Some of you may have heard of Fetlife, but for those of you who haven’t, it’s a free online kink community where users can meet one another, swap stories, educate others and feel overall supported for lifestyle choices that may not be widely accepted in mainstream culture. I’m on Fetlife, as a matter of fact (though I admittedly don’t use it anymore), and one of my best friends is an extremely active member whose educated me on quite a bit about the kink community which she loves and treasures dearly.
From my experiences as well as hers, the kink community is a mostly great one full of acceptance, discussion and diversity. BDSM has often been criticized by people who don’t understand that consensual, respectful play is not a bad thing. However, the key word in that mix is “consensual.”
Fetlife tends to pride itself on being widely accepting and non-misogynistic. Sadly, however, it’s recently become clear that quite a few slut-shaming folks have set up shop there.
Dayna, a member of Fetlife, posted on the site about being sexually assaulted on Halloween, as she felt she would have people willing to hear her story and interested in what happened to her. She wrote that while walking through campus in Belfast, Ireland, wearing a hoodie and jeans while on the way to a bar, she was asked by a group of men (or “gaggle of revelers,” as she called them) who asked what she was supposed to be. She smiled, as one might do when strangers ask you a silly question, and stated that she didn’t have a costume.
Instead of leaving her alone, the men began to circle around her, taunting her with questions about why she wasn’t wearing a costume. Attempting to laugh it off, she said “Happy Halloween!” and insisted she had to be going, but they continued surrounding her, telling her to give one of them a kiss because she wasn’t wearing a costume.
From her post, entitled “How Rape Culture Ruined My Hallowe’en”:
He’s standing in my way and the dog is behind him watching and urging him to follow. Whatever, I bump my jaw against his mouth and try and walk off. He grabs my wrists. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I notice he’s actually holding them really friggin’ tight. I’m trying to laugh it off, and I tell him my sister’s waiting in the car for me and I’m late – he’s still not letting me go. Dog is walking away bored. I don’t see anyone else. I’m afraid. My voice is getting a little too shrill and a little too loud. He’s really hurting my wrists. I twist one arm and get it free. He grabs my boob instead, and uses it to literally pull himself towards me, tonguing all over every part of my face he can get. It’s so painful I cry out.
I am quite clearly struggling. I am being loud, shrill, and panicked. No one, butno one, could have mistaken this for acceptable.
Two women walk past, look me dead in the eye, and turn away, speeding up a little. Right in the eyes. My pleading, desperate, please-God-help-me eyes….
I was angry at those women for leaving me. That asshole – not for assaulting me, specifically – the rage was because I’m sure he thought he was being harmless.Myself. Why couldn’t I save myself? Why did I bring it on myself? Fuck, why am I blaming myself? My bad it happened, my bad for thinking that, my bad for not doing this, or this, or this. Angry at my friends for not being mindreaders and then angry at myself again for expecting them to be. Angry at the world that allowed this dude to get to his early twenties without learning what is and is not okay to do to other people. Angry at the world that made those two ladies too afraid to stop him. Angry at the world that makes me too afraid to tell my mother who would hold me and soothe me and cry with me if she knew. Angry at the world that had sexually brutalised her to the point that this information would destroy her. Angry that the justice system (scoff, scoff) doesn’t give a fuck and can do nothing. The I don’t care, get over it, it wasn’t a big deal and also kinda your fault, system. I’m so angry.
I’m so angry people still try and deny rape culture exists as a pervasive, damaging, unacceptable part of our society.
I’m so angry about what has to happen for people to notice.
I’m so angry about what happens and they still don’t notice.
I’m so angry.