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Monday, December 1, 2014

Warning: Controversy ahead

Well, I did tell you that this was coming, right? After a couple of really frustrating weeks on FetLife, where the term "consent violation" was being hurled left and right and sideways, I couldn't stand it anymore. I tried posting my thoughts on some of the writings that I felt overused the term, but I just got flamed. So I figured, what the hell. I'll write my own rebuttal, and damn the torpedoes.

My point, in case I don't make that abundantly clear, is NOT to tell people they shouldn't be offended or upset by something. That is their feelings, and it would be invalidating to say otherwise. But there is one hell of a span of territory between simple offenses and what constitutes a violation of consent in our scene, and I feel like people are losing sight of that, to the detriment of those who suffer the real violations. So...

Cross posting this here for my readers as well. What do you guys think? (Sorry, I know the line spacing is very tight and it's hard to read. I couldn't seem to fix that when I copied it over from FL.)

Some Straight Talk on "Consent Violation"
I've been seeing that phrase a whole lot on here in the past couple of weeks. This will probably get me flamed, blamed, and shamed, but I felt the need to review just exactly what constitutes consent violation.
To the best of my knowledge and experience, there are three basic types of CV:
1. Stating a hard limit to a play partner and having said limit ignored. Example: A bottom specifies "no wood" before a spanking, but then the top picks up a wooden paddle midway through the scene.
2. Ignoring a safe word. There are a lot of gray areas in the kink scene, but one thing is crystal clear: You hear "red," "mercy," or any other designated safe word, and you stop what you're doing. Period. Continuing a scene after a safe word is uttered is a violation.
3. This last one is murkier than the other two, and it has a lot of variables and "it depends" and so forth, but basically: Agreeing on one type of play, and then seguing into something completely different within the scene without clearing it first. I'm not talking about a slight variance, like switching implements up during an impact play scene (unless a particular implement is a stated hard limit). I mean something like you're in the middle of a spanking scene, and the top suddenly whips out a plug of ginger. Not a good idea to assume that is OK, just because you're doing one sort of bottom play. Or, the ever-famous wandering fingers. Just because she's over your knee and you see a bit of dampness, doesn't mean you can take your hand off her bottom and stick it between her legs.
If I'm missing any more obvious and clear-cut types of violations, please let me know. However, riddle me this: Say, at a party, in a session, at a dungeon, or whatever your choice of kink hangout is, someone says or does something you don't care for. I'm not talking about a deliberately ignored limit or anything that egregious -- I'm talking about preferences, and how some people can be kind of rude, thoughtless, clueless, or presumptuous. Does it piss you off, offend you, annoy you? You bet, and that's your right.
However, is it a consent violation? Sorry. No, it is not. And it's really inappropriate to call it one. Because overusing that phrase minimizes/invalidates the real violations.
For example: say I'm at a spanking party, and I'm playing with someone I haven't played with before. We discuss basic limits and then proceed. All goes well until my panties come down and he says something like, "Ah, here's that naughty little tushy!"
It's a very common way to speak in the spanko world. It's innocuous. However, I hate, hate, hate being spoken to like I'm a small child. It skeeves me. So, while I fight the urge to hurl on his shoes, I would do one of two things. If I were fairly comfortable, I might blurt, "Ew! What am I, five? Please don't talk to me like that." Or I might simply make a mental note that I don't want to play with this person again. But am I going to holler consent violation? No! How the hell was he supposed to know that I hate that kind of talk? Unless I said so specifically, of course.
A lot of bottoms/subs like a bit of verbal degradation. Words like "slut," "whore" and the c-word turn them on. I don't like being called names like that. However, I've been called them a time or two (or three) during scenes with men who don't know that about me. Was it presumptuous of them to assume those kinds of words were OK? Yes. Was it a consent violation? No. Not if I didn't specifically say beforehand, "Don't call me [whatever]."
Recently, the topic of "brats" and how obnoxious we are (I say we, even though I don't like the term, because I do enjoy the banter and playfulness of a bit of bratting) came up on here. It was said that bratting is a consent violation. Say what???
Come on. OK, if it's really outrageous behavior, physical stuff like hitting, pinching, throwing messy food in a top's face, spraying Silly String all over his clothes, etc., then yes, that's a violation, especially if a brat does it to someone they don't know just to get a reaction or some attention. But that's not so much about brats, per se... that's more about people who are just plain fucking rude and have no sense of boundaries.
You don't like banter? You don't like a bit of sass, a little clever power exchange, some spice in your sub? Then don't play with people who do that. If a brat challenges you at a party and you don't like it, walk away. But don't go hollering consent violation.
Please don't get me wrong: I am not excusing or condoning any sort of inappropriate behavior. I'm saying call it what it is, and know what it isn't.
Wherever people are gathered, there will be those you don't like, or whose scene behavior doesn't mesh with your own. They will engage in acts that don't flip your switch, or use terms that are like nails on a blackboard for you. That Does. Not. Make. Them. Consent. Violators. Learn the difference.
Why is this important? Say I go to the Emergency Room, and when asked what my emergency was, I say, "I have a hangnail." They'd tell me that's not an emergency. I then say, "But it hurts!" "Yes, we know, but you can take care of it yourself."
Next week, I go to the ER again. This time it's for an ingrown bikini line hair. Same spiel -- yes, it's uncomfortable, but it's not an emergency. I go home, only to return the following week with a paper cut.
By the time I go in for the fourth time, the ER nurses see me, say, "Oh, it's HER again," and look right past me to the next patient.
Too bad that this time I've got double pneumonia.
Kind of a ridiculous analogy, but you get my point. When people make a stink about so many different interactions that are not violations, we lose sight of what's real, what calls for attention and action. We don't take the people who bring up the violations seriously anymore. And that's a damn shame.
Please stop overuse of the term "consent violation." Pick your battles, and know when something really is a violation, and when it's simply something/someone you don't like.


  1. I was a mean nasty top. I was way past the 'spanko' world. With that said, if I saw blood, even a little the scene was over. I had my line not to cross also. But, I never 'played' with anybody that I did not ask at least twice what their limits were. I also asked if they wanted a safe word of motion. If you have a 'bag gag' in your mouth it is hard to use a safe word. I always had a silk scarf they could hold with two fingers and drop as a safe signal. But when Jan could no longer play about 15 years ago. I dropped out of all play also. I was talking to an old friend and we were both amazed that somebody said X did Y without their consent. In today's legal world, it seems you need a signed contract to play with somebody. I agree, which does not happen that often with Erica on this topic. You cry 'wolf' enough times and when you really need it, it will not be there. - Hal

  2. I can understand how people can get caught up in the perception of being violated if they're particularly sensitive people and or maybe had been victims of some sort of abuse in their lives.
    But I agree everyone owes it to THEMSELVES to take some sort of ownership to COMMUNICATE likes/dislikes/HELL FUCKING NO's, etc to potential play partners. Not many people could honestly claim to be mind readers to know what may set someone off in a negative manner if nothing has been said pre-scene commencements!

    With all of the nit picking, looking for a fight commentary shown on Fetlife lately, it's really casting a pall on the so-called fun play site. I'm astounded people continue to attend parties on a regular basis with all of the petty sniping bullshit that seems to infiltrate all of them.

  3. Off topic everyone required to type those captchas (spelling) before commenting on all new blog topics? I have had to for the last several blog postings, here.

  4. Gosh, I'd never even heard the term "consent violation" before this post. And I was so blissfully ignorant before now, Erica. I feel as if my consent has been violated.

  5. Hal -- yup.

    Kelly -- I get it too; I understand triggers and so forth. I have my own. But I also don't expect to censor the world. I know I'm going to hear the c-word, for example, which upsets me. But aside from my closest friends who know not to say it to me, other people use it. I can't claim violation just because I don't like it.

    Anonymous -- I'm not sure. If a post is Anonymous, you have to do a Captcha to prove you're not a spammer; I know that's a Blogger thing. But I don't know if it's for everyone. I'll check my settings.

  6. Autumn -- HA! Yeah, everything is a violation these days, it seems!

  7. Erica, I see your point and think you're quite right about the term "conscent violation" getting thrown around too much. Though perhaps a fourth form might be considered. In situations where people are at a party and someone attempts to grope or play without someone who is not interested (or even aware the initiator is there) that might be considered a concent violation, in my opinion. Or perhaps we could skip the CV term and instead just refer to it as assault.

    A lot of what people term conscent violations are usually either assault, harrassment or just poor communication and I agree with you that people use CV as a blanket term for too many things.

    As an aside, I also read the FL posting on bratting and I do not think the poster was saying bratting is automatically a CV. I believe he was saying that someone who plays the role of a brat outside of a scene with someone they don't know and refuses to stop is a CV. I agree with him. I've encountered women who will act bratty and push and push and push, no matter how many times you tell them "no", or even if the other person tries to walk away. Some women eventually realize the guy doesn't want to play, but I've had some that have become so desperate for attention that they have become violent. Afterwards they usually play the, "Oh, I'm just a brat" card or "I was just teasing". It's not teasing, it's harrassment and assault when it happens outside a scene and the other person keeps saying "No, stop."

    It's quite aggrivating as a top to run into people like that. A woman can "brat" a man she just met to the point of hitting him or driving him from the room and it's considered a game. But if a top grabs a brat and spanks her or pushes her away he'll be accused of assault or CV. It's a nasty double standard.

    Bratting in a scene is fine, and I think the OP mentioned that. But bratting someone outside a scene when they've asked the brat to stop is not cool.

  8. Anonymous -- you're absolutely right. Bratting CAN indeed be a CV, and some take it way too far. Clever and appropriate bratting is supposed to be a bit provocative; it's not supposed to be flat-out annoying, invasive or abusive.

    However, I didn't like the attitude of the OP. Heck, his title was "Oh, You're a Brat? RED!" I felt like he painted us all with the same broad brush and was rather condescending. Not all people who are playful and sassy are thoroughly obnoxious, and it was an unfair generalization. At least that's how it struck me. Especially when commenters started chiming in with "Yes! I hate brats!" and the like.

  9. I think there is this clear borderline, which cannot be crossed without a serious violation of trust,. Not to be confused with that space that may yield the pleasure, tension and opportunities of mutual exploration - at the risk of a disagreeable surprise at some tim.

  10. MrJ -- but who determines that borderline? How is it determined?

  11. I think both sides seem to agree over general consent violations in scenes. Physical violations are particularly clear cut for obvious reasons, as are clearly expressed hard limit violations.

    The situation gets more complicated when it comes to verbal and social interactions. As BDSM can also involve elements of power exchange and psychological D/s, some people are choosing to apply the term to these situations too.

    Again, within scenes I think that can be valid. However when it comes to general social interaction, it is not always helpful to discuss things in those terms. This seems to be where most of the disagreement lies. I get that someone unilaterally acting out their dominance is annoying as it is behaviour that has not been consented too, but is it really of the same degree of magnitude?

    Then there are just the general social disagreements and questions of personal preference that will always occur between people and this is where I find the use of the consent argument the most contentious .

    Consent violation is rightly a big deal in the scene and should be taken seriously. We should be careful not to apply the term so generally that we lose a consensus around its meaning

  12. Kinky Mark -- I agree. That's why I hate to see overuse of the term. People are now invoking it to describe pretty much anything they don't like, it seems. This disturbs me.

  13. Well I have to say I agree with your whole blog post Erica.

  14. Makes sense, but then on the internet...

  15. It sure seems like the person who started the "naughty" debate had an axe to grind completely beyond one party incident. And part of the agenda seems to be creating a rift between spankos and other kinksters. Just MO of course.

  16. Anonymous -- yes. I thought so too. I don't see why being called "naughty" at a spanking party morphed into a claim that spankos are less respectful and caring of feelings, limits, etc. than BDSMers. Please. I have had some things happen to me at BDSM parties that were wayyyyy worse than being called naughty.

  17. I haven't been on FL so I didn't know about this subject. I agree that the term non-consent can be tossed out there when the situation was clearly not a real breech of consent. There can be a lot of gray areas that can seem to be a lack of consent that perhaps really aren't. If a person says no, they mean no and that should be respected. The whole issue is mutual respect and trust between top and bottom. If this is lacking in either one, then it can lead to consent violation. I think, too, sometimes bottoms forget that tops have limits, too. The whole bratting scene is a case in point. It can get way out of control with brats who don't understand tops have their hard limits, too. Bratting can be kind of cute, but it can also be downright disrespectful. I heard of one brat who put confetti in the top's implement bag. That may sound cute, but to me it was very childish. Light teasing is one thing. Verbal attacks are something else again.

    On the word "naughty:" I despise that word! It is like the fingernails on the chalk board to me. But, I am not going to get in a huff over it and make a scene. A much better way to handle it is to inform the person who used it that it is not a word you like to hear. I prefer, if it is someone who forgets I don't like that word, to tell them in a joking way that they are in trouble. If you have a good relationship with the individual, they get the message and both can laugh about it.

    It seem these days that a lot of people want to be offended by something. It can be a big thing or a very insignificant thing. It is sad because of the loss of a good sense of humor. What happened to that?

    BTW, I appreciate your wisdom. Right on, Erica.

  18. Bobbie Jo -- good points all, thanks!

    You know when I hate the word "naughty"? When a top says something about my "naughty bottom." Um, my butt isn't naughty. It's a butt. It's not capable of behavior issues. I'M the naughty one. :-)

  19. Hi

    I actually have been on the wrong end of the ignoring the safe words and wound up bleeding........not fun at all. Also when I spank, I always and I mean always leave them wanting more, I would rather get the complaint that I did not spank hard enough then get the word I went over the is not a difficult deal at all, listen and talk and follow what your bottom says is the limits and the safe words. As the bottom, well being a guy, many tops feel like they can smack the crap out of you as you are the MAN and should take it....not fun.

    Great post, thanks

  20. Ron -- I can see how that would happen to a male bottom. Not fair.