Getting it Wrong Like a Pro

If I am going to care about being correct, I must also care about being wrong. ~ Karin Webb

“If I am going to care about being correct, I must also care about being wrong.” This is my social media status today, and I think it’s true. The thought was sparked by a lot of conversations I’ve had recently, where a theme emerged which over the past year of presidential campaigning here in the USA seems to only have amplified post election. The theme is one I might politely call a “hold on thoughtfulness”, but honestly I feel it is better served with the moniker “bullying”. There are deep implications to our society’s welfare, and to our own senses of self if this behavior deepens or becomes normalized.


Photo by Justin Moore

What, you may ask, does this have to do with sexuality or kink? Well, it’s going to take another step or two to get there, please stick with me… A recent discovery of mine was the Wall Street Journal’s “Blue Feed Red Feed: See Liberal Facebook and Conservative Facebook, Side by Side” interactive article site. Reading it helped me see how very differently people are fed what “truth” is. On the site you can check liberal and conservative facebook feeds next to one another pertaining to a specific issue. It’s fascinating to see the different ideas contained within rhetoric on various political and human rights issues from one side to the other. Take the stream for abortion: the ideas, argument points, what’s assumed is the “normal” way of thinking, the ideologies it is assumed the readership agrees with or takes for granted, the article’s clickbait title skew, and a variety of other points of departure between the bubbles becomes overwhelmingly apparent. I draw the conclusion that the issue of abortion is about completely different things to the conservative than it is to the liberal, and so it is with most every subject. On this site they do not stream on the subjects of sexuality education, rape culture, bodily autonomy, sex negotiation practices, queer politics, or race though if they did I would probably be shocked at first and then maybe like, “ooooohhhhh, I get it now!” about half the things some of my conservative religious family says and does surrounding many of those realities.

And that would be a step in the right direction.

If one can understand the direction another is coming from, the landscape of the conversation can change. We would know something about where to start our conversations, and could start by knowing where our neutral agreed upon territory lies (should there be any). We could work out how to disassemble the assumptions we’re both making about what we “know,” and we might be able to nimbly navigate questions and assumptions about one another’s perspective before the conversation starts feeling like a snowballing fight.

It seems the way people are debating one another these days lies on the “agree to disagree” throw away without examination or respectful debate amongst peers side of discourse, or else a full-on negging battle ala dating website troll abuse… I find myself asking more and more frequently during (what I thought was a) debate conversation, “didn’t people until recently have the ability to calm themselves down and speak logically to one another, or listen to the other side of the conversation and engage thoughtfully in a counter argument? Have we forgotten how to ask questions of one another rather than make accusations? Have we forgotten that we don’t have to take disagreements so personally? Have we forgotten how to agree upon respectful boundaries within discourse?”

The answer to these questions matters. The answers matter because hate groups as of last year were on the rise and the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that “Hate in the mainstream had absorbed some of the hate on the fringes.” Thus our research is showing as a nation we’re polarizing because of the rise of hate groups. It seems to me that the only way back towards center, back towards sanity and a means for peaceful evolution and opportunity for reasonably negotiated personal growth, is by seeing one another as worthy of being right (in some way) too… Can’t we “stand our ground” on sane discourse and not be pulled into disowning or slur-filled anathema?

Now I am not arguing that we should respect people spouting vitriolic hate or personally harmful rhetoric in our faces to the tune of “but you must have something reasonable to say because you’re speaking”. National discourse looks like an abuse cycle these days, and it is up to all of us to niether take on nor dole out the abuse, which means we must become comfortable with the idea of being wrong.

It has got to be ok to be wrong. If we can not be wrong, we are at the mercy of our unfolding shame‘s recoil. If we cannot be wrong we cannot continue to grow. If we cannot be wrong we will never close the gap between ourselves and people we do not fully understand. If we cannot be wrong the planet is doomed to war and will never have peace. If we cannot be wrong we can’t get creative about where our conversations are heading, or have the ability to direct things toward a kinder end for ourselves or another. If we cannot be wrong we cannot ask questions, pulling ourselves out of the point of view we are clinging to, willing to see perspective from another vantage point. If we cannot be wrong we cannot recognize nor examine our own potentially unhealthy or toxic behaviors. If we cannot be wrong we cannot ever find a way back to those we’ve wronged and ask forgiveness or strive to live in better harmony. If we cannot be wrong we cannot give the gift of acceptance to those who are right.

The photo above is from a puppet show I wrote called “The Crunkruckle”. It’s about an orphaned girl who lives deep in the forest, and all the kids from town think she’s a monster… By the end of the story her only friend, a wolf pup, is shot dead by townsfolk out of spite for him stealing a chicken. At the moment this picture was taken the Girl is falling to the ground sobbing over her wild friend’s limp body. Her monstrous visage dissolves away from the townsfolk imaginations and for the first time they see her as a wounded human child, not a strange ill-intentioned beast or threat to their way of life. Her raw display of pain shakes them out of a theretofore unexamined superficial paradigm and into a larger understanding of a dynamic shared existence… Was it the girl’s job to educate the townsfolk about her life? Of course it was not, it was the town’s burden to understand their disadvantaged outlier before trouble started. So infrequently though does the dominant population challenge its justness until trouble has already begun, at which point the dominant population has numbers and not an examined platform of ethics on its side.

Ok, ok, getting round to kink and sex and stuff: Speaking of numbers, if we are engaging in what I like to term “the advanced math of sexuality”, and something goes wrong, who do I want to have in bed/kitchen table/bathtub/woods with me? You guessed it: someone who can see through the knee jerk reaction of their complex feelings (perhaps including about being wrong and/or making a mistake), and who can get quickly and efficiently to the part where they fix the mistake/get me out of harm’s way/get me to medical attention or help/don’t make me feel bad about what went wrong while we join together as a team to make things right. And I work toward knowing myself well on these counts too should I be the one in the wrong. I won’t be playing with that person again if they cannot listen to my needs and make room for my experience amongst the list of their own desires. I won’t be playing again with someone who tries to wear me down into doing what they want to do against my wishes, or who gaslights me, or violates negotiations meant to protect my/our emotional, physical, sexual, or psychological health. I won’t be playing with someone I find abusive, narcissistic, or controlling. At the core of enjoying the advanced math of sexuality, all boils down to effective and vulnerable communication for the unshackled (yet perhaps actually shackled) enjoyment of all parties involved.

Dealing with the sting of being corrected when learning something new, or of having one’s POV criticized with a stronger argument; assuaging the sick feeling in your stomach when you know you should say something because you fucked up and it matters that you own up to your misjudgement; steadying the terror of standing up for your beliefs in the face of a threat… Being able to overcome all of these feelings and be true to one another and ourselves are the traits which make us a whole community capable of growth, capable of becoming more tightly woven to one another in community, and capable of a healthy momentum forward.

To Breath and Being,
~ Karin

PS. In the middle of writing of this post I got word of the story on NPR: Army Corps Denies Easement For Dakota Access Pipeline… The work of the Standing Rock Sioux over these many months, the accompanying protesters, and supporters of this protest from across the nation engaging in peaceful protest armed with a clearly articulated point of view helped bring us this decision. Through standing steadfastly and peacefully, listening and speaking truth to power, our country has (for the moment — we’ll see what happens next) been brought to a place of respectful understanding and ethical retreat from wrongdoing in the form of treaty violation. I’m sure there are more arguments in our future, but for now I’m happy that peaceful demonstration outdid the other side’s violent and bullying retort. So be it.

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~Thank you.

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