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John Baku is not the bad guy


Ima post this and then go do other stuff for a while. This argument has been a bit triggering for me, a lot triggering for some folks I care quite a lot about who follow my feed, and I let myself get sucked into some tangential arguments yesterday in ways I’m not all that happy with myself for.

The he said/she said, he’s wrong/she’s wrong, he’s a rapist / she’s a lying bitch CRAP and misinformation that erupted around this makes it nearly impossible to even find the point any more. So here’s my take on the point(s).

This is about consent, how and whether we value consent, and how to talk about it when there are violations of consent. This is an issue I’m passionate about - it’s the difference between me being a loving partner or a psychopath - it’s why I got so passionate yesterday:


So let me recap what was actually said, and where the consent discussion is in this.

Baku’s ‘apology’ message was in response to an offsite recounting of an event from three years ago. Baku was made sick to his stomach that she said he committed ‘sexual assault’ - it’s unclear if he was sickened by reading the words aimed at him or if it was because someone felt that way from something he did, but he does go on to list reasons he thinks it can’t be true. In response, people started calling JB a ‘rapist’ and the woman involved a liar, and accusing her of having some agenda to harm John.

So lets look at what she actually said - my paraphrase of the way I read it. It’s relevant to the underlying consent discussion.

She said that John did something, that it was a thing but not a big thing for her, that when he apologized later she laughed it off in part because it was not a big thing, and in part because JB was a lovable clueless doofus. She said it constituted sexual assault. And she said she was raising it now because of the current ongoing discussion around how to talk about people who violate consent, and specifically in response to JB saying as part of his justification for the current policy that he had no tolerance for sexual assault.

Her central point wasn’t that Baku was a bad guy - but rather that Baku demonstrated a ‘fuzzy ass’ idea of consent. THIS IS THE ISSUE, it is an issue that is relevant now specifically in the context of policy decisions regarding Fetlife - and the demonization of Baku and/or the woman is simply ugly, useless and damaging to everyone.

Notebook: Wrapping your arms around someone and biting their neck without consent is sexual assault. Pawing someone without consent is sexual assault. Doing something without consent that has to be stopped by pushing you away, is sexual assault. It’s not violent rape - but it is sexual assault. That is the proper name for it.

Go back and read Baku’s apology, and its clear that he pawed, he neck bit, and he felt badly enough about it - he realized it was violation of boundaries, of consent - that he went out of his way to call and apologize for it the next day. I can’t read that any other way than as an admission - albeit not clearly made - the he did in fact commit the kind of casual sexual assault that happens over and over, that is rampant in the world and in BDSM spaces. He did exactly what she said. There really isn’t a lot of he said / she said here. They both describe pretty much the same thing.

And then he realized he fucked up, he apologized for it. That doesn’t undo what he did - I hate the idea that one can simply apologize to avoid the consequences of what one did - but it at laest means he looked at what he did and realized it was wrong.

Because it was wrong. It is a specific (and inflammatory) example of the kind of casual wrong that seems rampant in everyday life an din BDSM spaces. What most discouraged me yesterday, is the quantity and volume of defenses of that kind of casual everyday “minor” violations of consent, and the blaming of someone who simply said, my consent was violated. Whether or not such things are common - defenses of them, and attacks on those who would speak up about them absolutely are rampant and overwhelming.

Baku isn’t ‘the bad guy’ in this scenario. He is simply one more “lovable doofus” who showed an easy ability to confuse boundaries and consent, to defend it on the grounds that ‘she was ok with it’, and in my reading of his ‘apology,’ to care more about his reputation than about the person who’s consent he violated. That makes him one of, oh, hundreds of thousands of people, male and female, here on Fetlife.

The ‘Bad Guy’ is the culture that makes it so easy to have and maintain that kind of attitude, and IMO the proper response to that kind of casual violation of consent is to firmly, even harshly, shut it down, make it known so that there is the chance of proper social accountability for it, and educate. Baku is no worse - and no better - than a lot of other people in this.

But here’s the point, the real point.

Baku isn’t a bad guy - he’s just a person, better than some, worse than some, representative of the culture he is in.

What John Baku is, is a leader. Whether you want him to be or not, whether he wants to be or not, he simply is. By virtue of having created this resource, Fetlife, Baku finds himself in the position of being able to, at his sole discretion, decide how a million and a half kinky people are able to talk to, with, and about each other. He is without doubt the single most powerful kink leader on the planet right now.

And as that powerful leader, what he says and what he decides has real impact on a lot of people. When his ‘apology’ constitutes a ‘no I didn’t sexually assault her because she was ok with it even though what I admit happened constitutes sexual assault’ appeal, right in the midst of a difficult and ongoing argument about how to deal with consent violations and those who commit sexual assault - the signal it sends is that on this issue Baku, for those of us who think this issue of consent is a large problem, that Baku is a bad leader. Not a bad man, not evil - but a leader who is making that problem worse, not better.

The issue is not whether Baku is a bad man - he is in my opinion a reasonably good flawed man who displayed in his letter some damaging attitudes- or that the woman is a ‘lying bitch’ - she clearly isn’t and the attacks on her have been horrible and, frankly, bordering on evil.

The issue is whether Baku, as the very powerful leader that he is, is leading with attitudes toward consent that make the problem better, or worse. And it is what he is going to do on this problem - one which make a lot of people feel that Fetlife, intentionally or not, favors abusers over victims. THAT needs to be dealt with.

And now, having said my piece, I’m going to go concentrate on work, and some people I care about, and let this drama go. I’ll probably be around some to perv pics and friends and read PMs. Don’t expect a reply here for a while.

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