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On Labeling A Stranger An Abuser

June 19th, 2014

So the other day, I was reading a post about exes. I don’t remember whose. Maybe it was Stella Kink?

In any case, it discussed that unwritten code that says dating your friend’s ex is bad, mmkay? And it delves into the way this is often handled in the BDSM community. I don’t know from personal experience, but according to the post I read, and according to the people I’ve spoken with in the BDSM community, a lot of people actually recommend their exes to others if they feel they’d be a good match.

This makes sense. Something that’s often suggested to submissives (and dominants and switches, too, by the folks who understand that submissives aren’t the only ones who need protection) is finding “references” for any dominants they’re interested in beginning a relationship with. And apparently, a lot of BDSM relationships end amicably and for reasons that are not reflections of the personalities and morals of the people involved.

This is a foreign concept to me. There’s only one or two people I broke up with for reasons that don’t make them awful people in my mind. One is my very first girlfriend, N, who I left to reconcile with my children’s father. I regretted that decision as soon as I made it, but I wanted my kids to have two parents, and at the time, two moms was just completely out of the question.

When I think about it, though, it makes sense. Not everyone breaks up because they hate their partner. Not every break up is bad. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. So why shouldn’t your ex and your friends be allowed to hook up if they want to?

If I still knew her, and she and M didn’t get along (cuz if she’s the same person, I’d totally try to make us into a triad), I’d for sure try to set her up with people with whom I thought she’d be happy. I don’t own her, and she’s a great person. We were friends before and after the break up until I moved away. Having her in our circle of friends would only make our life better.

In a BDSM setting, it makes even more sense because often kinky relationships split up over a difference in sexuality, play technique, needs within the dynamic; things that are irreconcilable because the people involved are wired differently, not because anyone did anything wrong or they dislike each other. So, it’s common practice, in many BDSM circles, to talk up and down anyone you’ve been with, depending on what the situation calls for.

It’s also common practice to label complete strangers abusers.

I saw a retweet the other day that was calling out one dominant twitter user in particular, and labeling him dangerous. I followed the conversation back to the beginning, only to find out the submissive had deleted most of her side of the conversation.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t know these people. I don’t read their blogs. I don’t follow them. I don’t know that I’ve ever even spoken to them. But from what I could see from the dominant’s side of the conversation, he simply wanted to speak in private instead of airing his interest in her all over the internet. She started attacking him, and he responded in kind, and just like that, he was an abuser who would turn on a submissive because they didn’t auto-follow him back.

Dude. Even talking about social media fights sounds so fucking stupid to me. But there it is.

We need to start talking about it, though. Because it’s like this:

A lot of kinksters attend public events like munches, play parties, conferences, etc. The people they interact with online know who they are in real life. They may have dated them, be dating them, be considering dating them. This submissive just had a ten minute interaction with a dominant stranger in 140 characters or less, and now she’s telling everyone they both know that the dominant stranger is an abuser because he asked the submissive to follow him back so he could send her a direct message. And people who also don’t know said dominant stranger are retweeting that shit, and posting about it on Fetlife, and Facebook, and…I mean, seriously?

This should be unacceptable to all of us.

Heaven forbid their social media accounts get outed to employers, somehow, and their employers do a Google search, and find a complete stranger saying they’re dangerous. While there is an appalling number of companies that are not doing anything about the violent criminals they employ, others will drop you like a hot potato without a question asked. Even if there’s no proof. Even if it goes to trial and the person is unequivocally exonerated. They are so worried about their companies being associated with things like that that they will happily throw the baby out with the bath water to avoid it.

If even just one innocent person’s life is ruined because someone didn’t think before they spoke, it lands a severe blow to the fight against rape culture. Because the assholes who argue that legally requiring consent is “criminalizing manhood” (I shit you not. I read this in the comments of an article yesterday, and then was barraged with reasons garnering consent equates with prostitution when I expressed my outrage) are also the ones who can’t let go of the Duke lacrosse team being falsely accused of rape, and the 8% (according to the US Department of Justice) of false accusations made each year. They’re the ones who will beat you about the head and shoulders with that 8% in an attempt to make you believe that 8% means there’s no such thing as true rape accusations. They might be abusers themselves. But you can’t say that because, for all you know, they’re just some dumb schmuck who is too stupid to understand how small 8% is in a country where 15-20% of its women have been raped at least once in their lives.

(Though we should be grateful. The numbers are much higher and continually growing in other countries like the United Kingdom and Sweden.)

Yes, abusers should be outed to the community. Yes, everyone involved in allowing someone to cause them pain–and maybe bind them–should be cautious of abusers. But that does not mean you are justified in labeling someone an abuser simply because they asked you to follow them back on Twitter.

I feel like that goes without saying. But hey…now it’s been said.

Fuck!

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