dignity and ass fucking  

rm_connor696 62M
944 posts
7/8/2006 11:58 am

Last Read:
7/10/2006 8:17 am

dignity and ass fucking


Reading a book review yesterday, I came across the phrase "undignified emotion." This set me to thinking: what makes an emotion dignified or not? At first I thought the issue might be one of appropriateness. Anger is sometimes appropriate, but often it isn't, and so too with mirth, grief, fear, and so on. But I suspect that's not quite right. Intensity might play a role, too--or maybe that's just a different kind of appropriateness: the right amount of the right emotion for the given situation.

Yet I couldn't escape a nagging worry. Is it the emotion itself that's undignified, or something the emotion leads us to do? For that matter, what the fuck is dignity? The more I considered it, the more it seemed to be a question of outward expression, of behavior. Whatever emotions you might have, and to whatever degree, dignity consists in the way you comport yourself. Dignity, it seemed, might in our society be little more than good posture--or approved postures, such as the "missionary position." And that's not much.

So I was out last night with a bunch of philosophical sorts, and I put the question to them. They came to pretty much the same conclusion, and in the course of doing so, one of them claimed that anal sex ruled out the possibility of dignity. When I asked him whether other sorts of sex didn't have the same result, he somewhat surprisingly said no. But that just reinforced my behavioral take on it, for the norms in play here are the conventional ones that society uses to control behavior. Anal sex is funny (in both senses of the term), so it can't be dignified. For example (and I may have mentioned this before), the writers for the movie Bonnie and Clyde decided that they couldn't preserve Clyde Barrows's bisexuality, and so they changed it to impotence. Basically, they viewed male homoeroticism as risible, as comic, and thus as undignified. And without dignity, there can be no fear. But Clyde had to be fearsome, so . . . well, you do the math.

I'm guessing that this operates in others areas, too. You might think that dignity would be out of the question for a submissive in a dominant/submissive relationship. But I think that's wrong. Consider the film Secretary, where the female protagonist's submission simultaneously reflects and produces her newly won dignity. Even here, however, gender rules may trump all else. Imagine that film with the genders reversed. Society tells us that men dominate women, that men should dominate women (and so they do, all too often). Any effeminacy in a man is comic. (In fact, the word "travesty"--from the Italian word for "cross-dressed"--originally referred to a short comic work for the stage.) Had the genders been switched in Secretary, I imagine, many viewers would have been unable to allow the submissive any dignity. He would have been simply a laughable creature whose ludicrous appetites led him to laughable acts.

Most people schooled in Western philosophy, however, use the word "dignity" in a rather different sense. Following the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, they define dignity as the inherent worth a being has in virtue of being autonomous, of having a free will--which for Kant is equivalent to being rational. As rational creatures ourselves, we owe respect to this dignity in others. But this dignity is inalienable. The autonomous individual has it no matter what--even while having anal sex. Even the criminal has it. In fact, says Kant, that dignity explains why we should punish the criminal. To do otherwise would be to make him or her an object, driven mereley by physical forces. We don't punish rocks for landing on our feet, but we should punish people for (intentionally) stepping on our toes.

It would be nice, wouldn't it, to move beyond society's crude normative and behavioral notion of dignity and back to something like Kant's? And so my manifesto: We don't lose dignity by loving someone, whoever that someone might be. Although Kant would disagree here, we also don't lose dignity by giving pleasure to others or to ourselves, however that pleasure is produced. We don't lose dignity even in the free abandonment of self and acceptance of the other that mark D/s relationships. And the list goes on: sucking odd body parts, dressing up, rimming, playing "housewife and delivery man"--none of it makes the slightest bit of difference to our dignity, our inherent moral worth. Instead, we are undignified to the extent that we refuse to respect the autonomy of our spouses, lovers, and partners--or indeed of anyone. If you want to see the absence of dignity, go watch a neo-Nazi rally.

Huh. And they call us immoral!

Matesharer 63M/61F
15 posts
7/8/2006 3:48 pm

I haven't read all of your entries, but I felt I should let you know I agree completely with what you have so eloquently stated here. It should not matter who we love or how we love; what should matter is that we do love.

Those narrow of mind are usually small of heart, as well. Since I began dabbling in erotic writing I've done a lot of self examination. I'm not really into D/S, but I did some reading up on it for a fic I was playing with. What I found interesting about the dynamic is that the sub is actually the one with real power. Without the desire of the sub to be dominated, it's not sex. It's . Doms don't want victims, they want subs. The sub has the power to deny the dom that pleasure. I see nothing in that as being undignified.

This was such a great entry I'll be checking you out again.


rm_connor696 replies on 7/8/2006 8:59 pm:
I think that D/s relationships have a lot of paradoxes--or at least apparent paradoxes--built into them. So, for example, people often do say that subs have the real power. I certainly understand the point (i.e., that the domme may indulge her desires only to the extent that the sub allows it), but I wonder whether there might not be more to it. For one thing, a domme can simply tire of the game and walk away; her desire need not be any stronger than the sub's. And since dommes are relatively rare, they occupy a strong bargaining position. In fact, that's why they can turn pro. But I have in mind something different. It's easy to understand the domme in terms of continuous agency, with each movement an action, but isn't the sub's agency continuous as well? That is, the submission is itself an action, and one that continues throughout the time in which the shared experience takes place. So both individuals are always acting autonomously throughout the entire experience, because "letting go" here is a metaphor, and it differs from, say, letting go of a rope from which you are hanging in just this way: the sub is always submitting. Again, the submision is a continuous act, not an episodic one. Maybe that's not significant, but I suspect that it is, because it means that the sub is never truly anything other than himself, however his domme besets him. So that's one more paradox: that unlike a physical object, the self that the sub lets go cannot be let go once and for all and so must be let go again and again. Or so it seems to me.

I've often thought that one could write an entire book on the metaphysics and epistemology of sex by discussing only its tensions, contradictions, and paradoxes. Truth to tell, a lot of my blog kinda reads like notes toward that end.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words. I'll have to check out some of your hot and steamies.

florallei 100F

7/8/2006 6:03 pm

if it is consentual between two individuals their decision or to act on a particular desire is their business although as we know society dictates what is moral and what is not....dignified or undignified...those terms are then labeled to certain acts if it becomes widely known and publicized but behind closed doors the people behind it are ultimately their own guardians.
Florallei


qyxx 61F
3334 posts
7/9/2006 3:33 pm

I haven't checked you out before but I must say that I like your blog!!

Dam, Clyde was a bisexual?

Q.


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