I wrote recently a post on Identifying Predatory behaviour. The thing that surprised me was that some people took issue not with what I'd written or the way that I'd written it but with the fact that I described predatory behaviour as... well predatory.
Now normally I just sigh and let these comments go but...
Here is an example that I'm quoting wholesale.
Personally I'd like to see this type of behavior re-branded as 'abusive' rather than 'predatory'.
A) because it IS abusive and contains a set of classic warning signs about dangerous/abusive relationships that apply outside the kink setting and only expands upon it within kink.
B) there are plenty of folk in the kink community for which being a 'predator' has NOTHING to do with the behaviors listed here and their style is done in the SSC manner we aspire towards.
This particular labeling does extreme disservice through being unable to freely talk about and enjoy types of play without having to clear the air of assumed stigmas and warnings from the entire community that don't apply.
While there's no with point 'A' argument that yes it is abusive, why not predatory when that is in fact a perfectly good description of what it is?
Point 'B' however I do take issue with. My issue with it is frankly, so what? That's their business and I'm not saying that they shouldn't or whatever. It's perfectly plain what I am talking about and what 'predator' means in this context.
This final paragraph. I'm going to re-quote it here on its own so we can examine it clearly.
This particular labeling does extreme disservice through being unable to freely talk about and enjoy types of play without having to clear the air of assumed stigmas and warnings from the entire community that don't apply.
I mean seriously? You have to be kidding right?
You see the thing is that you don't see people saying I'm into 'rape play' and I don't want the word 'rape' used for rapists because it means I'm unable to talk freely about and enjoy that kind of play without assumed stigmas and warnings from the community that don't apply!
Well, surprise! People do talk about rape play without saying things like that. People have discussions all the time without people assuming that they're really rapists. People dress up in school uniform and play without people gormlessly assuming that a statutory rape is being perpetrated. People have partners who are 'littles' and talk about being freaking 8 or whatever without people assuming them to be paedophiles.
Do you know why?
Because most of us are not fucking stupid, that's why!
Because most of us are adults and realise the difference between playing with these concepts and the reality that actual rape is a terrible and horrifying thing. Because grown-ups know that context matters.
In my earlier post I referred to predatory behaviour because it is predatory, these predators prey on the vulnerable. It's what I wrote it's what I meant and I have absolutely no sympathy at all with the above quoted 'opinion' or with the namby pamby posturing of outrage in the face of the actual issue that the post was about which was people being preyed on by predators.
Do you really think that real predators should not be called predators because some people might like to use the word in another context? Rape shouldn't be called rape anymore because some people like play rape? Real people really get abused and this is your concern? Really? This is your concern?
Like it or not the use of predator is correct warranted and means exactly what it should in the context of this the post. The desire to water the language until no word is not denuded of real meaning because for some people in a play scenario "being a 'predator' has NOTHING to do with the behaviors listed here" is such amazing up your own ass bullshit I can barely find words to describe it.
I posted because real people (some personal friends) have really been preyed on by real predators and this is your chosen response?
Well thank you for posting, thank you for showing us what goes on in what you are pleased to call your mind.
It's amazing how many people make assumptions based on very limited or in some cases non-existent experience.
Even more amazing is their propensity to make sweeping authoritative and wrong statements about the things they know nothing about.
With some people even when you show them that they are mistaken somehow they still cannot let go of their preconceptions.What's even more amazing is that people will go out of their way to bring up such things in conversation.
Strange isn't it that people pontificate on kinks that the profess no interest in, have no experience of, don't frankly know anything about and yet will make categorical statements about with no basis in experience or even theoretical knowledge.
Why are people like this?
There are plenty of kinks that aren't for me, some of them I don't know a lot about. I feel absolutely no desire to make statements about them to people interested in that kink based on no knowledge. I feel no need to make negative statements about things I'm not interested in.
Yet sometimes the disparaging comments seem almost vicious. It's like some resent others kinks. How can this be? That's not a rhetorical question by the way, I really am puzzled. Why make negative comments about kinks you clam not to be interested in?
When I try to think of likely motivations it's hard come up with something credible.
- Just not being nice people
- Being pathologically resentful of others enjoyment
- The automatic disparaging of anything that isn't their own kink
What can it be? I'm at a loss as to coming up with any charitable reasoning.
Are people really this sad, this pathetic?
Many people have argued that BDSM mentors only need life experience, but I think that you have to have BDSM experience too. How can you guide someone else when you have very little experience yourself?
Experience is not directly related to age or to being around for a long time. Some people have very small and specific experiences. Some people aren't suited to mentoring despite being round for a very long time.
Without experience how can you mentor another? Without having had the experiences yourself how can you advise another. Without being round long enough to not only know a variety of people with skills and knowledge you don't posses but to also know the character of those people before recommending them as someone to have an experience with to someone you're mentoring.
A certain maturity is also I believe a desirable quality in someone mentoring. This again only comes with experience and not to everyone. Some people never mature. Some people mature early. This isn't related to age but to personality and again to experience. Someone could be 30 and have been around the scene for 10 years, know lots of people, have lots of varied experiences in play and otherwise, have had good and bad relationships, know manners and club protocols and be ideally placed to help someone or 40 and only just come out with no real idea of the people on the scene, no real experience of play or relationships etc.
In this example it is the younger person that would be the most likely to make a good mentor. I was not thinking of people of any specific age when I began this thread.
It is simply my observation that those without much experience are those most likely to be 'mentoring / protecting', regardless of age.
People new to the scene tend to get carried away. We all know this and we were all new once. Over time we all learn. Over time we all gain experience.
However I would wonder about someone being a mentor who does not take into account their own lack of experience when deciding to be one and who goes ahead in that capacity because they are 'flattered to be asked' or just 'because they were asked' or because they think it somehow enhances them to have that on their profile.
Should people very new to the scene be mentoring? In my mind no. Not because they aren't worthwhile people, not because of age, not for any other reason than that without experience of your own I can't see how you can advise others. Experience can only be accumulated with time and... well, experiences good and bad.
Sometimes you get people arguing on-line and all you can think is.... OMG what do you have in your life that you do this?
What I mean is that they often want to project themselves as 'experts' on-line without being able to show any evidence of expertise. They produce nothing original, nothing beautiful, nothing inventive and yet they think an awful lot of themselves.
If you look at these people you will see that they are not usually well known for their skill even if they are well known as a 'presence' on-line. They would like to think of themselves as pillars of the community, and benevolent dispensers of knowledge even though it's plain that their motivation is completely self serving. Often they try to make themselves known by arguing with people who are well known, who have achieved things, people who are often in demand as performers or teachers. They like to argue with these people as they somehow think that it puts them on a level with these people. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. They actually make themselves in to jokes, annoying jokes but jokes nonetheless.
They are often prodigious on-line posters forever recycling others work in an attempt to seem like the can 'contribute' copying and pasting swathes of others research and knowledge when they could have much more effectively and frankly with much more respect for the originators of that knowledge just linked to the creators website, or as is very often the case Wikipedia.
Arguing with these people brings up the law of diminishing returns, the more effort you put into being reasonable with them the less you get back. The real problem is that they're not actually interested in being reasonable, they're certainly not interested in learning. What they're interested in is getting as much attention as possible, because if they can get you to argue with them that makes them feel like they're worth arguing with.
The best and possibly only way to deal with this is just to point out the errors and not get sucked into the argument. For they will just argue and argue, and not even rationally until any reasonable person gives up and goes away to do something more useful with their time. At this point they will gleefully think they have 'won' the argument in some way as they were the last person making noise.... Remember they don't actually have anything better to do than keep on with these pointless arguments. It is likely however that you do!
It's helpful to think of them as unruly children who crave attention. It doesn't matter that it's bad attention just so long as it's attention and they've found that this is a much easier route than actually getting attention by for instance achieving something worthwhile.
When you think about it rationally and step back away from the arguments you cannot help but, in a way, feel pity for these frankly somewhat pathetic individuals, after all what do they have in their lives that they spend their time behaving in this way? What self worth can they have? They have no real achievement of accomplishment or talent to call their own and can only call attention to themselves by arguing with those that do.
Having written this and now looking back on it I wonder how many people's over inflated egos and senses of self importance are going to make them believe that I'm writing this article is about them personally? I can think of at least 5 people that these words could apply exactly too around the world and another dozen that most of this applies to. I wonder how their egos cope with the thought that they are also sadly very commonplace too.
You see some terrible attempts at suspension. Many of these suspensions have, fortunately for those involved, not gone wrong. It is devoutly to be hoped for that they wont go wrong. However for as long as nothing goes wrong this bad rigging goes on. The people responsible will point out that nothing went wrong and that the person suspended had a good time.
The fact that nothing went wrong 'this time' didn't make it any less of a bad suspension. It doesn't make it any less likely to go wrong next time. Balancing on the knife edge of disaster and getting away with it isn't a validation of bad bondage.
So... do you want something to go wrong or not?
No of course you don't because the person harmed would be the poor person suspended and not the moronic piece of shit that did the awful suspension.
Now this is something I've really seen so bear with me and you'll understand why I'm making a further post broadly on this subject.
A guy who's been around for a while it seems did a suspension. The rope work was bad and I mean BAD. Sloppily done, poorly placed, badly applied. Notice I didn't use the word 'hurried' there because even though it was awful he took ages. The guy didn't look like he knew what he was doing at all! And yet he was going to do a suspension. So he has one end in a loop of rope that on later examination turned out to be held together with nothing more than a granny knot as his 'hard point'. The safety of this was pointed out to him by me as soon as it was spotted. The girl was in bad pain (not because of the dangerous 'hard point' but because of the awful bondage) but this guy was in no hurry to get her down despite being told how dangerous it was. He did get her down before further action was needed because she became much more 'verbal' about her level of discomfort. She was complaining of pain in her shoulder for the rest of the time she was at the venue.
Did this guy learn anything from this? No of course not, not his fault is it? Just a fluke. On another occasion he's at it again. This time the suspended 'screamed to be let down' the second they went up. His fault? No! He had the wrong rope, the wrong, biners, the wrong ring, the person suspended had, and I quote "The wrong centre of gravity".
Where was I? In the same place but doing a suspension of my own and so not observing him. At that event btw. I told this guy what I thought of his terrible rope work. Just in case you're thinking 'why didn't you confront him then?'.
Anything learned? Nope. I heard tell a couple of weeks later that he'd done a suspension in another club and that the person suspended had 'screamed to be let down' the instant they went up. Wonder if he's learned anything from that? Maybe it was just another unfortunate fluke? Maybe he had the wrong equipment again? Which would be strange as he does have a very nice big and impressive bag of rope, biners etc. with him.
Am I crazy in thinking that someone with his level of talent should maybe consider very carefully if he's got what it takes to be doing suspensions?
I'll tell you what he has got though. He talks a good game. I was doing a suspension with my partner and putting her through a series of transitions. He was giving a running commentary to two young girls about everything I was doing and how he does it better and how I manage the transitions and how he can do it better and how yadda, yadda.
I was giving a girl a suspension experience which she was very much enjoying, so comfortable that she was chatting to her friend about how much fun she was having, no screaming at all. Then this guy starts telling me how he does a suspension just like that (only better) and how I could improve it. This was when I have to say I'd had enough of him and told him exactly what I thought of his suspension etc. The expression "The stupidest thing I've ever seen" may have passed my lips along with expressions such as "utterly horrifying" and possibly "completely incompetent".
OK so the point in the end of this is... Despite evidence such as injured rope bottoms, people screaming, politely having some of their grosser errors and safety mistakes pointed out, people screaming, being told bluntly how bad they are, people screaming. There are some people who keep on talking as though they are bondage geniuses and for all I know believing it. All I can think is that some people are far too stupid to realise how stupid they are.
It's an unfortunate problem that sometimes people copy your bondage badly. Not just that it looks bad but that the person copying something they have seen is copying it without understanding it.
The above is particularly worrying when applied to suspension bondage. Some people seem not to get this but, suspension bondage is dangerous if you get it wrong! Honestly it really is.
I find that the problem of bad copiests particularly effects me when I see pictures of bondage or in some cases hear tell of bondage that is bad, dangerous etc. done by people that I know have seen me rigging. I should not feel this but sometimes I cannot help but feel that I see poor, badly implemented or just plain wrong imitations of things I have done either at a shoot or workshop or demonstration. Did they think that it looked easy therefore it would be easy?
What to do? Nothing unfortunately I have absolutely no desire or right to be some kind of bondage policeman. I don't want to spend my time arguing people out of their decisions. At the end of the day they're adults and responsible for their own actions. But! Should you leave these people to their own mistakes? Unfortunately you have to. You cannot babysit the world, you cannot forcibly educate those that will not learn.
What bothers me is that in the case of bad rigging it is the trusting bound who is going to suffer the consequences of bad bondage not the unskilled rigger.
Many times it seems to me that people are relatively new to rope bondage and see what they perceive to be "cool suspensions" and want to be doing them. Well there's nothing wrong with wanting to do suspensions. What's wrong is when they do suspensions without grasping the basics and getting a firm grip on them first. What's wrong is when they do suspensions without a firm grasp of the consequences of getting it wrong!
Everyone has something go wrong sometime. I've had things go wrong. Regardless of knowledge of bondage, anatomy, experience and however many successful suspensions. Regardless of all I've learned in order to try and reduce the risk of something going wrong it happens. Suspension bondage is risky and it is incumbent on those who do it to be as well prepared as possible.
Now in the light of that statement consider how much more likely it is for something to go wrong with someone who isn't as well prepared. Who doesn't fully understand the risks. Who's technique and skills are at the rudimentary level. People who aren't experienced or knowledgeable to the point where they should be attempting suspension bondage. And I don't just mean the risks of instant damage. Nerve damage problems can be cumulative. Bad placement of ropes can cause problems that aren't immediately obvious and by the time they do become obvious it's too late.
One of the oddest things I've become aware of regarding Japanese bondage is the tendency in some quarters to want people to believe that Japanese masters of rope promote some kind of myth surrounding the practice of their bondage. They seem to suggest that there's some conspiracy to create the notion of some super hidden inner mystic knowledge about Japanese rope work.
This seems very strange to me as, of the actual Japanese practitioners that I've had the fortune to meet, perform, teach with, talk to, or otherwise communicate with... not one of them has ever suggested or hinted at any such thing. In fact they all communicate that hard work study and lots and lots of practice is the route to improvement.
I'm perfectly prepared to believe that there will be some who don't want to teach all they know or keep some techniques to themselves but that's hardly the same thing. So... where does this idea come from? I can think of a couple of possibilities for it.
People who can't see the path between their clumsy efforts to the "apparently" effortless execution of a real expert or can't face the amount of straightforward hard work they'd need to do. Perhaps they want to believe that there's some mystical short cut that will take them "from zero to hero" without all that tedious learning and practice. Then of course it's not their fault they can't do so well, not laziness or whatever, it's because some vital secret that if only they knew it would make all the difference.
On the other hand the myth that people have created a false myth is a useful tool to those that wish to devalue something. OK that sentence doesn't read very well but you get the idea. If you can point to something saying look it's just a myth at the heart of it it's very easy to dismiss the whole thing as containing nothing of value. It's also very misleading. These straw man arguments are created because it's so much easier to attack the straw man that they created than to deal with having to produce a real argument.
As I say those are just a couple of possibilities. Maybe it's just because of the former scarcity of information. Nature abhors a vacuum and it's easy to believe that people will fill the void with things they've just made up. Or even that they pretend to know something you don't but that it's a super hidden inner mystic knowledge that you'll only ever learn when you're worth or some other cock and a bull line.
Whatever the reason the myth of the myth of Japanese bondage doesn't really serve anyone except to mislead and the motivations for that aren't worthy whatever their origin.
To be honest with you, I don't see how this could be any kind of a benefit to anyone except those that have some personal agenda to push.
I can't see for instance how those that are really interested would benefit from being initially mislead and then finding out that they'd been mislead. I think that would be discouraging rather than encouraging.
There is without any false myth of super hidden inner mystic knowledge a real mystery and magic. The mystery is of what you don't know yet. The magic is of discovery.
If these sound mundane then I'm sorry, but I have always loved the 'magic' of learning, the moments of discovery, and the reward of hard work. Because then you did it. It's not magic, and it is wonderful.
Sometimes people make posts on forums that are just crazy, full of misinformation, logically flawed, full of false assumptions or just plain wrong.
So what do you do?
Do you ignore these posts; or do you refute them?
Generally I have chosen to refute them believing that if you don't then there's a chance that people especially those starting out may believe them and have their time wasted finding out that they've been steered wrong.
This just, well it's exhausting, it just annoys the me and makes me feel tired. I'm not the internet policeman, I'm not the bondage policeman. However I feel that if you're engaged in a 'community' and want to see it advance you do be being part of that community have take on an implicit responsibility to oppose something that you see as detrimental to that community. And I think that misinformation falls into that category.
I've come to dislike doing this however for a few reasons.
Firstly the person who posted may simply be mistaken in their belief and though you try it's hard to effectively tell them they're 'mistaken' in a way that they are able to accept. People naturally in some cases become somewhat defensive even though the intention was never to attack them.
Secondly some people repeatedly jump on the same hobby horse time after time and have a kind of tunnel vision about what they think is right and wrong and cannot consider any other approach or the possibility of their error. Saying anything to someone like that is just a thankless task in any case because they will never be persuaded by argument, fact or in extreme cases even sanity.
Thirdly and very importantly I start to feel like all I ever post for is to argue. That's not fun. It sucks up energy that could be used for something useful.
A further thought is that there are many topics and posts that occur to me that I don't post because I can well see that if I do I'm going to have to dedicate quite a bit of time to responding to replies that either, didn't read the OP, didn't understand the OP or plain just posted something unrelated. Also you may get one of the afore mentioned hobby horsests who will use any opportunity to push their agenda especially if you post something not in tune with their personal world view.
It seems unavoidable and is tiring. Yet you shouldn't let things go past that you really think are wrong.
Pretty much everyone uses some knots in bondage. There's a lot of preference in their choice and what's the right knot depends on the circumstances.
I have an interest in knots; in service of the bondage.
I have an interest in rope; in service of the bondage.
I have an interest in many thing, in art, in music, in anything that helps to serve the bondage.
What I don't understand is the obsession with these things just as a stand alone concept with no purpose other than to argue about the intrinsic benefits and properties of those knots divorced from their use.
The longer you're around the bondage scene the more you notice the ebb and flow of trends within the scene.
One of the current fads is 'connection' you see people doing classes all over that never apparently worried about this area of their bondage before. I see people who have displayed nothing but an obsession with technique applaud those touting 'connection is all you need'.
When I see posts of that nature I think 'yes but it might be handy to at least know how not to cripple your partner' rather than just saying 'connection is all'.
Don't get me wrong, connection is hugely important. I teach classes on connection. It is in my opinion absolutely central to what rope bondage is all about and always has been. In many ways it's great that these fads turn up and people get into an aspect of bondage that they've previously neglected, not just this one, it's good for everyone to keep connection in mind. Just not to the extent of thinking that it somehow removes the need to know what you're doing.
I'd like to point out that I believe anyone tying another person is responsible to know how to take care of the person in their rope and in their care.
To give an analogy, the idea that it doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it with emotion is one that has led to a lifetime of wasted potential for any number of musicians that felt that knowing what they were doing would somehow 'ruin their feel' when the truth is that not learning was what ruined their development. I sometimes wonder how many people actually believe this kind of thing, how many simply do not think to question it and how many are just using it as an excuse for their laziness. (There have of course been many wonderful players that were not 'classically trained' but these without exception were very dedicated and worked incredibly hard to find their way and develop their own knowledge, none of them just relied on 'feel' to the exclusion of hard work.)
While it's nice that some people are getting away from their monomaniacal obsessions with rope types, knots technical details and realising that it is actually about people, it is alarming to see those people now saying that the only thing you need is 'feel' whatever you may define that as, and that's all with no mention of any necessary skills.
The danger of fadism is the focusing on one aspect to the exclusion of all others.
I believe that it's never one thing or the other but that good bondage is made up of a balance of factors. It's about connection but that doesn't mean it's not about skill. Yes it's about skill but that doesn't mean it's not about knowledge. Yes it's about knowledge but that doesn't mean it's not about connection.
I believe that it's a balance of a combination of things. Ever shifting and changing. The idea that technique is in the way of connection is a common misapprehension. Good technique is in fact the servant of expression and it is through your ability to express yourself and so communicate with your partner that is at the root of being able to cultivate that connection.