Empathy and Trust

[W]hat good is it to be in a relationship with someone who can’t tell the difference between being really mean, and being REALLY mean. How could I trust someone like that? How good is play as a submissive if you have to keep one eye open?

Most definitely. It completely sucks to play with one eye always open.

SheIsReedS really nails it here, followed by an exceptionally good explanation of the ways in which both dominants and submissives need to be able to trust both themselves and each other – including how the dominant needs to be able to trust that the submissive is “rendering genuine responses…”

That means he needs to be both willing and able to believe that she not just actually likes what’s happening, when that is the case (which is what people are most often referring to when they speak of the dominant needing to be able to trust that it’s really what she does want), but that he is also willing to accept it as truth if she says she cannot handle something he is doing, and needs it to either stop or change.

He needs to be able to accept that the stroke he just landed was an 8 for her even if he thinks it should have only been a 3.

Unfortunately, a lot of dominants seem to think that they know better than their subs do how said subs are feeling, what they are experiencing.  It’s a dangerous notion and fantasy that the “community” has promulgated to the point that it really endangers a lot of submissives – and in turn, endangers the whole relationship.

What dominants who have gotten themselves into hot water with their submissives by failing to respect that the sub really does know what’s happening for her better than anyone else on the planet can often don’t seem to realize is that it is devastating to a submissive to have to stop play, to have to defend herself – indeed, as SheIsReedS says, to have to always keep one eye open.  Much more will be gained by taking her at her word, and patiently helping her work through whatever the difficulty is – or adjusting his own way of doing things to accommodate her needs.

There may in fact come a time in a relationship when the dominant really can read the submissive well enough – and there is a strong enough foundation – that he can then push more for her to take more than she thinks she can.  When that happens, though, it’s not a function of role name as much as it is about maturity, patience, and respect for the submissive – and a matter of having developed a track record together that allows both parties to reach that point of trust in each other.

This really does not happen overnight, or even usually in a matter of weeks or months, at least not in any informed, lasting way, and if there’s already been any breach of trust, it is likely to take a great deal longer to regain what has been lost than most people have any idea.  You can’t just expect it to happen chop-chop.

And at the end of the day, no matter how well he knows her (or thinks he does), and regardless of what D/s relationship agreements there may be, no still means no, and it needs to be respected, without question.

For a dominant to push past what his submissive says she is able to take despite her protests (or to even show displeasure that she can’t take what he wants to dish out) is likely to be the kiss of death to any trust that has already been built up, and the death knell to any further trust developing.  And with the demise of trust, so follows the end of the relationship eventually, no matter how promising it might have been otherwise, no matter how compatible the two parties overall.

Sometimes all it really does take is that empathy – the willingness to just accept the sub’s feedback without defensiveness, without taking safewords or requests to modify what is happening as a threat, to be able to recognize that it is his responsibility to help her find a way through whatever the issue is without expecting her to process on the same schedule he wants and thinks appropriate.

Training

From SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude _ Principles, Skills and Tools”, by Guy Baldwin:

Training means something more than giving orders and correcting compliance. A sadly small percentage of the Masters i know savor the often delicately balanced orchestrations by which a slave does truly develop a deeper level of surrender under Their direction. These Masters delight in devising subtle situations and conversations that challenge and guide us. They watch us closely to see how we wrestle with our inner struggles with surrender, and then determine the best way to coax, tease, kiss, lure, argue, reason, support, reinforce, hurt or love us onward past our sticking points and into doing or accepting exactly what They want from us…AND, making us love Them for it! This is the REAL craft of “slave-training,” and lucky is the slave who comes to the attention of these rare Masters.

If you are not feeling like this is what your dominant/master is doing with you, and you don’t end up loving him for whatever he is doing in the name of training or anything else, there’s a very good chance that you are in fact experiencing abuse.

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The fact of the matter, as Guy says, is that such “masters” are in fact rare.

Just because someone calls themselves a dominant, a master, or SirWhompum, or whatever, does not automatically confer any level of skill upon him – be it with toys, or relationship skills.

In fact, a shocking number of dominants are exceptionally unskilled in these ways.

Which we could then look at as being the norm – and in the sense that there are more who do not have these skills than who do, that is true – but the story doesn’t end there.

In a vanilla relationship, neither party has deliberately taken on the responsibility of owning another, controlling or directing what they do, etc.  It’s not part of the fundamental relationship paradigm.  There are good lovers and there are bad ones, and leaving aside the abusive, that’s not such a big deal in and of itself.

When a person takes on the responsibility of dominance or mastery over another, however, it becomes exponentially more important that he ensures that he has the skills, both technical and personal, with which to ensure not just the submissive’s safety, but to seduce her submission.

Even with subs for whom being pushed is a big part of their kink, there is still the need to seduce compliance – and many times, it is precisely that seduction that actually constitutes the desired pushing, or at least a big part of it.  It’s the being cajoled to take just a little bit more – for him – that does it, not heavyhanded punishment for not living up to what he wants, etc.

When people who lack these kinds of people skills take on such responsibilities for another human being and her life, it is really incumbent upon them to learn how to do this – and to do it damn well.  To make sure that, at the end of the day, she still wants to come back for more.  That she is left in better condition than he found her in.  That she feels that her life has been enhanced because of her overall experiences with him.

Not all will have equal skills in this regard, and not every one of them will be a good match for each seeking submissive, but unless there is a substantial element of ending up enhanced overall by the experiences she has with her dominant, then something is seriously wrong.

If the overall feeling is one of being torn down, denigrated, injured, etc., vs being uplifted by the whole relationship, then it’s quite likely that there is abuse happening and not dominance.

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Thanks to Mollena Williams for posting this snippet on FetLife, which got me thinking about how this definition of training and mastery relates to abuse.

Preying on Newbies – a New Class!

by SimplyMichael (reposted with permission)

Preying on Newbies!

Ever wonder how those masters out there nail one new hottie after another? Curious how they can get away with fucking over one after another with no repercussions? Attend this class and learn all the inside tips and tricks on how to get away with almost anything in the scene and be praised for it!

We fetishize power and authority in bdsm and so the trick is to cloak yourself with one or both. How do I do that, you ask? Since you are preying on the new, the inexperienced, or the dysfunctional, you have to go where those people congregate. Find the groups were the leaders collar and play with newbies and ingratiate yourself. Become a DM, strive to get as many badges of authority as you can. Now, here is the important part, no matter what you see others doing, follow the herd, if you catch someone in a lie and they are a leader, don’t mention it, if you see a leader cheating on a partner, say nothing. This will allow you to become an important person in the group and you can use that position to prey on newbies and when you exhibit the same behavior, they will then cover your back.

Becoming either a mentor or a trainer, or even both is a great tactic. Since the newbies you seek to nail are generally much younger and or hotter than you could ever get on your own, offering to mentor or train them masks your intentions behind the cloak of care and concern, pretty much guaranteed to knock their panties off without you having to bother having a relationship with them. Point out how bad their decisions are, undermine their self esteem, praise them when they follow your orders and make them feel like they somehow failed you when your choices turned out badly. Its literally like taking candy from a baby or in this case, a cherry from a newbie!

If this tact doesn’t work because, don’t despair, there are lots of other ways to get at the fresh meat. Form an event or a group around safety, nothing attracts the dysfunctional people like offers of quick external fixes to their own bad decisions! Another tried and true approach is to host a munch or an event that is strictly for newbies, of course you just have to be there but this allows you to exclude anyone else from participating. There is nothing like a group that is centered around helping newbies to make a happy hunting ground for your scorecard.

We will also cover advanced issues like:

How to deal with troublesome ex partners after they have seen through the games is a common issue and there are some great methods for dealing with this. First and foremost, whatever you do, don’t own up to your mistakes, just condemn them for causing drama and the rest of the dysfunctional herd will stone them out of the scene with chants of “down with drama” and no matter how egregious your wrongs are, your accusers will be driven out of the scene. This almost always works but sometimes someone more important wants the woman and so they may drum you out of the scene, just lay low for a bit and return, because pointing out that someone has a bad history is considered bad form, isn’t that just so thoughtful!

The best part of this tactic is it becomes almost automatic after a while. People who can’t keep their mouth shut and want to hold people accountable for their actions tend to up and leave, how cool is that! Newbies and others learn that if they are victimized and speak up, they will be shunned by everyone in your group.

So, now you have gotten pretty good at nailing the odd newbie but here and there a hot one still slips through and someone else gets to them first. The way to deal with that is to create a poly family. It usually works by finding someone you can barely stomach and who has low self esteem. Make her your primary partner so you always have someone to clean house and have sex with if nothing better is around at the moment. She feels so grateful that she is your primary and that you praise her in public that the fact that the second a hottie walks in you can barely remember her name won’t matter to her a bit. This allows you to chase the newbies down and use them all while pretending to bring them into your family, I mean how cool does that make it sound? Another cool trick to do with a primary is you send them to those pesky submissive only meetings so they can not only spy for you but recruite the ones that got away from you!

I wish I could say this is just sarcasm but it is sadly more true than it should be so the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Experience Requirements for Mentors

I think I’ve now heard it all.

At a munch today, the new mentorship director of the major local kink organization that sponsors the munch (the Society of Janus) announced that lack of experience in the scene is *not* a disqualification for stepping up to the plate and volunteering to be a mentor through that organization.

Yes, apparently experience is no longer required for this job in the San Francisco area on the new board’s watch.  Because after all, everyone knows *something* they can share with others, right?

I swear to God, that is exactly what was said.

Yes, even if you don’t have much experience, you are still encouraged to apply to be a mentor.  Step right up to this organization, and you, too, can call yourself a mentor and be assigned a newbie-er [sic] newbie acolyte of your own, even if you’re brand new to wiitwd yourself.

So, newbies, beware that the mentor you get hooked up with through this organization very well may actually have only a few days or weeks more experience than you have.

In fact, this has always been true, and is one of the reasons I’ve always objected to such structured “mentorship” programs.  It’s always been true that you need to vet the mentors you are assigned in this sort of arrangement, because they can and do accept just about anyone who volunteers.  (Which is kind of moronic, given that part of the whole point of finding a mentor in the first place is to find someone to help guide you through new waters safely, and if you already knew where the shoals and bad eggs were, arguably you wouldn’t even need a mentor.  But I digress.)

In most such programs, however, and in the past in this one, it has been the *experienced* people who are encouraged to sign up to share their knowledge.

What is brand new, apparently, is that now people who have almost no experience are actually being *encouraged* to sign up to teach others.

So caveat emptor now applies even more than it ever did before.

And yes, it’s true that someone with a few days or weeks more experience may know a few tidbits to share, but that does *not* make someone capable of safely or effectively mentoring another.

There is a name for people who have little experience of wiitwd – and that is “newbie”.

Just like you, if you’re new.

It’s a perfectly valid place to be in your journey, but it does *not* qualify you to do anything but share amongst yourselves about your experiences.  That is called “sharing with each other about your experiences”, not “mentoring” someone.

Understand the difference, and do not be fooled by a label like “mentor” into believing that this person necessarily knows much more than you do, no matter how you come across the person who uses it.

Continue reading

I Will Not Apologize

Stolen from multiple people on Fetlife:

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I will not apologize for setting my own personal boundaries.
I will not apologize for doing whatever it takes to enforce those boundaries.
I will not apologize for doing whatever it takes to protect my emotional well being.
I will not apologize for keeping out and or letting go those who are not healthy
and who would damage my soul, self and mind.

I will not apologize for taking time to think before I speak.
I will not apologize for telling someone their behavior is not acceptable to me.
I will not apologize for deciding what behavior is and is not acceptable.
I will not apologize for stepping back from a situation in order to evaluate my feelings,
however long that takes.

I will not apologize for setting stricter boundaries when I need and sticking to them.
I will not apologize for asking for space when I need it.
I will not apologize for taking responsibility for the way I allow others to treat me.
I will not apologize for cutting someone completely out of my life
if I feel they don’t respect my boundaries.

I will not apologize for not believing everything I’m told.
I will not apologize for knowing what I want and not settling for less.
I will not apologize for letting your problems, your dysfunction be yours.
I will not apologize for not being able to help you when you choose not to help yourself.

I will not apologize for not being able to be all things to all people.
I will not apologize for not accepting deceit and chaos in my life.
I will not apologize for loving myself enough to set these boundaries
…even if it means I risk losing people in my life because of them.

Awareness of BDSM Related Abuse Is Growing

Awareness of abuse in the kink community is growing, and I could not be more grateful.

Sadly, my friend Mollena Williams, who recently stepped down from her post as International Ms Leather 2010, was raped and only recently spoke up about it publicly.  The outpouring of support has been unbelievable – although really hardly surprising considering what a truly amazing and widely loved (and lovable) person she is, and how highly visible worldwide.

That decision to speak up is helping open up the floodgates that so badly need to be opened in our circles, and she continues to speak out.  In her thank you speech at the end of her IMSL tenure, Mo brought the issue up in front of hundreds of people, asking attendees how many had personally been sexually abused or known someone who had been, and had this to say about what happened:

It was a very scary decision for me to share my story and to ask for others to stand or raise a hand with me as survivors. And the remaining people I asked to show support if they knew someone who was a survivor of sexual abuse.

Over three-quarters of the room were with me on the first call. EVERYONE was in by the second.

It filled me with many emotions to see this happen. Validation. Pride in US. Rage that so many of us have lived this story. It threatened to take me out. And it was worth it. It was worth the fear and the opening of that wound because so. Many. Of. Us. Live. With. This. Pain.

Seventy five percent of a packed room full of pervs of every stripe were survivors of survivors of sexual assault, and not a single one didn’t at least know someone else who had been, even if they themselves had not had that sad experience.

Seventy five percent – 75%.

Think about this and what it means.

While there’s no way to measure the number of abusers who were involved, and given the size of our subculture and the frequency with which people share partners, either simultaneously or sequentially, we cannot have any certainty of what that number says about how many abusers are involved, that percentage still means that a huge percentage of our group are indeed abusers.  And we all know at least one or two people who are serial abusers.

I wrote earlier in this blog that some people I’ve spoken to have estimated that 80-90% of all dominants (at least male) are abusive.  Others challenged me on those numbers, and admittedly, there’s no way to prove them.

But when you’ve got a room full of people, it’s quite easy to roughly estimate the percentages involved when questions like Mo’s are asked.

I can’t give statistically accurate numbers or percentages.  They don’t exist.  It would be great if there were some high quality studies that were to quantify this problem more accurately, and hopefully someday we will indeed have them, but for now, there simply aren’t.  All we can go by is reports like this, and hearing more and more people speak up privately or publicly about their experiences – a growing general consensus that this is a far bigger problem in the kink subculture than we as a group have known – or wanted to face.  You find out about these things by talking to others, by public presentations about the issue, and people speaking out openly such as in Asher Bauer’s wonderful Field Guide to Creepy Dom, etc.

Mo, I so share your rage and pain, both what you have been through personally, and at the fact that this is such a widespread issue in the kink world, that so many others have also stood in our shoes.

I also fully understand your feeling of validation, as indeed the reaction you got and your report about it help in turn to validate everything I’ve been saying for a few years, and everything I’ve been through myself and continue to suffer from.

And that is why this blog exists, and I will continue to speak out about publicly abuse in the kink world, trying to excise it from our midst, and working to help others recognize it and learn to fight it as well, despite all of the fallout, including some very overt threats.

The time for silence and sweeping this issue under the rug is over.

We speak about power exchange in BDSM as a positive thing, but when it is used as a battering ram, as has happened to so many of us, it’s just plain abuse.  It is time for those of us who have been battered, both literally and figuratively (emotionally and sexually) to take back our own power and stand up and fight these injustices en masse.

It is never going to be possible to entirely excise abuse or abusers from our midst, either in the kink world or the vanilla world at large.  But we can work together to create an environment in which they cannot hide as easily as the current D/s culture both allows and indeed encourages.

We not only can, but we absolutely must.

Because it’s not OK that even one person has to suffer the effects of any kind of abuse, but the fact that it’s such a high percentage is absolutely intolerable and insupportable.

And it’s just as bad that the culture of silence in the scene has covered it up for so long, if not worse, because that means that we have all been complicit in perpetuating these problems.  Indeed the culture of silence and confidentiality at all costs, coupled with the “It’s all about the dom” mentality, has led to frequently victimizing the victims all over again by blaming them and letting the abusers get off scott free without consequences.

These.  Things.  Simply.  Must.  Stop.

Right.  Now.

And we have to all work together to make that happen.

Thank you for speaking up, Mo.  From the bottom of my heart.

Report on RACK Panel

On March 22, SF Citadel hosted a RACK panel of leaders and educators from the BDSM community dedicated to discussing this question, including its relationship to abuse.

The evening’s discussion was terrific.  Panelists included Levi (who was previously employed by NCSF), Queen Cougar, Disciple, Asher Bauer (Gaystapo on Fetlife, and author of “A Field Guide to Creepy Dom”, which I reposted here), and Chey, who together represented an excellent cross section of various branches of the kink and leather communities, which tend to have some different opinions on a number of issues.  Thorne did a masterful job of moderating, and asked some very important questions.

In the first half of the program, issues such as participants’ preferences for RACK vs SSC, attitudes towards breath play, and a couple of other matters were discussed, with a pretty predictable range of thoughts and opinions, with no two people seeing any of it quite the same way.

Asher felt that RACK is an edgier concept than SSC, because it implies more edge play and Disciple sees the two as falling along a spectrum.  Queen Cougar gave a history of the evolution of both concepts, and pointed out that the entire goal is to keep people safe, which is best accomplished, in her estimation, by just using plain old common sense, and not by mindless adherence to any particular acronym.  Levi spoke eloquently about how both are about safety in overall communications, the value of safety education, etc., distinguishing WIITWD from abuse, both being a “social expression of unified purpose” – and how NCSF feels that identifying with and playing as RACK actually increases players’ legal liability vs SSC.

Someone described RACK as often being used as “a coverup and club” for abusers, which everyone else nodded in agreement with.  My personal feeling is that they are both used that way.

The second half, however, was fully devoted to the question of consent, what it means, and whether or not violations of it should be reported to the police and/or made known to the community at large.  Thorne and I have been discussing these issues together for a while, and a number of the questions she asked were born out of issues I raised and my thinking on the subject.

Levi commented that he felt that consent is a construct, and fantasy container, that responsible masters hold the container for it, and must also take legal, emotional, and physical responsibility for their actions, as well as for their limitations.  He commented about the frequent involvement of coercion in obtaining “consent”, and how consent is sometimes used as justification for abuse, which brought murmurs of agreement from all of the participants.

Queen Cougar spoke eloquently and powerfully about how you “retain your personhood” even in the most intense relationships, and have the right to step out of it and protect yourself no matter what, despite any peer pressure to retain the M/s kind of dynamic and the twisted thinking that comes out of all of that.  Thorne added that that self protection includes emotional safety, as well as physical.

Disciple said that there are many savvy predators out there for whom consent really means nothing and are able to hide behind all the right language, and when he said straight out that they need to be “brought to light”, it drew a gasp of shock from the audience – and vigorous assent from the other panelists.  It was almost like someone had finally given everyone else permission to say out loud, and in so many words, what they had all been thinking, but hadn’t quite had the guts to say in so many words, and a virtual torrent of agreement came out.  He recommended setting aside your pride for the sake of the relationship, and not to rush into anything, taking your time to learn how that prospective partner reacts and treats others when he is under duress before you get involved, because that is highly predictive of how he will treat you.

We often speak about red flags that may clue one in that a particular person is a predator and likely to be dangerous.  Chey mentioned out that it’s a red flag if they’re not willing to come out of role and speak with the sub as equals, and Asher pointed out that sometimes there really aren’t any red flags at all, and that it’s “important not to victim blame”, no matter what.

What really stood out in this portion was that without exception, every single one of these community leaders and educators all agreed as the discussion ensued, particularly once Disciple came out and stated it so clearly, was that not only are violations of consent completely unacceptable, but that they should be reported to the police, as well as publicized widely throughout the community – and with names named.

What’s more, they all agreed that this should apply to all violations, that it is no longer acceptable to sweep so much under the rug as we have been doing for so long.

When I came into the scene a decade ago, this sort of scenario would have been absolutely unimaginable. I can’t think of anyone back then who I ever heard say such a thing, and to even bring the idea up would get one looked at with all kinds of suspicion, and generate a lecture on the importance of confidentiality, policing our own ranks, not involving the police because it would only serve to prove to the vanillas that we were indeed abusers and undermine our attempts to communicate just the opposite, and more – all of which would generally ultimately serve to protect the perpetrator and further victimize the victim.

No one would have said that abuse or violations of consent were OK, but no one would have been willing to actually advocate taking this kind of action.

And a lot more protection was given to D-types who were in M/s relationships in particular, and blame heaped on the S-type, with the admonition that she had entered into this arrangement voluntarily, and that it was all about the dom so he could do no wrong and she had to obey, etc., etc.  Sadly, we still hear some of this claptrap, but on the whole, it thankfully seems to be diminishing.

I’ve written and spoken a lot about what I see as the issues with abuse of various sorts in our circles, and while virtually every individual I can think of with whom I’ve spoken privately has also expressed similar sentiments, there is something about it being said out loud by five separate people who are respected in the community, in front of an audience of probably somewhere around 50 people, that to me, really brings home what I’ve been saying all along for several years, that abuse and violations of consent are huge and growing problems in our ranks, that we absolutely must deal with very differently than we’ve been handling it in the past.

In the “old days”, when the scene was much smaller and more underground, self-policing was much more feasible, and much more essential.  Nowadays, though, attitudes are changing, the police and the rest of the vanilla world are increasingly aware of WIITWD as a fundamentally consensual activity, and as a result, it is less taboo to discuss openly, and in a number of jurisdictions, local law enforcement is actually quite enlightened, so reporting abuses to them, when indicated, is far less likely to have negative repercussions for others than it probably was in the past.  We still have a long ways to go to achieve full understanding and cooperation from law enforcement, but the road is better paved than it was before – and just by virtue of our sheer huge increase in numbers and accessibility, self-policing the way it was back then, especially as a sole solution, is truly no longer a viable solution to these problems.

Your Kink Is Not OK

There.  I’ve said it.

The words that will earn me the hatred of a lot of the BDSM world.  Words that are anathema to this subculture.  Thinking that runs counter to the mass-think of our counterculture, that threatens all kinds of people who are supposedly secure in whatever it is they do.

I posted my recent post about consent on Fetlife, and the anti-bestiality petition – and all hell has broken loose.  I’ve been accused of being a Nazi because of the consent one, and more.  I’ve been told – like it’s a bad thing – that I seem to be on a moral crusade with respect to being opposed to bestiality.

Well, yes.  Yes, I am, as a matter of fact. On a moral crusade.

I am very much opposed to things like bestiality, child sexual abuse, porn about both, abuse of all sorts, and to an assortment of other things like play behavior that causes bodily damage and emotional harm, and I refuse to be silenced about it by peer pressure any more.

I believe that they are wrong in every possible way, particularly bestiality, child sexual abuse, and other forms of abuse of others (including animals), both physical and emotional.  I believe (and there are plenty of good studies to back me up) that they are deeply injurious on multiple levels, and that injuring other people and other creatures is just plain wrong.  They are sick, disgusting, perverted in the entirely wrong way, and just plain abominations.  People who do these things are sick, too, and in serious need of therapeutic help.

That is very much part of my moral compass, and I have always vigorously opposed these things.

To have deeply held convictions of this nature and to not speak up about them and work to stamp them out is to do one’s own self damage.

So, yes, I am on a crusade to do just that, particularly with abuse of children, women, and animals.

I won’t try to stop people from doing themselves or truly consenting partners bodily harm in the name of kink, but I for damn sure reserve the right to express my opinion of their doing so, and what I believe their mental status to be.

And the thing is that a huge percentage of the rest of our ranks does the same thing, either in private just in their own minds, or among friends, although we all pretend in public like we don’t.  No one wants to be the one to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

This whole “your kink is OK” thing that we espouse in the kink community is actually kind of hypocritical, in my opinion.  We almost all have opinions about the advisability or sanity of at least one or two things that other people do, and these are routinely spoken of in private, among friends – but no one is willing to actually stand up in public and say the exact same thing, either in front of anyone who practices whatever the activity is, or to the community at large.

The BDSM subculture is, in fact, one of the most intolerant and judgmental groups of people I’ve ever come across – or at least certainly no less judgmental than any vanilla group.  The judgments are just about different things, and on the whole, we do have a lot more tolerance of extremes than vanillas do, and the bar is higher.

It’s ironic, though, that while we attempt to be all inclusive of everything that everyone likes, in the process, what gets shut out is the right to freely state our own real opinions of some of those behaviors without facing a crucifying wall of attack from others.

It’s as if when you sign up to be kinky in the public scene, you have to turn in your rights to stating and sharing your own opinions of what others may do.  I’ve written at length elsewhere, particularly on Tribe in the New to BDSM (Uncensored) group, about the many unwritten rules of the scene.  This is a major one.  You don’t get to have an opinion of what others do, or at least you most assuredly aren’t allowed to express it out loud.

Everyone who has been around for more than a month and started to get to know others knows that there is a large and well-established grapevine behind the scenes.  I was told about it when I was brand new a decade ago, and it exists as a deliberate institution to help submissives stay safe by sharing information about dangerous tops.  It’s not only condoned, it’s actively (although quietly) promoted, and polite newbies are welcomed into the fold.  Get any group of submissives together, and you’ll hear all about how we all need to look out for and protect one another.  But God forbid anyone actually share any of that same information out loud in public, or to more individuals than a particular person deems appropriate – and then all hell breaks loose about violating confidentiality, bad-mouthing people, etc. – regardless of the truth or lack thereof of the information being shared, and the actual experiences of the person sharing it, and then the crowd often turns on the messenger.  All this happens right along with a lot of public verbiage about wanting to stop abusive behavior, and people crowing about how we are somehow better than the vanilla crowd and have less abuse in our ranks.

Hello?  You either want to stop abuse and help protect others, or you don’t.  No, it’s not as cut and dried as may appear that I am saying.  There are indeed nuances and specifics to each situation.  Unfortunately, the victim is often revictimized over and over again by her own peers just for speaking up.

There are also significant pockets of people who not only do not condemn behavior such as child and animal sexual abuse, but who actively practice and promote it, despite the fact that they are generally illegal as hell, much more so than any of the rest of what we do, as well as totally amoral and exploitative.  It is appalling that such abusers try to hide behind the wall of calling their perversions “kinks”, and thereby trying to slide in under the umbrella of “your kink is OK” in our circles.

It’s not OK, folks.

I’m sorry, but it’s just not.

And yes, I’m on a moral crusade – and on a legal one.  I’ve worked for years to help stamp out child and domestic partner abuse, and I will now also not rest until bestiality is likewise recognized legally everywhere as the sick abuse of helpless creatures that it is, and helped to create a legal framework within which anyone who causes harm to people and animals who cannot consent can and will be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law – a law on a par with how raping children and others is now treated.

Child abuse and bestiality are not “kinks”.  They are full on perversions, sicknesses, and victimization of others who are helpless to defend themselves.  People who do these things are predators, and mentally ill, and should be locked away for life.

Anyone who thinks it’s OK to fuck children or animals is a psychopath.  And anyone who remains in a relationship with anyone who does either of these things once they know about it is equally guilty of the crime because to stay is to condone it.

What I find particularly puzzling is that I know people whose own friends have told them they are sick and in need of therapy because of the extreme nature of their kinks and participation in bestiality.  Why are those people still friends, when such incredibly exploitative and blatantly injurious behaviors are being practiced by those people?  Why do people stay in intimate relationships with such animals?  Birds of a feather flock together, though – so don’t be surprised if others consider that you actually condone the behavior of your partners and friends who engage in these kinds of practices if you remain in relationships with them once you know about these things. Sadly, I know people who have sounded off vociferously about exactly this – and yet are now in relationships with known, self-proclaimed bestialists, and still there, despite knowing full well about it.  It’s really pathetic when people’s desire to get their rocks off so overrides their own moral compasses – or at least what they said were their moral standards.

Don’t even start me on things like breath play, extremes of body modification, skewers, screws and nails inserted through breasts, penises, and testicles, needle play with unsterile needles, heavy impact play on the same kinds of delicate body parts and other areas that are easily injured, extensive brands, etc.  People have had to have breasts amputated because they haven’t healed from play of this nature.  Others have reported it taking literally years for such injuries to heal completely.  I’m hearing more reports of spinal fractures from flogging older people.  The list goes on.

So yeah.  As long as you are not hurting others, human or animal, do whatever you want.  But don’t expect me to condone it, or to not speak up against it, and to try to educate people to not do it if possible, if I find it either morally repugnant or too unsafe.

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See also Tolerating Criminal Behavior in the Scene, and Judging Others, and Just because it is “your kink” does not make it OK with me