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Choose Carefully Who You’re Kind To - The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal
December 18th, 2013
10:06 am

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Choose Carefully Who You’re Kind To

On FetLife, there is the Spammy MicroDom – the 21 year-old “master” who gets an account, finds every woman within 20 miles of him, and emails cut-and-pasted orders for her to kneel at his feet.  This kind of behavior is widely mocked, and rightfully so; at least three times a week, you’ll see vicious parodies of the MicroDom hitting the “Most Popular” boards.  Women have contests to create the most insulting reply, and there are whole boards dedicated to shredding these pathetic attempts of domination.

Believe it or not, I have some sympathy for these guys.  Not a lot; just a glimmer.

I say this because I got an email from someone asking me to look over one of his posts, where he argued – and correctly – that a lot of this idiotic behavior comes because the media presents an impression to men that this is how they’re supposed to act in BDSM situations.  These guys have heard through various badly-presented filters that this is what “submissive” women want, and so they arrive on Fet and treat women in the way they’ve been told that women “in the scene” want to be treated.

Now, the reason I lack most sympathy for these guys is because they’re from-the-hip idiots.  A single Google search would tell you that this isn’t how things work in reality, and any understanding of how human beings actually work when they’re not your masturbatory fantasies would tell you “Hey, women usually don’t want random strangers splurting their sexual desires all over them.  Women, in fact, are drowning in dumb generic offers like yours.”  (I mean, this isn’t unique to FetLife; I’ve heard many similar horror stories from women on OKCupid, where the sexual innuendo actually seems to be more prevalent.)  And they’re often emailing women who self-identify as Dommes, presumably on the basis that “these women are pretty” and “I want to sex them” means “So they must be submissive.”

So these guys are misled, but only because they’re short-sighted and lazy.  Fail.

However, the guy writing the post essentially said (paraphrased by moi), “Why aren’t we more compassionate to these guys?  They’re stupid and ill-informed, yes, but instead of responding with mockery to drive them away, why don’t we as a community concentrate on educating them?  Guys who look at the Kinky and Popular board will see nothing but parodies of them.  I feel like all we’re accomplishing is creating this negative atmosphere for new male doms.”

To which I replied, “This mockery accomplishes something more vital, in a way: creating a more positive space for women, both dominant and submissive, who are less likely to have to deal with this shit – and more likely to stay. And who would you rather privilege – newbie male doms who are acting reflexively like assholes, or all the women on FetLife?”

“Think carefully,” I concluded.  “There’s some very encoded and subtle sexism built into your thought patterns here.”

Don’t get me wrong; I am all about the teachable moment.  I think you’ve got to allow for them, and someone has to stand up and be nice and take someone’s hand to walk them through all the dumb mistakes.  But every time you “open up” a community to make it more welcome to those expressing dumb and insulting behaviors, you alienate those who are insulted.

And you have to choose.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be compassionate.  But if you create a place where people are very tolerant of the MicroDom’s mistakes, then more MicroDoms are likely to thrive there.  Which means that the women get more dumb emails.  Which means that the women are more to leave rather than being harassed.

Classic liberal thinking has “the big tent,” where everyone can stand underneath it.  I’m here to say that the best reality can do is a largeish tent, where you can either choose to evict a rowdy subset, or have them drive off some portion of people who don’t want to deal with them.  In either case, not everyone will be in that tent, and whoever’s not in the tent will feel alienated from you, whether you intended it to be or not.

I’d argue that it’s far better to intend it.  Yes, it’s a wonderful goal to have everyone able to act however they please, and all of us being tolerant of their quirks.  But what happens is that some people’s quirks are so unpleasant that nobody wants to be around them – and if you don’t choose to eject them, you unconsciously choose to be okay with certain groups of people leaving.

I feel a little bad for the MicroDom.  He’s uneducated, stupid, naive, and maybe could become someone worthwhile with a little guidance.  However, I feel way worse for the forty women he emailed, who routinely wake up with an inbox clogged with mails not just from him but from everyone like him… and I’d far prefer they stick around.  They’re more likely to have something interesting to say.

And maybe we could apply pressure in a way that includes less mocking.  I agree that it’d be nice if we were all a little less hateful.  But on the other hand, if we’re asking people to change their behavior, I’d probably prioritize the people who decided that random strangers were worth harassing, you know?

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/361228.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(14 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

Comments
 
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From:jeanniemac
Date:December 18th, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
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I love you, Ferrett, I really do. Thank you for saying something that really needs to be said, about "big tents" and their weaknesses. I just finished reading a post over on The Wildhunt that said something similar about the idea of a Big Tent Pagan Community and I think your answers were better. I'm not prepared to give up entirely on the "big tent" concept but your definition of its weaknesses gives real food for thought. While inclusiveness is a lofty goal, is it really achievable? Isn't someone always going to be left out? How do we handle the people are alienated, for whatever reason? All really important questions.

Thank you for putting them in my brain!
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From:nancylebov
Date:December 18th, 2013 03:44 pm (UTC)
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I realized recently that people are most vulnerable to bad messages in areas where they have the weakest instincts (least common sense). When I put it that way, it seems tautological, but it's terrifying if you think of yourself as the person fucking up rather than the person being mocked for stupidity.

It's possible that the large tent can tolerate a certain amount of "your behavior is unacceptable, but you could learn better at [link]".

Edited at 2013-12-18 03:45 pm (UTC)
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From:funwithrage
Date:December 18th, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
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I discussed this a little while back with roleplaying groups: you either actively exclude That Guy/Girl, or you passively exclude anyone who does not, for whatever reason, want to put up with them. Your choice.
From:anonymousalex
Date:December 18th, 2013 07:06 pm (UTC)
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Much truth to this.

I'm almost afraid to ask, but I'm curious where the term "MicroDom" came from.

-Alex
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From:ravenblack
Date:December 18th, 2013 09:53 pm (UTC)
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I had a fun double-take at the last paragraph, because I briefly mistook "people who decided that random strangers were worth harassing" as referring to the people mocking the MicroDoms rather than referring to the MicroDoms.

(Since both groups are, to some extent, people who decided that random strangers were worth harassing.)

Now the clarity disclaimer! I'm not saying you were unclear, or that harassing negative-group-X is just as bad as being negative-group-X, or anything like that. I just thought it was a funny read-glitch.
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From:noevilliveon
Date:December 18th, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
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I default to scornful mockery when I receive such messages on either fet or OKC... Because I've tried the teachable alternative and it fails in very scary ways. I spent a long while genuinely trying to be helpful, offering up suggestions on how to initiate contact more appropriately and how to alter/build a profile that won't scare people off and generate auto-blocking.

But I quickly discovered that, while a small percentage of folks were grateful/gracious and went on their way with a better point of view (and occasionally responded so well that I enjoyed talking to them for a while), I got one of two reactions the vast majority of the time:

1. Vast fonts of anger and misogyny, tirades about how ugly and worthless I am, threats of sexual violence, death threats towards me and my partners, etc.

2. Creepy obsessive stalkerish behavior. "OMG SHE WAS NICE TO ME. I WILL WORSHIP HER FOREVER". Constant barrages of messages, turning to messaging friends about me when I block them, insinuation that they are going to find out where I live and come "woo me" and show me just how much I need a "real man", etc.

While some folks still respond in those ways when I'm snarky and scornful, it's now relatively rare. If they even respond, it's usually just a "fuck you, bitch" or "Whatever, you're not really what I wanted anyway" and then no further interaction.
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From:juglore
Date:December 18th, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC)
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That reminds me of the time I replied to a craigslist ad. A girl had posted an ad practically begging for a guy to love her for her personality. I replied to point out that she hadn't actually said anything about herself at all. She responded in an overly eager manner. I didn't answer.
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From:fallconsmate
Date:December 19th, 2013 01:58 am (UTC)
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THANK you. as someone who DID have to "tolerate" the MicroDoms of the internet kink society, it is not pleasant (to say the least). if you politely turn them down, you're a wannabe.

if you give them the Gibbs-smack they desrve for being un-housebroken, you get called a dyke, a wannabe, a liar about the fact that you are, indeed, off the market, and GODS FORBID that you're only there for the forums because we all know that all TWUE SUBMISSIVES want to lie down like a dormat for all the DomlyDoms what Dom-a-Lot (no, really, they DO!) of the world. if you're submissive, that means to EVERY dominant, quit arguing.

needless to say, i'm not on any kink forums at the moment. i got tired of fighting about it. i may be A submissive, but that doesn't make me EVERYONE'S submissive. so there you go, one person's experience. (and do NOT get me started on the dominants male AND female who demand naked photos of all submissives....)
From:anonymousalex
Date:December 19th, 2013 02:42 am (UTC)
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Curse you! Now my brain won't stop trying to write alternate lyrics to the Camelot Song:

We dom well here in domalot
we eat hom and jom and spomalot!

-Alex
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From:fallconsmate
Date:December 19th, 2013 03:33 am (UTC)
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*giggling* i'm sorry?

but i like your alternate lyrics!
From:anonymousalex
Date:December 19th, 2013 02:01 pm (UTC)
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Nothing to be sorry about; it's entirely my brain's fault. And I think you've satisfied the curse by having to read my alternate lyrics.

A better parodist than I would have the entire song done with real English words that simultaneously act as the scornful mockery originally noted. Said better parodist is more than welcome to take the idea and run with it.

-Alex
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From:saomigray
Date:December 19th, 2013 08:36 pm (UTC)
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I tend to ignore the microdoms and other people who cut-and-paste messages entirely. It is not my job to educate. I am not required to be their "teachable moment." I don't owe these guys anything. I'm just trying to live my life, and stopping to explain things to all these guys gets in the way of my going about my business.
From:Lynoure Braakman
Date:December 20th, 2013 01:27 pm (UTC)

How about automating 'kindness' in order not to be too kind?

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How about just smacking them with a standard FYI-letter? Then they can choose to be educated... or not.
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From:cameoflage
Date:December 22nd, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)

Re: How about automating 'kindness' in order not to be too kind?

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It seems a fitting response for people who mass-mail the same obscene copypasta to everyone in a broad category.
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