Hey, it’s been a while since I last wrote about consent+kink on this blog! I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about it though, and here’s where I’ve come out. This post follows the four others linked to above, but also stands quite well on its own.
Go to any BDSM conference or event, and you’ll find lots of workshops on concrete, observable, and often flashy technical skills. Like how to do particular rope bondage techniques, how to use electrical devices in play, how to use a cane, how to do fire play, etc. You’ll probably also workshops on more mental things like planning a ‘scene,’ issues in age-play, on humiliation, etc. These are the sort of things that are accorded social status in kink circles.
But you know what you won’t find much of? How to own your own mistakes. How to mess up, take responsibility, and restore trust. How to better avoid violating consent, and what to do if or when it happens. How to hold each other accountable for our actions. These are the tools we aren’t teaching. And yet, in a community where one-third of all participants have experienced a consent violation, these are the tools we need most badly.
After a lot of writing and thinking and many hours of conversations over the summer,* I’ve come the the conclusion that fighting rape culture in BDSM communities requires changing how we communicate about mistakes. Yes, better discussions around errors won’t end abuse. But they are essential to removing the Social License to Operate that predators too often enjoy. Because when we normalize responsible practices and lower the cost of vulnerability, we then expose the behavior of abusers as aberrant, so they can no longer hide. And that’s how things start to change.