With the extreme heat I’m not really getting out and interacting with people. Most of my interactions are through social media. Reddit lets me go on and on but people seldom read long posts. Twitter makes me keep it short, or create a thread of posts. Only occasionally is there actually an exchange of ideas. Even though I own this domain and can write blog posts as long as I feel like, if I want them read they can’t be too long. I have to be aware to not abuse the listeners (readers) time.
Since my main goal is to be sex-positive, many of the Twitter accounts I follow are people promoting some alternative to monogamy. Many are swingers and there is a big convention for swingers about to start in New Orleans. My Twitter feed has been many tweets about how excited some are to be going. I think it is great that a large gathering like this can occur but for some there seems to be an undercurrent of how many notches can they get in the bed posts while there? Of the non-monogamous lifestyles I’ve come across, I find many swingers to be the most difficult for me to deal with. It feels like they don’t really care about who they are having sex with. There are many that do care, that are careful to protect their own health and the health of their partners, but there are some that the only difference I see between them and the predators that the #meToo movement brought to light is there is a small amount of consent in there somewhere. Hopefully those are a small minority of swingers and will diminish with time. It was a podcast about last year’s convention that made me aware some of the swinging community don’t really understand the idea of consent. One of the most important parts of consent is to always be listening for it. It needs to be renewed from time to time and can be withdrawn.
The amazing thing I find is it all comes back to communication. Consent needs to be stated and listened for. Some of those promoting the #meToo movement were not listened to and others started turning it into “all men are predators.” Recently there has been a real out cry of racism for comments made about some sitting members of Congress. That those members happen to be people of color, in fact women of color, has people drowning out the inappropriateness of the comments for anyone of a differing point view with cries of racism.
I worked in education for over 30 years. There were many times sexual predators managed to get in the classroom. That doesn’t mean all teachers are preying on kids. There are law enforcement officers that are bullies. Some find it is easier in their community to bully people of color. Bullies are cowards at heart. That doesn’t make them racist, opportunist to recognize people of color can be bullied more easily in certain communities, but not racist. The racist supervisor that lets the bully get away with inappropriate actions because it involved a person of color is perhaps more dangerous, as that person goes unseen. If people were listening to the whole story, they would see where the real danger is and deal with that along with the bully. There were some in the Black Lives Matter movement who were talking about the problem being systemic, which meant is was more than the officer in the street, but they were soon drowned out with lots of other noise. In #meToo those that were saying it was more than the predators that needed to be held accountable and taught better behaviors, soon were drowned out by the lack of listening but jumping to conclusions about every small complaint, which diminished the responses to the very real larger complaints. Hopefully the discussion of consent in relationships is still going to continue even though it isn’t getting the press coverage it was getting a year ago. It will be interesting to hear if people at a swinger convention have improved on getting consent before moving to the next level. Are they listening to the real problem, or just trying to keep the current buzz word type problem from showing up around them?
I again thank Hugo Torres (@hugosposts on Twitter) in a podcast mentioning the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. I recognized it as a recording I used to love hearing on the radio when I was in high school. You can find copies of the recording on YouTube. I want to draw two ideas from those beautiful words.
“Go placidly amid the noise and tase,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.”
Try not to let some bit of news upset you enough to make you jump to a judgement of a situation. You need to be you, so don’t surrender, speak your truth without judging others, but also let them speak their truth. Listen to them, really listen to what they are trying to communicate, even if you are not in agreement with them so you consider them dull or ignorant. I’m not sure that is what Mr. Ehrmann meant by “the dull and the ignorant,” but I feel it applies to the idea of agreement as well was the judgement those words held when he wrote the poem. The point I get from this, try to maintain an emotional state that lets you listen without surrendering your point of view.
“You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.”
We are all children of the universe with a right to be here. Don’t let that bully law enforcement officer, that sexual predator (whether teacher, boss, or other authority figure) or any one else take that knowledge from you. You have the right to be you. You don’t need their consent to be you. You may need consent from another as you interact with them about their person but they need your consent to interact with you as well. Consent is an agreement and both parties have an equal right to give, withdraw, or deny consent. That right isn’t just given us by laws, but is because we are all children of the universe.