Posts Tagged ‘belonging’

I’ve often described myself as a fringe dweller, being on the edge of a number of communities or social groups; included, yet being fringe enough to move freely from one to another, selecting the things from each that resonated with me and deflecting things that did not. That analogy—which I first used as a teenager—is one of taking, not giving, and building myself from the possibilities I encountered.

crab buckets

Two crab buckets full of crabs.

Researcher, writer, psychotherapist and social activist Meg John (MJ) Barker uses the analogy of a crab bucket to describe how people stay in one category—such as gender, sexuality, sexual expression—where they seem to belong, or want to belong. They actively stop other people from leaving and exploring other options, just as crabs do to stop other crabs leaving the bucket. MJ extends the analogy by adding that people might escape from one bucket, only to go to another, and remain trapped, just in a different situation. MJ acknowledges that the analogy is not their original one; this article gives some history.

Crab buckets image source


Today, in a workshop-planning conversation with Rog from www.curiouscreatures.biz he commented that I brought a mix of sex-positive, queer-and-kinky-positive, with academic credibility, wide knowledge, educational skills and experience. These things enable good sex education (and play situations such as workshops or parties) for adults which can lead to personal growth and transformative learning.

I immediately visualised myself on a beach which was dotted with crab buckets, gaily running from one to another, dipping a claw into one bucket, then skipping to another, making connections with different groups, belonging on the whole beach and not just in one confined part of it. “I’ve found my niche!” I exclaimed.

Rog’s comment and this image demonstrated for me that I belong widely, and can contribute with experience and expertise in a number of ways and places. One box (or bucket) will never be enough. What this mature image adds to the fringe-dweller description is of someone who contributes to the communities, not just borrows from them. I do not fit in only one crab bucket, I own the beach and can contribute and share across its many elements. Also, I have an interesting brain.

Bass Coast beach photo by Linda Kirkman

Bass Coast, Victoria, Australia. Image by Linda Kirkman


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