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My Personal Unpopular Theory of Responsibility

My Personal Unpopular Theory of Responsibility

The head of a Dogo Argentino, Kaizen

This writing is now available as a podcast episode.


Someone wrote on a men’s dominance forum I’ve been participating in since 2007:

As men, I have learnt that we are 100% responsible for relationships. If men are responsible for everything, what the fuck are women responsible for?

Here’s the thing: Everyone has responsibility.

EVERYONE.

And if I take 100% responsibility, that does not stop someone else from doing the same.

Because personal responsibility is not a parceling out of blame.

It’s a mindset.

And until I understood that I have 100% responsibility, I could always blame others. And that gave away my power.

Once I took 100% responsibility, I realized that I had all the power to:

  • Learn from my mistakes
  • Break the patterns
  • Try new things
  • Stand up for myself
  • Change
  • Leave
  • Stay
  • And so on

But so, then what is the other person’s power?

Same.

Exactly the same.

  • They can learn from their mistakes, or they can choose to blame me, and stay as they are.
  • They can break their patterns of behavior, or they can continue doing the same things and getting the same results, because it’s always someone else’s fault.
  • They can try new things, or stay in their comfort zone, waiting for others to do for them.

And so on.

And that is THEIR power. And frankly, most of the time, it’s NUNYA.

Even when they are MY partner.

Unless, of course, they have given some of that responsibility to me in a power exchange relationship.

In which case, they still have that power, but they have chosen to let me use it on their behalf.

Until they don’t.

I’ve said before that you have to have power before you can give it to me. I mean that you have to recognize your responsibilities before I can effectively and ethically use them on your behalf—because you have to be able to consent.

And even then, by that act of consenting, you are still 100% responsible. We are then BOTH responsible for those negotiated things.

But the key is YOU. You are still responsible for you. For your life. For all your reactions and your choices and your promises and so on.

Sure, things can go wrong.

I can be lied to. I can make a mistake. Some things are out of my control.

I am still responsible.

For example, my 9 year-old dog once bit a man. He’d never bit another human, ever. He’d never given me reason to think he would. And yet, he not only bit a man, he jumped high enough to grab this 6-foot-4 man BY THE HEAD, and fling him to the ground with his jaws, and this man required 55 stitches.

Not my fault.

In fact, it was 100% the man’s fault.

He was on MY property. He had been drinking. He did not leave when I asked him to. He was making me fear for my safety. AND he knew there was a 110 pound dog there with me.

And yet, when all of this went down, it was 100% my responsibility.

To call Animal Control and report the incident. To call an ambulance. To give the man aid as I could until he was taken away.

Also, to pick up the can of alcohol he left on my drive and keep it for legal purposes. To research this man, and discover that he was driving while drinking, out on parole and had a history of assaulting women.

Because no one was going to do that for me when the ambulance chasers came knocking.

It was my responsibility, and that time I was prepared.

Even though it wasn’t my fault.

And that’s how it is.

Even when we are not to blame, we are responsible. And for some, including me, that idea is more empowering than any other.

Not that it will protect me from harm, but that I can and will deal with the harm when it comes my way for ME, for my loved ones, and for my dog. RIP, Kaizen.

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