In my travels I’ve noticed a notion, a worldview or philosophy creeping into our discussions with more and more frequency. It is the notion that there really is no objective frame of reference within the kink community. That freedom in its purest sense embraced is the freedom to do anything and to be anything at all. And if we truly are inclusive, if we truly are seekers of truth then we must conclude as often as possible that every man and every woman has the ability and the right to pursue what ever strikes their particular fancy. And perhaps even more importantly than that notion, is the notion that whatever a person comes up in their pursuit of getting their particular fancy struck as it were – is great and wonderful and not to be denied.
As a parent – I can remember the stuff that my kids brought home from school in the name of Art (and being a Dad that keeps everything, I probably have physical examples) lumps of stuff festooned with glitter, random groupings of dried macaroni in various patterns, the odd ‘turkey’ around the holidays the approximate shape and size of a child’s hand. I accepted these all with a heart of gratitude and a smile.. they truly were Art, not for any aesthetic reasons but because they had been created at the hand of my kid whom I love – but what do grade school art projects have to do with definitions in the Power Exchange community? Roll with me for a minute – I do have a point here.
Fast forward a number of years and now I find myself a stranger in a strange land, so to speak. Not as parent to child certainly because we are talking about the adventures of other adults. But as one of those that have been around a fair amount of time, I’m noticing with more frequency suspicious ‘lumps’ of philosophical thought with regard to our kink community. Random groupings of letters and such with obscure meanings and yes even the occasional figurative ‘turkey’ in our midst. Relative newcomers to the scene seem to be more confused about basic meanings and much like the kids in my earlier example are seeking validation from both peers and elders, as we all do from time to time. But this phenomenon does not seem to be confined to those that are new to WIITWD. There are those that have been around for a while that seem to suffer with it as well.
The point of confusion that I’m referring to seems to be a confusion of the basic freedom that each and every one of has for self-actualization with the disturbing tendency toward re-defining what we see around us (and even our own actions) in ways that fit our personalities and desires in a manner more to our liking. I like to believe that everything has a Name – sometimes it’s a secret…other times it slaps you upside the head, but a foundational characteristic of that intrinsic Name is that it is not interchangeable with another Name or meaning. It is bound to the item so Named and is a part of it. Imagine if you will a Horse. A horse standing in a field of tall grass, contentedly grazing under an azure sky. Add sunshine and perhaps some white clouds if you like.
Now, no doubt we each ‘see’ a different horse in a different field in our ‘minds eye’….however I believe that virtually none of us are going to quarrel over what a Horse is, or tall grass, white clouds, sunshine, etc… Its not a bad generalization to point out the fact that everyone knows what these things are. They all have a Name…attached to a set of definitions that is somehow tethered to our collective reality – similar to the ‘geas’ of mythology, the Name is bound to the essence of a thing so Named and cannot be separated from it. A horse is, well….a Horse of course. Anyway…..
Why then are some in our community so easily led down the path of ‘anything goes’ to believe in a world where Names are interchangeable, depending on the whim of the persons involved? Like incredible creatures of legend now made flesh, we now are compelled to accept such fanciful archetypes as additions to the M/s pantheon like……..The Master who Cannot even Utter The Word Slave, and is horrified at the prospect of owning such…along with the Dominant Slave and the submissive master and their friends the Slave Who Eschews Ownership and her sister the Submissive that Respects No One.
The definition of Master; a person with the ability or power to use, control or dispose of something. An owner of a slave. Someone eminently skilled or knowledgeable about something. Someone whose teachings are followed by other people.
But what about the Master who doesn’t want to own a slave, or isnt particularly skilled or knowledgeable? What of them? How come we cant just let them be – let the Name Master be redefined as whatever the person speaking wants it to be, that day. Isnt that okay?
I say no. It isnt okay. Not by a long shot.
Why isnt it okay? Because Master is a Name. The term ‘Master’ means something. It cannot by definition mean everything else that is NOT Master at the same time. It just doesn’t work like that.
Dominant is a different Name than Master. They aren’t the same thing although they may have similar characteristics. Can one be Dominant and not a Master? Certainly.
To be Dominant; is to be ruling, governing or controlling; having or exerting authority or influence; occupying or being in a commanding or elevated position.
What of ‘slave’?
The basic definition of slave is a person that is the property of and wholly subject to another. Or a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person.
This too is a Name.
The person that says “I’m a slave, but I’m not in any way submissive” isnt a slave. Plain and simple. The Name slave defined, points to the fact that the person is under the domination of some influence or person. If one cannot identify as someone who is going to cotton to being under someone else’s domination then you cannot by definition be a slave. Simple. We cannot, nor should we redefine the essence of slave to accommodate all that which is NOT slave and still have the word continue to resonate, continue to retain its basic meaning.
Do not confuse self exploration and/or self actualization with the right and freedom to redefine.
Horses are not waffles. Apples although fruit aren’t pears and we cannot deny people that aren’t submissive their place in our community – nor would we want to. They too are somebody as the old rallying cry goes – and certainly persons worthy of respect and love and all the rest…but if they do not identify with basic qualities and/or definition of a slave they simply aren’t slaves. This isnt discriminatory, “One True Wayism” or anything of the sort. It is a statement of fact based upon commonly accepted definitions. Persons wanting to be masters that will not dominate, own another person or be an influence over others to any appreciable degree, or do the necessary work to become knowledgeable concerning their craft aren’t Masters. Period.
I’m sure there are those among us that are skeptical, that are unbelieving of something as objective as a simple truth. Perhaps 1+1 can in fact equal 4, using sufficiently high values of one in the equation. Insert your excuse here as to why anything can mean anything else – but isnt the fact that the disclaimer must be inserted into the discussion, the fact that the objective reality must be sufficiently explained away in order to admit the ‘new definition’ – isnt that indicative of something? When we were in school and we were asked that time honored old saw to “compare and contrast….” We groaned inside because it meant that we were going to have to THINK about what our next words were going to be. Many of us have forgotten those days but I suspect not all of us have. Think before you speak. Dont confuse inclusion with being obtuse – words are important and they do have specific meanings.
Remember beginning philosophy class? When we learned what nihilism was?
– An extreme form of skepticism; the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth.
I believe that this recent trend toward re-definition is little more than nihilistic wandering by people too lazy to do the real work of actually pursuing whatever it is that they want to achieve. The concept of achievement without work is so attractive that it is therefore much easier to try and redefine the Name under the banner of ‘freedom’ than it is to face the truth. Words can be sexy, trendy…attractive even. Perhaps its our sense of wanting to belong to a larger collective that drives us toward these nihilistic fantasies. But again – words do have meaning. It takes courage to stand alone and say “the word slave makes me uncomfortable. It doesnt resonate in my heart and I dont feel good saying it. I understand what it is – and that’s not what I want for myself. ”
I applaud people who have that type of conviction and will take that stand. And in my opinion that is far better a stance than spending one’s time trying to convince those around you that it is possible, if you turn your head sideways and squint really hard to be a non-submissive, dominant, insubordinate SLAVE.
Understand me – there is room in our community for the non-submissive, the Dominant, the insubordinate, bratty whatever-you-want-to-be. Those are fine qualities to display if that’s what gets you where you need to go. But dont expect the community to call that activity “modeling good slave behaviour.” And you shouldn’t be telling people that you’re a slave. Cause it isnt. And you’re not. It just doesnt fit – it reminds me of the guys in the two piece horse costume trying to ‘act’ horselike around other horses. Its hilarious at first – because the premise is SO absurd. Until you realize that the guys in the horse costume arent doing it for the laughs.
Then its not funny anymore.
Ok, spleen sufficiently vented.