I once had a therapist tell me, “our parents know how to push our buttons because they are the ones who installed them.” While I have worked through all my resentments with my parents and accept they were doing the best they could with the tools they had at the time, in my journey I’m too self aware to allow myself to repeat the unhealthy cycles they set in motion. I have commited to doing better with my daughter and learn from the mistakes they made with me. While I make a concerted effort to not expose her to certain aspects of my lifestyle that are inappropriate for her age, I also do not want to create an environment where she feels things are dirty or bad. I do not believe in right or wrong, good or evil. My truth is that things are either effective or ineffective. So a few sentences ago, when I used words like “unhealthy” or “inappropriate,” I mean those things in the context that they are ineffective when it comes to creating an effective paradigm.
While my parents might not have been effective in creating an environment that celebrated my personal expression, the flip side is if you have ever been on the business end of an instrument of torture I was using on you, then you should thank them for making me that way.
“But kink is one of your favorite things in life, how was what they did ineffective in making you who you are today?” you ask. Rather than embracing who I was in my teen years, I turned to less effective forms of personal growth, like abusing drugs and multiple suicide attempts, before becoming comfortable in my own skin.
Our fetishes are the personifications of our subconscious issues regarding how we feel about expressing ourselves in the world around us. Notice I did not say how we feel about sex. Sex is just one way we express this and some fetishes like BDSM have nothing to do with sex and everything to do with how secure we do or don’t feel. Everyone has fetishes, so I don’t feel being vanilla means you are devoid of them, I think being vanilla means a lack of self awareness and intention in expressing them. When any one tells me they are vanilla, I first ask, “What brought you to this conclusion?” The responses are generally along the lines of not having the experience or knowledge of things I am into. To which I then ask if that is by choice. I then explain how I think being vanilla is being content with conventional ways of sexual expression just for the sake of it, and with no interest in the expansion of those dynamics, and while everyone might have kinks hidden away in the back of their mind, the difference is how intentional you are in embracing them. In a world of people content with sleep walking, living with focused intention can be a rarity.
“So wait- I think I get the concept, but what does this actually look like in real life?” you ask.
Thanks for asking, here is a story that inspired this article. Before I get into the story, let me preface by saying the ultimate goal of parenting is to raise my child to live her own truth. It does not have to be my truth. Being in the lifestyle provides a balancing act in doing this. But no matter what, I don’t want her to be burdened by outdated, shame-based concepts. My daughter went to a curiosities expo with my partner, and left wanting a tail to wear. My partner gave her one, since she also celebrates self-expression. I am fine with my daughter having a tail, since she understands the concept of being an animal, as she has been pretending she was a cat or a dog since she was a baby, now she has an adornment to help her express this.
Tails are age-appropriate. All of my implements of torture are hidden away, though once when she was 5 my daughter found a flogger and said “Look Daddy, I’m a cheerleader!” I did not panic and scramble to take it away from her, I just said, “Oh yes, you are!” A flogger was not wrong or dirty, she just does not need to know what I do with it in my private adult time. When she wore the tail home to her mother’s house, I got a call a few days later from her mom saying,
“I know you are into whatever you are into, but I am not ok with letting our daughter wear a tail, because other kids are going to make fun of her. I was ok with you taking her to the furry convention last year, but she is not old enough to become a furry, and if she wears a tail then that’s the first step, then comes the ears and then comes the whole suit.”
Ok, I forgot to tell you about the Furry Convention. I am not a furry, I enjoy supporting people who are expressing themselves. My daughter has been twice. The first time she was two and I knew she would think it was like Disney world, so we went during the day and hung out in the lobby so she could see them. They were all very appropriate with her and she did not need to know what was happening behind closed doors later on that night. Then I took her a year ago, at 7, and she was more aware that these were people wearing these suits, but it seemed just like fun to her and she got her picture taken with them. Mr and Ms American Vanilla might find it weird to take their kids to an event like that, but weird and wonderful is how we do life here.
My response to her mother in this regard was it has nothing to do with furries. If my daughter wants to be an animal that is fine, though at age 8 things change and it might go the way of when she wanted to be a princess the year before. Who cares what they kids at school think? The kids at school didn’t get me either because I was into Kiss and horror movies with no interest in Transformers. Those kids are just going to grow up and join the rest of the sheeple. The agreement was made that you don’t tell me how to live in my house and I won’t tell you how to live in yours. So she wears the tail when she is here. What I wanted to avoid was turning it into a big deal. Once it becomes a big deal, then she might think she is somehow wrong for wanting to wear a tail, and that is just not the case.
A month later I was working in a local theater on a musical about Krampus. My daughter went with me to the rehearsals and the Friday night production. On Saturday she said,
“Daddy I want to be in the play.”
“Ok, what do you want to be?” I asked.
“I want to be a possessed wolf,” she replied.
I told the makeup and wardrobe department and they made her up into that. She stayed in character all night and came out prowling behind me when I sang King Diamond’s “No Presents for X-mas.” She did this for three shows and was a big hit in her celebration of personal expression. The creative director invited her back to join in their 5 week summer program for kids. It was a moment where she felt proud and confident in her sense of self. Being my kid, she has been exposed to King Diamond her whole life, but this was the first time his music clicked with her, so I felt as if I had levelled up as a parent. Backstage, she was talking to one of the actress and they asked her what was she going to do during the performance while being a possessed wolf, and she told told her, “I am going to make people do what I want them to do,” sternly pointing her finger. To which the actress laughed, “I guess somethings are just genetic.”