Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When Consent Doesn't Count Enough

Everyone knows the newest BDSM “catch phrase” - Consent Counts? Sure you do. NCSF has done a whole fucking campaign on consent counting. It’s another bullshit phrase in a long line of “feel good” expressions from a really hip marketing department somewhere.

I’ll tell exactly why consent alone doesn’t count for anything.

I make no secret of the fact that I was hurt by someone in the scene a couple of years ago. It wasn't even IN a scene, which is another reason why consent counted for shit. It was unexpected and ended up causing a lot of trouble for me as well as a lot of pain.

When it first happened to me, people I’d told about it had some interesting reactions- they’d either “heard similar stories” or “had one of their own” about the same person; or they couldn’t believe that this person would do such a thing. They believed ME (I am after all fairly known myself and not known to be given to hysterics or lying). But they couldn’t believe that this person could DO such a thing. Fortunately, there were several witnesses around who saw that it could and did happen

Whenever this person’s name is mentioned to me in conversation (usually with someone telling me how “wonderful” this person is), I tell them what happened. I calmly lay out the facts of what happened, admit that the injury was unintentional (you see, even *I* have a hard time believing it happened) and stress the fact that above all, it was completely unconsensual. I also don’t gloss over the fact that this person has to this date not apologized to me for doing it nor has he ever bothered to check up after the fact to see how my injury is doing.

And yet, this person has continued to not only practice what he did to me on others, but has actually taught CLASSES on doing it. I’ve actually heard people extolling his virtues to me without knowing my story and then scurrying away with an incredulous look after they’ve heard it. They don’t know what to believe. They LIKE both of us.

For those that know me, and known to whom I’m referring, I’m sure you’re still saying to yourself “she must have it wrong” or “it was an accident” or even “yeah, I’ve heard worse”. For those that know me, you’ll also be able to verify that it’s difficult for me to even be in the same room with this person. We're cordial because we have to be. But there is little warmth on either side.

What’s even more amazing though is when I start talking to people about this and they tell me “yeah- this person did X to me” or “yeah-this person did Y to me”. Or even worse “yeah, this person has a bit of a problem with consent”.

Funny how I’d never heard ANY of those things until I started talking.

As far as I’m concerned, knowing that someone “has problems” with consent; or has had “several complaints”; or, as I’ve read recently- someone “who will probably drive her out of the scene too”; and NOT saying it to anyone, to their next potential victim, or to EVERYONE to whom you come in contact with about that person, makes you just as culpable for their crimes. If you KNOW someone is a problem, if you KNOW that someone has a reputation for doing things that people have complained about, if you KNOW that someone has suffered, been hurt, raped, or had their trust violated at their hands and say nothing, you’re just as fucking guilty when the shit hits the fan.

In my opinion, the only time consent counts, is when it’s INFORMED consent. And being informed requires the participation of every single person who has any information which may affect the consent.

INFORMED CONSENT counts. Everything else is just non-consensual ostriching by people who should fucking know better.

6 comments:

Diva said...

I agree to a point and I'm speaking from my own personal experience.

I spoke out about someone in the scene three years ago. It was not an easy thing for me to do and as I've said in the past my decision was to do it was like stepping off a tall building. I had no idea where or how I would land. One plus for me is that I was not the first to speak out at that time and although I was unknown back then, those who did speak first were not.

It is three years later and the person I did speak out on is still part of the scene and even was a presenter at Floating World. I have been harassed by this person for three years now to the point that I've had to take action to protect myself.

There are many who have to be aware of his actions toward me as he does it in public in blog posts, twitter and showing up at my events and yet most have the attitude they don't want to take sides or get involved. Everyone is so afraid of creating drama or picking a side that in the end by not standing with the victim they have chosen a side.

In a perfect world we would all feel safe and secure enough to speak out but just as you didn't mention the name of the person in your post I am not naming mine in this comment.

On the plus side I've seen more conversation on this issue in the last few months than I have in the last few years so maybe we're making steps in the right direction.

Dee

Nadia said...

Like Dee i agree to a point. I was assaulted at a play party in '05 (by the same person who has harrassed Diva, no less). I spoke up, refusing to be silent and the result was the guy and his friends branded me as crazy and most people would not listen. For my own sanity while dealing with the PTSD the assault gave me, i had to disappear from the scene for a while.

Years later i'm stronger and speaking out often. But in '05 it nearly led me to a nervous breakdown.

I agree that those of us who can handle the flak of speaking up should. but those who cant shouldnt be blamed - the only person responsible for the predator's actions is the predator.y party in '05 (by the same person who has harrassed Diva, no less). I spoke up, refusing to be silent and the result was the guy and his friends branded me as crazy and most people would not listen. For my own sanity while dealing with the PTSD the assault gave me, i had to disappear from the scene for a while.

Years later i'm stronger and speaking out often. But in '05 it nearly led me to a nervous breakdown.

I agree that those of us who can handle the flak of speaking up should. but those who cant shouldnt be blamed - the only person responsible for the predator's actions is the predator.

silverdreams said...

I should comment now again.

I'm NOT talking about the victims being forced to speak up or being culpable. Often the victims aren't in the best place to even be ABLE to do that. Given the lack of support from the community, I don't blame them one fucking bit.

What I mean is that those of us who have knowledge, who have friends who have been hurt, who may have escaped mostly unscathed, to not speak up is, in my mind, contributing to the problem.

If I KNOW someone hurt one of my friends, if I KNOW they negotiated no penetration, and then did it anyway after she was bound and gagged, and if I don't then speak up about what I know, I'm beginning to find that attitude distasteful. Almost as much as slut shaming the person who suffered for it and did speak up.

Which is another WHOLE can of worms.

Bendyogagirl said...

Rather than speaking out against someone.. speak out FOR yourself. Your experience - your takeaways - keep it objective and let people draw their own conclusions.

Or grow balls (not speaking to anyone here in particular - more general) and bring the offender to justice.

Otherwise, it's he-says-she-says and it's noise.

xoxoxo

Diva said...

Actually Tess did speak up for me and has in the past tried to warn others. The result was her being harassed as much as me by this person. Right here in comments you have three women who have had problems with the same person and yet he was a presenter at Floating World. What message does that send to those who try to speak out.

Until we can find a way for the community to support those such as Nadia who speak out sadly these issues will remain 'dirty little secrets.'

The Scientists said...

In my experience it wasn’t until I took a friend at her word and essentially made my friends choose me or the predator that he started to not get invited to things. This was especially true if people knew I was going to be at an event too. I knew both of the individuals before hand and listened to both sides separately before making my decision, but it was still hard because while the male tended towards predatory, at first blush he did not come off as such. Sometimes people are just good at hiding their true intentions.

In my case it may sound sexist but it wasn’t until me as a male sided with the female victim that other males, and even to some extent females backed off.