Monday, March 18, 2013

What Part of NO do you NOT Understand Reid Mihalko?

To say I'm livid is an understatement. I'm so incredibly angry that my hands are shaking.

If you follow me on twitter (since my account is now locked, if you don't already, don't bother to look), you'll get some idea of what happened this weekend when I attended a sexuality conference.  

One of the things I rely on as a kinkster is my ability to keep the parts of my life separate. I do not appear in public with my kids as SilverDreams, and I do not appear at kink/sex events under my real name. I have a scene name for a reason. It's my decision and even if you don't agree, you don't have to. I don't ask that you like it, I only ask that you respect my wishes.  

Because this particular conference was a very definite educational setting, and included others who absolutely cannot attend those events under their real names, and because the event had a clear, published and several times-reiterated photo policy, I felt pretty comfortable attending. Was there a chance my photo would be taken? Sure. With cell phones, you can't ever guarantee that someone won't take your photo. But it was a small risk, given that I was with some of the "elite" in sex education.  

To be perfectly clear, there was not one moment I was at the conference out of my room where I did not have my "NO PHOTOS" button on. Not a single moment. 

Reid Mihalko is a self-described "Sex Geek".  To me, he's more of a self-absorbed juvenile asshat, but that's just my opinion. Hey- you have yours, I have mine.  When I attended a conference on the West Coast last year, Reid took my picture in a crowd shot (also wearing a NO PHOTO button) and posted it to twitter. I started getting my twitter friends, who were following the conference tweets, asking me if I knew my photo was on the internet.  I saw the picture, and asked Reid to take it down. That he did so immediately made me feel at least he was responsive to my concerns and that it was just an honest mistake.

But this past weekend, Reid was taking pictures of everything (and by everything I mean, as long as he was in the shot). This time, among several other pictures of crowd shots (many people whom also had no photo buttons), he posted a picture of three people working the conference, ALL OF WHOM WERE CLEARLY WEARING NO PHOTOS BUTTONS. I was one of those people.

Reading comprehension should really be taught in school.  NO MEANS NO.

No means no whether it's in a bar, in a conference, or on the street. No means do not. Don't do it. Stop. Cut it out, and well, just plain NO. (if you're unclear on this concept, I really suggest that you not be around people until you can figure that out).

A couple of things are tweaking my ass right now. The first is that he, a self-professed Sex Educator (but really, read his CV sometime- cuddle parties? Tae Kwan Do? Speed Flirting?) disregarded my explicit NO.  That's right folks, he couldn't figure out consent if it bit him in the ass. And what happens in return? He posts to FaceBook in such a way to garner sympathy from his readers. (read this as "poor me, I fucked up", please cuddle with me?).  He apologizes to me on twitter, using a page from Charlie Glickman's "learn how to apologize" blog post and tells me that he'll give me space unless I tell him to contact me. That's right. A twitter apology. It's almost as bad as breaking up with someone via email.

Fat fucking chance. You deserve every ounce of venom I feel right now. Twice.

One of his readers even go so far on that post to imply that it's the "universe's way of saying EVERYONE should be outed".  (victim blame much?)

Yeah, well fuck you.

Which brings me to my second tweak right now.  You might imagine, I was wondering how the rest of the sex educators at the conference might be all over his ass for his appallingly bad judgment and taking him to task for his continual juvenile behavior when it comes to his definite lack of self-control.

The silence is deafening.

I'm done. There truly is no safe space to discuss ideas. I wish you all well with each other because by your silence, you're all condoning Mr. Mihalko's behavior this past weekend.

And I won't be part of it.


Salesguy2009 said...


It is so sad that this person gets away with this juvenile behavior. My wife and I attend some conferences, and there is a strict no photo policy, "so far so good" but I guess there is no guarantee of privacy anymore...

Anonymous said...

As one of the other "no photos" people in the picture you mentioned (you know who I am and he knows who I am, but I'm keeping myself anonymous otherwise) I have to agree that I was seriously pissed by comments who posted on his Facebook post. I actively avoided Reid and Cathy all weekend because I know how trigger happy he is with a camera phone, but apparently that still wasn't good enough. This year I found two photos of me and a handful of others that were also problematic. It is very upsetting.

Tizz said...

Full disclosure: I made this same mistake this weekend with another No Photos person. They were in the background of a photo that someone took of me, and I didn't even register them in the background (it was a profile shot, and their button wasn't showing).

I put it up on Twitter, completely oblivious to this. I was contacted about it and fortunately, could remove it quickly.

The reason I bring this up at all: I understand how mistakes can happen (especially as a person who made the very same mistake).

It's EASY, especially when you have excited nerds all shoved into a small space + the age of the camera phone, for this kind of thing to happen. That doesn't make it okay, and it is something that each conference goer should make an effort to prevent.

I saw Reid's tweets, and the facebook post (before it disappeared/became private). While I do think it was responsible of him to visibly take accountability, I would assume that he would have done so after contacting you privately.

I agree that his facebook post seemed like it was pandering for validation, which is upsetting and irresponsible.

I get it. Being called out when a person violate someone's boundaries can feel awful, especially if it was truly an unintentional misstep. Being called out publicly is embarrassing, and means that the violator's ass has been shown. Most people are generally benign and don't have the intention of hurting others; knowing that one did so unintentionally can be startling and painful.

Regardless, the shame of making a mistake is not the same as having your boundaries disrespected. It's not about the feelings of the violator, and to make it so is offensive.

I'm glad he took down the photos. It seemed like there were a LOT of people in the background of those photos, and there was absolutely a lack of contentiousness around guaranteeing that everyone in the photo wanted to be there and was meant to be there. The fact that this happened twice to you indicates a carelessness that is absolutely concerning, and moves it beyond a mere "whoops".

I hope that Reid reaches out to you for a more personal apology. You deserve that. He's a very capable, generally kind seeming person (I don't know him well at all), and I would hope that the discussion of accountability we have in this community wouldn't fall short in practice.

I am so sorry you have had to deal with this. I imagine it puts a real damper on what was otherwise a mostly wonderful weekend. I hope it gets resolved in a way that makes YOU feel okay.

Anyway, this comment has gotten long. I wanted to say, though, that you aren't alone.


Viviane said...

Silverdreams, I was sorry to read about this on Reid's timeline. I messaged him, because I was concerned the pics might turn up in, and then the only way to get rid of them is to make your Twitter private and/or delete the account.

I searched for #ccon, @reidaboutsex and catalystcon, and scanned the pics in Topsy, but it looks like nothing with your face was indexed.

silverdreams said...

Tizz- mistakes happen. And at West, I didn't think twice about it. But having had it happen at West, one would think that he'd be more aware and act with even greater care. To have it happen a second time is irresponsible.

Vivian- thanks for the the Topsy heads up. Unfortunately it won't be possible for me to search everywhere to see if anything has been indexed. I can only hope that there are none.

What's upsetting most is that now, I'll never know what may be out there. The control I had is gone. He stole it with his actions.

Viviane said...

I forgot to add that if you do a search in Topsy, you can set up email alerts. Plus, now that your friends have been alerted, they'll be on the look out too.

Anonymous said...

Just to reply to Tizz - As someone who saw both your photo and the (multiple) photos from Reid and Cathy... I understand how easy it is to accidentally include a person in the background. I just want to make it clear to those who didn't actually see the pic of SilverDreams - this was not the case. The three people in the photo were not tiny blurry background figures, they were clearly visible, their "no photos" buttons were clearly visible, their badges were clearly visible. This is a very different level of carelessness and inconsideration.

Tizz said...

1. Auto correct on my ipad hates me. *conscientiousness, not contentiousness. Poop. Hopefully there aren't other terrible errors that I missed...

2. Re: Anonymous:
I absolutely agree with you re: carelessness.

I didn't see the photos in question, and I didn't feel comfortable offering criticism without owning my own negligence in regard to this. That would be hypocritical. :)

Metis said...

Just wanted to say yes I saw the apology and read the sympathy going the wrong way- but really didn't want to add to the exercise in marketing his ego.

So sorry this happened to you. It was careless at a world where consent should be primary to our actions.