self harm, self play or self abuse…

by | Aug 5, 2009

and thoughts on what is okay and what is not okay…

So there’s been an interesting discussion privately with someone on my f-list about why they feel perfectly comfortable with intense BDSM activities but not with activities considered self-harm such as cutting, as well as pro ana/mia communities online.

Which has given me a lot of food for thought. Particularly why culturally “we” feel that certain activities are inherently “wrong” for health, moral or ethical reasons.

Even when one has given a reasonable amount of thought to one’s ethics and opinions on BDSM there are a whole lot of areas where one can come unstuck – and think – is that okay?

– this is part of what I said…

As to cutting and related activities – does it change your view if you consider it self play instead or self harm? Just another form of masturbation – albeit with blood 😉 I’ve know a few people who’ve experienced it more along these lines rather than as self-abuse (which come to think of it is the Catholic term for masturbation).

So my personal feelings would be that RACK can apply to other things rather than what we would strictly consider BDSM play. Or maybe just RAA – Risk Aware Activities as there’s no need for the consent and it’s not always about Kink… People handle stress and life in different ways – in terms of health impacts – carefully cutting yourself with a razor blade is a lot healthier than smoking a cigarette when you’re stressed… but one person has a bad habit and the other is “sick”.

Of course in an ideal world – we’d all go for a run when we felt that impulse… rather than eat a packet of tim tams, drink a bottle of wine, smoke half a pack, slice into our skins or make yourself vomit.

But life isn’t quite that neat.

Issues around body size and food are interesting also – and the strange fascination/discomfort that we have culturally with both fat activism and thinspiration… The line between a regular “health and lifestyle” website and a pro-ana community is *very* thin (pardon the pun), they may even be using photos of the same women!

I tend to think that the “health” aspect is really a red herring – as humans naturally come in different shapes and sizes and have health problems for a lot more reasons than weight. I think it’s interesting to consider a lot of these activities/ lifestyles as being body modification of one sort or another.

In almost all cultures except modern Western society one’s body is a reflection of one’s life. A blacksmith has huge arms, a scholar is thin etc etc… it’s only been in a very short time that people have forced their lives to fit what they want their bodies to look like rather than the reverse. Males being “expected” to look like warriors for an olden days battle rather than what their life looks like now.

Which I have always found rather strange to be honest… how people can spend hours and hours each week doing things they don’t really like in the pursuit of a strange ideal of beauty. A bit like wrapping infants heads to change their skull shape 😉

Weight loss/weight gain is a rather extreme form of body mod – considering the time, expense and suffering that goes into it… then when you factor in any cosmetic procedures it gets even weirder.

Makes scarification/branding/piercing/tattooing look a lot more simple in comparison!