The Ongoing Battle
So, I haven’t posted on this blog (or my own blog, really) for months. I’ve also avoided Fetlife, because I lost enough sleep over that site. I did an interview for Salon about BDSM Blacklists, and how frustrating I find it that Fetlife doesn’t let you name your abuser *by their screenname* (an argument that people have voted hard to have changed, which is a great step). I presented “Safe/Ward” with Ava Solanas, my new partner, at OpenSF, and was scheduled to at Paradise Unbound before I realized that I couldn’t emotionally or financially carry that on my own. I’ll be doing a playshop on sex parties at Burning Man, along with helping out the Bureau of Erotic Discourse (who provides consent workshops and rape counseling on the playa). Maggie Mayhem and I have just been asked when we’re presenting Safe/Ward again, cause apparently the Oprah Network wants to see it. A lot of my work has been offline while I regrouped.
Because of this, I’ve been accused of taking a softer stance on rape and consent in BDSM by a couple of radical feminists. My story about playing with a submissive wherein neither of us safeworded and backed down and we both should have has been recharacterized as telling “a story of how she viciously beat a tied up, sobbing woman”. I knew in writing about that situation I was opening myself up to being painted as a horrible sadistic beast, and you know what… it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and mulling over and crying over and trying to figure out. At the end of the day, I know I’m not, and part of how I know I’m not is that I’m willing to publicly be wrong, to publicly have fucked up, and to publicly be vulnerable.
I get why these radical feminists are pissed off, why they feel my stance has lessened. In part, this is because I’ve said that I believe consent is more complex than simply yes or no- rather, that while “no” is absolute, “yes” is fraught with issues and it’s hard to disentangle them. I’m not sure that one hundred percent consent is possible in a society affected by patriarchy, rape culture and capitalism. I’m sticking to that. In part, they feel I should be fighting nonstop to change this issue in my community, and unless I’m writing about it, they can’t really know that the work continues, so fair enough.
The truth is, it’s really exhausting taking a stance on this. And too bad, right? I mean, it’s work that needs to be done. But one thing I realized is that I, too, need boundaries. When I went from not having been triggered around sex for years to having nightmares about past nonconsensual experiences, when I spent nights crying and rocking because I had heard so many stories of issues that I became overwhelmed, I knew I needed to step back. And I did. I refuse to apologize for that. I refuse to accept that rape culture means I should be revictimized to save others. Put on your own oxygen mask first, people- you’re no good to the communities you serve if you’re a wreck.
Thanks to “50 Shades of Grey”, I’ve been getting calls nonstop for my stance on BDSM and consent. And I’m talking about it. I make sure every single time I’m reached for an interview I say that kink is complicated, that rape culture exists and is mostly unchallenged within BDSM communities on- and offline, and I think that “50 Shades” demonstrates an unhealthy relationship between people who are not self-aware enough for kink. I’ve proposed a talk on the ways “50 Shades” is impacting the discussion of female desire and kink for South by Southwest, even. The work continues, as it always does- I haven’t abandoned this project. If anything, I’ve been too busy doing it to write about it.
And my energy? It’s best spent on reaching out and confronting altsex communities in person from a sex critical stance, not on trying to persuade the anonymous and unpersuadable.