"Next time you wanna talk trash, Imma put it on blast." - Karmin, I Told You So
I'm going to keep this brief because I just put up a new post last night and there is a lot that's getting me down this weekend that I'm trying not to dwell on for the sake of retaining my ability to function. But I can't help pointing out that I've seen a lot of thinkpieces this week on the Ashley Madison hack -- 37m users on a website designed for extramarital affairs had their personal information outed -- about how we shouldn't take glee in what was an illegal breach of privacy, even if the people who were breached were cheaters. And I have an unpopular opinion.
I have no desire to look at the data dump and I don't believe in bullying individuals. But if you want me to feel bad for the victims... I don't.
It's admittedly a self-interested position. Much of what it comes down to is that I feel more threatened by the institution of marriage than I do by information surveillance. Neither of these things are good things, but if you were to ask me which has caused me more pain in my life, it is our culture's sex-negativity and false fetishization of monogamy. (N.B.: I respect monogamy as a conscious, fully examined relationship choice. I do not respect it as a societal relationship default from which any dissenters are considered deviant, damnable, or "edgy," or even "interesting to talk to at cocktail parties.")
Being on the forefront of a polarizing sexual revolution and trying to do work that releases people's shame has too often made me a pariah, because I make public about myself what most people keep secret. I do this so that people everywhere can feel less alone in their sexualities and have access to resources that will help them to express those sexualities in a healthy and positive manner.
In my twenties I spent four years as a professional dominatrix, and I saw countless men come to the commercial dungeon where I worked in order to get needs met that they were too ashamed to talk about with their committed partners. It gave me a great deal of empathy and compassion for them, and ultimately, even if I hadn't been forced out of the profession by being outed (first by the New York Post with a photo of me and a story about my raising the legal fees for my boss/boyfriend's arrest, and then by competitors in my industry with my legal name and session location), I wouldn't have been able to continue in it forever due to the toxicity of all the dishonest relationships I saw within it. The natural next step for me was to take what I'd learned and try to help people actually form satisfying relationships that meet their needs. I literally wrote a chapter in my book advising women on how to get their partners to open up about their more secretive sexual fantasies so that everyone can have more functional relationships without damaging rifts in intimacy.
I know how important my work is and how many people I've helped, because many of them have come forward and told me so, usually privately over email. But by putting myself at the forefront of releasing sexual shame, I've made myself into a lightning rod for people's own internal conflict around their desires. I've become a sacrificial goat in the Madonna/whore complex, a woman whose entire personhood becomes tarnished because she dares to speak frankly about sex -- the kind of sex that everybody else seems to want but refuses to talk about.
These same people who have felt the need to either repress or explore their desires dishonestly are the people who in public have willingly, intentionally, perpetuated a cultural system that villainizes me for doing work that seeks to give them resources to heal. These people have caused me a great deal of pain.
Now maybe you're saying, But Arden, not everyone is as brave as you are.
Well FUCK THEM. I'm tired of all the bravery falling on me. I'm tired of having to suffer as a result of everyone else's cowardice.
So, I'm sorry if I don't feel bad for the people who have been judging me all along for being honest about the same things they've been hiding. I was here the whole time -- I've been here all along, offering help and counsel, pleading with people to get right with themselves, and now a day of reckoning has come.
I'm not cackling with glee, mind you. The Cassandra curse is a cold comfort. I'm just sitting here chilling out on the vapors of Delphi, shrugging, I tried to warn y'all, but you didn't listen.
Yes, the breach of security is a bad sign for people everywhere, but if you don't want your privacy threatened, maybe stop perpetuating a culture that so severely punishes people for being honest.