Adverts for their products appeared next to a group captioned “I like her for her brains” below a woman lying with a pool of blood around her head, and another titled “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs”.
Ok, I just for kicked off Facebook for 24 hours. You know why? Because I just got scolded for my second warning. Oh no, you say! What did I do? It must’ve been REALLY AWFUL if pages and images like the above *are allowed to stay up forever because they’re just bad taste, right*.
The first time, I was booted because I posted an image on Instagram which posted to Facebook where you could see my nipple. Gasp! Horror! I mean, in this day and age! A nipple! Which is interesting, because while they are anti-women’sbreasts, they are apparently cool with baby penises.
This time, it was for posting a link to a trailer for a Queer Porn TV piece I did with my porno soulmate Betty Blac and filmed by femme fatale Courtney Trouble. Because sex isn’t ok on Facebook, right. And, you know, fair enough- it’s porn.Though actually, on contemplation, it’s a link to porn, which is actually ok according to their standards, and on looking at it further? It’s because when I shared it, this is the image that automatically came up when I shared the post via FB’s sharing button on my mobile (the original post, mind, is still up), and it showed… yep, that’s right. A nipple. HORROR. And I couldn’t elect to remove an image, cause FB doesn’t let you do that on your mobile.
Anyway I guess I got confused, because Facebook has been ok with so many other things lately that I didn’t think some loving sex would be an issue. Silly me.
Because, of course, had it been a video of a 12 year old girl being violently raped, that’d be ok. Not an isolated incident, mind- it happens often enough that it’s becoming a trend. Cause porn is bad, mmk, but videos of young girls and women being raped, that’s just bad taste entertainment! Never mind that the subsequent humiliation is further abuse that can continue long after the sexual assault. One piece I read believes that’s more of the point- the public shaming of a young woman as a group bonding activity. Thanks, Facebook, for fostering that but making sure that dirty porn stays far, far away!
Granted, you know, it’s also totally ok to use Facebook as a humiliation tactic. In one Youtube video that I won’t link to, a mother yelling at her 14 year old daughter (who she’s dressed up presumably as a “slut” for her public shaming) references that some boys posted photos of this girl engaging in sex acts to her Facebook page (which presumably didn’t get deleted immediately as Mum found it, despite being both nonconsensually shared*and child porn*). This mother also threatens that she’s going to beat her daughter, film it, and post that on Facebook as a lesson for the boys she sleeps with- cause, you know, that’ll show them!
She’s not the only parent to think of filming the beating of her child and then sharing it on the internet to further punish her kid, though. But maybe she hasn’t heard that those videos are being used as evidence of, well, child abuse. That said, even in those cases, the videos are allowed to be shared over, and over, and over again, furthering the humiliation which was the point of putting them online in the first place. Are we that addicted to human suffering?
I think I’ll just close with this, cause it pretty much sums up my disgust:
The specific clause inFacebook’s statement of rights and responsibilitiesthat’s supposed to protect groups against violence and hate speech instructs the user: “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.” However, Facebook has now defended the numerous pages that clearly violate these terms by claiming: “Groups that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies.” Which is strange, because if a page entitled “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve got a knife, get in the van” isn’t hateful, threatening or gratuitously violent, I don’t for the life of me know what is.
It was back in August that feminists first began to notice the proliferation of pro-rape pages on the popular social networking site. Two months later over 176,000 people have signed a US-based petition calling on Facebook to take them down, and nearly 4,000 people have signed aUK-based petition calling for the same. The Facebook pages, such as the one cited above and others that include “You know she’s playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alleyway” still remain.
Facebook’s initial response to the public outcry was to suggest that promoting violence against women was equivalent to telling a rude joke down the pub: “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining” went the bizarre rape apologia. “Just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.”
And in some ways they’re right: telling a rude joke probably wouldn’t get you thrown out of your local pub. I’d suggest, however, that propping up your local bar while inciting others to rape your mate’s girlfriend “to see if she can put up a fight” would not only get you thrown out, it would in all likelihood get you arrested as well. Still, at least you could log on once you got home and post your offensive comments on Facebook instead, safe in the knowledge that they wouldn’t do anything about it.
What Facebook and others who defend this pernicious hate speech don’t seem to get is that rapists don’t rape because they’re somehow evil or perverted or in any way particularly different from than the average man in the street: rapists rape because they can. Rapists rape because they know the odds are stacked in their favour, because they know the chances are they’ll get away with it.
Meanwhile, Fetlife explodes as man who was banned from one community for burglary now stands accused of sexual assault in another community. GOOD THING WE CAN’T NAME NAMES! OTHERWISE IT’D BE A WITCH HUNT, HUH GUYS?
I notice that no one is fussing about false accusations in this particular case- is it because pillars of the community are speaking against him? Is it because he’s a man of colour and white people are the ones accusing him (supported in part by at least one of the commenters on his “mug shot”)? Is it just a question of enough accusations? Is there enough proof to make it seem valid?
I’ve made screenshots of that thread because I foresee it disappearing. It’s notable that people (pillars of the community type people) who supported Baku’s “we can’t possibly name names, that would lead to LYNCH MOBS” TOS want to name names now. And don’t get me started on white people tossing terms like “lynch mob” around when it comes to things like “being held accountable” in the first place. I guess it’s only a lynch mob if it’s a white dude being accused? I mean, look, this guy seems like a complete asshat, but it seems really fucking obvious that when a white dominant guy is an unethical rapey douchecanoe, the peanut gallery rallies behind him to defend his honor against those “bitches” who are “just jealous” or whatever. But when it’s a black dominant guy with similar accusations, suddenly no one’s speaking up.
Sometimes I wish I could gather up the whole community and smack the privilege and hypocrisy out of all of them in one full swoop.
I just really hope this is a kick in the pants to the community that this is exactly WHY being able to name names on our social media resource is potentially important.
I’ve been following a lot of the conversations in various circles about creeps, both online and in various communities I move through, and I’m really glad that this topic is getting more traction. I know that it’s a tough thing to bring up, for a variety of reasons, but until something gets brought into the light, it’s not going to change. Creepiness ends up affecting all of us, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and it’s especially challenging for male-female interactions. Plenty of women have articulately described how annoying it is for them, though so far, I’ve seen far fewer men talk about how it affects us.
It’s important for guys to be talking about this, too. Given the very scary possible consequences for women when men approach them, I think it’s entirely reasonable for someone to assume that a random guy hitting on her is a possible predator until he demonstrates otherwise. I understand that that creates a frustrating situation- after all, who likes to have to prove their good intentions? And it’s also one of the many ways in which sexism and misogyny make things harder for men. If you want that to change, work to change things. Don’t complain that women don’t assume you’re a good guy. Their reasons for not doing so are useful protective measures in a world that sets them up as targets to be harassed, groped, and assaulted while simultaneously blaming them for it. You’d do the same thing in their shoes.
Go read his tips and become a better person. This is how we change a culture. This is how YOU change a culture.
Jezebel posts an article about a woman who posted on Fetlife about her Halloween experience where she was sexually assaulted, supposedly “for not wearing a costume”, and how many of the comments on her experience shamed and victim blamed her for being on her own and for smiling at them (and i’ll tell you, many women smile in those situations, hoping that they’ll seem unthreatening then and de-escalate the situation so they can get away- it’s not an invitation, it’s a fear response):
Chalk off FetLife, a members-only social network run by and for fetish enthusiasts, as yet another purportedly non-judgmental, welcoming online community that hosts a shocking number of slut-shaming misogynist assholes.
This election was excellent for consent culture, with rape apologists being defeated left and right, making me pretty happy. GlobalGrind has a brief rundown of this “victory for vaginas” though I’d argue it’s also a victory for pretty much anyone against rape/entitlement culture:
We heard it all from Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment and inference that “the female body” can prevent pregnancies during rapes, to Richard Mourdock’s statement that rape pregnancies are what “God intended,” to Joe Walsh who declared that “the life of the woman is not an exception” for a woman to have an abortion.
Though most people were angered, or perhaps in awe by these ignorant remarks, it was even more nauseating to think that not only did these men believe their flawed theories, but they were close to actually enforcing them.
But women struck back! Through voter awareness and campaigns, we stopped these men from taking office and taking control of our anatomy.
On Tuesday, it was declared that Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost their run in the Senate and Roger Rivard, who’s infamous for saying “some girls rape so easy,” lost his re-election bid in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
In addition, Joe Walsh lost his congressional race in Illinois and John Kosher, a GOP candidate who was recorded dismissing the idea that women should decide what to do with their bodies when “the rape thing” happens, was defeated in Illinois.
For personal reasons, I’ve just ordered “The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence In Activist Communities“, co-edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. I’m really looking forward to checking it out, especially as I’ve been having frustrating experiences with “activist” men in my own life/experience who have a particular set of stated politics and then behave in a way completely contradictory to those values. Plus, it sounds awfully familiar to what’s going on around the silence within the kinky/altsex communities.
The extent of the violence affecting our communities is staggering. Nearly one in three women in the United States will experience intimate violence in her lifetime. And while intimate violence affects relationships across the sexuality and gender spectrums, the likelihood of isolation and irreparable harm, including death, is even greater within LGBTQI communities. To effectively resist violence out there—in the prison system, on militarized borders, or during other clear encounters with “the system”—we must challenge how it is reproduced right where we live. It’s one thing when the perpetrator is the police, the state, or someone we don’t know. It’s quite another when that person is someone we call friend, lover, mentor, trusted ally. Based on the popular zine that had reviewers and fans alike demanding more, The Revolution Starts at Home finally breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the “open secret” of intimate violence—by and toward caretakers, in romantic partnerships, and in friendships—within social justice movements. This watershed collection compiles stories and strategies from survivors and their allies, documenting a decade of community accountability work and delving into the nitty-gritty of creating safety from abuse without relying on the prison industrial complex.
On that basic thread, I had a bit of a rant on Fetlife that I’ll share here for those who aren’t on there:
I know I said I wasn’t going to get into this on here but something maymay said on Twitter made me so fucking angry I had to rant. So here we go.@maymaym: “Process #SexWorkers use to screen clients is great success case replication model for “consent culture” folks to stop #abuse in #BDSM Scene. I posit “#consent culture” people don’t know or don’t care how to stop #abuse in #BDSM Scene, cuz nobody knows what consent even feels like. I also posit “#consent culture” people are basically unwilling to work on modeling a safety process cuz abuse culture makes them rock stars. So in other words, there are two main groups who benefit from the #BDSM Scene’s rampant #consent violations: predators and consent warriors.” I want to punch him in the face.
So maymay is bashing my consent culture work while ignoring most of what I’ve actually been doing, ignoring the fact that I’m a fucking sex worker and part of my whole fucking reason for suggesting a blacklist in the first place came from being one. The irony of the situation of course is that his tweets on the topic are fairly emotionally abusive, if indirect. So, erm… yeah.
Meanwhile, he’s suggesting people like me don’t actually want to fight abuse in kink cause we want to be rock stars. I live for the day when calling out rape apologism makes me a fucking rock star-plz let me know when I get to have my special parking space. In the meantime, I’ll just continue to field getting told I deserve to be raped for calling this shit out. You know, like a rock star.
As someone who not that long ago (had an emotional breakdown) because in part at least this activism was so thankless and I was so fucking tired, maymay, you’re a dick. An abusive, part of the problem dick. And I’m calling you the fuck out.
Let’s reflect a bit on the idea of teaching teens about enthusiastic consent as part of their sex education, which we HAVE to do if we want to fight rape culture, says Nerdy Feminist:
When you are inexperienced–not just sexually, but just in life in general, it can be really hard to parse apart feelings of excitement, worry, nervousness, fear, giddiness, and/or arousal. I mean, if you really think about it the physical response to those things are all similar, but there is clearly a big difference between feeling fearful and feeling excitement. If we are not talking with teens about how their body might respond and how that varies from listening to what you really want, we are doing them a big disservice. If someone never tells you that it’s ok to be excited and nervous during a sexual experience, but never afraid or dreadful, then how can you know? These are nuanced distinctions, and if you aren’t properly educated and don’t think about these things before you encounter a sexual experience, how can you possibly communicate what you are feeling in the moment? And when we don’t teach teens that talking about sex in society or our schools is ok, how can we expect them to communicate within their own intimate relationships?
Monika from the awesome radio show Sexploration with Monika offered to guest post with three of her most recent shows discussing consent culture in various sex-related contexts, and I jumped at the chance, especially as I’m gearing up for a weekend at Dark Odyssey myself! Check these three episodes out, along with her other shows- always fun, and a great reminder that the personal is political. <3
You’ve probably heard, “what was she wearing?” or “why was she in his
bedroom?” as someone talks about rape. Why do we blame the victim
instead of the rapist? Even a police officer during a safety class in
Toronto said, to remain safe “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”
Thousands of people protested in front of the Toronto police
department, and the SlutWalk movement began. SlutWalk marches have
spread throughout the US, Berlin, India, Morocco, Singapore and all
over the globe. Join us as we celebrate slut-positivity and consent
culture at San Francisco’s Slut Walk 2012. We’ll talk to Tommi Avicolli Mecca about Stonewall, the Gay Liberation Front in the 70′s &
connections between transgender violence and slut-shaming. We’ll also
talk about protecting sex-workers from rape and a new law claiming to
protect victims of human sex trafficking. Maxine Doogan, founder of
the Erotic Service Provider Legal Educational and Research Project, has
shocking findings about the horrible fine print in this law, abuse by
police and explains how Prop 35 makes sex workers even more
vulnerable. You don’t have to be a slut to benefit from living in a
slut-positive world. Jadelynn Stahl, one of the organizers of SlutWalk
SF Bay, deconstructs how social power and sexual power are affected by
victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and infantilizing the rapist. How we can
speak out & claim our right to safety no matter where we are, what
we’re doing, or what clothes we’re wearing – if we’re sluts and even
if we’re not sluts!?
You can’t get a ticket to this Saturday’s performance of Cum and
Glitter, a secret live sex-show for and by sex workers (because it’s
sold out), but you can join us now at their (un)dress rehearsal! We’ll
talk with Dorian Faust, queen of indie burlesque, about her & Eve’s
“fall from grace” – a burlesque-ter-bation! Also race politics in
taking off your clothes professionally. Then we’ll talk to Kitty Stryker, sex-worker and “Purrversatility” blogger, about her military
spanky-the-klown (or spanking the clown scene) scene, creating consent
culture, and working as a “fat” sex worker. Kitty and her sex-positive
colleagues Kelly Shibari, and Jolene Parton did a presentation on the
challenges of being – or being perceived as “fat” for the kind of sex
work you are doing… there are positive, healing things about “fat
sex work” Kitty adds, as well. How can you contribute to consent
culture? Very literally, in fact. You can also watch Saturday’s
sold-out Cum & Glitter shows live streaming from the comfort of your
own laptop on Skin Video, or watch previous shows now on Indie Porn
How can you take all the increased awareness of rape and the critical
need to become a culture of consent generated by Republican Todd
Akin’s quote, “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to
try to shut that whole thing down” and use the momentum to create
healthier relationships and better sex? Akin’s statement is not only
false and offensively dangerous, but Akin’s brand of political idiocy
affects all women and the whole culture. Sex-educators Reid Mihalko of
ReidAboutSex.com, and Allison Moon of LesbianWerewolves.com and I are
literally in bed talking about the commitment to consent and “How to
be a Gentlemen and Get Laid,”- this is actually a class Reid teaches!
If rape and the fear of rape makes women shut down their sexuality,
how can we create safety and freedom? We’ll also learn about how to
drive a vulva, the unexplored and genderless joy of taints, and
whether a balloon orgy pops with a glory hole. We’ll take a
Sexploration with Monika listener question about when one partner
wants to explore something freaky and the other one is a big NO -
which is hard, because even after you try to find out about WHY your
partner is shut down, you both have to accept the other as is, because
from celibate to freaky-deaky every person has a right to their
sexuality – but how to make the unmatched sex drives work together?
Sexual freedom isn’t “easy!”
So Amanda F*cking Palmer has gotten herself in the middle of a shitstorm, again. Not surprising, as she likes controversy (like many artists). This time it’s about her request for volunteer “professional-ish” musicians from each town she tours in to be part of her show, in exchange for beer, high fives, hugs and merch.
I think that it’s bad form for the most part to not pay musicians for their work when you’re doing a paying gig.
Just as I think it’s not cool to have interns you don’t pay when you’re using them as free labour vs actually inconveniencing yourself to teach them the trade, which is what an internship technically is (otherwise believe me I’d have an indentured servant-I-mean-intern).
Just as I think it’s unfair to expect sex educators to put themselves in debt in travel/housing so they can lecture/teach for free.
Just as I think it’s unfair to expect that people will fix your computer, or design your logo, or give you rides for free.
It’s awesome if people volunteer, or they offer, when you say “this would be super helpful, if you can maybe do this” and then you are really grateful, offer a trade of services, make sure you’re available when they next move house or need a babysitter. That’s community, and that’s rad.
It’s less awesome when you become yet another cog in a machine that acts like you should be the grateful one for the opportunity, esp when EVERYONE acts that way. It burns out the generous. And if you’re making money at a show/gig/conference/etc, then you really owe the people who help make it happen some cold hard cash, or at the *very least* travel expenses to get to/from that gig. Actually, it’s an expression of class privilege to expect that people have the time/energy/resources to do things for free, particularly if that involves things like gas money or multiple meetups. As Amy Vaillancourt-Sals, a manager of her local branch of Classical Revolution, says here:
We have unions that stand for us, but they can only do so much. Artists are feeling desperate. I confess, I have found myself giving free performances in order to get ahead and perhaps have something notable to put on my resume. You’d think that this would help, but it doesn’t and in fact it’s made my position worse. Volunteer opportunities have effectively lead to more volunteer opportunities. Very very seldom have I found it leading to compensating gigs. As a result, my desire to share my craft and my feeling of self-worth have waned, while people around me are mocking, saying “yes, but aren’t you happy you get to create music?” Not while I’m starving, stressed and frantic… no! I can only imagine the clever and snarky retorts that you would tell those (insert expletive and plural nouns here) that approached you with that sort of BS. In fact, it makes me blush just thinking about it!
My friends and I are looking to bring back the respect that musicians deserve. As a personnel manager for my branch at Classical Revolution, I’ve been working towards assuring that my musicians are compensated for their talents and hard work. So, looking back at your ultra successful kickstarter and your request… Here you are, and you’ve raised over $1 million for your tour and album release. Here we are as musicians on foodstamps, maxing out their credit cards to keep the lights on, are hoping that we have enough money to pay next months rent, and have instruments that are in need of repair, need to be replaced, and even need to be insured. We are looking at you now and your request for musicians to come play with you for free, and most of us have even fallen in love with you and your music, and how do you think we’ll respond? We’re f*&king perplexed, agitated and disheartened, to put it mildly! What would you say to you if you were in our shoes? I have a pretty good guess.
People need to eat. Many, many people are struggling to make ends meet, are in crippling debt, and are working themselves to the bone. Creative folk in particular struggle, because often they have a crap job they hate to barely stay above water, AND the desire to create in a country that doesn’t care to support artists. $50 even would be something to many people. People *like* to help each other out, especially artists, but they will end up unable to make rent because no one ever wants to pay them for their work. “You get to be in my presence/you get exposure” is not really good enough and does not get groceries at the store. Additionally, Amanda Palmer did just raise a shitton of money in a kickstarter so this looks kinda bad (here’s the breakdown of where the money goes, and frankly, looks like she could still afford to offer $50 to each performer). I mean, *she’s* not playing for free, is she? And particularly ironic is that she had her own blog entry about how people ought to pay the artists- but perhaps it’s somehow different asking the fans to pay directly vs paying collaborating artists..?
Had she said “I really want to highlight local talent!” or “I’m eager to collaborate with my fans!” I expect the response would’ve been kinder. But she didn’t. She said she couldn’t afford to pay these people, which left a sour taste in the mouth of many artists. Worse was her response on Twitter, something along the lines of “People just love to hate me!” No, it’s really not that. Most of the people I saw commenting were the musicians she was looking for, and they’re HURT. They love her, and they feel betrayed by her entitlement, not just as fans but as fellow artists. It’s also frustrating that a lot of really excellent critique is getting lost among the sexist “bitch” and “cunt” comments. Really guys? There’s no need to stoop to that when you have such a good platform for commentary based on behaviour.
But she’s not the only person who has ever done this. This is not, in my opinion, just a backlash against Amanda Palmer, but against a whole cultural phenomenon. In fact, we live in a culture of entitlement where people are expected to work for free and be grateful for the potential “opportunity” all the time. I rarely get paid to go speak at a conference about sexuality, for example- many presenters go at their own expense for years to “make their names” before they get fed up. It’s become an expectation. I’ve had to check my own entitlement when planning events, and make sure to budget in paying for things, particularly things I want done by a specific time or in a certain way, and definitely if making money that will line my pocket. It’s so common to be expected to do things for free, that you’ll be desperate for the exposure, that many people feel ashamed to ask for compensation.
”They want everything for nothing! They wouldn’t go for 5 seconds without being paid, and they’ll bitch about how much they’re paid and want more. I should do a freebie for Warner Brothers? What, is Warner Brothers out there in an eyepatch with a tin cup out on the street? Fuck no!” -Harlan Ellison
It’s not just within the alternative communities, either. Many of my friends have done unpaid internships that are, in fact, illegal. An internship should really be a pain in the ass for the hiring company, not free labour, and yet so often the unpaid interns are the ones sorting mail, answering emails, and doing other menial admin work. No one tells them that they are actually being used. Here’s a quote from a legal company warning employers how they should work interns into their workplace:
First, employers should attempt to maximize classroom and/or training experiences rather than simply assigning more traditional “work” projects to interns. Second, employers should attempt to provide interns with experience practicing more “general” skills rather than assignments or duties specific to that employer’s operations. Additionally, in order to ensure that an intern is not viewed as “displacing” regular employees, the internship should be designed to minimize independent work by the intern and should instead revolve around close supervision and “shadowing” of other employees. Employers should also take great care to ensure that interns are not performing more “menial” tasks such as filing, clerical work, data entry, or other tasks that might indicate they are displacing other employees or are working merely for the advantage of the employer. Further, employers offering fixed “stipends” should take great care in determining the amount of any stipend so as to reasonably approximate the intern’s expenses rather than giving the appearance that the payment simply an attempt to pay less than the minimum wage. Finally, employers should ensure that internships are not used as simply a “trial period” for regular employment, and thus should always have a definite beginning and ending date.
If it is determined that an employer improperly classified an internship as “unpaid,” the employer could be liable for violations of federal and state labor laws for failing to pay at least the minimum wage, failure to properly provide wage statements, and meal and rest period violations, among others. Accordingly, it is vital for all employers, large and small, to design any unpaid internship program with these factors in mind and in close partnership with human resources and legal counsel to ensure that the employer is avoiding potential legal liability.
In the United Kingdom there were accounts of jobseekers being told to work for free for up to 30 hours a week at various businesses or lose their jobseekers allowance. To give you an idea, jobseekers allowance is about 56 pounds a week, not enough to survive on as is- 30 hours a week for a total of 56 pounds certainly is less than minimum wage. Again, these are not jobs requiring training, or offering these workers valuable skills or even a job- the companies involved only had to promise an interview, not paid work.
Cait Reilly, 22, is completing three weeks at Poundland, working five hours a day. Reilly, who graduated last year with a BSc in geology from Birmingham University, found herself with five other JSA claimants last week stacking and cleaning shelves at Poundland in south Birmingham.
She says there are about 15 other staff at the store but, unlike them, she will receive no remuneration for her work. “It seems we’re being used as some free labour, especially in the runup to Christmas.”
Reilly says she told her local jobcentre in King’s Heath, Birmingham, that she did not need the experience in the store as she had already done plenty of retail work.
Despite DWP rules, Reilly says she was told by the jobcentre that she would lose her benefits if she did not take the Poundland placement. The DWP says jobseekers should be told about the cooling-off period but was unable to comment on individual cases without being given personal details.”I was told [the work experience placement] was mandatory after I’d attended the [retail] open day,” she said.
And of course there’s the issue with large distribution centres, many stories of which have come out and horrified readers like this one from Mother Jones. Mac McClelland gets informed that emotional abuse is pretty much expected, but don’t protest or you won’t have a job at all:
“DON’T TAKE ANYTHING that happens to you there personally,” the woman at the local chamber of commerce says when I tell her that tomorrow I start working at Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc. She winks at me. I stare at her for a second.
“What?” I ask. “Why, is somebody going to be mean to me or something?”
She smiles. “Oh, yeah.” This town somewhere west of the Mississippi is not big; everyone knows someone or is someone who’s worked for Amalgamated. “But look at it from their perspective. They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they’re gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they’re gonna increase the goals. But they’ll be yelling at you all the time. It’s like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they’re going to tell you, ‘You’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough,’ to make you work harder. Don’t say, ‘This is the best I can do.’ Say, ‘I’ll try,’ even if you know you can’t do it. Because if you say, ‘This is the best I can do,’ they’ll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You’ll see people dropping all around you. But don’t take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you.”
Yet we still buy our stuff from Amazon and similar places. We’ve grown to expect free shipping. It’s just another cog in the machine.
This is part of consent culture too, and why I use the term “entitlement culture”. People who end up fucked over by these schemes or crappy job situations tend to be people without a lot of power, without the ability to fight back legally or refuse the job. And it starts small. It starts with a person on a tour asking for musicians to play for free, and trickles all the way down to big corporations violating the rights of marginalized people. We need to be a community, and remember that it’s a give and take, that no one owes us, and to be incredibly grateful and gracious to volunteers. We need to break this entitlement for all of our sakes.
Not that this quote isn't a blog entry in itself, but....
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.”
-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.
When I read the below, I actually cried. I felt like finally, the work we’ve been fighting to do is being validated as important- including by Fetlife themselves.
NCSF’s Consent Counts project was originally mostly about explaining to various professionals (cops, therapists, nurses etc) that BDSM is different from abuse because of consent. I am so fucking glad to see that they’re also addressing that it can be under a BDSM guise and still not be consensual. This is a MAJOR success for Consent Culture and Safe/Ward, even if NCSF doesn’t acknowledge us as a resource in the back of their pamphlet, despite the nonstop push we’ve made over the past 6 months (correction: please see comments below for clarification). It means that these resources for improved consent and better resources for abuse victims will spread further and have more weight. It means that there is room to talk critically about sex, rather than being forced into the over simplifications of “sex negative” or “sex positive”.
NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts
February 27, 2012
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) announces two new publications as part of its nationwide campaign, Consent Counts. The Consent Counts Project was launched by the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in 2006 to decriminalize consensual BDSM in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes. “For the past 18 months, NCSF’s Consent Counts Project has almost exclusively focused on the legal and policy issues surrounding decriminalization of BDSM activities,” says Leigha Fleming, NCSF Chairperson. “We have learned that the Consent Counts project also needs to do more to work within our own communities to better understand and articulate what consent is and to better educate about the importance of prior informed and ongoing consent.”
NCSF is proud to announce the publication of two new guides “The Aftermath: A guide for victims of sexual assault and/or intimate partner violence in the BDSM community,” by Natalie Quintero, and “When the Levee Breaks: A guide to dealing with and avoiding arrest and prosecution in BDSM scenes.” “The Aftermath” is a compilation of advice that is regularly provided to victims who ask for help through NCSF’s Incident Reporting & Response project. This guide will educate anyone in the BDSM community who has been victimized on what one might expect to experience after an assault, what one’s options are, things to consider when weighing options and making decisions on what to do next, what one might expect if one decides to report the experience, as well as the resources available to assist in coping with and healing from abuse.
“When the Levee Breaks” is a companion to the NCSF publication, “The Aftermath,” and is a guide to provide a perspective for those who have, through mistake, misunderstanding, or a fleeting lapse of reason, committed an act of criminally actionable sexual assault. It is not intended to provide a defense for indefensible acts. “When the Levee Breaks” also provides information on how to better protect oneself against arrest and prosecution.
You can join the NCSF Consent Counts community at FetLife to talk about these two new NCSF guides online! Join our Consent Counts groupwww.fetlife.com/consentcounts to discuss issues of consent with kinksters both in the US and around the world.”Sexual abuse and intimate partner violence are a real problem in the kinky community. The nature of BDSM greatly increases the importance of having a clear definition for consent when addressing these issues – both inside our community and at the legal and legislative levels,” says James Lennon, VP of FetLife. “That’s why FetLife has decided to partner with the NCSF on the Consent Counts project. Together, we can make the BDSM community a safer place for everyone.”
“The Aftermath” and “When the Levee Breaks” are only a couple of the tools developed by NCSF as part of our Consent Counts Project. In the coming year, Consent Counts will be presenting continuing legal education (CLE) programs to attorneys, prosecutors and law students, and participating selectively with “friend of the court” briefs in legal cases.To date, the Consent Counts Project has completed a review of the relevant laws in all 50 states and on the Federal level, and has developed educational programs and outreach materials. These resources, including a state-by-state guide of relevant consent related assault laws, the appellate legal cases involving criminal prosecution of BDSM as assault as well as some of legal cases relevant to the alternative sexuality communities have been posted on the NCSF website under Resources,
The final piece of the expanded Consent Counts project will be released by March 15, 2012. To facilitate a community-wide discussion on and about consent, Consent Counts has created a Community Discussion Guide and a survey that groups, munches, individuals and events around the country can use to create a framework for the thoughtful examination of the nuances of consent.
What do we mean by consent? When is consent invalidated? Does “safe, sane, consensual” still work as a community creed? Are there behaviors that the BDSM community doesn’t accept? FetLife, an NCSF Coalition Partner, is generously providing a space for NCSF to facilitate this discussion within FetLife at www.fetlife.com/consentcounts. In addition, the survey will be available online via the NCSF website. Responses will be collected and collated and used to develop a community statement on consent that will be presented at the Leather Leadership Conference (LLC) in Seattle in 2013. For more information, go to www.ncsfreedom.org or contact Judy Guerin, Director, Consent Counts firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a fabulous guest post from the window on Fetlife. I’m really glad I got permission to post it here, as I feel like it’s one of the most concise explanations for why people get defensive when trying to discuss consent culture, entitlement culture and “gray areas”.
I think a lot of anger/impassioned feelings is about “gray” situations, the ones where <99% of people would call it one way (consensual) or the other (non-consensual). What if someone wanted to leave but didn’t safeword, and the other person was only doing negotiated things? What if someone seemed fine at the time and later said it was abuse?
Here’s my understanding of why trying to discuss these situations cause so much anger and so many hurt feelings. I hope that this can help people understand the responses they get if they talk about the way that “gray” situations are one way or the other, and they get angry responses.
I also understand that it is not “top” or “survivor.” I am talking about survivors and tops here because I feel like those are the situations we are hearing about the most. Tops can be survivors. Bottoms can be abusers. These two examples I am talking about are orthogonal, not opposite.
This is my guess – would love to hear people’s thoughts. I don’t want to hear thoughts about which gray situations are actually black or actually white. I want to hear about why people think these discussions cause so much heat. I want to hear what people think will make them cause less heat.
Why people get upset when others say,Let’s talk about the times that gray situations are consensual.
99% of survivors of genuinely abusive interactions / assault have some of the following thoughts go through their head:
She must have thought it was okay, so it’s not her fault.
I should have safeworded. It was my fault.
I didn’t tell them it wasn’t okay until afterwards, so it’s not their fault.
He only kept going because I didn’t say no, so it’s my fault.
The human brain has a very hard time accepting that the world can be so cruel and that the human being it belongs to can have so little control that it does everything it can to justify that it was the human being’s fault alone. Otherwise, they are powerless, and the human brain will flip if it is powerless.
When that survivor finally gets up the courage to talk to someone about this, the survivor might say, “Well, I told them that I’d fantasized about someone doing X to me, but we didn’t negotiate it – they must have thought that it was implicit, right?” Part of them may even be looking for validation that it wasn’t the other person’s fault, because that brain doesn’t want it to be. The brain will fight against any indication that it is powerless.
So then the survivor hears things like, “Yup. You probably weren’t clear about what you wanted to actually happen.” “That sucks that that happened, but yeah, you probably should have said no. I’m sure they just misunderstood.” Even after the survivor recognizes that it was assault, those people might say, “But you said you weren’t clear about what you wanted.” “But you should have said no, like you said.” Their human brains can’t accept a situation so horrible either.
Coming to terms with trauma means recognizing that you were powerless over the situation, and recognizing that your body is not out to betray you – that it’s not that you made a choice that made you feel terrible, it’s that the choice was taken away.
Being told that it was a choice brings a survivor back to a place of feeling beaten down, of being confused, of being hurt, of reliving the feelings after the assault, of reliving the assault. Statements about rapes being choices can be massively triggering.
So even if someone who’s saying “Let’s talk about when gray situations are consensual,” isn’t talking about a specific survivor’s specific situation, it will likely trigger a bunch of survivors out there. “Sometimes bottoms don’t safeword when they should have and it’s not the top’s fault” will remind many survivors of when their friends told them that in response to their abusive experiences. They will be reminded of their own inner monologue saying it was their own fault. They will revisit the darkest places of their recovery.
Understand that if people get upset in “Let’s talk about when gray situations are consensual” situations, it is because it reminds them of when that kind of talk was used to justify their own experiences as ‘their fault.’
Why people get upset when others say,Let’s talk about the times that gray situations are notconsensual.
99% of tops – heck, 99% of people in general – who have had genuinely 100% consensual experiences have had the following things run through their head:
They seemed to space out at some point. Did I hurt them?
I haven’t seen her make that face before – did I do something we didn’t agree on?
He said to keep going, but he looked like he was in such pain. Should I have stopped?
They said later that they felt unsafe – why didn’t they tell me at the time? Why didn’t I pick up on that?
The human brain has a very hard time accepting that the world can contain such hurt and that the human being it belongs to can have so little control that it does everything it can to justify that it was the human being’s fault alone.
The person might beat themselves up for crossing a line. They might think that they are evil. They might think they are dangerous. They might worry about hurting people again.
Maybe they talk to their partner who says that they were actually fine. Maybe their partner says that the were in too much pain but thought the scene was ending so figured they could hold out until it did.
If a third party catches wind and accuses the top of being an assailant, it brings that person back to a place of feeling horrible, of being confused, of feeling like a monster, of reliving the feelings after the scene. Statements about consensual scenes being assaults can be triggering.
So even if someone who’s saying “Let’s talk about when gray situations are not consensual,” isn’t talking about a specific top’s specific situation, it will likely trigger a bunch of people out there who have had this experience. “It’s always the top’s responsibility if the bottom is hurt” will remind many tops of their own self-talk, or maybe what others said, about their genuinely consensual – or genuinely messed up by both parties- situation. They will be reminded of their own inner monologue saying it was their own fault. They will revisit the darkest places of that situation.
Understand that if people get upset in “Let’s talk about when gray situations are not consensual” situations, it is because it reminds them of when that kind of talk was used to justify their own experiences as ‘their fault.’
How tone policing fits in
Tone policing means, in this context, “Stop being so angry; we’ll get more done.”
Anger from survivors is justified. Survivors have had a world of hurt laid at their feet. They have been silenced by our community for too long. They have been excluded when their predators are not excluded. They have been accused of lying. They have been accused of making drama.
It can also feel hurtful for some people to be trying to talk about solutions and have anger instead. I bet those people are feeling, “Well, I’m not the problem. I’m trying to help! Why am I being yelled at?” I think that in general the anger from people who try to help and are shut down is also justified.
But it might be that what these people are saying is part of the problem, or at least perceived that way, in so far that, “well, this gray case is consensual” can trigger a lot of people who have had that excuse used on them as why what they went through was actually their fault. You might not be meaning to say, “Your assessment of your situation as abuse is invalid,” but it sounds like that.
What’s the solution?
I’m not sure exactly. I keep thinking about this and have even changed this post, as you’re seeing now. These are some things I think though:
“Well, I get that survivors’ situations were abuse, I’m not disputing the experiences of anyone reading this, but I want to talk about the gray areas that are actually gray because…” because why? Because you want hope for our scene and not just doom and gloom? Because you want to increase communication skills around gray areas? Because you feel guilt about situations you’ve been in? I can’t imagine it’s “because I think secretly every survivor is a liar,” but it can come off that way. Think about why you want to assert that gray areas can be consensual, and see if you can make that point another way. Find other ways to share hope – “I stood up for consent this week in this way.” Find other ways to promote communication skills – “I’m trying to put together a class on negotiation for X con. Anyone want to help? What should I include?” Find other ways to work through your guilt – Talk privately to friends who you know will support you, because airing guilt publicly can’t feel good.
To create a consent culture, trying to avoid the pain of survivors being triggered should be prioritized over the trying to avoid the pain of tops feeling blamed. This way people will feel more comfortable stepping forward about their abuses. They will feel more comfortable talking to an event leader about someone who has hurt them. They will feel more comfortable posting their story. They will feel more comfortable second guessing a gray situation as non-consensual and really examine whether they should try to extricate themselves. Asserting the gray situations that are consensual will not do these things.
As the tone policing argument goes, “If you tread on someone’s toes, and they tell you to get off, then get off their toes. Don’t tell them to “ask nicely”.” If someone says something hurtful to you, whoever you are, tell them to stop being hurtful. And if someone says something you said was hurtful, respect them and stop it. But – let’s all try to say “ouch! Get off my toes” and not just “ouch!” If we don’t tell people to get off our toes, they won’t know what to do.
Survivors have a right to be angry. Survivors can also be triggered by anger in others and feel unsafe. Maybe we don’t need to ask the person stepping on our toes to get off nicely for their sake, but we should be careful about how what we say and how we say it might negatively affect other survivors around us.
This woman, moments after her rape last year, had to scream and cry on a public street just so the police would actually take her to the precinct – they wouldn’t because they told her what happened wasn’t a crime.
This is the excerpt from her email she sent me, before we met up:
There was one female officer, a sergeant, who responded to my 911 call that night. I truly thought, She’s a woman, maybe I can get through to her, woman-to-woman. As the police tried to escape to their cars and leave me weeping pantyless on the sidewalk, I followed her, begging with her to listen to me. I said to her something like, “Please, please help me… Imagine as a woman what this must feel like for me…”
The quote on the poster is what the female sergeant replied.
So Maggie Mayhem and Kitty Stryker did a Safe/Ward workshop discussing consent and entitlement in the kink community a few months ago and it was a roaring success. They pitched it to the feminism and sexuality conference Momentum at the same time. It was accepted, which is awesome- but they need some help getting there… so they’re having a party!
Expect to see their usual awesome gift basket raffles of local sex and sensuality businesses as a way of saying “hey, sex *can* be hot, fun, and consensual” while helping them raise money to take trains, planes and automobiles to spread the word about consent culture. They have offerings ranging from body work to fancy sex toys, from companies like Crash Pad, Vixen Creations, Crystal Delights, Cleis Press, Padded Kink, Femina Potens, Rodeoh, and more!
Curious what Safe/Ward is all about? They’ll be putting together a brief overview of what Safe/Ward is and why combating entitlement culture is important (you can read more about the last one Kitty did with Maggie Mayhem in San Francisco at SF Weekly.). Maggie and Kitty also plan to have various performances by their friends, and maybe, just maybe, a kissing/spanking booth- ooh la la!
The mini workshop and fundraiser event is on Jan 24th at the Center for Sex and Culture, and they’re raising money to present it at Momentum March 30-April 1st in DC. Beyond that, they hope to take this workshop elsewhere- Maggie’s going on tour this summer, and Kitty’s sneaking out of SXSW to present Safe/Ward in Austin. Help them spread the word about how to make the BDSM/altsex scene a safer, more enjoyable space… for all.
Come have some drinks, watch some performances, buy some art, and bid on our raffle!
Can’t come to our event? Please consider donating! This allows us to travel to communities that might not be able to afford to fly us out or house us, but really need our help promoting consent culture in their playspaces!