posted by Infra on May 6th, 2012
In terms of what he quoted from Daisy Deadhead,2 I’ve argued similar things here, though with an arguably darker slant. But there are a couple of additional things that I’d like to note, the first of which is in regard to this, quoting SE:
Obviously, “trying and failing” is the field that Consent Culture seeks to deal with; Decency 101 (or “education” in the terms used by CC) will only work for people who are engaged with learning. Those who won’t listen are a problem. Those who listen but don’t care (i.e. the serial abusers) are fundamentally a threat, and have to be dealt with differently.
As well as in other posts, that’s what I was getting at in this one.
The thing that almost floored him, when he heard that, wasn’t the comparison. It was the idea that the difference was one related to consent. What a lot of people don’t seem to realize — but what becomes readily apparent if you’ve dealt with a number of these individuals, especially in a treatment context — is that they often do believe in consent. Or more to the point, a twisted form of it. It’s just that in their minds, it becomes something that we no longer recognize. And that’s one of the main reasons why straight-out attempts at education fail. Because the information goes in, but once it’s there… it’s no longer what it was.
They don’t listen, but often because they believe that they understand it better than we do. They don’t care, but often because they believe that our understanding of these things is marred by obstacles from which they are free. Or they don’t listen, or they don’t care, because they feel that they have a right, or even an obligation, to question. To seek out the answers themselves — the answers that they believe that we, or anyone else, cannot provide, and that only experience can prove.
And sometimes,3 they don’t listen because they’ve come to believe that they have no other option. That even if true for others, the words could never be true for them, even if they wanted them to be.
None of which is to say that reform and rehabilitation is impossible; as we continued to talk, the doc I referenced agreed with this, and, as I’ve referenced elsewhere on other occasions, I’ve known people who’ve worked in that specific field as well. But it’s a complex and delicate thing, involving victim empathy, risk factors and aftercare, and it only works for some. To see it as a matter of consent education is to see it as something that it is not: it’s fully possible to respect consent, fully and completely, and to fully and completely believe it — and still, on occasion, commit these offenses. The sources are not the same.
But returning to SnowdropExplodes’ post, there’s one point on which I have to disagree:
Fundamentally, though, the message of this post is that these problems and issues are not unique to any particular type of space: they exist in BDSM, they exist in liberal politics, they exist in SF/Fantasy fandom, they exist in all spaces that are open to anyone to say, “yes, I belong here.” Because the types of people who represent problems of this type are present in society as a whole.
But in a nuanced way.
Although I agree on the general point, there’s the idea of restricted, transgressive and specialized knowledge that comes into play; and extending from this, the idea of a counter-moral ethical space, or one of judgmental suspension, within which ideas that are normally rejected can be explored with acceptance, or at least with the dispersal of censure. And it’s with this in mind that I’d assert that the problems of the BDSM scene seem to have more in common with some scenes than others, this being something that the above overlooks (quite possibly out of lack of familiarity).
Specifically, and saying this as someone with long-running background in it, it’s worth noting that some commentors in Cliff Pervocracy’s thread referenced similar problems (and suggested solutions based upon their experiences) in the pagan scene. My background is more with the occultism community than the pagan one as such, but I’ve noticed the same. And even the same issues with privilege, sexism, classism and race,4 depending upon which schools of practice were involved.
(Anyone with a sufficient history in these scenes will probably note the similarities in this article, linked in another of Snowdrop’s posts. Including, most notably, the reactions in the comments. Also, the elements noted in the “They don’t listen…” paragraph, above, should be quite familiar.)
So, although it’s accurate to say that these phenomena occur widely, it’s also worth pointing out that they seem to coalesce more strongly, and in certain, identifiable ways, under certain conditions. And it’s worth suggesting that those differences should be taken into account.
- Along with his one on feminist self-identification.
- This should not, however, be construed as agreement with DD: her posts and comments, in my reading, consistently raise a number of red flags. I’ll restrict myself to that.
- As was claimed by the man subject to one of this state’s first chemical castration sentences, if not the first, when I met him, previous to it being imposed. (It was a chance meeting: we happened to be in the same block of holding at the time, as he was being transferred through the area.) His claim was that he was looking forward to it; he saw it as a release from something that he couldn’t control on his own.
- The strength of each varying with type and the “lineage” issue, and this aside from the widespread problem of cultural appropriation.