Not so random thoughts about safewords and kink by Cherie Ann Turpin

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Reading Salon.com’s article When safewords are ignored six years ago, I posted this response after thinking about the many near-misses I’ve experienced as a submissive, as well as taking note of the hostility expressed by some of the men reading that article who clearly don’t get or care to get that there is a such thing as sexual assault in the kink community. Makes me very glad I am not a trusting person when it comes to people:

“No surprises from me on what this woman described in the article, and in fact, it is an uncomfortable reminder to those who don’t want to deal with reality that people in this scene are no different from anyone else out there. We have the same problems and issues as those “vanilla” people. That means you have the potential of running into a man who may be a sex offender, or at least someone with “latent rapist tendencies,” as Ntozake Shange once elegantly put it in “for colored girls.” Part of the resistance to waking up to reality is that sometimes it’s a bit of a wet blanket to realise that not everyone is family, or that even family members can rape. It’s also a bane to one’s self-comfort to realise that looks, status, race, sophistication, politics, age, or sexual orientation are not predictors or indicators of a man’s capability to sexually assault a woman or man (yes, men do rape other men). Do all men rape? No. Are men into BDSM more or less prone to rape? No. Are men in the scene safer than vanilla men? NO.

I recall a time not so long when the general attitude about college campuses was that rape was a rare occurrence or something not to be discussed. Part of what kept people resistant about dealing with it was the discomfort with confronting the reality that nice middle and upper class men were capable of doing something perceived as a crime of the lower class and/or men of color. As we now know [2012, and 2018], our college campuses are just as vulnerable to sex crimes as any other neighborhood, nice or not so nice.

What makes this scene so special or any different?

Nothing. I don’t see any magic castles here, so as far as I know we are all human beings.

We need to do what vanilla people do–get active and loud about advocating for survivors and helping to stop rape in our community.

We have work to do to educate people about consent, abuse, and safety. We need safe spaces both in the scene and in the vanilla communities for women and men who have been assaulted and/or abused. Police and other legal authorities need to be properly educated about BDSM so that they can be a true support system instead of a bane or even horror to those who need help. We need to be not afraid to speak up and speak out about these issues out of fear of being “not cool” or “paranoid.””

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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