Specific Narrative Kinks: You do it to yourself

What do I mean by this:

This is situations in which the constrict has to put their own effort into their own torture. The key is that whatever torture they will be enduring, it will not happen if they don’t do this. (Something else might happen, but not this). Some examples from my own stories:

  • The constrict has to hold onto the pain inducing device being used. (If they let go, the pain would stop).
  • The constrict has to cast an agony-beam type spell on themselves.
  • The constrict has to perform sufficiently well at a different task in order to ‘earn’ the torture (sometimes the task could be ‘asking for it’, as long as the possibility of not doing well enough is existent).
  • The constrict has to do something physical to themselves (say, stab themselves, or touch something hot enough to burn).

Relations:

This generally happens in situations of nonconsensual consent. In nonconsensual consent, the constrict, in a situation that brings then suffering, genuinely prefers that situation to the other options they have. Here, this is also the case – that is why the constrict will do what they will be doing – but rather than the situation then just happening to them, they have to put their effort behind their choice. For category 1 nonconsensual consent, this is generally a case of threat – often in my own stories the principal has threatened to torture someone else instead of the constrict, and the effort is required to have that not happen. For category 3 nonconsensual consent, a constrict who, for instance, feels they should be tortured as punishment might be required to give this effort to ‘earn’ their atonement.

A lot of my emotion-type kinks show up in this one. Struggling against yourself; pouring anything and everything you can into something with the threat of failure hanging over you; the vehemence feeling of it; the tension between willing and able and having to confront how wanting something, no matter how hard, will not necessarily make you able to do it, and that even when you are able it’s not going to come free.

Actionable counterpart:

At the moment, this falls among the things that I either can’t do, or have to navigate a psychological minefield around, because that’s a problem I’ve been having. However, looking not at that, in terms of appeal, yes this is absolutely something I would want to try having in a role-play. (The ‘performing task well enough’ version seems the most practical to be used that way). Actionably, it would be the vehemence, and the getting to put myself in that space, that would be/is the greatest draw.

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A pile of good things and a pile of bad things: partitioning terminology

{Originally posted on my tumblr on Thurs Feb 6 2014}

In our world, there are a lot of very broad terms that, in what they are used to label, involve both awesome ideas, helpful things, and good people – and also abuses, problems, and horrible and harmful things. As far as I’ve been able to tell, people who use these terms but are at least to some extent aware of this situation tend to take one of three approaches for dealing with this.

1) Use the term exclusively for the bad things, and separate out the good things.
As an example, I read a story by an author who does this for therapy. She thinks therapy is useless and generally problematic. However, in the same story, the people trying to help the main character talk about how it is important for him to have someone to talk to who will value him, and also take him to a person who can teach him techniques for emotional regulation (like meditation). These things are explicitly said to be not therapy.

2) Use the term exclusively for the good things, and separate out the bad things.
This is the approach people with a ‘if it wasn’t consensual, it wasn’t sex, it was rape’ conceptualization are taking.

3) Use the term for both the good things and the bad things.
So, therapy can be abusive, but doesn’t have to be, it can be unhelpful and it can be helpful. Consensual sex and sex that is rape can both be called sex. Etc.

Personally, approach 3 is the one I usually take. I find it more useful in letting me talk about both bad and good things that other people (or society) use the term for without getting into a terminology discussion or getting everyone confused because of it. I find it more useful in navigating things that aren’t black and white – maybe I went to see a therapist and it was both problematic and helpful. And I find it less of an issue of singling some things out – therapy is hardly the only relationship that can be abusive and can be positive. Kissing and other types of interactions can be consensual or not just as much as sex can. Etc.

But, regardless of which version someone prefers, the thing that it’s important to watch out for is when people end up talking past each other because they’re taking different approaches, and aren’t thinking about this difference.

Current Thoughts: Consent, part 2 – internal and external

{Originally posted on my tumblr on Tues Jan 21 2014}

When people talk about consent, they often use the word to mean two different things. One of them is internal consent, which is what I talked about in part 1. The other one is external consent, which is communication about the internal state of consent. It is important to recognize that it is internal consent that matters. External consent is necessary because since consent is an internal state, the only way anyone but the person experiencing it can know about it is if they are told. To discuss this, I make a table with the four possibilities.

1.External consent is yes
|| Internal consent is yes
2.External consent is not yes
|| Internal consent is yes
3.External consent is yes
|| Internal consent is not yes
4.External consent is not yes
|| Internal consent is not yes

Cases 1 and 4 are the simple cases.
In 1, the person is in a state of consent and has communicated this, so things can happen.
In 4, the person is not in a state of consent and has either communicated this, or simply not communicated anything affirmative, so things should not happen.

Case 2 comes up a lot when people talk about consent. My thoughts on it are as follows.
First, since it is impossible to distinguish case 2 from case 4 from the outside, it is not ethical to proceed on a lack of external consent in the hopes that case 2 is the true one. This relates to a concept from statistics: the two kinds or errors possible here vary inversely, so you use prioroties to decide how much of each you’re willing to permit. Since according to my system of ethics, the priority is to avoid violating consent whenever possible, as many cases as might happen of not acting in case 2 (even though there was internal consent for this) are permitted in order to avoid cases of acting in case 4 (and violating someone’s consent). Therefore anyone who does proceed against external consent is doing something wrong, even if internal consent turns out to have actually been present.
Second, people who have acted in what turned out to be a case 2 is what I call ‘Schrödinger’s rape’ or ‘you are only not a rapist bcause you got very lucky’ {substitute words other than rape/rapist for when the violation is not sexual}. This is like sticking a gun out of your window and firing repeatedly into the street, but it turning out that you didn’t actually hit anyone. Less damagae occured than could have, which is good, but this does not make the action less wrong.

Case 3 is the most complicated one. It is one we want to do everything possible to avoid, but at the same time the only way to avoid it entirely is to never go forward with anything at all, and this isn’t possible. My general conclusion, ethically, is that the more likely case 3 is to occur, the more measures have to be taken against it. This is why I think that as long as we live in the society and culture we do, it is necessary to reassure people you might be asking something of that no is perfectly acceptable, and as OK as a yes. This is one of the areas where, if someone gives external consent but I feel there is something wrong, it is my ethical responsibility to do something about this and not simply proceed, and possibly to end up deciding not to proceed at all. This is why there are situations where the final determination does end up being ‘it is never alright to do this even if the person says yes’ (for instance, statuatory rape), because the chances of case 3 occuring are too high.