Tracking Shit On The Carpets
Nothing is consent except actual consent. Women do not consent to allow sexual contact with some random person they don’t know just because they’re sex workers, just because they’re trans, just because they’re walking down a public street, just because they’re kinky, or just because they’re in kinky or sexual spaces.
None of that should be a problem, but it obviously is. The last two are of particular concern to me. I’m a kinkster and so I have a sense of direct affront when predatory creeps visit their misconduct on kinky people and kinky spaces. It’s hard to maintain the integrity of a space or community that stands against the dominant culture and permissions alternative sexualities; where we the kinky wierdos (especially women) can be ourselves and not be judged and shamed for it, not feel like they have a target on their backs. I’ve written before about how kinky communities are far from perfect in their handling of abuse and predation. Sadly, it needs be said again, this time by Halo P. Jones, an NYC domme, feminist and blogger:
At one point, as I sat on a couch laughing with some friends, an older white gentleman sat down next to me. I was engaged in a scene, so I paid him no mind–there was a shortage of sitting room at the party, and besides, a cute friend had his hands on my knees while he was being spanked by my mentor. I was busy teasing both of them, so my attention was almost entirely otherwise engaged–but I was present enough to notice the strange hand that slid under my blue dress. I immediately turned to the assaulter and yelled in his face: “Don’t touch me–I don’t even know your name. You didn’t have permission to touch me! Back off!” He mumbled sorry, walked away immediately, and disappeared into the mass of people beyond my friends’ couch.
Saying no like that was super awkward to do: it broke the fun momentum of our scene, it killed my buzz, and it made me prickly as fuck.
Later that night, I stood with my arms around my student and his girlfriend, shooting the shit, when I felt hands on the back of my neck that began the first strokes of a massage. I turned around and it was the same man, coming in for sneak attempt #2. He only touched me when I was distracted–he did not ask for permission to touch me–and frankly, I had no idea who the fuck this dude was. And I wasn’t letting him get away again.
She cornered him and, to their credit, the organizers kicked his sorry ass out. This is the kind of guy that ruins sexual spaces. This kind of guy, who violates little boundaries, cannot be trusted to respect the big ones either — I’ve heard this story before and the next victim may have physical as well as psychological hurts. And if this stuff goes on, it sends a message that the space is one where limits are not respected and predatory behavior is tolerated.
This is the kind of guy whose sense of entitlement destroys the fragile bubble that allows women to escape the cultural pressure to be sexual only in approved ways (object, never subject) and spread their wings. Sexual spaces that include women are an alternative universe, really, one where slut-shaming is overwhelmed by praise for sexual self-expression. That’s a hard thing to maintain against the world. It’s even harder to maintain when the members of our own community track their shit in the door from outside and get it on the carpets.
Edited to add, in case people don’t click through (click through — Halo’s post is worth the read) that Halo tells us what needs to happen:
My friend chose to let the incident where he touched her shoulders slide–it didn’t seem like a big deal. When he touched my shoulders, if he hadn’t already slid a hand up my leg, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal either. But there was a pattern emerging of cowardice and boundary pushing–when he thought women weren’t noticing. What would he have done if he’d found someone drunk? Passed out?
What if everyone who heard me loudly state my boundaries had spoken up too? As I yelled at him, people watched, seeing what was developing. If he had tried to punch me, no doubt people would have held him back. But they just watched. What if–while I yelled at him–there had been a chorus of voices, yelling “You do not touch her without permission”?
That would have felt pretty great.