(trigger warning for discussion/personal stories of nonconsent/abuse/rape)
While I’ve been working on this blog carnival, I’ve also found some articles elsewhere that really deserve to be included, like this one on BDSM, rape play, and rape. I wanted to include something the author said here to start things off for Part 1:
These are examples that are very clear, this is rape. Quite frankly if you disagree you and I have little to talk about. However when does a violated limit become rape? Is it rape if someone expresses a limit against ejaculating on their face and it is violated? If someone is bound and pissed on after negotiating no watersports? Being called a filthy cunt when Humiliation has been excluded? When is an exceeded limit rape? My arrogance tells me always, however I wonder if I have, or could ever unintentionally dip a toe over a foul line. Am I then guilty of moral or criminal violation? I simply do not know.
It’s a mixed blessing- glad to have so many voices, sad to know that these are just the few who feel comfortable speaking up. Many are worried about whether someone might puzzle out who they are from their words, like there’s a kink Mafia that will give you concrete shoes and toss you in the river. Maybe not physically, but emotionally, it’s not unfounded- I have seen victims be tossed out of spaces, ridiculed and humiliated, for reporting their sexual assaults. I have heard so many stories from people silenced. And the silencing continues, because they’re still scared. They’re afraid of being ostracized, threatened, and dismissed.
Does that sound like a culture of consent to you?
I was at a play party some years ago where I was seriously abused non-consensually by a woman who figured she could do anything she wanted because “sub males should consider themselves lucky to get any kind of attention from a dominant woman.” After it happened, everyone kept telling me to stop talking about it because she was a known dominant, and it would only “hurt your reputation in the community.”
-male submissive, from Tracy Clark-Flory’s tumblr
I am still coming to terms with the fact that I was abused in my last relationship. It took a long time before I could acknowledge the things that happened to me for what they were. I made constant excuses for him. I blamed myself. I still do sometimes.
Outside of talking with a couple of my closest friends nobody knows exactly how bad things got between me and him. When one of my friends who I did confide in looked at me and said, “Basically he raped you”, I was absolutely shocked. At the time the incident I had just told her about occurred I was in a relationship with this man. I loved him and believed that he loved me. It never occurred to me to call it rape. I am still uneasy calling it that. He violated my consent and without my prior knowledge let someone else become sexually involved with me when I was not in a position where I was able to see what was happening. By the time I was aware that he was not the one touching me I was out of it. I was out if it, someone that I did not consent to was touching me, and the man I loved just stood there and smiled and held me down.
I wish I could say that I instantly used my safeword and ended it. I wish I could say that I walked away from him right after that happened. Sadly I can not say either of those things. This has made it so much harder for me to open up to people and share what happened to me. I know that because of these things people will blame me for what happened. How could others not blame me when I constantly blame myself?
I don’t know why I didn’t safe word. Part of it was shock and confusion. How could this even be happening? We had talked about this particular scenario, I told him I was not comfortable with it and it would require a lot more discussion before it could happen. That further discussion never took place. As this was happening I was looking up into the eyes of a man that I loved and trusted. He would never do anything to hurt me so I must have done something or said something to make him think that this was ok. It was my fault so I should just go with it and keep my mouth shut.
I never said a word about it to him. Not once.
This was not the only time my consent was not respected in this relationship. As things progressed it became a steadily more harmful relationship. He became emotionally abusive. I began to feel that to him I was not a real person with genuine needs and emotions. Eventually it was just too much and the relationship ended.
I didn’t confide in anyone about the consent violations or emotional abuse for a long time after. I tried to cope on my own but I was being torn up inside. Sadly I did not and still do not feel safe speaking openly about what happened. I was afraid of being branded a bitter ex or as someone just trying to stir up drama. I know I should have used my safeword. I know I should have walked away long before I did. Hearing these things from others, even if they are said with the best of intentions, does nothing to lessen the pain I feel now. It does not change the fact that I was violated.
Finally I have reached a point where I can talk about this with my close friends. I am so amazingly fortunate to have a network of support that will be there for me through anything. They have let me cry and rant as much as I need to. They have helped me see the reality of the situation when I start making excuses for him and blaming myself. With their support I am healing. I worry about victims who do not have this.
-F, New England, 27
A few days later I felt a sense of deep rage. She put me in a spot where I was extra vulnerable, where I didn’t feel safe saying no, and she specifically did things I had told her I wasn’t into or wasn’t confident of. I felt coerced into going along, but I felt like everything I had told her had gone to waste, that she was more concerned with her needs than mine. I wrote her a message saying all of that, saying how I was hurt and heartbroken because I had really given a lot of myself and felt like it wasn’t respected much, about how if being a sadist was so important to her she could have just turned me down from the start.
I didn’t want to say I was violated, I didn’t want to consider it assault – I have been raped and it was a totally different experience. At least here she listened to my safewords and actually *cared* about me as a human being, not like my rapist! but at the same time…I wasn’t sure. I felt like my innocence, naievity, and need to please was taken advantage of, and I had gone farther than I was comfortable.
Her response wasn’t much, mostly that she feels I am hurting now and that she would give me space. We still talk from time to time, though we haven’t had a chance to catch up recently.
Reading Kitty’s recent posts on consent culture and kink made me think and rethink this situation. It fitted some of the warning signs of a scene gone wrong – wishes gone unheard, feeling coerced, vulnerability being taken advantage of. She hit a big hard limit for me: dehumanisation and ignorance, trauma tied to many years of bullying and racism and oppression. And yet, and yet my biggest secret guilt:
I still like her.
I feel like I shouldn’t, that I shouldn’t still fancy someone who probably didn’t show me enough respect especially when in a particularly precarious situation. But she did many things right. She showed me tenderness and affection before and after, and still does really. She explained what was going on and let me make choices. She made sure I got home safe and hydrated and rested. She empathised with me when other people in the community were being racist fuckwits and (to my utter delight) didn’t try to exoticise me or quiz me about my foreign nature. She first met me as a regular person with a common interest who also happened to be kinky, more than just a sub, and she still remembers that and respects that.
She wasn’t malicious, and unlike my rapist she wasn’t completely selfish (my rapist actually did tell me she saw me as her fucktoy, without my input in the matter). I felt that she likely got ahead of herself and didn’t realise how far beyond my comfort zone it was….
…I remember being quite horrified at Janet Hardy’s comments about “turning someone into a rapist without their consent” – as though the violator’s “consent” over their label was more important than the consent of the survivor. But I’ve been on possibly both sides of these, with people I know from outside contextes to be decent and friendly and lovely and caring, the sort of people who would take consent culture seriously and treat people with respect. But some things just don’t quite go right. and then you don’t know what to do.
Is it bad that I still want my former Domme to take me back as her sub? Or at least still count me amongst her bevy of ladysexyfriends? Should I be damming her to hell instead, outcasting her, refusing to see her again – just because that’s apparently what you do with someone who pushes your boundaries? Am I part of the problem? Do I have a right to an opinion or feeling on this, or am I being a hypocrite because just under two years ago someone else I deeply cared about saw in me what I saw in the Domme, felt the same way, had the same moral quandries?
I don’t know. I don’t really know.
I’m a male submissive and know very well that it can be very easy to casually write off the consent and safety of submissives and that certain settings, through a lack of focus on a culture of consent, can actively work towards creating this atmosphere.
I was actually working as a ‘house submissive’ at a femdom event in London one evening when I – apron on and tray of hors d’ouvres in hand – came to a woman I actually knew and had met at that club and outside of it several times; a kinky aquaintance, we’d a little played before and I had enjoyed her roughness. However, on this instance she decided to greet me by grabbing me by the nipple and gripping and twisting it so hard that she actually caused it to bleed. All of this before even a “hello” was exchanged.
At the time I was troubled and confused. I liked rough play but this was a shock, this took me by surprise. I hadn’t known that this was going to happen.
When later asked about the incident, she said that that’s what one gets for being a submissive man in a femdom club. Simple as that. I, evidently, hadn’t realised this. For this and a few other, similar reasons, I stopped going to that club.
-M, 26, London
It’s hard to write about, because the whole topic is so triggering,
but to add to your stats: abused in altsex relationships
for several years as a teenager (15-18ish). Reached out to the local
“scene” at the time, but no one would help me because I was underage,
and of *course* it would be unethical to have anything to do with me,
so no one would do that, right, so obviously I was mistaken and not
actually being abused and raped.
-F, 27, Ireland
I suffered through a series of extremely traumatic events at the hands of someone who was manipulative and didn’t care about me. My “dom” was known to have done this before. I was run out of the Boston BDSM scene for creating too much “drama” in the aftermath. People told me that my PTSD, related to the abuse, was not PTSD (I was making it up) and that the abuse was my fault because I made ‘newbie mistakes.’ I now identify as vanilla and am in intensive therapy.
-F, early 20s, Boston, MA
I didn’t have many friends when I was a teenager and by the time I was nearly 14, I only had one person I talked to as a close companion, a guy eight years older than me who lived elsewhere in the country; we started talking online and eventually began exchanging texts and phonecalls as well.
Talking to him so often, I felt as if I knew him and I trusted him deeply, I think simply because he wasn’t one of the bullies. A week or so before my 15th birthday, he suggested he drive to my hometown and we meet in person, and I eagerly agreed.
I was sensible: I said we should meet in public, and he agreed to, and we spent the first few hours wandering around and chatting before he suggested we go back to his hotel, where there was a TV and we could watch the home video I’d made on holiday the week before. And I thought nothing of it.
There was a TV, but he never switched it on. He locked me in the room with him, and broke my heart and my trust, forcefully taking from me things I would never get back, asking and ignoring my obvious fear. One minute he had me thinking that this was what normal couples did, and the next he slapped me and called me fat. (I was a UK size 12.)
Eighteen months later, when I finally admitted what had happened to me, I reported it to the police, but even though they tracked him down and he admitted various counts of sexual acts with a minor, he claimed I had given consent, and the courts decided not to proceed because they didn’t have enough evidence to prove that which he denied.
I consistently blamed myself, wishing I had made it more clear that I wasn’t giving consent, wishing that I would have bitten him or screamed or shouted or made a fuss so that the hotel staff would rescue me. It took me years to accept there was nothing I could have done; he was bigger and stronger than me, and he would have got what he wanted. A fifteen year old girl was no match for him.
Over the next four years, I had several short-term relationships with guys who, when I wouldn’t – couldn’t – have sex with them, broke up with me, or made me feel so terribly guilty for being unable to satisfy them that I couldn’t handle the pressure of not telling them what had happened (even after telling the police) and broke up with them. It wasn’t until a few months after my 19th birthday that I found someone I trusted enough to try again.
This week, it was nine years ago. It wasn’t until I turned 22 that I began to think of the man I shared my first consensual sexual experience with as the person I lost my virginity to.
My “best friend” betrayed me and, for quite some time, destroyed me - and simply because he didn’t care whether or not I said “yes”.
-F, London, 24