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Archive for July, 2010

Safewording

If there’s one thing that the last week has taught me, it’s that there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what a safeword is for some people in SL, more so than in RL. This is what a safeword is to me, your interpretation may be different but in explaining what a safeword means to me, maybe you’ll understand my initial position a little better.

Wilehlmina in the comments captures my viewpoint well. I too come from a RL background in BDSM, some 20 odd years or so off and on. That doesn’t make me better than anyone, it just gives me a different perspective. I encourage you to read Wilhelmina’s comment in full, however the pull quote is here:

When a safeword is used that’s showing a huge amount of trust on the subs part. Firstly trust that the dominant actually will honor it, but also that they won’t be angry or start spreading rumors that so and so is a tease which to me is sort of the issue here.

But there are also trust elements on the dominant’s side as well. Not just the obvious “I trust you to use the safeword responsibly” aspect, but the knowledge that the sub trusts the dominant to act in the proper manner.

That right there is the essence of why safewords exist in the first place. A safeword is not, oh I’m bored stuck in this cage so I’m just gonna safeword and go watch some TV; that’s not what they’re about. Safewords are for when something or things have gone bad, it’s a cry for help, the break glass in case of fire. When understood in that context, it should be clear why I have grave concerns over any stigma attached to the use of a safeword. The act of safewording is stigma enough.

For the top.

Seriously, as a top (dominant, whatever) the last thing you want to achieve is making your bottom safeword, because that means you haven’t been playing well together. BDSM is about power exchange and tough as it may sound, the top bears most of the responsibility here (in most cases). Word gets around, tops who constantly drive bottoms to safeword don’t last very long.

That may sound one sided, a little unfair maybe, but trust me it’s no joke having a safeword ignored if you get nerve pinched by rope or some such. In RL you really do literally put your life in the hands of your top, no question. That’s part of the thrill. You don’t have to search very hard to find reports of BDSM related deaths, so in RL, it’s not even an argument. Safewords exist for a good reason.

We’re not in RL, though. We’re in SL, so why get my knickers in a twist?

In earlier comments, Shaela makes a couple of observations:

To me, playing SL with a safeword amounts to just playing games. So, I have always avoided the places and people who want to get my permission to do everything.

I fundamentally don’t agree with that. SL is not a game, one doesn’t play at SL, SL provides us with a framework to interact with each other. To say that SL is a game is to say that all the other people who make SL what it is are not important, have no feelings and no longer exist when you step away from the keyboard.

No. That is not true. I’m not in SL right now, I’ve just had a bacon sandwich for breakfast, checking my email and thinking about things that happen in SL (amongst other things.) To say that SL is just a game is a gross mis-statement about what SL is. SL without people is worthless.

That’s not to say you can’t play games in SL, of course you can. But just as you can play a game of cards in RL, it’s still people who come to the table and leave the table at the end of it.

People matter.

Shaela also says:

One thing that turns me off the worst in Second Life is when my avatar is standing there screaming, “NO! Don’t take my keys! You can’t do this! Give those back!” , and some person walks up screaming to my captor about TOS, and my captor gets scared and unlocks and walks away. If my rl player really didn’t consent, I’d go into normal viewer and reset my cuffs. Simple. It’s not real life where I can’t do that.

The above scenario would see the man screaming about ToS being ejected, then counselled as to why his actions were inappropriate if it happened at Stonehaven, where I’m a Warden.

The main tool that makes resistance play possible is the adherence to safewords. I’ve seen beatings, gross acts of humiliation which personally turn my stomach, behavior I personally feel is damaging, yet it’s all gone on right under my nose because I know that if things go from being the bestest of best rides for the participants to something really horrible, the safeword is there not to let me know, but to let the other participants know that something has gone horribly wrong and comfort is needed.

Personally one the more fun things I like to do is capture without prior negotiation. An interesting #RLV and enough information in the profile is all the `consent’ I need.

Far from being a barrier, safewords enable this type of play. Marine coded RLV to respect safewords. Next time you’re gagged, typed ((safeword)) in local chat. It won’t get garbled, and for good reason. Safewords matter because people matter.

One last item to tie this post up. It’s been suggested that Ctrl+Q is all you need for safeword. I don’t agree for two main reasons, although there are others.

Most of the kinksters in SL don’t have an active RL kink life; I’m certainly in that category. So let’s say that things in SL have gotten too much for me and I’ve safeworded. It should be obvious that the source is not physical, it’s mental. So at the time that I’m most in need of understanding friends, I cut myself off from them?

That’s just dumb.

The other reason is the top. Remember what I said about how people matter? If the top has any decency, she’ll be feeling pretty terrible that a safeword’s been necessary, more so in SL than in RL because she knows that the other person isn’t just in a state of physical discomfort, but really upset!

This is the time when good tops step up, put aside everything, put their RL on hold if need be and be there for someone in need. Post safeword is a time for healing and understanding between both parties, not recrimination. Ctrl-q doesn’t achieve that.

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I’m gratified that a number of opposing views have been made in the comments, I thank you all for contributing. I firmly believe that open debate assuming best intentions is how we grow to understand one another.

I’ve made a number of mistakes along the way, which I’ll now try and remedy.

I do not have a problem with CAII’s program in and of itself, or indeed CAII. On the contrary, CAII’s program is one of the more refreshing things I’ve come across in recent months. Although the program certainly isn’t my cup of tea; I have grave reservations about the absence of a safeword; it’s inventive, it’s fresh and I wish it every success.

The short conversation I had with CAII warmed me to her. If circumstances permit I’d like to get to know her better. People who bring new things to SL, particularly the BDSM side, enrich us all.

With that in mind, it was a mistake on my part to bring CAII’s program in to the discussion, as CAII’s program isn’t the issue that’s gotten under my skin so my apologies for that. It was a bigger mistake to not advise CAII of my post, for that I have no excuse.

In the same veign, I thank Ollalla Sugarbeat for taking the time to discuss this with me, again another person who I believe people who know her are richer for.

No, what really disturbs me is that OOC safewording can get you Grey Listed. The fundamental problem I have with it is the coercion that is implied: if you safeword here is the consequence. That is likely more a reflection on my difficulty in safewording, I’m not ashamed to admit that safewording has reduced me to tears in the past. For me, safewording is most certainly non-trivial. Despite an intellectual knowledge that safewording is the correct thing to do if the circumstances demand it, I still emotionally connect it with failure, I’ve blogged about this in the past. For me, safewording is the only deterrent there need be. That’s why I believe it’s inappropriate to record that on the Grey List as it’s OOC.

The popular perception amongst those who do not adminster groups who are participating in the Grey List program is that it’s a binary condition. If you’re Grey Listed, that’s any participation in any program that participates in the Grey List closed to you. The comments in the last two posts and a conversation I had with Ollalla Sugarbeat show that that is not the case. This has, to an extent, alleviated some of my concerns.

I understand and accept the position that the Grey List management is taking on this; I’m not sure I can go as far as to say as I agree with it because for me safewording is OOC and has no place in a database which was created to combat cheating and griefing with respect to RP.

Ultimately that is not the call of the management of the Grey List, that’s up to the people who both run and participate in these programs. As has been pointed out by more than one, the participants know what they’re signing up for, so caveat emptor applies.

Thank you all again for contributing and helping me understand.

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Marine’s asked me to redact this part of my previous post:

“I question that a program with no safeword can be associated with the Grey List. In my opinion there can be no support of a program that does not have a safeword.”

You can read her opinion in the comment, here. I encourage you to do so.

I can not comply, primarily because this association does call in to question the integrity of the Grey List program, in my opinion.

It is my opinion that insitutions that threatening Grey Listing as a consequence of Safewording can not be tolerated. That’s my opinion and just because it’s not liked by the management of the Grey List does not make it invalid.

I do understand that the Grey List does not police instituions. I also understand that the purpose of the Grey List is to discourage griefing and cheating.

Its purpose is not to coerce people in to forgoing their safeword. That, in my opinion, is a perversion of the Grey List however it is not a perversion of the Grey List’s choosing.

For some, safewording is a traumatic experience. Some find safewording very difficult to do. There must be no stigma or impediment attached to safewording. It’s my opinion that people need to be reassured that safewording if you are in distress is not only acceptable but mandatory.

CAII has chosen to use the power associated with the Grey List to coerce people in to not using their safeword. Like it or not, CAII’s program is associated with the Grey List. It’s my opinion that that is not appropriate.

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I’ve been getting more SL time recently, which is good.  In my travels I’ve been seeing CA slaves around, what the lady behind the program refers to as the anti-bane.  It’s a nice concept, not to my taste but CAII is to be commended for her ingenuity.  I can’t help but think the CA outfit is sexier than the bane one either, but then neko tend to be attracted to shiny things.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it.  In fact I’m blogging today specifically to speak out against it, which is unfortunate.  The problem?  No safeword.

That is unacceptable.  It’s even more unacceptable as we’re not talking a trivial commitment here; I’ve met one CA slave who’s locked in the suit till September at least!

Now you can say that it’s just SL, what harm could possibly happen and I’d say that if you’re asking that then you don’t understand BDSM.  It’s 90% about the mind and if you buy in to the rich experience SL can offer, then that is powerful indeed.

The penalty for leaving the program is to be Grey Listed.  That means that you’d be forbidden from participating in any program that uses th Grey List.  I approve of the Grey List concept.  I question that a program with no safeword can be associated with the Grey List.  In my opinion there can be no support of a program that does not have a safeword.

I re-iterate that I do like the overall concept of CAII and I think it can offer a rich experience for many people.

I’ve copied the text of the program and the application form to the end of this post.

What is Community Assistance Incarceration?

Community Assistance Incarceration is a program that allows criminals and other miscreants to be punished by turning them into a slave of the community. A CA slave loses only two rights: the right to change her appearance in any way, and the right to refuse any valid order.

A CA slave wears a distinctive, skintight suit designed to make him highly visible. This lets him be called upon to serve by anyone who desires to use him. His behavior is monitored by a Custodian implanted in his brain, which also allows him to be completely remotely controlled. He also has a neural bypass installed that works like an on/off switch, and indicator lights that show the status of the switch. There’s an information projector installed on the right leg that lets anyone who wishes more information about the slave or the program to get it easily.

Once begun, the slave’s sentence cannot be shortened or ended early. She’s committed for at least the time of the full sentence. Any violation of the program’s rules (defined as failure to willingly and cheerfully carry out any valid order) causes more time to be added to the sentence.

A CA slave can be thought of as an anti-bane. A bane is isolated from the society he has wronged. A CA slave remains within it in order to serve it.

A valid order is one that does not violate the slave’s declared limits or those of the program. The slave may be used sexually, if desired, or for any other purpose. The suit will stretch as needed to allow the slave to be penetrated, or for a male slave to use his penis, though the helmet is rigid and the slave’s mouth cannot be used.

If you would like more information, or know of someone who should serve a sentence as a CA slave, please contact CAII Wonder (that’s two capital “i”s).

CA Slave Application

Here’s what you need to know about becoming a CA slave. Please initial each line to show that you have read and accept it.

* You will be required to wear the CA slave suit, in its entirety, and nothing else. You will not be able to change your appearance in any way once the sentence begins.
Initials:

* You will need some editing skill to set the suit up. Some items will need to be linked together, some will need to have only some components edited, and nearly everything will need to be fitted. If you need help, it will be provided when
Initials:

* All CA slaves look basically alike. This means that any special prim attchments must be removed during the encapsulation process. This especially goes for furry avatars; you will look human during your sentence.
Initials:

* The sentence cannot be ended or shortened, only extended. Sentences are in RL time. There are no limits to the number of extensions you may receive from violations or being ordered to extend your own sentence yourself. No amount of pleading can change this. Not even CAII can reduce a slave’s sentence.
YOU CANNOT SAFEWORD OUT OF YOUR SENTENCE.
Initials:

* Your voice will be altered and processed, and will appear as your CA number, not your name. Your name will not be used, and you will be required to correct anyone who addresses you by it.
Initials:

* Your declared limits will be honored. You must accept any order that does not violate those limits, however. Losing the freedom to say no is the foundation on which the CAII program is built.
Initials:

* You will be owned by CAII, not any one person, so that you can serve everyone equally. If you have a current owner, they must surrender ownership of you for the duration of your sentence – so they must agree to your sentencing, and will not have any more right to give you orders during your sentence than anyone else. They must provide a copy of this application, completely filled in, as well.
Current owner’s name, or “none”:
Initials:

* Violations reported to CAII will be added to your sentence in accordance with the terms of that sentence. There will be no appeal.
Initials:

* Logging in without the use of RLV for any reason without the prior approval of CAII will result in your removal from the program. This policy may only be waived in a particular instance by CAII Wonder herself.
Initials:

* If you are removed from the program for any reason, your Dominatech iControl implant will only be released back to your control upon your agreement to destroy the items provided to you by CAII, and not to appear in the unmodified CA slave suit for any reason.
Initials:

* CAII participates in the Second life Bureau of Investigations greylisting program. Those who have been reported to the program will normally be ineligible for a sentence as a CA slave. Anyone removed from the CAII program for cause will be reported to the greylisting database.
Initials:

* You will need one empty group slot to join the CAII group. You must wear the group tag at all times unless you have a need to do something that requires a different one. If you have no empty group slots, but own a group and can give yourself the tag CA Slave in that group, that’s acceptable, although you will miss out on the help you can get from the group chat.
Initials:

* You are not required to add CAII Wonder as a friend, but you are encouraged to.
Initials:

* The suit components, if you do not have any of them already, will cost between L$2500 and L$3000. The vendors in the CAII facility are not owned by CAII. CAII is not able to issue refunds for any reason, including changing your mind about entering the program or being removed from it for cause.
Initials:

Please put your SL account name below, and the date. Then rename this notecard to “CA Slave application – <your name>” and return it to CAII Wonder. This will serve as your application to the program, and your agreement to the terms and conditions above.

I understand and agree to the terms and conditions of the program as listed above.
Name:
Date:

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