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Denise>I'd be incredibly > interested in discussing what your stance on bodyart is: I've been asked > to distinguish between self-mutilation and body piercing, scarification > and branding, and am having a hard time doing so. If you have the time or > desire to enter correspondance I'd be quite happy! Laura:You've certainly hit the philosophical topic of the day! :As both an abuse survivor *and* an avid BodModer, I've pondered :these ponders quite a bit. :It's been my experience that many people into BodMod have :come out of abusive childhoods. I guess, for myself, I :think of my piercings and tattoo as a way of reclaiming (or :marking) my body for *myself*! This is, of course, beyond :the real-live erotic benefits to my genital piercings :-) :In the literal sense, all BodMod could be seen as self- :mutilation and, in some cases, it probably is! However, I :don't believe this is the case for most people. :It could be that people who come out of intense, abuseive :backgrounds are just less intimidated about pain. I know :for myself I find the image of shiny metal :imbedded in defenseless genitalia to be very erotic. Part :of what makes BodMod so interesting to me is the :intensity of it, even though I've been pierced in spite :of the pain, not because of it..... > The main background I have of abuse is > from a nasty relationship I was in for a year and a half from age 17 to > almost 20. Twas mostly mental and emotional since I got out shortly after > it becoming physical. Anyhoo, my main attraction to body modification was > initially the control aspect- exerting control over my body and making my > physical body fit the mental and spiritual vision I have of it. > Unfortunately, the whole aspect of using bodmod as a way of expressing > control smacks incredibly of self-mutilation. > When I'm asked to differentiate, all I can say is, "Its not self-mutilation > if someone does it for you!" :Here's how I think about it: in my work with abuse survivors I've :encountered my share of folks who self-abuse in one form or another, :all the way up to women who cut themselves. In all of these cases, :the mutilation was almost at the addiction level: the woman would :be in psychic pain, feel the need to relieve it or distract from :it, and then be unable to stop the cutting. This kind of self- :mutilation was a continual dance of pain that arose from the :unconscious, seemingly out of the victim's control. :BodMod, on the other hand, is usually done with complete consciousness, :and often in a celebratory state of mind. Pierces and other :body art are usually considered for some length of time before :the work is actually done--the art carefully chosen, the proper :pierce contemplated, supportive witnesses called, even full- :blown rituals written up! This is a completely different mind :set than the average self-mutilator. :So, perhaps to put it another way: I see self-mutilation as :marking the body in a way to numb/distract from psychic pain, :whereas I see BodMod as a way to celebrate one's body and claim :it as one's own, even if it *does* involve some pain. :Do the MDs who stick us with hypos practice mutilation? When :an organ must be removed due to cancer, is this mutilation? :Our society believes that certain kinds of pain are acceptable :within certain formats. That piercing/tattooing is not :an "acceptable" format does not inherently make it mutilation. > I get pierced for the metal, and tattooed for the ink, definitely not for > the sensation. I've played rather heavily in SM, and have acknowledged that > there is definitely an attraction to consensual pain... I also find myself > taking strength from my piercing and tattooed experience: when I was having > my second daughter I did so at home (with midwives) and was never really > afraid of the pain. I was able to handle it better, knowing that I'd > survived a scalp tattoo, or two ten-gauge labial piercings... That it was > possible to live through the experience and that there really was more to > life than pain. :I've felt the same thing! I've never had children, but I do :believe that the fear of potential pain kept me from many :experiences when I was growing up (like gymnastics, for ex.). :In a way, when I realized that I could actually survive a :pierce, and come out the other side of it with an incredibally :erotic toy, it was a *big* healing experience for me. It :helped me un-demonize pain in my life.... > As a professional piercer, I come across many reasons to be pierced. I > would like to think that done properly a piercing could be beneficial to > some, but might it not be repeating the pattern of abuse in some way? :I don't really think so. I'm sure there are all sorts of folks :out there who are seeking BodMod for the "wrong" reasons: the :latest fad, the soriority demands it, to piss off the parents..... :Sometimes when I encounter something *really* intense, like :subincized cocks for example, I wonder about the self-mutilation :issue. But, these kinds of BodMod are pretty rare. It seems :that most folks use BodMod to get back in touch with the parts :of themselves that were hurt or misused by others. > I wonder- the first professional piercing I ever performed was on a lady > whose first sexual experience had been a rape from which she had gotten > pregnant. When I pierced her labia, she cried- not due to the physical pain > so much as letting out the emotional pain pent up for three years. It was > only after all was done, and I held her and talked with her, and shared some > tea that the story came out. Since then she has returned to me to get her > tongue pierced (the genital piercings were for her past and helping her feel > comfortable with herself, the tongue piercing was purely selfish, she said). :Wow. I'm not surprised by your story at all, though. I'll :bet this kind of cellular-level healing happens a lot in :piercing/tattooing shops. How wonderful that she had you :as a piercer; she must have felt safe enough to let that bit :of pain up--congrats to you! > I must say that my navel piercing I got just after my first daughter > was born, as was my hood piercing. They were a bit of a reclamation of > my body, particularly saying that I was a woman before I was a womb... > Facial piercings were more of a fashion statement... My tongue piercings > I enjoy with both fashion and function, and my other labial piercings > seem to be for stimulation and play... I always get a kick out of > walking down the hallway hearing the "jingle" of my rings... > Anyhow, I guess thats enough theorizing for now... It feels as though I > haven't said what needs to be said, but can't think of anything else to say, > you know? I hope you've been able to glean somethang from this... :You're very welcome, Denise. It's funny, *I've* certainly :wondered about the issues you've brought up, but you're the :first person who's ever asked to disuss them! I spent months :before my first labia piercing wondering whether there was :something seriously wrong with me for wanting to get this done-- :whether I was simply abusing the part that had already gone :through so much--but in the end I decided that that's not :what it was about. :You know, I never liked to look at my puss until I got my :rings. I have well-developed inner labia that always show, :and I was always envious of those women who seemed to have :nice neat little pussies with everything tucked inside. My :puss looked like an ol' whore's cunt to me! So, one reason :I *know* I wasn't mutilating myself when I got my privates :pierced was how much I loved to look at myself after the :work was done. You might actually say I'm *glad* my labia :are the way they are now! This is a big healing for me! :So, I frankly don't believe that a self-abuseive act would :have such a positive (and seemingly permanent) benefit if :it was truely mutilation... ------------------------------------------------------------------- From: email@example.com Date: Sat, 24 Feb 1996 22:38:38 -0800 Hi. I am glad that you are sharing this with every one. If you wish this may be posted. Body piercing and Tattooing are sacred rituals. Through these mediums we can costumize our bodies and proclaim publicly that we are in control of our destinies. Any spiritual quest demands sacrifice if it is to have meaning. The pain of a peircing or a tatoo is the path for transformation. If it didn't hurt and wasn't difficult it wouldn't mean anything. To me a tattoo is my embodiment of my spirit and soul, as well as an important step on my spiritual quest. The only thing that I beleive may have a connection to the past abuse is the persons need to reclaim his/her body for themselves, and in that tattooing can also me a theriputic and transformitive step. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Sun, 02 Jun 1996 03:59:54 +0100 From: Alasdair Semple
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