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The online diary of an ethical pervert.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Show your face

So, here I am, in the murky world of dating. Why is it murky? Because people seem to have a curious dislike of showing their faces. Which is odd because faces are key to important decisions such as whether I find someone attractive, so I tend to require them in advance. I don't do blind dates, I like to know who I'm meeting. There's another reason going on, of course, and that is to do with personal honesty and lifestyle attitudes towards BDSM.

I have a note on my dating site profiles stipulating that anyone who contacts me must have a photo (they also must have been able to write a reasonable summary of who they are and what they want). My own profiles have plenty of photos, in which I am easily recognisable, so I'm not asking for anything I'm not prepared to do myself. It's part courtesy, part advertising the goods and also part political. I am not shy about my involvement in BDSM and being open includes people being able to see my face. I also view keeping "secret identities" as a code for being either embarrassed, or worse, cheating on an unsuspecting partner. I'm not interested in dating people who are those things, not through a moral objection (although I consider the latter to be rude and unfair on all parties), but because we won't get on - we already disagree on some basic issues.

The main reason I have received from those camera-shy individuals is that their career is somehow imperilled. I generally reject that flimsy argument on the grounds that if their boss or potential boss has managed to find them on a kinky website then there are more questions due to the boss than the other way around. And if any form of "coming out" is such a threat to their career, then perhaps they might want to rethink either that career or whether they can happily participate in the scene. Of course, those are decisions for an individual, and not for me, but equally, those decisions don't apply to me and I don't have to consider them relevant. I'm happy for people to live their lives however they want, however, I too have my own yardstick. And I'm sticking to it.

The other argument of course, never voiced, is that they consider themselves ugly and unattractive. Whether this is true or not is a bit of a moot point, beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that, how it comes across is that they are somehow, by withholding these images, attempting to "trick" me into a meeting at which point... Well, what? How is such a charade going to be continued in person, and what else might be being concealed from me?
I have no idea why such behaviour is necessary, it seems a bit disingenuous, and just a little time-wasting. Everyone has their rules and specifications about what they are looking for in a partner, so why make life difficult? There's no point me hunting down someone who has a yen for long hair, massive breasts and Tory party leanings. I have none of those things and would rather meet with someone who was attracted to me for how I do look.

I'm in an annoying position at the moment in which an otherwise eloquent and interesting person has contacted me. The profile didn't have a photo, but they did kindly supply some links to images of themselves on another kinky site. Which was all fine and good. They later contacted me saying the link was wrong, asking for an email address to supply photos. I don't usually agree to this, because I expect more upfront behaviour than that, but we'd been chatting for a bit and had already agreed a date, based on those original, now suspect, images. So I sent him an email address. We're due to meet on Friday and the images have still not been sent despite reminders, which have been ignored. All of this is a little suspicious and I'm currently not inclined to meet and have told them so. We'll see what happens.

If nothing is forthcoming, I might have Friday evening free, if anyone has any suggestions?


unsentimental said...

I'd like to put together a scenario to demonstrate why I think you're a bit too hard on people who won't put undisguised pictures of themselves up on kink sites.

Suppose you're a primary school teacher. Suppose your IC profile has various shots of you - recognisably you - in bondage and a state of undress. A random porn surfer is trawling IC for titillation one day and takes a liking to your pictures. He saves them to his hard disk, and later puts them in a large zip file of pictures that he uploads to BitTorrent. The pictures then spread around the world and end up on the computer of a parent of a kid at your school, who recognises you and out of a sense of outrage, or to make a quick buck, or to settle a score with his kid's teacher, calls the News of the World. The Screws takes the story (they've done this to non-famous people several times), and to flesh it out, the journalist trawls IC (knowing that's where the community hangs out online) and comes up with your profile. Shortly afterwards, your sexual fantasies are in the national press, scores of angry parents are calling the school demanding that the pervert be fired, and your poor old mother, who you love dearly but is a bit conservative and certainly doesn't know what the youth of today get up to in clubs, has been doorstepped by tabloid journalists.

You get the idea. Is any step of that particularly implausible? Even if your picture is just a headshot, the point stands: when you put something on the internet, you implicitly accept that it might be seen by someone you really wouldn't want to see it. I don't think that not wanting to take that risk is unreasonable.

As for the idea that people should have to choose between their careers and the scene, I have to admit I find it slightly troubling. Partly because people whose careers are most likely to be ruined by kink (aside from family values politicians, and clergy) are those who I wouldn't want to quit their jobs: people who work with children, and other vulnerable groups. But mostly because I think inclusivity is something the scene shouldn't lose sight of. Until we live in a world where getting outed couldn't have negative consequences, let's not question the participation of people with legitimate worries.

And no, I don't put photos online. In mitigation, I've never used BDSM sites for dating, and I had I decided to do so I wouldn't have held back from sharing photos by email.

electronic doll said...

I do think your scenario is pretty far fetched, given the ifs, buts and levels of probability. Plus porn surfers pulling pics off Internet dating sites when there's all that actual porn out there? Probably not.

But that's not really my point.

My point is that I have certain needs in partners, which I advertise and am up front about. I don't mind people deciding not to post their pics - their choice. But I am not meeting up with someone who doesn't. My choice.

unsentimental said...

The scenario was really designed to jam in everything I think could go wrong in the worst case - I think the issues go way beyond the possibility of your boss spotting you and then having to explain what they were doing on the site themself. Pictures might leave the site they started on (and I bet someone does collect those kinds of images, there's so much perversity out there), the media might be involved, someone might have an axe to grind, it might be your family you don't want to know, etc., etc. Basically, I don't think the internet is a safe space.

Your choice, absolutely, no worries and I wasn't meaning to go after you for making that choice personally. I just feel that people might have better reasons for remaining anonymous online than you gave them credit for.

electronic doll said...

No offence taken.

I think there are levels of safety and privacy. Nothing is 100% safe, ever. My bar of what I consider acceptable is probably lower than yours - there are many images of my face on kinky sites. Yes, someone might have taken copies, yes they might get into the public domain. It is, too me, an acceptably small risk, given my attitude, career and lifestyle. The *worst* thing that could happen would be that I had to have a serious conversation with my family. Which would be hard, but not world ending.

Lack of face pics, in a *dating* context are a personal bugbear of mine - which prompted the post. And part of that is also bit about safety. Someone who will show their face beforehand, be a known quantity, is someone I feel safer meeting.

Jamie Wright said...

This is me, Jamie from IC. I didn't receive your e-mail address!! I've got the photos, just don't know where to send them! I'm still coming tonight, or at least want to! Memo me the address again on IC and I'll send them. Jamie x