Sunday, April 30, 2017

Open-Mindedness and Understanding

Recently I've read a slew of blog posts about people encouraging open-mindedness when it comes to kink-related topics because of the ongoing trend of closed-mindedness that frequently plagues BDSM communities.  This post isn't targeted at any one of those bloggers, mostly just some thoughts in general that have been inspired by thinking about this topic.

I'm never a fan of closed-mindedness but in many ways it is consistent and predictable.  You expect it.  You choose what to show and what to hide.  You monitor your words so as to keep it from rearing its ugly head.  It forces you to hide.

Open-mindedness can be a much scarier beast because of what it implies but rarely means. 

Quickie copy/pasted definitions of open-minded:
  • willing to consider new ideas; unprejudiced.
  • having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • willing to consider different ideas or opinions.
  • willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to your own
From my experiences when I encounter someone that is openly open-minded, what they actually are is tolerant.  A lot of people are along the lines of: "I do not reject you because your _______ are different from mine."  Far fewer people follow: "I accept you even though your ______ are different from mine."

At some point people began using open-mindedness as a synonym for tolerant of, indifferent to, or accepting of.  I find this to be strange because that isn't really the meaning.  I would never define open-minded as "not intolerant."  The problem I have with this working definition is that it loses its actual meaning when you remove the part about "considering ideas".  

I believe that open-mindedness happens when you delve deep enough into the topic at hand to discover its strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and how it reflects in different points of view.  "I can understand how someone would like ______."  "I can see how _______ appeals to some people."  

I believe it is the understanding of ideas that is what makes people venture into communities.  They want to find people who can relate to and understand them.  They aren't looking for someone to tolerate them.  They aren't looking for people to accept them with no intention of understanding them.  They are seeking the end-result of open-mindedness.  If someone is unfamiliar with it, you can talk to them and they will understand you.  They want people they can talk to about fears and concerns that will understand their frame of reference.  They want someone to genuinely be interested in them as a person.  They want people to relate to that can relate to them.

Many kink-communities will meet that sort of approach with a slap in the face.  Shit always rolls downhill.  There's always someone more despicable to look down on.  There's always someone more fucked up to treat like the next pariah. 

That being said, is anyone perfectly open-minded?  Of course not.  We all have some biases and some prejudices.  The biggest thing is when we actually listen and see how someone views a specific topic.  Often it only takes a bit of passion and eloquence for someone to break down the barrier and allow you to see daylight where there previously was none.  To hear how someone describes their feelings and how it touches their soul can make something seem beautiful.  

Will this always happen?  Of course not.  Just because you understand someone doesn't mean you have to agree/like/enjoy the same things that they do.  However, if you don't make the effort, there is zero chance that something unexpected might find its way into your life or your heart. 

I don't really have a point to all this, just some food for thought as I write way too late at night.

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