Friday, March 9, 2012

All Devotees Are Rapists

Is it true?

The notion itself is ridiculous, and somehow it is still able to mutate into a question or a statement of fact. Still we must reply, no. Devoteeism is so often linked with coercive behaviors that it becomes easy for the uninitiated to fall prey to such a ridiculous argument. I've seen it happen before, and argued against it, but it never really matters.

The mere concept of devoteeism, apart from its actual practice, is enough to light many tempers aflame, and it is here that most of the detractors to devoteeism lose their rationality. It is ridiculous to propose that all devotees are rapists for a number of reasons.

To begin with, it is generally unwise to speak in absolutes. This is just a general principle of theory. It is rare indeed to find a rule to which there exists no exception. This is even more problematic when we attempt to explain human behavior. 
Take cross-dressing for example. Looking at cross dressing only as it applies to men (or those born into male bodies), we can find a number of reasons for this behavior which have wildly different origins.

In gay culture there is drag, once called 'camp', which has a historical legacy of crossdressing as a method of parodying straight culture and normative gender and sexual roles.

Next we have transsexuals. Generally speaking, Transsexuals, who have been diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, have the brains of women, or at least with many typically female traits, within a male body. In technical terms it has been argued that their behavior is not actually cross dressing because they dress to match their true selves. This is to be distinguished though from transgender people, who simply enjoy taking on the role of the opposite sex but do not feel as though they were born into the wrong body.

Then there are Transvestites, which generally fits what many would think of as the “typical” cross dresser. However, even this isn't complete. There are Transvestites who simply enjoy dressing in and of itself, and then there are Transvestic Fetishists, who find they are aroused by cross dressing. In a technical sense this can be distinguished from Autogynophilia wherein a man is sexually aroused by thinking of himself as a woman.

This is nowhere near where it ends. There are hijras, two-spirits, androgynes, intersexed, bigender, genderqueer, genderfluid, pangender, metagender, and many other labels for describing the feelings and motivations leading to behaviors like cross-dressing. Further complicating this is that the above categories are imposed on humans by humans. They are attempts to organize and distinguish human behavior, and yet they are imperfect. Humans don't always stick to or within just one of these at a time or over their lifetime.

It would be ignorant to say all cross-dressers are like Wild Bill and it is equally ignorant to say all devotees are rapists. However that isn't to say that there aren't some links between a violent sexuality and a fixation on the disabled. There definitely are.

I've seen amputee groups where pictures have been traded of girls, and it more often seems to be girls than guys, tied up with one or more of their limbs chopped off, blood streaming out from the stump(s), usually accompanied by fearful, teary eyed looks of terror. While some devs clearly gravitate toward this it actually occupies a separate fetish entirely, called "guro". The one caveat I can offer, though sadly without any tangible proof, is that in my experience over the years it has been more common to find dev groups which openly and vocally prohibit such violent imagery. It may be disturbing, but this is the truth of human sexuality. Some people, as they mature, find themselves sexually excited at scenes of violence and suffering.

The same thing happens with rape.

There does exist the sub-genre of “rape porn” which involves simulated rape filmed with the explicit intent of causing arousal. Within this sub-genre of film it is possible to find material which features the abuse of disabled women. Of course this sadly has its real life counterpart as well. I have also met self identified wannabes who enjoy, non-sexually, the notion of having a spinal cord injury, and, sexually, the idea of being raped. Ideally, for this person it was both at once.

But which is the devotee? The rape fetishist who enjoys the enhanced power dynamic (physically at least) of a disabled partner, or the wannabe who enjoys being raped? The wannabe I knew did not identify as a devotee. Of course, I can not be absolutely sure, but she never seemed intimately familiar with any of the common devotee locales, and as such I'm inclined to believe her.

What though of the rape fetishist? A quick jaunt into any of the numerous books about BDSM culture will show you people who enjoy the act of rape and/or being raped in a fantastic or fetishistic sense, and yet do not engage in actual rape. I have often read that rape is more concerned with power and control than anything explicitly sexual. I think most of this argument has grown from a desire to quash the fallacy that women invite these attacks by dressing or acting provocatively. While it is true that women do not invite rape upon themselves, and that fault lies entirely on the sexual offender, I have never been able to find a case of a gay man who raped women. Though to counter that there are definitely cases of ostensibly straight men raping and otherwise sexually assaulting other men.

In attempting to define the rape fetishist as either a devotee or not a devotee, we must first examine how we define a devotee. If our definition is a simple one such as, “A person who is, at least in part, attracted to people with disabilities, or a certain type of disability.”, then the answer would appear to be a murky, “Maybe.”

As we have seen with cross-dressing it is difficult to make broad assumptions about what motivates a given behavior. I think it is certainly possible for the rape fetishist to be a devotee, and for devotees to be rapists, and for rape fetishists to be simply fetishists and not sexual predators. You don't need to explore BDSM culture very long before you find people talking at length about the ethics behind “rape scenes” and “consensual non-consent”.

The fact is that sometimes the rape fetishists mentioned above will meet the wannabe and they will find their mutually reinforcing weirdness makes for a wonderful and satisfying relationship. Sometimes that happens and that is as far as it ever goes. In fact, noted dev blogger ParaGirl has written before about playing scenes integrating both disability and consensual non-consent with her girlfriend, Heather.

So we know there are some connections between rape fetishists, and devotees, but there isn't really any empirical evidence about the overlap between the two. Though this may be true I think it is at least possible to infer some trends.

To begin with, I do have my biases. I'm generally unacquainted with “rape porn” save for a single unhappy accident while searching through poorly labeled torrents once upon a midnight dreary. And, yes, I crowed, “Nevermore.” I am, quite predictably, far more acquainted with devotee porn.

There is some slight overlap. Candi, of Candisland.com, did make a movie, as far as I know, at the request of her fans called “The Intruder”. I've never seen it, but here is how it is described on her site,

This one is so scary. My cameraman has been watching me and breaks in to have his way with me. He takes my chair and I have to crawl and drag myself across the floor and through the house to find a phone. Was it only a dream?

All 35 minutes of it can be yours for just $199. Dev porn is certainly rare, and most people involved in its production know this and take full advantage of its inflated demand. It normally trades at premium prices compared to virtually everything else “normal” (normal here can refer to anything you'd commonly find in a sex shop, which actually gets quite bizarre). Still though, a quick browsing of Candi's store will show you that she routinely offers videos 1/3 longer than “The Intruder” for ¼ of the price.

Generally the average price I've seen for dev porn hovers somewhere around $1 per minute of video. If this price is derived due to its rarity on the market, then we can infer that, within the dev network at least, rape porn or anything suggestive of it, is even more rare. Indeed, this is the only video of its kind of which I am aware.

The caveat here, is that, as far as I know, “The Intruder” was made based on the requests of her fan club. Candi, and many of the other Dev agencies will allow devs to make very specific special requests for a price which often varies, though I do seem to recall often falling somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000. It could be that there exists an army of dev rapists who also enjoy rape porn, but are economically oppressed and rarely able to finance multiple ventures. 

Indeed, Candi has no qualms about keeping special requests private if you prefer. It is entirely possible that there is a mountain of secretly recorded and distributed rape and non-con dev porn floating around out there. Still though, when I have looked at devotee fan art and fiction, both of which involve a time cost and little more, there is still a startlingly low incidence of rape and related incidents.

So, are devotees rapists? Maybe some of them are, but the bulk appear to be normal people with an exotic kink who are simply interested in seeing and enjoying what turns them on. Rarely does that include scenes of rape or other forms of coercion. So, while many devotees may engage in coercive behavior, it appears to rarely be rape, and more often as a means to an end, and rarely an end in itself.


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