I joined Fetlife to learn about consent and CNC. If I’d arrived today instead of two years ago, I wouldn’t have found the information and networking power I needed. I would have had to learn about it all the hard way because CNC has been added to Fetlife’s list of banned words. All groups pertaining to it have been erased and fetishes that mention it are gone.
BDSM is not a lesson you learn once. You make a beginning. You fuck up. You learn from your mistakes or, like me, you read reams and reams of Fetlife content to figure out what you need to do differently. Then you have another relationship. You make entirely new mistakes. You come back to Fetlife and learn more.
I’m privileged that I got two years of unrestricted reading before the list was extended, but I’ve not graduated from this particular university yet. That’s too bad, though, because CNC is off the table. I’ve only barely begun to explore BDSM. I’ve not tried needles, but if you have anything of value to say about playing with them safely, I won’t get to read it.
The way kinksters use social media must now change. We will have to go underground, which is fine and well for me and everyone else who’s already integrated into their kink communities and gotten to know a fair number of Fetlife members. Through word of mouth, blogs, and the like, we can feel our way towards sites that educate people about the kinds of play on the list.
That is not the case for new members. For them, the kink community will be a sterile place. Only the mildest aspects of BDSM remain, which means the riskiest forms of play (read: those that we need to talk about the most) are off the table. Presumably, events will be required to keep these banned words out of their descriptions, too, so if someone is running a class about needles, well, who needs to know about it, right?
I feel sick about this. I don’t blame Fetlife for it. I know they haven’t been given a choice. I do blame the unknown entities who are responsible for marginalising us and taking away our safety in this utterly pointless way, though because their actions are ignorant in the extreme. Credit card companies should not get to decide how we learn about our sexualities. Governments shouldn’t either.
As for words like rape and racism being on that list, I don’t. Even. Know. Truly. I can only throw my hands up in the air on this one.
I’ve been harmed by BDSM in a number of different ways because I had no idea how to handle consent and safety. I still feel hopelessly unprepared, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I got a few years under my belt. Others will not be so lucky.