Embracing the Other

The 2nd in our Principles Series

Embrace The Other

Embracing the Other

The first piece we wrote in our series outlining Joyne’s principles was on cross-pollination. We talked a lot about what we can learn from those that are passionate about sex-positivity, even when their flavor of sexual self-expression might look wildly different from our own. In short, we tried to make a strong argument for poly folks and kinksters and swingers and a great many others to reach out and communicate with one another, both as individuals and as communities.

If you’re reading this, there’s a fair chance that you consider yourself part of the counter-culture. Maybe you express that through the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, or (very likely, since you’re reading this particular article) your sexual identity. A nice side-effect of being at odds with the mainstream is that the folks that make up our respective social circles tend to be a little bit different, and we’ve all had opportunities to learn the real value in celebrating that difference. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we’ve mastered the art of accepting that which is other. There’s still work to be done.

One of the consequences of encouraging very distinct communities to work more closely together is that we end up encountering ideas that are completely foreign to us. We’re taking a pretty big-tent approach here at Joyne… essentially saying that if you value positive sexual expression you’re important to us. But just because you might be queer doesn’t mean you’re a leather fetishist, or just because you might like impact play doesn’t mean you’ve ever been in a relationship with more than one partner at a time. So saying we can all be one big happy family gets… uncomfortable at times.

We thought the responsible thing to do would be to talk about that, right up front in our four principles. We value things like safety and consent a thousand times over… but we also value discomfort. Why? Because discomfort is a thing we often feel when we’re confronted with a new idea. And because discomfort is a thing we often feel right before we change the way we see the world.

Maybe you’re already doing this work to some degree or another. And if you are, great. Read on and reach out. Maybe this all sounds very new and strange. That’s okay too. Read on. Reach out.

Embracing does not always mean participating

We’re not saying that you’re not doing it right if you’re a kinkster who doesn’t swing, or if you’re active in the local poly community but don’t have any interest whatsoever in going to a fetish club. Everybody’s into what they’re into, and we have all the respect in the world for the limits that you’ve set for yourself.

But you don’t have to participate in the Other to embrace it, to understand it, or even to learn from it. The fetish community, the swinger community, the LGBTQIA community, the poly community, the sex worker community… all of us who value our sexuality and the exploration that stems from it, have a lot more to offer when we know what the communities around us represent and how our respective lifestyles have helped us grow.

Embracing the Other does not mean we have to participate to have a positive impact on our respective communities.

But sometimes it does

That said, we definitely urge the members of all of our various communities to get out of their comfort zones. As we noted above: discomfort is an important tool for both personal and communal growth. Feeling uncomfortable is a necessary part of unlearning oppressive behaviors. There’s a lot we can teach each other, but we’ve got to be willing to step outside of our norms to truly experience these opportunities.

A lot of specialization happens inside each of the groups we’re talking about, and a lot of valuable knowledge gets accumulated along the way. Kinksters intimately understand trauma and power dynamics. Poly folks are actively conquering some of the negative behaviors that stem from jealousy and control. All of us have developed skills and techniques that are unique to our own communities and experiences.

We need to spend more time with each other. We need to share our experiences. We need to learn, and to grow, and we’re not going to do that if we spend all of our time sticking to our own lanes. This is a big part of why Joyne exists. We wanted to see what else was out there, to have new experiences, and to explore new ways of challenging ourselves. Sometimes that’s been easy and fun. Sometimes that’s been really hard. But it’s always been beneficial.

This is part of a series of articles that outline the various principles that Joyne considers to be a core part of who we are as an organization. Our four principles are Active Inclusion, Enthusiastic Consent, Embrace the Other, and Cross-Pollination. We’re writing about each of them and will link to them as they are published