13 Apr Update to gender equality in ropes- the partnering perspective
This writing has done its rounds the last few years. It was good then, but this writing has been poor in regards to representation. There is a sad tendency we are trying to break up as well in regards to gender, and that is the voice and visibility of rope partners. This is partially due to my own bias, as well as something that is a bit more tricky to pronounce. Mainly that I have not trusted in my voice as a rope partner/bottom, and that it has taken quite a few years for me to find that voice.
I am a switch. I tie more than I get tied. Not because I want it to be like that but this is how it has panned out. For some years I was hardly in ropes at all, feeling so grateful when the people whom I asked said yes when I asked if they wanted to tie me. I seem to be the one who is always asking, hardly get asked. This paired with a bias that I take up more space as a rope top, while teaching, performing, thinking and talking about tying, means that the bias become ingrained within me.
Yesterday someone who is interested to perform with ropes came over for some private tuition. Talking about performative rope is always interesting but I kept on noticing what I was not talking about, or rather how I was talking about those involved. I have myself integrated the top centric approach to teaching I’m trying hard to change. When I wrote the 10 things you can do that was what I did as well. I was writing it from the perspective of someone who had to battle to take up space and be acknowledged as a someone who ties. I was so knees deep into not seeing who I was but also finding that when I tried to speak from a point of view as a bottom, I was not listened to as much. My words was not given the same weight. This of course has many layers to unpack, and certainly some of it is because of lack of experience. As I say that it is a certain type of experience that we talk about. Not just about being in ropes but working with our bodies. I shyed away from working with my body, but there are bottoms out there whose yoga/acro/body work practices inform their partnering or the other way around even. As I’m moving more into myself I realise my bottoming experience is also valid. But what has been monumental is Seeing Others. Seeing other rope partners creating spaces for learning and then using their knowledge merging it with my own experience has not only made my personal rope experience grow. Thanks to a class by Tifereth I could process so much more.
This is what visibility does, acting like a snowball. It push ourselves to be confronted with the things we think we know and highlights that which we have less knowledge of. There has been an explosion of rope partnering education only the last year or so, and much of it takes place thanks to people who are visible and vocal.
The reason why I’m posting this is because I have amended the original list to better reflect the complete picture and one which does not erase rope partners as much as the original writing did.
Sansblague writes about rope culture, partnering perspectives and learning