Some recent experiences both online and in real life have led me to consider the topic of validation.
It is not unusual, when introducing myself to someone as polyamorous or pansexual (or any other aspect of me that may not be in common experience) for people to be
b) dismissive; and/or
c) negative to the concept.
I’ve seen that happen to others in discussion groups as well, and a common rejoinder to a lack of comprehension is that anything less than a supportive response somehow invalidates the person’s statement about themselves, and that that shouldn’t be done.
Some sexuality conferences I’ve attended have adopted as a shorthand the basic tenet “Don’t yuck my yum,” meaning that if someone expresses a preference for something that they like, you shouldn’t talk it down, whether you can get your mind around it or not.
Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether someone should have just as much right to not like or understand something as I do to embrace or promote it, the response that disagreement = invalidation has always confused me.
Look, if an authority figure – a government, a parent, a discussion group moderator – is coming forth with disagreement or incomprehension, that has real consequences. Those people are in a position to take action to intimidate or suppress you from doing what you like. They cannot only yuck your yum, they can make your yum illegal or at least not allow you to express it.
But when someone expresses their distaste or incomprehension for my preferences or practices in person or in a discussion group, and that person is not a figure of authority, it does nothing — nothing! — to invalidate my belief. I don’t grant them the power to do so. Because the validation for my belief comes from within me.
I don’t need someone else to tell me that it’s OK to be poly or pan or a NASCAR fan or a Browncoat. No matter what someone else says about those things, they will continue to be true. Even if they’re made illegal, they will still be parts of me, as valid as today.
One might posit that if the person expressing a preference is a political candidate, they should be open to changing their view based on input from others, because they are asking for other people’s support and votes. But this is very different from a personal preference which is yours and yours alone and which you do not seek to impose on someone else. One’s social and sexual preferences and practices fall into the latter category. That’s why I consider my yums to be unyuckable by others, and why their opinions do not invalidate mine.
So while it would be nice if nobody ever yucked someone else’s yum, understand that your yucking does nothing to make it any less yummy for me. I hear your opinion and I respect your right to express it. You just sit there in your wrongness and be wrong. I’m sailing on the Good Ship Yum.