“There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In” Brilliant post below, one of many in Thomas’s series “There’s a War On” on Yes Means Yes. In this one he talks about consent, blowing boundaries, and the importance of After-Care Respect. Although he speaks mostly about the BDSM community, what he says can be utilized in all communities and in all sexual interactions. He speaks especially about the importance of having a conversation with the “tops,” or in the case of non-BDSM sex, the one who has been named for perpetrating some sort of sexualized violence. It’s not about punishment or even necessarily ostracism, it’s about self-improvement and caring for another human being who has been hurt and/or violated. It’s in this questioning and communication that we, as a community, separate the abusers (who we want out of our community) and those who just blew a boundary or fucked up. Here’s an excerpt:
Self-Improvement for Tops: To Err Is Human, To Get Defensive Is Counterproductive Aftercare isn’t only the part that looks after the bottom’s emotional needs. On my account, properly understood, aftercare has three components: the bottom’s emotional needs, the top’s emotional needs, and post-scene learning. Some folks don’t need a lot of aftercare for their emotional needs. Some tops don’t really get top drop, some bottoms don’t need or even want a lot of looking after, but there’s always room to learn something. One dominant I know always asks her bottoms, “Was there anything I did that you were not comfortable with?” and “Was there anything I did that you wish I hadn’t done?” This tends to work better after the initial rush of hormones and emotions from play has a chance to settle down, and lots of people do following-day check-ins, especially after big scenes. There are two things to be accomplished here. The first is for the tops themselves. I top too, and with just one partner for over a decade. You know what? I am still learning. We push, we talk, we learn, we try things. I make mistakes! Yes, I do! And we talk about them. Technical errors, miscommunications, and even landmines, as I discussed in Part 5. Ignoring these things or pretending they don’t need to be discussed doesn’t do anyone any good. Talking about the things that went wrong helps the top. We learn from our mistakes only when we know what they are. We may think that all the perceptions we have in the course of a scene are accurate. Well, every litigator I know will tell you that when you take a deposition and then read the transcript, the record you made is different from the record you think you made. And folks I know in medicine tell me that doctors who think they know everything from image tests are often surprised by autopsies and pathology results which show that you really can’t see everything from a scan. We don’t have perfect information, and cross-checking our perceptions of another person’s reactions and state of mind is an invaluable, irreplaceable process. Talking about things that went wrong helps the bottom. If something went wrong and it wasn’t a deliberate violation, the best way to clear the air is for the bottom to say what happened and be heard, and not get shut down. When the harm in not intentional, that’s often enough. When the harm is not intentional, that is the first act and sine qua non of amends. Talking about what went wrong, finally, helps the culture. What we need to do is separate the predators from the underbrush they operate in, the climate that grants the SL-Op, to put them in a position where their deliberate behavior is not easily disguised as something else. Hiding mistakes and denying them makes the mess-up look like the deliberate wrong, and the one who erred act like the abuser. We all need those who make mistakes to act like people who care and don’t want to make mistakes again, so that those who keep on and keep on violating limits look like exactly what they are. We all need it to become unacceptable and aberrant to get defensive, deny, blame and shut down when our mistakes are pointed out. If a bottom says, “when I was in subspace and you were calling me names, we hadn’t talked about that and it was really icky for me,” for example, it has to be unacceptable to say, “I’m not a mindreader! You should have told me!” How about, “Sorry. I didn’t realize. I messed up. Won’t happen again.” The bottom may not have even known how it would feel; we don’t all know our limits and triggers until we stumble on them. Those are the landmines. The bottom can learn from the experience, about theirself and their limits, but the top can, too. Acting like all communication failures are solely or principally the bottom’s fault is counterproductive, first because it shuts down the conversation, but second because that’s how the abusers act; and the abusers have more SL-Op if more people act like they do. I’m not saying this because I think it will make abusers better people. It won’t. They do what they do on purpose and they can’t be fixed, only deterred. I’m saying what I think tops can do to look less like abusers, to create an environment where abuse looks aberrant and abusers stand out, so they can be dealt with.
Please read the rest HERE. The entire series is recommended reading for all those interested in helping support victims of assault and learning how to hold the perpetrators accountable. May you find peace.
Olivia M. Grey lives in the cobwebbed corners of her mind writing paranormal romance with a Steampunk twist, like the Amazon Gothic Romance bestseller Avalon Revisited. Her short stories and poetry have been published in various magazines and anthologies, like SNM Horror Magazine and How the West Was Wicked. Ms. Grey also blogs and podcasts relationship essays covering such topics as alternative lifestyles, deepening intimacy, ending a relationship with love and respect, and other deliciously dark and decadent matters of the heart and soul.
Read more by O. M. Grey on her blog Caught in the Cogs, http://omgrey.wordpress.com