A job title is not an excuse to be a dick

Captain Awkward is a really great advice column and sometimes opinion blog, if you’re not already reading it I highly recommend it. Not so long ago she got a question from a woman who needed advice about what to do when her engineer boyfriend invites her to events with his work friends and then makes no effort to steer the all-work-all-the-time conversation in a direction she is remotely able to participate in. Normally the comments at Captain Awkward are great but this time they went right off the rails. Apparently it’s meeeeeean and terrible and some sort of anti-nerd bigotry to say that engineers are in fact capable of observing such basic social niceties as including your girlfriend in the conversation when you invite her out with your friends and ought to do so.

Yes, autistic people all along the autism/aspergers spectrum exist, may plausibly be over represented in the tech industry, and are not deliberately being rude when they can’t tell that someone is bored by a particular conversation. That’s not even slightly what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about are the lazy fucking assholes who throw actual autistic people under the bus when they use them as an excuse to ignore such overbearing social expectations as giving a shit about their date’s happiness. The vast vast majority of asshole engineers are not autistic, they’re assholes.

“Engineer” is just a job title, it’s not a fucking diagnosis. Having the patience to deal with a compiler not cooperating in absolutely no way whatso-fucking-ever prevents you from giving a shit about your partner’s happiness. Enjoying the sense of triumph when you finally get your code working correctly in absolutely no way whatso-fucking-ever prevents you from giving a shit about your partner’s happiness. Spending a weekend playing with a new framework or library in absolutely no way whatso-fucking-ever prevents you from giving a shit about your partner’s happiness.

You know what actually does prevent you from giving a shit about your partner’s happiness? Being a lazy, self-centered asshole. Engineers in general are perfectly fucking capable of noticing that their partner is bored to tears by a conversation they’re being actively excluded from and changing topics to include them. The problem is that some of them are too fucking lazy to do that, so they hide under the excuses of “you can’t expect engineers to be social” or “you’re saying it’s not okay to be a nerd!” or “this is just how I am and it’s unfair to expect me to change.”

If that’s just who you are, then who you are is an asshole and you need to fix your shit. That’s not a refusal to accept people as they are, that’s a refusal to tolerate shitty fucking behaviour. If you invite someone to an outing, you goddamn well include them in the conversation. If you don’t care about them enough to include them, why the fuck did you even invite them in the first place?

The idea that engineers can’t be expected to be even halfway polite is in fact incredibly insulting. I’m a fucking grownup, not some spoiled child who will throw a tantrum if you make completely reasonable demands of me. Excusing me from basic politeness is saying that I am such an incredible fuckup than you’ve just given up on me. Some people are certainly that big of fuckups, but if you wouldn’t tolerate that behaviour in a chef or a teacher or an actor or a bus driver or a writer or an accountant, there’s no reason to tolerate it in an engineer just because they have a different job title.

Again, being a lazy asshole is very very different from being an autistic person. “Actually can’t tell someone is bored without that someone saying so in words” is very different from “doesn’t care that someone is bored and can’t be bothered to even but forth the tiniest bit of effort to change topics of conversation.” Not everyone is good at noticing that someone is bored. That’s different from being an asshole. Not everyone is good at finding a topic of conversation that everyone can participate in. That’s different from being an asshole. Not everyone is good at talking with people they don’t know well. That’s different from being an asshole.

Everybody messes up sometimes. I’ve accidentally insulted people’s interests and failed at including everyone in the conversation and I have no doubt I’ve bored people who were too nice to tell me that they could not possibly care less about whatever technical detail I was rambling on about. Assholery isn’t people who try but make mistakes, it’s people who don’t think they should have to try and who can’t be bothered to make even small changes when someone tells them they’re unhappy. Using an example the letter writer from Captain Awkward provided in the comments “The last time this happened was a winery trip that involved a 2-hour long car ride to and from, plus 3 hours at the winery, which was JUST work talk. The entire time.” Seven hours of actively excluding your date from the conversation is not an accident, it’s assholery.

The sort of self-centered dicks who pull this shit are probably beyond my help so what I’ll say is that if someone tries this shit on you, tell them to go fuck themselves. You deserve better than some assclown who thinks their job title excuses them from giving a shit about your happiness.

Fuck Harper

Hey Canadians, Monday the 19th is voting day. Get the fuck out there and get Harper out of office!

Here are some long lists of reasons you should vote Anyone But Conservative:

25 reasons Stephen Harper is bad for Canada

Harper Watch

Shit Harper Did

If that’s not enough, look at this ridiculous fucking bullshit. The Conservatives bought giant front-page ads on dozens on newspapers and styled them to look like official notices from Elections Canada. We should absolutely blame the spineless trash who printed that shit rather than walk off the job, but the bigger problem is that the Conservatives thought that was a remotely reasonable thing to do. This is the level of contempt the Harper government has for us.

If that’s not enough, look at this other ridiculous fucking bullshit. My voter registration card said polls would be open until 8pm on Monday, just like they are for every other election ever. And now all of a sudden polls in BC are only open until 7pm. That is voter suppression and it is not acceptable.

If that’s still not enough, look at this other ridiculous fucking bullshit. Elections Canada workers at advance polling stations have been mistrained in an effort to prevent marginalized people from voting. You do NOT need photo ID to vote. By all means bring it if you have it, but you can vote with two pieces of ID with your name if one of them includes your address. You can also vote with two pieces of ID with your name and a person from your riding who knows where you live and will vouch for you. This is literally voter suppression and we are supposed to be better than that! Technically this mistraining could just be blatant fucking incompetence but that’s still a compelling reason to vote Anyone But Conservative.

If you don’t vote for any other reason, vote to spite Harper. He obviously wants to prevent you from voting if he possibly can. Go to votetogether.ca, find the candidate in your riding who has the best chance of beating out the conservative candidate, and vote Harper the fuck out of office.

“Submissives have the real power”

I haven’t heard much of it lately, but for a while there it wasn’t at all unusual to hear that submissives have all the real power in a scene. That is, because they absolutely always have the power to end a scene that isn’t working for them, some people say this means submissives are the ones who are really in control. News flash: doms can safeword too. If you ignore my limits, I will end the scene. If you are a dick to me, I will end the scene. If you disrespect my partner or my relationship with him, I will end the scene. If you try to order me around, I will end the scene. If you call me mistress, I might very well end the scene because I fucking hate that shit.

No matter what kind of agreement you’ve made, s-types absolutely always have the right to end a scene. Say whatever you want about your no-safeword lifetime contract, but let me know what happens when your s-type says they’re going to faint/throw up/call their lawyer/call the cops/that this relationship is over. That’s right, you’ll fucking end the scene. However, that power isn’t special. I can end the scene too, and it’s much more convenient for me since if someone’s tied up, it’s not me.

Just being able to end the scene isn’t very much power, though. You only get to decide whether or not you stay on the ride, not where it goes. That is, while I would never ignore someone’s limits, I don’t take orders. If my play partner suggests something that sounds like fun odds are very good that I’ll do it, but it has to be an actual suggestion.The way I usually run scenes is pretty low key – we agree on which toys are on the table and a general intensity level, then I basically do what I feel like within those parameters. I can definitely be steered towards toys and actions that make my bottoms make fun noises, but if I’m not in a caning mood one night there’s no making me get one out.

So who’s really in control of my scenes? That would be me. Obviously I negotiate and I’m willing to do nice things for people I like, but come on. Only having the power to end the scene is not very much power at all, and someone who tells you that s-types have all the real power because they can end the scene whenever they need to is a) being hugely disrespectful of the d-types humanity (I have limits too, I can get triggered too, I can need to end a scene too) and b) sketchy as fuck.

While I feel very strongly that everyone in the scene should understand that s-types are powerful and awesome, the fact is that the s-type is not in control of the scene. If someone tries to tell you that you are, that makes me very worried that they’re trying to talk you into something that you wouldn’t be comfortable with if they were honest about who is actually in control. That’s creepy as shit. Informed consent is a thing, people. Don’t tell someone they’re in control when they’re not. I mean, if you’re willing to give them complete control over the scene then cool, but if they’re not going to be in control (which is very often the way the dom runs the scene, not to mention usually what the submissive person actually wants anyway), don’t fucking tell them they will be.

Submissive people absolutely do have power in the scene. What you bring to the scene can make it fly or fall flat, the dom is never ever the only one whose ideas and effort matters. If we’re going to talk about a submissive’s power in a scene, let’s talk about the power you actually have, not imaginary power you don’t have. Real communication is about honesty, after all.

How to lose friends and alienate people

I have to admit it, I love a good trainwreck of a thread. There have been two on Fetlife recently, both started by the same person, that are even better than youtube fail videos. Everything this guy could get wrong, he got wrong. Aside from some tasteless rubbernecking, I do think there’s something to be learned from Mr Fail.

The first thread is What about the United Kingdom?, in which the original poster whines and cries about how Fetlife’s developers have had the unbelievable gall not to cater perfectly to his exact wishes, and the second is Calling All Sadistic Women in a 30 mile radius of London or Bedford, which is obviously a personal ad and obviously pointless to post in an international group, which of course Submissive men and women who love them is.

Aside from watching a grown man (nearly twice my age, even!) whine and cry like an overtired toddler, what can we learn from this poor fuckup? The very simplest lesson is to just do the exact opposite of everything he’s done and you’ll be fine 🙂

But to go into a little more detail, the root problem here is that not only did he comprehensively fail to understand what Fetlife is for (protip: it’s not for getting your dick wet), but he also showed that he wasn’t mature enough to deal with the idea that he could possibly be wrong about something and when people tried to explain that he got something wrong he got defensive instead of listening.

If you’re going to join any community, whether it’s something online like Fetlife or something offline like a meetup, for fuck’s sake make sure you understand what it’s for before you start whining about how it doesn’t do a good job of something it was never intended to do. Whether it’s a meetup or a website, watch and learn for a little while before you decide someone else is doing it wrong. Just because the community isn’t quite what you wanted doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong. I can’t believe I have to say that to grownups, but clearly some of you need to hear it. And honestly, when you’re really emotionally attached to something and you’ve built up this community as The One Way To Get The Thing, it’s really easy to flip your shit when it turns out this community isn’t your one stop shop for whatever it is you’re looking for.

Which conveniently brings me to my next point, maturity! It takes some maturity to stay in control and act like a grownup when you’re disappointed, and it takes maturity to act like a grownup when people tell you you’re wrong about something. Nobody likes being wrong, but what exactly do you think is going to happen when you throw a tantrum when people give you advice in a thread where you asked for advice? (Actually, don’t throw a tantrum anywhere, but especially don’t do it there.)

If you can’t act like a grownup on a discussion on the internet, you are simply not ready for kink. Words on a screen can certainly be infuriating, I’m not denying that, but if you flip your shit in that situation there is zero chance whatsoever you can handle the smallest thing in a scene going wrong. I hate to burst your bubble, but actual kink scenes are not like the porn you watch. Things go wrong sometimes. I’ve had scenes that just didn’t work, I’ve accidentally wrapped with a flogger and whapped myself on the ear with a whip and bruised people unevenly because I’m not that good with a cane, I’ve had play partners safeword because they were just physically done and because I accidentally triggered them, I’ve had to cancel planned weekend play dates because I just didn’t have it in me. If you can’t handle people on the internet failing to verbally kiss your ass, how can you possibly convince anyone you’re safe to play with? Tops get to vet their bottoms too and we are not the only people who can make someone feel incredibly shitty about the scene they just had. Be nice to yourself and skip the shitty scene with Mr Fail and especially skip the part where he calls you a failure as a top because you couldn’t magically read his mind and make his every fantasy come true.

The message you should be taking away from this entire rant is that nobody owes you shit. You are not entitled to meet people from your area when you show up in an international group on Fetlife. You are not entitled to have Fetlife cater to your every whim just because you showed up. You are not entitled to a hot dominatrix who can make your every fantasy come true when you have shown absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

And one final piece of advice: if you’re going to run your mouth about how you’re a big time computer expert and [insert name of website here] is doing it wrong, double check, triple check, get a friend to check, and then keep your mouth shut anyway because you are probably wrong. The less you say about how incredibly smart you are, the fewer chances you have to make a complete ass of yourself.

To summarize, in case you had better things to do than read almost 1000 words of my ranting, is that if even if you behave like a total douchebag, you’re still useful as an example of what not to do 🙂 Or more seriously, doing a bit of watching and learning before you dive in is always a good idea and you should prove that you’re a grownup by allowing for the possibility that you aren’t right about everything that has ever happened. Also, to paraphrase an old saying I half remember “If one person tells you you’re an ass, ignore them. If two people tell you you’re an ass, think about it. If three people tell you you’re an ass, get measured for a saddle.”