Censorship In The Lifestyle

Author: Raven Shadowborne © 1998


  I have read many different discussion lists, web sites, and been involved in quite a few discussions about safety and the responsibility of those in the lifestyle to those just learning it. But my opinion is that censorship is not the way to go about protecting or teaching anyone anything. All it shows is intolerance for those who are different from us and teaches those who are watching the censorship take place, that anyone different from them is flat out wrong. And for those who's ideas/thoughts/desires/needs may be different from the one doing the censoring, this can create a huge conflict within them, by reinforcing their belief that there is something wrong with them.  

    The best way to get many people to do something you want them to do, is to tell them never to do it. Reverse psychology has a strong effect on many people. For example, a sign that says keep off the grass. Just about every person will at least tap the grass with their toes, or flat out walk right across it ignoring the sign completely. That sign creating an urge in them to do the forbidden. It is a dark part of human nature. By censoring information and preventing others from finding the truth and others opinions of this information, we create the same situation. This activity becomes "forbidden fruit" and many will seek it out simply because it is forbidden and without the education they need to make a well informed choice for themselves. Honest and open education of every variance which arises in BDSM is the only way to provide a new comer with the proper tools needed to make their way through this journey of self discovery and physical sensation. 

   The best way we can help those who are new to the lifestyle is by providing them with as much information as possible, and this includes things we personally may not choose to do. Provide different points of view, and well thought out reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with a particular activity. Provide different emotions and thoughts on any activity. And repeatedly tell them to compare their own thoughts/feelings/desires with those of others, and decide for themselves what is right for them and what is not. By censoring this information, we deprive those who are new to the lifestyle from a factual and well rounded view of the entire lifestyle. BDSM is not all fun and games, and that should be made clear. BDSM contains activities many of us may not like doing or knowing that others do them, but that 
doesn't give us the right to deny the information to others. Or to censor them in the hopes that we can sway someone to our way of thinking. Things like edge play, water sports, cutting, branding etc. are all things that many people enjoy, some of which I do not enjoy. But I consider it my responsibility (to myself first) to at least know some of the basics about these activities before I flat out decide I don't  like them. I also consider it a goal of mine to be able to provide this information to others, even if it isn't something I personally enjoy. In the presenting of this information, I make it known that this is not something I enjoy and my reasons for it but that many others do enjoy it and have stated the following reasons for liking the activity. I feel it shows more about tolerance and acceptance to be able to provide some information on as many things as I can, even if I don't personally enjoy them, than anything else does. It's these unspoken actions that teach  the most memorable lessons. 

   As a group we worry constantly about how those outside of BDSM view us.  We argue and bemoan the fact that we have to practice our lifestyle in private. We decree that it is not fair that we are not accepted. yet we don't see that we are just as judgmental amongst ourselves as others are of us as a whole. This inter judgementalism (I know that's not a real word) is what those outside the lifestyle see. It is this that allows the ease for others to sit back and pick the lifestyle apart. We are all human and all fallible and susceptible to the same failings as everyone  else, vanilla or BDSM. By denying parts of the lifestyle ourselves, we are in effect doing the same thing those outside the lifestyle do, denying it entirely. If we can't practice what we preach, we can not expect anyone else to do so either. 

   It is human nature to do our best to sway someone else to our points of view. It is very difficult to place ourselves in someone else's shoes and really see a situation from that person's point of view. But this is something that if practiced, can be learned. And once learned, if used, can go a long way towards preventing the many arguments we find ourselves in the midst of in this lifestyle. Being able to do this, 
breeds tolerance for others through understanding of their point of view. By being able to present both sides (or more as the case may be) of an issue, breeds deeper understanding in others as well as shows in a clear cut manner the tolerance and acceptance that we talk of so often.  By being able to present more than just one side of anything, we make it easier for those who are new to actually learn something rather than ignore the whole topic because of in fighting and sarcastic responses. 

I personally do not agree with censorship on a "general" BDSM discussion  list or web site because of the reasons stated above. Censorship does no one any  good, whereas open education by presenting in a decent manner as much  information as possible, will go a lot further towards breeding the  results we want in both new comers, and those outside the lifestyle. In  most cases the desired result is acceptance and understanding of the  lifestyle and those within it. 



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