I have a whole list of things I want to write, and I jokingly said I should consolidate them all into a singular post called The Unpopular Opinions Post.
And maybe it was a joke at first, but the more I think about it, the more I just want to state these things that I believe altogether because I think they are interconnected and important and yeah, they might be unpopular, but I think they should get talked about.
There are unsafe bottoms, too
We talk a lot about unsafe tops. And there are very much tops that are not safe to play with, absolutely. I don’t minimize this or pretend it’s not true. And I believe the balance of harm that unsafe tops create is easier to spot- and tends to be more prevalent.
But there are also unsafe bottoms. Bottoms who don’t disclose necessary, relevant information so that tops can make informed choices about engaging in play. Bottoms who overstate their skills and abilities. Bottoms who don’t disclose their lack of experience and try to play at high levels of nuanced, tough play without the ability to manage their own emotional response or language to communicate that. Bottoms who are coercive, who don’t take “no” for an answer (or take it as a personal attack), who don’t respect their top’s limits or safewords. Bottoms who do not take responsibility for their role in the scene and everything that happens is someone else’s fault (and saying this is assumed to be victim-blaming).
Victims of assault are not. to. blame. for their experiences. Saying, “you asked for it by (fill in the blank)” is the definition of victim-blaming. I am not advocating that AT ALL. What I am saying is, when you negotiate and you don’t disclose necessary information, and then state that your consent was violated, I think there IS some personal responsibility. If I am rope bottoming, and I pass out every time I am inverted, and I don’t disclose that, and my top inverts me, I believe it is my responsibility to recognize that I didn’t give my top necessary, relevant information.
It’s ok to say, “hey, I think that person bottoms in a dangerous way, and I would think twice before playing with them.” Because there are also unsafe bottoms.
Bad breakups are not the same as consent violations
If someone is going through a breakup, it’s probably for a reason. If everything was great, they probably wouldn’t be breaking up.
Guess what? Everyone is shitty at the end of a relationship. Everyone is shitty in shitty circumstances. People say and do fucked up things when they are hurting.
This is not an excuse for fucked up behavior. This is not saying that there are some relationships that end BECAUSE of abuse. This is not saying that that these things are mutually exclusive: someone might be an asshole at the end of a relationship AND be abusive. But if we banned everyone because they had a bad breakup, there would literally be no scene. None.
Sometimes, it’s just a shitty breakup. Sometimes you have to share space with someone who said some nasty things to you while y’all were trying to figure out who gets to keep the house and who has to move. Sometimes you have to do the work to recognize that someone isn’t a bad person, but wasn’t a good person for you. Sometimes, you have to do more work than you think is fair to not see the person who just broke up with you.
Breakups are not de facto consent violations. Shitty behavior at the end of a relationship is not necessarily a reason to ban someone. There is a line between “that person has toxic interpersonal relationships” and “that person is a predator.” It’s not a well-defined line, but if we as a scene start policing people’s personal relationships, we have crossed a line somewhere.
Being upset is not the same as being triggered
Being triggered- the physical reaction of reliving traumatic experiences- is awful and intense and incapacitating. Being angry, upset, hurt, or feeling personally attacked is Not The Same Thing.
I have experienced full body shutdown from relieving a traumatic experience. I have lost control of my muscular function, wet the bed, had uncontrollable shakes and tremors, thrown up, and had lasting headaches from gritting my teeth and clamping my jaw shut waiting for the flashbacks to stop.
I have also been pissed off and not-ok enough to say, “I can no longer engage in this discussion because it’s really upsetting me and I’m going to lose my temper/lose control of my emotions.”
These. Are. Not. The. Same. Thing.
Please stop delegitimizing the first by using the same language for both. They aren’t the same.
“Sociopath” is not synonymous with “asshole”
Ok, first of all: sociopath has become a pop-culture term that is no longer in the DSM. Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD) is a specific thing under which common terms like “sociopath” and “psychopath” fall.
Second: almost every person, if you look hard enough, could be diagnosed with a personality disorder of some sort. The key is, “does it impact or adversely effect your quality of life?” With regards to sociopathy, the common concept is that it is someone who does not experience empathy or has a significantly diminished capacity for empathy. This might be their real experience, but if they can figure out how to navigate that safely and effectively for their life and/or their partners, then ok. Their life, their choice. If you don’t like that, don’t engage; until they begin to cause harm, that’s not for anyone else to judge or stigmatize.
Every person experiences empathy differently. Disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean they don’t have empathy. And even in cases where someone cannot differentiate between hurt and harm (which is often the line where empathy comes in), it is possible to negotiate within that framework to communicate effectively.
Finally, third: being an asshole doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have empathy. And someone having limited capacity for empathy doesn’t mean they are an asshole. There can be overlaps. They can both be present. But someone being an asshole doesn’t mean they are a sociopath, or are manifesting ASPD. It might just mean they are an asshole.
In addition, “diagnosing” someone gives them an excuse for their behavior, and further stigmatizes mental illness. There are people with ASPD in the scene, as well as many other kinds of mental health issues. Mental health isn’t an excuse for shitty behavior, but it’s also not a reason to de facto remove people from the scene. Again, if we kept everyone out with a mental health diagnosis, the scene would barely exist.
They might have ASPD, but short of being their mental health provider, that’s not for you to say. They might just be an asshole.
Sometimes, people don’t like you, and it has nothing to do with your identity
And finally: sometimes, people just don’t like you. Not because you’re queer or trans or whatever. Your personality is just not their cup of tea. You aren’t someone that resonates with them.
And that’s ok. There are people I don’t like. Some of them are cis het white men, some are queer trans switches, some are femme POC, some are bottoms, some are people in power, some are newbies I’ve met once.
And it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with identity. Sometimes people just don’t like other people and that is ok. Be polite and don’t be an asshole. Don’t engage with them. Show basic human decency, and give them a wide berth.
You don’t have to be rude if someone doesn’t care for you, but you also have to step back and recognize that it might have nothing to do with your identities and might just be that your particular personality isn’t for them. Everything isn’t a personal attack.
These are all SIGNIFICANTLY nuanced things that probably each deserve their own writing. If you know me well enough, you know where I’m coming from with all of these. This is not about attacking any particular thing, but a series of trends I’ve noticed. There are actual, serious problems in the scene. Legit predatory behavior and assault. Actual forms of oppression and immensely problematic behavior. And I’m really sick of those things getting thrown by the wayside because we end up dealing with things like this.
I’m sorry you had a shitty breakup but no, we aren’t banning your ex just because they’re your ex. I’m sorry that person was a jerk to you, but that doesn’t make them a sociopath and chances are, it’s not actually about your identities. I know that person is an educator, but I still think they are an unsafe bottom and no, I’m not interested in playing with them. I won’t badmouth them, but I might tell my close friends my perspective and let them make their own choices. You saying, “I’m so triggered right now,” is immensely frustrating because you have the capacity and clarity to speak and identify what’s happening which feels really contrary to the experiences I have both seen and experienced of someone being triggered.
So, that’s my unpopular opinion post. I’m sorry for the lack of nuance, but I’m just frustrated and tired of the same conversations that no one will just…say. So, I am. End rant.