Cross-posted from a conversation on Facebook:

Credit ought go to Insane Hussein Reviews for [finding this article offering insight into pro-domme work].

Sadly, Domina Vontana apparently received a massive negative blow-back from her local BDSM Scene in Washington [DC] for this piece, including from Susan Wright, founder the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) that one blogger said was tantamount to “passive aggressive slut-shaming.” I’m finding it difficult to disagree with that assessment, but I am doubtless influenced by my personal distaste for the NCSF. That, in no small part, was spawned by from their refusal to engage in support of the KinkForAll unconferences I was helping to (un)organize when I faced serious accusations from anti-BDSM and pro-censorship activists.

The fact that the NCSF has also effectively rubber-stamped FetLife.com’s effort to keep sexual assault survivors silent [see below] is another contributing factor to my distaste of them as an organization. Further, the NCSF’s stance has long been disgustingly assimilationist. Clear as I can tell, the NCSF is nothing other than a BDSM Scene PR machine, and thus a front for systemic rapist-enabling social dynamics in the BDSM Scene all over the globe.

I can’t respect an institution that behaves that way while espousing ideals of “sexual freedom.” I don’t understand how any ethical person can.

Over on FetLife, in Susan Wright’s own words:

I wish our legal system worked for this, but clearly it’s not. 90% of kinky people don’t report violence or harassment so we have too far to go to make the the only solution right now. There has to be a huge change in society and the way abuse allegations are handled first. There also has to be a change in the way BDSM is viewed by the mainstream so we aren’t persecuted for our sexual choices.

Personally I think we need to empower the physical BDSM groups and events more. If someone is abused by another member, they should be able to make that accusation and get a hearing from the group. I was elected the Arbiter of TES for several years, and we had to deal with hard issues like this. An arbitration is a private process that would give abusers a voice, and it would give those accused a voice. Then the situation could be discussed to determine if it was a consent violation, or a technical error, a mistake in communication, or a bad scene which is not necessarily abuse. Even if there is no definitive conclusion, if someone is accused a second or third time, then a pattern exists and that person could be refused entry to attend events.

By encouraging communication about abuse, we’ll be educating people in the scene how to protect themselves. By holding people accountable for what they do, we will be encouraging responsibility for everyone. I think transparency is the key, but it has to be equal. Accusers can’t be anonymous if they are going to point fingers. That leaves the door open to false accusations.

People keep saying in this discussion here and elsewhere that false accusations aren’t important. But because of the persecution that exists around BDSM, it’s much easier to blackmail someone or destroy someone’s life by outing them. That’s what false accusers do. Blackmail is the largest form of harassment against the BDSM community according to my Violence & Discrimination survey in 2008.

That means false accusations may be a tiny part of the mainstream, but not in the BDSM community. NCSF is contacted by plenty of people who have been reported by their partner for abuse or assault after a consensual scene as a form of retaliation for breaking up, cheating, relationship problems, etc. The problem is so pervasive, that NCSF has just published two guides to navigating the social service and law enforcement systems – one for victims and the other for people accused of abuse. Criminal issues and domestic violence comprise about half of the reports we get to NCSF’s Incident Reporting and Response.

I definitely don’t want to silence accusers, but claiming that there’s no harm in false accusations is completely wrong. People lose their jobs. Child custody hearings are often venues for counter abuse allegations. And I recently spoke to a guy who was arrested by the Military Police and is going through a court martial over allegations of abuse because he lied to his sub about being married and she knew that was the best way to get him back.

So we need to find a solution that actually more transparent than accusations from behind a Fetlife sockpuppet. I would rather we created space in our educational groups where they can tell their story and their accused can respond in kind.

Sounds nice in theory, but it foregoes the fact that BDSM organizations are the ones who are maintaining the silence among BDSM’ers themselves. What good is an arbitration process in “the physical BDSM groups and events” when it is so clearly the people in those very groups that are the problem‽ Just one example, off the top of my head, is the controversy surrounding the Jade Gate in Portland, Oregon, when Mark Yu, a prominent BDSM’er in the area, was accused of sexual assault and the community rallied around him and did fuckall to support the survivor.

By the way, some time ago, I found another post offering insight into pro-domme work that I think is worth a read for anyone interested.

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