Alain de Botton and BDSM

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I’ll try to keep this short but sweet.

Recently I’ve been studying the work of Alain De Botton. If you’re not familiar with him, he has tv mini-series (Architecture of Happiness is interesting, and Status Anxiety is why I started this post) and some books, and I personally adore him. I would sit at his feet and gaze lovingly up at his face for all eternity if I could. I can’t, so blah.

I was watching Status Anxiety for a class at uni, and it got me thinking. The idea of status anxiety is that when everyone becomes equal, the difference between what we have and what we do not have becomes a personal travesty. If someone you consider your equal has more money, more prestige, or generally something you want but do not have, you feel resentful of them and down on yourself. Pretty much everyone has some form of it or other, ranging from completely uncaring to having emotional breakdowns over the latest LCD screen… Depending on the person.
Alain de Botton talks at length about the way that people who lived within a set class system, while displeased that other people had more than them, were more content because they just thought that was their lot in life. They were ‘whatever class/caste’ and as such had whatever was available to that class/caste, and did not believe they had to be anything more. It just wasn’t possible, so status anxiety was minimal.

Still tagging along?

This got me to thinking. I wonder if part of the appeal of submission, slavery etc. is the escape from the status anxiety? I mean, clearly for a lot of people it would be something else, personal, external etc. But I’m sure there must be something of the escape from the desire to be something else. It calls back to the old days of “You get what you’re given”, and you are thankful for that, whatever it is. You’re happy because you know your place. You have no need to excel to be better than your neighbor, your boss, the queen. You just strive to be the best, or exactly what is wanted, for your owner/dominant/what have you.

What are your thoughts? Is part of the appeal of bdsm, particularly the submission, the escape from the ever intensifying status anxiety of our age? Or am I just pulling nonsense outta my arse?

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