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I hope you have been enjoying Rika’s Lair, my monthly column dedicated to thoughts and experiences regarding power dynamics in Service-Oriented D/s relationships. Look up “Ms. Rika” in the search box for links to all my articles in KinkWeekly!
This week, I’m going to step outside of power dynamics, just a bit, and muse on an observation that I’ve been mulling over quite a bit. I will warn you that this is a difficult subject, it will likely be a controversial position, and it may trigger some knee-jerk reactions in folks. I ask that you read this with an understanding that I am not passing judgement on anyone who chooses to self-identify their gender. Everyone has the right to be happy in their bodies, and to feel natural in who they are. Please understand, I’m in favor of it…but I do see an issue that I’d like to discuss and would love to get your feedback on. It’s important to also state that I’m discussing gender identification, not sexual orientation.
In my perfect world, gender stereotypes would be eliminated. The notion that “this is what a female does” and “this is what a male does”, or “this is what a female is capable of” and “this is what a male is capable of” would be moot – because everyone could do anything, feel any way, and act however they do. “This is what I do and what I’m capable of, regardless of my sex” makes the most sense to me. This is, to me, the ultimate goal. Your goal may not be the same, I recognize that – but I think this would make a much better world for everyone.
The move towards self-identification makes sense: People have the right to feel comfortable being the person they perceive themselves to be. People are encouraged to step out of the “confines” of their physical self and live and be seen from their minds. I know that’s the best way to live.
However, it strikes me that the very concept of self-gender-identification brings us FURTHER from my ultimate-goal of bias elimination. My goal is to think about people as people – and to value them as people. Yes, they will be male and female (sex), but the notion that there are “feminine” and “masculine” abilities, actions, capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses creates biases and encourages presumption based on gender. I want to eliminate those stereotypes. What I find is that, in many ways, self-identifying as male or female gender – or even identifying as genderless – relies on, and supports, the very prejudices, stereotypes, and biases that would need to elimination to reach my goal!
Consider, if someone says that their biological sex is male, but they identify as a woman, they are stating that they have an image – a definition – of what “a woman” is: How the female gender acts, feels, behaves, thinks, etc. They are stating that they perceive themselves in this imagery. Rather than just saying, “I’m male (sex) and I act, feel, behave, and think like ‘X’, ‘Y’, ‘Z’”, and expect to acceptance that way, they assign ‘X’, ‘Y’, and ‘Z’ to the female gender. They LABEL and DEFINE the gender with their imagery (bias) of that gender!
To me, this is working backwards. Even stating that you have no gender, implies that you know what genders “look like” – and you don’t fit that definition. You must define something to exclude yourself from it.
Look, I recognize that the world sees gender and has biases. I’m not naïve enough to think that we’re anywhere close to eliminating the notions of gender stereotyping – and I can see the value in being able to self-identify as a gender – if for nothing less than highlighting that the traits associated with gender are not associated with sexuality. The world needs a slap in the face – I get that. However, I fear that the longer we define “female” and “male” gender traits, behavior, and capabilities – the longer we promote the imagery associated with genders – the stronger the bias becomes – and the harder it will be to eliminate.
What I’d like to see is a world where people stop making assumption about gender ability, capability, attitude, approach, behavior, dress, etc. and treat each person as an individual with equal opportunity to develop their potential in all areas. I want people to be comfortable and natural in their skin – to dress the way they feel most comfortable – to act the way that’s most natural for them – and be measured on their actions rather than their gender. I want to remove the implications of labels – and I feel the best way to do that, is to stop using the labels entirely.
I welcome your opinion.
Ms. Rika is a lifestyle dominant, educator, and author; living in the suburbs of NYC with her husband/slave. She has written several popular books on her approach to adding Dominant-Centric, Service-Oriented D/s to relationships. You can find her books (in both print and eBook formats) at Lulu.com (http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/msrika), or at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iStore, Books-A Million, Kobo.com, or anywhere books are sold. Search for “Ms. Rika”. Write to me at Ms_Rika@hotmail.com
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Even as some states are lifting lockdown restrictions, there are some digital aspects of the pandemic I hope stick around. Telegram has been an awesome way to connect my local community, and this time has spawned a web of chat rooms with a variety of subject focuses, as well as chats for various local groups to just talk about their day or discuss random kink topics. Additionally, while there is no substitute for trying things in person, I have attended some truly excellent kink educational events via Zoom over the past year. For classes ranging from consent and negotiations to first aid for BDSM, all the way to a class on face needles, the Zoom camera gave me access to a much better view of some of the up-close details I wasn’t often able to see when attending class in a dungeon. Additionally, it has meant I could attend classes held in other communities with the click of a button, despite being hundreds of miles away.
Unfortunately, these new accounts and technological connections also give additional opportunities for kinksters to slip up and disclose more personal information than intended. My goal is to help walk y’all through some small privacy precautions that will hopefully keep you from flashing full names to the kink world at large.
I often see newcomers join Telegram making a couple of key mistakes. The first is using their name rather than choosing a screen name. The “name” option is your display name, not the @tag people will use to search you. If you plan to use it for vanilla purposes, you can choose something innocuous. If not, I suggest disabling search functions so contacts in your phone who are already users of Telegram or who join later won’t run across your kinky self chatting up a storm.
So here’s how. Under settings, go to the “privacy and security” tab. Under phone number, check “Nobody” can see you and only people you add to Telegram as contacts can search you that way. Under the main tab, turn off the function to sync contacts from your phone, as well as the one to suggest frequent contacts. I also advise selecting the option to delete already synced contacts if it has done this without you realizing it. For phones, you can edit your display name by clicking the three dots on an Android phone. Choose a display name that isn’t your vanilla first and last name. As an additional suggestion, consider listing your preferred pronouns.
For Zoom, prior to joining a meeting, make sure any identifying information you don’t want to share is edited first. To change your display name from your full legal name, go to the “My Account” tab. Click on “edit” and change your name. IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to change it back. My family knows what I do for a living and wouldn’t blink an eye if I joined a chat as Christmas bunny, but if my fet name were 69slutpuddle69, I suspect my family might have something to say. My employer might have even more to say.
Alternatively, have a separate kink email address and Zoom account that you log into for kink events. Again, don’t forget to log out, or just make sure not to click the check box asking if you want to stay logged in. It requires thought and consideration to protect yourself digitally. While mistakes can happen, it is important to be deliberate and careful if you want to avoid accidentally outing yourself.
When I host Zoom events for kinksters, I always watch the waiting room tab so that if someone forgets, I can edit their name for them to an innocuous first initial. You can usually edit your own name during a Zoom meeting my clicking on the three options dots on the right hand corner of your own video screen, or through the participants window when it is pulled up.
Unfortunately, not everyone who hosts a meeting will have experience doing so, and the delay in response time means more minutes passing with your full name exposed to people you didn’t intend to share that with.
Please, please, please take the time to learn how to be safer online, whether or not these digital mediums continue to flourish in the future.
Christmas bunny has been exploring kink since she was legal to do so. Her serious writing started in college, where she accidently got some of her papers published in educational journals. She has recently expanded her writing to include her kink journey. She began writing in the physical realm, but shed some of her inhibitions and began sharing those entries with others. She now keeps an active blog of her personal growth and her relationship with her Master / Daddy Dominant and writes helpful educational posts on a variety of subjects.