This post is not about D/s nor is it funny. It’s about being angry at a re-awakening to the dark, vicious and sick side of humanity. Please move on if you’re looking to be amused. This is not an easy post.
A few years ago an office colleague remarked on spending a weekend with family in Bradford. I piped up that I knew the place well, I’d worked in and around the seedy backstreets. It shocked him, his image of me was of a middle class white guy born with a silver spoon in his mouth who could never have encountered hardship and the scrabble to survive. Yes, I did have a ‘nice’ upbringing but my late teens and early twenties were spent surrounded by poverty and depravity before working my way out.
My early teens was the high point of the activity of the Yorkshire Ripper before he was caught. Turned out he was a local lad and the family was notorious.
Only a few years later I was working in and around his main turf. I knew some of the working ladies down the pub. They were still scared and told stories to curdle your blood. The underworld figures who ran the streets and scams drank in those same pubs.
I recount this to suggest that I am not naive about human depravity. My cynicism comes not from never encountering the under belly of society, but precisely because I did. You fight to get out of there because to wait for someone else to come good on their promises of a unicorn for everyone marks you out as a mug who’s stuck there for a lifetime as a victim to be preyed upon by all and sundry, especially by those professing to want to give you that unicorn.
I’m sure that last bit will rankle with many who have never actually been down there.
I have to admit that in the intervening 30 years I have done well enough such that it’s easy to understand the image that my colleague had of me. Barring a few third hand gossip stories with domme friends about the scene and some very bad characters within it, I’ve not really been exposed to the visceral realities. Largely because I haven’t gone looking for them.
Which brings me to the point. A number of things in recent months have broken through my barrier of consciousness. Some uniquely personal, others more general and more disturbing, at that.
The trigger for writing this post was a recording that’s doing the rounds of someone phoning in to a radio show recounting the horrific experience of her friend. Drugged on a night out and waking up to hear someone downstairs. She called the police who found her date for the night had put up plastic sheeting all over downstairs in preparation for murdering and dismembering her. It’s a horrifying listen for which it’s hard to find words.
For me this is at the end of a sequence of being exposed to uncomfortable things again and re-awakening to the barbarity that underpins a strata of humanity – or more accurately, inhumanity.
The intensely personal item is something I won’t say much on, only that a close friend revealed she’d been in deep therapy for a number of years relating to her time and experiences as a SWer. She asked for help, which I offer gladly whilst knowing it will be an emotional roller-coaster.
The first of the more general items has come about because I’ve done research on the fallout of FOSTA/SESTA. Initially to try to decipher the changes in policy that sites implement as they adapt. Yes, the policies do rather throw SWers under a bus. And this leads to encountering articles ranging from academic to personal regarding the fallout. Most prevalent right now are those relating to the takedown of BackPage and some can be quite harrowing. If you’re fighting for your dignity, even your life, removing anything that makes it just a little bit safer due to a flawed premise is criminal insanity.
Perhaps what struck me hardest going through these was the common attitude posted on forums by ‘clients’ that this was great because if SWers were unable to work collectively for protection or share information about clients then it must mean that they will end up being desperate for business and consequently lower their prices and level of client filtering.
Is that for real ? Sadly, it is. I know males have a problem with empathy, yet this is very sick reasoning.
The second of the general items comes from starting this blog. It’s given me the opportunity to discover some interesting writers out there, especially female ones. Running a blog requires a bit of motivation and some of them have it in spades and use it as a campaigning platform. Many of the same issues as in the previous example, though they’ve been rumbling on for years. The way that the powers that be deliberately conflate SW with trafficking when they have great difficulty pointing out any actual cases of trafficking. Trafficking and modern slavery are real, though mostly in the agricultural and construction industries.
Again it’s the personal stories of hardship and personal harm that strike hard.
The struggle to get across the arguments for decriminalisation in the current censorious climate of the middle-class prudes and do-gooders, the tide seems to be going out on this one. Behind the mask of wanting help, all they really want is to get rid of sex work. If their solutions are to make it more unsafe and result in deaths, at best they don’t care and at worst consider it a good motivation for people to give up sex work.
All of the above are not new to me, I’ve been aware of them since I lived and worked alongside them. What’s happened recently is a re-awakening of awareness of the issues and arguments in current times.
One of the problems I do have in exploring the arguments is that at times they are couched from a somewhat extreme feminist view. Being told you’re a patriarchal misogynist for holding a door open colours the support that males of my generation would provide to these real issues – it causes them to disengage and ignore. These are issues of humanity and claiming them as the preserve of a single group alienates necessary support from an unnecessarily perceived enemy.
Controversial, I know and I might get some ire from it. I’m not a feminist, I find that’s too narrowly self-limiting. I am a humanist – even if I am cynical. I tend to prefer the use of praxeology to describe how humans are motivated.
Having said that, I want to finish on something that’s new to me, really upset me, made me angry. In researching the above issues I started to see items about the Incel movement and the loose manifesto or belief system it purports. It’s horrifying.
The angst of young men who can’t get their end away goes back to before recorded history. Much of that angst would be sublimated in the way that boys were introduced to the hierarchical male world. We don’t do that any more, we treat them as children until they are at least 18 under the pretence of treating them like adults. Then when we tell them they are adults it’s too late for many of them to make the brain linkages to actually be an adult and we achieve the 30 year old teenager. There’s a lot to be said here, I’ll do it another time.
What’s truly horrifying from these beliefs is the concept of entitlement to sex, that it’s not fair that girls don’t find them attractive and it should be made a right to have sex with them. The concept that it’s someone else’s fault they are lonely behind their keyboard and can’t make real life social connections in school or college. That to solve their internalised problems of loneliness and inadequacy requires the overthrow of societal norms and a level of misogyny that would even beggar belief in Saudi Arabia.
I thought I knew the dark underside of the human condition but this has unexpectedly shocked me. Both ‘him’ and melody are angry and upset in slightly different ways.
I’ve a lot more disturbing reading to do.