It’s been a bad month in the Fetlife zodiac. Fetlife is a social networking site for kinksters and perverts. It houses discussion groups, hookups, events, and endless ranting. I don’t go often but I’m increasingly picky about any message boards or social hubs. “Don’t Read The Comments” includes websites dedicated to commenting. The party might be fun at first but it all takes a harrowing turn and you start to see the things that drove Nietzche mad.
Here’s one problem of Fetlife: Deification. Every social scene from model trains to modeling naked on trains has the tendency to forge a social hierarchy of some kind. What constitutes an alpha will vary from culture to culture and what this proves to us is how stupid our rules are regardless of whatever bullshit we try to put on top of it. John Baku started a website for kinksters, kinksters rallied and named him a king of kink land for his digital prowess. In theory, he created great unity in the many tribes of perverts and perhaps greater social progress could be cultivated in a new website.
There is a sexual assault allegation against John Baku from a night that might as well be considered a major group fail. It starts with a fail: he gets off a plane and is heralded as a king. It no doubt felt spectacular to have other members of the pervert Mt. Olympus greet him and give him much wine and mead, indeed. And he got fucked up in one of those embarrassing ways that many of us can still recall like a bruise in our cerebrum. He gets taken to a dungeon for more fail: he shouldn’t have been brought and he should not have been admitted and anyone who was present that night would agree. He was brought downstairs and then was surrounded by a crowd of people ostensibly keeping him out of trouble but in effect were conjuring it.
He was drunk, he got grabby, and a bunch of people decided not to call it out or cause a fuss about it at the time because, well, it was the exact reason why the whole situation was a problem from square one and we hate being reminded of things like that. The person who was assaulted had to register a few thoughts in quick succession: that there was someone clearly heralded as the selected alpha for the night and they got out of line and moreover people knew but decided that they should just let it go to keep the peace, to take one for the team.
That is not our decision to make. We do it often.
As this discussion was coming out, someone decided to jump into the center of attention with a nuisance problem of Fetlife security. In theory it was done “for” kinky people and in “opposition” to abuse. This individual has explained it here ad naseum but I’ll explain why these actions are problematic regardless of the technical details. In fact, let’s just call it a [hex]. An angry blogger, in a rage of fury, let loose a hex upon the community and did so “to help it.” It was to highlight security issues with the website. The blogger explains the tech behind it as a means of denying a “hack” or “making data public.” This entry can be found here.
In the name of transparency, I want to do something awkward here and say that I have had a personal relationship with our kinky Bane, Maymay (Meitar). It goes back a couple of years when I called them out on a blatant whorephobic stance in theirwriting and did so in person. Given their preference for digital encounters, I can see that my error was looking them in the eye with my criticisms. Before that moment, we could drop hours exploring ideas. We hooked up. I think we had a lot of fun. I was deeply hurt and devastated by the end of that relationship and I thought I was the only one. Turns out, as these stories of charismatic dudes often do, that I was not the first and nowhere near the last. If they’re an activist, they are one of the “slash and burn” variety with absolutely no qualms about co-opting the words and work of others to their own ends.
That exchange (screen shot from December 2011, close to the 25th) had not been the first time my words had been used by them. I have email records going back to August asking that our personal exchanges not be used (often word-for-word) in their writing without citations. Having my request turned around in a weird sort of victim blaming (I should have known better than to parade those juicy words around where they might be a temptation…) was bizarre.
Farther back, I received an email from them stating that I was “emotionally dangerous to them” and that they would have to “keep their distance.” Several weeks later, they emailed me asking to attend a kinky party I hosted at Mission Control. When I declined, I did so with this entry of theirs in mind, with these words ringing out in my head, “You have a choice: look within yourself and excise that which is toxic, or watch me tear it out of you. I have already begun. I will not stop. I will not play nice. I will not be quiet. I will not mourn you. And, be warned, I am no longer alone.“
Right off the bat, the guy I hooked up with who told me under no uncertain terms that they found me personally “unsafe” over email was asking to attend a party I was hosting and I’ve read those words on their blog. You’re goddamn right I told them that they would not be admitted. I watched them twist the story into their hard work as an activist.
This individual then sent people to report back on the party in detail.
This is first and foremost, creepy. Given that there was no concrete attack on me or my hosting abilities, it only served as surveillance of someone they dated and an invasion of the privacy of the attendees and a violation of the venue rules. Moreover, it is frightening to have someone boast of their prowess as an activist with success being gauged by making a party host
To this individual, there is only anger and there is no analysis of the context and in their mind there is no such thing as collateral damage.
In this instance, you can see that triggering or harming an abuse survivor in a social space would be totally appropriate to this individual. That’s because they aren’t fighting back against abuse, they are fighting in the name of blind rage that isn’t looking at a nuanced context any more. This individual loves to proclaim themselves as dangerous and as someone who worked in social services for a long time, I think it’s important to take that claim seriously. When someone is using heavily violent language and practicing strategy, there is sound reason to be alarmed.
I think that Molly Ren’s piece hit on a lot of important points, even if the blogger in question disagrees with the tech analysis. “What really blows my mind about Maymay’s actions last week is the anger he displays at not being listened to…” This quote matters. This quote matters a lot.
The [HEX] that the blogger cast upon Fetlife probably won’t do much but the blogger is kidding themselves when they try to act as if it were done with love. It was done very specifically when an abuse claim came up and now this conversation has become what everyone is talking about. It was a practical joke done for attention and the person behind it had been waiting for the right chance and took it, on the backs of a serious topic to be discussed. Moreover, they continue to fan the discussion, eager to have their tech observations take center stage and likely basking in every piece of negative attention.
All of that negative attention “proves” that everyone is out to “get” them for “no good reason.”
It’s trolling but it’s been escalating and it has been for several years. There is undeniable malice attached to these actions and playing with tech jargon is a distraction from the motivation behind it.
I am also a little unnerved by the fact that the blogger in question calls Molly Ren’s writing an attempt to be popular, and then links to a tweet of hers announcing surprise that she was RT’ed by me for writing.
Be angry, if you’re angry—cast me as Bane if it makes you feel better, or if it makes you popular. No one’s saying feelings are invalid, or recognition isn’t valuable. But at least take responsibility for knowing shit. Because many things many people are saying right now are just that: shit.
It makes me wonder what I should expect from this individual. In retrospect, I probably should have spoken up but it’s been far from the worst kind of harassment I’ve received. But when you add it up: plagiarism, fixation, and party spies it doesn’t make for a very pretty picture, especially after criticizing this individual for whorephobia and having them burst into tremendous and frightening anger in person. Having been the recipient of their rage, I felt obligated to email and smoothe it over because I was afraid and because I felt that if my criticism made them verbally blow up at me, I should be the one to fix it. When you’re 5’2 and 120 pounds, it’s scary to have someone scream at you when you point out their blog contains serious anti-sex worker sentiments. I am a sex worker, I was sleeping with them, I felt dehumanized by their thoughts on sex workers and so I spoke up. Big mistake. What I’ve learned is that if I’m dating someone and they respond to criticism about dehumanizing my occupation, I should not fall into female socialization and make them feel better for their own verbal violence.
I avoided the tech conversation but what kills me about the circles that this blogger is trying to spin in their description of how and what they did is tantamount to playing the “I’m not touching you” game. Anyone with a sibling or anyone who has driven a pair of small children in the back seat of the car knows what I’m talking about here. It’s when you’re not technically in their space, you’re just harassing them at the technical “border.”
It’s amazing how isolating it feels to blog about a very negative personal experience with someone. For a year and a half, I’ve been overwhelming patient with this individual’s attacks on my parties and my writing. I don’t know how long it would be professional of me to wait but when this person is making it clear that they don’t believe in collateral damage and when their behavior is escalating, well, here it is I guess. I think a lot of people would suggest I continue being quiet but I’m not willing to put up with it any more. Obviously being quiet and patient with this individual did not make them go away and stop attacking me. Maybe speaking up will.