Sex. Feminism. BDSM. And some naughty words. A Review of “The Scene is not Safe” by Cliff Pervocacy.

The author brought up the issue of how the BDSM/swinger/sex-positive communities try to cover up their abuse in their communities, by not naming the abusers. This creates additional problems, as new entrants to the scene are not aware of whom they should be weary of, especially when known abusers are able to participate in events. Without the abusers being named, organizers and participants do not know who are the abusers, if there are any. A lot of abuses have been ignored and treated as hearsay, due to a lack of witnesses, and the victims were ostracized for speaking up. Although, there are those who know about people with a history of abuse, they do not inform others, so only very few people know of the ones to stay away from. The communities do not want the issue of false reports to increase and vilify innocent parties. However, all this is only after the incident has happened.  The author suggested steps to reduce incidents from occurring.

  1. New participants to the scene should be informed that though there is explicit consent, there are dangers, as some do not respect that. “BDSM is all about consent!”, should not be blindly promoted.
  2. They should be educated about how not to become abusers, not just victims. This will allow them to empathize with victims, recognize what is considered abuse, and if there is a problem.
  3. For BDSM classes and demonstrations, having the presenter do the negotiating with the demo-partner in front of the audience would be the proper way, without any ambiguity.
  4. For fire-play and blood-play, one would need to get permission from the host whether it is accepted and if there is a location for the plays. These rules should also apply to resistance andconsensual non-consentscenes. As this would come across as abuse, these plays should be cleared with the host ahead of time.
  5. Internal, informal resources have not worked in the community so far. Victims should be directed to existing formal resources, like:
    1. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Centre
    2. The Network/La Red (GLBTQ- and kink-friendly organization against partner abuse)
    3. The National Leather Association Domestic Violence Project
    4. The National Domestic Violence Hotline
    5.  The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline

The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem, which the communities have started to discuss in the open. When people are aware that the person has a history of rape, they should not be invited to parties.

Some of the commenters brought up good points to supplement the article. A lot of comments brought up suspected rapists with multiple reports and actions that are either being taken or looked into; and incidents some have personally encountered.  Some were of an abuser with multiple incidents, being asked to step down from his leadership position in a group. In the event of his refusal, a new group would be formed that would not tolerate abusers. Despite the negativity with the predators, play parties are still considered a safer alternative to going to someone’s place alone. Moreover, with newcomers being scared away with perceptions of BDSM parties as abusive, they may go into private play, where the shunned abusers may target. There is also the fear that there have been cases where when the abusers were banned, they started up new groups, and newbies to those groups were not able to be warned.

There was mention of how organizations shield abusers so as not to cause disruptions with the in-groups, and blaming the victims at the same time; abusers are also likely to come from positions of social power. Sometimes, even when asked not to attend events, the victim could take back the abuser, and all the effort would be seen as wasted. A couple of comments attributed kinky people to being similar to geeky people and used Geek Social Fallacies to explain the BDSM and sex-positive communities.

One commenter mentioned what a party organizer said that was very reassuring: “If something happens, please come talk to me. If you don’t want me to, I don’t have to do anything about it, but telling me means I can watch them more closely.” There was a proposal to have sexual safety officers to police the party, in case someone is being made uncomfortable by an abuser. Another commenter had a suggestion for a “no fake resistance” party for the victim to participate, without involving the accused. These parties would be suitable for newcomers with less pressure from extreme acts. Suggestion was also to keep formal records that were enforced, possibly in a three strike rule, or have a policy of reporting to the police immediately.

Written by Westland Researcher David Mahadevan


Reference:

Pervocracy, C. (2019). The scene is not safe.. [online] Pervocracy.blogspot.com. Available at: https://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2012/04/scene-is-not-safe.html [Accessed 28 Apr.