I’ve been watching a lot of Dog Whisperer lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Cesar Millan and I have something in common.
There are folks who object to Cesar Millan’s approach to dealing with fearful, aggressive, or otherwise unstable dogs. They “disagree” with his approach (grounded in ethology of dogs). They think he’s physically hurting the dogs, they hate to see the dog “flooded,” and they think it “involves high adrenaline, physical action.”
They’re wrong. They’re so wrong I think they must be blinkered or stupid or deliberately misunderstanding. What does Cesar say about 50 time per show? Calm, assertive energy. Calm energy is, by definition, NOT adrenaline energy. Morons.
No, not morons. They just see the world the way they see it, and anything that fails to fit into that view must be wrong or impossible. So not morons, just… stuck. And judging.
I once had a neighbor who gave me the stink-eye for not coddling and cooing at my dog when she fell down two slippery steps. Clearly I am a callous, unloving person, right?
If I had stooped down and loved all over the dog, I would have been giving her positive feedback WHILE she felt panicked about the fall, thus teaching her to feel panicked at the bottom of the stairs. So what did I do? I watched and listened to find out if the dog was injured, and she wasn’t, so I kept walking. I stayed calm… and assertive.
I was doing what was right for my dog, but to people who don’t understand it looked like I was being neglectful and unloving.
Why does it look wrong? Because it is not quite the appropriate thing to do with, say, a human child. A human child falls down a couple steps, you watch and listen to find out if they’re injured, AND (assuming they are not) you touch them, smile at them, ask “Are you all right?” in a voice that gently anticipates, “Yes.” Human attachment systems are such that gentle light touch creates calmness, it changes the state of mind. In dogs, gentle light touch REWARDS whatever state of mind the dog is in. Not understanding this difference between humans and dogs produces the kind of misunderstandings that make people misjudge Cesar.
Anyway. Why the hell am I writing this on a sex blog?
Because I, in my very minor way, get misunderstood as Cesar gets misunderstood. I have a deep knowledge of my subject area, and my opinions are different from people who do not. They are sometimes different from people who do, because everyone’s point of view is different and that’s a GOOD thing. The world view is a hologram of slightly different perspectives on the same topic.
Some of my greatest, misunderstood hits: Women are different from men, and until we embrace that fact, women will suffer under the false belief that they are broken. Medication for women’s sexual desire is a blind alley. Sexual fluids are beautiful; believing they are gross blinkers the progress of science and contributes to a sex negative world, which in turn contributes to sexual injustice.
And there are people who object powerfully to all those things. They are well-intended but usually ill-informed; they see the world they way they see it and anything that fails to fit into that view must be wrong.
I do what it right for women’s sexuality, but to people who don’t understand, it looks like I’m doing damage, insisting that women and men are different, that medication is a blind alley, and that failing to feel good about sexual fluids creates a world where we’ll never end HIV, sexual violence, or unwanted pregnancy. Yeah, your “ew” response contributes to injustice and violence. So quit it, okay?
Cesar and I have other things in common: we believe in the important of individual differences of temperament – he in dogs, I in humans; we believe in the importance of staying relaxed in the presence of the unexpected and unwanted; and we both have a deep, internal calling to do what we do. We can’t NOT do our work. We want and intend to make the world a better place.
While I’m at it, here’s my equivalent of the “calm assertive pack leader” mantra:
It’s not about orgasm. Pay attention to your partner. Enjoy the sex you’re having.
Tell those three things to everyone you meet, please.