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The Sunday Sermon; The need to belong.

Whilst Groucho Marx may have been happy saying he would not join any club which would have him most of us are less confident about going solo. This blog in some ways started because Carter and I felt we did not, and did not want to belong to the golf club of swinging, and we wanted to explore if there was indeed anywhere we did belong. Along the way we hoped to meet fellow travellers who shared our concerns, hopes and dreams.

The only think odder than people who try to create a sense of community by arguing about politics on swinging sites are people who try to create a sense of community by arguing about politics on review sites. I make no attempt to hide my disdain for those who build an identity around posting on places like punternet, even whilst I understand that it comes from the need to belong to something. I have a theory that it’s generally dull office drones who think they can appropriate some excitement by sprinkling the glamour and danger they associate with sex work over themselves. However mostly they want to belong to something.

There has to be a certain amount of self-deception in believing simply because you share in one economic activity you have anything in common. It would be like setting up a Tesco website where I encouraged people to review their favourite tesco, and in doing so believed I was creating a community. Of course advertisers do this all the time. The point of most ads are no longer to inform us about a brand, but to create in our minds that the type fo people who use a brand are a group we wish to belong to.

Part of me wishes I belonged, to anything, I never seem to get the hang of it, and have never since childhood. Always the last picked at games I got used to watching from the sidelines, trying to work out why belonging seems easy to everyone else. Perhaps the major thing I learnt as an adult is not how to belong but that a lot of people are just better at faking than me. Then of course there is the thorny issue of compromise. To belong so often means to compromise. This can be a strength, I am thinking of Carters post this morning. I do not know who he voted for in the Labour Leadership election, but I do know he will be willing to compromise to do what he feels is necessary for a Labour victory. It’s not just in politics we have to compromise to belong. There is a saying about churches that if you find the perfect one, don’t join, you will spoil it. Being a member of a church is an exercise in practical Christianity, where you have to be accepting and forgiving of the failures and foibles of others in order to belong.

However if you compromise too much then the very think you want to belong to ceases to exist. It becomes, like punternet, or swinging sites, somewhere fake, with a false sense of community invented out of the urge to belong and nothing more. You cannot have a community based simply on wanting to be a community, no matter how hard some try. When I read this otherwise excellent profile of Myles Jackman I had to disagree with his idea that a BDSM community exists as anything other than something to market to. There is no such thing as a BDSM community, no community can be built on something as tenuous as how you get your rocks off.

The Church has often been held up as an example of community to follow, and yet, at its very heart Christianity has a rejection of belonging, of being a member of anything; summed up in these two quotes;

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple

And Jesus said unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head

Here Jesus not only says you must give up that original community, your family, but you will not have a safe haven, a place of rest and security. It seems that this radical rejection of belonging has crashed head on into the human desire to belong at all costs. It may seem odd for me to suggest that people who enjoy being whipped and spanked might learn from the those who, if Opus Dei are anything to go by, enjoy pain with a different set of excuses, but I think they can. The desire to belong is not, can never be enough. If you build a community on shaky foundations, then like the house of sand it will collapse under the storms. This is true of kinksters as much as it is true of Christians. Communities are formed by shared values, you belong when you have more in common than how you like to pray or fuck.


One comment on “The Sunday Sermon; The need to belong.

  1. ValeryNorth
    September 13, 2015

    I disagree, up to a point. It always sounds a bit too close to, “There is no such thing as society” and given that the others whom I’ve seen arguing “there is no such thing as a BDSM community” have been of that ilk, maybe my perception is skewed. I am most certainly aware that you are of a different cut than those people were!

    I think there’s a definite problem trying to describe the mass of people who do BDSM-type things across the country as a single community, but at the same time to say that there are not communities of people who met and continue to meet primarily because of a shared interest (and in this case, that interest is BDSM) would also be false. I am not great at belonging, and still feel very much on the fringes at local munches etc, but at the same time, I can see how friendships and community do exist in these social spaces. The community here is different from the BDSM community (that formed in the same way but was made up of different people and had different commonalities) where I used to live (I still have some contact with people from that group too).

    Ultimately, I think society, and community, are very complicated concepts when it comes to figuring out what constitutes one or the other or neither, and how we work out the meanings that they have beyond the surface level.


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This entry was posted on September 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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