AN: Cross-posted from my FetLife , so it’s linkable.
[TW: mentions of rape & victim grooming]
The question has been floating around lately, “where would you be without FetLife?” It’s posed very deliberately, to remind us how lucky we are to have our own forum, our own meeting place and safe haven on the ‘net, but it reminds me of something very different.
The first thing I always think? “Not raped.”
I’ve thought about writing this before, about trying to explain my complicated relationship with kink and community, but every time I feel the helpless anger well up again. The helpless anger that my rapist is back after a “hiatus” with a breezy “I have a bad rep from a bitter ex and her friends.” The helpless anger that I will never not be someone who was raped. The helpless anger that he was enabled and covered up for by what I saw as my community.
I met my rapist on FetLife. He sent me a charming introductory message, we chatted back and forth, and he offered to show me around. Warned me about predators. Introduced me to munches. I saw that he was well liked and well respected, and I felt safe. In hindsight the vast majority of this was victim grooming.
I want to be really clear: I don’t think FetLife was to blame for my rape, precisely. I think FetLife is to blame for the re-victimization of countless survivors who cannot, under ToS, name their rapists. For the survivors who wake up to an email to let them know their posts have been edited without their knowledge or consent. For actively covering for rapists.
Let’s be clear, that’s what this is. When you view the potential damage done to a reputation by the accusation of rape as equal to the actual damage done by rapists, you are perpetuating a rape culture. When you further the myth that people (particularly women) often make up false reports for revenge, you are making it that much harder for the next survivor to come forward with her story. When you prevent us from sharing notes and naming names you actively hinder our ability to build a meaningful community and support structures to keep our community safe.
I’ve met so many fantastic people through the kink community and events, but I can’t say I wouldn’t give them all up to be rid of this stone around my neck. I know it will wear lighter in time, but I cannot sit quietly and swallow the portrayal of FetLife as a shining force for good.
I think FetLife is part of a broader rape culture. It’s part of broader kink community that self-selects and turns into an echo chamber because so many marginalized people get pushed out to the fringes. I think that’s a problem, and I’m not really sure how to fix it, but I think the first step is recognizing its glaring flaws.