Tolerance

There seems to be some confusion in the local kink community about the concept of ‘tolerance’. Dictionary.com defines it as:

tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns]

noun

1. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, racereligion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

2. a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

3. interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.

Or, as we say in the kink community ‘your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay’. What this means is that while some of us are squicked or outright triggered by some kinks, we do not demand that no-one practice those kinks at a party we happen to be at. If we choose to attend play parties, we do so with the understanding that we may be exposed to play that we are personally uncomfortable with. If that happens, we look away, leave the room, or perhaps leave the party entirely if we’re particularly bothered by what’s happening on the play floor.

What tolerance does NOT mean is that I have any obligation to participate in your chosen kink. Tolerance does NOT mean that you get to play anywhere you like with no regard for the people around you, either.

To use an example from my local community, there has recently been some controversy about whether we should start having birthday spankings at munches again. Apparently it’s intolerant of my friends and me to oppose coercive group scenes at events that are supposed to be a safe place for newbies to meet other kinky people. It’s fine and dandy, however, to tell people like me to not come to a munch if I don’t want to be pressured to be part of a group scene.

Clearly my right not to be part of a group scene (even if I’m just spectating, I’m part of the scene whether I want to be or not) is less important than the birthday spankers ability to have a scene at a munch instead of at a play party where it would be appropriate. Not to mention the fact that we have our munches in full view of the other patrons in the one LGBTQ friendly pub in the city. Who the hell are we to tell queer people that oh, by the way, your safe space isn’t safe today?

If we want tolerance for ourselves, we have to be tolerant of other people too. If we want to be welcome in the pub where we have our munches, we need not to be assholes to the other patrons. Tolerance in the form of basic courtesy lets us all share the space.

Speaking of courtesy, asking people to play at play parties and not munches is no more intolerant than asking people to keep needle scenes toward the back of the play floor. Needles are a particularly common phobia, and choosing to play with them where that scene will be obscured by other players and equipment is a simple courtesy that makes it easier for needle-players and needle-phobics to enjoy the same party. By contrast, what would actually be intolerant is if needle-play were completely banned at all kink events. What would also be intolerant is insisting on having your needle scene at the very front edge of the play floor, so that every time someone enters or leaves the party they have to walk right past your needle scene. That would be extremely intolerant of other people’s right to choose what scenes they watch closely and what scenes they turn away from.

Asking people to be courteous is not the same as being intolerant. If I ask you not to masturbate in public, I am not being intolerant of your right to masturbate (and doing whatever you want with your own body is in fact a basic human right). I’m just asking you to respect my right not to be involved in your sex act. If you insist that jerking off at the dinner table is perfectly fine and I should just look away if I don’t like it, I’m afraid you’re the one who is being intolerant. There is an appropriate time and place for both spanking and masturbation, and that time and place is NOT at a public munch.

There is a word for trying to force your scene into a munch over the objections of multiple people, and it isn’t tolerance, it’s bullying.

12 thoughts on “Tolerance

  1. Goodness knows this overentitled sort of attitude that demands we can throw fully unexpected public scenes would sure do wonders for the image of kinksters in the public eye in terms of rights and recognition. -behold my thinly veiledsarcasm

  2. Dear gosh yes. It all comes down to language, as I said during that large discussion, the Munch is a SOCIAL GATHERING not a KINK EVENT. What is acceptable one is not acceptable at the other! And those who cry intolerance do not know the meaning of the word.

    • the Munch is a SOCIAL GATHERING not a KINK EVENT

      I have another rant brewing about the many reasons munches and play parties are and should remain
      separate things, but it basically comes down to that one sentence. A social gathering is a place for people to be social, not to play.

  3. Asking people to be courteous is not the same as being intolerant.

    Great insight. And it goes without saying that this doesn’t just apply to kinkland; however, it’s amazing that one has to point this out to people who (one would think) should be ever mindful of this in the fist place.

    • And the really sad thing is that some of the people I’ve seen have the most trouble with this idea are old enough to be my parents. Shouldn’t they be the ones schooling me on how a reasonable human being behaves in public?

  4. I run a munch in Ottawa and last night we had 7 new attendees. Two told me that their heart was pounding just approaching and a further third was just too nervous to join us at all. His heart was racing and he sat at the bar instead of with us. He was happy just to watch from afar in spite of his fear. I’m happy that he gathered his courage to make it that far.

    We make it crystal clear that there is to be zero kink visibility either via clothes, toys, conversation or actions. It’s not that we don’t talk about kink but that we moderate our volume, are considerate of vanilla waitstaff by pausing any kink subjects while they are within earshot and we never engage in any kind of play.

    All that on every event listing and they are still freaking nervous.

    Freak them out on their first night and they don’t inform Someone In Charge. They quietly leave and never come back.

    A munch by it’s definition should have no play. I don’t do birthday spanks at work so why is it appropriate to do it at a pub. People have to work there too.

    I’ve been to munches all across Canada and Victoria was the ONLY place that I ever saw do birthday spanks.

    • 7 new attendees at once? That’s awesome! I know Ottawa’s a bigger city than Victoria, but still.

      Freak them out on their first night and they don’t inform Someone In Charge. They quietly leave and never come back.

      The idea that people could miss out on a chance to finally feel accepted and ‘normal’ for being kinky just because we had to mix play into our munches makes me so sad.

      I don’t do birthday spanks at work so why is it appropriate to do it at a pub. People have to work there too.

      That’s a fantastic point. While you can argue that munchgoers who don’t like the spankings can just leave, the waitstaff really can’t just leave.

  5. Hear hear!

    Y’know, you have this wonderful knack for articulating exactly what I think. It’s beginning to get disturbing, actually.

    What strikes me the most, though, is as you said in a comment, how particularly old and supposedly “experienced” the majority of these bullies are. Certainly lends for a bit of disillusionment towards the local scene. Honestly, these should be the people, those who have been involved in the local scene (and more importantly, the community) for years, that understand this the best… but it seems more and more that there’s an unhappy correlation between “time in the community” and “dogmatic bullying of other opinions within the community”.

    • Y’know, you have this wonderful knack for articulating exactly what I think. It’s beginning to get disturbing, actually.

      Hehehe 🙂 Also, thanks!

      but it seems more and more that there’s an unhappy correlation between “time in the community” and “dogmatic bullying of other opinions within the community”.

      Sad but true. We let people get away with all sorts of bullshit just because they’ve been around for a while. Oh! Who wants to bet it has something to do with people not understanding the difference between being intolerant and calling someone out when they’re legitimately being a jackass?

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