Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fleshbot and Uppercase/Lowercase

This week’s Sex Blog Roundup at Fleshbot focuses on Doms, the fellows who favor leather chaps and take their pronouns in All Caps.

I’m glad life has lead me down the pathways of BDSM and certainly, my own experience in domination has added plenty of arrows to my quiver. Learning a thing or two with ropes, canes and firm commands has made my sexual practices just that much more varied.

I enjoy reading blogs on BDSM, and I learn from them. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though:

I wince at the popular affectation of tinkering with proper capitalization.

Submissives write themselves into lowercase (“i served Sir dutifully”) whereas dominants take on the uppercase pronouns otherwise reserved for royalty and divinity (“I directed her to massage My feet, to which she replied, “Yes, Master, thank You.”)

Now, as a writer, I am very much in favor of permitting subcultures to develop their own styles and usages. It’s more evidence that language is a living entity, able to change and adapt to the needs of the people who use it. Were we to be inflexible about form, we would sacrifice the richness that slang brings to language.

I am also just fine with bloggers, such as my friends Meg and Marcus, who prefer to use all lowercase. That strikes me as an acceptable stylistic preference. If I took issue with it, I might have to face down e. e. cummings and bell hooks, and really, who has the energy for that?

But somehow, this little affectation gets under my skin. I can’t very well ask writers to stop doing something I consider foolish, nor would I. The problem is mine. I’m sure this irritation is related to my own coming-of-age in BDSM.

Perhaps it calls attention to aspects of BDSM that disinterest me, such as roleplay, or because it delves into relationship attitudes that I consider repellent, such as possessiveness or the placation of egos.

All I know is, every time I read that capitalized “Him,” I imagine a guy who played one too many rounds of “Dungeons and Dragons” and now assumes a dominant role by right of privilege. I’m slightly embarrassed to be associated with “Doms” so long as that attitude rests in my mind, because, clearly, that isn’t me.

So for now, as I meet submissives who are also writers, I make my request: if you write about our encounters, please use proper English. I’ll happily abuse your body, but please don’t abuse my language.





26 comments:

Viggy la Q said...

You AdoRablE LingUiST, Jefferson.....

Too often people put too much or too little weight on the written word. As vexatious are those who submit or dominate by the concerted use or omission of a capital letter, I find those who need to have their Caps Lock surgically removed or those who are only able to communicate in txt spk (you know who you are) equally irritating. The latter may not seek to necessarily convey themselves in the manner in which it is portrayed, but your example is a perfect example of misaligned typography. For we all know: you either quip it or whip it.

Avah said...

I'm inclined to agree. That's a certain subset of BDSM I really don't care for. Though, I must say, when reading it, I don't necessarily notice it (like I hadn't realized Meg and Marcus write in only lowercase...) so I don't find it as much as a nusiance.

badinfluencegirl said...

you've pinpointed one of the things that i really didn't like about the bdsm online scene when i was participating in it.

this was back in mailing list and irc days.

i just don't understand that sort of thing and i found there was some kind of disrespect toward the self or something.

anyway glad to know my blog won't offend you with it's lack of capitalisation *g*

Ellie said...

Amen! I had never fully articulated to myself what about that practice irritated me but I think that you've just hit the nail on the head. And facing down bell hooks isn't something you want to do. I met her briefly a few years ago, that woman is hard as nails and asserted that Colin Powell is a fascist and misogynist as a parenthetical aside in the same manner as she might have said that his favorite color is blue or he was born in 1937.

Alice said...

Oh I fucking love that last line.

I completely agree with the point you make. In fact I'll see your righteous indignation and add my own special rage towards those who over use internet slang, write IN ALL CAPS, or who don't know that alot is not a word.

Josh Jasper said...

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that the English language is as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary. "
- James Nicoll

That said, lowercase =-only punctuation structure bugs me. I read sentences and words in blocks, so the lowercase-only breaks up the paterns I look for, and slows me down.

Of course, I'm a horrible typist, so I have no good cause to criticize anyone else's writing.

Juno Henry said...

When I read this post, I wanted to jump up and punch the air, and simultaneously sit quietly and exhale. I've been of this self-same opnion, with eye and shoulder cocked in semi-permanent wince at misappropriated capitalizarion for such a long time, but not being a proponent of BDSM, never felt that it was my place to comment.

Amen, sir. Well said, and not before time.

Lexi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viviane said...

yES mASTER!

Although I'm curious as to Lolita's view on forms of addresss.

Anonymous said...

I might be slightly inclined to agree with Lexi...

brat said...

Sheepishly drags toe through dirt. I'm sure I waver on the whole capitalization thing. However, punctuation and capitalization are not really my strong points.

lol

Bad Kitty said...

I agree. I have tried to ignore the fact that the 'Him' and 'His' annoys me. I am, myself, a submissive.
And I do appreciate the many ways that the English language can dance; it's a fun, bastard-child language. But putting your sub self in lowercase and the master in uppercase only is annoying. If it's real it shouldn't have to be reiterated.

Ninny said...

You people read those stories and find yourselves thinking about capitalization?

badinfluencegirl said...

ninny i think it's more that we find it distracting to the story... like spelling mistakes, especially homonyms. you say lightning if you mean lightening and i'm confused while i figure it out.

and bad kitty thanks, that's what i was trying to say...

Viviane said...

Ninny, Bad Influence, when I was doing Fleshbot, sloppy spelling, grammatical inconsistency were a deal breaker. It still is.

A blog is primarily text and word based. That's why this stuff matters tremendously to some of us.

There are too many other blogs out there.

Ninny said...

I was just trying to be funny... which I guess I'm not so good at.... especially in just text....

nycbadboy said...

That's all well and fine. I think it's a little silly myself, the "i" vs "You", but there are plenty of dominants out there that will get a bit pissed when you don't caps their name, so as a sub, I just go on the side of caution.

The real question is:

when they say "i" do you know that they mean "I"? If so, live in let live. Do you understand the meaning of what they're saying? If so, relax, there are bigger problems in the world.

Unless the cure for cancer has been found or we've got peace on earth, don't sweat the small stuff.

sutton said...

Right on, but then English-users in general seem to have a capitalization fetish that offends me as a little "d" democrat. For example, people often write things like, "I decided to ask the Senator what he thought," even though they wouldn't write "I decided to ask the Janitor what he thought." Get it straight people: titles are only capitalized when they are being used as if part of the person's name, as in "I asked Senator Obama a question." Otherwise, you're acting like senators deserve more respect than janitors, which is obviously untrue on its face.

Jefferson said...

You'll have to take your case for democracy to The Chicago Manual of Style, Sutton, as you take umbrage with correct usage.

One should captialize "all titles of honor or of nobility when referring to specific persons used in place of the proper names."

Hence:

"Many senators claimed to be upset by the Senator's remark, while others said the senator from Massachusetts had been purposely misinterpreted."

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog last week, and now I'm reading it all day long.

I totally admire and envy your openness. It makes me sad I don't have that courage but it's great to read you adventures (and occasionally, misfortunes).

Thanks!

Scarlet said...

Enough already! Back to sex camp!
We are all waiting on baited breath.

Jefferson said...

I think you wait with bated breath, but I won't split hares . . . uh, hairs. I hear you.

It's just that I am writing on an empty glass. Can I get a refill here? Three fingers, two cubes?

sutton said...

Yes, I was careless there and hadn't thought through the exact point I was trying to make. It's the use of "Senators" and "the Administration" and "shall comply with State regulations" that I am complaining about (can you tell I deal a lot with government publications?). Sigh...

Zora said...

Sounds like people are champing at the bit, a bit.

(And AP indicates lowercase for senators and such titles when not appearing directly before the name. But I know the fancy types prefer it Chicago-style.)

Anonymous said...

All I know is, every time I read that capitalized “Him,” I imagine a guy who played one too many rounds of “Dungeons and Dragons” and now assumes a dominant role by right of privilege.

Noelle: OMG, Jefferson is awesome!

marcus said...

wait a second... did nycbadboy just say "live in let live"?

i ALWAYS think we should let the live-ins live. they do a good job, and they most certainly don't deserve anything like death if they screw up once in a while. i'm not sure why he's gotten onto that subject here, but it is one of my favorite things to discuss.

and i will proudly capitalize that adverb.