When Nudge Comes to Shove

There are a miriad of subtle thigns that influence your choices. And not just yours, mine and everyone else’s too. Yes we all think that it’s the big and important information that dictates what we choose but study after study points to how readily little changes in the way things are put to us can dramatically alter our perceptions. If you’re looking for proof of this, I’ll just mention that in 2010 David Cameron established a unit to look at these subtle influences and ways that they can be implemented.

They call them “nudges”, and in addition to deliberate ones, there are also countless nudges that aren;t necessarily there through malicious intent but just through people’s action or inaction propagate. Case in point, rope and body shapes.

I just got back (well, a week ago, but seriously, drop’s a fucker! What do you want from me?) from Eurix in Berlin. My companion for this trip was a perfectly normal sized person by uk standards (at least according to me with my not exactly critical eye… seriously, I usually have to be prompted to notice that someone is/isn’t wearing makeup… even if their eyelids are sparkly), but, amongst the attendees (ok, specifically, among the bottoms/models/bunnies) she was suddenly far from representative. There was a range of body shapes and types present, but it was skewed, like a dog running through a park excitedly carrying half a tree in its jaws.

The bias towards the skinny and bendy is frustrating. Yes there’s an unhealthy focus on skinny and bendy in the media presentations of rope bondage, and yes I think it’s absolutely fucking ridiculous that apparently some riggers say that larger people can’t be suspended (says fourteen stone of enthusiastic self-suspender who’ll do an inversion from a single wrap waistline). But it goes beyond that to unspoken assumptions and little nuances in the way things are presented.

For example, there was a workshop on an arm tie that is physically quite demanding and for lots of people, impossible. You wouldn’t have known that to listen to the first part of the workshop. There was an acknowledgment that this won’t work for all people and to focus on finding fun thigns that you can do, but this only came right at the end, i.e. at the point where anyone who couldn’t push their arms into the right position would have completely mentally checked out. Then there were the workshops where everythign was gendered; not meliciously, but just in a way that everyone quietly assumed that the top in a scene will be male and the bottom a female. It wasn’t that this couldn’t be challenged, it was that it had to be challenged in the first place.

Like I say, subtle things… or maybe not. To quote a friend of mine “What the fuck do you mean subtle? This is screaming loud and clear!”