Do we have the right to be offensive?

Thanks to Heather’s post This Is Not Okay, I discovered this bit of dickbaggery. Like Heather, I’m not happy with Loren’s defense of people’s supposed “right” to be offensive.

Technically, people do have the legal right to say horrible, disgusting things. What they do not have is the right to get paid to say hateful, loathsome things. No-one is attacking Chuck Knipp/Shirley Q. Liquor’s right to say blatantly racist things. We’re just saying it’s not okay to pay him to do so.

Aside from the Shirley Q. Liquor act, which is obviously indefensible, I think it’s worth talking about whether we have a right to do things that we know will offend some people, even if those people aren’t directly involved. Let’s not kid ourselves, all kinky activities are offensive to someone. Race play is extremely difficult for some (many? I’m trying to avoid generalizing too much because I’m not a person of colour) people of colour to watch. A punching scene with a male dominant and female submissive might be just as painful for a female survivor of domestic abuse to watch. Age play could be traumatic for incest survivors to watch. Even a simple needle scene could traumatize someone with a severe needle phobia.

Given that some people have extremely good reasons to object to certain kinds of play, how can we get our kinky needs met without being assholes? I think a huge part of that is about context and consent.

A scene is sort of a bubble – in that context, nothing that happens necessarily tells you anything about how the players treat people in their daily lives. A scene also doesn’t have much of anything to do with anyone outside of that particular scene. A woman enjoying a takedown scene has nothing to do with my horror at the idea of being abducted. That’s my discomfort to manage. Because it’s just a scene, I can remind myself that everyone involved consented. By walking into a play party, I’ve also consented to being exposed to things that might offend or upset me. If I want to be sure I won’t be upset, I stay home.

Another important part of the context of a play party is that organizing a play party doesn’t necessarily imply approval of the play that happens during the party. Most parties that I know of have fairly simple rules to do with liability, safety, and ease of cleanup. Within those rules, you can do pretty much whatever you want. The organizers may not love your scene, but if you’re not breaking any rules they’re very unlikely to stop you from having it. Paying a performer, on the other hand, implies approval of what they have to say. While you can avoid being exposed to play that upsets you by skipping a party or workshop, there’s no way to avoid the fact that you now know the people who run your local leather bar think blatant racism is fine and dandy.

People having scenes that they know are particularly likely to be difficult for others to watch do have a responsibility to at least try to be courteous. Edgeplay scenes, for example, don’t need to be done at the front edge of the play floor. Deliberately trying to shock people who are just trying to relax and catch up with their friends is pathetic and douchebaggy. Particularly loud scenes should probably be done either very early in the evening before most people show up (at least out here, practically no one shows up on time. Local parties tend to be pretty dead for the first hour or so) or toward the end of the night to give other people a chance to play without being rattled by constant screaming.

I do think people who want to have a loud or edgy scene have a right to get their kink on in the way that makes them happy. They even have a right to do those things at parties. Honestly, where else can you have a scene that involves a lot of screaming without having a thoroughly awkward conversation with the police? 

Even if I’m offended by certain kinds of play, I still think it’s better to get them out in the open. I may not enjoy watching  a particular scene, but someone who’s struggling to accept their desires might really be helped by seeing that other people enjoy the same kink. Just, you know, try not to be an asshole about it.


For the longest time, I thought my total lack of interest in complicated protocols meant I just wasn’t dominant. It seemed like everything I read online was all about slave positions, intricate routines for serving food or drink, eye contact restrictions, titles, and so on. The doms in the stories seemed to love all of that stuff, but absolutely none of it did anything for me.

Trying to learn slave positions just felt like work. It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t fun, it was just a chore. As for service, I don’t care if someone bows perfectly while they serve me tea, I just want to drink my tea. Eye contact restrictions would feel weird and awkward to me – I don’t know that I could train myself out of trying to make eye contact with people while I’m talking with them even if I wanted to. Being called by a title either irritates me (to me, a Mistress is what you call the woman a man cheats on his wife with) or makes me feel silly (I’m neither a Lady nor a Goddess, I’m a grubby little nerd).

Even worse, if I were to try to train someone to follow a particular protocol I know I would miss something sooner or later. Then my submissive would feel unnoticed and start wondering if I even care. I’d start feeling like a failure as a dominant, and from there it would just get worse and worse. No amount of beating myself up will ever make me into the kind of person who notices every last tiny detail.

When I compared myself to the (most likely fictional) dominants I read about, I just didn’t measure up. Of course, I was comparing my ‘behind the scenes’ to their ‘highlight reel’ (to paraphrase Steven Furtick (giving credit where it’s due for that quote does not constitute approval of any backwards ideas religious people often have about people who aren’t straight, monogamous, and cis-gendered)), but at the time I never thought of that. I just saw what I would want on a bad day (to shovel down my dinner and collapse on the couch), and compared that to a high-protocol dom on their best day (formal dinner party for a special occasion). Clearly a real dom could learn all those protocols effortlessly, so it must have been that I was just a top trying to kid myself.

For the people who care about it and take joy in it, protocol is great. Some people love striving for perfection, for them it’s a labour of love.  However, that doesn’t mean the rest of us should feel like we’re not even dominant just because we’re not a particular type of dominant. It’s okay to be a pragmatic dom. It’s okay to just want your tea left on the corner of your desk, it’s okay to just want a hug when you come home, it’s okay to eat your dinner snuggled up on the couch with your sub.

I rant about one-true wayism all the time, but that’s because it’s important. I hope that someone like me reads this post and stops doubting themselves. You do not have to care about protocol even a little bit to be a good dom.

Mini-post: maymay’s fetlife exporter tool

In case you weren’t already aware, Fetlife has announced that to maintain their relationship with their credit card processor, they have to delete quite a bit of content. I hate that credit card companies get to police what we can talk about, but I can understand why the Fetlife team decided to keep the site running over fighting the good fight, losing the ability to take credit card payments, and not being able to process enough payments to keep the power on.

Because people are (rightfully) worried their pictures/writings/comments/etc will be deleted, they’ve been using the hell out of maymay’s exporter tool, which is really driving up his costs. He could use some help keeping that tool running if you’re inclined to donate.

Blackface in 20-fucking-13?

First, the backstory. A leatherbar in Portland had the completely fucking ridiculous idea that it was okay to book a ‘comedian’ (read, asshole) who performs in blackface. I learned about this from Mollena, whose first post about it is here. She also has a follow up here.

For fuck’s sake people. It’s 2013! How can you not know blackface is not okay? Have you been living under a rock for the past 50 years? Even worse, how can a fucking leather bar think it’s okay to book a racist act? I can’t imagine they’d book an act where a straight comedian impersonates and viciously mocks gay men.

Even worse than just booking the act in the first place is the way they reacted when people said that shit is not cool. Defending a blatantly racist act as “comedy” adds insult to injury. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes me angrier than telling me what I’m allowed to be angry about. Telling people to lighten up, to stop being so sensitive after you’ve wounded them is kicking them when they’re down. Grownups admit it when they fuck up. Insecure children blame the people they hurt for getting hurt.

Words do hurt. You can whine and cry about freedom of speech all you like, but freedom of speech was only meant to protect people from being imprisoned for criticizing their governments. It was not meant to shield dickbags from any and all natural consequences of their dickbaggery. I firmly believe that people should not face legal consequences for saying disgusting, hateful things as long as they stay firmly on the correct side of the line between harmless douchebaggery and harassment or threats, but they should absolutely be told that their behavior is not okay. They should absolutely be told they are not welcome to spread their hate, they should absolutely be shunned until they learn to act like decent human beings.

Part of acting like a decent human being is speaking up when you see something terribly wrong. People of colour have already said this is not okay, but it’s extremely important that white people speak up too. While I don’t have a picture up on my blog, considering the dismal percentage of people of colour in the scene you can safely assume that when I say I’m so pale the other nerds make fun of me, I am telling the truth. When only people of colour complain about something, it’s easier for racist asshats to dismiss them as oversensitive, or looking for something to be offended about. It’s harder to ignore it when white people speak up. Because I’m white, I have the very great privilege of being able to not take this shit personally. The only reason for me to complain about this is because I believe it’s unjust, and that standing idly by while people do horrible things is just as bad as doing them myself.

We of all people know what it’s like to be looked down on, to be treated as less than just for being who we are. We have to be better than this.

Strong Submissives Are Awesome

This weekend I was at an awesome workshop of Mollena’s called “Strong Slaves, Bodacious Bottoms”. In it, she talked about how not all slaves are meek and silent and never dare make eye contact with a dominant. She also told some very painful sounding stories about how she had been told she was a bad slave or was assumed not to be submissive at all because she couldn’t cram herself into the tiny box of “how slaves are supposed to act”.

Fuck that noise. Strong submissives/slaves/bottoms/pets/masochists are awesome. Here’s why.

For starters, I would feel condescended to if someone did the whole “delicate, trembling flower of submission” act because they were worried I’d be intimidated by the real them. I’m not saying I never feel insecure, but my ego is not so fragile that I need everyone to cower in front of me like I’m Godzilla or something. It’s sad when men can’t deal with strong women, and it’s just as sad when doms can’t deal with strong subs. It’s 20-fucking-13, we should be past making our insecurities other people’s problems.

But more importantly, submissive people who kick ass and take names are fucking hot. Leashed power just does it for me. The captured warrior-prince is my thing, the worthless worm not so much. Not to mention, I get to feel special when someone super awesome chooses me of all people to submit to. I get to feel like the queen of the world when someone submits to me and only me because they think I’m just that good. If someone submitted to me only because they thought they couldn’t do better, or because I was the first person to show an interest, I would feel awful. I don’t want to be the “good enough I guess” option, I want to be the “fuck yes!” option.

Some people think that the quieter and smaller and “better trained” a submissive is, the better their master looks. I disagree. How much more badass is the master who can handle a slave who takes shit from no one?

If there can be more than one kind of dominant, there can damned well be more than one kind of submissive. Why try to cram everyone into the same boring little box when we can have a thousand awesome flavours of submission?