#SoSS Shitstorm special – Looking at the wider issues.
20/4/20 – I reserve the right to publish or not comments on my blog. I also reserve the right to reply or not.
We are living in strange times. People’s anxiety is at record levels, and that includes those who don’t usually describe themselves as anxious. Myself included. So, it isn’t surprising that everyone is on edge. That small things seem huge and bigger things an absolute mountain. Things have been rocky for a while in and around the sex blogging community. Different groups and allegiances have built up over time, that is understandable. People naturally gravitate towards people they identify with. They read and comment on other people’s work and often don’t if the material doesn’t appeal. That’s fine, as they say your kink isn’t necessarily my kink but your kink is fine. Trouble is this isn’t just about kink. It’s about people’s identity, the way they see and feel themselves and want others to do so too.
I have no understanding of how it is to not identify with the gender I was assigned at birth. I am lucky enough to feel happy in my body and to know that others see me in the same way. It doesn’t matter if you refer to me as she or them. Though I do care if you shout ‘oi you’ at me. But this does matter to others and if someone tells you they would like you to refer to them in a specific way, then you damn well should respect that.
Working out I was married to the wrong man, that I needed a different kind of sex and that I was submissive was challenging. Having found kink and sex positive blogs, I naturally gravitated towards those I identified with. Many of those bloggers are similar to me but others are not. However I am really interested in people, who they are, what makes them tick. Difference is good and interesting. Some of those people identify as gay, trans, non binary or in other ways. I try to respect everyone’s individual identity, needs and choices and to do it in a nice way. What I wouldn’t do is to write a blog post making fun of those needs and choices. As I said the other day, I hate confrontation. This week has been like a month from hell on that front. Especially on Twitter.
It’s a great place to go and chat and promote stuff. I read more blogs through links on twitter than I do from follower emails. But it is a place of constant frustration. There is drama of the highest order and you can’t always work out when someone is in need or if they are attention seeking. Twitter is a place of cliques, something that is often discussed. You never know if it’s ok to join in conversations. As someone who hates confrontation I try not to engage in drama, but I do chip in especially if I know people.
Recently the Sex blogging Twitter has increasingly been used to put across a point of view. To highlight behaviours that they find hurtful, and disrespectful. Most recently this has been about misgendering people and not being willing to learn about the lives of others. It is also about people’s unwillingness to apologise for causing offence or damage. Saying sorry and then doing the same thing over and over. @MxNillin and Quinn have rightly done this.
Not liking confrontation I wouldn’t usually name and shame people on Twitter, but I understand why they and others have. Trouble is the fall out is wide. People take sides and they hurl abuse at others. Including but not exclusively those delivering the initial messages. In the end, you either lock your account (as some have done), withdraw or throw yourself in the ring. Guess which one I did?
This was because Molly and Michael were being trolled by someone I hadn’t encountered before. Part of this was some kind of personal vendetta to poison their reputation. The other encouraging people to seek legal advice because of the cancellation of Eroticon.
It is my view that some of the unpleasantness falling out of this week’s ‘situation’ is the cancellation of Eroticon.
Full disclosure. At the time of the cancellation I was annoyed. We had rebooked our hotel and couldn’t get a refund and I was looking forward to a weekend in London. The full enormity of Covid was only just emerging and unlike Molly I hadn’t spent the week reading up on it. I was particularly unpleasant to Molly in a twitter DM conversation. I believed she should have turned up to meet with those who were there. Others thought that too. Putting myself up as the fall guy I ranted at Molly and then Michael about this. I was drunk at the time so it was a stupid thing to do. I was also wrong.
Eroticon was cancelled because it would have put people at risk. Indeed those of us who met up put each other at risk, though we didn’t know it. On the Monday we visited an art exhibition and went to a concert. By the next day both of those venues had closed and a week later most shops and businesses had closed too. We were in lockdown.
Thankfully Molly bears no grudge about my drunk behaviour. We are still friends and I will defend her and Michael over and above anyone I only know on my blog or twitter. Because I know them in person, like and respect them. In terms of legal advice. This seems like a waste of time. I am still waiting for a refund on an air journey that didn’t take place. We’ve also lost money on a ferry booking for the summer. Even if they had been insured, no policy is paying out on a pandemic.
Blog commenting and memes
When people comment on blogs it’s usually supportive. Often when someone doesn’t have anything to say, they like it. I asked a question on this month’s Smutlancer Q&A about why people don’t seem to comment so much.
In February Inigo More published the post that caused most of the outcry this week. It made fun of gender identity and the right to be gendered correctly. Those who supported the post are the ones who have been called out by MxNillin. Others commented that they did not like or agree with the contents and this people have been shunned by the former.
I didn’t realise but regular contributors to memes such as Sinful Sunday and Masturbation Monday stopped doing so. This was as a direct result of both Molly and Kayla calling out those supporting the post. To me this seems petty. As far as I am concerned I will continue to write for the memes I want and which speak to me.
I don’t think any of the people who commented on that post are bad people, whether I agreed with their point of view or not. However what apologies have been offered for hurt caused don’t appear to have been heart felt. Nor have there been signs that most wish to learn. Worst of all, Inigo seems to be revelling in his fame. He is not on twitter, has not apologised to anyone and continues to comment on the post. I don’t bear grudges but I am minded to think that he is happy to have started the bonfire and fanned the flames that caused the explosion of the sex blogging community.
Smut Marathon feedback
I admire Marie for starting and running the Smut Marathon and doing so with such efficiency. I took part myself a couple of years ago and know that it helped improve my writing. Judges tend to be fellow bloggers which seems appropriate and anyone can vote and comment. There are some flaws however. The judges are not representative of the whole community. To my knowledge none of the judges is anything but cis, white or pretty middle classed. However I don’t have any problem with the comments made by this year’s judges. They seem thoughtful and measured.
The comments from the wider reading public are unmoderated. This seems wrong and is a flaw. It’s clear from the way that people comment on each others blogs that they have no experience of constructive criticism. They tend to be nice, supportive. But the Smut Marathon is different. If you can only vote for 5 out of 70 stories you will have to decide which you like best. That’s fine. But if you then comment on which and why you like certain ones it’s a good idea to be constructive.
Sadly one set of comments showed a clear misunderstanding of the task. Not only did that person cause massive offence to the transgender writer of one story as highlighted here. But also left unpleasant feedback to at least 3/4 of the other writers. Something that I noticed at the time but hasn’t been mentioned by anyone. One of the reasons I have decided not to participate again is because of the way feedback affected me. I found it unpleasant and bruising.
Commenting on the work of others is important. But needs to be well structured and constructive. Those wishing to do so would be wise to look at this article (or others) about sandwich and other feedback models. Or contact others in the community who know how to do it. For example Charlie.
This post has been long and a bit of a ramble. These are the wider issues that I think have contributed to events this week. I think it’s important to recognise that while those most hurt by events are those who have been misgendered and abused for their trouble. But also to acknowledge that actions have implications. We are all entitled to our opinion, but in sharing that in a public place you can’t expect to get away with those that clearly discriminate. If offence is caused, apologise. Do so unreservedly and acknowledge your mistakes. Make that apology clear and then go away and learn not to do it again. Don’t be like the gutter press and publish the apology on page 20 when the original made front page news.
Finally please don’t abuse people by DM. Even if someone says and does something you find abhorrent remember they are human. Their lives might not be as you imagine. The privilege you assume may not be the case. That doesn’t excuse their behaviours but neither does it mean you should retaliate with threats. If necessary walk away.
Links to other sex blogging folks talking about this topic (Let me know of more to be added).
Violet Fawkes – Scorched Earth
Deviant Succubus – Some thoughts
Isabel Lauren – Not speaking up against hurtful behaviour is not an option