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Clearing my mind a bit.

As I lie here ready to go to bed, I realized that there are a few topics that are burning in my brain that I needed to type down, if only briefly.

I have a feeling these will be inspiring one or two future posts.

I'm finding more and more that the type of play partner I attract tends to also be attracted to people who are not exactly to my liking. I usually have reasons for my distaste - suspicions about their safety (or lack of), past experiences with them that have left bitter tastes, or knowing other people whom they have mistreated and/or hurt. Other times I simply don't have a reason, just a gut feeling that leads me not to trust them.

When I'm approached for play by these potential partners, I am forced to make a choice. Put aside my feelings for their previous/current other partners and enjoy our time together, or walk away. I don't say anything about their choices - it is not my place, and it is their decision to make. So, it's a tough situation - often I am forced to swallow my misgivings, as I don't want them to get in the way of potential new friendships. Lord knows I have made bad decisions in the past - I shouldn't be judging others due to theirs, even if they don't see it the same way I do.

It's not a omni-present problem, but it's there.

The second thing burning in my mind is much, much tougher. There ARE dangerous players in our midst. I know who they are, I know them, and they know me. I know what they've done, I know who they hurt. And these people are Presenters - nationally recognized and celebrated presenters. They get asked to teach all around the country, either because program coordinators don't know the history of their behavior, or they do and choose to ignore it because they are so popular with attendees.

And these people ARE popular. Immensely so.

Lolita taught me something that I have learned to trust in a long time ago - "Sooner or later, people figure it out."

People aren't figuring it out fast enough when it comes to the people I am thinking about with this post.

So I wonder. Who will step up to the plate? Who will finally have the balls to go public and say "X" is a dangerous player and/or a liability issue, and it's time to put a stop to events endorsing their behavior by inviting them to teach?

Sometimes, I seriously feel like I have the balls to do it. I've come close to it several times before. I'm close to it now.

But the scene today is built on fame. Famous presenters all around us. To be the person who stands and tries to place a black mark on these famous people, you stand the risk of becoming shunned yourself.

I don't have the balls right now. Maybe I will tomorrow.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 9th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
I agree with regyt. While I might be one of those folks who are not exactly to your liking I do respect your knowledge and insights. I would not shun you if you pulled out your balls and shook them around.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 9th, 2010 12:55 pm (UTC)
I think this is a great idea (refusing to present...) except for it to work, there would need to be SEVERAL presenters who would make that stance. If you try to create a pact, you could just end up alienating the other presenters and get a rep as being divisive.

I don't mean to say that I don't think this is worthwhile, because I do think it is -- you have great ideas, dear, and you know I love you! I'm trying to say, one would have to be very careful and diplomatic about how one goes about getting the needed support.
Feb. 9th, 2010 02:02 pm (UTC)
I agree with you here - it would need to be an action done en masse, or there would be no impact at all. Tough to pull off though.
Feb. 9th, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering if it could be arranged by getting together as a group and discussing it with the event organizers as a matter of serious concern. [Maybe not an ultimatum type thing, but I tend to be a compromiser unless there's a white hot problem doing so.] As an event coordinator myself, I'd want to know if someone was patently unsafe or even if they just had a spotty reputation as a presenter (the earlier the better so I could find a replacement).

That said, I'm also known to do quite a few activities that a lot of people might call dangerous. I think there's presenting RACK-type topics responsibly and then there's being a dangerous idiot...and unfortunately, there are gradient degrees in between. Here's hoping for an overwhelming majority in the first category.
Feb. 9th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
Decloacking to respond
I think this is a really spot-on suggestion. The problem is that it creates an "us versus them" situation and divisions within the community, but this isn't about personalities, it's about protection. I can guess at least one of the folks you might be having this cognition about and have felt similarly about playing with folks who play with this person.
Feb. 9th, 2010 05:45 am (UTC)
I know much this topic means to you. I've seen you seethe. I know you've turned down play dates because of it - and for you to turn down play dates, well, woah! ;) (On an aside that doesn't help the current dilemma at all, I'm just very glad that I'm of the same mind as you on these things).

I think nvisiblegrrl has a point. You want to teach less this year, right? Well, wouldn't it be an opportune time to share your thoughts, and to refuse to teach at those events with presenters you just completely disagree with. It might not seem much to start with, but people will eventually get the idea.
Feb. 9th, 2010 05:57 am (UTC)
I also just want to make a legal point because, you know, that's what I do.

I read the comments on FL as well, where someone mentioned you might receive some heat over making the comments. And that's true - legal heat is entirely possible. Make damn well sure that whatever you do say about whomever you say it is totally true, and that you have ways to back it up. If it's your own personal opinion (and you explicitly couch it in those terms) that might be fair enough, but if you're referring to specific conduct, make sure you 100% know it happened.

Just sayin' (and this isn't legal advice yadda yadda yadda...)
Feb. 9th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
Make damn well sure that whatever you do say about whomever you say it is totally true, and that you have ways to back it up.

I absolutely agree with this comment, but not for legal reasons.

I don't think it's helpful to call someone dangerous, whether ze is famous or not. That's like saying "breathplay is dangerous" without talking about the specific circumstances in which certain actions considered breathplay (e.g. compressing the carotid artery) could lead to generally undesirable consequences (e.g. killing brain cells, death, etc).

The latter is more useful because it tells people what they need to know to make an more informed decision. If they want to find out more, they know where to start. To me, the RACK philosophy extends to being aware of the risks with playing with specific people, rather than casting players as dangerous or safe.

I would much rather hear, "There have been at least three instances in the past where J. Doe has gotten caught up in the moment when sexually aroused and ignored safewords" than "J. Doe is dangerous." That gives me the option of deciding if I am willing to take that risk.

If you made a statement like that about someone, I would certainly sit up and listen. That person's relative "fame" within the community wouldn't influence the way I would receive such information.
Feb. 9th, 2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Seconded. The facts need to be shared, not just the conclusions.
Feb. 9th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
There is the crux of the whole thing. For one of the people I am thinking, it is very easily to to this. Banned at one event, kicked out of another, etc. Simple.

For the other, not so much. None of the victims of this person have ever stepped up to the plate and told their story. So it is buried in the land of what friends know, rumor, etc. And without those stories and people, it cannot be backed up. And this presenter walks away with their head high like the cat who ate the canary.

It sucks. And is why in the end I cannot go public.
Feb. 9th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
As someone who has had to tell my story and face the heat because of a certain person, I can honestly say that sometimes it is hard. Sometimes it is heartbreaking, but in the end it is worth it if it helps others.
Feb. 9th, 2010 06:23 am (UTC)
I totally understand where you're coming from, and I think that it's one reason why I have gotten a lot pickier about which events I go to - because I see organizers making decisions that I myself just wouldn't make.

And yeah, I can't expect people to always agree with me, or think as I would have - but sometimes... yeah, I get it.

I think you are well-respected and well-known, and not at much risk of being shunned... at least you yourself aren't. Others? I think that's a valid concern.
Feb. 9th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
I've seen you present several times and I have a lot of respect for your opinion. If you think someone is unsafe, then you should probably say something. I do think there is something of a difference between historically unsafe and presently unsafe... I think the former should cause a certain wariness and maybe be something that's known publicly. The latter should be something that causes the kind of response you discuss above, but it's important to deal in specifics when having those kinds of conversations.
Feb. 9th, 2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
I have very little counsel to offer, but this post makes me feel even more glad to have such a fantastic leather family, and to be on such warm terms with other families where I am welcomed, not only for play but also because it gives me the collected wisdom of a pretty big braintrust if I have questions or concerns or misgivings about someone. And that improves the quality of my life a great deal.
Feb. 9th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
sticky wicket
I think this could lead to lots of unpleasant drama for you.

As to folks you like to play with picking partners you don't care for, well that's a sort of a bizzarre and interesting pattern. We all sometimes make poor choices, but it usually ends up teaching us something. I would say that its a very personal choice that you will have to make, and probably in a case by case situation, as you decide who to play with and who not to play with.

If you fear for people's lives that is a certain risk. If your concern is just that someones' fame might cause people to overlook that internal creeped out feeling, that is another thing. Consider what you feel are the actual risks. Consider whether speaking out can have any actual affect on the situation. Consider that we are all adults. If you make the choice to openly stand in judgement of other presenters, be ready for the shit storm.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Feb. 9th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
An uncomfortable dilemma.

Its really frustrating that some unethical people end up with enough supporters that people take sides based on who they like, not the truth of the matter.

Sadly, I agree - not enough people figure it out fast enough.

I don't know though - I'm not sure what the effective and correct response is. Especially when the whole issue has the potential of getting lost in social bullshit.

I like nvisiblegirl's idea. Vote with your feet. Don't present at events where people you know are truly dangerous are presenting.

Feb. 9th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
The same thing happens even with those non-famous people. I'm actually working on an article for our local community about vetting in the community. We have so many local players that are unsafe, yet they seem to still attract lots of play partners. I'd say it is mainly the newbies, but not always. There's the fine line in exposing them for who they are and then being bitchy and into gossip...at least for me. One of my former play partners would be perfectly safe to Top someone, but get into a D/s relationship....HELL to the NO. He's completely and mentally unstable. However, that coming from me (because of our relationship history) just sounds like I'm a disgruntled slave. So I haven't went public about him, but will certainly give an accurate reference if ever asked.

So I feel your pain. The more of us that stand up, the more impact we can have.
Feb. 9th, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
I've been there in other "communities" and from my own experience when you tell the truth about popular people you lose.

The real question comes down to this: Do you want to be a part of a community that allows/accepts/ignores/offers no support for the victims of these people?

There are no right or wrong answers to this one. It's a deeply personal choice that only you can make.

What you decide, I support you because I love you and trust you to know what's best for your situation.
Feb. 9th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
Very interesting post. I feel like there are plenty of responsible people out there who take safety very seriously, and make it a very active part of their presentations. I've also had my head bitten off by presentors when I dared to question the safety of their play. If someone is aware of the risks and wants to play that way then that is their business, but as presentors they need to be completely clear about the dangers involved in their play. You don't want a newbie to think that they saw it at a convention so it must be safe.
Feb. 9th, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
Question: are these people teaching others to be dangerous? Are their demos putting people at risk? Or is this based on their non-teaching activities either in groups or one-on-one?

If it's the first and/or second, I would think that others would see that as well and you shouldn't have to take a stand on it, or that your statements could be objectively verified.

If it's their behavior in groups, then again there are witnesses and the objective fact of them being made to leave, or banned, should be enough, no?

One-on-one is the problem. If they're not teaching dangerous techniques and they behave themselves in (semi-)public, I think you're on shaky ground in trying to get them kicked off the podium. If it was me, I think all I could do is say "no thank you, I choose not to teach at the same event as person X" but you run the risk of having to repeat what could be considered gossip or innuendo by someone who has no way to confirm it.

What do you do about non-famous but still active people who either hurt their partners or put them at risk?

Feb. 9th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
You called it right there. It is the one-on-one. I'm going to expand more on that in another post.
Feb. 9th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
Everyone else has already said everything I would have said, so I just wanted to add that I respect your opinion and I support your choice if you choose to go public with the people you find dangerous. (And agree that you must state specifics, and they must be facts, not opinions.)

Missing you... I'll email you and maybe we can all get together sometime soon?
Feb. 9th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
I have had some minor experience actually doing this. Fire did reign down upon my head. Which is not the end of the world; it's more of a 'reputation' issue than life and limb after all. What I do now is privately offer my opinion whenever it is asked/circumstances bring said person as a player to the conversation. One-on-one communication. Our community doesn't have a way to cope with it otherwise; you get lots of drama and no motion.

And as frustrating as that is, I understand it. It's part of the "fame" thing. IME, only if an organizer of an event has an experience with an unsafe player/liar/etc does anything change.

Good luck!
Feb. 9th, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
Oh...boymeat... amen.

I find myself growing so frustrated with the "very Important" people who are unsafe and who hurt others...and yet as one who knows facts first person, I have not had the balls to stand up.


April is approaching quickly though.

I lose respect for communities and events that celebrate these people. I get tired of seeing them on the presenters list. I get tired of hearing everyone sing their praises while I *KNOW* that the praises are undeserved.

I'll have the balls soon.

Feb. 10th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
No, people don't always figure it out. if that were true, would these people remain as popular? As far as play partners go, the unsuspecting might be able to make a decision if someone close to them pulls them aside and says "hey, I think you should know...." That's how it's usually been done. Or, they'll go ahead and then find out for themselves. Word of Mouth works.

I know of a handful of people I won't play with or even associate with because people close to me have interacted or played with the and have had negative experiences. I look at patterns, mostly. I pay attention to ongoing, current friendships and associations rather than past partners.

That, and gut instinct, which I've ignored from time to time. I've never been proven wrong.

I also accept that everyone who has been around for a while is likely to have someone (or a couple of someones) as antagonists. Someone seen holding a singletail and a can of beer could be branded "dangerous" and subjected to smears by a person who doesn't like her, never mind the backtory. This is why vaguely outing someone publicly as "dangerous" usually backfires. You'll be accused of having a personal axe rather than a legitimate complaint.
Feb. 10th, 2010 06:04 am (UTC)
One other thing: The people who really should come forward and speak about a person's pattern of dangerous behavior are those who have been victimized. They may be accused of grinding their own personal axes, but it's much more legitimate than hearsay. The exception would be if someone asks you to speak on his or her behalf. Sadly, the consequences of "outing" someone with far more power in the community is often too great a risk.
Feb. 10th, 2010 06:52 am (UTC)
Over the years I have had many people accuse my Master of being dangerous. Still, I had never experienced the 'danger' others accused him of.

I do recall my choice to play with someone several years ago that did raise your concern and I appreciated that you spoke with me about those concerns. I also spoke with several other people before making my decision and, honestly, my own experience was a very positive one. I would hope that you could honor someone's choice if they made the effort to hear opinions and to take responsibility for their decision.

I believe we do have a responsibility to raise concerns, yet we also have to ensure our concerns are based in fact rather than conjecture. In the end, you have to do what you feel fits within your own ethical parameters.

~ Pug
Feb. 10th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
I do honor their own personal decisions... at least I try very hard to, and to bury my own feelings.

But I don't think my ability to bury my feelings on an individual, case-by-case basis is mutually exclusive with the need to warn the community at large. I think having this person as an educator endorses his behavior, and I hate sitting on the sidelines on it.

Of course, as I write in my latest post, I can do nothing but sit silently anyway.

It's really hard. And it is a source of never ending frustration and worry.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )