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Copyright © 1998-2007 Roger J. Wendell.
I was having a conversation about the minutiae of consent as I detailed in a previous post, and the subject came up of personal rules we maintain for ourselves. I’d never made a detailed list of those before, and now seemed like a good time to start. :)
In my usage of the term “Respect”, I have been assuming the following definition, as quoted from Dictionary.app:
- respect |rɪˌspɛkt|
• due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others : respect for human rights.
This kind of respect is something which I feel we are all entitled to have, and which entitlement we are all born with. I do not believe this kind of respect must be earnt.
I am not using “Respect” to mean admiration or high regard for an individual. This kind of respect is something which I feel may be earnt.
In this, I make the distinction between respectful behaviour and respecful feelings. The “respect” I refer to below incorporates respectful behaviour.
Within my rules I am making the following presuppositions:
- I am not a risk to myself
- I am not a risk to anybody else
- My limits, boundaries, and requirements do not include any requirements for anybody else to sacrifice their own limits, boundaries, or requirements
- My respect for myself and others does not require others to sacrifice their respect for themselves or others
- My ethical code for my own behaviour does not require anybody to transgress their own ethical codes for their behaviour
- My requirements for how I am treated do not require anybody to transgress their own requirements for how they are treated
- I am always completely literally truthful with myself, and with others, to the outer limits of my ability and awareness
- I have the ability and desire to be completely truthful, whilst at the same time expressing that truth with respect
- I have the ability and desire to always be completely respectful without exception
- Being “Respectful” is not necessarily equivalent to being “Polite”, although it can be so
And now, having concluded the newsreel and cartoons, on to Our Feature Presentation….
And here we go, with my list of personal rules. I’m sure I may add to them in future, but these are the ones which I can come up with just at present.
Ok, on with the show! :)
- General Ethics, Respect, Opinions, And Judgements
- Prioritising myself first above everything and everyone else is my right, privilege, responsibility, and obligation
- I am entitled to expect my self-prioritisation to be respected without question, and without exception
- I must respect other people’s right, privilege, responsibility and obligation to prioritise themselves first above everything and everyone else, without question, and without exception
- My respect for other people’s self-prioritisation must include my own expectation that nobody should have to sacrifice their self-prioritisation for any reason whatsoever
- I may choose to temporarily set aside my self prioritisation for a limited time and for a specific reason, but I may not be required nor expected to do so
- I may request another person to temporarily set aside their self-prioritisation for a limited time and for a specific reason, but I may not require nor expect anybody to do so
- I must behave according to my own ethical code
- I am not required to behave according to anybody else’s ethical code
- I must behave respectfully to everybody without exception (this can include respectfully ceasing to interact)
- I am entitled to expect to be treated respectfully by everyone, without exception (which may include respectfully ceasing to interact)
- I am not required to act as a result of other people’s opinions
- I must respect other people’s entitlement to disregard my opinions
- I am not required to accept other people’s opinions
- I must respect the right of others to decline to accept my opinions
- I am entitled to disagree with others
- I must respect other people’s entitlement to disagree with me
- I am required to respond without judgment when other people speak, unless my judgement is requested, and I consent to offer it
- I am not required to accept or tolerate judgemental responses from others, unless I have specifically requested such responses
- My judgments are my own, and I am entitled to them, whether I express them or not
- I acknowledge that other people are entitled to their own judgements, whether they express them or not
- My judgments and/or opinions are not facts, and I must not present them as facts
- Other people’s judgments and/or opinions are not facts, and I am entitled to decline to accept or respond to them as if they were facts, however they are presented
- I am entitled to choose to give my consent to any request respectfully presented to me
- I am entitled to decline to consent to any request presented to me
- I may respectfully request the consent of others
- I must respect other people’s entitlement to decline to consent to those requests I make
- I am entitled to choose to consent to any person’s requests for me to limit my own behaviour
- I am entitled to decline to consent to any person’s requests for me to limit my own behaviour
- I may request that others consent to limit their behaviour in ways I specify, for reasons I specify
- I must respect that others may decline to consent to any requests I may make for them to limit their own behaviour
- I must keep any promises I consent to undertake
- I am entitled to expect that other people will keep any promises they consent to undertake
- I am entitled to decline to promise anything I do not consent to undertake
- I am entitled to expect that my choice to decline consent to promise will be respected
- I must respect others declining to promise anything they do not consent to undertake
- I am entitled to specify limits or conditions to any promises I consent to undertake
- I am entitled to expect that my specified limits or conditions to promises I undertake will be respected
- I must respect specified limits or conditions to promises undertaken by others
- If somebody has assumed my consent or promise without confirming that with me beforehand, I am nevertheless still entitled to decline my consent or promise
- I must not assume any consent or promise from others without confirming with them first that their consent or promise has been given
- I may only proceed based on consent which the individuals concerned have given me themselves
- If consent is presented to me via third parties, then I must check directly with the individuals concerned to ensure their consent with them before proceeding further
- If a third party consents on my behalf to another person, then I am entitled to expect that person to confirm my consent with me personally
- I must respect the clearly stated personal limits and boundaries for everyone without exception (which can include respectfully ceasing to interact), unless doing so would transgress my own personal limits and boundaries
- I am entitled to require and expect that my clearly stated personal limits and boundaries be respected by everyone, without exception
- I must express my limits, boundaries, and consent verbally and clearly if I expect them to be respected
- I am never required to justify my limits, boundaries, consent, judgement, or opinions to anybody else, although I can if I choose to
- I must respect that other people are not required to justify their limits, boundaries, consent, judgement, or opinions to me – I can respectfully ask them for their reasons, and I must respect their right to decline to answer
- I am entitled to protect myself when I consider that there is a risk that my limits, boundaries, or consent will be transgressed
- I must respect other people’s right to protect themselves when they consider that there is a risk that their limits, boundaries, or consent will be transgressed
- I am entitled to choose to respectfully disengage from any individual, at any time
- I must respect other people’s choice to respectfully disengage from me, at any time
- I must clearly and comprehensively specifiy my limits, boundaries, consent, and/or promises at the outset of any interaction to which those relate
- If other people have any limits, boundaries, consent, and/or promises which they require me to respect, then I am entitled to expect those people to clearly and comprehensively specify those at the outset of any interaction to which those relate
- If a situation arises where I must more completely specify or change my limits, boundaries, consent and/or promises, then I must not assume consent for the changes – I must separately negotiate those before continuing with the interaction
- If a situation arises where other people must more completely specify or change their limits, boundaries, consent and/or promises after an interaction has already commenced, and they expect me to respect those changes, then I am entitled to expect those changes to be explicitly specified to me, and my consent separately negotiated for each change before the interaction continues.
- I must not change my rules or add conditions without prior notice
- I am entitled to expect that other people will not change their rules or add conditions without prior notice
- I must confirm the consent of others for each change of rules or conditions I make
- I am entitled to confirm or decline my consent for each change of rules or conditions other people make
- I am entitled to decline to consent to any rule or condition changes
- I must respect other people’s choice to decline to consent to each change of rules or conditions I make
- I must assert my declining to consent, especially if my consent has erroneously been assumed without my confirmation
- I must not assume the consent of others for any rule or condition changes I make
- I cannot read minds
- I am entitled to expect that my inability to read minds is respected
- I must respect other people’s inability to read my mind
- I can only act and/or accommodate based on information which I have been given – and I am entitled to have that fact respected
- I must respect that others can only act and/or accommodate based on information which I have given them
- I cannot act and/or accommodate based on information which I have not been given – and I am entitled to have that fact respected
- I must respect that others cannot act and/or accommodate based on information which I have not given them
- I cannot act and/or accommodate based on information which has been assumed but not explicitly stated – and I am entitled to have that fact respected
- I must respect that others cannot act and/or accommodate based on information which has been assumed but not explicitly stated
- I am always solely responsible for my own behaviour
- I am never responsible for other people’s behaviour
- I may reasonably hold other adults to be responsible for their own behaviour
- My behaviour is never anybody else’s responsibility
- I must always be truthful with individuals – unless they represent a risk to myself or others, and an omission or a prevarication is necessary to protect myself or others
- I am entitled to expect others to be truthful with me, including notification of intended omissions
- My only acceptable reason to lie or mislead is if to tell the truth would put myself or others at risk, or increase an existing risk to health or safety
- I am entitled to decline to consent to any request from others to lie or mislead on another person’s behalf, unless I freely choose to consent to such a request on the basis of the health or safety of myself or others
- I must object to behaviour which I find unacceptable
- I am required to speak out when I observe behaviour which I feel is disrespectful to others, no matter what the source or target of that behaviour, unless doing so would put myself or others at risk or increase any existing risk
- If a way can be found to circumvent all known risks in order to speak out about a transgression, I must find that way, and speak out
- If I observe a person doing something which I feel is harmful to themselves or to others, I may choose to intervene, but I am entitled to decline to do so. However, the rule about speaking out always applies
- I am entitled to decline my consent to experience anything which I do not choose to endure
- I must respect that others are entitled to decline their consent to experience anything which they do not choose to endure
- I am entitled to choose to decline my consent to participate in any experience not of my choosing
- I am entitled to expect that my choice to decline my consent to participate be respected
- If my choice to decline my consent is not respected, I must assert (and keep asserting, if necessary) that my consent has not been given
- I must respect other people’s entitlement to decline their consent to participate in any experience not of their choosing
I suppose there’s a lot more, but that’s most of the basics of it. It seems a rather long list. I hadn’t made such a list before, so now seemed like a good time to do it. ;)
When it comes to people for whom I have chosen to undertake responsibility, such as any submissive whom I have accepted into my service, then in that case I do undertake a greater responsibility for them than I do for others, for which I am compensated by service of my choosing.
My personal rules differ slightly in my interactions with them, according to limits and boundaries which I negotiate separately and specifically with each individual.
I don’t regard that responsibility as a burden. The service I receive makes my life easier in so many ways, that the added responsibility doesn’t weigh heavily. If it did, I would have to reassess the service I was being offered, and ask myself if I felt the exchange was worth it to me.
Part of the deal I made with my kvetch, is that he undertook responsibilities to serve me, and I undertook responsibilities to care for his well being. I regard that as equitable. All indications from kvetch would appear to demonstrate that he feels similarly. :)
I feel that there is something childlike about submissives, and about my submissive in particular. And I do feel my role with him is somewhat supervisory-adult-like in nature. This does not feel onerous to me, but then, I suppose that’s part of what makes me a dominant. :)
But none of these extra responsibilities conflicts with any of the rules I have listed above. I may choose to endure things I might not otherwise accept, for a special reason and to benefit my submissives in specific ways, but I am not required to do so.
I watched an episode of Coupling which had been recommended as being very funny. I can see why some would find it funny. The entire premise of the humour was based on the fact that nobody was being honest and straightforward. There was quite a bit of not-respecting boundaries and transgressions of consent there as well. Limits were not clearly nor definitively expressed, and the whole thing was just a huge mess of negotiation fails and poor ownership of responsibility.
I think that programme is a rather excellent example of how relatively minor negotiation fails can lead to rather catastrophic consequences. I think it’s a good advertisement for meticulous, thorough, frequent negotiation.
I have problems enjoying social messes (even fictional ones) which result from the consequences of lies. So I didn’t really enjoy the episode, although I can certainly see why some would be able to identify with the characters and enjoy it immensely. I don’t ever behave that way, so I couldn’t identify with any of the characters.
I have a very strict policy on telling the truth, which includes not prevaricating or misleading or omitting relevant information. This doesn’t feel like it really benefits me most of the time, but it does allow me to live with myself.
The episode I mentioned may be watched in 5 parts, which I’ve handily linked to below.
Updates and additions to my list of Rules I Live By will be brought to you as and when they happen, possibly with the stories attached of why I’m adding them.
- **Update – 20 May 2008 – My thinking on these rules has most definitely improved over the past few weeks as a direct result of my experiences with one individual. Thanks to my experiences with this individual, I have been able to restate a lot of my existing rules so that they express my intentions with much greater accuracy. I was also able to add some new rules, which I felt added clarity to my list. I feel that these rewordings and additions reflect my significantly clearer thinking regarding my outlook, this post, and my list of Rules I Live By.
I would like to extend my profoundly sincere thanks to this individual, for being so very (however inadvertently) helpful.
Please accept my honest gratitude, if you know who you are. :)
**Update 2 – 30 July 2008 – Added rules about self-prioritisation.
**Update 3 – 25 January 2009 – Added rules about consent via third parties.
In the meanwhile, perhaps you will enjoy this episode of Coupling. I didn’t, but maybe you will.
Happy watching. :)