It's In How You Handle Your Fuckups: Hope For Redemption, Look For Monsters

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 4.824% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

There’s currently a huge garbage fire over on FetLife, around which people are predictably clustering close and warming up their popcorn.  Of course they are.  Everyone loves a good flame war.
The details are this: coupla years ago, a very good looking and charming man espoused his brand of “Consensual Non-Consent” – which is to say that he believed that such lesser needs as “safewords” and “negotiating limits” ruined the scene. (In fact, he stated that if you spent twenty minutes over cocktails with him, he a) knew everything he needed to know about your limits, and b) had now consented to his eponymous brand of sexual conquest.)
A lot of women loved this.  (Didn’t hurt that he had fabulous abs.)  His well-written erotica documenting his real-life adventures picked up thousands of hits, as did his videos.  People created groups devoted to his style of play, debated how to mimic this man’s phenomenal performance.
This dude would find a woman and he didn’t need her to tell him what she needed – he knew.  He pushed her to the right places. He was carnal, spiritual, instinctual – and his instincts were invariably correct.
And when this man was called on the potential dangers of his style of play, he repeatedly stated that the reason he was a great Dom was that he didn’t make errors.
Well, turns out he made errors.
And as the stories flood in from his home town about some of the horrors he perpetuated, we’re seeing the usual consent violation fallouts.  “Well, I had a good time with him!”  (I’m sure you did!  Maybe even the majority of people did!  But that’s not proof he didn’t go beyond someone else’s limits.)  “These other people are just jealous of his popularity!” (They may be, and actually often are, but that’s just more reason to play carefully: if you know people have the knives out, check your shit.)
And above all, the eternal battle cry of the consent violator:
“He’s a good guy!”
The thing is, that “good guy” label may actually be correct.  I think consent is a tricky business, especially when you’re treading into BDSM experiences where the goal is to push people into uncomfortable places in order to induce catharsis.  It’s easy to negotiate poorly, or to miss a vital nonverbal communication, or even just give someone what they thought they wanted only to discover you’ve induced trauma.
Mistakes happen.  Good guys can accidentally push past people’s limits.
But I think what makes a good guy actually a good guy is how they react to that pain.
Do they put a full-halt on their activities, stopping until they can analyze what went wrong?  Do they do their best to make it up to this person they hurt, which may include such ego-free acts as “Withdrawing from their presence” and “Abandoning the need to be the hero in this story”?  Do they use this mistake as a building point to change their own behaviors and to instruct others to ensure that things don’t go this poorly again?
Or do they do their best to gaslight and obscure the victim’s reactions?  Do they add pressure by withdrawing emotional support until they acknowledge how wonderful this experience actually was?  Do they dismiss the pain, making this the victim’s fault, emphasizing that their technique was flawless and it’s something wrong with her?  And if it’s one of those squidgy edge cases where she agreed to something but feels terrible about it the next day, do they double down on the legalese, sneering at “buyer’s remorse” and accentuating the fact that hey, you said yes, rather than providing care and trying to make them feel better?
I think the too-popular consent model of “Anyone who violates consent is an evil demon who should be flayed alive” is incorrect.  People fuck up.  Sex is complicated, and anyone who says differently is selling you something.
So I don’t think a consent violation is necessarily a reason to demonize someone.  But the way they handle that violation’s aftermath can be very demonization-worthy – and it’s why I think the true predators are usually outed in the reaction rather than the incident.
As for the guy on Fet, I don’t know him, nor do I know the extent of what happened.  (He’s a continent away, and I don’t hang out with anyone who self-describes himself as an “alpha male.”)  I believe the victims, naturally, but a lot of women clearly did have a good time with him, and it’s always hard sorting out an accused person’s intent from their public performance, particularly when they’ve spent most of their time in an online arena doing sexual marketing techniques.  Maybe he genuinely didn’t know about his past harm.  Maybe he’s actually remorseful.
But the difference will be this:
Does he change up his play style to account for the fact that this consent non-consent can do some ruinous harm, and maybe spend more than twenty goddamned minutes interviewing his partners before he unleashes hell upon them?
Or does he quietly start erasing the bad things he did, accentuating all the fun times his partners had, accounting “abused, traumatized women” as just part of the acceptable casualties of his enjoyment?
One way leads to – well, if not redemption, at least better outcomes.
The other way creates a monster.
Me?  I hope for redemption. But I look for monsters.
(NOTE: The genderization of this piece is weighted heavily towards male/female accounts of abuse, as that’s what this example was – and, in my experience, usually is.  But there are abusive dommes as well, and consent violation is not limited to any single gender.)

3 Comments

  1. Gayle
    Oct 26, 2015

    Personally, I would be very wary of anyone who thought they could read my 44 years of needs, wants, traumas, etc. in 20 minutes. Right there is a huge red flag reading “I KNOW BEST!” No thanks.

  2. Gretchen
    Oct 26, 2015

    I actually have a weird perspective on the ‘no safeword’ thing, but my perspective is based on my own relationship with my Master, a man I trust intensely. Some random set of abs telling me that? Hell, no. But from all accounts, many of his victims were new and inexperienced. Just, ugh.

  3. Rachel
    Oct 26, 2015

    This is amazing, and speaks to the experience of many people, in many similar situations. It gives me pause. It is SO important to give the accused a chance to HAVE a reaction, but, too often, the accuser is only consciously aware of the violation months after it occurred. After months or years of that “something is not right” feeling, when it finally adds up to enough to want OUT, only THEN does the submissive in this situation fully realize how traumatizing certain experiences may have been. That is why I think consent is so important. Full consent, informed consent, big conversations, everything beforehand, because the damage, once done, can never be undone, and may not be realized immediately. I wish someone would have told me this.

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