Jun 042012
 

Salon.com has a post on what the role of Fetlife should be in preventing or controlling abuse in the Scene.

Earlier this year, I reported on recent attempts to raise awareness about what some say is widespread abuse within the BDSM community and a tendency to either ignore it or cover it up. As I said at the time, “We’re talking about real abuse here, not the ‘consensual non-consent’ that the scene is built around.” That means safe words being maligned or ignored, and boundaries being crossed. In the months since, the conversation has only gotten louder; and following the social networking site’s removal of posts that identify alleged abusers — most often by their Fetlife moniker only — a petition was started to remove a clause from the site’s Terms of Use requiring users to pledge to not “make criminal accusations against another member in a public forum.” Currently, the proposal has 864 “spanks” (the site’s equivalent of “yes” votes).

I’ve been involved in the BDSM scene for a couple of decades. I can think of two different situations where accusations of wrong-doing turned out to be nothing. In one of those cases, I and other leaders of the community had a “five families”-style meeting over what to do about this. It turned out that the accuser made the whole thing up, and went so far as to fabricate evidence to frame their target.

This issue, as a hypothetical, came up a few times while I was on the board of a non-profit incorporated society. The board agreed that we can’t police the entire local Scene, just what happens at our parties, and we weren’t going to blacklist people from attending or otherwise sanction people just on hearsay.

I’m really not sure what to do about this situation. I think the BDSM scene requires a certain degree of self-policing, and that happens on the level of individual interactions, not on the subculture as a whole. Community leaders like John Baku can enforce rules in limited areas, like Fetlife or at a party, but beyond those limited areas they can only attempt to spread norms, not laws.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)