How FetLife Turned An Abuser Into A Star
So over on FetLife, the Facebook for kinky people, there’s been a guy called “The Wolf” who’s recently been arrested for charges of rape.
He’s also one of the most popular folks on FetLife, with thousands of fans, and groups devoted to emulating his behavior of “wolfucking,” and even a self-published book that had done quite well on Amazon.
Now, the problem with FetLife is, well, it’s the Internet. I don’t know what happened between The Wolf and the people who were so upset they brought in what I’m told swelled to a twelve-man police force to help make a case against him; this is happening in Australia, I have never met any of the people involved, Australia is not my community.
But FetLife is my community, and The Wolf only exemplifies an ugly pattern on Fet where we keep finding charming dominants and turning them into stars with fan bases. Which is not wrong in and of itself, I should add; I have a fan base on Fet myself.
But a lot of these dominant stars turn out to have hidden patterns of abuse from victims who get suppressed and overridden.
So I wrote this essay on Fet, and I’m placing posting an edited version of it here because I think anyone who’s kinky should be watching how these things happen. This took place on Fet, but I know that the same cycle of “local kink star turns out not to be what was advertised” happens at dungeons across the country continually.
So let’s look at how this stuff happens. Be warned; this gets long.
Let’s honest: I like the idea of The Wolf. Not the hypermasculinity, as I’m mostly straight, or the degradation, because I’m not into that either.
But God damn, am I tired of talking to my partners.
I’m tired of negotiating scenes, and of having to haul myself out of switchspace to verbally confirm, “Yes, yes, that’s okay.” I’m tired of having to explain to my lovers that no, that’s not doing it for me, could you try touching me this way? I’m tired of having to embarrassingly reveal these dirty things I want done to me, and then catalogue them, and then map out a scene with someone I’m meeting at a con – or to go through the tedium of getting into a relationship with someone I trust enough that I can hand over control to them.
What I secretly want is a one-stop shop where I can find a stranger who knows me better than I know myself, so I don’t have to fucking talk – I can just show up and have someone take control who understands everything I want, and gives it to me.
And I think the popularity of The Wolf shows that “finding someone who’ll secretly know all the dirty things you want” is a compelling goddamned idea: it’s largely what he sold, literally sold, to fans everywhere. He told people that he played hard, that he brutalized his partners, that he dispensed degradation freely – in fact, his essays detailing his objectifying sexual exploits made that a selling point among women and men.
Yet so many people were so in love with the idea of The Wolf that we overlooked the increasing reality that he could not consistently provide the fantasy he promised. Which, I am quick to add, is not the same as “Never provided that fantasy”: there’s clearly any number of women where he showed up, violated them beautifully, and left them the sobbing mess they wanted to be by the end of it. In fact, by percentages, I’d bet The Wolf’s batting average was fairly high.
Yet again. People liked the idea of the Mysterious Sexy Stranger who didn’t need safewords, who actively scorned negotiation as the Wolf did, who never asked you yet somehow delivered the brutal sex you craved. They liked it so much that a significant portion of Fet was willing to look at the unknown-but-definitively-nonzero percentage of people who didn’t get the service promised – and remember, the failure mode of Consensual Non-Consent is, in fact, “assault” – to cling to the idea instead of the increasingly-repellent reality.
That reality is this: yeah, you can skip all of that pesky negotiation and safewording and communication to leap straight to the brutal stuff – but every time you guess wrong, you leave a trail of actually, legitimately hurt people behind.
The Wolf guessed wrong. More than once. And rather than facing that awful reality that The Wolf could be a guy who delivered beautiful fantasy nine times out of ten and a hideous assault the tenth time, people found ways to excuse that assault.
How did we get here?
I want to discuss that issue, as compassionately and dispassionately as possible. But the path is well-known, Khaleesi – the “What happens if you discuss the dangers of the Wolf’s playstyle?” is so-well known that I am, in fact, going to do a magic trick: I’m going to haul the standard objections out and deal with them in advance.
But first, let’s discuss the big question:
What Did The Wolf Actually Do?
The actual circumstances of what happened are heavily obscured, partially because of how FetLife suppresses discussion of such accounts. We’ll get to that.
But what you’ll hear as the clear answer to that from most of the Wolf’s detrators is “rape.” And the inevitable defense, as it always is, is “It’s he said, she said!”
But to me, The Wolf’s crime on FetLife is, and has never been, sexual assault.
It’s bad marketing.
Bad marketing can be easily disproved.
For example, let’s take a used car salesman who goes, “Yeah, my customers? Always satisfied! Never had a problem with anybody. That’s why you shop here, at Al’s Used Car Fiesta!”
You find a couple of people who Al’s sold lemons to. You don’t necessarily know that the cars were actually bad. Maybe those customers were the relentlessly picky sort who didn’t like the upholstery; the details of what happened are obscured.
But when Al keeps saying, “My customers are always satisfied, so I can promise you satisfaction!” then the “He said/she said” becomes “He said everyone’s satisfied/she said I’m not satisfied.”
Thaaaaaat’s pretty easy to see as a lie.
Except wait! The Wolf said he wasn’t for everybody! He warned you all, repeatedly, that he was into brutal play, that foul CNC stuff, and you should stay away from him if you don’t want that!
And if he’d said that alone, I think few would have complained about Al’s Used BDSM Fiasco. I certainly wouldn’t have. Kink is filled with uncomfortable scenarios where people get harmful stuff done to them in the name of catharsis; people wear welts proudly that would be proof of abuse were consent not involved, and blood flows freely.
It’s a strange world. You take risks. And Consensual Non-Consent, where you temporarily give up your right to a safeword to allow someone to do anything they want to you, is a big risk. It’s absolutely correct to say that if you do CNC, you might get hurt.
Yet The Wolf always coupled that warning with a seduction: Yes, I do foul stuff, but when I look into your eyes I’ll know what you want. He literally said that being in his presence for long enough was consent – once claiming he could know everything he needed to know about you sexually from a twenty-minute coffee date. (And yes, he described what he did to partners after the coffee shop date.)
That’s a critical distinction. It was never “I do brutal stuff, and if you hang around me I might rape you by mistake.” That would have been fucking terrible marketing, and he knew that. It was always, “I do brutal stuff, and if you hang around me I’ll do the brutal stuff that you want.”
It was the Disneyland of CNC – oooh, it’s scary, but in the end it’ll be okay because I know the dark places you want to go to! There was always an implied promise of safety there: that the CNC was dangerous but The Wolf himself was sanitized, safe, pushing your boundaries but at the end you’d always wind up with your boundaries pushed in positive ways.
He’d never use the term “neutered” to discuss that, of course, but that’s largely what it was presented as. And that’s what most of us took issue with, even with the CNC….
But Seriously, What Did He Fucking Do?
Okay. You’ve never heard of this guy, and you want to know what exactly he did that caused all this furor.
Fuck, I don’t even know everything.
I’s hard to say, because FetLife quashes discussion. You’re not allowed to reference writers by name if there’s a consent issue, so people routinely referred to him as “The Lupine” or some other transparent ruse. The Wolf, I am told, also routinely rallied the Powers That Be at FetLife to get a FetLife Restraining Order, which means that if his victims talked about him they could be kicked off of FetLife. But I’m told that.
And The Wolf quashed discussion. He had fans. If you have fans, it’s easy to point them at someone and go, “Look at what they’re trying to do to me!” and apply peer pressure until the dissenter cracks. I know I read a couple of writings that sounded horrendous, stayed up for a brief period of time, and then got taken back down.
Most of what’s leaked out about The Wolf’s failures – because to both FetLife and The Wolf it was perfectly okay, even acceptable, to laud his triumphs – was from around the edges. The main essay that has stayed up came from one of his ex-partners, who said this:
“So why do I call us the clean up crew? Because that’s what we did. We were so sure, so utterly convinced that the man in our lives could do no wrong, that if there was ever fault it must lie with the other person. We listened, horrified as a lovely woman from Boston cried as she told the story of her carefully orchestrated, drunken gang rape, but instead of encouraging her to go to police, we told her to stay away from him and stay silent, successfully cleaning up his mess. We found out a woman – no, a girl – had lied about her age. We went on the warpath, concocting more and more insane lies about her, telling anyone who asked what had happened to the popular girl from our crew who vanished that she was a crazy psycho bitch. We watched him punch our ‘sister’ repeatedly in the face after a munch in an alleyway, and while their interaction was consensual (albeit while both could hardly stand upright), we stood guard in this incredibly public space to protect them. We watched him hold a struggling girls hand over a hot stove, knowing the girl wasn’t allowed to speak, crying in distress as we watched it, and still saw him again after. We listened to him bitch and moan about our sister, saying that she was an ugly old addict, and he only kept her around because she would let him do whatever he wanted to her. We went back to him after he: threatened we wouldn’t see him again unless he could film us, filmed us without our consent, continued having sex after we repeatedly said ‘no’. We went back after each time he got angry when we mentioned a limit, after every time he sent us a message that called us ‘angel’ or ‘baby’ as if that made everything okay. We met him again after stating two limits: no anal and no facial bruising, both of which he did in our first meet. We went back after he’d left us bleeding anally for days from a penetration we didn’t want. We listened to him continually deride the Sydney scene, and it kept us away for months, so sure he knew the truth. We listened to him constantly bitch about the people he was so utterly kind to online, that the majority of his fans were just sad, lonely old fat women, and sometimes his jokes were so funny that we laughed with him. We got starry eyed as he bought us drinks, and actively sought other girls for him to play with, hoping it would please him. And of course, we used our own profiles to support and advocate for him, being among the first to love and comment, each and every time. Some of us actually bitched about him publicly, calling him our abuser, and the second he blocked us got incredibly distressed and tried to run straight back.”
There’s a lot of bad things that happened, supposedly. And I don’t know all of them. Some of what people say may be no more than rumor, some may be a genuine misunderstanding. I can’t say for sure what happened, and so I do not.
But again, remember: the issue is not about “what happened exactly.” The issue is The Wolf repeatedly claiming, until the evidence piled up that he could no longer deny it, that he had a magical insight that surpassed safewords and negotiation to deliver perfection.
And some percentage of his partners were clearly traumatized by the issue. You can claim, as others do, that this is just weakness, that people were led into betraying him by folks who had the knives out to get him…
But if your main marketing pitch to get people to emulate your behavior is “I know how to do this and leave you happy,” well, there’s clear evidence that you don’t. And for everyone who’s saying, “THIS IS THE DANGER OF CNC,” I would riposte “No, while CNC always carries the acknowledged risk of next-day regret, this is the danger of deciding you can tell everything you need to do in a rape-risking situation in a twenty-minute coffee date.”
But witness! Again, the pattern of discussing The Wolf is well known. Here are the objections coming down:
You’re just jealous. You’re out for publicity.
It’s kind of funny that the main complaint of “You’re out for publicity!” comes defending a man who actively encouraged the creation of several FetLife groups devoted to “wolfucking,” who tried to organize groups dedicated to his name, who literally wrote a book of his erotic adventures that he sold on Amazon.
And “jealousy” was what The Wolf routinely traded in. There were no valid objections one could present to critique his playstyle; when I did, which I did several times, I was accused of being envious of his ability to get women, of his abs, of his sexy following. Whenever he dismissed people’s concerns over his lack of negotiation, it was always about people being jealous or trying to ride his fame.
Which is a nice smokescreen to distract from the fact that people were concerned over his playstyle. Somehow when you raised the objection that there were other primals who folks didn’t object to as hard because they didn’t say reeeeeally sketchy things about consent, that was more jealousy. When people wrote essays rebutting his work, that was riding on his coattails for fame (which he didn’t do despite the cultlike behaviors he encouraged and the book and the branding), but when he wrote essays rebutting you, that was just good fun.
There was a clear double-standard.
Let me be frank: There’s people who fucking hate me. Many of them have already commented on FetLife about how crappy it is for me to write about this. But I claim they’re commenting not for fame, or for jealousy, but because they think what I say is dangerous and are distressed I’d be saying this shit in public. That’s fine. I accept that debate.
The Wolf did not. Nor do his fans. To them, I’m merely speaking up because I’m seething with jealousy that I didn’t have his talent or his abs or his style.
It’s not that people spoke up because they were concerned about the dangers of his failure modes.
Here’s the fundamental truth about this: CNC is fucking dangerous. People have already written hand-wringing essays about “WHAT HAPPENED TO WOLF COULD HAPPEN TO ANY OF US,” which is kind of like writing an essay on a notable drunk driver who espoused the thrills of driving completely schnookered and going “THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE WHO DRIVES.”
Well, yeah, a crash is always a potential when you get in the car. It’s why you buckle up.
It’s also why you don’t drink a fifth of Jack and shout, “GET ‘R DONE!”
We were concerned because the goal of CNC should be to minimize danger. Your failure modes are hard. You should not be telling people there’s some magical primal power that Real Men have that you can unleash at will – because that shit leads to messy drunken car wrecks.
But wait! The next objection coming up is…
What business is it of yours what The Wolf does?
Privately? None at all.
But he didn’t keep it private. He took it public – about as public as you could hope to on Fet, becoming perhaps the most popular writer on there. He implied that people who couldn’t do it his way just didn’t have his amazing skills. And he repeatedly mocked people who used safewords, touted his own mystical abilities, and encouraged as many people as he could get to follow his behaviors.
To extend the drunk driver analogy, you can drive drunk a lot before something bad happens. But your lack of crashes doesn’t mean that driving drunk is a good idea, and writing essays presenting your safe drunk driving as a mystical power that you have is actually a public hazard…
…particularly when you spend so much effort trying to hide the evidence of the crashes that have already happened.
I write about polyamory a lot. If you think what I say is dangerous, please, for God’s sake speak up. Because I, and every other writer who talks about an idealized path, are – whether we acknowledge it or not – trying to get you to believe that what is happening here is a good thing to do.
And if you think what someone’s espousing is going to get people hurt because they’re buying into a reality that doesn’t exist, my personal stance is that it’s your moral duty to say “That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!” (Even if I disagree with you, which I often do.)
Some people will see that “debating what’s actually cool to do and what isn’t” as “drama.” That’s fine. I see some level of drama as necessary for a functioning community, because a community that doesn’t have some level of drama usually is quietly suppressing the people the community is quietly fucking over.
And lots of people will disagree with me about this supposed moral duty. I’ll note they disagree because they think me saying that we should speak up about perceived dangers is an idealized path that’s unrealistic and has dangers they want to dissuade people of. And they complain for the exact same reason.
Good for them.
This is just how Consensual Non-Consent is demonized!
And again, we come back to what I see as the core issue here:
We have an idealized version of CNC presented by The Wolf. It’s a powerful, compelling idea, even to me: finding someone who you don’t have to negotiate with, you don’t have to talk to, you just do. It’s a fantasy instilled deep in our culture by all of these “Love at first sight” movies and first kisses without asking because goddammit, isn’t all this confusion and clarification as dreary as snapping on the condom before sex?
It is dreary. I dislike the condom, I dislike the negotiations. It makes sex less fun.
That does not make either of them less necessary.
We’ll have people dragging me back to whether I know and/or like The Wolf personally, which is a convenient arguing ground for those who want to dismiss criticism. I don’t have to know a politician personally to know that he’s spouting dangerous bullshit on gun control. I don’t have to know a mechanic personally to know whether his repair rate isn’t what he claims. I’ve been as careful as I can be in this essay to stress that I do not have a window to the man’s personality – I don’t know whether he’s a manipulative predator or merely an instinctive man who sipped at his own mythology until it poisoned him. I don’t know how many people he abused, as compared to those he satisfied; I merely know that number of ex-partners who felt strongly enough to press criminal charges is non-zero. I don’t know what happened between him and the people who walked away unhappy – merely that I saw him do his damndest to ensure that those who complained were neutralized.
I’m not happy that he did that. I’d much rather he’d listened to people when they said “The error rate is not something to be dismissed”…. but admitting error would have broken the fantasy.
And what I’d argue is that this isn’t about The Wolf, really, though he exploited that weakness in our collective culture. But you can see that Wolfy strain permeating FetLife’s Kinky and Popular section, so much of which gets Popular because so many people keep reading about The Partner Who Knows What You Want Without You Having To Tell Them.
The Wolf merely did his best to embody that dream – and it is a dangerous fucking dream. People want to believe so badly in that fantasy that when evidence arises that the fantasy isn’t what’s promised, they will attack reality.
Look. In most cases, before you take someone into a hotel room and start overriding their safe words, you gotta do more than spend twenty minutes in a cafe looking deep into their eyes. And if you manage that, the honest truth is that you got lucky.
Getting lucky happens a lot, and we don’t talk about that. The STI transmission rate is really low, and your chances of getting, say, drug-resistant gonorrhea from a single hookup is slim. Your risk of getting pregnant from a single instance of unprotected sex is low. You can skip a lot of necessary, tedious precautions and not have it catch up with you for a long while.
(I had unprotected sex with at least forty women in my twenties, and I don’t have any STIs – at least insofar as the batteries of tests I’ve taken in my thirties and forties have uncovered. Jesus, I dodged a bullet there.)
But the truth is, that fantasy that “You can just know” is as dangerous as unprotected sex, as dangerous as drunken driving. It’s not CNC we’re demonizing, it’s this idea that CNC is something that only wimps need precautions for – and the underlying ideal that eventually, you’ll either find a master who doesn’t need to check in with you, or you’ll become a master with kinky telepathy.
Yet so many in the kink community buy into that idealization repeatedly, applauding anyone who’ll tell us we don’t have to use our words and just flinging ourselves into a chasm and hoping. We elevate people who blur the lines between “erotica,” which has no failure mode because all its participants are fictional, and “real life,” which has very real and very visceral victims when things go wrong.
We have to be better than that.
Like I said. The Wolf made a lot of women happy. You can see comments from people who got exactly what they wanted. And I’m glad that all of them managed to get brutalized and beaten and degraded in the way they desired, and walked away from The Wolf with all his promises fulfilled.
But not everyone got what they wanted. And when those people spoke up, I’d argue they got shouted down because collectively, we valued the idea of The Cold-Read Master over the uncomfortable reality of playing Russian Roulette with a man who didn’t know quite as much as he wanted to.
Even now, I want my own Wolf – some sexy woman with a perfect body who’ll show up at a cafe and cold-read me perfectly and haul me into her room and do all the foul things to me that I’d always secretly craved, and things I didn’t even know I needed until she unleashes them upon me.
That’s a hot goddamned fantasy.
But we have to value reality over fantasy.
FINALE: And assuming you got to the end of this turgid steamer of an essay:
Here’s the official police enquiry, as taken from The Daily Telegraph:
“Police believe “The Wolf” may have more alleged victims and have urged anyone who believes they were assaulted to contact police.
“Any person who believes they have been assaulted should report the matter to police. Reports can be made at any police station,” Kings Cross Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Robert Allison.
“Investigations are continuing and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Kings Cross Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”