Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

This is a story of isolationism and group loyalty. How about we make it a story of compassion?

In the last week or so I found out that Susan Wright became Fetlife’s new Community Manager.  Susan Wright, the woman who thinks abuse survivors in the BDSM community shouldn’t go to the proper authorities because before we can seek legal help or emergency intervention “There also has to be a change in the way BDSM is viewed by the mainstream…”  Which I’m sure will come any moment now as the BDSM community continues to hide abusers in its ranks to the dismay and disgust of the mainstream.

Susan Wright who goes on to say:

Personally I think we need to empower the physical BDSM groups and events more. If someone is abused by another member, they should be able to make that accusation and get a hearing from the group.

Even as her new boss John Baku counters:

…our focus really is on trying to get people to speak to the proper authorities so that the people who have committed these horrible crimes get put away.

Maybe they should talk.

Susan Wright who I hope understands in taking a job with a social network/dating site focused on BDSM that she is no longer dealing with physical groups, and more importantly can no longer use isolationist politics of BDSM (or the Don’t Bite The Hand That Gets You Laid model) for community control.  Except maybe she can, because if there is anything we learn from the Yes Means Yes There’s a War On series it is that the cohesiveness of the BDSM scene, the thing Susan Wright and people like her have been flaunting as a way to protect kinksters for years, is the very thing that allows abuse to happen in these communities to start with.  And we’ve known this for years, but now we can actually track the community closing ranks around an alleged abuser.  But that is a story about group loyalty, about the fact that Wright like so many other BDSMers would rather align themselves with systematic abuse than question the sanctity of their groups.  This is a story about a community and mode of operation that needs to be wiped out because it can’t be saved, it isn’t worth saving, and the fish stinks from the head as it were.

So how about we make it a story about compassion?

The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) launched a survey. “We haven’t closed it yet, but so far we have 5,000 responses, and over 30 percent of them had have their previously negotiated limit violated, which I think is horrific,” said spokesperson Susan Wright. “There is still confusion between consensual BDSM and assault.”

Screen shot 2013-01-18 at 11.33.42 AM

Over 30%.  Thirty percent of 5,000 is 1,500.  Um, guys, think about your local BDSM scene, pretty small group right?  Now think about BDSM conventions you’ve been to or heard of, couple thousand people at the really big ones?  Now think about over 1,500 of the people who took this survey clicking yes to the question above.  Susan, there is no confusion between abuse and BDSM, there are violent, controlling, unethical people being protected and promoted in the ranks of BDSM organizations. 

Here is what must pass for confusion in Susan’s book from Thomas of Yes Means Yes:

A good friend who is a non-masochistic female submissive negotiated “a painless singlestail scene” at a convention dungeon. She was not a novice, but had 3-4 years experience and was very active in the local community. The dominant man was a was a current title-holder, doing the circuit of regional conventions.

In midst the scene, after she was spacey and not able to speak, he re-negotiated the scene and got her agree to body punching. She expected a thumpy massage. She got three ribs dislocated.

When he punched her kidney she fell, so he held her to the floor and kept punching her. She had to pull herself together enough to speak, and to call red, before he stopped. Then he told her not to tell anyone what had happened, and he dumped her on me and left. He did not show up at the pre-arranged meeting place the next the morning.

This was clearly not a scene gone wrong, or a mistake.

[Emphasis his]

It goes on.  And these stories go on and on and on.

Here is what these stories sound like as told by members of these communities:

When I was new to the scene, I briefly had a relationship with hephaestus829. During that relationship, he pressured me into having kinds of sex and play that I did not enjoy. He had unprotected sex with others without my knowledge.When I discovered this, he gaslit my concerns about my boundaries and my health. After I ended the relationship, he sexually assaulted me while we were both sleeping over at a mutual friend’s house. He got into the bed I was sharing with a female friend and put his hands under my pajamas, touching my back and genitals nonconsensually. He thought I was sleeping. I later found out that I wasn’t the first person he abused this way; I met another one of his victims at a national kink convention. Their story was remarkably similar to mine. – FAADE 10/27/12

After listening to and reading a number of these stories I can say the one above seems mild and that in and of itself is scary.  Here is another one:

This person drove her boyfriend at the time (Kimball Karlson-Martini) to hunt down his other girlfriend, then watched him repeatedly batter that girlfriend with a closet rod over the course of an hour. She and Kimball kidnapped the girlfriend to their shared home in Tacoma when the girlfriend’s roommate interrupted them, then watched as Karlson-Martini humiliated, battered, and raped the victim several times. She then proceeded to cover up for the boyfriend for several months until they brought her in. Suddenly pled “mental illness” from which she instantaneously recovered.

Karlson-Martini was charged with kidnapping, assault, and rape. He pled guilty to lesser charges. – FAADE 1/13/13

Read the news article attached there.  Read the part where “Questioned by police at the hospital, the woman denied any attack” because “Karlson-Martini had threatened to kill her.” Then go back and look at the Social License to Operate presented by Yes Means Yes and the role that past silence plays in future silence.

Realize that Karlson-Martini is the kind of person the BDSM community protects.  That 19 year old Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Marriott  and Noelle Paquette are the people who die because of it.  Pause for a moment.  Realize that whatever the fuck the BDSM community is doing, we are doing it wrong.

And then, tell your own story.  What have you done in the name of protecting your community?  What have you not done? Are the things you’re saying making the world a safer place for people who were abused or for people who abuse others?  Are you scared of an edge case or a systematic problemWhat are you going to do to change this?

Written by kinkinexile

January 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

9 Responses

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  1. Well. Fucking. Put.

    Which is exactly why, if the trend holds, this is going to be a relatively orphaned page on the Internet, with very few well-known BDSM Scene blogs linking to it. Which, really, is the problem in a nutshell.


    January 19, 2013 at 1:50 am

    • That is the problem in a nutshell now isn’t it. And that is exactly the kind of isolationism that protects abusers. Here’s to hoping it’s also the kind of isolationism that is off putting to new potential members.


      January 19, 2013 at 6:23 pm

  2. I just took the NCSF survey myself, and I’m discouraged to see that it appears, once again, that there’s no control group. Obviously it is horrific if 30% of people in the BDSM scene have had their boundaries violated, and there’s no excuse for any institutions trying to whitewash that. On the other hand, it would be useful-not just as a matter of tu quoque righteousness, but strategically useful-to know how that compares to the rest of the sexual world. Arguably, the BDSM world spends vastly more energy emphasizing consent protocols than non-kinky sexual sphere. It would be interesting to see if we’re getting any return on our investment or not.

    Orlando C

    February 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    • Orlando, the NYTimes reports here [] citing an “exhaustive government study” that the sexual assault rate for women in the general US population is 1 in 5 or 20%. You will note that the rate of similar assault among NCSF survey takers is over 50% higher, indicating that not only are we not getting any return for our investment but we are actually losing ground.


      February 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      • The CDC report discussed in the NY Times article lists the 20% figure (actually, 18.3%) not for “sexual assault”, but specifically for rape, defined as, “completed forced penetration, forced penetration facilitated by drugs or alcohol, or attempted forced penetration.” That is a somewhat narrower definition than the one presented in the NCSF survey.

        The CDC survey also contains the following data:

        Lifetime Prevalence of Sexual Violence — US Women, Other Sexual Violence: 44.6% (Table 2.1 on page 18 of the full report). Page 19 of the report explains that “sexual violence” included four categories other than rape, which had the following rates of occurrence among US women:

        “Being made to penetrate someone else” (Too few reports from women to make an estimate)
        “Sexual coercion”: 13%
        “Unwanted sexual contact”: 27.2%
        “Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences”: 33.7%

        “Non-contact unwanted sexual experiences” included flashing, forcing someone to expose body parts, being shown porn, and sexual harassment “that made the victim feel unsafe.”

        None of this improves the situation for the BDSM Scene. There’s not much to choose between “very bad indeed” and extremely bad”.

        Valery North

        March 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    • I was exiled from the Columbus, OH community (as in banned from the largest organization that controlled all the other groups) for coming forward on writing about a long time staff member and educational leader who had raped me three years ago and had been doing questionable things to newbies and girlfriends and his wife alike for at least four years.

      The story is here:

      I was banned for life for false charges, though, a few months later, he was let go by the organization and the educational group he ran. I no longer live in that state so I don’t know what his status is at large.

      Just, I really resonated with this.


      May 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

  3. Reblogged this on Steelwhisper and commented:
    On Consent Violations I


    August 9, 2013 at 3:49 am

  4. […] Recently, Susan Wright from NCSF became the “community manager” for FetLife. (Remember her?) Maybe she can start her “education” campaign with her boss, John Baku? FetLife continues to assert that the right approach is to try to prosecute cases in the court of […]

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