"respect Yourself And Others Will Respect You" ~ Confucius

It’s the grand paradox of the cyber era: a general interest, supposedly “intellectual” website infested with amateur exhibitionists seeking "privacy" (among other things?) concerning their "secret desires", but stridently demanding communal acceptance.

What follows seems to be such a "no-brainer" that I'm (almost) at a loss for words in trying to explain what SHOULD be obvious to any reasonable adult seeking to express their "innermost thoughts and feelings", which is presumably the main reason Experience Project was started, and why it continues to grow.

However, with the plethora of soft-core websites that already cater to every possible variation on human sexuality, one can't help but ponder exactly why does an “intellectual” website like EP seem to attract so many apparently self-loathing exhibitionists?

In psychiatry, exhibitionism is defined as "sexual gratification, above and beyond the sexual act itself that is achieved by risky public sexual activity and/or bodily exposure."

When this term is used to refer to an overwhelming psychological compulsion for such exposure, it may be called apodysophilia, or Lady Godiva syndrome. Make a note.

Being an adult transgendered woman myself, as well as a "child of the 70's", one could reasonably infer that I am fairly open-minded about sexuality and its many variations, and one would be, for the most part, absolutely correct.

Ah yes, I remember the "good old days", in between "the Pill" and AIDS.

“Different strokes for different folks”, right?

The most curious aspect of our delightfully diverse cyber culture, however, is not the quest for privacy and discretion, but its complete disregard --- not the desire to protect personal communication but the compulsion to make one’s private fetishes public.

However, the fact that I am not afraid of or offended by the sight of another consenting adult’s naked body does not automatically grant just anybody permission to open their kimono and start jumping around in front of my picture window, does it?

Seriously folks, is that the real purpose of Experience Project, to provide a forum for cyber-flashers who seem to lack the courage to interact with others in real-time?

I would conjecture these misguided folks have a profound lack of respect, both for themselves and all the other EP members as well.

When someone doesn't give you basic respect, either in person or on the internet, you need to be able to say, in one way or another, "You’ve disrespected me, and that is NOT acceptable. If you can't respect me, I won't waste my time dealing with you anymore."

Can you say that, and mean it? Can you turn your back on someone who's clearly shown that they don't respect you?

I definitely can, and will most certainly continue to do so.

There are many motives, of course, for sharing various bits of personal information on social media. Most people are simply networking.

I suspect, however, that some of these internet exhibitionists are simply lonely.

They want the details of their lives -- no matter how trivial, troubling or shocking -- to matter and count to someone. Of course, those details do matter and count, as all lives matter and count. But if loneliness is the motive, it is not likely to be relieved before a computer screen. That kind of unsolicited disclosure truly is a solitary enterprise. The Internet stage is truly a one-man show.

However, being lonely does NOT excuse bad behavior. If a person lies, cheats, steals, or kicks their neighbor's dog, it should certainly not be excused just because of that person's lack of consenting “playmates”.

Likewise, distancing oneself from disrespectful people online does not make one “intolerant”, or “condescending”, or “unsociable”, and those are just some of the more flattering epithets indignantly hurled back at me when I’ve been so bold as to suggest that I’d appreciate a bit more discretion, not to mention maturity, in another person’s choice of public profile photos.

When other ADULT (presumably?) EP members post publically viewable profile photos, are they really posting the cyber-equivalent of a diary, or a tee-shirt? Do they even consider such things first, or do they just not care?

If one has an agenda of a highly personal and adult (there’s that word again) nature, is it really necessary to wave it (so to speak) in everybody else’s face? Reasonable people would expect that this is precisely the reason for a separate and uncensored photo section in each and every EP profile, even the free ones.

Sadly, all I’ve gotten seems to be rebuke for suggesting this notion from certain people on the basis that they are just “being themselves” when they post such unflattering (and usually underlit and badly focused) photos for ALL to see.


Think about it --- who could possibly be more in tune with the potential perils and pitfalls of being one’s “true self” than a male-to-female trans-person?

C’mon people, tell me something I don’t already know. Jeeze!

Excuse me, but exactly HOW does hiding from your wife and family (not to mention the rest of the world) behind a keyboard while you publish picture of faceless body parts equal “being yourself”?

What self-denying RUBBISH!

There's a HUGE difference between "being yourself" and just plain being rude.

You might have your opinions, dreams, and preferences, but so does everyone else. You shouldn't disrespect people who disagree with you; clearly they have the privilege of being themselves, just as you do.

Conversely, one should NOT agree with something one honestly does not think is right; just don't try to force your opinions (or images) on other people. Keep in mind that EP profile pics are right out there in plain sight and are difficult to avoid, particularly when one is in the habit of sending out “friend” requests to what one hopes will turn out to be kindred spirits.

Just because you SAY you don't care about how people perceive you does NOT mean you shouldn't be aware of it, especially in situations where being “yourself” might well be misinterpreted, which happens frequently on the internet.

It needs to be understood that "being yourself" does not have anything to do with allowing yourself to just do whatever the hell you desire or shamelessly pretending that you really don't care how others perceive you.

"Being yourself" is actually the process of listening to your inner feelings while maintaining your personal integrity.

If you are truly uncomfortable with your gender, your sexual orientation or your marital status, and that is impeding your self esteem, work on these things. There are at least a few ethical therapists out there who are fully qualified to help, regardless of the issue. I am personally acquainted with several, located all over the USA, in case you're interested.

Also, make sure that you can show the same "you" to everyone that matters in your life consistently. If you feel the need to be secretive about something you're doing, you are NOT really being “yourself”, and it WILL show and misunderstandings WILL occur. Trust me on this. Many a divorce lawyer’s boat has been paid for from the proceeds of such “misunderstandings”

Do the right thing. Self-denial really isn’t the answer.

Okay, so maybe you should have thought about all this stuff BEFORE you said “I do” to somebody who didn’t have an inkling as to the actual truth about the "real you". With that said, in my years of experience, I've witnessed the heartbreaking (and expensive!) break-up of far more otherwise "happy"marriages resulting from deception of the spouse than from a simple fetish, cross-dressing or whatever.

If that’s your situation, hopefully it’s still not too late to make amends, because these feelings will NEVER just “go away” by themselves.


You cannot ever truly “be yourself” unless YOU can face yourself first, “warts and all”, and that’s the first step to self-respect.

Keep in mind that being “yourself' is not always the right thing to do.

Would you tell a thoroughly despicable slime of a person to just go ahead and “be himself” and not bother changing a thing?

Probably not.

The thing is, most of the time when reasonable people perceive you in a certain way, typically that means you just don't happen to fit into their particular notion of “society”.

Speaking as an “out” trans-woman with plenty of experience in such matters, I’m here to tell you that whether you actually want to fit in or not is entirely up to you, but you are only setting yourself up for BIG trouble, heartbreak and tears when you neglect to respect yourself while at the same time ignoring the prevailing society's ways.

That is, unless you decide you can just go off and live in a cave for the rest of your life.

The idea of self-respect is very closely related to self-confidence, but respect is more about what you do whereas confidence is about how you feel. The two go hand-in-hand.

Get to know yourself a little better. The more you understand about yourself, the more you'll see and appreciate how unique you really are, and the more you'll respect yourself. Discover your principles, personality, and talents, and perhaps you won’t have to obsess about your fetish in the dark lonely confines of the “cyber-closet”. There actually are others who will gladly share your interests, but you will be at a distinct disadvantage to locate truly worthwhile partners unless they can see that you are free of guilt, shame and self-loathing about your intimate desires.

Someone else might respect the rough and ready “macho man” they THINK you represent, but in actual fact you might respect being sensitive, thoughtful and maybe even a bit pretty.

Whose opinion matters more, in this case?

Once again, this deep (and presumably self-evident?) introspection may well have served one much better PRIOR to misleading (intentionally or otherwise) another clueless individual into making those solemn matrimonial vows. Alas, one can’t change the past, one can only hope to learn and keep moving forward.

Being yourself is celebrating you, as an individual - learning to express yourself and be happy with who you are. For some people, it's learning to love yourself, for others; it's not hiding who you are or changing things about you, just for the sake of “fitting in”.

At the risk of repeating myself, keep in mind that being “yourself”, and even more importantly respecting yourself is NOT accomplished by jumping up and down at a busy intersection of the “information superhighway” with an open kimono.

Writes the poet C.K. Williams:

“More and more lately as, not even minding the slippages yet, the aches and sad softening, I settle into my other years, and I notice how many of what I once thought were evidences of repression, sexual or otherwise, now seem, in other people anyway, to be varieties of dignity, withholding, tact.”

Don’tcha think, or don’tcha?

"It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and then to make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows an infirmity of character." ~~~ Dale E. Turner

tgcyndi tgcyndi
36-40, T
1 Response Aug 4, 2010

Jammie; <br />
<br />
I am SO sorry that your privacy has been intruded upon, but I honestly believe it is not the fault of the administrators of EP. My greatest desire is that EP would at least impose some standards on what is PUBLICALLY (keyword) viewable, like the problem with the gross profile pics mentioned above.<br />
<br />
As I understand it, just about ANYTHING that one posts on the internet, regardless of the website, is likely to come up on a search engine, ESPECIALLY one as comprehensive as Google.<br />
<br />
That's exactly why the lame counter-argument from EP's cyber-flashers ("I'm just being MYSELF") is so ridiculous. <br />
<br />
First, if they're REALLY just "being their true selves" then why is there no face in the shot? <br />
<br />
Facial features are a huge part of one's REAL self, are they not?<br />
<br />
Self-loathing, shame and guilt are all pretty horrible attributes to cling to, and self-denial is no way to rid oneself of such counter-productive "baggage". The willful deception of one's life-partner about one's true nature is also a poor choice if the main goal is to be one's "real self".<br />
<br />
Most computer-savvy high-schoolers could track these foolish people down and "out" them in about three minutes, if they were motivated to do so. <br />
<br />
("Wow dude, I found a picture of your dad wearing ladies underwear with his hairy **** showing on the net while I was screwing off in class today.") <br />
<br />
Jammie, let's talk more offlist?<br />
<br />
Honey Bunny;<br />
<br />
Frankly, as a pre-op trans-woman, the ONLY penis I really need to see is my own, but these wanna-be cyber-**** pervs just don't get it. I suppose the only way these losers get their fun is alone in the dark looking at the computer. <br />
<br />
How pathetic.<br />
<br />
It's fascinating to me that EP seems to automatically screen out "naughty" language, but in the profile picture box that everyone can see - ANYTHING goes. <br />
<br />
Most curious.