The other day, I was chatting to a friend, and I mentioned how I am looking forward to the reopening of a fetish club or two. Then I went on, and mentioned how I might even enjoy going back to a normal night club, as I feel like people (read: cisgender straight men) for once, will finally manage to keep their hands to themselves, in some social distancing effort.
When I was a teenager, I hit puberty. Like all girls my age, my body changed. Guys would no longer see a kid, they would see an ass and a pair of boobs. Some would treat me as such. They would catcall me in the streets while I was minding my own business, invading my personal space, making me feel watched and scrutinised. They would make me feel conscious, like I wasn’t wearing the right clothes (jeans and top), or I wasn’t walking modestly enough. I had no control over the dynamic: they were taller, older, stronger, and I was just small, weak, powerless.
When I was at Uni, I used to wait tables in bars, restaurants, and pubs. I was slim, blonde, and tall (I am still tall). No matter what I was wearing, some bloke would feel like it was within his rights to pull my arm, tug my pony tail/braid, grab my ass, all while asking for another beer, or what time I finished working, or if I were a student, or which University I went to, etc etc etc (that is, when I could make out what they were saying, in between the slurring and the drooling). If the pubs had a bouncer, I would give him a nudge, he would come over, and tell the lads to chill. In restaurants, I would get one of my male colleagues to swap tables with me. In bars instead, I just had to bear with it, as most of the time the owner would not want to lose the customers (read: money).
At Uni, I’d hang out with my friends, wear something skimpy, and go dancing. Guys falling on your boob or grabbing your ass when you look away, men thinking that wearing a short dress means they are entitled to have a conversation with you (read: octopus their way around your body), and more of the same. I would say I had a ‘boyfriend’, because saying I wasn’t interested would have bruised their ego, and caused a more aggressive reaction. This way, they would either rationalise the rejection and leave, or would not pursue me out of respect for my ‘boyfriend’ (read: it’s ok to respect a non-existent man/bf, but not the girl standing in front of you). Once, a guy told me ‘leave something to the imagination’, and I thought that was a very odd way to say he wanted me to dress more modestly, just so he could fantasise about me being naked.
I started dating, and with that, I discovered the joys (*looks puzzled*) of online dating and the very first apps. Guys would feel like it was ok to send unsolicited dick pics to girls they didn’t know. Somehow, dick pics always made me think of those perverts in the park. You know, the ones in trench coats, that flash people at night. Dating apps gave those perverts a platform to reach a never ending audience, made up of women (read: future victims) of all ages, nationalities, based anywhere. Just in case it wasn’t obvious, if anyone wants a dick pic, they are perfectly capable of asking for it.
When I started working, this continued. In a office, I was the junior person (read: acceptable target). I had colleagues hugging me a little too tight, and for a little too long; like you have been away for a week holiday, and they are hugging you as if you just came back from the dead. I had a colleague slapping my ass telling me I had done such a good job, and reporting him to HR did absolutely no good to me (he sent me an apology email written by HR and then grabbed me for some alone time, at his earliest opportunity, to shout at me and accuse me of almost making him lose his job).
When I was in a relationship, my partners felt entitled to my body any time of the day and night, even if I was sleeping or drunk or hangover. Once, it actually culminated with me puking piña coladas all over the bed. Needless to say, he never did that again. When I had a one night stand, the guy would try avoiding using a condom as he couldn’t find it, to which I would promptly answer with ‘I still haven’t received results from the last test, as they wanted to run it again, however I am sure it’s nothing’… aaaaand the condom was promptly found.
A couple of years ago, I went on holiday, and went for an excursion. It was a hot sunny day, and we visited a beautiful lagoon in the middle of a forest, with blue green water. It was like a dream. I wanted to go for a swim, but mother nature decided to pay a visit (read: I was menstruating). A middle age man, from another tour group, looked at me and told me to go for a swim; I was wearing a bikini after all (only the top part, but he didn’t know). I told him I didn’t feel like it, but he insisted, saying the water was beautiful and it was so warm. And insisted. And insisted. Until I told him that no one wanted to see blood in the lagoon, so I’d rather not. But that didn’t feel quite right, so I asked him why didn’t he go for a swim himself. To which he said he didn’t feel like it, so I did the only obvious thing: I insisted. And insisted. And insisted. Until I made him understand how much of an asshole he was and he stopped bothering me.
Not long ago, just before Covid, I was just coming out of the office, and some guys in the shopping center called out to me and told me to smile. Mind you, I wasn’t grumpy or anything, I was contemplating doing some after-work retail therapy. What was so unsettling, was that they told me in a way that it sounded like I OWED THEM a smile. They couldn’t grasp the idea that I owed them nothing: not a smile, not a response, not a wave, not a hello, not forgiveness, not a reason, not a text, not compliance, not politeness, not a date, not prettiness, not a shag, not anything.
For a long time, I felt like I was fighting windmills. I would get harassed, I would get angry, I would cry, I would feel frustrated, I would try to forget, and then it would all starts again. But why am I sharing this? I’m sharing because these things don’t happen to one person, once in their life. They happen multiple times, to all women. Whether we acknowledge it or we don’t, whether we talk about it, or we try to forget.
You know what all of these things have in common? Consent. Or better, lack of.
This brings me to why I would rather be in a fetish club than in a pub with drunk people, or in a club with intoxicated people, or anywhere else with sober people who don’t need/have the excuse of alcohol or drugs to harass women.
Kinky people are so wildly aware of consent because is built within the culture, the lifestyle. Being in a kinky/fetish club means that no one is going to shout at you to tell you about your legs/boobs/etc unless that’s what you both agreed on, no one is going to hug you too tightly or for too long unless you are both into it, no one is going to grope you unless you both said HELL YES.
Anything we do, as kinky people, if it’s not a HELL YES then it’s not a go.
It’s important to understand and teach consent, it’s important to collectively make the world a safer place, it’s important to call out your mates and tell them ‘that’s fucked up, man’ when the occasion arises.
Not long ago I wrote about the basics of BDSM, and I wrote about the consensual practices, if you want to read more click here and scroll to the end of the post. Also I love this video about consent, so check it out (duration 2:49).