One of the first things we learn to do as humans is to sort — it’s practically instinctual. Over time, we learn to sort hot from cold, dark from light, Gryffindor from Slytherin, and more to the point of this post; boy from girl, young from old, and fit from fat. What’s fascinating about puppy play is how wonderful an activity it is for a mind to explore. You’re able to create an alternate you; a persona, an alter-puppy-ego that provides a way to escape the narrow confines of our daily lives and explore beyond the boundaries of our human instincts. And yet our human instinct to sort, like any good safety net, remains in the back of our minds even while we’re in pup mode, sorting what is important to each of us as puppies.
Sorting “real” puppies…
For example, most will start to sort at moshes or play parties when they begin to identify other puppies according to their characteristics, genders, and even body types. But as our puppy brains start sorting, they may also begin to denigrate some puppies because of what they are and how they look, not because of their personalities as puppies. I am forever hearing about how pups need to come together as a community and create a positive awareness online. And yet, each of us plays a part, our part, in creating a hierarchy among the puppies we encounter. Some take it so far as to lecture others about how they aren’t or can’t be a puppy for a number of reasons. It’s clear that sorting, while natural, also contains the building blocks of prejudice, and it’s this particular kind of sorting that eats away at what I consider the only real rule in puppy play: allowing ourselves the freedom to just “be” — and in that act, totally being yourself.
Unconsciously or not, we all sort puppies by gender and sexuality, but the real question is whether you turn that instinct to sort into a judgment and act on it, rather than allowing someone else the same freedom that brought you into puppy play in the first place. For what is often considered a male dominated kink, there are still a good number of female puppies within the pup community who deserve both respect and an opportunity to contribute to the community. At times, I have seen male puppies express how their female counterparts are not “real” pups in the community sense. To them I ask, “what distinguishes a ‘real’ puppy, anyway?” And who has the right to declare puppy play a male-only activity? We can look back in history and see how women have slowly gained rights, played sports, and even been welcomed into armed combat as comrades. Is it possible that this stigma against women only further hinders their growth and therefore prevents further female puppies from coming out of the woodwork? Moreover, this stigma only leads to more sorting done in the community as far as someone age, weight or even looks.
Shun, tolerate, accept…
For some puppies, play is all about being sexual and nothing else, and I’ll freely admit that when a female pup is at a mosh, the dynamic usually changes and the rules of engagement aren’t always immediately clear. Some puppies cannot mosh with a female present; they become immediately popped out of headspace because of their reason for moshing, which is most likely about the male sexual aspects, the “male energy” that needs to be present. But rather than shun someone, doesn’t it make more sense just to hang back and see how the situation develops? What is to say a female puppy doesn’t have a very “male energy,” playful, dominant and full of pup?
When a mostly male community sees a female (or even some outlying pup based on size or shape) in their midst there are, in my mind, three things that can be done: shun, tolerate or accept. Firstly, to shun a newcomer within the community is to ensure their experiences and views on the pup community are negative and may even chase them off. To tolerate would be a more open-minded state, where we are able to recognize someone’s interest, and while we may not understand the appeal or want anything to do with the individual, we admit them to the group, recognize and respect their right to sexually explore play in a safe and fun atmosphere. Finally, and in my opinion the most open minded choice, is acceptance; to receive this individual whatever sex, gender or body type and admit them to the group regardless if that means you plan to engage in play.
Community: a feeling of fellowship…
Insofar as someone’s involvement in puppy play is concerned, I think it’s both wasted time and none of our business to assess why someone considers himself or herself a puppy. It’s far more useful to examine we each consider ourselves puppies and do what we love and look to pup play for. If that means you don’t want to deal with different genders, ages, or sizes of pups, then maybe that means you practice pup play in a more private atmosphere at your own liberty. However, if you plan to be a part of a community, a certain level of tolerance, at the least acceptance, is due on your part to make people feel like they are part of a community. Did someone challenge you when you came out as a pup to show some pedigree or credentials, or were you simply taken at your word? And, if you’re so focused on who meets all the criteria on your checklist, what is your real intent, and what is your true goal as a pup in the community?
For some it’s simply play and fun, and sex, gender, age and body type are the farthest things from their minds while in pupspace. But almost all of us agree that it’s an opportunity to lay down the burdens of their normal lives for a moment and play in a place free from judgments. For any community to grow and become more mainstream and accepted we must show that we can also be accepting. Part of setting aside all of that thinking we do as humans should be our dismissing the differences between us and focusing more on the common bond we all share: Puppy!