I’ve touched on this in multiple other posts, not just here at Vizionz but at all other social media outlets I participate in on this internet thing. It is a challenging thing to me, to watch my life with all of its limitations:
I am Black
I am fat
I am female
I am submissive (kind of)
I am a masochist
I am torn on what seems like a daily basis between ringing the alarm and scaring all women into fearing their intimate partners, and absolving those who would harm of responsibility because it should all rest on the shoulders of the potential (eventual) victim. When it comes to the debate though, the actual discussion…I just can’t blame the victim. I advocate for alternative teaching methods, I advocate for awareness, I encourage women (and men) to tell their stories because it is when we realize that we are not alone that change and by extension healing can begin…yet
When it comes to certain topics like the physical – emotional – and sexual safety of the bottom….blaming the victim is never the answer.
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Elsewhere I’ve shared my personal stories about my history, and where my own history has connected with sexual assault. Assault, violations, and rapes are more frequent than are reported and are more common than one might suspect.
In this fact sheet from the CDC the numbers are written for men and women the numbers tell a story, but not the whole story.
Sexual violence can happen to any one…but it mostly happens to women. As I speak on this topic I do not wish to offend men who’ve been touched by these acts, but my perspective comes from being a woman…it is the only place from which I can speak.
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As a woman, and JUST being a woman, I’ve been surrounded for most of my life by examples of how my body is the property of anyone who wants it. That comes from my youngest years as my mother dressed me, to my youth as my own brother violated me, to my teens as my intimate partner raped me, and as an adult looking for a power exchange relationship.
I won’t revisit all of those times in this piece, rather I wish to speak about consent violations and other types of sexual violence in the BDSM community.
Some people come into this lifestyle, without having learned an adult way to cope with life, and bring that dysfunction into their BDSM relationships. This is not what this lifestyle is about.
BDSM is an extra-large umbrella that covers a variety of sex and sexually related activities, and some activities that are not sexual in nature – or at least not to the naked eye. The acronym stands for Bondage – Domination – Submission – Masochism. Some will use the D for discipline, but the point is that it is a catch-all acronym for the things that people do behind closed doors.
These relationships are like the stars in the sky, no two are the same, and there are more up then than you can count. One thing though about these relationships is that they begin when consent is obtained. When consent is withdrawn, or not spelled out properly that is when Whitney Houston we have a problem.
What tends to be unique about these relationships is that there is an established hierarchy to the process. There is a Top/Dominant/Master/Daddy (male or female) that makes the rules, and a bottom/submissive/slave/boi-girl that follows completing the circle and allowing the relationship to flow.
Oft times, when one is exploring this life, or is new into this life things happen. Shit, things happen even to those of us with experience. The question then becomes, is there a way to be safe within this community, when you are on the bottom of the hierarchy?
There are certainly things that can make you SAFER. The reality of it all though…is that nothing can guarantee 100% safety except abstinence, and if you were interested in being abstinent then you would not be reading blogs like mine.
Some of the traps that the newer of us fall into is thinking that because we want to bottom, or submit that we can bottom or submit to anyone that plays the role on top. That is a huge mistake, that defies common sense and critical thinking. In our new BDSM life we will hear many terms like leaving our ‘vanilla‘ life behind. The idea is that you will not bring into this life the things you did when you were out in the ‘regular’ dating world. Well let’s look at this for just a moment. In your ‘vanilla’ life prior to you going out on a date with a person you did things like: learn their last name, asked questions to determine compatibility, met in public for the first date for safety reasons, and a whole host of other things. There is ZERO reason not to bring that into your BDSM experience, especially if you are new to this thing that we do.
If you are willing to do a series of things to feel comfortable and safe while out at Starbucks having a cup of java, what makes you think that you need LESS of a vetting process when the person has the means to restrain you (duct tape – cuffs – rope) at their disposal? If you are looking for someone to tie you up and spank you …. shouldn’t it be MORE important to know the person tying the knot?
What must be stated over and over and over is that you yourself are first responsible for your own safety. None of the things that I will say absolve anyone from doing their due diligence. Due diligence doesn’t stop those with bad intentions though.
I personally would not call it an epidemic, but daily I am concerned with all of the stories of consent violations running about in the community. Very often the complaints come not that a stranger has stepped out and violated your boundaries, rather a person you have faith in has done it. Sometimes those violations include sexual activity, sometimes they do not, but any violation of consent endangers the integrity of this thing that we do.
I am not talking about a committed and established relationship where the Top pushes a limit because they have invested the time and have tacit permission to do such…although even in those cases there are victims as well. I speak of the instants where there is a connection, possibly some play of some sort, and the gray area that people think exists.
I don’t necessarily agree that there is a gray area, but if there was…this is where it happens. In that space where there are two people alone, and when those two people come out with different stories about what happened. There is a saying that is used, there are three version of any story his side, her side and the truth. Well that is bullshit in its purest form. The truth exists and it doesn’t change, it is the only story. The versions that you hear from respective parties are recollections clouded by personal emotion. What happened is what happened…ie, there was sexual penetration without a condom. That would be the truth.
The perception would be, and sadly often is I didn’t agree to that…well I think you did.
Story after story is told about a woman who says I agreed to flogging and caning, and the hitachi on my clit, but I specifically said that no penetration could occur without a condom. He entered me without a condom.
I’ve argued over and over again, that this is rape, and sadly other women have been the first to contradict me, almost in a violent manner. I get the anger, and I understand the group think, that doesn’t make it right though.
Not unlike the other misogynistic restrictions placed on women in this society, the idea that a woman is somehow to blame for her own violation is something that other women have picked up and run with to the point that men no longer NEED to remind us…we have it down.
I recall one story from a woman where she admitted that she was willing to have sex with her top of the moment, but that she insisted that he wear a condom. While she was partially restrained he entered her anyway. The hatred shown to this woman, by the other women on the website pained me to my DNA. The men who read her story almost to a one, were understanding and expressed anger, sadness, offered a variety of methods to even the score.
The women called her a whore, told her to disclose how many other dominant men she’d had sex with, called her a liar because she never went to the police. The women ripped into this woman, like her rapist did, without consent for their own personal reasons. That is such a big reason WHY where there are cases like this in the community, that so little is done to eliminate the possibilities. Woefully little.
I watched the women rally around this man, who’d raped this woman. Yes it is rape. Even while knowing that he was the character of man who had during this period of time gotten another woman in another state pregnant, and walked away. They vilified this woman I suspect in part out of fear that one day they too might find themselves in a questionable situation, and are hoping that the same thing will not happen to them.
As we blame the victim and not the aggressor we make it more difficult to eliminate the real threats to the safety of our community. This lifestyle can only flourish when there is integrity contained within the participants. Ignoring the boundaries of your bottom is not integrity.
I ran across this article in Salon.com that speaks about the women who’ve found themselves in these kinds of situations…there is more than one, more than two, and more that I prefer to even attempt to count.
Women that are new to this thing that we do, and even women like me that have been around the block once or twice or 12 times. It is difficult enough to explain to repressed America that what we do is not deviant. It is a challenge to explain that our sanity remains in tact, while our libido sits satisfied. It is almost impossible for anyone outside of this life to not see us as a bunch of abusive deviants when consent is ignored.
The sad part is that while a great number of these kinds of cases involve some type of unwanted sexual activity, consent is also compromised and violated about other aspects of this life.
With great power comes greater responsibility, and those who request the power in these situations simply must walk a straighter line and exhibit better judgment. We teach our daughters ways to not ‘get raped’ but do we spend the same amount of time teaching our sons to NOT rape?
There are oooodles of classes that teach bottoms how to negotiate a scene that respects their limits and so few that remind the one that wants to be in charge that it is up to THEM to not make their bottom a victim. It is up to the top because at the end of the day, no matter what precautions a bottom takes, they can still be a victim, if the top crosses the line.