Community growing pains

A lot of my long-form work is sitting incomplete since I’ve been spending the past couple weeks with my boots on the ground. March on! Edmonton, the successor to the Women’s March (an American incorporated “Women’s March Canada,” because nothing says “intersectionality” like embracing your inner capitalist scum), had a town hall and I’ve been networking with various community organizers in a bid to coalition-form for the 2019 provincial election and 2020 federal election. It’s a ragtag bunch of misfits, and we’ll see how it goes.

In the mean time, my palm has been glued to my forehead in some of the most migraine-inducing nonsense I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Edmonton’s BDSM scene is going through some growing pains and it is neatly cleft in twain along an aggravating but not surprising fault line: Consent. There’s my peeps, who are principally concerned with organizing around sexual ethics, and the other peeps, who are literally complaining that our spaces have rules and standards.

Maddening. Utterly maddening that it’s 2017 and people are still trying to pretend that sexual ethics is difficult. I seriously do not have any respect for this debate anymore. We live in a culture that provides a fertile ground for honing sexual predation as a technique, why in the everloving fuck of Dog would you create a space that is especially vulnerable (lots of naked people high on adrenaline) and not police the shit out of it?

Answer? Some of them are the fucking predators. Others are just clueless. I don’t think the distinction matters to me. I’m trying to fight for an ethical BDSM space and that includes telling rape apologists they are unwelcome. But the sheer amount of resistance to a space that affirms bodily autonomy is not encouraging in a broader political landscape that increasingly targets minorities as disposable.

-Shiv

Signal boosting: Everybody’s against rape as long as we’re not proposing to do anything about it

Content Notice: Abuse and sexual assault.

Yes Means Yes is a delightful blog, in part because it discusses the sort of 300-level feminist analyses that I don’t often get outside of school. As a whole, it covers a wide range of topics. Unsurprisingly, I found their BDSM posts and immediately exploded with glee–feminist kinksters write amazing stuff. I certainly wasn’t disappointed in Thomas’ series on the intersection of kink and rape culture.

It is a long read, but my gosh it is detailed and sharp and to the point. Check out some of these select quotes:

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[NSFW] The Applicability of BDSM Risk Profiles

Content Notice:  NSFW photos below the fold, rope bondage, women bound in rope.

“Risk” is probably a conversation that ranks #2 in the BDSM community, second only to “consent.” Like consent, there are a contingent of folks in the kink community who will talk a lot of talk, fuck up in practice, and then go back to talking the talk. Someone will come forward with a conduct violation and no matter how obviously egregious the behaviour is, there’ll be a lot of hand-wringing and deflection and victim-blaming and humming and hawing that proceeds for weeks until someone invents a snappy new initialism or acronym which everybody totally agrees to adhere to, bygones be bygones, we totally don’t have to do something about the predator in our midst.

Yeah, I’m not cynical. /s

Setting aside the fucksticks who turn these conversations into smokescreens into abusers, the rest of the kink community does have a lot of valuable insights on risk in general, just as it does for consent. Most of what I’ve learned in kink can be taken outside of kink. I would even say my lessons learned from BDSM, and from the Leather community in particular, have formed the bedrock of my personal ethics.

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Cishet kinksters expecting GSD minorities to protect their privilege

Benny over on The Orbit did a repost of one of his pieces. In his post, Benny more eloquently expresses than I ever could the sheer boiling rage I get from the “closet culture” that the cishet kink community exhibits.

The fear of the cisgender heterosexual kinkster is that someone, usually someone from work, school, or family, would see them with “weird” people out in public and suddenly realize this obviously means they must be a big pervert. This fear, the idea of not seeming “normal” is terrifying. They claim they could loose their jobs, spouses, children. Being even seen with us has the chance of taking away their enormous privilege.

Worse, they believe we have a responsibility to protect that privilege. In order for them to maintain their comfort and ability to keep jobs (jobs we could never get) we must appear normal or not show up. In order for them to have access to kinky communities without risk the rest of us – the queers, the trans* people, and the weirdos with facial piercings and green hair – need to change ourselves or stay home. They want privileged access to kinky spaces just like they have privileged access to everything else.

FUCK THAT. A trans* kinkster has no responsibility to be someone they are not just to protect the next person who walks through the door from the tiny chance that they might have to explain why they’re at the same coffee shop table with a man in a skirt. Every day that we leave the house we have to explain ourselves. Cisgender newbie? Welcome to our fucking world. That’s the way we’re treated all of the time.

Ra-fucking-men, Benny. Right there with you.

-Shiv

What do you do when your abuser is part of the whisper network?

Women in any special interest community have a network to vet potential sexual & romantic partners. This network is entirely informal. It has no administrators or moderators, no leaders to hold accountable, no hierarchy to organize behind or against. It seems to just happen inevitably, a product of the deadly clusterfuck that constitutes patriarchy–its implicit belief that women are unreliable combined with the rationalizations for victim blaming. Since the police and most organizations are completely inept at actually doing anything about allegations of sexualized violence, women often depend on this whisper network to help keep them away from serial harassers and rapists who’ve never been held accountable. Even if an organization takes an allegation seriously and finds it to be meritorious, the public almost always engages in a metaphorical witch-hunt to brand the victim a liar, still resulting in further loss for the victim. And then, if all this does not deter a victim from reporting, there is always libel bullying, where the entire ordeal of reporting objectionable behaviour has to be repeated, in a court room, in front of amoral attack dogs masquerading as humans who wear suits.

Given what the “proper official” channels put you through, it’s no surprise whisper networks pop up everywhere you go. It’s a shitty system borne out of necessity to avoid an even shittier system that punishes you for being a victim.

One other characteristic you’ll notice is that it is primarily, sometimes exclusively, populated by women. This makes sense in the broader context of gendered patterns in relationship & dating violence–women are more vulnerable as a demographic and so we work together to address that disproportionate risk.

There are many problems with the whisper network regardless. Perhaps the problem most salient to my experience is my relationships with other women.

In other words, if I have a violent encounter with a woman, the whisper network is at best no longer accessible–because my abuser is privy to it. At worst, my abuser persuades the network I am at fault, and then I am effectively ostracized from a community as keeping myself safe becomes increasingly difficult without access to the whisper network.

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Self care Saturday, July 30

Reminder: Self care Saturday is scheduled in advance, and I will not be visiting the site today. This is a “feel good” space to help us manage burn-out and return to our activism with renewed vigour.

On the theme of “feel good,” today’s Self care Saturday covers more positive and fun portrayals of BDSM. I’m going to recommend a subreddit called “BDSM Smiles.” 10/10 NSFW, obviously. Most of the subreddit does not depict the more hardcore practices of BDSM, but there’s still some nudity and fetish gear.

I can be very cerebral when it comes to explaining BDSM, but I think that particular subreddit does a good job of capturing the goofiest of BDSM visually. Basically, the theme of the subreddit is any image of participants in BDSM activities who are smiling, laughing, or having an obviously good romp. There’s some good-natured teasing of bottoms mocking other bottoms in bondage, people smiling or giggling through gags, and my favourite–participants who are obviously turned on by their practice but can still laugh about it. Nothing makes light of a bondage predicament quite like tickle-torturing your partner while they’re tied up. This subreddit’s one of my go-tos when I need some warm and bubbly feels.

-Shiv

Wednesday Addams was always my fav

=AtG=

Retrospect is 20/20, so they say, and I can certainly tell you why I identified with Wednesday as a young, highly gender confused child.

I revisited some of the more (relatively) recent Addams iterations and found that the Addams family from ’91 onwards snuck by as sex-positive kinky commentary. These concepts weren’t really in the public consciousness (sex-positivity is arguably still largely unknown) so the Addams family didn’t seem to ping anybody’s moral crisis radar. Or maybe they did? I was definitely too young to be paying attention to politics when this material was new.

Morticia and Gomez’s continuously passionate and loving relationship, despite the years of familiarity, is contrasted with the “typical” married couples who were often resentful and borderline abusive to one another. Gomez and Morticia are enthusiastically expressing their love and sexual desire for one another, and this is seen as contributing to their outsider status. Married couples were supposed to be spiteful, so obviously Morticia and Gomez were freaks if they actually behaved like people who routinely bubbled with love, especially sex-filled love, for one another.

Morticia: “Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again.

Mmmm yassss girl. Right there with you.

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