A Warning from Guest Blogger Master Cluff: this kind of (intelligent) writing can cause snowflakes to melt and ban you from their threads. (Reposted to STK with permission!)
“Shame, Shame, Shame. Shame, Shame, Shame.” – GoT S5E10
*”Everybody knows he’s cheating”
*”Cheaters are …”
*”Why does she stay?”
Raise your hand if you’ve seen a post like this. Or a million posts like these.
Now raise your other hand if you left a comment agreeing with the OP. Felt good to agree, didn’t it? Felt righteous, didn’t it? I mean it’s good and righteous to shame cheaters. They are breaking consent – by definition.
And our community runs on consent. We are consent strict constructionists. Yesterday I focused on the trouble with “Everybody Knows,” so the point I want to focus on today is why cheater shaming should be relegated to history.
Depending on whose statistics you trust, a quarter to half of married population cheats. That’s a lot of people. Millions of them. We talk about motive, opportunity, gender balance, but as I read the righteous indignation comments I wonder – why does it seem to make the consent strict constructionists feel somehow superior to the cheaters? It certainly appears from the vitriol that is aimed at cheaters that majority of loudmouths on Fetlife do use those scumbag cheaters to feel better about themselves. Occasionally, you get to see a thoughtful post about how complicated relationships can be, but these are drowned out in the sea of self-righteous indignation.
Human nature may be uncheatable, but science is finally getting a bit more clarity on what makes us tick. Still, we know precious little about how our brains work. A lot of what we as a society believe about our behavior is guesswork. We are just now starting to understand how DOSE neurotransmitters shape our kinks. And emerging information suggests that predisposition to cheating could be in large part genetic:
For example, one study from the University of Queensland, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, found that infidelity was more common among people who had specific types of oxytocin and vasopressin receptor genes.
As Richard Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, explained in The New York Times, vasopressin is a hormone related to social behaviors including trust, empathy, and sexual bonding.
According to the results of that study, a whopping 40% of instances of infidelity in women and 62% in men had to do with genetics.
Well, this could turn awkward. History is replete with examples minority groups shaming other minority groups once they get a sense of empowerment, so the cheater shaming should not be surprising. Especially from the kink community. And what should also not be surprising is that little good ever comes from shaming people based on their genetics – eye color, skin color, gender, et al. Also it seems like something the kink community would normally shy away from.
So here is a modest proposal: leave the righteous indignation to religious bigots. There’s plenty of them, but there’s little space for them in the kink community. Give the cheaters non-judgy advice on where to find resources on how to open their marriage. And if that is not for them, if they decide to stay within what appears to be a broken marriage, be respectful of their decision and their marriage. Just because it’s not for you doesn’t mean it’s not for them and you don’t have all the information about their risk exposure. (More on that next post.)