You Are Not Doing It Right

If you read a lot of “subbie girl” blogs (that’s my internal shorthand for blogs written by submissive women, no matter where they are on the lifestyle spectrum between “he spanks me on his birthday, not fair but I love it!” to “24/7 chained in the septic tank and and if I were only a better slavegirl it would be licked clean by now”) you’ll notice that they seem to get an enormous amount of “you’re not doing it right” comments:

blowjob slavegirl is not doing it right

I honestly don’t know what the fuck is up with that, although I suspect it has something to do with these constructed terms in BDSM (terms like “master”, “slave”, and even “submission”) that each of us has to construct for ourselves because there’s no accepted “social consensus” meaning. So you’ve got a bunch of people throwing around words that have intensely personal meanings, but none of the meanings are the same. Mix together folks who are still trying to construct the meanings for themselves with folks who have “made up their mind” and are trying to get their meanings accepted as the social consensus, stir in a dose of youthful hubris and a dash of internet anonymity, and you get “you’re not doing it right” blog comments.

Or, at least, that’s my theory. This post was inspired by some comments Kaya’s master made on the phenomenon:

One thing that I find hard to swallow at times is that someone can come on here and read the blog and make a snappy decision that we are or are not doing it right. That I am or am not a good Master/Dom and she is or is not a good slave. If this blog was a book, it would be like the readers only get to read maybe one or two pages of each chapter, when each chapter should consist of scores of pages. That’s not enough to make judgments like this one.

I’m torn by that remark. At one level, it’s manifestly self-evident. You can’t get a fair picture of someone’s lifestyle from dipping into their blog. Not only are you only getting one or two pages from each chapter, but most blogs don’t have all the chapters, and most readers don’t start at the beginning and read all of the ones that are there. So “you’re not doing it right” comments are both unfair, and silly.

But, and here’s why I’m torn, it’s important to remember that judgment can be both an internal action and an external communication.

Judgment in One’s Own Mind

The first part of judging is almost involuntary, and cannot (should not?) be avoided. Is this a blog I want to read? Is this a blog I want to link to? Am I comfortable with what’s going on, on this blog, comfortable enough to want these characters in my mental life? How do I feel about recommending these writings to other people?

You can “reserve” this kind of judgment to an extent, and read more while you make up your mind, but it’s not always healthy to do so. Besides, you’ve got to make up your mind eventually, if your participation (even as a reader) is going to be more than the shallowest sort of voyeurism.

Sure, it’s not fair in some abstract sense to make this kind of judgments on the basis of such shallow data, but it’s the only data we’ve got. Judgment is, accordingly, both necessary and inevitable.

Judgment As Communication

Here’s the secret that many “netizens” have not yet learned: it’s possible to keep one’s judgments to oneself. Telling myself “I don’t want to read that guy’s blog, his view of women is really twisted” is one thing. Telling some happy submissive woman on her own blog “you’re a terrible slave because you don’t powder your master’s balls with corn starch after you suck him off” or “you never seem to recite The Twelve Mantras Of Perfect Submission, are you sure you’re A Real Slave Girl?” is just rude, plus, it makes the commenter look stupid.

The “rude” part should be self-evident. It’s not a matter of phrasing, either. No matter how politely you put it, anything that communicates “you’re not doing it right” is rude. It’s the expression of the sentiment that’s rude, not the words you use. (Saying “no offense” does not help; the offense is inherent.)

The “stupid” part is explained by Kaya’s master’s observation: You just don’t have enough information about other people on the internet to be confident in the negative judgments you make about them. Sure, you’ve got to judge in the privacy of your own head — we can’t not do this — but you should always be aware that you’re doing so without enough info. Which means, yeah, it’s “stupid” to open your mouth and say anything that might expose your (almost certain to be) wildly inaccurate judgments to a broader audience.

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8 comments on “You Are Not Doing It Right”:

PJ commented on April 10th, 2008 at 1:23 pm:

Okay, now somebody has *got* to start a LOLslaves site. That pic is just too funny. :)

Anonymous Coward commented on April 10th, 2008 at 3:44 pm:

Extremely well put. And much more eloquent then I expected from you ;-)

Keep up the good work!

Rope Guy commented on April 10th, 2008 at 11:09 pm:

Well, gee thanks, AC. I guess I’m flattered?

Costigan commented on April 10th, 2008 at 11:38 pm:

You start off with lots of people doing their stuff. When the start talking to each other, they need some common points of reference so they all know roughly what’s being talked about.

Now here’s the really stupid bit. Some new people come along and start thinking that these definitions, invented for convenience to help communication, are hard-and-fast rules meaning “if you want to a dom/sub/… you must behave like this.”

NO! Don’t be stupid! Do whatever works for you, let others do whatever works for them and have fun. These words are there for our benefit, not the other way around.

gracie commented on April 11th, 2008 at 12:45 am:

Well, Like I have always said. There is no bondage police as long as no one dies, get maimed and is consenting what does it matter what the hell you do.

You work out a relationship that works for you, not the general public. I like listening to 80s rock when I set a scence, very un bondagey but i like it and thats what matters really.

kaya commented on April 11th, 2008 at 8:16 am:

Thank you!

I completely agree with the internal judgment. Don’t read it, don’t link to it, don’t pass it on to your e-friends. We all do that.

But this business of telling someone how they *should* interact in their own relationship is cah-razy. Though I don’t kid myself into believing that most of those types of comments come for any other reason than that I play into them. My fault entirely for engaging in the drama. Which does not negate their rude stupidity, mind you. It perhaps speaks to mine though. ;-)

It’s interesting to me how often I hear that I’m running an “open forum” and that I’m somehow obligated to allow those comments. That by having a public blog, it’s not only expected that I give people a voice no matter how negative it may be, but that it’s also an indication of *my* poor character for becoming defensive or irritated with it. I’m not sure how that works in their minds. *shrug*

I’m also in agreement with you about the terminology. It’s a frequent discussion that I have, trying to come up with any sort of agreed upon definition of the labels. But it’s simply not going to happen I’m afraid.

I’m gonna link to this because this speaks to everyone dealing with that sort of ignorant judgment. Thank you very much for addressing it here.

And lolslaves? ;-)

kethry{BP} commented on April 11th, 2008 at 1:03 pm:

the way i think of it is: would i say what i’m about to say to the person in RT, i.e. to their face, in front of yet other people, and not feel embarrassed if i saw them RT again? thats the acid test, to me. if i couldn’t, then i don’t type it out. pure and simple. took a while to figure that out, but i’ve been on the net now 9 years so.. *shrug*. you learn. eventually. :) I’m not sure my method would work for others though, as i’ve got a lot of english reserve and fear of embarrassment. if you have no fear of getting in someone else’s face, then i guess it wouldn’t. :)

interesting blog though, thanks!

slave d. commented on April 14th, 2008 at 6:49 am:

Amen! We are already at least one step removed from “acceptable” sexuality, so why escape from one artificial norm just to adopt another? I’m reminded of the politically correct people of the eighties and early nineties (okay, I’m that old) who were every bit as reactionary and fundamentalist as the reactionary fundamentalists whom they made such a big point of opposing.

When I want to post, I first ask myself whether I am adding to the discussion. Having to say something is not the same thing as having something to say.

Then again, setting a scene to eighties rock is just wrong. (ducks and covers)

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