The past few days have resulted in a lot of reflection and soul-searching and have resulted in me reaching a number of sad but, with hindsight, inevitable conclusions.
The sex blogging community was one that I was proud to be an active part of. Its ideals of openness, inclusiveness, support and understanding were ones that I admired.
The more observant among you will have noticed that the above was phrased in the past tense. This phrasing is very much deliberate.
The problem, that I have come to realise and that the past 18 months or so has made increasingly obvious, is that this "community" of ours, while espousing many noble aims and ideals, is fundamentally flawed. Given that it is a community made up of humans with our capacity for intolerance, for causing pain, to take offence, to victimise, to abuse and to blame others, this was, sadly, an inevitability. I'm not saying everyone in the community is guilty of all of the above, but everyone, myself included, will transgressed at some point; we will have taken something personally, we will have lashed out. We are not an admirable species, and this is what we do.
No, it seems that for all that this community stands for, it is just as guilty of perpetuating the sins of humanity as any other. Perhaps it is even more so, because those who participate do so with a level of openness that leaves them even more vulnerable when people decide to use that against them.
For all that the community preaches equality and acceptance, it still has its cliques. It still has its self appointed high-ups and their attendant hangers-on. Acceptance by such cliques is conditional on an unswerving acceptance of that segment's chosen narrative. To question or dispute that narrative is, at best, to invite scorn and at worst, to open yourself to abuse, veiled and not-so-veiled disparagement, back-stabbing and open demonisation.
I have seen it happen to a number of others. It has happened to me. If your response to a male or male-identifying blogger who details their experience of being abused is anything along the lines of "well, at least now you know what women have to contend with" or, and possibly worse still "stop trying to make every issue about men" (and if you are reading this, you know who you are) then really you need to take a long, hard look at yourself and you so-called values of inclusiveness and understanding.
Humans are also far to ready to take offence and to lash out at those whom we perceive as having wronged us. However hard we try to moderate them, we all have our agendas, our own experiences colour our perceptions of situations and, misunderstandings happen. Have I ever been guilty of this? I most absolutely have, and I apologise now, as I have down many times in the past when I have failed to understand. Some people, and they are definitely represented in this community, fail to see past misunderstanding, perceiving it as a deliberate (possibly underhand) assault on them and their values, it feeds their sense of grievance and fuels bolsters the sense of entitlement they feel being offended gives them. The sad thing is, often their reactions are justified. A slur or an attack isn't an honest mistake, it is deliberate. Sometimes, however, it is simply an error of expression, or an oversight or a careless overgeneralisation. We all make them, every single one of us. It is absolutely correct to challenge these situations; an inaccurate gender based generalisation is equally wrong irrespective of the gender making it, or the gender it is being made about. This isn't a male issue, or a female issue, or a non-binary issue it is simply an issue that applies equally across the spectrum. So challenge it when you encounter it, but be prepared to give those you challenge the right to reply. None of us are perfect and none of us have been appointed judge and jury. Oh, and when I say challenge it, I don't mean in a sub-tweet, behind the back of the person you are supposedly calling out. You are only calling someone's behaviour out if that person is aware you are doing it. If they only find out about it after the event by chance, you haven't actually achieved anything other than make a lot of noise and stoke your own ego.
So, what has this rather rambling diatribe proved? Well, for some of you, it has probably confirmed that I am someone you don't want to be associated. If that is the case, that is absolutely fine. I'm sorry that my views make you feel that way, but my viewpoint is as valid to me as yours is to you.
So what is my viewpoint? Well that is a complex and constantly evolving thing but, in an attempt to keep it simple and concise, it's something like this.
A bigot, is a bigot; black, white, gay, bi, straight, trans non-binary does not change this or give you any exemption.
Black lives (and indeed I'd extend this to BAME lives) matter, and when I say this what I mean is not that they matter more, but that they matter every bit as much as non-BAME lives.
Not all disabilities and differences are visible. Don't jump to conclusions of privilege You based only upon what you can see. You may see a cis, white, heterosexual male but you don't see the learning difficulty, or the chronic and possibly occasionally debilitating illness. It's easy to judge appearances alone, don't be that person.
Trans-people are people. People who identify as men ARE men, people who identify as women ARE women, people who identify outside binary norms ARE whatever they say they are; respect this.
Equality does not mean the same. Equality means recognising differences exist and valuing those differences. Equality is not simply 10=10; more that (5x2)=(6+4)=(12-2)=(30÷3). All are equally as valid. Equal rights also mean equal responsibility and equal accountability; there are no free passes. Your experiences do not entitle you to better or worse treatment than anyone else and, in particular, your experience of abuse and intolerance against you in no way justifies or excuses your abuse of and intolerance towards others; we are all held to the same account.
It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what?
While I have definitely been guilty of taking offence, including in situations where none has been intended, I am daily being reminded of the wisdom of his words. Pettiness, abusiveness, intolerance, grievance and entitlement are all alive and kicking within this community; employed most often and most extremely by those who would use the community to inflate their sense of self-appointed importance and boost their already oversized egos, while those that dare to challenge are those who are treated with contempt for daring to question the existing hegemony.
I have little faith in humanity. Individual humans can be truly wonderful people, but collectively, as a species, we leave much to be desired. The sex-blogging community does try to hold itself to a higher standard, which is commendable and often, it succeeds to a degree. Sadly, however, human faults pervade it as much as any other human community, and the failure of so many to acknowledge this fact; often out of blissful unawareness, but frequently and increasingly because it serves certain individuals' self-interests to do so, makes it all the more open for charges of hypocrisy to be levelled against it.
So, with that, I now take my leave. If having read this, you chose to unfollow me, I bear you no ill will nor hold any rancour against you, for that is your right and I accept that.
To those that have supported me over the years, I thank you.
To those who have given me the gift of friendship, I cherish it.
To those that have wronged me, that is in the past.
To those who believe I have in any way wronged them, I apologise sincerely, wholeheartedly and without reservation.
To those that have taken offence at anything I have written in this post, I refer you to Stephen Fry above.
In the words of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer:
When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.
I've said my piece, so now I'll leave it there.