I also live in a country where marital rape didn't exists as a crime until 1990. Nineteen ninety. My friend who is now in her eighties told me a story of being in hospital after the birth of her first child, and hearing the woman in the next bed being visited by her husband - for a conjugal visit. He came into maternity hospital days after she'd had a baby, to fuck her. Ever had a baby? Can you imagine?
I think Stoya's terrible revelation on twitter last night, that James Deen raped her while they were still together, is profoundly unsettling. It calls into question everything I believed about kink. I've never been naive enough to think that there aren't abusers out there calling themselves dominant. It's all too clear. But James Deen stood for something, and was this daddy-figure for all sorts of adoring teenage girls who think they want what he's offering.
And, shit... what's he really offering, if he can rape a woman he loves, a beautiful, intelligent, articulate, important woman like this... one slip of the facade, one decision to let go the responsibility for your sadism that must be so tightly reigned in...
I have sympathy for people who feel these urges, not just the urge to play, but the real, vicious need to delight in pain you cause others, reagardless of their wants and needs. But we can't validate it if you're going to let go control and fuck it all up for everyone. Especially when your whole career and brand depends on presenting it as safe, sane, consentual. The mask slips and ... it's all called into question. Our support of kink; of porn, too. Much as I want to watch that stuff, no way do I want to get off on it if it's real.
It's a fine line, yes, and maybe an unfair one. But still, it's the one you have to tread if you want to be respected. And so many people do, right? It's hard, but they do it? Because they're good human beings who are horrified at the idea of putting their own base desires above their partners' physical and emotional safety. A safeword should be an instant cause for alarm, concern, de-bonification. It shouldn't be a turn on to override it. Because if it is, you're not kinky, you're just criminal. You're just a shit person who indulges their sadism at the expense of others without a care.
I think every learning Dom will make mistakes. People talk about how hard it is to be submissive, but I'm not sure. Personally, as someone with fuck all control over any aspect of her life or self, the level of control and organisation it takes to be a real dom amazes me - I can't imagine it. So... I wouldn't do it. But there's mistakes, and there's rape. There's a huge, yawning gulf between the two.
There will always be much 'let him defend himself/did you report it then?, innocent til proven' etc. etc. bleating in these cases. Certainly, false accusations can be life ruining. It's the playground of the mysoginist though, to decide to dismiss a rape claim because it can't be proven. I feel genuinely afraid of what's to come for Stoya, and absolutely understanding of why she hasn't come out with this before now. And I understand absolutely why people (everyday people, let alone porn stars who like rough sex) are reluctant to go to the police. Because it's a gauntlet of cruelty and misery they may face when they do. BDSM and misunderstanding of it cloud your right to protest against rape. There ain't that much understanding of the difference out there. And there's a whole heap of victim blaming bullshit - not to mention that post listing endless names of police officers convicted of rape in the US - the people you're reporting to are the abusers too. It's terrifying.
It may suck, but to me, the vulnerability of a rape or child abuse victim is far more fragile than the vulnerability of a man wrongly accused of rape. Foremost, because that's actually so rare. I'm appalled at the idea of false accusations, but I think the people who rant about them are blind to the misery of what it takes to accuse. They have no idea. And they also have a vision of women (and often children) as malign and manipulative in a way that harks back to fairy tales of old. They want wicked witch queens, it's easier than facing what our world is.
But tough... there's a hell of a lot more rape out there daily than there are false accusations. We desperately need to frame a different response. And how should Doms respond? The ones who get turned on by rape scenes, by tears... I'm not sure, because I feel the ground shaking too. I agree with Stu, that James Deen needs to man up, admit, accept consequences, and above all, apologise unreservedly, if he wants to make this right. He's being very silent on the matter - I assume he's lawyering up, I dunno.
I do feel naive and disillusioned, as a supporter of good porn, and kink, as someone with alternative sex-wiring... it does make you wonder if all the positivity is real, is possible. Whether the whole leather tower will come crashing down in an explosion of human foibles at some point. We're weak and imperfect. We fuck up. And we're all so vulnerable.
Communication is key. After-talk. Humility. A stripping away of barriers and borders and self-protection. Be honest, be ready to listen, be keen to fix. With this, mistakes don't become dire things that hurt the people you love forever. They are containable, and enable change and development. This is the only way to frame it for yourself, I think, if you are a Dom who's feeling doubts about the validity you've built around your needs. At the end of the day, if you're reacting to this news with alarm, with disquiet, with disappointment, you're doing ok.