Community Comment: Making Leather the Victim 2018

A critical response to “One Dog’s Perspective”

By Pup Rococo

What a time to be alive. The previous year filled itself with threats from multiple sources which threaten to tear the social fabric apart. The potential victims are numerous and varied. Yet little did we know that our own leather community was amongst their number. Thank heavens, then, for the article “International Leather Victim 2018,” without which this terror may have gone unnoticed. In the short read, the author Pup Chomper bemoans the imminent collapse of our community brought on by the whippersnappers what with their social media self-victimization.

Community Comment is an occasional column written by community members on various topics of living a leather, bear and kink lifestyle.

I personally detest people who play the victim card for validation regardless of their background.  However, after reading further, I realized that the author’s cast of victim-players was more concise than the spectrum of such culprits I’ve witnessed. Listed specifically are people of color, those of differing sexual orientations to the historical community norm, and trans or non-gender-conforming people; all of whom are further categorized as “the young.” How specific.

Less specific is his definition of what constitutes “whining” and who, exactly is so offended, indeed “oppressed” by it. There are “more and more… kinksters” and “a growing number of us,” the broadness and generalism of which brings to mind “lots of people.” Perhaps a “bigly” number, or even the opinion of one masquerading as a group. The vagueness of the language makes it difficult to decipher.

Though the wording of much of the piece seems to have been chosen by throwing a dart at a thesaurus, the term “faggotry politics” reveals an interesting conception of this band of the nonwhite, non-cis, and non-Kinsey polarized. The term offers no critical understanding of what is involved in it and serves no purpose other than derision. The article’s author and editors would do well to remember that even for one who may identify as gay; the use of this word as a method of degradation outside of the bounds of power play is as problematic and offensive as when used similarly by a straight person. Furthermore, the author generalizes every member of these groups who voices their experience as “young,” conflating them with inexperience and naivety. One can almost picture the headline across the Tribune: “Why are Millenials Killing the Leather Community?” Though perhaps the most greatest logical leap is when desiring inclusion and demanding respect are conflated with seeking validation.

Similarly, the author sets forth several bold and reductive ideas about the genesis of the leather community. Its original purpose is reduced to giving orgasms and the total of its early activities is portrayed as dark room sex parties. To be sure, many such parties were thrown, however the whole communal aspect of the old guard is disregarded. Community is and was a place to feel comradery and belonging. If leather started from a place of exclusion and secrecy, shielding against strangers and outsiders; surely it was in large part to protect those included included in the from the hostile social environment of the 40s and 50s as a community would. But it’s difficult to argue that we must do the same 60 years later, when the most hostile of social environments often comes, unfortunately, from within. It’s similarly difficult to argue that any community with strength is incapable of withstanding shifting demographics and social ideals of respect and inclusion. The article seems to believe in a kink community built on the sand of narrow definitions rather than on the rock of respect and shared interest.

Ultimately what damns the piece, beyond its heavy and random use of ellipses, is its central premise. The author seems to argue the idea that repeated, and often justified, diagnoses of our community’s systemic problems is simple whining done merely for attention. The message reads clear–though we are “stronger in our diversity;” we are strongest when the non-majority in our community is silent about injustice within it. To regard the continuous and vocal expressions of dismay at discrimination or prejudice as selfish pleas for validation shows a lack of social awareness that is unparalleled except, perhaps, by the paucity of compositional or editorial skill shown in the article. Rarely have caps lock and italics enjoyed such free reign outside of fan fiction and rarer still with such lack of effect. If Instigator Magazine insists on including such ill argued and frankly unoriginal content in its paper, the least it can do is attempt at a well written piece.

Pup Rococo is a former Great Lakes Puppy and lives in Chicago.