Friday, August 5, 2011

Leather Bear Tails: AEL Power Munch – Perps versus twirps

Two weeks ago was the monthly AEL power munch, and I was so excited to hear the speaker. Her years of experience and presenting ability make her a joy to watch. She had done a discussion about a year ago about negotiation, which honestly, is not usually my favorite thing to listen to. It is usually rote and overly simplistic but her speech was the exception to this, and I still think about some of the things that she said. So this month’s discussion she was talking about perps versus twirps. I am going to recap the parts that meant the most to me, and have stuck with me even now two weeks later.

The idea was that there are people in the community that are twirps. These are the people that don’t realize that their behavior is inappropriate, or my favorite word, creepy, and so it continues. Twirps really want to learn to do things better and when confronted by bad or questionable behavior they make actual and honest attempts to change how they come across. Perps however are another matter entirely. These are the people that very intentionally seek out and harm others, through play, sex, and or emotional and spiritual manipulation. You name it, it happens.

At one point she talked about making someone uncomfortable. Sometimes doing this is unintentional, and sometimes it is very intentional because the person doing just that gets off on the other persons discomfort. The part that made me rethink a lot of things was this- she said that when someone is intentionally making another person uncomfortable, the uncomfortable person will reward that behavior, sometimes by a giggle, sometimes by a comment, to offset their own discomfort. This giggle or comment as well their discomfort is the other persons reward for making them uncomfortable. So stop rewarding the people that make you uncomfortable.

I really had to take that in. I can think of so many times when I have done just that, uncomfortable laughter, because I didn’t really know what else to do. It never occurred to me that I was rewarding and contributing to what they were doing.

She then asked the group a question about what to do when the person that was just inappropriate with you and yours turns out to be the Head Dungeon Monitor at the play party you are at. And as you and yours enter the party they comment on people needing to behave properly. Ohhh—that one struck deep. The group commented on it, some said tell the producers others talked about social pressure ect…. My opinion which I kept to myself at the time was this- the reason that person is a head DM in the first place is because they are most likely already friends with the producers and the organizers. So what good is it to tell them, when they are going to excuse their friends behavior anyway?

Her conversation on predators took a serious turn, when she told a true story about a dominant and submissive that had gone into the secluded woods. The dominant tied up the submissive and when the submissive wanted to red out and tried to stop the scene the dominant continued the abuse for hours. Causing what turned out to be years of permanent damage. People listened intensely, as the whole crowd struggled with the big unanswerable question. What do we do?

At one point, a person in the crowd said "call the cops.” It was at this point I should have taken a deep breath and thought out my words better, but I got really angry. When the presenter called on me I basically said, more angrily then needed- the cops aren’t the answer. There is a reason these people went to a secluded area, maybe they were stepping out on their spouses. And we all know that these types of cases boil down to six years of court trials and police records to basically end up in she said/ he said and NO conviction.

On second thought what I wanted to say was- I am not saying that there isn’t a time and place to involve the police and court systems, what I am saying is if calling the cops was the answer then we wouldn’t have a problem. This is a very heated and personal issue for me.

The fact is that perps know exactly what to say, what to do, and who to target. They are good at what they do that is how they keep doing it for years. They know how to stay on the fringes of the community without letting their bottoms know that there is support out there. They effectively isolate and destroy, all the while continuing these cycles of physical and emotional violence for years, sometimes decades. It is a problem that our entire society deals with. Access to the internet and the inherent rick of the behaviors in BDSM activities make it even easier to not only find those easy to exploit, but to become someone who preys on people with minimal effort.

I don’t want it to seem like people don’t have recourse, or people don’t have the ability to fight back or protect themselves when and if something does happen. I don’t want to come across like violence is a lost cause to stop so we shouldn’t even try. What I am trying to say is that real complex and socially volatile and layered problems don’t have simple answers.

If you force predators out of the community, that doesn’t stop them from being predators, it just makes them better at it.

If you let violence go then it only gets worse. But fighting it means doing it publicly and as soon as a single photo of the bottom in fetish gear surfaces, the trial is over before it starts.

I wish I had an answer. I wish I had an end point to all of this. But I think that the only thing that I can say is, for Goddess sake, be careful out there. Be social, do your research, and assume that you know nothing.

If you are interested in power munches, play parties of hands on workshops please contact the 20 year organization of AEL at:

If you are interested in a very active online community please find

Group name: New Mexico Fetlifers

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