OUTING – A Call for Best Practices and Solutions

We ended our last blog post by saying the community has become treacherous. Many are leaving precisely for this reason. Because they feel UNSAFE. The creation of SAFE SPACES counts and is directly connected to the enjoyment of the freedom to live your life in a manner of your own choosing.

CONSENT is also vital and important to the perpetuation of healthy communities – everyone can agree on this.

Individuals among us who violate this sacred standard of behavior, who engage in the practice of outing others, including on social media – essentially weaponizing social media, are vectors of significant harm to the community at large. By their actions, outing others in social media they are responsible for the creation of spaces that are inherently NOT SAFE. IT is fine to bring attention to issues in the community, yet it is NOT fine when that “attention” includes outing on social media or bullying.

“Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send emails or text messages harassing someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender. It may also include public actions such as repeated threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e. hate speech) or defamatory false accusations, ganging up on a victim by making the person the subject of ridicule in online forums, hacking into or vandalizing sites about a person, and posting false statements as fact aimed a discrediting or humiliating a targeted person. Cyberbullying could be limited to posting rumors about a person on the internet with the intention of bringing about hatred in others’ minds or convincing others to dislike or participate in online denigration of a target. [2]

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EVERYONE should feel safe. EVERYONE. Including those you do not like. Anyone who feels that safety is ONLY for those they consider to be worthy is part of the problem. Individuals who engage in online outing included.

By their actions they are also CONSENT VIOLATORS and ONLINE Bullies who embolden others to act in similar ways.  As an example, Since our original post we have received screen captures of further outing violations by those who are also TITLEHOLDERS. You can see these screen captures of outing by Moxie Minion- Northwest Bootblack 2018 here, slave Tabitha- International Ms Bootblack 2015 here, and also in a thread of Teagan- International Ms Bootblack 2018 here. We have only left the names visible of those who are out on their Profile or if the name is the same as their scene name. We have received other screen captures but it would be impossible to share those images without also outing those individuals.

Some of you, having observed this behavior have asked what you can do to protect yourself or others from being outed.  We do not believe that the responsibility of creating SAFE and CONSENSUAL spaces lies entirely with leadership, but that each person is personally responsible for proactively making decisions that contribute to their own safety as well as communicating with Leadership.

At the same time we also believe that that Leadership is responsible for …well…leading. The reality is that many leaders of conferences, groups, contests etc; are TOTALLY unaware of the forms that outing takes today. They are often so focused on prohibiting things like bringing cameras into the dungeon that they have a blindspot when it comes to how often online outing occurs

This current environment is RIFE and reactionary with accusations of a lack of safety without offering real plans to solve issues going forward. Being solution oriented we have come up with the following proposed solutions and ACTIONABLE guidelines. This is not exhaustive by any means yet we hope it is a step in the right direction to serve to protect and maintain the standard of consent within this Lifestyle while not preventing holding others accountable. These are SUGGESTIONS only.

Now before we begin let’s start with those who may have issues with what we propose:

“I’m an Activist, Influencer, Leader, Titleholder etc; – it is my JOB to speak out against injustice you just want to SILENCE me!”

Not at all. Feel free to say WHATEVER you WANT to say! In fact – you are totally free to NOT like whomever, for whatever reason. What you are NOT free to do is to weaponize social media in an attempt to harm said person or persons.

  • Do NOT Assume ANYONE is out.
  • In Lifestyle forums such as Fetlife use the persons scene name.
  • On mainstream forums be careful to ONLY use a scene name WITHOUT using vanilla or mainstream legal identifiers.
  • Avoid seeking out mainstream information in regard to individuals or contacting them on mainstream forums. WITHOUT their consent.
  • If using screen captures be careful to blur out vanilla or MAINSTREAM information including names.
  • Do not give out location information as this crosses a dangerous line – potentially exposing people to individuals prone to use violence as a communication device -many of whom may not even be part of any community.
  • Speak to your local community leaders to ensure those who violate known community rules are addressed. If someone has committed a CRIME report it to law enforcement or otherwise utilize the criminal JUSTICE system. That is why it exists.

WE believe in Reconciliation FIRST!

If you are a person who has engaged in this behavior:
  • Stop this behavior immediately. You can remove all traces of this behavior and STILL stand for what you believe in and speak about issues that are important to you.
  • Say “I’m Sorry” or post a public apology for your behavior. You did public harm and so your apology needs to be public as well – this goes a long way in healing.
  • Don’t tolerate or excuse this behavior in others. Tell your friends and associates that this behavior is damaging, may violate certain bullying laws and that you will not associate with it.
If you run a conference, group, club or event:
  • Create a very strong and clear zero tolerance policy statement AGAINST outing – including social media. Fetlife has a policy against doing this – your event, club or conference needs to have this in place as well – this is really the ONLY way to insure that you have a SAFE SPACE FOR YOUR ATTENDEES. 
  • Create a policy to ban people from your group, conference etc. if you have been provided evidence of online outing  – while it can be difficult to prove offline outing …with screen captures you can definitely prove outing on social media. 
  • Create a strong zero tolerance policy against outing for all of your presenters, teachers and speakers – anyone found to be engaging in outing behavior on social media will be banned from your event and will not be allowed to teach or speak at your event in the future. 
If you own a title:
  • Create a zero tolerance policy of ’NO OUTING’ for your title holders – if they have been found to engage in outing behavior online their title will be pulled and they are no longer welcome at your conference. 
  • Create a strong zero tolerance policy against outing for all of your judges – anyone found to be engaging in outing behavior on social media will be banned from your event and will not be allowed to judge, teach or speak at your event in the future. 
If you are a judge, presenter or are thinking about running for a title:
  • Ask conferences, producers, groups, and clubs directly to see written documentation that they have a zero tolerance policy specifically against online outing. 
  • If they do not have a policy in place – ASK THEM to put one in place immediately in writing for your OWN protection.
  • Refuse to attend, teach, run for a title in any event that refuses to have a clearly stated zero tolerance policy regarding all forms of outing behaviour. 
If you are an attendee, presenter, titleholder or judge:
  • Do NOT assume ANYONE is OUT! Even if they seem to be. They may be out to you, but not in general.
  • If you know of clubs, organizations, etc.. that don’t have a zero tolerance policy in place, use your influence to request that they do so immediately.
  • If they refuse to put a clear zero tolerance policy in place, use your influence to let others know that they do not have a policy in place and that attendees may be at risk by attending their event. 
  • Consider posting in the APPROPRIATE spaces a list of conferences, clubs, organizations that DO have a “No Outing” policy
  • Consider posting the following on your Fetlife profile if you have one “I do NOT Consent to having my Lifestyle persona, or scene name linked with my LEGAL (aka vanilla or mainstream) name, location or profile on any form of social media. Doing so is called “outing” and is a form of cyber bullying and a consent violation. “
  • Judges – specifically consider asking the following question of contestants; “Is there any reason to ever out someone – and to whom?” There is a world of difference in outing an abuser/assailant to law enforcement for JUSTICE and outing someone whose views or personality you don’t like for a VENDETTA

It is our sincere desire that these guidelines will assist you in taking PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for your OWN Safety.

Lastly, our intention is that this will be the LAST thing we have to share in regard to this particular issue and we can get back to writing about how YOU can create and sustain POWERFUL power exchange dynamics.

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