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A rant.

Admittedly, I was a deep funk. I woke up yesterday morning in a cloud of darkness - depressed, sad, lonely, and altogether bitter at the universe.

Still, I think I was justified.

lolitasir and I took a trip downtown to never-heard-of-before Weehauken Street in the Village to attend the street fair portion of the New York Leather Weekend. This event has gotten a lot of press attention - alleghations in the press that the approval for the street fair was sneaked past the local community board inspired articles in a whole of sources, including the NY Post and FOX. Thus, this event had a lot of attention - when we got there, Inside Edition was inside, and so was the Stephen Colbert Show. I hear several other major press operations were in attendance as well. (Confirmed by the page 3 article I found in the NY Metro paper this morning on the way to work.)

The point? There were a whole lot of external eyes being pointed onto us. We were being observed, written about, photographed, and the line between receiving a good painting by the press vs. seeing sensationalist and negative press had never been so thin.

Due to it being an outdoor leather street fair, there were the expected number of scenes happening around us. Demonstrations on the stage in the middle of the block, rope bondage towards the end, and the random personal scene happening here and there. One woman took it upon herself to try out floggers up for sale by flogging her companion. She took a matched set of floggers, and went to town on his back, full of a bravado giving off the aura that this was a Woman Who Knew What She Was Doing. That she had expertise, and we should all watch as she gets off on the exhibitionistic flair of her scene.

Except she couldn't aim for shit. Kidney shots, wrapping around his waist, his back. It was awful to watch, and all the press cameras flung around to capture it.

I was pissed. I mean, I was already bitter towards the world and had nothing but vitriol for the slightest annoyances, but this one boiled my blood.

She later came up to me to say hello, clearly a friendly gesture. I whipped my face around to meet hers, and lost it. Without even saying hello...

"If you ever flog again in public, learn to fucking aim. Kidneys are not appropriate places to hit. I was tempted to march right up there and rip the floggers out of your hands. Learn to fucking aim, understood?"

She took my anger graciously, nodding that she understood what she did wrong, and agreed with my assessment.

Was I too harsh? Was it wrong for me to lash out at improperly aimed play? Am I becoming a "safety nazi," or just becoming a bitter old man?

You know what? I don't think so. I think players have a responsibility to learn their trade. I think that a top should learn how to accurately aim their toys. Now, I am not going to say that you must have perfect aim before you throw a flogger at someone. Everyone has to learn. Everyone has to practice. Everyone makes mistakes. I see a lot of this in dungeon spaces - hell, I've done a lot of it in dungeon spaces. That is the correct environment for such things.

But when you are in a space that is open to Joe Public, that is getting national press attention with cameras and photographers and reports abound, when any person off the street can pay $5 to get in, and you see vanilla people walking all around, clearly getting their first exposure to leather/kink/SM... know what the fuck you are doing before you do it. If you don't have the skills, this isn't the environment to ply your trade.

I'm sure this rant won't be an overly agreed upon one. I'm sure it will piss a few people off, or paint me as an domineering asshole who should just shut up.

Maybe I'm just still bitter.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 8th, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
I agree with you. But I'm known for my contrarian opinions.

Oct. 8th, 2007 01:41 pm (UTC)
I wonder, though, if the vast majority of people who saw it would know that what she was doing was unsafe or would be able to tell the difference between her and someone who knew what they were doing. All they'd see were the floggers hitting someone.

So I don't think the issue was with vanilla people seeing it, I think it should be with the people who are non-vanilla but still learning.
Oct. 8th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
Yes, you are probably right. The vanilla crowd or the press were probably not going - "Oh wow, she's hitting his kidneys!" They were going "Oh wow, she's hitting him!"

I actually watched debates on this issue before, and the above was one of the arguments used against the "safety nazis."

I guess I can acknowledge that you're right and still be pissed about it anyway.
Oct. 8th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
I think you are right for being upset by someone being so unsafely sloppy in public without needing to say it was because of the TV cams.

It's always good seeing you.
Oct. 8th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I was going to say.

To the general public, she probably conveyed absolutely no impression of being unsafe. In fact, her confidence may have made her look exactly the opposite.

If'n it was me, I probably would have approached her more calmly... but I don't usually get angry in that way.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 8th, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
Dammit! All this time I've been doing it wrong. I've managed to get deranged d own pretty well, but I keep forgetting about dangerous and violent.
Oct. 8th, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC)
I would have been annoyed too. I went to a fetish night here in Ohio once where they had a guy doing a single tail demonstration who couldn't aim for shit and kept snapping the single tail which is all fine and good... if you know what the hell you are doing.
Oct. 8th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)
heh - I may have went to that same demonstration. Either that or ohio has had some very poor singletail workshops - I'm in columbus.
Oct. 8th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
ah yes I didn't want to say the city just in case, but it was indeed in Columbus.
Oct. 8th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
Safety Nazis Unite!!
I don't think you were out of line at all. One thing that we accept when we step into public is that people will watch each and every thing we do. The reponsibility to the community outweighs the individual.

We all know that there are things that we will do that are very edgy. How many times to do take measures when we are at an open social that we don't do at home? I don't use gloves when I do bloodsports at home. I will use chokeropes. I will do breathplay to the point of knocking out the bottom. None of those things are done in public because I know someone may look and say, "Well, if Nef does it that way, it must be safe." Bullshit! It's not safe, but it's how I will play.

I will call a scene when I am DM'ing in a heartbeat if it violates a social's rules. I may know that those involve regularly play that way and they know what they are doing, but there are some standards that need to be met.

I would have done the same thing.
Oct. 8th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
I think you did a very good thing, honestly. I'm amazed by people I know to be unsafe players, who are now TEACHING around NYC. One, in particular, makes me shiver every time I see his name posted somewhere, since when I played with him he did kindey strikes, and wrapping that wasn't just on my waist, but almost took an eye out! *sigh*

I wish someone had dressed him down after that scene. He might have learned more. (yes, I did say something, but I was newer then)
Oct. 8th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
Well, here is my take and it is just an opinion. I think that you may have missed a great opportunity for a teaching experience. When people feel attacked or the wrath of others misplaced anger they tend to shut down and stop listening.

I find that lots of people no matter how experienced they may think they are, are open to feedback if delivered in an appropriate way. Reasonable people know there is always room for improvement.

I don't think it is appropriate to yell at another person out of frustration, especially someone you don't know or who you have limited connection with. But the fact is that it does happen. We are only human.

I know when people come at me like that I think or sometimes say, "what a dick" Maybe I will think of that persons feedback later, maybe not. But I do know that I will be thinking about what a dickwad the person was instead of the intended feedback.

The thing to remember fair or not is that you are a leader in the community and a member of a family. Your actions and words represent both of those aspect in your life.

Love ya,
Oct. 8th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
I totally agree that those of us that wish to continue practicing our Kink need to accept some responsibility of how We are percieved to the vanilla public. Unfortunately, that means paying very close attention to what we are doing at public events.

I've watched several scenes where I wanted to rip the implement out of the Top's hand. Once man was using a crop where the leather tip came loose and he was hitting her with it anyway as the loose metal bracket snapped her skin as it wrapped around her. This is a bit off topic but I'll say it anyway. As much as I really like to go to Paddles, I wish Michael could afford to hire a DM. He depends on the regulars to come tell him if a scene is not going well which is fine but I often wonder about times when the "regulars" are not there or are busy in their own scenes. I might be off track here since it's a pretty amazing feat that he's kept this place for all of us to go play open for 20 years with very few incidents which means he knows what he's doing.

I'm curious about your comment about sneaking the permit past the community board and I wonder if it really was an oversight or if they were actually being openminded.

I think it was a good thing to say something to the woman and surprised that she took it so well. Maybe she will read this and head off to one of the many flogging workshops offered including the one coming up this week.

kiss kiss
Oct. 8th, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
I prefer Safety Fascist
Hey buddy, I'm with you.
  • First, you corrected someone that needed correcting. Whether or not you were frustrated at the time, she obviously needed the education
  • Second, you would've been justified in going up and correcting her during the scene. Better to bruise an ego than to perform cleanup for a scene gone bad.
  • Third, the general public may not be able to recognize true skill, but they can recognize the confidence that comes with practice. Having someone so unskilled showing up on TV presents a view that "anyone can do it without skill". It'll encourage people to pick up a flogger and whack someone in the kidneys, or wrap around, or ding an ear, or wrap around and catch an eye.
My only disagreements with you are
  • Wondering if you suggested to her getting involved with TES or some other organization to learn the skills from people who know what they're doing
  • I prefer safety Fascist... It has all the authoritarian power tripping, with much less of the genocidal connotations.
Oct. 8th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)
Re: I prefer Safety Fascist
I didn't need to suggest about TES - she knows about us, and has attended/volunteered in the past.
Oct. 8th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
Re: I prefer Safety Fascist
Well scratch that then. She should know better. I've got a low tolerance for incompetence, too.
Oct. 8th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
i think you are entitled to your 'mood' and to rant when it was deserved.....(!) but, an 'old man'.......hardly, my friend. i wish i had been there and 'we' had shown Her how to really do it, meaning YOU of course..........:)!.....wink and hugz......bill
Oct. 8th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
Still, I think I was justified.

I agree with you and believe that you was correct to "lash out" at her unappropriate places to hit. Some member(s) of the "press" or "vanilla crowd" just might notice that "she was hitting his kidneys" and think that "THEY all hit unsafely" and report that.
Oct. 8th, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
In defense of no one
What I get from reading your opening paragraphs, is that there was a great feeling of frustration about how a Leather Street Party turned into a media circus. It seems that the hapless flogger with poor aim bore the brunt of your displaced frustrations as it exploded, unchecked, from you. And yes, people were watching. That is the point, by your own admission.

I think there are some unasked and unanswered questions here. What I'm wondering, is why no one is calling for the source of the media blitz to be accountable. Who let the press in? Who invited them all? Who circumvented the community board? (that kind of underhanded sneakyness doesn't reflect well on our community as a whole, does it?) Who brings that kind of visibility to such a Leather event and who stands to gain from basking in that spotlight and receiving the credit? Those responsible for manipulating the Leather community into a media circus for their own self-aggrandizement should be the target of your ire. This isn't about correcting someone with inferior technique with a flogger who was just trying to be part of the party. This is about getting caught in other peoples need for attention and visibility. I'm not blaming you. I'd be angry too.

Oct. 8th, 2007 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: In defense of no one
Actually, my frustrations had absolutely nothing to do with the media. I was in a shitty mood going into the street fair for personal reasons, and she got the brunt of it.

The media were there with permission, by the event organizer. Whether or not the community board was circumvented at all is unknown - we only know what was reported in The New York Post, a paper I don't trust to give me the correct day of the week.

I have no problem with the media being there. Yes, I would have enjoyed a tighter control on what and who they had access to, but I wasn't involved with the event.

But bad aim in a public street from someone who depicts themselves as an expert pisses me off.
Oct. 8th, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
A flip side to consider, although it's probably not applicable...

One of the games I like to play sometimes is, "Hey, wanna watch me be an unsafe top?" I'll then proceed to flog people on the head, neck, stomach, kidneys, joints... all the things you aren't supposed to do. I'll swing and miss, wrap, and just generally look like an idiot with a flogger.

When I do stuff like this, I'm always being exceptionally safe about it. I'll use light whips, very light strokes, just barely brush the skin, etc. And sometimes I'll do it with a lot of bravado. It's all just silliness, but I've occasionally had a stranger approach me and suggest that I needed to learn flogging basics-- usually someone who has been around the scene for six months or so, and who thinks they know all there is to know about safety.

Now, I'm dead certain that you don't fall into that category, and I'm also pretty certain that what you described was actual incompetence rather than highly sophisticated competence. However, it's always worth considering both possibilities before speaking up.

Also, anger may not be the right way to approach. If you really want to teach someone, approaching them in anger will probably put them on the defensive and make them far less receptive to what you have to say.
Oct. 9th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
I wasn't really angry with her, I was in a foul mood when I got there, and she got the brunt of it,
Oct. 8th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
It was nice to see you yesterday, but I'm sorry you were in such a bad mood! :(

I hope you're feeling better!
Oct. 9th, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
I'm greener than a fresh salad when it comes to BDSM and I totally agree with ya.

Anyone branded a "safety nazi" sounds like the ideal person to play with. :)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )