Recently I attended an event where we discussed gossip, jealousy, and projection in a poly/kink sense, but they are issues we all deal with. Especially in the poly/kink and writing community. It seems behaviors are high on the list of things to expect from others and so far, history has shown this to be true.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a convention and heard, “Did you know so and so’s publisher underpaid his royalties?” Or, “So and so fucked so and so to get into that anthology.” Or at a kink event, “So and so doesn’t stop when a safe word is called.” Or a poly meetup, “That person comes on to everyone…” These things, while seeming to be warnings, do a lot of harm if they’re not true.
If a publisher isn’t honoring a contract, hell yes I’d want to know before I signed with them. That’s what Preditors & Editors is for. Or if I’m about to put my safety into someone’s hands, I sure as heck want to know if that person honors safe words. Or if I’m going on a date, I want to know if I’m being played or if I’m really that interesting to my date. But there’s a problem with these so-called warnings…
The problem with gossip is that while it means many things, including the sharing of facts, it’s also known for housing jealousy, perception issues, maliciousness, rejection, projection, and so much more.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone get rejected, then suddenly they claim the rejecter is using them for sexual favors or forcing him or herself on the alleged victim. I see this again and again in the poly community. Or when a Dom/Domme breaks up with a submissive and the sub then screams, “Foul play! I never consented!” Or when someone breaks their poly rule and rather than own it, accuses the third party of aggressively pursuing them and/or not backing down. This list would be a mile long if I put everything I’ve heard and witnessed here.
In the writing community, these things have crossover at times. Occasionally it’s just writing gossip, but sometimes it turns to accusations against people in a sexual manner. And that’s career damaging.
The similarities that connect all of these things is the accuser/gossiper feeling rejected, jealous, and often times making assumptions. These acts of lashing out and accusing are the very thing they’re accusing someone else of. When someone is rejected and punishing the rejecter, they are the one not respecting the ‘no’ they’ve been given.
The actual abusers of consent are the ones claiming to be the victim in these cases.
That type of projection is pretty obvious to me. When someone is warning me legitimately, they often say things like, “This was just my experience, but I wanted to share. I know you’ll make your own choice.” Or something like that. And in those cases, I often take in what the person says, I consider the source, then I use healthy observation and discernment to make my choice. And when these types of people share and I decide to move forward and not take their advice, they don’t get angry or accuse me of taking sides.
The source’s response says a great deal about their reliability.
The problem with gossip is that when we take part in malicious forms and attack someone’s status or character–whether in kink, poly, or writing–we cause damage.
It’s fine to listen. I think it’s even fine to talk. I don’t mind people talking about me, though I hope they talk to me as well. Otherwise, it’s not healthy communication. In fact, if we don’t talk to the person directly, then there’s no communication at all.
Gossip with malicious intent is different than just talking.
I spoke with my therapist on this, partly because a couple posts ago I talked about emotions and when they become destructive. Projection, jealousy, and gossip are no different. Those three things can be horrible or they can be used for good.
Some people project joy and happiness onto others. Some are jealous in healthy ways, that tend to motivate them to try harder and work smarter. And some gossip about others in ways that build them up and show respect. Because again, gossip isn’t just about bad things. It’s simply talking about people other than yourself. It can be good or bad.
Talking about others period is gossip.
So my therapist and I took a look at these things and found that what gets in the way is people not dealing with their emotions and therefore, projecting in unhealthy ways. Or gossiping in slanderous ways, being jealous to the point of sabotaging another, making assumptions and not asking, and so on.
The good news is that it’s okay to talk!
I talk about people I’m proud of. I may not tell the things they’ve confided in me because that would break trust, but I still talk about them. Because I *am* proud of them. Yet this is gossip.
Sometimes I get jealous of people further along in their writing career. And I get jealous of people that can get up in front of a large audience and talk without shaking. But I don’t get jealous in a sabotage way. It’s a manner in which I look to them as something to aspire to.
So these things, while they can be horribly bad, can also be healthy and serve us for the better. But we must consider the source… If the person telling you something (of if you, as the teller) can say it to the person’s face and not *just* behind their back, then it’s likely something to consider. While cowardly behavior and refusing an in-person talk likely means you’re doing something wrong. The one exception to this is if you’re being threatened physically and it’s not safe to confront someone.
I’m growing tired of the lies that get spread through these communities that I love so much. I see good people get hurt all the time because too many people listen to the bad kinds of gossip or take part in it. Too many people make assumptions and lash out with accusations rather than take part in actual communication.
Too many people take part in the things they accuse others of, vilifying someone because they project onto that person the things they’re feeling and doing.
Maybe at one point in time, I would have listened to the bad gossip. Goodness knows I’ve heard my fair share of slander. And before I understood how to consider the source, I’d probably have believed the lies people told.
But not now.
Now I listen. I look for evidence. I use healthy discernment. Then I make my own decision.
I don’t think gossip, jealousy, and projection need to be used for bad. There are so many things we can do with them that serve us in a good way. We always have a choice with how we want to handle ourselves.
I’m happy to make peace with people who have taken part in these poor behaviors, and I do. Sometimes I’ve been in the wrong and apologized, other times it was the other person, and by communicating and taking responsibility for both our parts, we’ve been able to heal.
But too often people are proud. They don’t want to go to the person and say, “I was wrong and I’m sorry I hurt you.” And that’s sad.
This is something that plagues us all, even those that are the healthiest of healthy. Sometimes it’s especially the healthier ones that get gossiped about in more slanderous ways because they are the ones often times rejecting the unstable and/or unhealthy people. Whether it’s a sexual type relationship, professional connection, or a friendship.
No matter what community you’re part of, even if it’s outside the groups I’m talking about, ask… Ask questions. Don’t assume. Don’t blindly believe. And please… don’t project in these poor ways. Communication isn’t hard when you are humble.
Asking is so important. Even those of us that use healthy discernment will still have the slander we hear floating in the back of our minds. So when something does happen with a person we’ve heard gossip about–even when we are smart and observe and make our own choices–we still have to silence that voice that surfaces saying, “Yeah, but so and so said this and that…”
Malicious gossip is costing us energy no matter what end of the gossip we’re on.
I’m certain these communities will never be free of gossip, jealousy, projection, and all the other nonsense we have to deal with. There will always be people that want to blame everyone else rather than look at their own actions and behaviors. I do feel, however, that if we are more vigilant about what we do, and if we back one another up when we see people taking responsibility rather than placing blame, then we can squash a lot of these sorts of issues before the truly become issues.
My biggest problem with people that play the victim and project their issues onto everyone else is that they make it hard for those legitimately being hurt and violated to be believed. As someone who has actually been a victim, this is crucial for me. These people cast doubt on true victims and therefore, disrespect those that are actually being silenced.
We owe it to one another to try to see when we are behaving poorly. We owe it to one another to stand up for those being gossiped about in these malicious sorts of ways. And we owe it to ourselves and others to ask questions rather than blindly believe what we are told.
We owe it to those who are actual victims to squash these slanderous folks’ claims so that the true victims can be heard loud and clear.
*image by Stephen Stacey on freeimages.com*