I was in my car with a friend one morning and we were talking about the disgusting nature of public toilets. He does not know I'm a DL, but just to get a hint of what his attitude might be, I said, as we were talking about port-a-poties, "Honestly, I'd rather use a diaper." Amazingly, he responded, "Me too." What am I getting at? I'm getting at the fact that diapers have great potential to lose their taboo status and become a publicly accepted means of people choosing how to do their business. From what I see, people who consider diapers as taboo do so for the wrong reasons. To them, diapers symbolize incapacity and helplessness, and therefore someone who wears a diaper is automatically branded as incapacitated and helpless. This is probably because babies need diapers because they lack the capacity to use a toilet. This does, however, brings about symbolism and bias. Yet what about by choice? People who use diapers by choice are not helpless and incapacitated. All of the sudden that symbolism looses it's meaning, the bias (like nearly all forms of bias) becomes null and void and diapers are now just another means of doing one's business. It's not out of the realms of possibility as so many things throughout history (e.g. LGBT rights) have gone from taboo to openly accepted.
Diapers can be accepted as well, and unlike the struggle for LGBT rights, which was long, challenging and centuries in the making, the usage of diapers by continent adults has greater advantages to becoming publicly accepted. First, it has nothing to do with incapacity or helplessness as the decision to use diapers is clearly by choice. In addition, adults wearing diapers can change and clean themselves, so the argument of helplessness falls apart. While people don't choose to be LGBT, which is advantageous to LGBTs seeking equal rights, having a choice actually works in favor of ABDLs. Many religious fundamentalist always try to use people's personal choices against those they oppose. In some cases, they try to claim some people who do not have choices have choices in order to use this argument. This was the case with bigotry towards LGBTs. Since they are arguing against the use of diapers due to the fact that they represent helplessness and incapacity, however, the factor of having a choice now works against them. I'm a practicing Christian myself; a Progressive Christian to be exact. There are absolutely NO Biblical references condemning, forbidding or banning of the use of protective undergarments past certain ages as well as wetting or soiling of oneself nor any Biblical reference claiming it is sinful. Fundamentalist opposed to adults using diapers, however, will try to reference some Bible passage to condemn diaper usage, even though mainstream fundamentalism has yet to do so. Yet we know they will. More so, they will do it by radically misinterpreting the passage and most likely misinterpreting the passage intentionally and on purpose. We saw that with fundamentalists who tried to use just four Old Testament verses as the basis for their bigotry despite the fact that the verses condemn the humiliation of forced and submissive sodomy and do not condemn a loving relationship between people who are LGBT. Although unlike the bigotry towards LGBT people that unfortunately still exists, there is no massive movement against adults using diapers. Yet if there ever will be, you can surely bet that they will attempt to use scripture. Think of it this way: people who seek to do harm and cause misery to their fellow human are so predictable and therefore so weak.
From what I see, this is a step by step process. An overwhelming majority of changes in history are processes not events. One good place to start is to make clear to people that it is not the result or symbol of helplessness and incapacity, but a choice made by a fully capacitated adult who can easily use a toilet if he/she wishes, but willingly declines in favor of diapers. A good next step would be to bring to light the disgusting nature of public toilets and how people would have to suffer through someone else's bio-hazards. Easily avoidable if they used a diaper instead. Another strategy would be convenience. Ever drive down a stretch of highway having to go really bad, but the next rest stop or gas station is 75 miles away? You might be able to pull over and go on the side of the road, but that would mean indecent exposure, and just imagine the sight of public defecation. Wouldn't be a problem if you had a diaper on. Just use the diaper to prevent the suffering, and change yourself at your convenience. Counter arguments would most certainly be arguments about having to sit in one's own filth. This argument falls apart when you bring to light that using a public toilet might bring you into contact with the filth of someone else. This is almost always a sure thing regarding port-a-potty. Also keep in mind that it may be the person's own filth, but just his/her filth and nobody else's filth. As far as incapacity is concerned, what about old people who become incontinent, yet are still self-aware? They may have to wear a diaper, but they might be sharp as a knife, aware of their surroundings and full of wisdom, knowledge and experience; perhaps more so than most adults who use a toilet. Changes have been made throughout history despite greater odds. Hey, LGBT people went through a longer and much more difficult process to get their rights, yet they succeeded.
What will help? Most importantly, diaper usage by choice needs to be done responsibly. Discreetness is obvious. It makes no sense to make a scene while using a diaper as well as changing in private. To be polite to those around, being sure to use means to control odors (e.g. dietary supplements) would also help. Those who use diapers must also resort to proper disposal methods such as putting a used diaper in a sealed bag, especially ones designed for diaper disposal, if it needs to be disposed in a public garbage can. That would certainly be cleaner than the collection of filth in a port-a-potty emitting it's foul stench from below. Should people look at the responsible nature of those who use diapers, they have no means to oppose it. They will likely think, "Hey, these people who use diapers are not helpless and incapacitated because they have the capacity use them responsibly. They are not harming anyone, so why deny them their choices?" In fact, if you think about it, responsible diaper usage can forever shatter they symbolic views of incapacity and helplessness that diapers have come to resemble by those who see them as taboo. Once those symbols are shatter, diapers will no longer be taboo. That's the only thing that stands in the way of the acceptance of using diapers. As I stated about the moment with my friend earlier, there is a margin of openness from outsiders. As Journey sang, "Don't Stop Believing." It can happen.
Babyman, unfortunately people don't need concrete reasons to find something weird or unnatural. If they have something to fall back on, such as a misinterpreted Bible verse, to justify their bias that's great for them. If they don't, then it's just the fact that it's not mainstream, it's not something the 'average' person does, therefore it weird and obscene and taboo. That ties into xander's question on whether or not wearing diapers would still be so desirable for so many people. I think it wouldn't. For some it is about comfort, safety, recapturing a small part of childhood, or how you imagine it should be anyway. For others it is about the taboo, the humilation of it. If that aspect was removed, they wouldn't be as interested.
Really great and well thought out post! I'd like to see a world where diapers were an accessory one chooses, like boxers or briefs. As you stated, if you're going on a long trip or headed to a place that has dismal bathrooms, then one could simply choose a diaper for the period and not think any farther into it. It seems that in parts of Asia as well as those in various lines of work are starting to utilize this option. And there must be something to the fact that adult diapers now outsell baby diapers other than longer life expectancy??
However I'm not sure I can envision a world without such judgement anytime soon. Most tend to be lazy and stubborn when it comes to re-evaluation and arriving at a new opinion. The absence of judgement would likely need to be picked up by new generations successively, which is why it is really important to utilize mediums like this in a positive way.
I'll pose a question. Would diapers loose some of their allure among AB/DL's and enthusiasts if the taboo element was removed? Could part of the allure reside in the notion that it IS taboo, and a unique and safe way for someone to exercise individuality? Would it be as exciting as it is if no one cared that you were padded? I don't know the answer, but suspect that the idea could play some role in all of it.