I’ve been thinking about this topic for a few months now, however I’ve been very hesitant to say anything because I felt it would definitely put target on my back (and maybe my front too) and I didn’t know if this was something I really wanted to have to defend or dispute. A few days ago Master and I were watching a movie. The movie took place during a time period when any accusation made by a white person against a black person was by definition considered to be true. The main character in the movie spent 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit – all because one police officer had a vendetta against him for being black and because everyone co-signed to the actions he took based on their own prejudices. I felt shock, sadness and anger at the treatment of this man. I wondered where the justice was for all of his years in prison. Why no one spoke up – even when they KNEW he was innocent and why people spoke against him who KNEW he was innocent. This movie sent an uneasiness through me that would not leave me alone. I realized that at the rate the community/Lifestyle is going – any Dominant/Top/Master could be that wrongfully imprisoned man. That we are abandoning our critical thinking in ways that are making it dangerous to be Dominant. And I felt around inside of me and felt that this piece (that I wrote a couple months ago and tabled) really did need to be put out into the world. Please don’t misunderstand me in this – I have experienced rape, molestation and abuse (although thankfully not in the Lifestyle). I have worked with victims of domestic violence and spiritually counseled women in this area for many years. This writing is not done without compassion or understanding.
“Community displeasure is no substitute for Legal Action in the case of an actual crime occurring” ~Master Obsidian
The above is something that I have heard Master say on a number of occasions. Recently I’ve been thinking about this more and more as I watch the community (I like the word Lifestyle more actually- it seems more reflective of Truth) go through all sorts of turmoil concerning accusations of abuse, predatory behavior, and the like. I really wish the limitation of community displeasure was understood when all of the saber rattling and smoky torches are being waved. Why? Because in the case of accusations of abuse community displeasure doesn’t really DO anything. It’s a question of understanding the scope of our power and authority so as to be effective.
- Entry into our Community is not based on relationship anymore. We have to accept that anyone can join any online forum (this one included), create a group and have attendees. Most groups do not have a vetting process and hold meeting in public venues. This openness comes with the drawback that the community is no longer capable of policing itself.
- We can not imprison anyone or stop them from doing what they are doing. Yes, even if it’s against what we believe – we can’t stop a person from finding play partners, from forming a group, planning a party, holding themselves up as a “Leader”, a “True Dominant” or a “True submissive”
- My irritation, annoyance etc; does not save anyone. In short while it may influence SOME – for the most part it does not put a stop to criminal activity. Think about it – no criminal is going to say “Yes, I stopped my raping, assault etc; because slave namaste said I should”
- If the Police force and Legal system which has millions of dollars backing it and thousands of people can not find this person and stop them from doing what it is they did to you – if you did not think you had cause enough to report it as a crime – the community is even LESS able to provide aid. In most cases we don’t even have each others’ real names, addresses or phone numbers.
- If i do bodily injury to someone or attempt to stop any movement that they have a RIGHT to by virtue of their citizenship in this country- I myself become eligible for legal action. This means I can’t hurt someone because they hurt you. It would be inappropriate for me to stalk them, call them repeatedly, threaten them or harass them on your behalf.
Now – all of that said – there tends to be a number of people who feel as if in the case of allegations of abuse or inappropriate conduct we as a community should “Do something” and I agree we should. We should care for one another and take such things seriously. We should do what it IS in our power to do.
“Effectiveness is the Measure of Truth” ~Pono Huna Principle
- We can if we lead a group, make decisions about OUR groups, events, etc; We can not allow that person to attend or be a member in our groups, recognizing that each group has their own Protocol for addressing and validating such accusations and that such autonomy should be respected.
- We can each choose to take responsibility for ourselves and choose carefully those we would play with and engage in BDSM activity with – IOW treat strangers as strangers and don’t go off to private places with them.
- We can take the steps to report when things ACTUALLY do occur. For every person with a horror story about reporting that didn’t work – there are those for whom it did work. Every situation is different. Don’t ASSUME no one will believe you. To that end I LOVE the idea mentioned here] if you don’t care to read it – I’m speaking specifically about the idea of ANYONE going to a person in a leadership position and being referred to counseling, and then offered support if they chose to file a police report
- We can understand that an accusation isn’t always true. This is the hardest thing. In our lifestyle in an attempt to not cause further trauma or be accused of “victim blaming” we frequently take it for granted that the accuser is indeed the victim. Reserving judgement may be prudent. One question I always ask is “What would I consider fair if it was someone I love being accused and was handled the way I’m handling this person” – frequently when I ask this the glaring bias towards the accuser is obvious. Innocent until proven guilty may not be easy but it is foundational to justice.
- Leaders and Presenters can spend more time talking about how to choose a play partner and security in scening rather than telling boogeyman stories. Prevention is far more effective than cure. While we spend a great deal of time trying to soothe and support those who are traumatized by someone’s inappropriate conduct – we don’t spend very much time at ALL explaining ways to prevent this from occurring in the first place, and in fact we encourage new people not to follow their “gut” but to play quickly and with anyone in the guise of having “new experiences”
- We can encourage people on both sides of the slash to form friendships and relationships – This is the greatest protection against being prey- and yes, Dominants and Masters are often victims of non-consent as well.
- We can handle FALSE allegations with just as much ferocity as we handle true ones. People who accuse falsely should not be given a “free pass” as being merely emotional.
- We can serve as Protectors. Master wrote a VERY well done article on Protection here too often I see the idea of protection scoffed at and new people told that they shouldn’t need protection. Strangely the same people who encourage the newbies to play indiscriminately (usually with THEM) and to not seek out protection are also the ones who are informing them that they have been abused.
- We can understand the difference between Vengeance and Justice. Often when I hear about accusations of abuse – the desired course of action is based on vengeance not on Justice. Justice is blind and doesn’t give favor to either the accuser or the accused, the prosecutor or the defendant. Vengeance on the other hand seeks retaliation and retribution.
In conclusion – while it’s heartbreaking to hear stories of abuse – the perception that we as a Greater community are all able to ban together to “kick this person out” is a lovely but misguided sentiment. When dealing with things like allegations of abuse and mal-conduct it is important in my estimation to not get caught up in emotionalism but rather that we take a moment and ask “What can I do to be safe”, that we seek to work with those in Legal and Medical arenas concerning education on BDSM and WIITWD and that we apply critical thinking as well as compassion.