Saturday, June 6, 2009

Inimical or not?

The current brouhaha about Vivian’s e-book on DD has me musing on some anomalies.

First and foremost, I can’t comment on her qualifications (or not) to write a book on Domestic Discipline. I haven’t read her blogs. I don’t know her entire story except through other voices. Thus I won’t even begin to speculate on the veracity of her writing.

There is one thing I WILL say – I think as compassionate, thinking human beings, we need to avoid what tastes like a ‘witch hunt”. Condemning out of hand a book no one has actually read just doesn’t seem fair. Not that I discount the opinions of those whom I respect – but I would be far more comfortable if the criticism were directed more at the content of the e-book and less at the individual who wrote it.

On a general scale, however, I think some interesting arguments arise in terms of who is qualified to write/talk/give advice on the less documented aspects of the human experience.

On the one hand, there are a plethora of experts in the world (and I’m not talking specifically kink here) – who write erudite tomes on subjects, situations and syndromes with which they themselves do not have first-hand experience. Psychiatrists and psychologists can discuss symptoms, case histories and treatment plans for OCD patients, for instance, and not suffer from the syndrome themselves.

Counselors successfully (sometimes) deal with a myriad of issues that don’t impact on a personal level, their own lives.

Anthropologists talk about social structures in societies they have no in-depth understanding of – and in view of the fact that their very presence already destroys any legitimate empirical evidence – puts to question their conclusions.

The gist, however, of the criticism (and it certainly sounds legitimate) is that dispensing advice about how to create a successful DD relationship requires insight and personal experience, but MOST importantly (my emphasis) – a successful DD relationship.

I know that one of the issues I’ve struggled with in my own writings is the understanding that my experiences are unique to me and to the dynamic and life experience that I’ve personally internalized. I am fully cognizant that the dynamic I lived for many years was probably in some respects, the antithesis of many apparently “successful” and even envied D/s dynamics out there.

Certainly, when I first began perusing the web, I found myself questioning the veracity of what I had always felt was a rich, varied and working dynamic. Fortunately, I quickly wised up to the plethora of “wanna be” kingmakers and quickly learned to dismiss anyone that rigidly defined what is ultimately a human dynamic – for as each of carries with us our own exclusive and exceptional set of quirks, so too will each of our relationships display and internalize its own distinctive flavor.

So, first, there are many, many experts out there that write insightful books about subjects about which they have no personal experience.

Second, the reality is that each of us is unique with a distinctive and exclusive experience of our own dynamics.

BUT – and herein lies the rub.

Is it equally true when talking about a choice someone makes to pursue a certain type of lifestyle that cognitive understanding supersedes empirical knowledge?

I know that a on personal scale, I give far more credence to individuals who have walked the walk, individuals whose honesty about their lifestyle choice incorporates the bad along with the good, the warts together with the smooth skin. Because the reality is we are fallible human beings, we make mistakes, we take missteps, we screw up … and that is further compounded by the reality that our significant others do as well (yes, even the Masters, the Sirs, the dominants, the HOH’s too- last I looked, they belonged to the human race).

But admitting to mistakes, taking ownership of bad decisions, discussing situations and reactions that are counterproductive and inimical to a healthy relationship are only valid if there is a commensurate sharing of what works in the relationship – the actions, reactions, efforts and understandings that together create a healthy dynamic (of any flavor).

I have never subscribed to the “Do as I say not as I do” school of Christian thought.

In the end, all the insight in the world is pointless if one has not achieved a level of understanding on how to make things WORK. And it is difficult indeed to swallow advice based on speculation and a thought process – perhaps insightful, perhaps not – that did not yield in the end the desired result – a successful relationship based on the tenets of the lifestyle you have actively chosen to follow.

From a practical perspective and to illustrate – flogging can be done by anyone choosing to pick up a whip – but proper flogging (wherein the participants both benefit and achieve the desired state of mind) can only be done only by someone who has had “hands-on” experience, training and practice.

I do understand that many of the criticisms of the author’s self-proclaimed expertise is induced by a genuine concern for those who are unfamiliar with the author’s background and history taking to heart the nature of what she preaches.

Unfortunately, the credulousness of the human species continues to astonish.

But the reality is that exponentially there is probably far more disinformation out there on the net than valid information – that is the reality of the web.

It is ultimately the individual who must take responsibility for their own choices and accept their compliance in being lectured to and deceived rather than apportioning blame to those who either knowingly or through their own ignorance create a patina of expertise and purport to hold the key to the incredibly complex world of human relationships.


Sara said...

Selkie, I am right with you on not wanting to be involved in a witch hunt. At first I hesitated to say anything, but ultimately decided that silence can be golden, or can allow wrongs to flourish. I decided to speak. The other important part of this is that Vivian took it upon herself to email the wide blogging community and ask for endorsement, explained that she was writing a book on spanking and DD, and listed her credentials as an expert by virtue of experience, which she simply misrepresented. IF she had advertised a spanking book, I would have nothing to say. I read her blog from early on and really liked it a lot at the time. As her relationship floundered she seemed to get her own issues all wrapped up with her understanding of what DD is. She made a case for her belief that any women who wanted a DD lifestyle was in essence more a child than an adult, that DD is just not effective in resolving serious marital conflict, etc. As a woman who has built a long term and successful DD marriage I disagree. All her opinions and fine as opinions...but do not purport to be an expert who will lead people towards the realities of the DD lifestyle. I have no intentions of going on about this, and I have no desire to put her down, but I do have a desire to speak the truth about DD and it's possibilities. Not saying 'the emperor has no clothes' is tempting, but I think the truth is too important to stand silent.

finbar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
selkie said...

that was me that deleted the comment I was on D's laptop and wrote my comment as HIM LOL.

I thought your own blog on the issue was excellent - reasoned and more than fair. I hadn't realized vivian had actually solicited people - which puts a slightly different spin on it.

One thing I do realize is whatever any of us write here is open to the personal interpretation of the reader; in that sense, each of us MUST take responsibliity for our words and understand that they will not alaways be welcomed nor even taken in the spirit in which they might have been offered.

And that is applicable to her as well - particularly as she has actively sought input.

In my words here I tried not to judge anyone; I think the issue at hand here is the passion that each of us brings to something that has meaning and impact on our lives.

I'm the first to admit I haven't really any insight or knowledge about DD other than at a very shallow level; thus, I didn't deal with the knowledge base of the practice but rather looked at the intellectual reality in a web context.

That being that it has been my experience that there are MANY MANY poseurs and self-proclaimed experts out there and ultimately, it is up to each of us to separate the wheat from the chaff.

But absolutely you have the right - and even (as it has such importance to you) the moral imperative to speak out! God knows I have done so myself on many things that had personal impact on my life and meaning to me.

I've actually enjoyed the dialogue that this issue has provoked and in that sense can be grateful to vivian for engendering it.

I also realize, just out of curiousity, I must improve my own knowledge of DD and perhaps figure out how the dynamic melds with kink (if it does?).

One of the most telling phrases and one which I admired most in your own dialogue was your humble refusal to act as an expert; you and I are alike in the sense I think that we look more at what we DON'T know than what we know!

Amber said...

She pretty much brought this reaction upon herself by titling her book, "How to Get the Spanking You Want". I got an email from her too and although at the time I didn't know who she was, I still looked askance at that. How can anyone claim to be an expert in something so relative? Comparing religion or art or music and proclaiming one type to be a "better way" than another way; you can't do it.

You cannot do it with D/s, DD or BDSM, either. You can explore options but making promises on "how to do it right" is just laughable.

I admit I'm fairly cynical at this point. I've watched so much posturing over the years "I know everything about TTWD because of this and that experience and blah blah blah" forums, message groups, people who write "how to" websites, over on Fetlife, so many poseurs. All of them saying they know "best". I find it wearisome and pretentious and maybe the backlash in this case isn't so much against this one individual as much as many of us who have been struggling and trying so hard over the years are just sick of hearing about anyone make such claims.

I hardly ever get to express my POV on it because hardly anyone who shares my POV speaks up.

So this was all very cathartic for me and I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on it and expressing my own. :)

If it seemed like a witch hunt, well...again, it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull, for some of us, to title the book the way she did and present it the way it was presented; especially some of the creds she claimed; which sound rather unrealistic.

Just sign me, Cranky Curmudgeon. Heh. *Grins*

selkie said...


actually, I agree with you! I think everyone has fastened on to the "witch hunt" and not taken in the conclusion.

Further to this, D. went to her site and found the hyperbole on her expertise way over the top.

But the shit disturber in me couldn't resist when the flurry began - then the don quioxite in me stepped in....

bottom line, pretty well ALL the responses I've read or comments in blogs about this whole issue were completely fair and reasonable|!

Loving Annie said...

Your last paragraph said all that needed to be said, Selkie... Very wise !

Liras said...

Not only do you have such a nice pis included but you pretty much nailed the whole expert thingy.

Many ppl do speak on things foreign to them, that they know only from an intellectual understanding. Yes, we can reason through certain things.

Sex is the one personal thing that we cannot always reason our way through.

But I do not like witch hunts, when there are no real witches to be found.

Amber said...

Oh Selkie, I love discussion too! :) I love it when we all talk about stuff. I hate it when nobody says anything. :)

You said this:

DD and perhaps figure out how the dynamic melds with kink (if it does?).

Yeah, that's a really hot button, isn't it? :) Wow! Some people just throw a fit and say it cannot be compared.

But I think DD is most definitely "kinky". At least, as the term should be viewed; which is universally since people who do not have some form of so-called "kink" are rare.

Here's what I think; it melds with kink because there is inherently, in the very action of correcting a woman; whether it be by a spanking, standing in the corner, told to write something, whatever...the thrill for the woman is she is being humiliated. Her will is being subverted.

That is the turn on. Her husband/boyfriend is making her do something she doesn't want to do (although in paradox, she desperately wants it at the same time).

Oh-so-wrong. Grown woman. The very IDEA of letting a man do that!

Yet, she's letting him.

And make no mistake; the thrill she feels from that kind of domination is sexual, it's a form of masochism and that's a "kink".

There are not many people on the planet who do NOT have some form of so-called "kink". The difference is, some of us recognize it; some refuse to.

Domestic Discipline, at least in this day and age, is a fairly benign way to scratch that masochistic itch.

/all opinions above mine
//opinions are cheap
///and free
////I'm still right

(heh!) *grins*

vanillaimpaired said...

Well I just went on a huge reading spree (yes it's all your fault lol) and I am inclined to agree. To put it bluntly I am more inclined to see it as a money making spin.

The blogging community is at best, large. There are some well established writers who know and breathe kink well. Sadly there are those who latch onto this whole blogging thing and see popularity and money and greed fuels them, nothing more. It all turns into linkfests and mass marketing. It becomes very clear who is honest and who is writing fluff.

As for who is qualified and who is not, heh, is left to each individual to make the choice whether they want to read. I for one like to read and make my own opinion on what is written. Content counts.

There's a bonus in having a community to share and learn with but with that comes the need for realness.

Lol, lil old me, blunt as always x

selkie said...

Annie- I know we've 'talked' before and that personal responsiblity is a HUGE issue for both of us! and ultimately that is what it comes down to.

and Liras, you're right - I think that sexuality is a press my button thing for people; it is just too complex an urge to quantify simply.

Amber - I'm interested in getting in a debate over this; but I think it is a debate that in itself is worth a blog and discussion stay tuned to this spot ...

Imp- you're singing my tune - that is exaclty how I feel - while I respect and take to heart opinions of those whom I respect (very much so), my ultimate decision is based on my own opinions of the work in question.

and absolutely - I think the entire thing was designed and in that way - it was emininetly successful - our discussion of this has given her some pretty widespread publicity LOL

Sara said...

"DD and perhaps figure out how the dynamic melds with kink (if it does?)"

Selkie and Amber,I happen to agree that it does, and there's nothing wrong with kink anyway! And I love these discussions too! Waiting for that post!