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Safe/Ward Blog Carnival 2, Part 3: Porn and Prejudice (trigger warning)

So this post will bring the second Safe/Ward blog carnival to a close- please check out part 1 and part 2, and thank you for all who contributed by sharing deeply personal stories.

I felt like this story deserved its own entry, in part because it highlights how entitlement culture is not just an issue with BDSM, but an issue in altsex generally and society at large. I also think it’s important to outline that boundaries and clear limits are complicated- for example, in this situation, it’s not just the way he keeps badgering her after she says no, it’s also the consequences of her no that she worries about, which leads her to say yes.

I used this image, which is a Slutwalk sign, because it quotes one of the videos we use for Safe/Ward, an “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” segment that, to me, highlights why a yes may not be a 100% consensual yes. To ignore that a yes may be coming from a place of uneven power distribution is a dangerous thing.

“If I can’t say no, I can’t really say yes” is a phrase I use a lot.

I’m an adult actress in San Francisco and while I now focus on my own projects, there was a time when I mostly worked for other people. I was exclusively a girl-girl and solo performer for the first few years before I told my jealous partner that it really was just work and I wanted to earn the higher pay rates given to performers in boy-girl scenes and sleeping with a bunch of handsome, well-hung men who wouldn’t be bothering me the next day was just icing on the cake.

At every single adult company I worked at, condoms were routinely–mandatorily–used on toys, but male partners only wore one when requested. I had always been told that it wasn’t a big deal and wouldn’t prevent me from getting work, so when I did my first boy-girl scene, I asked that my co-performer wear a condom. I mean, why not? It was just an extra layer of protection. I also wanted to maintain something private for my long-term partner. Yet if someone had asked me point blank why I wanted my co-star to wear a condom, I’m not sure that I would have been able to articulate just why that bit of latex seemed so important, yet also so inconsequential.

The producer-director was a former adult actress and very understanding of my limit. She told the guy I was working with in advance, along with my few other limits. From working with her in the past I knew that she had a few little tricks here and there to make shooting easier and I was sure she would be a great facilitator for my first boy-girl shoot and I still think that she did her best.

I arrived on the set on time, picked out my wardrobe, and sat down to talk to my co-star about our limits and what we wanted to do. He asked a few times if I was sure that he had to wear a condom. I said yes and we got into position.

As we began setting up the scene, he started talking about how dirty I was, how I was probably crawling with venereal disease. The director cut the scene and asked him what the hell he was doing. “Well, there has to be a reason why I’m wearing a condom.” She told him not to question my health. He’d seen my test and I was clean. Anyway, the audience didn’t want to fantasize about some disease-riddled girl.

We started again. It was some of the best sex I’ve ever had, rough but with lots of kissing. One of the best parts was that he wanted to continue off-camera. I was used to working with girls who mostly made it very clear that I was not to touch them off-camera and the few girls who were interested in continuing on our own had been working with me for months before we got to that point. It was fun to be with someone who just wanted to fool around. Every ten minutes or so he asked if he could take off the condom. I continued to say no.

At some point, the director pulled me aside. “You don’t have to keep playing with him off-camera, you know. He’s taking advantage of you because you’re new.” I told her that I was thrilled to be having sex with this guy. He was hot, enthusiastic, and knew what he was doing. I could tell that he was a jerk, but we were both going home at the end of the day and he would be someone else’s problem.

I was enjoying myself, but it was still a long day. There were a lot of difficult positions and really deep face-fucking. I threw up. I was getting tired. He kept asking to take the condom off. I kept saying no.

When we moved on to the anal scene, he took the rubber off and looked me in the eye. “Please.” He looked at me hard, staring me down.

The director asked, “It’s just to prevent pregnancy, right?” That sounded like a much better reason than, “I just want him to.” After all, I’d seen his test. He was a professional. I was insulting him. This was my first boy-girl scene. I didn’t want to fuck it up. I wanted to get more work. He’d been asking all day and if I said no now, he’d just keep bugging me. He might even tell other male talent to avoid me. Maybe he already would. It would cost me money. Perhaps it would affect my girl-girl and solo work, too. Maybe it really was unusual to use condoms on set. Was I implying to the audience that I had a disease? Would I get a bad reputation? Was I just slowing down the whole shoot? I wanted to go home.

“Yeah. It’s to prevent pregnancy.”

We finished the shoot sans condom. I went home and took a shower. I updated my blog. I reassured my partner and we went to sleep.

It seemed that everyone was excited to hear about my first boy-girl scene, like it had been a first date or something. I’d been around for a long time before actually taking the plunge, but when I told female talent who I had worked with, they all turned their noses up. One woman said, “There are two guys on my no-go list: that guy and my brother.” A few months later I heard that there had been some sort of problem between the female director and the co-star where she had laughed him off the set as he cussed her out.

Evidently he was not a nice fellow, but no one had told me anything about him until afterward, like I had to go through a rite of passage in order to be told these things. Perhaps I would still have worked with him, but I would have also been much more assertive and committed to proclaiming my limits, or maybe I just would have gone in knowing it was futile, that he was going to pick and pressure until I gave in. I went on to work with other male performers, but I didn’t bother having the condom argument again. I like to think that other performers were nicer just because they were nice guys, but it may be that I didn’t insist on safe sex. A few even told me that I was their favorite performer to work with. I’m back to performing exclusively with women and on my own, so I suppose that I’ll never know if they would be just as nice if there was a thin layer of latex involved.

Safe/Ward Blog Carnival 2, Part 2 (trigger warning)

seriously, I needed an image that didn’t
trigger me.

(trigger warning for discussion/personal stories of nonconsent/abuse/rape)

Due to having enough stories needing to be told to warrant two posts on the subject, here is Part 2 of the Safe/Ward blog carnival, and one story from a porn performer that I felt deserved a Part 3. Part 1 is here.

I am deeply saddened and yet also honored that these people are brave enough to come forward with their stories and experiences, especially as most of them aren’t bloggers themselves. It’s a scary thing to have something happen to you- even scarier, sometimes, to admit that what happened was abusive. Thank you to all who contributed.

About a year and a half ago I was briefly involved in the BDSM scene in New York City. I had come from a rather puritanical upbringing in the Midwest and gone through adolescence and college thinking that sex was this sort of dangerous and bad thing. It never occurred to me that the fact that I didn’t try to avoid it was because I was, like most people, a sexual person. I thought it was because I was self-destructive; I experienced a lot of depression and mental illness because I felt like I was broken, corrupted by my sexual desires. I dated nonmonogamously because I needed sex, but I didn’t feel I could find it in a traditional monogamous relationship.

The BDSM scene felt like a community where nobody was going to complain about me wanting to have sex or not wanting to be monogamous or anything like that. I finally felt safe. I started to date a male dom a few years older than me. For me, it was the first time that I had dated a guy who self-identified as feminist, and that felt really amazing. He told me how disgusted he was that other people in the scene didn’t take consent seriously, didn’t take rape seriously. I continued to date multiple people, but my focus was on him—my other partners didn’t explore sexual stuff with me, didn’t give me an adrenaline rush in the same way.

Even though I told myself I felt safer, I was in this weird state of constantly feeling anxious, but constantly feeling like he was the only one who could lift my anxiety. Unlike other guys I had dated, he really seemed to relish the role of caretaker/comforter. The other women he was dating were, like me, survivors of sexual abuse. It didn’t turn him off the way it turned other guys off. But then it started to feel like he only knew how to deal with me as a “broken person,” when I did things that asserted my independence, or questioned his decisions, he would emotionally withdraw. There was a lot of tension in the relationship, but I had fallen in love with him, and he was my only partner who was willing to explore s/m. All of our mutual friends, even the non-scene people, had recommended him to me as being incredibly nice. I felt like I must really be crazy if I had stopped feeling safe with such a nice guy.

He was a knife fetishist, which we had explored a little. He was interested in doing an insertion scene with me (you insert a knife into a vagina, but you don’t cut anything). I felt scared, but I didn’t give him a hard no, I said maybe I’d be ready in a few months. He used to insert his finger and tell me it was a knife, and be amused when I freaked out. One morning, he inserted something, and it really was a knife. We finished having sex, and my heart was beating so fast and everything seemed so far away. He said, “I can’t believe I got you to do that.” When I left his apartment that morning, I went to a Starbucks, waited in line for the bathroom, and then, finally, I threw up.

I started having panic attacks. My brain couldn’t form the idea that this person had done something scary. I trusted him so much. When we met up for drinks a few days later, he told me that he had decided not to date me anymore because I was too emotionally unstable for him to trust with his feelings. I brought up that he had made me feel really scared with the knife thing, and he got angry and said “I’m not going to apologize for anything I’ve done, because I know I’m leaving you better than I found you.” I hadn’t even said “rape” or anything like that, I just said he hadn’t checked in with me, hadn’t made sure I was ready.

I stopped being able to have sex without having panic attacks. I fell into a deep depression. He told all his friends that I was this crazy chick who had wanted him to be monogamous when he wanted to be poly. I lost pretty much all my scene friends.

I am so scared to rejoin the scene, even though I want to, because so many people respect this person as a nice guy, an activist, and that means that maybe there are a lot of people who are even worse, and I have no way of knowing. He is in positions of authority at organizations that are supposed to be safe spaces that prevent this kind of stuff, so even safe spaces don’t feel safe. I am so scared that he will do something to his current partner, and it will be my fault, because I didn’t speak up.

I am doing ok now; I am in a really healthy relationship and I am recovering from a lot of my anxiety about sex. But I can’t trust people the way I used to.

-F, NYC, early 20s

I’m a submissive male with long hair, and I drop off into subspace at the drop of a hat, or more commonly at the tug of my hair. It is something that I love about myself, actually, how quickly I can be dropped to submission. Used to love, rather.

Many people have seen how fast I drop, and have found it (hot|funny|amusing|curious). It would be common for someone I was with to, in the middle of a conversation say “watch this”, grab my hair in his or her fist, and I’d feel the world shimmer and fall away beneath my feet. It was like a little moment of heaven.

Unfortunately other people who saw this over time thought I was fair game, a party toy to be tricked out like this for their amusement whenever they wanted, even if there was no other involvement between us.

The first time was awkward.

The second time was uncomfortable.

The third time was panic inducing.

I didn’t know these people, in that head state, I become pliable – and generally limit myself to playing with those I know and trust (or those known and trusted by those I know). But I didn’t have that with these people. So my reaction shifted. When a lover grabbed my hair in public I’d tense and fight against the drop.

I hated it – and in the moment I couldn’t explain why, even out of the moment I couldn’t explain.

I thought I was overreacting, it was just hair pulling.

It has been years, my reactions to those I love have gotten a bit better, but I still have that tense moment of “wait, what, who is that, stop!”. I’m starting to think I always will.

-even the little things, M, 38, bay area now, Boston when this happened.

I am sharing my story in response to the request for stories about non-consent. I believe the more we speak up, the stronger we be. My story is not a typical D/s scenario. It involved my husband and myself- neither one of us really identify with any group or labeling except maybe we are heteroflexible and curious and occasionally play with others. I am open to just about anything… just about. My #1 rule (unless committed and tested together) is no condom, no penetration. Period.

I fancy myself to be a strong woman. I stand up for myself and for others if I see or feel they need support and I’m not afraid to speak up when I see someone being treated poorly.
I’ve never identified myself to be a submissive or Dom (in the bdsm world) but if I had to, I’d lean more towards the Dom side there (I’ve actually been paid for (light) Dom work a few times) and at home, more submissive in the way of serving my husband food, filling his needs and making him know he is the Man.

So my husband, who is my best friend and I implicitly trust with my life, and I are always exploring together and he had a fantasy in his head whereas he would invite his friend over and I would serve him and his friend beer, dress sexy, and basically play the sub. I’ve never played that role in my life and nobody had ever given him the opportunity to explore that in his self. We have done some things, like he’s thrown me in the field and “raped” me, stripped me and degraded me, etc.

Everything went ok for a while but (we did A LOT of learning from this) alcohol, combined with someone who has never subbed or dommed, and a friend who had no knowledge of that world, period, was a cauldron of bad brewing.

Without going into too much detail, something in my head changed. I can’t pin down when it happened but I somehow handed over my wellbeing, life and spirit when I slipped into “sub”. In doing so, I lost the power to speak, to say no. I was owned. I had no mind. “It did as it as was told”. Before the night was over, someone had unprotected sex with me and was the last person I’d ever have sex with sober. I was repulsed. I only left my room to go to the bathroom. I was scared to leave the house. I started having feelings that were familiar but couldn’t put my finger on it until I finally reached out to someone and they helped me realize those feelings were familiar because I had been raped at 18 by knifepoint. It was confusing because my husband, the one who protects me, was actually he instigator. All the trust I had in him was gone in an instant. Was my gut wrong the entire time about him? Was he this guy or that person?

After I was able to sort my thoughts out and also get my friend K’s opinion, and to lean on, I was able to start communicating with my husband about it. The more we talked, the stronger I got. We haven’t done anything like that since nor has he asked me to. He is very aware of how badly that affected our relationship and me and We are more important than his exploring that side. At this point, knowing what I know now, I’d consider more light play but if we ever did anything like that again, I’d definitely research it and involve someone with experience.

I’ve also learned the term aftercare, and believe that had we talked about it right after (he just went to bed having no clue I was in a state of shock), it might not have taken so long for me to heal.

I’ve been to enough parties to identify “that” douchy guy who uses the label “dom” to abuse and take advantage of people, my husband is NOT that guy. Anyone who knows my husband, knows how kind, thoughtful and sweet he is and he IS that person. This story is different in that we aren’t major players in the scene. We just tried to play out a fantasy at home and got into something neither of us realized the head change that happens.

-F, California

From the husband.

I would say that every guy has this fantasy at one point or another. Watching your wife, or girlfriend with another guy. I found that for me, it was a third person perspective. There are views that you just can’t see when you are the participant. Well, my wife is everything to me, and we’re not a part of any group, or full on into any real fetish; just dabble here and there. My wife is submissive to me in our own special way. And she agreed to fulfill this fantasy for me, but with some set rules. We agreed that sex would not happen. Just some fun, and play.

One thing led to another, and we all got drunk. She passed out in bed or very close to it. Reactive, but not able to really say “no”. I was too drunk to read the signs, to know what I would have known if I were sober. (Drunk is no excuse- it had an affect on the situation.) Sex ended up happening, and unprotected at that.

Almost a year later, and I still hurt inside when I think of the pain I caused her. It was not violent, but it was a violation. She may forgive me, but I will carry the regret in me for the rest of my life. We learned, and carry the lesson on to the next adventure.

She knows in her heart that I’ll never let anything like that happen again, but that night a little part of my wife that she gave special, to me, and no one else, was lost forever.

Complete trust.

-M, California

We headed into my room where he slammed the door shut behind him and tossed me to the floor. He pinned me down and started groping me aggressively. He grabbed a blindfold that was proudly hung on my door knob and roughly put it on my head. The harder I fought, the more he laughed. He slapped my ass and bit my neck.

Now. This was TOTALLY something I was into. And? He was pretty to look at. Only thing was – I had no freaking idea who he was. He had not asked about any safewords, limits or heath issues. We had known each other for all of an hour and a half aside, from some drunken flirting at the party where we met.

Had he bothered to get to know me, he would have known fun little facts like, where I kept the good toys or where I kept the safer sex supplies or that I had an abusive ex-husband and was not a fan of being unexpectedly pinned to the floor and laughed at.

Luckily, even with his hand across my mouth, I was able to get the point across that he had about 2 nanoseconds to get out of my house before I screamed for my friends who would come and kick his ass in less then safe, sane and consensual manner. And thank you for dinner.

From the speed at which he exited, I’m pretty sure he believed me.

-From Dead Cow Girl, who linked me to her blog

Fizz, another blogger who’s been thinking a lot about consent culture, sent this in to be included- keep an eye open, as Labcoats and Lingerie will have some Consent Culture Sex Stories upcoming to highlight when consent goes right (also incredibly important in this work!). This piece talks a bit about what it’s like to negotiate when you’re not great at figuring what you even want or how to ask for it, much less how to safeword:

And that’s the point: we never talked about D/s. He never said “I want to submit to you” and if he had I wouldn’t have known what that meant. I never chose to step into the complementary role; I just fell into the vacuum left behind by his passiveness. Accepting exchanged power, without ever feeling in control, is not dominating. I couldn’t give informed consent to D/s because I wasn’t informed, either about what he intended and wanted or about its alternatives. Remember that this wasn’t just my introduction to kinky sex; this was my introduction to sex. For all I knew, touching someone who never touched back was all I could get.

This is why I have a special hatred for the “ice queen” stereotype–the dominant who gets all the satisfaction she needs from touching others. I’m not that dom, never was and never will be, but I have played the part unwillingly for someone I wanted to please because neither of us knew how to articulate what we’d rather have. To this day I don’t know if that’s what he genuinely wanted from me, or if he wasn’t comfortable asking for something else, or if he’d been looking at femdom porn and thought that what it showed was just how this was supposed to go…

We’re still in touch, and have been close on and off. A few years ago, after a lot of maturing but still before I knew much about BDSM, we wound up fooling around a bit at his place. The day after, he told me he was still feeling sore from something new I’d tried, and described how it had felt as “about a four.” When pressed, he clarified that it hurt enough that he didn’t enjoy it, but he would do it for his dom. (A five would have been what I’d now call a hard limit.) I was incensed. I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t tell me at the time if it was that bad, and then expect me to intuit the scale he was using as if there were a standard I should already know. It hit all the same buttons that our silence had in the past, and I threw up my hands and gave up on the idea of trying to connect with him honestly.

About a year later, I told that story to a mutual friend, venting some frustration that the memory brought back. “I just wish he would tell me these things, instead of expecting me to read his mind!”

“It sounds like he was trying to,” she said.

That stopped me cold. She was right, of course. When we’d talked the next day, he was giving me exactly the kind of feedback I wanted–just later and in a different format than I expected. And I’d yelled at him for it. No wonder it was so hard for him to talk to me about sex!

The next time I saw Galen, I brought it up. “I don’t know if you even remember that,” I said, “but I’m sorry for getting mad about it. I know you were trying.”

“I don’t,” he admitted, “but thank you.” I knew from his smile that he meant it. Words may be hard, but at least there are some ways I know that I can read him.
-Read the full post by Fizz over on Labcoats and Lingerie

And finally, I wanted to add a bit of this piece from Adele Haze, who cherishes her safeword and is fierce about using it when she needs to:

I couldn’t help but notice that where the ease of safewording is concerned, I am, let’s just say, unusual in my local community. This makes me quite cross. You may have heard me rant about this in person, as it’s a pet topic of mine. I’ve also written about it in a less blunt way over on The Spanking Writers. I’ve found my dedication to safewords quite difficult to keep or defend on a few occasions.

I’m going to give you some direct quotes I’ve heard in the scene just in the last 3 years.

Said by tops:
“If you’re just going to safeword, we may as well not start.”
“She’s a serious player, she doesn’t safeword.”
“It’s not a punishment if you safeword, is it?”
“But I was so looking forward to this!” (Unsaid: “Until you safeworded and ruined everything.”)
“You’re being difficult.”
Me: “Safeword.” Him: *Flounce*
Me: “Safeword.” Her: *Tears*

Said by bottoms:
“I know I have a safeword, but I wouldn’t use it.”
“I don’t like safewords.” (Times many.)
“Safewording just doesn’t feel very submissive.”
“He doesn’t deal well with safewords.”
“I didn’t safeword. It wasn’t an option.”

Let me tell you, then, how easy it’s been to remain the sort of safe, responsible bottom who can be relied upon to safeword when she needs to. Let me tell you about the sulking divas with canes I’ve had to deal with, until in the last couple of years I drastically limited the circle of people I will bottom to. Let me tell you about comforting friends who aren’t quite as bloody-minded or determinedly blunt as me.

Do you know what’s interesting? None of the scary shit ever happened to me in my professional spanking work. It has to people close to me, but never to me. Go figure.

-Read more on The Safeword Dilema by spanking model Adele Haze

I believe we can live in a world where safewords work, where people respond to them with a gracious “thank you for taking care of yourself” rather than a tantrum. I really do.

And that’s what I’m working towards. That’s why I do this shit. Because I know we can hold ourselves to higher standards. I know we can do better.

Safe/Ward Blog Carnival 2, Part 1 (trigger warning)

(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.

-Male dominant

Unfortunately, I had enough stories to make two blog carnival entries, a part 1, a part 2, and a part 3 telling one specific story highlighting the complications of “yes” from a porn performer.

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.

-an excerpt of a longer piece posted by Mendi Henna, Australia

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