Free Speech in the Digital World

This seems like a really odd place to be writing about free speech. It’s a kink blog. What could kink possibly have to do with free speech, right?

Well, there have been some controversies involving Fetlife.com and free speech over the years. This is something that I have given a lot of thought to. I used to be a journalist, and so the first amendment has always held a special place in my heart, right next to dark chocolate and my favorite flogger.

The first controversy about free speech on fetlife came up after a girl was raped, and she wanted to out her rapist on her own page.

I get all the conflicting issues there. I realize that if the guy was not guilty then it could be considered defamation. I get that social media isn’t like sitting around a table getting coffee, because a third party (the platform) could be held responsible. I took enough law classes in college to see all the conflicts.

However, I was shocked at how unapologetic fetlife was about banning her without even finding out if charges had been filed or if her rapist had been convicted. They (the men running the site) were very quick to punish the victim without even a second thought.

The second free speech controversy that came up was when fetlife started deleting groups. For example, they decided that adult baby play was simply too risky for the site. Of course they cited reasons like legal risk and financial risk, but there is certainly a question as to how anything consenting adults agree to could be illegal.

Again, I know that people have said that it doesn’t matter because the groups can just use codes and only trade pictures/ideas/etc in person. I know people will say that we should all be terrified of the government and therefore censor ourselves before anyone tells us to. And, I know what everyone chants “better safe than sorry” because I remember what the community was like before we had the Internet and it sucked. I don’t want to go back to fliers in some scummy shop and walks down random alleys looking for secret clubs.

So I guess this brings me to the central question: How much freedom of speech do you ever really have right now as kinky people?

To be honest, it seems like we don’t have much.

And, if we want to protect ourselves in an environment where our browser history can now be sold and the President tried to find the address of people who mock him on Twitter, do we even want to speak freely?

My professor in Media Law was extremely insistent that no one should ever write anything down. As soon as you write it down, there is proof that you wrote it. It could be misconstrued and come back to haunt you, and so you shouldn’t do it.

The government is always watching, he said. And, you never know when they are going to decide that whatever you are into is no longer acceptable.

On the other hand, when I was in college, everyone I knew had a LiveJournal account where they poured out their hearts to no one every night when they went home. Friends posted pictures of their children doing embarrassing things with no thought to how those children would feel with those pictures online forever. And, sites like Myspace and Facebook were luring everyone into putting their entire lives online. Some people argue that when everyone’s entire life is online, it takes a whole lot to stand out.

An old woman once told me that society swings from conservative to liberal, and back again. The 1950’s were conservative and rigid, so the 1960’s were wild, she said.

So, I guess I have to wonder if data and freedom of speech online will be the same. Perhaps we were in our 1960’s just now with data, having virtual orgies in a time when the Internet was still the wild west and the government couldn’t track everything you did to an IP address and then arrest you.

Perhaps things are swinging back around to conservative now, and it really is a good time to be careful until we all get better at encrypting our computers.

The obvious solution is to push harder for mainstream acceptance of kink. We all deserve the right to talk about this stuff openly as part of our lives, just like someone would talk about any other aspect of their personality. We shouldn’t have to worry that it will be criminalized, or that someone will put people with a certain fetish on a watchlist.

I would encourage you to write to your Congressional Representatives advocating for protection of Internet browsing, freedom on Internet forums, and laws protecting our community. You don’t have to sign the letter or use your own return address. I understand the desire to be careful. But, put the request out into the universe even if it is anonymous. And if you are in a position to do so, maybe use your real name and address.

When censorship pushes, we should do our best to push back.

 

Dating Online and the Community

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The subject of dating has come up a lot in my life lately. You all know by now about the person I love in Arizona who is going through a divorce. I have been struggling to help him find things to be happy about now that he has lost his home and family.

It’s not easy.

His idea for dating was to go back through old flames and see if any of them were still around. I guess that makes sense. When you are hurt, go for the familiar.

Of course when that didn’t go well, I suggested online dating.

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He tried valiantly to meet girls off several sites, but none were very interested in talking abut ideas, and instead wanted to talk about people and events. If you don’t get the joke there, look up Eleanor Roosevelt.

So thus far, he has met with limited success and this has made him decide to give up on dating for the time being. I tried in vein to change his mind, and tried to talk about the virtues of getting to know new and exciting people, and how wonderful falling in love is.

Then I logged into Fetlife and I remembered that he’s right.

Dating does suck.

My bad.

I was wrong.

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Let me tell you about the two new prizewinning jerks who sent me messaged while I was trying to sell the idea that dating is wonderful.

Jerk Number One:

This guy messaged me with “Wat up you down to fuk?”

Let that sentence (bad grammar and spelling and all) sink in to your brain, and then realize that this is not a person I knew. This is a random stranger. I guess he’s new to the area (that’s literally all his profile said) and he doesn’t realize that it’s a small pond, and you can’t afford to be an asshat to even one person.

I tried to be polite, and respond by saying that he would benefit from having a profile picture and some information about himself. I went on to suggest that he should maybe treat women like people and start with “Hello.”

(No really, you can treat women like people. They even actually are people. I know that is hard for some folks to grasp, but it’s true!)

Naturally, Jerk Number One wrote back:

“Ur ugy anyway u fat cunt.”

So that’s one more swing and miss for me trying to civilize the masses one guy at a time. I honestly don’t know why I try. I should just ignore them like most girls do.

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P.S. It’s hilarious how some guys whine “I message girls all the time and they never respond.” See? That’s how you know they are a jerk. They send nasty messages all the time and women ignore them because most women don’t respond to abusive dickwads. If they were nice guys, women would respond. That’s how that works. 

Jerk Number Two:

This guy actually started out perfectly nice, and said he’d like to play scenes with me.

Normally, anyone who will talk to me nicely gets coffee at least. However, I noted that he was 65.

Now, I was molested as a child, so I have a thing about not dating older guys (and this one is ten years older than my father!) I am just not okay with it. If there are girls out there looking for a “daddy to spoil them” then more power to them! You do you. But I personally don’t do older guys.

I very nicely said that I am on the younger side of the 30’s (as indicted by my profile) and that I am uncomfortable dating older men. I offered to get coffee anyway, saying I am always happy to meet new people.

So what does this guy do? He writes back telling me that we’re all the same on the inside and that age doesn’t matter. Apparently it’s all a state of mind and I am a judgmental bitch.

Now, I doubt that he would have responded kindly to a 90-year-old woman hitting on him. So, I would submit that he is likely judgmental and prejudice about age himself; but only when the woman is the older party.

So that reminded me how much I hate dating, and how sometimes creepers hang out on fetlife.com these days just harass women. I hate that. I like to think of the kink community as a bunch of really nice people who all want to at least be friends. I like to think of us as inclusive and connected as a group by common weirdness.

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And yet, so often lately it seems like real world interactions ruin my hopeful views.

What happened?

I have been part of the kink community for 20 years and I never had to deal with the type of assholes that are around these days. Is this just how men are now? Have they all become total losers?

I mean, I never used to get harassed this much. I used to meet nice people through fetlife.com. Hell, I met my husband (who is my very favorite Pet) through fetlife.com! I feel like nearly every message I used to get resulted in a friendship, and I still think fondly of all those amazing people I used to meet around munches and fetlife and fetish proms.

And yet, lately it’s nothing but penis pictures and guys saying “Wut up slut.”

It’s like the quality of available males has diminished in the last decade to the point that there simply are not any more worth talking to. I haven’t met anyone worth my time in ages, and that is disappointing.

So maybe the person I love in Arizona is right. Maybe it’s time to give up on dating for awhile. At least I will always have my beloved Pet, so that is something!

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Munches

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My favorite munch that I ever went to was in Portland. We got together to make ginger bread houses. I had actually never made a ginger bread house before, and I really had fun with it. The person throwing the munch had arranged to buy kits for each of us and candy (which we reimbursed her for) and everyone brought snacks to make it kind of a pot luck.

It is still a really cool memory because I like to try new things, enjoy pleasant conversation with new people, and feel accomplished at the end of it all.

I have not ever made a ginger bread house since, but I am really glad to say that I was able to do it once in my life. And it was even with cool people!

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So my husband and I are going on vacation, and I was trying to think of somewhere to have a munch while on our trip. I looked at the Raccoon cafe (only two sad little raccoons) and all the bars and restaurants I like, but here’s the problem with that:

It’s loud in a restaurant, bar, or club.

I always felt like the point of a munch was to talk to people and get to know them. I thought it was to introduce friends, and make new friends.

It’s hard to do that in a loud and crowded environment.

Anyway, it made me think of how I would rather go hike to a temple and sit around in a circle chatting than go to a bar and scream over music.

What is your favorite place to hold a munch?

 

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Bottom of the Barrel

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Recently, I had two people message me on fetlife.com. Both were jerks and I want to tell you about it because I think it’s exemplifies what I said in my last post about how dating can be hard.

Yes, there is the adventure of meeting new people and maybe falling in love. That part is great! But there is also the frustration of putting yourself out there and getting back a lot of garbage.

So I will give you these two examples of garbage from my inbox this week.

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Guy Number One:

The first guy said:

“Wut u up to i want to fuk.” 

He had no profile picture, and no information filled out about himself. So for all I knew, he could be an 800 pound serial killer. He probably was.

When I replied back and said that he would do better to talk to women like people (i.e. say “Hello” to them first) and to fill out his profile a little, he quickly messaged back and called me an “ugly whore.”

Now, I am a slutty, dirty whore. That’s true. I am a magically delicious super slut. I have a lot of very hot, very nasty sex and I love it. I have threesomes and orgies and I do all the things that your girlfriend thinks are gross.

But ugly!

Anyway, I was just giving actual helpful advice. I didn’t point out the spelling or grammar errors in his original message, although there were many. I genuinely think men who message women with idiot stuff have never been taught better, and so I nicely offered to help.

So naturally, he called me an “ugly whore.”

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Guy Number Two:

First off, you should know that I am 34 years old. My husband is 25. That should give you an idea of the age range that I hang out in.

Guy number two is 68 years old. He messages me to say that he wants to hang out.

Now, he was polite, and I appreciate that. So I say that it is a shame the island is so small and that we have so few chances to hang out with new people, but that I don’t think he’s my type.

He could have left it at that, but he didn’t. He just had to know why.

I was as nice as possible. I said “There is a more than 30 year age gap between us, and that makes me uncomfortable because even my dad is only 25 years older than me. Imagine if I 98 year old messaged you. It would be kind of like that.”

After all, I am just trying to politely explain that I am not into daddy-daughter stuff or age play or any of that (and of course my profile does reflect my interests). I am uncomfortable with older men due to being molested when I was young, and someone older than my dad just grosses me out beyond words to think about.

So naturally he sent back a nasty message about how no matter how old we get, we are all the same inside, and that I was discriminating and a bitch. Because, I guess, who cares if I have hangups that are personal to my history and insurmountable in my mind?

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Summary

I understand that dating can be frustrating. I have a friend just dipping her toes into the dating game after years of not even trying, and I have been doing my best to be encouraging and helpful. I know it’s hard.

However, on fetlife.com I expect a certain standard of behavior. I expect people to greet me in a manner befitting my persona, and to accept any kind rejection with returned kindness. We’re all into different stuff, and that is okay.

I guess it’s partly Guam, which has shown me little in the way of viable options. The one nice guy I met was ordered off to Nebraska before we got a chance to really hang out. It is a small island.

Still, we can maintain our decency as a community, can’t we? We can be polite and encourage those who are new, or who don’t fit in quite right, can’t we?

Mostly I never check my Fetlife anymore because of the sort of people who have messaged me since I have been here. But I have been disappointed each time I have checked it and that is too bad.

Then and Now

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I started out in the scene in the way-back-when days. The Internet wasn’t really a think yet, and so it was really hard to put out information about events.

Sure, those freaks that were into judging the prettiest goat could just put an add in the paper for their booth at the country fair, because that sort of behavior is okay with society. But not us. The Kink Community was hidden away down scary dark alleys and in disreputable clubs.

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I remember when I first heard someone mention kink at The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was fourteen. I was shocked that it was a thing that existed outside my head! Back then, all the periodicals were hidden behind counters and there was just know way to find these things out easily.

So I overheard the place they mentioned. It was called The Graffiti Shop. When I got there, I realized it wasn’t a kink club at all. It was a music and clothing store. But, it had a board where people could post fliers. Then I understood. The Kink Community in my city had no real way to communicate, so they would leave a stack of fliers for an event at The Graffiti Shop, and you would have to go get one and bring it with you to get in to the event.

The events would always be at really skivvy dive bars down really dark alleys, which was traumatizing. It took a lot of guts and a fair amount of stupid for a young girl to go through with making it into an event.

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I think the people were creepier back then. It might just be because I was a young girl then, but I feel like being pushed into the shadows can make people feel creepy. If society says there is something wrong with them, then they internalize that and act accordingly.

Of course, I could be reading too much into it. I guess I have been to some event even recently where there were a lot of “creepers,” (you know- those guys you do not want to get stuck talking to.)

Anyway I feel like there were legitimately creepier people back then, and not in a good way. It was all so clandestine and secretive, and I think that made it more dangerous. You would never report a rape at a club that was super-secret like that, right?

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So now we live in the future. I love the future! The Internet (for me) completely changed the Kink Community in the best ways possible! Now, you can go to events easily, and there are vanilla events like munches where you can just talk to kinky people without having to go through all the costuming and pageantry.

We have all kinds of resources. There are communities like the BDSM subreddit where you can ask questions and read about kink issues. There are websites for meeting people like Collar Space. There’s fetlife.com, which I think of as Facebook for kinksters. And there’s all sorts of kink porn that you don’t have to sneak behind a beaded curtain and have a very awkward interaction with a checkout guy for.

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The Internet let us come out of the shadows and into the light. It let us create a community, and have enough members in that community to support dungeons and play spaces and meetups.

I often muse at how great everything has gotten and how bad it really was before. And when I think about it, I can’t believe how glad I am that we live in the time that we do and have the resources that we have.

I will never be nostalgic for the past, and I will always look forward to the future.

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Hitting on a Girl

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This is something I have discussed before. But since it keeps being a problem, I guess we’re going to keep discussing it.

So here we go again: Tips for talking to a girl for the first time.

More and more relationships are started online. And I personally use fetlife.com and okcupid.com to meet people.

But here’s the problem: A lot of people think a good pick-up line is “Do you want to swallow my cum?”

First: very few girls have that fetish. Most of them find it lumpy and gross. Sure, some girls find it a real turn-on. But it’s less than half so maybe play the odds on this one?

Second: talking to girls isn’t hard. You treat them like people and show them respect. It’s that simple. Sub, Domme, or even a vanilla girl. All women deserve respect. So speak to them like they are human beings.

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Let’s talk about pornography. If you sit at home all day and watch it, you might get the impression that all girls are just sitting around waiting to be gang-banged by complete strangers.

But let’s say you talk to a real girl. Not a paid actress. But a real live girl. You don’t want to talk to her like one of the porn stars you jack off to.

Here’s another real actual line I got from a guy: “I just want to show up at a girl’s house and have her be in panties and we just fuck.”

Okay. I have seen that porn.

However, responsible people get STD tests before engaging in sexual escapes with strangers. Why? Well, because condoms are not 100% effective against things like Herpes, and I don’t want to have Herpes.

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Now then, another point: Yes, I am a Magically Delicious Super Slut.

However, that does not mean I have sex with everyone I meet. It means I enjoy sex, and I have interesting sex. It’s kinky and it’s exciting and it’s inventive. But it doesn’t mean I just fuck random people who’ve said hi to me online. I do have standards, just like anyone else.

The more you have sex with someone, the  better it should get. You get to know one another and what each other likes and that helps. So I like to have relationships rather than one-night stands. That means I tend to choose people worth having a conversation with. If we’re going to lay in bed catching our breaths, it would be nice if we have something to say to one another.

So think it through. Don’t open with crass and obnoxious things like: “I want you to suck my balls.”

What that makes you look like is a woman-hating twerp with no respect for the person you are talking to, as well as someone who is sexually frustrated and poorly endowed. It makes it look like you’re taking your issues out on random people because you fail at relationships.

So what DO you say to a girl?

Well, here’s an obvious one. Read her profile and bring up something from it. For example, “I see you like Firefly. Long live the brown coats!”

If nothing on her profile makes any sense to you, then the chances are you won’t get along. Maybe don’t start a conversation with her, even if she is hot.

Also, it never hurts to start with: “Hi. You seem interesting. Would you like to talk, or maybe get coffee some time?”

I know it sounds crazy, but it works. It shows respect. It shows you recognize that the women you’re talking to is a person, and that you are not objectifying her. And when you treat people with respect and decency, you might actually get a positive response. Imagine that!

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Now, I would give tips for meeting people in person, but honestly, I hate doing that. When you bump into a random stranger as a poly Dominatrix, you’re not likely to have anything in common with them. And it can take a very long time to explain that being poly doesn’t mean I’m cheating on my husband, or that I am unhappy in my relationship. And explaining kink to a vanilla person does not always go well.

But if you do meet someone you think you might like in person, maybe keep the same things in mind? Respect. Kindness. Etc…

It’s just basic stuff really, but inevitably I run into people who don’t know it. So hopefully this helped some of those people who may wonder why I didn’t write them back.

For A Vanilla Friend

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A friend of mine whom I have always considered vanilla got sushi with me a few weeks ago. She expressed interested in whips and chains and things. And I was surprised. I know some kink folks go around assuming that vanilla people WOULD be kinky if they were a little more gutsy or a little less sheltered. But I have never thought that. I know quite a few people who tried kinky stuff just to see how they felt about it, and decided it wasn’t for them. Ergo, I never presume to know what someone is like inside their own head.

But this friend of mine asked about a few things, and I thought I would do a basic overview of each of them.

First, responsible sex.

I have written about this topic before when discussing poly relationships, but I think a quick summary here would be beneficial. My friend expressed horror about getting STD tests from people. But as I have said before, one little cell can ruin your life and skin to skin contact can transfer cells; condoms or no. If you’re interested in being poly, understand that getting an STD can ruin the lives of a lot of people, and learn to take this seriously and not to be afraid of it.

Yes, vanilla people often avoid openly talking about this kind of thing. Yes, some of them see it as a lack of trust when you simply want to use a condom, never mind trading paperwork. But if you get into the kink community then people expect this, so don’t be shy about asking!

Second, where to go. 

I have found that the best way to find kinky folks where you live these days is to go to a fetlife.com munch. I know us kinky folks have our issues with fetlife from time to time. But let’s be honest, before that web site came along, finding freaks in your town involved walking up to scary people and asking them in person. I did that back in the early 90’s when I moved to L.A. and I am sure it wasn’t safe.

So make a profile (dear god don’t use your real name!) and find a munch near you. Choose one in a public place where the dress code is listed as “vanilla.” Then just go and talk to people. Most munches will include folks who can tell you where the dungeons are and the good clubs to hang out at.

Third, what to do.

It’s not like you have to jump in with both feet. If you’re nervous about getting started, just keep dating vanilla people, but ask them if they ever thought about trying kinky things. Practicing with another person who is mostly vanilla can be fun and harmless. Get one of those silly kinky “starter kits” they sell these days as sex shops (due to the popularity of a certain series of shit books) and try things out. You don’t need to be part of the community to be kinky. It can be nice to have the support, but if it’s too overwhelming at first, then don’t do it. You should never do anything that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable.

And remember the BDSM mantra: Safe, sane, and consensual!