Why I don’t believe in condemning feelings

{Originally posted on my tumblr on Thurs Dec 26 2013}

So, I said in my ‘Brainstorm: Categories of kinks connected-to-real-world-bad-things‘ post that

It would be helpful to have a more concise word for this, but I am deliberately not using ‘problematic kinks’ because a big part of my view of this is that that’s not correct. I believe in analyzing feelings and noticing connections to bad things in the world, and working with that. I believe in condemning violating actions. However, I don’t believe in condemning feelings on their own, and to me kinks fit into that.

and since that’s a pretty important part of how I approach all this, I wanted to elaborate on it.

Important definitions:
-I continue to use ‘kink’ here in the ‘have a thing for this’ meaning. If I want to talk about stuff people actually do instead, I will say ‘practicing a kink’.
-I use ‘feelings’ here to mean ‘mental experiences your brain gives you that you can’t directly consciously control’. So, jealousy is a feeling, ‘feeling good’ is a feeling, when I have to come back and make sure I’ve turned the stove off three times in a row because otherwise I can’t stop thinking that maybe it’s not off after all, that’s a feeling. And ‘this is hot to me’, ‘this gives me kinkfeelings’ etc are also feelings.
(sidenote: if you personally can directly consciously control these things, that’s excellent for you. I can’t, I know that plenty of other people can’t, and if you want to argue about this, then please go think about being self-centered and ableist, and how the only person who has first-hand experience of their mind is the person whose mind it is).
-I use ‘condemning’ to mean any form of ‘you are doing something wrong by doing this’.

So, all that out of the way, here’s why I don’t believe in condemning feelings, with the specific example of ‘here’s why I don’t believe in telling people they’re doing something wrong by having a kink’.

1. It does harm
Believing that you’re doing something wrong/are a bad person/etc for something you can’t actually do anything about is very psychologically harmful. It can also very directly lead to other kinds of harm. People stay in abusive relationships because who else could love someone like them, people don’t feel like they can expect to have their boundaries respected in play because ‘if only horrible people are into this, then how can I expect that’.

2. It isn’t useful
A very major purpose of telling people they’re doing something wrong is trying to bring about a situation where they’re not doing it anymore. But since in this case, there isn’t the option of ‘just stop doing it’, that purpose can’t be achieved this way.

3. It blurs the line around actually violating things
Condemning kink feelings along with actually problematic kink practices blurs the line between the two. It’s possible to have kinks connected-to-real-world-bad-things and practice them in a way that violates people, and it’s possible to have kinks connected-to-real-world-bad-things and value consent, respect boundaries, and treat people as people. This difference matters, and saying things like ‘you’re all the same, you’re all scum’ erases and minimizes that.

4. It makes it harder for people to deal with such feelings in good ways
What feelings they have isn’t something people can control. How they think about those feelings, what examiniation they give them, and what actions they make is something people can control. And recieving support instead of condemnation is integral to people being able to do this kind of examining work and take those actions that are congruous with their own well-being and with the world.

I have kinks connected-to-real-world-bad-things, and other feelings connected-to-real-world-bad-things. I want to examine them, and think about them, and decide what actions I want to take with that thinking in mind. And I want other people to be able to do this as well, and I want to live in a world that is welcoming to this.

2 thoughts on “Why I don’t believe in condemning feelings”

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