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Enslavement
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Opposition to Enslavement

In talking about the ideas of Internal Enslavement (IE) we've noticed that it often provokes strong emotional reactions in public forums, mailings lists and discussion groups. This should be no suprise, since IE is a radical but largely unfamiliar theory in most parts of the M/s subculture and the wider D/s scene.

We're now used to being met with anger, resentment, scorn and personal attacks from people who feel that the mere expression of our ideas undermines their style of relationship in some way.

During this time, we have identified several strategies that people who see themselves as our opponents use to deal with the cognitive dissonance that IE causes them to experience, as they confront it for the first time: faced with a robust system of ideas about consensual slavery that are inconsistent with opinions they may have held for years, we have seen people question their own thoughts, relationships and even their identity, and many defend their self images with some form of attack based on parts of the following strategies.

First is simple denial: they might crack a joke, point out a spelling mistake or laugh IE off as something that can't be serious. Then they continue their business and ignore IE, perhaps denying to themselves that it's even been mentioned. If they are genuinely content and convinced of their opinions, this is fair enough, however some people are not confident enough in themselves to stay with this attitude, and eventually come back with some of the other strategies.

Second is swamping: in the face of continued explanations of IE, they try to drown out our ideas in their own minds with detailed descriptions of just how "real" a slave they are or how "true" a Master they are because of the way they live. (This often involves confusing adherence to a particular form of external "slavelike behaviour" with the substance of ownership.)

Third is invalidation: they claim that anyone advocating IE cannot "really" be in such a relationship. Such relationships are not possible, not practical, and beyond the scope of human variation. It is unethical, un-American, ungodly, unbelievable and untrue. They claim that consensual but literal slavery isn't possible, and for this reason slavery must be defined in terms of "slavelike behaviour"; or in terms of how great their voluntary submission is; or worst of all, everyone who says they are a slave, is a slave, even if they are a rich man visiting a Dominatrix for an hour.

Fourth is equivalency: it turns out they have been following IE all along! That IE is no big deal. That, hey, it's no different to falling in love! Now, it is true than many people in the M/s subculture have been using the ideas of IE for years (we make no claim that IE is an original discovery: all we're doing is describing it and trying to put it on firm theoretical foundations.) However, when this claim is made by people who have vocally used the first three strategies against IE in the past, we find it hard to take their statement at face value.

Published 31 August 2000. Last updated 20 November 2001.

 
 
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