This post is for those of you who are aware of what’s happening in the sex blogging world. Those who would be the peacekeepers, those who don’t know what to think (no I won’t tell you what to think, regardless of the vicious rumors you may have heard about me). Those who don’t understand why everyone is so damn angry.
If you’re curious but lost, start here (but it’s only the tip of a transphobic, non-inclusive iceberg): a Twitter thread by Mx. Nillin that links to a grotesque, offensive blog post (that has rightly caused a lot of anger) and a blog post by Mx. Nillin which discusses another side of the immediate problem.
Start with those links. Kind of know what’s going on? Okay, let’s move forward.
Why am I saying anything at all?
Let’s get a few things out of the way. I am a white, cis, mostly heterosexual woman with mostly decent health and financial security. On the list of privileges, I’ve got it good. It means that I don’t have a clue about being a marginalized person, and I certainly don’t know how to navigate the sex blogging community as anyone other than who I am. For all my own personal issues, I can never know what it’s like to fight for my identity and my place in the world. I also never want to appear to speak for the people in these communities — it’s important to amplify their voices and then sit back and listen.
This also means I have a lot to learn — and I am always learning. It also means I make mistakes and have to deal with that, too.
But I am also someone who witnessed part of the current “drama” (I really don’t like referring to this situation as that — can we find a new term, please?) from a different place than usual. Why? Because I commented on that drivel that wants to pretend to be “satire” (see the first link).
I’ve now been within the sex blogging community long enough, in some form or fashion, to see these kinds of situations happen over and over again. This one feels more egregious than those I saw in the past, but I think that’s because it feels more personal, too. It involves people many of us look(ed) up to, liked, respected, and saw as a leader. A lot of anger is on display (rightly so), and many of us are conflict-averse and want it to go away. There’s sadness, anger, disbelief, and a lot of conflicting emotions.
No matter how bad you feel, outside observer to all this, imagine how non-binary and trans bloggers feel, reading the comments, the blog posts, the vitriol and dealing with it every single day. Use the empathy you likely have. Yeah, it really is that bad.
Here’s where I come down on all of this…(take it or leave it):
What you see isn’t the first incident…
So let’s start with a truism I’ve learned over the years as these “dramas” spike and fade. The thing that blows up and gets everyone’s emotions high is NEVER the first thing to happen. It’s not like a marginalized person woke up one morning and decided to be really angry about a single tweet. In my experience it has never worked like that.
It started with one moment — maybe an insensitive way to describe a misunderstood topic, maybe the incorrect gender pronoun, maybe something else. And the person impacted messaged privately. They educated. They explained themselves. In other words, they did the exact thing people are asking them to do now. (And remember, this was a single moment, but it doesn’t represent the number of times it happens over and over again — within THIS community, y’all, with different people. If you had to explain your existence and educate over and over again, wouldn’t you be exhausted and over it?)
And then the thing (or something like it) happened again and again and again. Each time, they took it to DMs or email. Each time, they explained and educated. This is an old cycle repeated hundreds of times across all marginalized communities.
At some point, these things bubble over. The conversation becomes more public. The person who continues to do a thing they claim is a mistake (every single time) finally gets a little heat and pressure. In this particular case, this started a sad situation where a single group coalesced into their own community of intolerance.
Eventually there’s a thing too big or too momentous. Or a person reaches their limit, and all that’s left is to go public. Which takes a shit-ton of bravery because they don’t know how people will react (or they know/suspect people won’t react well). They do it knowing they’ll get told to be quiet, be nice, get over it, go away.
And they fucking do it anyway.
And if you think you don’t know any non-binary, genderqueer, or trans people, start with those names and broaden your horizons. They’re the tip of an amazing iceberg of creative people.
I know some of you really hate conflict…
I hate conflict, too. The angry voices. The mean words. It’s…hard to take. Especially if you have your own past trauma and personal stuff to deal with that makes conflict difficult. That is something I understand all too well.
But asking people to stop being upset or asking them to take it to DMs minimizes the real issue being dealt with.
I will say this — safeguard your mental health as much as you can. Take care of yourself. Not everyone is meant to fight and shout in the midst of upheaval and “drama” (we REALLY need a new fucking word for this).
But there are plenty of things you can do. To be a good ally. To help those harmed by this.
DM people you support to let them know. Blog your feelings if that feels safer. Show who you are through your own actions (be inclusive, support marginalized communities, respect their identity). Not everyone is required to wade into the conflict. Yes, even though it feels like that’s the expectation.
I spent a long time keeping my head down during these types of conflicts. When I felt compelled to speak, I did it in my blog (kind of like now). And because I am so conflict-averse, I still struggle with tweeting in the moment and overthink every word I say. (Although, between the rough draft of this post to the final edit, I seem to have gotten over that.)
But right is right, and wrong is wrong. Sometimes you see something so wrong, there’s only one thing to do. I’m learning to be braver. I’m learning to speak up, to say the thing that needs to be said, to have fewer fucks about how people will perceive me over it.
For the record, it’s hard to call yourself an ally in a diverse community if you’re never willing to say something is wrong when it’s definitely wrong. (That doesn’t mean you have to shout it from the rooftops. But burying your head in the sand isn’t right, either.)
On “taking sides”
In these moments, I get that you feel like you’re being asked to take sides. And you don’t want to, don’t feel like you should, don’t think it’s time. Maybe you just need quiet time to figure out what you think.
While the public pressure to respond and to choose where you stand is overwhelming, give yourself some time. My personal opinion is that prolonged silence often looks like support. So if you fundamentally disagree with something that’s gone on, it’s okay to indicate that — and I would encourage it, as long as you feel safe. A retweet, a like, an email, a DM — small gestures count, too.
For me, the “sides” issue has been pretty clear — because I’ve watched this current situation unfold like a slow-motion car crash, I’ve seen details and moments that others who were out there living their lives didn’t see. I also came across that heinous blog post long before many of you did. And that was a clear moment to say something. I couldn’t leave it unsaid. It was too awful. The glee and “solidarity” in the comments section made my stomach hurt. I told myself this was my moment to decide who I am in this community and where I draw my line in the sand.
So I picked a side. And there was a “price” to be paid for that, and I would pay it again ten times over. I have a shit-ton of privilege, so the price for me wasn’t all that steep. It hurt, and I handled it. But it was a decision I made (one I don’t regret) and one that gives me a lot more strength than I used to have.
You may have a different perspective and another way to handle it. All I can ever ask is that whatever you decide to do, make sure you do it with integrity. Make sure you do what you’ll be proud of later — make sure you can live with your decision.
What do we want this community to be?
That’s the question I keep asking myself. What do I want to be a part of? What is my part to play? It’s okay if you don’t have clear answers — yet. Sometimes you have to witness conflicts like this to figure it out. But if you don’t know, remember that probably comes from a place of privilege, too. If you’ve never had to think about these things until right now, you’re luckier than you realize.
I know I want the community to be welcoming and inclusive. I want a diverse range of voices to be heard, and I desperately want everyone to feel safe here. The sex blogging community was one of the first spaces where I ever felt fully myself. I’ve learned a lot and grown over the years, and I’ve seen the good this community (in all its messy, complicated, imperfect glory) can do. That’s what I want for every newbie sex blogger and old-timer, too. That feeling of knowing you belong, that this is your space.
No, we don’t all have to agree, but if the bare minimum asked for is to respect another person’s identity (EVEN IF YOU DON’T ‘UNDERSTAND’ IT), that should be the literal least we do.
I’ve also seen the harm and the pain some people in the community can cause. And once seen, it can’t (or shouldn’t) be unseen.
We are the change we want to see in the world. We have to be, y’all. It’s the only way forward.
On public apologies…
Life comes at you fast in moments like this. Between the draft of this post to the edit, public apologies were issued — all at about the same time. Some sounded better than others. They appeared coordinated, but I don’t know that for sure. And they only came after a lot of pressure — both publically and privately. Were any apologies made to people directly impacted? I don’t know. Am I holding my breath that they will apologize to those people? Not really.
You have to choose your own path forward and decide how you want to react. For what it’s worth, I’m not convinced. I’m also not swayed by it. Over the course of the day, I’ve run out of fucks to give. I saw first hand some of the harm done to others, and I know some of the reactions this group had while they thought no one was paying attention (over the literal weeks since that blog post was published).
My feeling is this, and I’ve said it a million times at this point:
When people show you who they are, believe them.