Whenever I’m feeling uncomfortable about people and their behaviour in a BDSM, polyamorous, or any other socially diverse context (which unfortunately is pretty often), I prefer to make a distinction between discomfort which relates to my own issues, and discomfort resulting from behaviour which actually is inappropriate. To help me distinguish between them, I have a personal rule which I formulated to use as a guide. It’s a kind of reality checker.
I call this rule Analogue In Vanilla.
Analogue In Vanilla
The basic elements defining human behaviour are the same in all social contexts, and regardless of the minority variant of any particular social context, all social behaviour between human beings has a comparable analogue in a vanilla context.
Disrespectful and acceptable behaviour amongst members of minority social groups is more than likely to be analogous to disrespectful and acceptable behaviour amongst members of mainstream social groups, and vice versa.
Example The First – Behaviours which are regarded similarly regardless of the social context include:
- Contravening or upholding negotiated agreements
- Inaccurately assuming or verifying information prior to decision making
- Unspecified double standards or abiding by agreed standards
- Contradictory or congruent speech and behaviour
- Flouting or respecting established sexual and other social boundaries
Example The Second – This scenario has happened to me frequently:
- Scenario – I register for BDSM dating site
- I set up profile with explicit specific descriptions of partners I seek
- Man who is a complete stranger to me sends me a photo of his penis
- I roll my eyes and despair of humanity (again)
So every time somebody does something I dislike in any context other than the ever-popular vanilla heterosexual monogamy, and especially if they also use their particular minority as a justification for their behaviour, I check the behaviour using my Analogue In Vanilla rule to decide if my response is appropriate and proportionate.
If my response is inappropriately disproportionate (such as despairing of humanity), then I recognise that as my issue and deal with it accordingly.
If my response is appropriately proportionate (such as my eye roll), then I recognise the behaviour and the person as problematic and I respond accordingly.
Conveniently, I published a rant a few months ago which has an excellent example of how this rule works in practice, if you’re interested. :)