One problem I find with informed consent is the potential for people to abuse themselves through others.
If there are no higher values than what one person says he or she wants (as long as it doesn’t impact anyone else directly), then what that person says about them is law. We no longer have the right to impose an outside morality on them. Which would be fine if people were actually good to themselves.
I read a piece of writing I did about my inner thoughts. I described voices in my head which were telling me that I deserved to be abused. It was similar to how I used to abuse myself with food by binging and starving. However, this time, part of me was wanting to be physically abused by another. I felt I should to be treated that way. (I relate to the scullery maid in fairy tales, not the princess.)
The small group I read it to had two very different reactions. Some people said, “you are kinky, good for you!” One person suggested that I buy a whip.
I was horrified. They didn’t understand where these ‘desires’ were coming from- even though I actually stated it. It was my old self-hate coming through in another form. This time I was wanting to hand the power to abuse over to someone else.
Most of the women in the group immediately identified with the self-hate coming through in various ways. Interestingly, these were survivors of various types of abuse.
I didn’t leave a religion that promotes self-abuse to jump into a recreational practice that does it too. I’ve seen people walking down hot dusty roads, carrying crosses and whipping themselves until they bleed. I’ve taken part in hurting myself through food, pain, and negative thoughts. It feels right, but it is so wrong.
Now, I am sure that some practicers of kink or other body punishing sports do so for the same adrenalin rush that I get when running. When you push your body to the limits, you do get an endorphin high. But I am also willing to bet that many of these practices come from broken people who have found a new and exciting way to self-punish.
Perhaps I don’t have the right to say why a person may do something. Not everything is as clear as cutting or drug abuse. But I believe I still have some moral obligation to help people love themselves. And that doesn’t mean saying, “if it feels right for you, then it must be.” Or, “if you’ve experienced abuse as love, then you will probably still equate abuse with love so go for it.”
No! I’m not sure what the answer is, but I know there has to be a better way of valuing people than by taking what they say at face value.
A guy I talked to said that he upheld his church’s view of male-only leadership based on what the women in the group said. The women said they wanted it that way and he felt that if he imposed his own view (of equality) on them then he would be saying that he knew better than they. He refused to try an analyze why these women would oppose female leadership or even which idea had more merit.
He thought that respecting women was to support them in upholding their own views of inferiority.
There must be a way to value people equally and still not value each idea the same. I guess that is called discernment.
Not everyone knows what is best for them. The problem is, does anyone else?