The lovely @PixieHeartblog on Twitter, posed a really good question this week, asking for other people’s views on protectors in D/s and BDSM. I really wanted to respond, but soon realised it would be far too many tweets to convey every thought I have. Instead you are getting a whole blog post on the subject.
When I first joined Fetlife and the kink community I listed my role as submissive, which I’ve since realised isn’t a good fit for me, but at the time with my limited knowledge of BDSM I thought it was accurate. What happened upon making that my role was an influx of messages from would be ‘Doms’ all trying to claim the submissive newbie.
I hated those messages with a passion, I still do. I had offers from friends I’d made on the scene to cite them as protector, a recommendation that came with the knowledge that it often makes the douchebag Doms back off a little bit. As well-intentioned as these offers were, they just added fuel to my rage.
I am a grown woman, I am capable of deciding whether or not I want to interact with you. I should not need a ‘protector’ to help me ward of predatory behavior of so-called ‘Dominants’ who are actually just looking to take advantage of people. I eventually removed my role entirely from Fetlife, and guess what? The message stopped. So clearly these messages were coming from men who saw the role of submissive as easy prey, which is beyond insulting to every submissive out their.
I understand that for some people having a protector might feel like a bit of a safety net, some security in a new environment while they navigate their way around. Unfortunately I don’t see the role of protector as a very positive thing. More often than not I see those protector roles on Fetlife move from ‘protector of ..’ to ‘Dominant of ..’, so was the submissive being protected and guided or were they being profiled as a potential play partner?
I often wonder if instead of ‘protector’ the kink community at large would benefit from more of a buddy system. Where kinkster’s of all orientations can befriend new kinksters and help them feel at home within the community, and know that they have a safe space to ask questions and share thoughts, experiences and potential plans with.
I feel like this should almost be a bit of a non issue, because in an ideal world we’d all be looking out for each other in this manner anyway. I do however appreciate that the kink community is not perfect and that means we often have to approach things in a way that reflects that. I don’t think the current approach of many ‘protectors’ is the best solution though, at least it doesn’t seem to be.
As we have seen recently with the many writings on Fetlife regarding consent violations within the rope community, some people are all too willing to use their status whether it’s as a rigger, community leader or simply as an established kinkster to prey on people who do not have enough information or experience at their disposal to realise something is not right. When some of the people in those kinds of roles also show themselves to be untrustworthy and predatory, but also as the ones persistently coming forward as ‘protectors’ it all becomes extremely worrying.
As an aside I am not for one minute saying we should profile all community leaders and big name riggers/kinksters as untrustworthy predators. Many of the people in these roles do amazing things for their local community and the community at large. Those that do so though tend to do so without a bunch of red flags sticking from their back pocket. They are also likely to recommend and champion other people within the community. The unsavory characters are more likely to try to make themselves the sole focus of someone’s attention.
I would happily be a friend/mentor/guide for new people on the scene, however I think the desire many people have to experience things as someone new to the scene will often mean they will gravitate towards the less appropriate people purely because they may have skills to offer, even if that later comes at a price. Again I’m not saying everyone with skills is dodgy, I do think however that sometimes we can focus so much on what someone is good at we can lose focus of the errors they might be making.
I think the best thing we can do is to keep resources circulating, and educate as many new kinksters as we can about negotiations, consent and safe play practices. This is part of what we try to do with #ProudToBeKinky. We are trying to arm listeners with information that will hopefully help them navigate the kink scene, with more information that they might have had going in blind, so to speak.
I also think a little honesty in our intentions towards people would help too. If someone approached me asking me to be a protector/mentor or similar and I fancied the pants off them, I couldn’t in good faith offer to mentor them without being honest about my feelings towards them. I realise this is possibly what sets the genuine people apart from the not so genuine. Maybe if more people were just upfront about what they want from the community in general that would be a good starting point.
I personally don’t have a problem with people being honest and saying they joined the community to find people to fuck. I don’t even have a problem with people learning kink skills so that they more appealing to potential partners. Hell, that’s why I learnt rope. I wanted another tool to be able to seduce Bakji more effectively. What I do have a problem with is underhand tactics to get your end away, and unfortunately the role of protector seems to have become one of those tactics.
It’s also a real shame for those people who are filling the role of protector well and actually benefitting people by being that for them when they join the community. As always the few spoil it for the many. Thankfully I don’t believe they ruin it completely though, I do still believe that the kink community is a wonderful place to be and you truly can make the most wonderful friends here.
There is power in giving our friends and partners a safe space to voice their thoughts, whether they are concerns, insecurities or intentions to play. I think so long as the majority of us are looking after each other and sharing our experiences and our resources then the need for protectors might wane and the ‘protectors’ who are dubious characters will hopefully lose their footing.