Some conversation came up in our household a week or two ago concerning received messages on Fetlife, when I was suddenly reminded of one that I had gotten some five months ago. I remember distinctly vacillating between disbelieving hilarity and plain incredulity over this message. I don’t know why I should have been so surprised; e-mails in the same vein and of the same consistency are sent and butchered by their recipients for public consumption all the time through media outlets. Yet I almost couldn’t believe that someone wrote something like this in complete seriousness – surely this was a poor attempt at irony?
I suppose part of my shock came from the thankfully low numbers of these kinds of e-mails I get on Fetlife (and elsewhere). The vast majority of my inbox’s contents are from people that I know, or have met at a party, or are friends of friends. Even the occasional stranger’s hello is frequently nothing but cordial, a couple times coming from someone wanting to ask about navigating the scene as a newcomer (imagine, me being asked that!)
Then, just today, I came across a Fetlife post titled “A Field Guide to Creepy Dom” – you have to be registered and logged into the site to access that link – that once again reminded me of this one, specific message. I’ve also started reading a fantastic book called The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker. All of these writings relate somewhat to the message I received, which I’ve reproduced in whole below, save the hapless man’s signature (bolded emphasis mine – those were especially juicy phrases, I thought):
Hello Nell, I like your thoughtful profile; There is a saying..”Still waters run deep..” so although you may seem sad on the surface you may have deep feelings and emotions underneath. I am a master at reaching those and releasing your full potential. I can imagine what your responses were like. I know and respect Eastern ways, after visiting Hong Kong & Singapore and still practice yoga. We are so close by & I am often in SF. So tell me about your thoughts, a little about where your family is from and the best way to contact you. My best e-mail is via Yahoo, so we can chat & share pictures there.What is your e-mail there? You had better discribe yourself a little too. Are you tall, average shape or slim or what parts are you most proud of? Also which part of the city are you near? We can talk first. Well Nell, I look forward to finding out more and sharing some new interesting parts of your life and feeling you grow as a more fully complete lady as your self-esteem and confidence blossom under my guidance…You will be able to do whatever you want and feel free and strong too! But you have to take that first easy step and reply. You must show willing to learn… Your new mentor, master & guide, [deleted]
Where to even begin with this? It is almost too easy an exercise to dissect this word for word, and hopefully five months after this writing (I never responded, of course) he has likewise no interest in pursuing me any further – and hopefully doesn’t read my blog. I won’t even touch the solid, unbroken paragraph of barely acceptable punctuation, questionable grammar, and creative sentence structure.
So, despite being five months late, I do in fact have a reply to my would-be “mentor, master & guide”.
Since I am currently halfway through The Gift of Fear, some of the traits the author discusses as common to potential victimizers immediately sprang up – forced teaming by using the collective pronoun “we”, loan sharking, and having too many details. However, in this case, it was not so much feeling threatened as recognizing the attempted, barely subtle manipulation in his words.
His assumed arrogance that I would happily fall at his feet in subservience and answer all of these incredibly personal questions is laughable to me, yet the prevalence of these exact types on any social network centered around dating, finding partners, or even just connecting with other kinky, sex-positive folks is disconcerting at best. The Fetlife link to the Creepy Dom field guide describes it perfectly and clearly, and I highly recommend reading it if you are on Fetlife.
Likewise, I found many warning signs to attribute to this email from the Fetlife post: using “master”, coming on too strong and too quickly, and claiming extensive experience and connections (here, to “Eastern ways”). The focus of the guide centers around Creepy Doms as defined by their desire to control, manipulate, and “prove” their dominion over their fantasy slaves. These traits are equally applicable to abusers and other victimizers, so I thought it especially timely that I read that right before starting de Becker’s book.
So, lots of academic points there. That aside, however, I was immediately repulsed and insulted by the implications made at every word. The man could not have dug himself a deeper pit. It was as if he was trying to push all of my buttons.
The first sentence clause I emphasized, for instance. Right from the beginning, I was already aghast at this man’s gross assumptions about me. Sad? Oh really. And, I “may have deep feelings and emotions”? That is supposed to read as a compliment? Using “may”, which intrinsically dictates that the opposite may also be true?
In fact, for most of his statements I have to do no more than repeat them with an emphatic question mark appended in disbelief. He really believes visiting a couple Asian countries and practicing yoga creates a bridge of understanding just because I happen to be Asian? Yuck. Just the thought of that makes me feel unclean. (This, incidentally, is why I have a heavy dislike for “Yellow Fever” pursuers. Whatever others’ personal views are, are theirs, but my ethnicity is not a fetish.)
Where my family is from? Where they are from is none of your business, and I was born in the United States, thank you very much. This brings me back to a speech made by one of my peers to the incoming freshman class. This upperclassman was an Asian female, and she lamented over a persistent question faced by many minorities in this country, “So. Where are you from? No, where are you really from?” She talked about the multiple generations of her family that had resided in her home state, and how they were longstanding, devoted fans to a specific sports team in that state. How she was a full-blooded American citizen who lived in the same section of town her great-grandparents had lived.
And, yet, always that question: “Where are you really from?”
So many questions! Where to even begin? But, thankfully, through him, I will be able to blossom into myself completely and feel strong and free! As long as I take that first step, and “show willing to learn”.