This will probably sound odd, coming from a guy who has admitted to writing erotica with a kinky twist and has near-encyclopedic (well, compared to most of the population) knowledge of the wide spectrum of fetish sex (though not even a fraction as impressive a record of dabbling in them), but I think people who operate on the fringe often deserve a second or third look in life.
I don’t mean that they should be shunned, persecuted, assumed to be horrible people or anything like that. But I do understand and even advocate the need for us to be aware of them and to try to understand their motivations, whether bad or good.
More importantly, I think we need to do that in both directions.
That is, not only do those of us who don’t share the alternative lifestyle or fringe behavior need to pay attention to the person, but also those who share such interests or support those people need to also step back and assess things at times.
It isn’t about profiling or pigeonholing or stereotyping. What I mean is that we all need to think more critically and not make assumptions that either demonize or deify certain behaviors.
This came up in my mind today thanks to a woman I know about who claims she’s being persecuted for wanting to home-school her child. I won’t name any names for a number of reasons, but her story is fishier than a working oceanside wharf. Many other home-schoolers and un-schoolers have rallied around her but I’m not so sure she deserves their blind and unwavering support. The problem is that her supporters, and supporters of such educational practices in general, will defend one of their own at the drop of a hat in many cases without really knowing the person’s situation.
Would they do the same if a pastor of a small church was engaging in questionable behaviors, acting paranoid and trying to isolate young people from family and society?
Because some small churches are toxic. They might be cults. They are sometimes very small and off the mainstream track because they espouse crazy things and seek to promote and instill unhealthy mindsets. Most small churches are probably small because they simply don’t have many members and finding a church home that fits well is hard, but some are just hotbeds of wrongness. For that matter, some big churches are pretty sketchy, too, but while they promote groupthink at times, they don’t do as good a job of isolating people from the world.
Likewise, there are parents who advocate home-schooling and un-schooling because they are themselves dealing with issues…or, perhaps, NOT dealing with them and letting them fester. If a parent has mental health issues and decides to take a child or children out of the mainstream to teach them and protect them, what might in fact be happening is that they are isolated their children and inculcating in them a whole new generation of mental illness and skewed world views.
No, there is nothing wrong with home-schooling or even un-schooling, though I think the latter is way too unstructured for most kids and I think few parents can pull it off well. Hell, the wife and I have considered the possibility of home-schooling at some point for at least a defined period of time. But we shouldn’t be quick to defend home-schoolers and un-schoolers simply because they practice a similar behavior to one we also practice or support.
And since I started off with sexual examples and metaphors, why not lob a grenade over in that camp as well?
If someone is into bondage and domination stuff, that doesn’t mean they should support every dominant person out there or encourage every submissive to do what their master or mistress says. Some of those relationships are thinly veiled domestic abuse, and we shouldn’t assume everything is peachy and fully consensual and healthy simply because the acronym BDSM has been slapped on it, no matter how sexually accepting any of us are, myself included.
And there are so many other fringe and alternative sexual behaviors, too. Some of which I’ve tried, some of which I’d like to, some of which I’m not so sure about and some of which I wouldn’t do without a gun being held to my head (and possibly not even then). If you happen to get involved with someone who has a kink you don’t share, you should probably think long and hard about that. Not to make the person out to be a deviant or freak (though that may be true at times) but to assess how important that kink is to the person and whether or not you can be in a relationship that might require that kink to be explored in order for the relationship to survive.
Also, to make sure the person you are with isn’t a freak who’s a danger to you. This is good advice in general, but what I see is that vanilla people are too quick to think a fetish means deviancy, and kinky people are too willing to assume fellow kinksters are OK when some of them are seriously touched in the head.
So, critical thinking, folks. Please use it.
Don’t rush to defend people with whom you agree, because some of them are deranged or dishonest. Also, don’t rush to judge people with whom you don’t share views.
But above all, be aware of who is around you and why they are doing what they do. Paranoia isn’t cool, but awareness is. We should question everything. Not everything all the time and in great deal, but we should question anyone’s motivations.
And sometimes that includes our own.