I’ve had a really rotten few weeks.
Since first deciding to speak my mind about issues happening in our “community” ranging from consent/boundary problems to rape, I’ve received tweets, emails, fetlife mail, dm’s and blog comments aplenty. Not all of them were, shall we say- nice?
But what surprised me more, and was more disappointing than anything, was the voices of those who are still missing in this discussion.
I don’t know what it was about some of the things I wrote, but it seemed to bring out the absolute worst in some people. The support I got privately, often wasn’t quite enough to make up for the shit I was getting. I was at the point of almost giving up on this whole fucking idea of taking a stand on any issue when I started talking to a few really good friends whose opinions and good sense I could rely upon for a clear head. Septimus, Dee Dennis, and Railen Panther. Without those three people, I don’t think that I’d be ready to continue speaking out.
I learned a lot these past few weeks. Since I first put out the call for people’s stories. I got nearly 140 messages from people. Some of them were so awful that there were days I couldn’t bear to open another email. Some of those stories were very hard to read, some emails were hostile, and not enough were supportive. Even, many times, from my friends.
But just as I’d about given up, thinking that my small voice couldn’t make a difference, couldn’t reach anyone, and therefore wouldn’t matter, in little more than a long weekend, several things happened that made all the difference in the world. I listened to what my three paragons of sensibility were telling me- I did have people who supported my efforts; that they wouldn’t consider abandoning me, or telling me to abandon my position when I was feeling discouraged; and that together, they had experiences in the things that I’d need to carry this thing forward. Septimus is able to cut through the bullshit and get to the heart of an issue; asking the right questions, and giving me a male tops’ perspective; Dee Dennis was able to help me see the larger issues involved; how to network; and most importantly- how to step back when I needed to regain my own perspective; and Railen- who last night almost brought me to tears when he and his Mistress told me that they understood what I was doing, that they wanted to help and that I was doing a “good thing”.
That, oddly enough, was the very first time anyone had told me that all the crap I’d been reading, hearing, and talking about the past few weeks, was worth it.
I’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks to make me think that part of the problem is that nobody gives a fuck about anyone else. They care about their own small circle of friends, but they don’t generally care all that much about some stranger 20, 200 or 2000 miles away from them. It’s “THEIR” issue. It doesn’t affect them, so why should they worry? And part of me asked that same question. Why should I even get involved in this issue? I have no personal stake in whether or not “someone else” gets their boundaries bent or whether or not someone else was raped. It won’t happen to ME, right? I can go on my merry fucking way, live my merry fucking life and not have to worry about someone else. I’m too smart to be “one of those people”.
Unless that someone else is a friend. Unless that someone else reached out to you for help.
Unless you’re someone who gives a shit about people.
Denial that there’s any problem, silence about it, shaming those that speak about their own experiences, and anger directed towards those who would shed light on such unpleasantness hiding within our “fantasy world” of bdsm, are some of the very behaviors that create the problems in the first place.
Abuse in BDSM exists. Predators in BDSM exists. Harm in BDSM exists. And mistakes in BDSM exist. To deny that those things happen as a he said/she said problem, because we've all read "all the books on how it's supposed to be done" or simply because we aspire to the epitomes of SSC or RACK or whatever behavior and to not talk about them openly and with compassion for those that have experienced those things, simply because “it wouldn’t happen to you”, is to make our “community” somehow more utopian than the vanilla world.
While we’re talking about all the fun, sexy, hot stuff that we do, we also have to remember that we don’t live in the books. We live in a world where abuse, predators, harm and mistakes happen, and we have to include that in our education, presentations, and discussions.
To think anything else, really is fantasy.