including polyamory, kink, LGBTQ - sometimes still are regarded ‘sick perverts’, even when we play sane, safe and sound and in full consent with our play partners. And here is a novelty that we use in the Dominion. It is not a real novelty, but nonetheless an extension of what is generally regarded as consent, in the sense, that we involve all the partners we are in a relationship with.

This means, that when you are in the position that your partner does not agree with your urges, you will have to negotiate in order to keep your relationship alive. It should be very clearly communicated that this goes both ways. We regard it as poor play when we cheat on our partners, as we give up on them, pursue only our private pleasures and not the wellbeing of our partner(s) and our relationship with them.

We can still love our partner, take care of them, have sex, pay for the mortgage, play soccer with the kids, even when our sexual preference changes. Basically it is an inner development that we more often as not have not sought or opted for. Change is an inherent property of life and not all chances are pleasurable or desirable.

Feelings of guilt, loneliness, anger, pain and despair are understandable and often also justified. What is not justified is the refusal of change. If you e.g. discover at 38 that you are a bi-sexual submissive, this does not mean that your partner has similar feelings, nor should they have. What you however should expect is to be taken seriously with your urges. Love is not unconditional, nor loyalty, but honesty always works best.

Consider, when you bottom with a person of your sex, in what do you actually ‘cheat’ if your partner does not wish to top, nor a sex-change, so in what is that person justified in feeling betrayed? And why is being faithful always connected with sex?

Most likely, the clue will lie in their vision regarding the mutual future, in their perception of the quality of the relationship or in their beliefs perhaps. All perfectly understandable, but it turns out to be a very individual motivation, driven by what your partner loses, feels being taken away from them or by what they regard as sexually unacceptable.

As any person, your partner – and remember partners usually partner for a reason – is entitled to their opinion, but so are you. In an equal partnership, or a partnership of equals there is no other way to deal with change as to speak and argue about it. By seeking to communicate your own needs, you show that you take both your urges and your partner seriously and meanwhile also value your partner’s opinion and consent. By keeping silent, by ‘cheating’ and by living a double life, you harm yourself, your relationship and your reputation. It is not worth it.

By being open to your partners, you show the wish to be at par with them. If they simply reject you and throw you out of the house, they do not see that the other way around. Just like we do towards them, our partners have the obligation to take care of us. By labeling us as perverts, sick or sinners, they are actively seeking justification to move away from their own promises.

In that case, we can regard the ‘label’ as an expression of intolerance, irrespective or it is socially, politically or religiously founded. We can do so, because we hurt no one, take our responsibility and make use of our right to sexual self-expression. There is no reason to feel less humane as others, no medical reason, no ideological reason and no practical reason, as we do not bother them at all.

As with religious intolerance, we can also regard sexual intolerance as an act of fundamentalism.

Yes, but …
No but’s here, I think. Not enabling consenting adults to privately live out their own chosen sexual identity is simply not an act that shows respect to nature’s diversity, the freedom of thought and the very human pursue of sexual happiness. Period.

When your partner, your parents, your friends, your colleagues, your children cannot accept you as who you are, while privately acting as a consenting adult, they are simply being fundamentalist. They may have their reasons for their convictions, but what they actually are doing is to say that their ideas, their beliefs, their urges are more important than ours, that we are not equal in worthiness, that we are not equal in our freedoms and that we are not equal in our rationale.

It will be obvious, that fundamentalist still regard their views as superior, and they may, but they do not have to become a fundamentalist. I know many people who think that my way of life is not working – yet, they do not wish to condemn me, to reject me or to limit my freedoms, as long as I respect their freedoms too.

I have personally been in the situation that my partners eventually could not live with the fact that I am who I am. Some rejected me because I am a sadist, even when I had no BDSM-relationship with them. Other rejected me because I am polyamory, even when I had been open and honest and even sexually faithful and loyal with them. It was not even by my acts that I was rejected, but simply because of my convictions.

Who is poor?
The answer will be obvious; the fundamentalist is poor, because they have not a factual basis for their assumptions – like scientific evidence, a psychologically relevant diagnosis or non-consenting behaviour that harms others – but only an opinion.

We should – in general - respect each other’s opinion, for as far as we have a warranted argument for it, and we even could respect opinions that are unfavourable to us, as long as we are not being forced to live according to their assumptions to what is a healthy sexual expression.

I do not force anyone to have a sex-life like I have it, or even a sex-life at all (and there seems to be quite an unhappy lot in that situation, despite the abundance of opportunities and love available). I do respect the public place and do not display overtly obvious perversions – at least not to the extend as normal television programs or advertising do show stereotypical heterosexual binary gendered macho crap that contain the many lies that make the – at least small - majority of our fellow citizens rather frustrated when it comes to sex and relationships.

Only in this blog, I get rather outspoken. And those in opposition to it, the cross that delivers you is at the upper right corner of this screen.

In this blog I argued about the importance of consent. Not only between those we play with, but with regard to all persons we have an (intimate/romantic) relationship with. I suggested that the pursuance of sexual happiness is legitimate and humane. In order not to do this at the cost of others, I stressed the importance of communication and the mutual respect that we as partners should have; this includes that our partners know what we feel and what we do. Finally, I emphasised the notion of equality in having a right to one’s opinion. When we do not agree, we should part as friends. When we find a work-around, our relationship has gained, not lost. Being open, flexible and vulnerable, is always more difficult, but ultimately better as sacrificing a working relationship for mere ideology.

As always, I wish you good luck on your journeys, in- and outside of the dungeon.

Enjoy – Sir Cameron