Fetlife: Not Consent Counts, but Convictions Count, eh?
The Fetlife Carebears have at last spoken on the thread naming abusers (by their fetlife handles, mind) by emailing yandy, who started it off:
However, we also do not allow accusations of criminal conduct when a conviction has not happened. Unfortunately, many of the posts in this thread are doing just that. We’d like to give you the opportunity to continue this great service to the community in this way. We’ll delete all the comments that name names. If you can anonymize any accusations that come in from now on, we’ll allow the thread to stay open. If not, we’ll have to delete the thread completely. We hope it doesn’t come to that – we’d really hate to do that – and we hope that we can come up with a way to keep this going in a way that helps everyone.”
Coming on the tail of having just signed on with NCSF’s “Consent Counts” program, this makes several statements that I find hugely problematic-
-abuse only counts if the abuser is convicted
-abuse only counts if you went to the police (not always safe for people)
-even if your abuser is a serial offender, you are not allowed to name them on Fetlife
-we want to ‘help everyone” and in the interest of that we’re going to ignore the way the confessions thread has led to conversations, accountability, and an amazing lack of interpersonal drama because we’re afraid of… something
I am really disappointed. That thread proved that people could anonymously call people out even if there was a social power disparity, and the person called out could respond respectfully and express their desire to do better… without silencing anyone. I think rumors and whispers in person that you may or may not hear DOESN’T WORK. It didn’t work for me, it hasn’t worked for multiple other people. I’m furious to know that Fetlife feels that unless you go to the cops AND GET A CONVICTION your experience should be kept vague and therefore useless to future potential victims.
Keep in mind that this TOS policy means that people who engage in consensual BDSM in states where that is still illegal (like MA) or has photos of acts that are illegal (like labia piercing photos are illegal in the UK) should be banned, because to admit to engaging in these activities is to accuse someone of a criminal act. If this pisses you off too, please vote in the “Let Us Name Our Abusers” thread on Fetlife so we can underline why this is important.
I mean, c’mon, Fetlife. Really?
I’m also curious to know the nature of the work you are doing with the NCSF’s Consent Counts project and how you are incorporating it into your business practices.
Finally, the accusations in many of the posts you deleted, due to a criminal justice system that doesn’t work in favor of people like us, are not actually against the law, and most of the ones that are actually against the letter of the law could never reach a prosecution, since juries are statistically biased against cases of sexual assault that do not fit the culturally embedded narrative of “stranger rape,” and so the likelihood of any of the cases that even legally constitute sexual assault ending in a conviction is about one in sixteen. (see http://www.rainn.org/statistics) This means that the rule against discussing accusations of nonconsensual conduct absent criminal conviction is inherently biased and silencing to a vast majority of people who have experienced trauma.
In response to having their heartfelt stories, stories it took guts and challenging fear to write, particularly when not anonymous, deleted by Fetlife who is trying to “take care of everyone”:
“It’s like a physical punch to the gut that my post got deleted.”
“I’m glad I saved my OP, because I will be posting it elsewhere, and the carebears can just fuck right off.”
“I am more than a little pissed at their stance on this, and even their wording is obnoxiously fake with understanding. I am asking anyone who supports the website to not renew their support until the caretakes start actually taking care of the users and not just the website.”
“I’m just going to point out, for the record, that many consensual things that we do are illegal, and talking about them are “accusations of criminal conduct.” So if I say that @dude once hit me with a stick at @otherdude’s house at a party, which was perfectly consensual, and the type of information that’s all over FetLife, that isn’t deleted. But if I said that someone did it non consensually (which is not true, it’s just for the sake of the example) that’s deleteable? The difference doesn’t seem to be in the criminal conduct on the players’ parts, but the likelihood of FL getting sued.”
“I had people thank me for talking about my experiences – some of them had experienced the same (directly or not) but didn’t feel open to talking about it. And not all my names were “this person raped me”; my posts, and many others I saw, detailed what actually happened and why we felt it was terrible and boundary-breaking.
Wow. Thanks Fetlife. That whole thing about NCSF et al, just words huh?”
“Also, I’d just like to point out that while I can’t say “@so-and-so raped me”, @so-and-so is very much allowed to brag about raping me and discuss in detail how hot it was. And before you brush that off with, “But no one would want to admit to a crime!” let me ask you if you’ve been in any of the more marginal and disturbing rape and incest ‘fantasy’ groups on FL recently. Plenty of freaks out there will risk talking about the shit they’ve done just because it gets them off (and possibly also because they’re beyond the statute of limitations.)
So, hey carebears, if you’re going to ban talking about actual sexual abuse on here, how about you ban the abusers from talking about it too?”
Again, please consider voting on the ”Let Us Name Our Abusers” thread so we can tell Fetlife that this is a shitty way for them to show they’re committed to consent. Also, feel free to email Fetlife’s caretakers via caretakers at fetlife.com, tweet @Fetlife, email the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom’s Consent Culture director Judy Guerin by emailing judy at ncsfreedom.org , tweet your concerns to @NCSF or via their Fetlife group. Let Fetlife know their TOS actively promotes a less safe community, and tell NCSF that having such an ally on Consent Counts doesn’t look so hot.