Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Response to BDSM Safety Discussion


This is a FetLife post I just did in response to a BDSM safety talk we attended last weekend. The talk was given in response to local predator issues.The letter touches on a lot of the stuff I’ve been working on here.


"What a great night (Sweetie) and I had on Saturday. Rope class, the discussion, and the play party were all so much fun. Thank you for having us.

I’ve only been in parts of the various safety discussions that have been going on, so I’m sure I’ll repeat some stuff that’s already been said. Feel free to correct me if I heard anything wrong…

First I wanted to say a bigbig thank you to (Rope Boss and Party Mistress) for hosting the talk, and to the people who participated, too. It was wonderful to get to sit around and talk about some of the things that had been concerning me, and it made things seem less scary in general. I was worried that I might not want to play after a discussion that deep, and the fact that I was ready to strip right down after speaks highly of the feeling of safety you’ve created.

A lot of the advice that I heard is so valuable, especially the need for subs/bottoms to know how to say what we want and don’t want. Being reminded to treat ourselves like we are worth caring for and protecting is good advice for anyone. I liked the insights that I got about others’ relationships, and I’ll be glad to keep learning more about you and yours.

However, I did feel like the talk was a bit unbalanced. In addition to what bottoms can do to make ourselves safer, I would like to have heard more about what tops’ responsibilities are beyond just the physical “don’t break your toys” rule. Those kinds of conversations would be really helpful to me because I would love to know what the norms are, what’s reasonable to expect.

Focusing mostly on what bottoms can do to protect ourselves had the (unintended, I’m sure) effect of feeling a little bit like blaming the victims. I think it’s important to say that no lapse in judgement, no rookie mistake, no foolish leap of faith will ever mean that someone deserves to be violated, physically or emotionally. Whether we’ve known someone for four months or four minutes, the right to be safe is the same.

I was especially bothered by the advice of “Don’t go over to a guy’s house unless you are ready to have sex with him.” First of all, it sells guys so short—I would have missed out on so many good relationships and friendships if I looked at life that way. Even if I’m ready to have sex, there might be aspects of play that I still need to say no to. Besides, I may be ready for sex, but I’ll never be ready to be raped. It’s just not the same thing.

For the most part, people don’t hurt each other on purpose. It seems like a lack of respectful communication leads to the majority of troubles between partners. For that reason, I feel that fear-based prevention ideas such as and “Warn people of what the consequences are if they violate your limits” are not the way to go. Approaching someone like an adversary doesn’t seem like a good way to begin a trusting, collaborative relationship. Fear may be a way to keep us safe in the short run, but in the long run an us-versus-them attitude is just going to lead to more miscommunication and hurt.

So I guess what I’d ideally like to see is kind of a team-building approach. What are the ways that men/women tops/bottoms, etc can work together to foster more communication and respect?

Thank you again for the discussion and everything else that you do. I look forward to more talking and more fun in the future."

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