The kink world is a hot bed of accusations and trial by public opinion. I don’t recall it always being this way, though it likely has been. With the vast majority of people living life in the electronic public eye, errors, spats, and other forms of dirty laundry are visible not just over the backyard fence but across entire states, at minimum.
I was prompted into this line of thought by an examination of accountability by The Ochre Muse. I have done all of the things she talks about. I’ve done them in vanilla relationships. I’ve done them in my lifestyle relationships. I never said a word publicly, nor will I. I fully understand the blame is at least 50% mine.
My partners are not mind readers. None of them have been. None of those in the future will be. If I am doing something I’m not one hundred percent on board with, because it has been said that if I don’t, there’s the door, well, yes, it was a crappy thing they said to me and, yes, it was manipulative, but I had the option to take the door and didn’t … that’s on me. If I get injured because I pushed myself beyond what I’m physically capable of … that, too, is on me. I cannot call that person out for a consent violation because I chose my action.
On the flip side of that, when I top someone, I am painfully aware of consent culture. I am excruciatingly careful in my negotiation process. I include the following questions:
“Can your entire body be struck?”
“Can your genitalia be struck?”
“Can your entire body be touched?”
“Can your genitalia be touched?”
Those may seem redundant. They may seem needlessly explicit. Here’s the thing, I’ve been on the other side of the slash. I have interpreted many questions incorrectly due to wide variances between my experience level and that of the person asking the question. Though I understand that when I say “entire body” I know that I’m including the genitalia, the person I’m speaking to may not have any clue that I fully intend to strike their genitals in mean and nasty ways. I have had multiple bottoms say that of course I can strike their whole body but oh gee, heck no you can’t hit my pink bits. Who would do that? Who would want that?
I’ve also had a bottom say to me, mid scene, “I forgot to tell you, I really like having my hair pulled. You can do that if you want”. Fortunately, I have the presence of mind to say “I don’t renegotiate once a scene has begun. We can talk about that next time if you like.” This type of thing has happened more than once with more than one bottom. I’ve seen one too many writings where a sub has offered something while under the influence of subspace that they would not have while sober (and yes, I use the word sober intentionally).
If a bottom says to me that they don’t want marks, I write an addendum to my negotiation form which says “<bottom’s name> has stated they do not want marks. I have explained that though I will try not to, I cannot guarantee that they will not be marked. They have chosen to play with that in mind.” They are then asked to sign and date it.
All of these things are done with everyone I play with each and every time. I have an established play partner who I’ve been beating, at least monthly, for years. My negotiation procedure still gets followed every time. No exceptions. I have a notebook in which I keep every single completed form. Word has spread around my community about my negotiations.
I’ve no doubt that there are people who won’t play with me because I require my partners to disclose their legal name and medical history. In the event of an emergency, I’ll be damned if I tell the paramedics that their name is LovesAssBruises but we call them Bruisey for short and that I have no idea if they’re allergic to anything or if they’ve taken so much as an aspirin today.
The play we engage in is dangerous. We hurt people / people get hurt. We call it fun. We expose ourselves to all sorts of risks, both physical and, potentially, emotional. It’s astonishing how often this is swept aside so we can hurry up and do the thing, whatever the thing may be. This prevalent dismissal is irresponsible and neglectful.
I endeavor to never forget the possibility that I could harm someone unintentionally (not hurt, but harm, as in; permanent injury). I work to make my negotiations as complete as possible to avoid misunderstandings and to maintain as much safety in our risky activities as can be reasonably expected.
I have to wonder how many tops, regardless of label, don’t do these things? How many, on both sides of the slash, get burnt as a result?