Geek Social Fallacies: Ostracizers Are Evil

If you’ve never read Michael Suileabhain-Wilson’s fantastic article on Geek Social Fallacies, go do that right now. It’s extremely relevant if you spend any time with large groups of nerds, such as the in-person kink scene. The question of why the scene is so full of nerds needs it’s own separate blog post, so I’m going to skip that for now.

The social fallacy I see doing the most harm in the kink community is the first one listed – Ostracizers Are Evil. To quote the article:

GSF1 is one of the most common fallacies, and one of the most deeply held. Many geeks have had horrible, humiliating, and formative experiences with ostracism, and the notion of being on the other side of the transaction is repugnant to them.

In its non-pathological form, GSF1 is benign, and even commendable: it is long past time we all grew up and stopped with the junior high popularity games. However, in its pathological form, GSF1 prevents its carrier from participating in — or tolerating — the exclusion of anyone from anything, be it a party, a comic book store, or a web forum, and no matter how obnoxious, offensive, or aromatic the prospective excludee may be.

For me, one of the most frustrating things about this fallacy is that at its core it’s a good idea, it’s just been taken way too far. Of course it’s evil to ostracize harmless people who happen to be a little bit strange just for the sake of being an asshole.  However, it should be obvious that there’s a difference between excluding people just because you can, and excluding people because they make everyone else miserable.

I know it’s hard for the lonely teenaged outcast inside so many of us to accept (and to be clear, I was almost a total outcast between my inability to catch, painfully unfashionable clothes, and intense shyness), but there is such a thing as a good enough reason to tell someone not to come to any more kink events until their behavior improves. Such reasons include the inability to take no for an answer, touching people inappropriately (particularly young female-assigned people. Creeping on the demographic least likely to feel able to tell you to fuck off gets you extra asshole points), following people around when the conversation is clearly over, trying to dominate anyone who hasn’t already agreed to be submissive to them, and otherwise failing to respect people’s boundaries.

In some cases people do trample on other people’s boundaries by accident. Not all of us are terribly socially adept. However, the kink scene is not the right place to hone your basic social skills. If you don’t know not to touch without an invitation or not to follow someone who told you it was nice meeting you but she needs to go to say hi to her friend over there, you need to get that sorted out before you come to in-person events. Your desire to come hang out with other kinky people is simply not as important as my right to have my boundaries respected. In the long run I think it’s kinder to explain to someone what they’re doing wrong and tell them not to come back until they’ve fixed it than it is to grudgingly tolerate them while they wonder why everyone avoids them. Some people really do need a good excluding.

No one is asking for everyone who enters the scene to know the correct salutation to use in a letter to the Prime Minister. All I want is for people to respect each other’s boundaries and be willing to learn. I’m willing to give people a chance to improve and clear guidelines on how to do that, but I need them to meet me halfway with honest remorse for whatever they’ve done and a sincere interest in doing better next time. I do not owe people a pass because they’re lonely, or they’ve already been kicked out of every other group they’ve been a part of, or they just really, really want to be part of the local scene.

The refusal to exclude anyone is bad enough in a non-kinky context like a comic book store or a gaming convention, but it’s even worse in a kinky context. When terrible, boundary-crossing behavior is tolerated by community organizers, new people naturally assume that’s normal and accepted behavior. Then they either decide that kink just isn’t for them and never come back, or they get abused and never report it to anyone because it’s already been made clear that their needs don’t really matter.

This is why abuse is such a problem in the kink community. We tolerate people ignoring other people’s boundaries, then act surprised when they pay even less attention to those boundaries when no one is looking. That’s just fucking stupid. If we want an abuse-free scene, we need to step up and create it.

I realize that it won’t be easy. No one wants to have to make the decision to exclude someone from the local scene, or to deliver the news, or to enforce the decision when the jerk shows up anyway, but if we don’t step up we’re telling everyone else that the creeper’s comfort is more important than their boundaries being respected. Is that really the kind of scene we want?

I’ll Do Anything You Want

Oh really? What if I want to:

  • give you a reverse Mohawk
  • shave off only one of your eyebrows
  • sell your car
  • sell your house
  • burn all of your clothes and dress you exclusively in bed-sheet togas
  • donate your life savings to Pastor Bob’s totally legit ‘save the orphans’ fund
  • keep you chained to the bed until noon when you have to be at work by 9 am
  • forbid you to eat anything except carrots. Forever.
  • tie you naked to a telephone pole in front of your workplace
  • amputate one of your limbs
  • castrate you
  • tattoo ‘property of mistress whoever’ on your forehead in an ugly font with bad kerning
  • suspend you by your left big toe, from a rickety suspension frame, over a concrete floor
  • play pierce your eyeballs
  • post your full legal name, home address and phone number on fetlife
  • give your credit card number to scammers
  • paddle and whip you every day
  • never beat you at all
  • regularly mummify you
  • never use any bondage equipment at all
  • insist that you use the title ‘Goddess Lady High Duchess Raven Wolf Silver Dark Mistress Domina Captain of the House of Dragons who Watch Over the Followers of the True Way, Protector of the Kinksters, Smiter of the Unbelievers, and Keeper of the Secret Teachings of the Ancient Masters of Kink’ in full every single time you address me, even if it’s just to ask if I want anything from the kitchen while you’re up

When people say ‘I have no limits’ I hear ‘I have my head so far up my own ass that it never occurred to me you might *gasp* like things that don’t turn me on.’ In what insane parallel universe is being utterly oblivious to everyone around you attractive? I hate to burst your bubble, but it’s only in shitty porn that women have no desires of their own. Out here in the real world, women want things. Sometimes we even want things you don’t like. It’s almost like we exist independent of your sexual desires. Unless you know me extremely well, telling me you’ll do anything I want is just insulting. At least be honest and tell me it never occurred to you that I’m anything but a life-support system for a whip.

Saying ‘I’ll do anything you want’ tells me that you’re either too stupid or too ignorant to realize that people even do things that don’t turn you on. Go have a look at Fetlife’s fetish list, or this detailed BDSM checklist. Gee, did you by any chance see one or two things that you never ever want to do, EVER? Assuming that the entirety of kink is things that turn you on is a terrible lack of imagination.

Some people even have the gall to say that telling anyone their interests and limits is topping from the bottom. So not only am I not allowed to have wants of my own, but I have to guess what does it for you too? I’m going to need someone to remind who’s supposed to be in charge, because I’m getting terribly confused.

Knowing what a person likes and doesn’t like is useful. Providing me with that information lets me skip the stumbling around trying to figure out what you might like part and go straight to things we both like, or deliberately do things you don’t like, or experiment with things we’re curious about. I realize that kink is extremely context dependent, and what you love with one partner may fall completely flat with another, but it still can’t hurt to have more information. Even if you’re very new to kink and don’t have any experience, there must be something you’ve fantasized about.

I can’t be the only one who  hears ‘I have no limits’ and instantly gets turned off. How do you deal with it when you hear that? Also, has anyone out there said the dreaded words ‘I’ll do anything you want’? If you did, what on earth did you mean by that?

100 Submissive Men For Every Dominant Woman

Depending on who you ask, there are anywhere between 10 and 1000 submissive men for every dominant woman out there. That’s complete and utter bullshit. Here’s why.

First, let’s define some terms. For the purpose of this post I’m calling people who are interested in power exchange in terms of giving up control/authority/the right to make certain decisions ‘submissive’ and people who are interested in kinky play that can look like power exchange but not interested in giving up control ‘bottoms’. On the other end up the spectrum, I’m calling people who are interested in power exchange in terms of receiving control/authority/the right to make certain decisions ‘dominant’ and people who are interested kinky play that can look like power exchange but not interested in taking control, ‘tops’. Note that none of those definitions have anything to do with whether a person is involved in the ‘scene’ whether in person or online.

Part of the problem is that there’s the (incredibly fucking stupid) belief in the scene that the more extreme your form of power exchange, the better a kinky person you are. This leads into the idea that if you’re not the slaviest slave who ever slaved, you’re worthless and no dom will even give you the time of day. Because of that, guys who know perfectly well that they’re only interested in bottoming, or only want to submit during defined scenes, feel like they have to call themselves 24/7 TPE submissives to get anyone to speak to them.

There are also people who are just really fucking bad at being submissive. And there are people who watched too much kink porn without doing any research on sites like FetLife and have decided that because the word “slave” gets them all hot and bothered, they must in fact be slaves. And there are people who just aren’t self aware enough to have figured out what they really want, but think the word submissive is hot, so that’s good enough for now.

I firmly believe that the people who say there are X submissive men for every dominant woman are lumping all of those groups together. Now, the distinctions can be fairly fine, as there are as many ways to submit as there are submissive people. Submissive people of any gender are absolutely entitled to ask for what they want, and to get their needs met in a relationship or leave it to look for a better fit. However, there’s a difference between a submissive guy making a request: “it turns me on when you wear black leather boots” and a dominant bottom scripting a scene: “you have to wear black leather boots, they have to have a 4″ spike heel, and then you have to order me to kiss them, no, not like that, you need to sound more commanding…”.

Still, comparing the numbers of bottoms + fetishists + people who suck at being submissive + people who don’t know what they really want + people who really do want to submit and are good at it to the number of exclusively dominant women who are any good at it and not scammers is not exactly an apples to apples comparison. Now, I’m not saying it’s not true that there are more men who identify as kinky than there are women (which is a separate rant), but I highly doubt the odds are as bad as some people think.

Also, it’s not nearly as hard to stand out as people think. For fuck’s sake, not long ago I saw the women of the Submissive men and women who love them go absolutely nuts over a guy who was new to the group. You know what he did? He read the fucking stickies and posted an interesting question. When reading the stickies causes women to play-fight over you, the bar is pretty fucking low.

Guys, the dickbags who post personal ads about how obedient they are in no-personal ads groups are the majority of your competition. If sad bastards like that have set the bar too high for you, it’s not the relative numbers of submissive men and dominant women that are keeping you single.

If there really are 100 submissive men for every dominant woman, where the fuck is my awesome geekboy harem? If awesome submissive men are really that common, there must be tons of them who are right for me. Clearly every dominant woman has so many awesome men in her life that she’d have to give up sleep to have time for any more of them.

For that matter, why is any dominant woman ever single when she doesn’t want to be? Surely she could just snap her fingers and a submissive man would appear in front of her, ready to do her bidding. And if she didn’t like  him, she could just go to the next man in line until she found one she clicked with. Should take about a day, maybe two, right?


Awesome submissive men are rare and precious. Awesome submissive men who are just right for a given dom are even rarer. I know a bunch of  submissive men who are great friends and great people, but aren’t right for me personally.

Speaking of submissive male friends, my friend Kadri was nice enough to give me some stats on our local community. He tells me that in his experience there are only about twice as many exclusively submissive men as there are exclusively dominant women. Our city may not have the exact same ratios yours does, and if you live in a particularly small town you’re going to have a hard time finding any other kinky people, let alone kinky people you’d like to date, but at a ratio of 2:1 the odds aren’t exactly insurmountable.

Another very interesting thing Kadri told me was that there are actually more women who top sometimes (if not necessarily very often) than there are men who bottom sometimes (again, if not necessarily very often). Apparently the ratio of not-exclusively-submissive women to not-exclusively-dominant men is about 3:2. However, most of the women who are interested in topping at least some of the time keep quiet about it because they don’t want to be swarmed by all the desperate submissive (or “submissive”) guys out there.

It’s true that these stats are just for one city, and no doubt you are a special snowflake who lives in a dead zone as far as dominant women go, but I think they point to the odds generally not being all that terrible. It’s not even about “the odds” anyway. You only need to find one woman who’s right for you and who you’re right for. She won’t be “used up” by some other guy because she’s a person, not a fucking commodity you can run out of.


Understanding and enforcing your own boundaries is necessary if you want to take part in the kink scene. Unfortunately, not everyone understands how boundaries and consent work. Specifically, people seem to be confused about whose job it is to make sure people’s boundaries are respected.

People, this is not fucking rocket science. It is your job to respect other people’s boundaries. It is your job to make sure that you’ve gotten consent for whatever it is you want to do to them. It is your job and no one else’s to make sure that you are not an abuser.

Above all, it is not the victim’s fault if they get abused. If someone is inclined to be an asshole to you, maybe you can avoid them if you’re lucky, but you can’t magically make them stop being an asshole. Saying that someone should have said no louder, or run to a DM (dungeon master) sooner is like telling a rape victim she shouldn’t have worn such a short skirt. It makes you look like an asshole, and does absolutely nothing to fix the problem. Unless your problem is that you need more people to despise you, in which case problem solved!

While there’s very little you can do individually to prevent any one asshole from being an asshole, there’s a lot we can do collectively. Abusers aren’t stupid. They aren’t slavering beasts who just can’t control themselves. They are rational people with an interest in not getting thrown out of their communities or arrested. They pick and choose what they do, when, and to whom to minimize their chances of facing any consequences for their actions.

What we as a community can do is refuse to allow anyone to be above accusations of abuse, and make sure there are no ‘safe’ targets. Many abusers get away with it because they’ve been in the community for years, and have made strategic alliances with lots of people who will then say ‘But Dennis is a good friend of mine, he’d never do that’, or ‘But Dennis is such a reliable volunteer, surely no-one who has given so much to the community could be a bad person’. Volunteering in particular makes community organizers reluctant to do anything about the odd accusation of abuse. When you’re worried about how you’re going to be in two places at once because you have more jobs than you have people, it becomes very tempting to let accusations against one of the few reliable volunteers slide.

As for ‘safe’ targets, some people are easier to get away with abusing than others. People who are new to the community may not know who to take a problem to even if they are willing to report it. New people and people who haven’t made many friends yet are also more likely to be accused of ‘stirring up drama’ if they try to tell people they’ve been abused.

The solution to both of these problems is simple. Not easy (very far from easy), but simple. Take absolutely all accusations of abuse seriously, and be as draconian as necessary when dealing with abusers. In the unlikely event that someone makes a false accusation, the truth is going to come out sooner or later. Personally, I would rather endure being falsely accused and shunned than have an actual case of abuse be ignored.

We also need to take victim blaming, boundary testing, and general disrespect seriously. Acting like that kind of behavior is normal and acceptable lets abusers feel safe. Making the entire community hostile to abusers, on the other hand, means they’ll choose to hang out somewhere safer for them.

On the subject of boundary testing, the idea that having your boundaries pushed non-consensually is an opportunity for you to practice defending your boundaries and is therefore a good thing is reprehensible. It is simply not okay to push people if you have not negotiated that kind of relationship with them. Saying that it’s okay because it’s a safe environment is just fucking stupid. As soon as my boundaries get pushed, the environment IS NOT SAFE. Why is that so fucking hard to understand?

To quote researcher David Lisak’s paper Understanding the Predatory Nature of Sexual Violence:

“In the course of 20 years of interviewing these undetected rapists, in both research and forensic settings, it has been possible for me to distill some of the common characteristics of the modus operandi of these sex offenders. These undetected rapists:

    • are extremely adept at identifying “likely” victims, and testing prospective victims’ boundaries;
    • plan and premeditate their attacks, using sophisticated strategies to groom their victims for attack, and to isolate them physically;
    • use “instrumental” not gratuitous violence; they exhibit strong impulse control and use only as much violence as is needed to terrify and coerce their victims into submission;
    • use psychological weapons – power, control, manipulation, and threats – backed up by physical force, and almost never resort to weapons such as knives or guns;
    • use alcohol deliberately to render victims more vulnerable to attack, or completely unconscious.”


Boundary testing is what rapists do to find out how likely their chosen target is to fight back . When we tolerate that kind of behavior, we are telling abusers ‘Come on in, the water’s fine!’.

Remember, it is your job and only your job to make sure you don’t abuse people. Saying that it’s the bottom’s job to stop tops from violating their boundaries is saying that because you’re too fucking stupid to make sure you get consent before you do something, the entire scene should be baby-proofed for you so you don’t have to worry about the consequences of your actions. If you can’t handle the idea that you are responsible for the effects of your actions, you need to get the fuck out of the scene. Don’t come back until you’ve grown up.