Choose Carefully Who You're Kind To

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 14.472% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

On FetLife, there is the Spammy MicroDom – the 21 year-old “master” who gets an account, finds every woman within 20 miles of him, and emails cut-and-pasted orders for her to kneel at his feet.  This kind of behavior is widely mocked, and rightfully so; at least three times a week, you’ll see vicious parodies of the MicroDom hitting the “Most Popular” boards.  Women have contests to create the most insulting reply, and there are whole boards dedicated to shredding these pathetic attempts of domination.
Believe it or not, I have some sympathy for these guys.  Not a lot; just a glimmer.
I say this because I got an email from someone asking me to look over one of his posts, where he argued – and correctly – that a lot of this idiotic behavior comes because the media presents an impression to men that this is how they’re supposed to act in BDSM situations.  These guys have heard through various badly-presented filters that this is what “submissive” women want, and so they arrive on Fet and treat women in the way they’ve been told that women “in the scene” want to be treated.
Now, the reason I lack most sympathy for these guys is because they’re from-the-hip idiots.  A single Google search would tell you that this isn’t how things work in reality, and any understanding of how human beings actually work when they’re not your masturbatory fantasies would tell you “Hey, women usually don’t want random strangers splurting their sexual desires all over them.  Women, in fact, are drowning in dumb generic offers like yours.”  (I mean, this isn’t unique to FetLife; I’ve heard many similar horror stories from women on OKCupid, where the sexual innuendo actually seems to be more prevalent.)  And they’re often emailing women who self-identify as Dommes, presumably on the basis that “these women are pretty” and “I want to sex them” means “So they must be submissive.”
So these guys are misled, but only because they’re short-sighted and lazy.  Fail.
However, the guy writing the post essentially said (paraphrased by moi), “Why aren’t we more compassionate to these guys?  They’re stupid and ill-informed, yes, but instead of responding with mockery to drive them away, why don’t we as a community concentrate on educating them?  Guys who look at the Kinky and Popular board will see nothing but parodies of them.  I feel like all we’re accomplishing is creating this negative atmosphere for new male doms.”
To which I replied, “This mockery accomplishes something more vital, in a way: creating a more positive space for women, both dominant and submissive, who are less likely to have to deal with this shit – and more likely to stay. And who would you rather privilege – newbie male doms who are acting reflexively like assholes, or all the women on FetLife?”
“Think carefully,” I concluded.  “There’s some very encoded and subtle sexism built into your thought patterns here.”
Don’t get me wrong; I am all about the teachable moment.  I think you’ve got to allow for them, and someone has to stand up and be nice and take someone’s hand to walk them through all the dumb mistakes.  But every time you “open up” a community to make it more welcome to those expressing dumb and insulting behaviors, you alienate those who are insulted.
And you have to choose.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be compassionate.  But if you create a place where people are very tolerant of the MicroDom’s mistakes, then more MicroDoms are likely to thrive there.  Which means that the women get more dumb emails.  Which means that the women are more to leave rather than being harassed.
Classic liberal thinking has “the big tent,” where everyone can stand underneath it.  I’m here to say that the best reality can do is a largeish tent, where you can either choose to evict a rowdy subset, or have them drive off some portion of people who don’t want to deal with them.  In either case, not everyone will be in that tent, and whoever’s not in the tent will feel alienated from you, whether you intended it to be or not.
I’d argue that it’s far better to intend it.  Yes, it’s a wonderful goal to have everyone able to act however they please, and all of us being tolerant of their quirks.  But what happens is that some people’s quirks are so unpleasant that nobody wants to be around them – and if you don’t choose to eject them, you unconsciously choose to be okay with certain groups of people leaving.
I feel a little bad for the MicroDom.  He’s uneducated, stupid, naive, and maybe could become someone worthwhile with a little guidance.  However, I feel way worse for the forty women he emailed, who routinely wake up with an inbox clogged with mails not just from him but from everyone like him… and I’d far prefer they stick around.  They’re more likely to have something interesting to say.
And maybe we could apply pressure in a way that includes less mocking.  I agree that it’d be nice if we were all a little less hateful.  But on the other hand, if we’re asking people to change their behavior, I’d probably prioritize the people who decided that random strangers were worth harassing, you know?

1 Comment

  1. Anna
    Dec 21, 2013

    As someone who has dealt with the “microdom” on Fet multiple times, I’d like to point out that there’s another part of this that’s being missed; the women’s full perspective.
    Granted, I can’t 100% speak for the other women on Fet, but I can tell you what happened with me.
    I showed up on the site, naive and new, much like the microdom. I set up a nice profile with information about myself, all of myself, not just “fetish” stuff. Then the flood of microdoms (among others) arrived. So many men treating me like a sex object, in spite of my “Looking for” stating “long term relationship”, “friends”, and “mentors”. Even a few women (or so they claimed) doing the same in spite of my “heterosexual” status. And the “submissive” men requesting to be things that I wouldn’t want another human being to be for me (a toilet, a boot licker, etc etc).
    I tried to be nice at first, really, I did! I sent out polite rejections, explaining why I was not interested in what they offered; “I’m after relationships, not one night stands”, “I’m having trouble reading your message due to your poor spelling and grammer, so I think we’d be a poor match”, etc etc. Then came back the offensive, disrespectful replies of the masses, calling me a phony, a bitch, implying that I must be a lesbian and probably too fat anyway…
    I reworked my profile to state that I was 100% after Dominants of intellect, that I only wanted messages that were well-written, that the messages should be respectful. I also included a test to see if the senders of messages actually read my profile (a captcha without the special coding, if you’d like).
    I still got the offenders en masse. So I gave up. If they were going to disrespect me and my wishes, why should I not do the same to them? I began responding with scathing, sarcastic, and yes, harsh, messages. I joined the groups that shared the worst offenders and joined my sisters (and brothers and others) in taking up arms against the despicable, disgusting, and disrespectful.
    So yes, there is another reason to not be nice; I tried it and it made things worse. That type doesn’t seem to get the hint. I also usually try to include a line or two of “educational” material somewhere in my retorts; “women don’t want to be treated this way”, “you are merely going to offend the people on this site if you continue to act in this manner”, “try reading a profile and finding someone who has the same interests as you, not just their fet list”, etc.
    I appreciate that you’re on the women/submissive’s side in this case, dear Ferrett, but I felt that what I shared was an important reinforcement of how things have come to pass.

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