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If you see something, say something.


I feel like I'm rapid cycling through emotions right now. You just read anger. Now you will read remorse.

I apologize for vomiting as I am onto your screens.

The NY subways, ever since 9/11, have been regularly broadcasting messages on the train and on the platforms that seek to charge NY'ers to being a part of our overall safety. Just as in airports, much is made of suspicious packages. Every frequent subway rider has without a doubt heard to the point of memorization that common phrase... "If you see a suspicious package, don't keep it to yourself. Tell a police officer, or a NYC transit worker." On the MTA website, there is an entire page devoted to deputizing us into being safety wardens.

It's a good campaign, and illustrates something that we should take heed of. Danger is all around us, and we can't expect the authorities to know about it all. We do need to tell someone when we see danger, because untold danger simply becomes more dangerous.

The trick though is that in day to day life, there is someone to tell. You tell the authorities, and it is their job to investigate, confirm, and deal with said danger. It is what they are paid to do... what we as tax paying citizens charge them with. There is a structure in which these things are handled.

In the SM scene, we have no such thing. There are no authorities, there are no people in charge. Sure, there are event directors, and they can kick you out of their event if you prove to be a danger. But they have no power to stop you from going somewhere else... another event, another group, another city... to cause danger over there. No one has authority in the scene. In a land defined by the power exchanges we get turned on by, there is no true power structure. We are a band of deviants, doing what we want with very little other than societies law to stop us.

In a land devoid of law, I feel it is even more important for the individual to take responsibility for the safety of others. As fellow decent human beings, it is our job to watch the back of those who watch ours. The historical leather scene is famous for the idea of it being self-policing. We (supposedly) guarded our own, and kept dangerous individuals out.

Looks great on paper. Really hard to do in practice.

3, 4, however many years ago, I was strongly tempted to shout out when the shithead I wrote about earlier returned to NYC. I wanted to warn everyone that he was not to be trusted, that he was unsafe, and that he should be avoided. I didn't though, I could not. Because that would have been slander. That would have been me slinging shit at someone and thus I would have been ostracized.

I've written about this time, and time, and time again.

But what if I did?? What if I DID tell people how many years ago? Would we be going through what is happening now? Would people been hurt by him? Would he even still be around enough to come back again like he's trying to do now?

I did my best, I suppose. I told a few people who's confidence I had. I told a group leader about the snake in their midst. I did my little part. Clearly it wasn't enough.

If you see something, say something.

When the fuck are we going to start saying something?

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
princesskaite
Feb. 10th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
I'm a big believer in 'see something, say something'.

When I was brand new - I kept my mouth shut a lot. You don't want to sound like an idiot. Luckily, I had also met some great people - and girls who to this day are still some of my best friends, warned me about who was "bad" in the DC scene. To this day, I still refer to them as the "trifecta". These were people who had *abused* people that each of these girls knew. Things that were SERIOUS. And I was thankful to be told. They were charming individuals, who I would have been easily sucked into. In fact, while my early warning system went off about one of them, I was happily sitting in a class talking and being seduced by the second when I was taken aside and informed. I am still to this day, appreciative of that.

But I've also paid it forward. To this day, I'm still pretty vocal about the *one* person who has ever ignored me safewording. And they did it publicly. And I have no problem talking about it, and telling people. Because if you are going to be *that* stupid, well, anyways.

Being quiet about people being abusive asshats isn't helping anyone.

I've also realized I've changed how I talk about people. I make sure that when people ask me about playing with someone I make sure to specify why I might not play with them (personality conflict, etc) vs when I think they are *unsafe*. There's someone locally who I abhor on a personal level, but I think they are a great and safe player, and make sure to distinguish when asked.
sadisticseraph
Feb. 10th, 2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
I don't see what's wrong with telling people facts about another person.

"I heard from x, who heard from y, who knows a guy who heard..." isn't a fact BUT "I saw that person do x" "My friend went out with y and it really messed them up." or "I played with them and they did x,y and z fucked up thing." is perfectly fine. People deserve to know facts like that. Once they're well informed they can do what they will with those facts in mind.

Slander is only slander if it's not true.
wendy_m_l
Feb. 12th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with what sadisticseraph says.

Get the info out there. If your motives are pure -- you are concerned for others' safety, you know this person is not just "edgy" but is truly abusive and dangerous, you do not have some vindictive motive and are not lying about his behavior -- then by all means, let loose.

While some people in The Scene show their "crazy" within seconds of meeting them (we know who they are!), other people are better at hiding their crazy. These people, we call sociopaths. Just remember kids, Ted Bundy had no problem getting dates.
dangerousface
Feb. 10th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
I've been watching this unfold with a previously unknown depths of awe and disgust. This is the first I'm really hearing of this and I've known/known of him for a little better than two years.

I really don't know what to say.
boymeat
Feb. 11th, 2012 02:22 am (UTC)
I am not shocked he deleted his post. And I'm sad because I probably missed 4-6 hours of comments.

He had it coming.
noble_knave
Feb. 10th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
You raise very good points. How do we police when we are outsiders? Even in small communities, where most people know that a particular person isn't safe and has a history of abuse, nobody does anything about it. Why is that?
pattytoo
Feb. 11th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC)
I hear you.

I was raped years ago by a big ol' important person in the scene, and did I go to the cops or spread the info? No.

Why?

I was convinced into silence.

Finally, my rage about seeing this sort of thing led me to leave the public side of things altogether and never return. (Frankly, I'm pretty happy about that.)

Folks that know what that guy did to me? They have supported his artwork and posed for pictures with him...because...you know...he is talented. When I took offense to this? I was a drama queen. I mean, what were THEY supposed to do?

Some folks are starting to talk about this stuff more and more, and I am a big booster. Maggie Mayhem and Kitty Striker come to mind. I'm going to be in D.C. at this particular talk, which is about stuff like this... "Being the Change you Want to See: Helping Stem the Tide of Silence about Sexual Abuse in Sex-Positive Communities"
http://momentumcon.com/2012-sessions/#BCYWS
I'm acting as a support person to Jane.

I don't know all the answers, but I seriously feel the question and the rage/remorse.
jkuroda
Feb. 11th, 2012 07:56 am (UTC)
"When the fuck are we going to start saying something?"
Off the cuff thoughts from years of watching various interest/activity defined groups:

What are the consequences for people who behave poorly?

In the 80s and maybe even 90s (or so I'm told - maybe earlier but I have far less reference material before te 80s), the consequence was ostracization from tight knit groups where members were more interdependent for access, resources, and safety.

You screwed up, you could lose access to perhaps the most important resource - other people.

People were (or should have been) interested in policing and educating, one way or another, their neighbours effectively - failure to do so meant a reduction in numbers in a small tight knit group and could lead to unwanted attention from outside the group (The Police, and not the English Rockband - I'm talking about the "PoPo" as kids these days say). In earlier days, failure to monitor ones fellows was bad; if you brought new people into the proverbial club, you were strictly responsible and liable their behaviour until they were accepted as a member in their own right and even then, if they screwed up, everyone remembered that you brought them in.

If you screwed up, you screwed over your friends who brought you into the club.

That no longer seems to be so. There's no longer a general requirement of introduction via known parties before acceptance. If people screw up, there are few if any consequences - they can just go to another club, another party, another city. This is no longer the 1980s - we no longer live and die by our reputations and the good references given by people trusted by others. We no longer seem to worry (as much) about unwarranted law enforcement attention, at least in large metropolitan cities.

Now there is an inversion of the situation from the good/bad ole days.

Whereas once it was seemingly hard to even find the club, let alone get into it and gain acceptance and fairly easy to get kicked out, it now seems that the cost of entry is vanishingly small and the cost to ostracize someone massively high.

"That's mean." "That's going too far" "Oh, just give him/her/zie/pronoun another chance." "You're asking for too much." "We need to keep this jackhole close so we can keep eyes on him/her/zie/pronoun." "If we kick them out and they cause problems, it will be traced to us and make us look bad. We're responsible for them now." Fuck that, that's just a few steps away from victim blaming and the rationalization of dysfunction.

One of the touted benefits of mainstreaming of SM and Kink has been making it more accessible. This has been great for young adults, for instance, but it has also had the effect of making it easier for any jackass to join the proverbial club and in this new(er) age of open acceptance and what I will, admittedly perhaps perjoratively, call "SM Feel Good Kum Ba Yah" (with all possible apologies to Kofi Annan), it is apparently no longer considered acceptable to kick someone out for being a manipulative, emotionally abusive, jackhole.

"When?" you ask. When "we" (or enough to count as "we") put Responsibility and Accountability to each other above "being nice", "open acceptance", and what I see as "The fears of another era" haunting the now. Otherwise, we're all lying to each other and ourselves.

Unfortunately, this requires a certain amount of maturity -- emotional, intellectual, ethical, and so on -- on the part of all (or at least enough to influence the rest) involved.

In climbing (one of my favorite analogy examples) - if you are no good as a belay partner, people stop climbing with you and word gets around. It's not meant to be vicious, it's not meant to be petty. It's meant to keep other safe and to keep the sport of climbing safe and free from fucking yahoos. Get yourself killed? Fine, whatever - but don't get others killed. Consequences to being crappy at your role in climbing are commensurate with the risk to others you pose. It's perhaps the only life-safety-critical activity I know of that has essentially no external regulation - it's essentially all self-regulated.

Damnit, now I'm feeling good about being a high muckety muck elitist fuddy duddy. This can't be good.

I've rambled enough.
femgyrl
Feb. 11th, 2012 02:32 pm (UTC)
I hear you.
I couldn't agree with you more. We have this same issue in our own community. I've gone to several Dominants in our community about one particular Dominant who is unsafe, a predator and continues to hold himself out as an expert when he clearly isn't. People have been emotionally and physically harmed and no one wants to run the guy out of town. A few of them have had conversations with him but I think the submissives in our community deserve more than talk. Someone is going to be seriously damaged because no one has the balls to intervene and say, "not in our community".

I've been a victim of this type of Dominant and I felt lucky to get out alive. I stayed silent because I was embarrassed and ashamed and she moved on to another victim. Lucky for the next victim, she had people who did come to her and say that this person was dangerous. And this dangerous Dominant was run out of town because a few Dominants tracked her down and literally ran her out of town.

Many times I feel like people in our community don't take this stuff serious. Everyone just wants to have fun and no one wants to rock the boat. Well, that's all good until someone gets hurt.
beth_
Feb. 11th, 2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
Agreed. I believe you're doing the right thing. I wish the community as a whole was able to do more.

To me, part of the problem is that those who scare others (even if it's in an abusive way) can become honored, revered almost. It's sad to see something so serious become so subjective; yet it's that way in all parts of the world, not just our lifestyle.

To say it loudly marks the victim -- sometimes, more so than the abuser. And, on a final note, here's something I never thought I'd say -- A part of me wishes "edgeplay" in all of its forms wasn't so highly regarded; I believe that makes it much more difficult to protect our own.
madoc62
Feb. 13th, 2012 07:00 am (UTC)
Ah, memories....

Here in San Diego, about a decade ago, we had an incident with an individual in our community. It happened that Lesli Scotti Lee was a Club X member and had abused other Club X members.

One of those members had enough inner strength not to recoil and quit the community entirely as had her other victims. Instead, he gathered all the evidence he could against her and presented it to the Club X board of directors.

This woman preyed upon newcomers to our community and to our group. When her abuses got to much - emotional, physical, and fiscal - and they protested, Leslie would trot out her reputation among the community as a shield. She'd point out that she was an established figure with an outstanding reputation and that they were but no account newbies who were obviously lying. It worked like a charm every time but this last one.

Turns out that Leslie was a pathological liar, a sociopath, and also a convicted felon. Far from being the Harvard graduate, ex-US Navy officer, psychiatrist / psychologist / both, gourmet chef who'd learned her craft while serving at the US embassy in Paris, and a European educated dominant who'd learned her craft while at that embassy as well, Ms. Leslie Scotti Lee was none of that.

To their lasting shame, the Club X board of directors attempted to run away from dealing with the issue. To run away from stopping a predator within the Club itself. To run away from the fact that this woman was using her membership in Club X and the fact that she had presented workshops for us as being "proof" of her expertise. Several of us had to practically move the Heavens and the Earth to get the board to take any action. They did, eventually, ban her from the Club and revoked her membership.

One of the Club X board members was completely dismissive of the whole thing saying that "we're all adults here so we should look out for ourselves and Club X has no business doing that."

To say I was disgusted by all that would be an understatement.

Given the evidence, and given the testimony of the individuals she'd abused, this should've been a slam dunk. Instead, it damn near broke the club. The way the board of directors ran from this issue rather than stand up for the Club, for its reputation, for the people she'd abused, and for the San Diego community was appalling to me. I learned a lot about a bunch of people from this.

And I learned that there has to be some very clear and explicit procedures in place in any group to handle this sort of stuff. Club X did not have a DNI - Do Not Invite - list nor procedure for placing a person's name on it at that time. We did after that.

Seeing a predator is one thing - having any structure in place to deal with it is something else and again. I would say that this is an advantage to organized groups and clubs. But that only works if the group has such procedures in place - and the will to act on them when the need arises.

And the need will arise. There's way, way too many people in our community who have chosen the kink world thinking it a less expensive alternative to the professional psychotherapy they actually need. And we've our fair share of predators, abusers, liars, cheats, and scum. These, in addition to unsafe players as well.

The danger I also see here is personal perspective. Some folks get absolutely freaked out by some types of play and can only see it as abuse. When they go running around screaming about that it just does damage and is not helpful at all. How do you balance that out against the need to speak up?

Madoc
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