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Matthew Rainford, The Almighty Bobbu

May 2011

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May. 15th, 2011

Matthew Rainford, The Almighty Bobbu

Departing

Ladies & gentlemen, as much as I have enjoyed the LJ community from time to time, I am no longer going to be using this site. Instead, I will be blogging (hopefully more regularly, and on more interesting topics) on my new website for all creative output:

http://livinglibertine.com

I do hope you'll enjoy the new site, my new writings, and keep in touch.

Jan. 12th, 2011

Matthew Rainford, The Almighty Bobbu

I've not been lazy, honest!

Lookit, lookit!  I've not been doing nothing, I've made myself a new portfolio website!  So check it out, humanoid creatures.  I am proud.

imakeawesome.co.uk 
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Oct. 22nd, 2010

Matthew Rainford, The Almighty Bobbu

Two Celebrations

My life has been a crazy busy mess this last week, I have to say! For all the right reasons though; I’m working hard on an ecommerce site for a friend, finally starting on the website for my day job, wading through money problems, organising Polyday, and I also went to OpenCon and had my 23rd birthday!

I had been planning to go to OpenCon for some time, but money problems (it’s always money!) meant I couldn’t afford it until it was too late to book. Fortunately my dear friend Maxine prodded me with information that someone had cancelled at the last minute so I was able to go along at the last minute! And by the gods, was it worth the fuss a million times over!

Three days and 2 nights in a tantric healing centre, surrounded by polyamorous folks of all ages, varieties of non-monogamy, and nationalities (I made quite good friends with 3 Germans who’d come over just for the event, mostly through our frequent shared use of the smoking temple). The time was filled with workshops, lovely vegan food, and chilling out at the bar and the smoking temple. The night sky was beautifully clear, the days were made from sunlight and clear, cool autumn air, and the countryside around was the perfect setting for a weekend that saw everyone there grinning like idiots for pretty much all the time.

My own best experiences of the weekend were the poly activist workshop, ‘sex with Ludi’ (a discussion group, not actual sex) and building a rocket. Yes, a rocket. I made a paper rocket and fired it over a hedge! Made good friends with (and kissed) the rocket man, who does the making of rockets in schools for a living. He amazed me with physics, and I amazed him with my ability to impersonate Jack Sparrow – a good trade off, methinks.

I was on a panel myself too, which was a new and very pleasant experience! Myself, the rocket man, beautiful Ludi and dear Maxine sat ourselves in front of a room full of people and spoke about our varying experiences in the kink world. The questions we got were so much fun to answer, and I’m looking forward very much to repeating the experience at Polyday for the kink panel there!

Words do come rather short of describing the experience, especially as by the end of the weekend my brain had dissolved into a warm fuzzy mush from all the wonderful people, great conversation, and the strain of such prolonged social activity. Bipolar in such close confines with people, even marvellous ones, was only contained by lots of pipe smoking and stolen moments to myself. Needless to say, it gave me a great deal of confidence that Polyday will be a roaring success, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone I met at OpenCon at Polyday!

One particular interesting point is that the activist workshop has made a real impact on people. A new site is being set up, http://polytical.org, for we poly activists in the UK. It will be launched in the 19th November (in time for Polyday), but the wiki is already up and running at http://polytical.org/wiki. Personally I’m not sure what use a wiki will be, but I’m looking forward to seeing what gets turned out, and I will be throwing in my help once I’ve gotten myself a little more organised- probably when all the Polyday organisation has been polished off. People have really jumped up and stepped forward, eager to push polyamory out there into the public eye and support our freedoms. Gives me a great big grin, it does!

What also gave me a special Smugface Bobbu Grin™ was my birthday on Wednesday. I had some of my closest friends around for a night watching crap movies, drinking and giggling like the wee monkeys we are. It was also rather lovely having the 3 girls I’m currently dating in the house at the same time (along with 2 other ladies with whom I have a more complicated relationship with). So many beautiful people, so little capacity in language for appreciation! Two of the marvellous creatures stayed over in my bed, and we whiled away the morning of my first day as a 23-year-old with repeated threesome sex before I eventually had to head to work.

If I were to summarise my life over the past week or so, I’d have to say it can be done with a single word, and that I hope you can share in my joy as I shared in the joy of all the people at OpenCon. That single word?

Squee!

Oct. 2nd, 2010

Matthew Rainford, The Almighty Bobbu

Dress Codes

I shall once again open with a disclaimer; that this is not an attack on people who enjoy fetishwear. You can wear what you want, all I ask is that I be allowed the same.

An invitation to a fetish event dropped into my Fetlife inbox last night, and I took the time to take a look into what the event entailed. It looked like fun – a full house in the country, set up specifically for the use of the BDSM community: private rooms for all kinds of play, including blood play; well equipped; many well experiences dungeon masters and mistresses. It peaked my interest, even though I am not one for playing in public it seemed like it may be something to go to when I have the money to do so.

Then I read something that really riled me up. It’s a sore point with many of those who join me in running the Bristol Under 35s BDSM Munch too, so I know that I am not alone in my frustration. I read the words ‘Dress code: smart black minimum, fetish must be worn after first visit.’

Now, I love seeing people running around in latex, leather, puppy and pony gear, whatever makes them into happy humans! I fully appreciate the need for people to feel comfortable in an environment that encourages people to put effort into their attire, to make an event special. But I do resent the idea that one would not be welcome if one does not have a fetish for a particular type of clothing.

Dress codes began back in the early days of the BDSM scene as a way of keeping out those who would come along to events for the purpose of gawking or poking fun. This made some degree of sense back then, as people were unlikely to put in all the effort of getting quite expensive fetish gear to mock people. There are cheaper ways of mocking people. But in a world where people can wander into Anne Summers and pick up something that will get them into a fetish club without anyone batting an eyelid, it seems a little pointless.

I do not like wearing leather unless I’m on a motorcycle. I do not like wearing PVC, as much as I enjoy some of my subs wearing it. I do not feel any need to dress up in a uniform to feel like a Master. When I am doing a session I wear what I wear in day-to-day life; a shirt, waistcoat, trousers and boots. If I’m feeling like looking smart I may wear a tie or cravatte. Sometimes I will wear high heels, but not very often. Apparently this is not ‘fetish’ enough for such events as the one I was invited to. And I have many friends who have even less desire to dress up as I do. This does not mean they have no fetishes, nor a lack of desire to partake in the BDSM scene. What it means is that they are excluded from attending such potentially extremely entertaining events as the one I was invited to simply because their fetishes are not ones that can be worn on the outside.

The argument is often made that a fetish dress code is enforced in order to make those who wish to wear fetish comfortable – so that they are not the only ones, or that they are in a minority of people dressed in a manner that they could not do so in the world outside the fetish community. This doesn’t really make much sense to me. They have come to a specifically fetish-oriented event, which should engender a spirit of acceptance and celebration of the variety of human sexuality. To enforce a dress code may make them feel at home by giving them the visible illusion of being amongst many, but this is such an unreasonable way of deciding upon rules. Imagine if the rule were reversed? Imagine if we were to hold a private fetish event and say that you could wear nothing that you could not get away with in day-to-day life, so that those who did not want to wear fetish gear did not feel uncomfortable?

All I ask for in a community that should encourage variety and diversity, is to be accepting of the real diversity in the scene. Not all kinks can be worn on the outside, and people who are made uncomfortable by the presence of those people who choose not to wear fetish have no right to dictate the manner in which an event is managed. I call for a reasonable approach to people’s emotional response – the emotion is the responsibility of the emotee, and people should not be forced into doing something that makes them uncomfortable instead.

I shall close with a simple analogy: Say a PVC fetishist was offended by a TV’s attire, they would not be allowed to demand they cover up with latex or leave. So why is it acceptable for clothing fetishists to demand that we who do not share their fetishes should conform to what they wish to see?

Aug. 20th, 2010

Matthew Rainford, The Almighty Bobbu

Why I Will Not Fight For Your Rights

I have an aversion to the idea of rights. To me, it implies something that is inherent in the world, and being a very strong supporter of subjectivism, and something of an existentialist, I am very much repelled by such an idea.

Existentialism does not negate the validity of a belief in rights by a long way, and I am well aware of this. After all, it merely takes conviction in the usefulness of a belief to grant it what passes for validity in existentialist thinking; if you believe it is important enough to want to make it real then the existentialist will happily accept your belief. Defining your own set of truths about the world does allow for a lot of such things.

But for me, the idea that we must grant someone or something ‘rights’ as an inherent part of the world order is one that rings too much of being constructed on top of the world that we exist in. It implies the existence of justice to me – or at least the desire to fight towards the realisation of the concept of justice. That is a fight I cannot see the end of, personally. If we fight for the right of every human for food and water, the right to fair trial and so on, then we find ourselves fighting against not only against the laws of nature, which may be just to some eyes, but can never be seen under any light as fair.

A fight I believe we can win, that I can see an end to, is the fight for freedom. But then, being an anarchist at heart I would feel that freedom has more value than rights. To me, freedom is something that is far more than a purely existentialist desire to make a conceptual value into a reality. Freedom has an existence in the world already, without the need for beliefs such as justice, mercy or fairness, which are constructs purely of the human mind and require forcing onto the world.

To me, freedom is the only thing we truly have; the ability to choose is inherent in the mind of every human being, even those who choose to deny such a thing and blame others, or the world around them, for the events in their lives that are truly down to the choices they ignore. It is consciousness of choice that makes us human, that makes us able to define to some degree the path we take through life.

I am well aware of the arguments against the reality of free will, as any philosopher should be. Hume is probably one of the best critics of belief in free will, and indeed modern psychology agrees with his ideas in many respects. But even if free will is an illusion of the mind (a hypothesis I actually support) and our actions are in fact determined, in my opinion this does not negate the fact that we cannot behave in any other way than as though we do have free will. We consciously make decisions, and even if the underlying choice is predetermined, the choice is still ours. Yes, I am evoking Kant in defence of Hume’s attack on free will; though to me they are less opposite sides of an argument, but rather an establishment of the dubiousness of our free will from Hume, and the confirmation that whatever the case in that respect may be, we cannot exist except under the impression that we have free will – it is an inherent part of our psychology.

But the distinction must be made between the psychological and metaphysical concept of free will, and the political and practical idea of freedom. Even if one was to prove that free will is an illusion, categorically and empirically, without any iota of a doubt, the concept of freedom would still be a very real part of our lives. To be free to make the choices that we make and to live them out, even if those choices are an illusion, makes a very real difference to our lives. That is the advantage of seeing life itself as a subjective illusion in this instance – finding out the underlying reasons for the illusion does not make the illusion any less real: just like finding out that our vision is not what the world is like, but merely the translation of electrical impulses does not stop one from living in the world that one sees.

Ok, quick breather. I’ve established that I dislike rights, because they are a human concept that can only be made into reality by trying to impress it upon the fabric of the world we experience. I’ve also established that even if free will is an illusory experience, it does not negate the reality of freedom within the framework of the illusion in which we exist. But why should I choose to fight for freedom for all? Why should I pick the fight for freedom over the fight for rights, when in practice there is probably little distinction?

Well, firstly let me point out with a very practical example just how dramatic a difference there is in fighting for rights as opposed to fighting for freedom. I go to an LGBTQ meeting, and I come across someone who is an activist fighting for gay rights. I tell them that I fight for gay rights and for polyamorous rights too. Within the framework of rights, they have no moral requirement to support my fight for poly rights, despite the fact that I fight for their rights as a non-heterosexual. Rights are modular, to put it simply. One can pick and mix rights in an entirely arbitrary manner, and so people who one would expect to be fighting on the same side can end up disparate and confused. They also tend to be argued for and against in a very consequentialist manner; ‘if we let gays marry, then we may as well allow people to marry sheep,’ for example. Such a wide array of reasons are given for supporting this or that right – no unifying belief brings rights together and gives them any more importance than that each individual wishes to give them. And what with humans being inherently self-interested beings, one finds that most people will only support the rights that are in their own interests.

There are degrees that one can fight for freedom too, certainly. But if I come across someone who fights for gay freedom and not for poly freedom, there are arguments that can be used to point out that they have drawn a line where there is not one. That is the advantage freedom has in its grounding in reality! If I wish to fight for my own freedom to sleep with a member of the same sex, then the only true manner to do so while remaining in keeping with the spirit of freedom is to point out that what I wish to do does not infringe upon the freedom of others. This is a unique, unifying aspect of supporting freedom that allows for a common judgment of any action and whether or not it should be allowed. So when the LGBTQ lesbian disapproves of my polyamory, I can throw aside her consequentialist arguments with any effective arguments I wish, and pull her up on the very simple fact that I am not directly harming anyone with my actions as a polyamorist, just as she is not with her homosexuality. Finally, we reach common ground and can fight for the same thing! Well, in theory. In practice, people are not so easily dissuaded from their heavily ingrained social conditioning.

I’ve gone on long enough for now, I think, and made my point that the freedom is a far more realistic, far more grounded, and far less exclusive battle than the hundreds of battles for rights. But I shall close with an argument for the lazy: rights require an enforcement of someone’s right to do something amidst an atmosphere of ‘thou shalt nots’. All freedom requires is that we step back and allow people to do what they wish, stepping in only when freedom is being suppressed. I know which world I would choose to live in.

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