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"The point of modification is to avoid acceptance"
Topic Rating: +2 (2 votes) 
December 27, 2013
6:37 pm
Oakbear
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I was looking back at some of the old minister statements from the archived sites which Chris posted links to here , and found this for Jesse Jarrell from 2002-

"My primary objective is to alter and hopefully improve the functionality of my human body. While the fight for equal rights for modified individuals is a worthy pursuit I feel that no matter what, people are going to judge me, whether it is the metal stuck through my head, the color of my skin, or the way I looked at them just now. My appearance is my test to all those who see me. If they judge me harshly for it, then I am probably better off without their interaction.
Acceptance for lightly modified individuals is a fully obtainable goal; society will eventually become accustomed to these minor changes. However, individuals who choose extreme external modifications will never be accepted as such, for as soon as such changes move into the mainstream they are no longer actually extreme: To some extent, the point of my modification practice is to avoid acceptance."

This gave me some food for thought. So what do you think? Are extreme modifications by definition designed to avoid acceptance?

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
December 28, 2013
11:00 am
Chris Carter
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My take on the quote is that extreme modification is beyond the line of everyday acceptance. Once an extreme modification becomes generally accepted, it is no longer considered extreme. I believe Jesse was saying that his modifications are meant, at least in part, to continue to push the boundaries of everyday acceptance.
I can think of two quick reasons a person would want to push the boundaries of acceptance. One could be that they wish for themselves to remain an outsider of the general population. Or, they wish for body modification, even the extreme, to be within the realm of everyday society. And by pushing that boundary, they are not meaning to push themselves away but to push more extreme and diverse types of body modification in. I hope that makes sense. I'm sure I am simplifying a complex issue, as well.

Church of Body Modification, President

December 28, 2013
12:08 pm
kaytemew
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What Jesse Jarrell said is perfect and I couldn't agree more.

I want to fight for acceptance for extreme mods, but I guess I find myself giving less focus to gaining acceptance and more focus on continuing my journey and pushing my body. I'm going to do what I need to do whether or not society agrees with it, because they are not allowed to make me unhappy. So while I'm not actively saying "Fuck you" to society and our rights as a modified community, I am not giving so much thought into what their opinions are of me. My energy is for what is positive.

"My appearance is my test to all those who see me. If they judge me harshly for it, then I am probably better off without their interaction."
That line is so true. And I've been able to filter out many people with that!

These things have hardened in our soft pink bellies.
December 28, 2013
2:40 pm
vampyremage
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I have thought a fair bit about this sort of thing. I know that I do personally use my modifications as a sort of test in a very similar way. If people see me and can be accepting of how I am without jumping to judgement then they're probably people that are worth being around. If they judge, I likely don't want anything to do with them anyway. To me, its something of a first test to judge the quality of character of the people I meet.

December 28, 2013
5:32 pm
Oakbear
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There are several interesting themes in Jesse's statement, but i don't think he is saying he gets extreme mods so that they become accepted, and thus are no longer extreme. I think he is saying that part of the reason is to be rejected by the mainstream, and not just as a gauge of charcter. Chris, your 'quick reasons' sum up the 2 different paths nicely i think, and of course they are not mutually exclusive and can co-exist.
I also think the 'active rejection' aspect isn't always about saying 'fuck you' to society either.

For myself modification is primarily about self exploration (for me and nobody else), and has enormously benefitted me. As such i want to challenge discrimination and allow others to be themselves too.
But i have to reflect on why i have chosen an outsider path in some respects, and if am honest part of it is also about visibly labelling myself as different. I don't want people to think i am the same as everyone else but look different, i secretly want people to understand that i am different from most people. I have learnt that following the crowd is not for me, and i have learnt to love and accept myself. I guess i not only want to have that for myself, but demonstrate that publically as i am proud of it.

Funny, as the opinions of others don't really matter to me, and i'm sure i'd look this way regardless. However showing that side of myself openly, the not caring if i am accepted, still seems important for some reason.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
December 29, 2013
3:54 am
Oakbear
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Maybe i didn't put that as well as i could have. On reflection i don't think being different is what is important, rather that i demonstrate that i am not following the rules society sets about succeeding and having to 'fit in'. Does that make more sense?

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
January 3, 2014
5:59 am
Tiffany
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You know, there's an interesting theme here, from a psychological standpoint. Not sure if anyone is familiar with self-fulfilling prophecies. Generally people understand the individual/singular perspective, basically if one believes they are likely to succeed or fail at something, they likely will. Such as, the stereotype is that girls are bad at math. Many girls in school believe this stereotype to be true and then they do poorly in math, even if they have an aptitude for it. They've just enacted a self-fulfilling prophecy. But self-fulfilling prophecies also work within human interaction. For example, an elderly person may believe that young people are always disrespectful to elderly people, and a young person may believe that elderly people always talk down to young people. Having these primed stereotypes, upon interacting with each other the elderly person and the young person are likely to walk away with reinforced views, as the interaction was most likely to have been quite negative, and both would've fulfilled the other's prophecy.
So when we're talking about how others view us based on our mods, whether or not we care what they believe, if we feel we're pushing someone else's boundary, if we are, in essence, using a person's reaction to our mods as a litmus test, we're basically describing self-fulfilling prophecies. What we believe society in general considers palatable or extreme, how we feel people may react to either ends of that scale, weighing a sort of presupposed judgement call on others. So, I would like to invite everyone to take a step back from that mindset, because there is absolutely no way of knowing who will be accepting of what. As Oakbear was describing, it's important to be comfortable in one's own skin, so to speak, and if you're certain that your mindset is free of presuppositions about others and only concerned with whether you yourself are comfortable, confident, and carefree (rather than guarded) in your approach to society at large, that's really all that matters. Not pushing society's boundaries, but pushing your own, if that's your desire. Not concerning yourself with whether others may view your mods as palatable or extreme, but making them desirable to yourself, regardless of what others may feel. That's really the spiritual journey.
I think that the writer is incorrect. I think that it's possible for mods of all types to be widely viewed as acceptable, and still be extreme. We, as individuals, shouldn't be weighing our self images against the backdrop of societal acceptability. All that really matters is how we feel about what we choose to do.

When I'm good, I'm good. When I'm bad, I'm even better. :D
January 3, 2014
7:59 pm
Oakbear
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A very insightful reply thanks Tiffany. I love the definiton of extremity as personal, spiritual or even physical rather than simply social. One of the core reasons i modify is going inwards, to remove some of the noise of our cultural conditioning.
I think a lot of modifed people have to figure that out for themselves. No wonder modification is so often associated with adolescence and other liminal times.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
January 4, 2014
1:10 pm
vampyremage
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Sometimes one might have a primary motivation for engaging in heavy body modification that results in consequences that are perceived as being beneficial or that might be considered as secondary or tertiary motivations. For example, I very strongly consider my modifications to be personal and spiritual choices. My primary motivation has to do with having my outer self reflect how I perceive my inner self to be. In modifying myself, I gain a sense of peace and accomplishment and generally feel more comfortable within my own skin. My primary motivations have very little to do with societal expectations either positive or negative and have almost everything to do with my own personal desires.

However, it would be inaccurate to say that I don't sometimes enjoy the attention my modifications sometimes gather or that I don't appreciate the role they play in acting as a filter towards people that I may or may not want to associate with. I could never consider the benefits of those sorts of external reactions to be strong enough to compel me to modify myself in such a fashion but I do, nevertheless, consider them to be benefits.

January 13, 2014
12:25 am
Tiffany
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I think that sounds fine, vampyremage. It's not that I'd shun a compliment or two, but I also tend to completely disregard negative feedback. My mods are so much a part of me I'm thrown off when I DO get a compliment. Sometimes I don't even know what they're referring to. They point to my face and say "I really like that!", and I think, "my face? Thanks, I guess…Oh! My nostril piercings!" Heh They're just so much a part of me, I can't even remember what it was like without them. So, it seems odd to take offense if one disagrees with them. That'd be akin to them stating that they didn't like blue eyes or pale skin. Not my issue, theirs.
When I was doing counseling a case manager came to me laughing saying that a client had requested a counselor, but she couldn't be young, or have red hair or a ponytail, or be into the occult at ALL (some of my tats are pentacles), and even though I'd never met this woman the case manager and I just thought it was hilarious how well she described me at that time. I wasn't angry or upset. Many people have an idea of whom or what they're looking for in other people, be it their counselor, a companion or significant other. We can't change their attitudes, but we can change our own outlooks and mindset and be open to the notion that for just as many people who prejudge, just as many others will not.
On a message board I'm on for MS a young woman posted a picture of her face sporting many gorgeous dermals and piercings and she asked if others were into tattoos and piercings like she was. Most people responded positively, but the one I liked best was an elderly woman who said she didn't used to like how young people did such things, but she's grown to appreciate and enjoy body art of all kinds and how young people are able to express themselves as individuals through such means. I wanted to hug her. I think of how much flack I've taken from the older generations, and if there's at least one out there who can understand, to some degree, the joy we feel in self expression and fulfillment, there are likely many more. :)

When I'm good, I'm good. When I'm bad, I'm even better. :D
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