BDSM and Clout

by | Oct 5, 2020 | BDSM, BDSM Community, Consent, Power Dynamics, Safety

The power someone gains from heightened notoriety as a result of others possessing widespread reverence for them can be described as clout. While clout itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, our attitudes towards clout can be dangerous. We don’t always hold notable individuals under the same scrutiny we use to examine strangers. We normally try to keep our best interests at heart by doing what we can to make sure strangers are good people without ill intent and ulterior motives. With prominent individuals however, the measures people should always use to determine safety are often reduced or entirely non-existent.

The reason behind this is the dehumanizing pedestal mentality that pervades society in reference to how we view famous people. We see them not as human, but as good: a state of being we admire or hope to achieve. The consolidated reverence makes us feel safe as we forget that most of humanity has the capacity to manifest harm.

It is known that power corrupts those who wield it, but it is important to internalize that the very same power may corrupt those who come into contact with it. Power Dynamics very heavily affect consent due to factors that unevenly distribute power between people. Clout is a type of power. Therefore, those who come into contact with clout may have their understanding of consent taken advantage of or altered in some way that blinds them to the possibility of harm to themselves and others.

For instance, many of you are inclined to play with me based on my being a notable BDSM educator with a following who writes well…and nothing else. Despite the social positions myself and colleagues hold, we are to be held to the same personal standards and practices you utilize to ensure your safety with strangers on a continuous basis.

When we don’t consider clout as a factor that affects consent, it makes appearances in the BDSM community as:

  • Survivors not being believed by others when their consent is violated by someone with clout
  • Victim blaming
  • Unreported instances of consent violations as a result of someone assuming they won’t be believed
  • Unreported consent violations out of fear of the sheer amount of power, sway and resources someone has
  • Violators sidestepping accountability
  • Multiple instances of abuse over time before someone is found out
  • Viewing consent violations as insignificant despite the way they made us feel
  • The belief that the survivor isn’t desirable enough to have their consent violated
  • Wide acceptance/knowledge of sinister behavior and “open secrets”
  • The inclination to play with someone without actually getting to know them or asking for references
  • Survivors being quiet about abuse as to not “tarnish the reputation” of the offender

It is absolutely imperative that those with clout both in and out of the BDSM community are seen as equal to the people who highly regard them. As long as we continue to see notable individuals as people who are above the rest of us, we will allow them to be above the ways we keep ourselves and others safe. The observation of consent isn’t only meant for certain people.

Power is not indicative of character.

 

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