“When safe words are ignored”

Women in the bondage and kink scene are speaking out about sexual assaults in the community, and calling for change

Salon

Maggie Mayhem is dressed like a kinky dictator. Standing onstage at San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture, her olive-green military cap and knee-high-heeled boots belie the vulnerable subject at hand.

“The first time I was ever raped,” she starts, her throat tightening around her words, “it was actually on a date with somebody from my local S/M community.”

The 27-year-old sex educator and fetish model has never before publicly shared the story of her sexual assault, but the purpose of this evening’s event, a “consent culture” fundraiser, is so that she can start telling it, again and again. Her mission, along with fellow activist and sex worker Kitty Stryker, is to raise awareness about what they say is widespread abuse within the BDSM community and a tendency for players to either turn a blind eye or actively cover it up. They’ve developed a workshop meant to combat the problem and want to take it on the road.