I have been involved in the kink lifestyle, both online and in meatspace, since 2005. I’ve blogged only on kink sites, beginning on Alt.com, and continuing on FetLife, as bitchypoo.
I experienced a lot of the seedy underbelly of the kink world. My most recent experience with that inspired me to become a consent activist. I’ve lost many friendships, but made so many wonderful and inspiring new friends, along the way. I’ve been asked, a time or three, to post some of what I write on FetLife in someplace more accessible, and less of what one of my friends called “a walled garden.”
So, here I am.
I’ll start with a thing I wrote about a month ago, which explains the name of this blog. I hope you enjoy!
(TW: broad-strokes child sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence)
I was raised in a place where feminist was synonymous with either dyke or whore, and both were very bad things. I lived in constant unconscious certainty that men had the power over everything, and that was the way it had always been, and would probably be the way it would continue to be, forever and ever, Amen. Praise Jesus and pass the venison.
Of course, I outgrew most of what I learned from my upbringing, but I still had this aversion to feminism. To be completely honest, the term still makes me cringe a little. Instead of seeing better examples or a less negative image of feminism as I worked my way through adulthood, parenting, working, and BDSM, I got just the opposite. Most of the people I knew, even the most progressive or radical in every other way, discussed feminism with a sneer. The perception of feminism I had was this, and this, and this. Crazy extremism to the point of absolute absurdity.
I believed in taking personal responsibility, but I’d never even considered the ideathat anyone could extend that to the point where rape wasn’t the rapist’s fault. I’d never really grasped how people around me blamed women for being abused, often in somewhat subtle ways, but sometimes blatantly, and always as if stating facts. Like this is just how it is. Bitchz be trippin’, yo.
Overlaying all of this was my own experience with being victimized. Early childhood full of physical fights between my parents until they divorced. Seriously controlling, extremely patriarchal upbringing in a house full of bigotry and right-wing ideology and Baptist dogma. Being molested for five years by my stepfather, then shamed, blamed, gaslighted and silenced when I finally spoke out. Gang rape at 15. Dosed and raped at 19. Married to a man who, long before the wedding, blamed me for my own rape, and made it clear that he would leave me if I resisted having sex with him, whenever he wanted it, after. Finally left him, after over 7 years of a redneck, pothead, gambling, idiotic nightmare.
Enter BDSM. Male dominant, OPP poly for the first 7 1/2 years. And public play, usually on my own. In another post, I detail some of the consent violations I have experienced in my time in the scene.
I was the good girl, throughout. The quiet girl. The one who didn’t make any waves about the idea that I had a right not to be violated. I had internalized the idea that, if I just did all the right things, I could avoid being a victim again. Except, that’s not really how it works, and I found that out the hard way.
And I stopped being quiet. I started making waves.
The funny thing is, not once during the beginning of me standing up and speaking out about the rampant problem of consent violations and victim-shaming and silencing within our communities, not once during the first several posts, up to and including my controversial post, “Choosing Sides,“ did I even think about feminism. What I thought about were the countless people who had their consent violated, who were abused and raped and whose safewords and limits were ignored. What I thought about were the ways in which I had been shushed when I tried to politely raise these same concerns, in the preceding years, within my local community. What I thought about was how much we were getting it wrong. What I thought about was trying to do what little I could do to change all that.
Feminism never entered my mind, then.
The first time that mental association was even considered was when some of the people trying to shush and shame me over taking my stand threw it out as an accusation. As an insult. And that’s exactly how it felt. That’s still the picture I had in my head.
Through post after post, I started making friends. I started getting comments and private messages about others’ stories. About how often this happens, and the sadly predictable paths it almost always takes. I lost a lot of ‘friends’ who didn’t agree with my approach, or my stance, or who maintained a relationship with my abuser, tried to shelter others, or outright blamed me for what happened. I gained a lot of friends who knew better. Most of them are feminists.
I started rethinking my ideas about feminism. I’m still not very fond of the term, especially as it’s used by the extremists on both sides. The MRAs and general asshats who like to tout personal responsibility to every woman who just stopped blaming herself long enough to speak up make me feel pretty stabby. Likewise, there’s an awful lot of, FSM! Could you PLEASE just not be on my side with your extremist BS?
What I’ve realized is, every subculture has its extremists, and they simply don’t define the subculture. Only its outliers. As it applies to the thing so many of us are advocating right now, this really isn’t an extreme viewpoint. We just want for everyone to have the right not to be touched, in whatever way, unless they want it. We want for those folks, of whatever role or gender, who can’t or won’t respect that right, to not be welcome in our spaces. We want for the onus of personal responsibility to shift to where it belongs: the people who harm others.
If that makes me a feminist, then I’ll wear that label proudly.
Just remember, you MRAs and “False accusation” shouters and shamers and blamers and violators and “DRAMA” accusers and “personal responsibility” gurus, you’re the ones who both gave me that label, and the reason to wear it.
I never said, as a kid, “I want to be a feminist when I grow up.” But I am, and you played a part in that. Deal with it.