When I and Selene ran The Venue, our first two rules discussed with every new person who walked through our door (as they were given the tour) were:
- If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.
- Consent for all activities must be clearly negotiated and understood by all players in every scene.
Except when it’s not.
Once a month, we also had Newbie’s Night, in which we discussed all 12 of our rules in detail, answered questions, and encouraged the more experienced members of the community to come let their freak flags fly and share their kinks with those who were just starting out.
I was usually the speaker for those nights, and I spent some real time on rules one and two.
For good reason.
They are easily confusing when looking at social clues in a kinky playspace.
Because looking around a space as a newbie, you will see things happening that you are not sure of. People touching and grabbing without explicit consent given in that moment, and people doing things to others that make them cry or plead, or even seem surprised that something is happening.
And it’s often not only OK, but desired.
Because that is part of their previously negotiated friendship/dynamic/scene.
And what you see/hear does not always tell the story.
Like the time when a really violent CNC scene had been negotiated and cleared with the staff and began, and one of our volunteers freaked out and tried to end it, because it looked as if it could not be consensual…
She’d arrived JUST before the scene had begun, and had not yet checked in with the staff.
She read it wrong, because she didn’t know what the relationship was.
Before I go further…
For those who don’t know me beyond this writing, I will tell you that I care very much about consent, and go so far as to teach classes in the kink community about it, and write about consent. Quite a lot.
Now, on to Baby It’s Cold Outside
Every relationship is different. We don’t know what’s going on between two people, unless we ask.
Some people get micro-consent for everything.
May I touch you?
May I bite you here?
May I use this toy and/or that toy?
Some prefer a “go until I red” approach. As a good friend likes to say:
“Just play with me naturally. I know my colors and I can speak up for myself.”
Both are valid.
As long as they are understood and not forced on anyone.
I personally use a combination. I start very micro, asking for permission to touch at the beginning, and grow to macro through interactions. To the point that neither my Pet nor I have ever had a safe word, and we have never had to call “red” for anything, as we are able to communicate and direct each other throughout the process.
And I enjoy the tease, the play and the flirting like you hear in this music, and engage in it myself for fun.
For some, it might be called CNC or “forced”, although I would say that is an extreme comparison in this case, and I don’t personally engage in acts I think cross into those territories.
What we do know is that there is zero stresser signals in the vocals we hear on the radio (in fact, they are often quite obviously playful), and we don’t know these people who are interacting.
- We don’t know how long they’ve known each other.
- We don’t know if this is a silly game they play (like ‘Please…’).
- We don’t know what (if anything) is negotiated.
The only appropriate behavior were any stranger to witness this scene play out at a kink event (for example) would be to step in and ask if everything were OK, and react based on the information given in return.
It’s no different that what we see on FetLife every day:
- Person A posts a photo.
- Person B offers a compliment.
- Person C offers a compliment, and a pet name, like ‘baby doll.’
- Person D offers a compliment.
- Person E offers a compliment.
- Person F offers a compliment.
- Person G offers a compliment, and a pet name, like ‘sweetcheeks.’
- Person A thanks Persons B, C, D, F, G. Responds to C, “Gross, asshole.” To E, they say, “Fuck off.”
Person C has never been given the right to call Person A a pet name, and Person E has been leaving loves and compliments on every single photo posted, and sending increasingly creepy messages.
It’s not obvious what is welcomed and acceptable or otherwise simply with the words.
I feel the same about the song.
To be clear…
I am not defending this as an outdated concept. Many words and ideas that were perfectly acceptable in the past are not know, except for historical context.
And I’m not saying there aren’t potentially problematic depictions that can come of this. Just compare the two versions of this song and how they are shown.
To me, the first actually does seem to be a pushy scenario (and comes off as creepy), while the second totally full of joy and laughter.
So, context matters.
And it always will.
The vitriol against this song is (to me) an example of a HUGE amount of frustration over LOTS of valid things being turned on a song that really doesn’t deserve it the way so many others (people, books, songs, movies, plays, websites…) might, because it’s an easy target.
Remember when Harry Potter books were being shared in schools to encourage reading, and there were petitions to remove them on religious grounds?
I attended a panel with one of the main public proponents of that cause, and she said that she didn’t mind her children reading the books, but that she wanted to be able to control the discussion they had about the books, and make it clear to them that the Bible was against witchcraft. So, she did not want anything against her religion in schools, although she would read the books at home with her children.
I think this and the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” movement are trying to police the world and skip the hard parts of being humans/adults/parents.
The worlds of movies, books, plays, and song are fantasies. Sure, they do blend reality, and we learn from that. We also learn from the fantasy.
So, rather than trying to shield ourselves and our children from everything bad out there in the world, let’s discuss problematic things and those concepts that might fall outside of our world views, and do so with compassion and understanding for all sides.
*NOTE: Please take any/everything in this post specifically focused on raising better children with less than a grain of salt, as I don’t have children, nor do I intend to birth any at any time. I am simply taking lessons from my own childhood and parents, who were, as we all are, flawed, so may be poor role models to some. I just like and respect them a lot.”
Of course, I’m open to other opinions.