Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Diversity and Why it Scares Us
A girl (me!), a 'boy' and his 'dog'.
At the Pride Parade on Sunday, I was quite startled to see this man and his 'dog' in plain view on the streets of Ottawa. Ottawa is a pretty conservative city, at least on the surface.
Now, I pride myself on being openminded. I've heard of people with fetishes such as this. But the sight of this fully outfitted 'person-dog' and its 'owner' initially caused an uncomfortable reaction in me. It was just so strange. Why would anybody want to dress up like that? Or be on a leash in public?
I am proud to say that I dabble in bondage/submission. But something like this - I just didn't understand at first. I think that we are initially frightened or made uncomfortable by things we just don't 'get'. I knew better than to feed on my initial reaction by telling myself how 'ridiculous' they looked. I also had to admit that my curiosity was piqued. I watched them off and on during the parade. The 'owner' acted like a 'regular' person, interacting with people, chatting, smiling. His 'pet' acted like a very friendly but well behaved dog. They were not threatening in the least, and I kind of got used to them. Occasionally, someone from the parade would stroll over and pat the 'dog's' head or scratch its neck. It responded exactly as a dog would respond.
By the end of the parade, I really felt quite intrigued by the pair. They seemed so comfortable in their skin, as bizarre as it first appeared to me. When I approached them to have my photo taken I was immediately entranced by the beautiful brown eyes of the person in the dog outfit. They were friendly and warm and unashamed.
I thought about it later. I always take an anthropological approach to figuring out these things.
As humans, we possess a unique and complex brain. Our self awareness distinguishes us from many, perhaps, all other animals. We are also able to carry with us that childlike sense of play and curiosity into adulthood. This has allowed human beings to create and invent so many astounding things. Why wouldn't this sense of fun and adventure and curiosity extend into our sexual lives?
I remember that I loved to pretend to be a dog or a cat or another animal as a child. Why shouldn't we, as adults, if we want to, keep playing? Of course, as adults, we are fully sexual beings, so if that play is incorporated into our sex lives, what is wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.
There is also the lost connection that many of us feel between ourselves and the animal world. Humans have such active brains, with thoughts, worries and emotions, that perhaps some people find it a relief to be able to turn all of that off, and just be an 'animal' for awhile, fully dependent and cared for by a thoughtful 'owner'. And also able to enjoy sexual pleasure with no guilt, shame or thought process other than what feels good in a purely bestial sense. I mean, I get it. I really do. Not sure I'd ever wear a costume or take it quite as far as this. But I understand it. And that, I think, is the key to acceptance. Which is not to say that one shouldn't accept something until one understands it. But it sure makes it easier!
To some people it may seem silly or ridiculous, especially when looking at the costumes and accoutrements. But if it gives pleasure and helps some people find fulfillment, they should not be feared or dismissed as bizarre aberration, but celebrated as people who know what they want/need and who are not afraid to express themselves.
As I emptied my purse of candy, clown noses, brochures and condoms Sunday (handouts from parade participants), I thought, what an apt metaphor for the staples of humanity: food, fun, knowledge and sex. I hope that all of us has a life full of each, devoid of judgement, condemnation and ignorance.