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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Your fantasy is not reality, and you should know better

A major problem many people have is the inability to draw distinctions between one thing and another. This is especially true when the separation between two things are gradated. To simplify the problem, most people resign to black and white distinctions, this or that, tearing things apart that are inherently interwoven together into what they perceive as separate strands. It's as if they believe doing so will magically reveal all that which created the thing in the first place. But they are misguided, at best, and purposefully destructive at worst.

Many things about me are more than the sum of my parts. While it is certainly possible to break these parts away from one another, doing so reveals information only about my constituent parts in their new, isolated context. I should know; I continually undergo this exercise as part of watching myself growing older.

Possibly the saddest of things to fail to distinguish in my opinion are the emotional paradoxes brought on by sexual fantasy. It creates a situation where most people structure their relationships around their fantasies, when they should be structuring their fantasies around their relationships.

Trinity said it another way:

I was honestly flummoxed (though not surprised) when he didn't understand. Wouldn't it be better for someone to accept your service because you're you than because you're a boy?

I mean, I get the whole "I'm just one of many, depersonalized, a number in a harem" as sexual fantasy. But the guy in question is so obsessed with asserting he's not talking about fantasy when he is... that befuddles me.

Fantasy is fine and great, when clearly marked.

As did Richard:

For other men it is just another sort of hot sex fantasy. But they don't know how to distinguish the source of the thrill from actuality.

A couple of women have based lucrative careers on promoting this: Sutton, Abernathy.

And there is a legion of telephone prodommes who invoke the rhetoric as a means of attracting clients.

Unfortunately, the rhetoric is sexually exciting at first glance and too few people are trained in the skills required to control their own immediate gratification to put thought into their emotions and see the rhetoric's flaws.

Inequality turns me on. As a result of that, I enjoy fantasies of female superiority over males when I'm feeling like submitting to feminine authorities. Long have I had dreams, like most submissive men, of being objectified and degraded because of pieces of my identity: my gender, my physical attributes.

Some fantasies are quite vivid. I remember one from when I was barely a teenage boy (maybe 13 or so) of being captured by a race of women who kept me bound in a dark cave (where there were other such helpless male victims in abundance) with a substance similar to super powerful spider's webbing and whose only contact with me would be to feed me food and drink and occasionally come to "collect" my ejaculate. A classic fantasy, really, undoubtedly from the mind of a youth twisting science fiction imagery to suit his preferred sexual expression.

As I grew older, I maintained the same fantasies, but the imagery changed somewhat. Instead of science fiction, I more often used personal experiences as fuel. As I was more-or-less in school at the time, school-grounds were a favorite locale where the girls (and sometimes certain boys) could take sexual advantage of me in all manner of creative ways. The image above has been a favorite source of this kind of fantasy for many years now.

In that way, I enjoyed the fact that I was as skinny as a twig and frightfully anemic. My sexual fantasies of being overpowered actually dissuaded me from taking care of my body and ensuring my own health back then.

That's the kind of inability to distinguish fantasy from reality that I'm talking about. When it's so personal, as that is, and when you crave something so much, as I did, you don't want to let reality get in the way of your fantasies. There's not anything wrong with trying to live in reality more elements of your fantasies. I do that all the time. But I'm only successful when I take reality into account.

Doing anything else is foolhardy.


Bitchy Jones said...

I love that picture

I have often heard it expressed that d/s-esque type sex is in some way superior to boring old sex-esque sex because it engages the mind (the biggest sex organ - according to legend) rather than the dumb old body.

And yet, it is so easy to see how so much of d/s is as concerned with the body as any other kind of sex. Restraining, harming even, yes, worshiping the body. And, as you mention, strength and frailty, inequities in strength, physicality, the sheer dominance of taking up physical space.

Hmm... Perhaps I should start my own blog

maymay said...

If you started a blog, I might even read an entry or two. ;)

Romanticrope said...

The fact that I didn't really enjoy subbing to M is more or less how I realized that I actually to be the one in charge.

M.T. said...

The funny thing about what bitchy said is that it's not like regular vanilla sex doesn't "engage the mind." It engages the mind of vanillas just fine. They're not all about just rubbing their parts together for welcome friction.

I loved this post. It's hard to point to specifics. I think I'm so in love with my own submisive boyfriend right now that it's just leaking out onto every other submissive male.

maymay said...

"vanilla sex … engages the mind of vanillas just fine."

Exactly! To each their own is not dismissal of other people's preferences, nor is it about ignoring them. It's about celebrating those differences together. It's really not that paradoxical, but many people just can't seem to grok the concept.

"I loved this post."

Thanks, M.T. :)

EthylBenzene said...

"most people resign to black and white distinctions, this or that, tearing things apart that are inherently interwoven together into what they perceive as separate strands."

I've been thinking a lot about this concept lately, after reading Michael Shermer's "The Science of Good and Evil," which discusses being ethical and moral without god (waves to fellow atheist Bitchy). Humans get themselves into a world of trouble looking at things in black and white, it seems. Hawk or Dove. Left or Right. Liberal or Conservative. Pro or Con. The problem is, that the world and human experience just isn't black and white, this or that. Even something as simple as "straight" or "gay" turns out not to be, well, simple.

Shermer's idea, one that I really like, is to use fuzzy logic to think about life's problems. So for example, instead of being "0" or "1" straight, you would be some "fuzzy" percentage -- 0.4, say, or 0.9, or 0.1. The more I thought about it, the more this seemed like a rational way to look at things. It is intellectually as well as emotionall satisfying, and allows you to deal with concepts such as "well, I'm against killing, except for in self defense," or indeed, in BDSM, the ideas of "soft" limits. There is no internal contradiction when you realize that black and white is bullshit.

Did that make sense? I just got up and haven't had any coffee yet.

Anyway, I just wanted to say I'm having a great time poking around all the intelligent BDSM blogs around. Following links has really been fun for me these past few weeks, and has led to a whole new appreciation of what I like to do in bed :) So thanks everyone for the great discussion. You can check out my blog, but it doesn't discuss sex so much -- just atheism, science, and personal crap :)

maymay said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, EthylBenzene! I've never heard of that book before, but I have heard of fuzzy logic. :)

Humans get themselves into a world of trouble looking at things in black and white, it seems. … Shermer's idea, one that I really like, is to use fuzzy logic to think about life's problems.

Fuzzy logic is a helpful tool in such situations, but I believe it is still an oversimplication of the issues people face. Moving from the belief that propositional logic (good versus bad, superior versus inferior, etc.) can solve questions of morality or belief for you (here's why it can't, by the way) is a good first step, and fuzzy logic can certainly help people to start and understand the necessity for allowing gradients into their view of the world. That being said, I'm not sure how different a statement such as "this is 0.7 fantasy and 0.3 reality" would actually help when ultimately your brain must choose one and only one action to take at any given time. Humans are horrible at multitasking. And the point remains that 0.7 of one thing and 0.3 of another is still often more than 1 combined-thing when put together in a way formal logic still has not found a way to measure.

Did that make any sense? I'm afraid I, too, have just woken up and didn't have any coffee yet. :)

EthylBenzene said...

Hi Maymay,
Thanks for checking out my blog ~blush.~

Shermer goes into the next steps as well, when discussing how to make a moral or ethical decision. I don't have the book in front of me, but IIRC, he lays out three or so "principles" to sort of ask yourself before making that decision.

So once you've got a handle on the concept that, ok, not everything is black and white, and you are then faced with a decision, you go through a couple thought experiments. First, is the sort of "golden rule" concept -- would I like this if someone else did this to me. Recognizing, of course, that not everyone's got the same likes and dislikes, you should then go on to ask yourself "what would this person say if I asked them first?" He calls this the "ask first" principle, and I think it might be more helpful than the "golden rule" principle. I think there's a third "thought experiment" that you can go through, but like I said, I don't really remember, and I don't remember where I cleaned the book to!

I guess my whole point about "fuzzy logic" was just conciousness raising. I think the more we can remember that we don't HAVE to define things as "either-or," the better off we'll be, and the better decisions we may be able to come to. Like you said, it's not the sum total of what we need to think about, but it can be very liberating to remember that nothing is black or white.

EthylBenzene said...

PS -- Re-reading my comment, I guess what I really wanted to note was that by freeing ourselves of the false necessity to make things "either or," when that doesn't line up with reality, we are much more free to deal with things as they come.

I think a lot of the (what I precieve as) anger from ultra conservatives about things that are outside their worldview comes from this unhealthy (and incorrect) assumption that everything is "either or." Just completely IMHO, but there you are.

tom allen said...

You can check out my blog, but it doesn't discuss sex so much -- just atheism, science, and personal crap :)

Yeah, but you've got links to Randi and Skeptics - totally cool in my book!

Damn, now I wish I didn't have a sex blog, so I could link to cool sites like that.

maymay said...

Ethyl: Agreed. :)

Tom: No one's stopping you…. ;)