Discussion about the series 'From boyfriend to butler'

This is the comment I left on the last published chapter of the series ‘From boyfriend to butler’:


The discussion between the readers on the series’ last chapter and the author of this story led to a lengthy discussion about the series among the approvers and myself.

I understand that there are many people who this kind of story is striking a chord with. Hell, “50 Shades of Grey” fascinated millions of people. The game of powerplay and submission is fascinating to many people, and putting oneself in one of these positions is arousing to a lot of people. And that’s totally fine.

What irks me, and some of the other members of the approver team, too, is how uncomfortably close this is to everyday domestic violence in families all over the world. A reader even added that tag to the story and it’s well deserved. Contrary to all other stories on this site, where people are abused or taken advantage of in any way, this is something that is really happening somewhere all the time in countless of broken relationships. I even know similar cases within my own circle of acquaintances.

You can write that Matthew is getting sexual stimulation out of how Oliver is treating him, and that he’s actually consenting, but I don’t buy it. Not from what I’ve read in this chapter. This is simply emotional abuse. And for whatever reasons, most victims of such a treatment can’t break out of that relationship on their own accord, no matter how much they’re suffering.

I know this will create more discussions and some people will hate me and leave the site. That’s something I have to live with. But I also have to live with the fact that I’m distributing this text all over the world on my site, and the thought that even just a single person might get the wrong idea from reading this and delude themselves into believing that abusing his partner would be justified because they allegedly enjoy and earn it, is not acceptable to me.

I am sorry, but because of this, I will put an end to this series on this site.

The series and this comment will stay online for a couple of days, so people can read this comment and come to their own conclusion.

Feel free to discuss this decision here in this thread.

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As the approver who initially brought this story to the table, I want to note that it’s not a matter of my own distaste that caused me to ask for its removal. Rather, our rules for Collar indicate that non-fantastical stories must not emulate real-life abuse (you can check the “New Story” rules on GayCollarStories to see this). This story emulates real-life abuse, and so it’s not admissible to the site.

Martin’s post above has the reason that this rule is in place. This discussion post was created and the deletion of the story was delayed because this is a story that needed to be removed after it was already approved, and we don’t take that lightly. We don’t mean to make this a show; it’s just important to be transparent when removing an already approved story.

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I had a quick look at the chapter and I have to agree that there are clear elements of emotional abuse and that this is not how any Dom of any variety should behave in reality. That said, I can understand how, for some subs, this would seem an acceptable level of humiliation or degradation. Nevertheless, a good Dom always has the sub’s best interests at heart, which this steps well outside of towards the second half.

In the first half, I see a fairly textbook Dom taking his sub through the steps of dressing up, proper posture, proper behaviour, and so forth. In the second half, I see an abusive Dom letting his sub go hungry, blaming him for an accident (yes, even the most perfect sub makes mistakes) and belittling him for it at length, making him feel like a total POS, then equating an accident with disobedience. That’s well beyond what’s appropriate for a Dom and well into textbook abusiveness.

I would recommend for your next story, formalboy—and I do hope you’ll write one—that you run it by a Dom or two to see if your Dom fits their mental image of a good Dom, and use their comments to understand what actually drives a Dom.

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It isn’t a question of the story being distasteful, it violated site rules, which all authors agree to when publishing.

Coersing someone through domestic violence isn’t fantastical in nature which non-con stories need to be.

This forum post was made because it was the community that brought issues with the story to the approver team’s attention, and full transparency was preferable to removing the story in secrecy, or having the author’s comment section flooded.

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There was a comment left on the story that read:

In response to the various comments above, as one who has been in a long term Master/slave relationship, I do not see this as abusive in any way at all. Indeed, it is clear to me that by accepting and complying with Oliver’s orders, Matthew is giving his consent. He can walk away at any time, but he doesn’t. Even if he does not consciously understand what is happening and why he obeys, he clearly does because he subconsiouysly[sic] knows he needs this type of structure and submission in his life.

An actual human being wrote that post, showcasing the classic abuser mindset of blaming the victim. This story may be fiction, but there are real people out there who read this kind of story and feel encouraged or validated to commit acts of abuse.

I am the one who added the ‘Domestic Violence’ tag and I stand by it.

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Think I just threw up in my mouth a bit reading that story comment. Mega yikes.

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Mind control would only be required on Spiral (not on any of the other sites), but if I remember correctly, he marked his story for Spiral. too. It is a classic entry for GayCollarStories and I wouldn’t mind it there, total power exchange is a valid and appreciated kink. But it has to be absolutely consensual if it’s described as a realistic scenario.

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I have found this site becoming more and more strait-jacketed over the past few years, which is why I have stopped submitting stories to it. Fantasy is not reality. Fiction is not fact. The ‘rules’ under which this site operates are increasingly inconsistent and arbitrary. This story is written by a first-time writer. Right from the first episode he has been subjected to unjustified and snarky criticisms, sometimes from established authors on here who, had they been subjected to the same when they started out, may never have submitted anything else. The various categories of story now are difficult for a new writer to get right. As for the various descriptive tags, it is almost impossible to get them right. You talk about ‘emotional abuse’, but there are many stories on this site in all categories which are far worse. The site has, as I predicted several years ago that it would, become a victim of the neo-puritanism of our age. As a result, the writer is angry and has left the story unfinished. I, for one, do not blame him.

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But that’s just it. If you write something that could happen just like this in reality, it’s not just “any” fantasy. It’s something that happens every day all around the world. It’s describing real pain and suffering.

There are only two options there: Restrict the stories in some way, as we’ve always done it (no children, no non-con unless clearly in a fantastical setting) or we allow anything.

I’m not going to start to discuss why one atrocity is ok while the other is not, as this is always a matter of the personal taste of the person in question and reeks of hypocrisy.

So what would you have? Remove all approval processes and publish anything or keep the established rules and stand by them?

The rules can be fine-tuned, of course, but in the end, my personal conscience and taste will be the final deciding factor as these are, in the end, MY sites and I have to live and be able to sleep with the knowledge that I distribute those texts all over the world.

Also, the author “formalboy” contacted me and we came to an agreement. He will rewrite the chapter in question and then we will publish it, together with the rest of his series.

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I find any kind of puritanism—neo- or otherwise—hard to apply to this site, and I can’t agree at all that there’s any kind of arbitrariness to the rules unless you count relaxing them in favour of the author by not requiring that there be any kind of mind control. Those are literally the first two rules when submitting a new story: there must be some kind of mind control and any kind of non-consensual aspects must be fantastical. This story did not conform to either.

That said, I agree the situation could have been better handled, but there’s not much we can do about that now unless maybe Martin and the author can have a private chat. I fully understand the author feeling rejected and pissed off, but the the story just didn’t qualify to be on GSS. Even on GKS, the non-consensual stuff would have had to be fantastical, which it clearly wasn’t. It’s hard for everyone when a story gets taken down, but it was fully justified in this instance. And for what it’s worth, I say that as an outsider, since I didn’t look at the story or have any opinion on it whatsoever until after the decision had already been made.

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Oh, glad to hear that!

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This rule only applies to GaySpiral, not GayCollar or any of the other sites. But for them, the “non-realistic” aspect takes the role of the “mind control” aspect.

Because that’s the “get free” card around the non-con aspect. It’s cheesy, I agree, and the sites are already walking a thin line. There is a reason Patreon banned us. I don’t agree with the policies companies are now employing, in this world, it’s no longer a judge or a parliament who’s making the rules, it’s the companies, just by banning stuff they don’t like.

Apple is the worst offender there.

I tried to find a compromise that works best for me. I’m not accepting the blame I would employ some kind of neo-puritanism, that’s absolute bull. The rules were there before I came on board, in fact, Hugh was MUCH stricter than I ever was, I relaxed many of his rules.

I agree, however, that we dealt with Formalboy’s case in a very bad way. That’s partly my own fault, but sometimes you’re in a situation where all your options are bad and you can only lose.

Again, I came to a constructive and positive agreement with the author, so the matter should be settled soon, anyway.

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I’m honestly surprised to hear you say this, because I remember reading some of your stories from way back when, so I know you’ve been around a while. I would have thought anyone that has been involved with the site for a few years would remember that GSS has actually become a lot more liberal compared to what it used to be.

When I first started writing, I had to change a part of one of my stories before I could publish it because Hugh - Martin’s predecessor - didn’t feel comfortable with some of the themes (in hindsight, I can see where he was coming from). That same story would easily be approved in the current Martin regime. No question at all.

It’s true that over the years, Martin has needed to update, refine and clarify some of the existing rules when the approval team encountered gray areas, but I don’t get the sense that those adjustments ever came from a desire for censorship or wanting to restrict what people can write about. Quite the opposite.

The idea that Martin is trying to censor people is laughable. If anything, I think he’s actually a little too eager to approve stuff, lol.

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All stories are open to criticism. I’ve gotten criticism for writing the types of stories you’ve whined about in the past, but I acknowledge that not everyone is going to like what I write and I’m at peace with that.

But you seem to be shaking your fist at the people who say “Hey, maybe domestic abuse shouldn’t be romanticized.” Notice I didn’t say “written about,” I said “romanticized.” There is a very clear difference, and if you can’t tell that, you need to get out more.

My comments were not directed at Martin. He has run this site in an excellent way and I am full of admiration for the work he does. My comments reflect the growing puritanism among those who comment on stories as well as the carping and petty criticism of some writers on here, who, if they had received the same level of criticism when they submitted their first story might never have sent anything in again. And I would not blame them.

Oh, I must have misunderstood the meaning of your post. You mentioned the site’s rules, categories, and tags, all of which are designed and managed by Martin.

Most of the initial skepticism in the comments regarding this particular story was that it had been posted to GSS while having no mind control elements whatsoever - something the author himself acknowledged in the comment section:

I never meant for this to be a mind-control story, that’s why I didn’t specify it in the hashtags. It’s just a guy slowly becoming more and more submissive to his boyfriend.

Of course people are going to judge a story to a different standard if it doesn’t feature mind control. That’s basically the only thing that makes most of the stories on this site ‘acceptable’, because it couldn’t feasibly happen in real life. It’s the fantastical element that makes it palatable to our imaginations.

Here’s the thing, I actually read all of formalboy’s story, because some of the kinks in it align with what I enjoy, and don’t get featured here very often. At first, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Sure, he’s not really exploring the psychological nuance behind Matt’s change in behavior, nor has he really fleshed out the couple’s relationship dynamic to make this believable, but that’s okay, he’s a first time author. That’s what I told myself.

The more you read it though, the more it becomes…weird. The author himself, in a note at the beginning of chapter 2, states that his intention for the chapter is to be ‘mostly realistic’, and it goes on to showcase Oliver’s manipulative tendencies. At one point in chapter 2, it states, verbatim:

Oliver knew there was no point in trying to reason with Matt in that state, so he pretended to be hurt and left the room.

He pretended to be hurt? Now, I could list numerous - and I really do mean numerous - examples throughout the many chapters of this story where Oliver shows himself to be a controlling, manipulative psycho with no emphathy, and no desire to protect or care for Matt. In fact, that’s all he ever is. He’s relentless in his sociopathy.

So with that in mind, let’s break this down. Let’s go one by one here:

  1. Does this story fit on GSS? No - there’s no mind control.

  2. Does this story fit on Collar? No. I’m not a BDSM expert, but I’m pretty confident that a dom doesn’t emotionally manipulate their sub into following their rules. Everything is discussed and agreed ahead of time. That doesn’t happen here.

  3. Does it fit on Cupid? Admittedly, I don’t visit Cupid often, but I sure as shit hope not. There’s no romance here. No love. No mutual respect.

So where does it fit?

It is about total power exchange. Giving up one’s own freedom to a self-selected master. This is a VERY common theme and it belongs to the BDSM realm.

However, the important part there is consent. Even if the master is cruel and the slave is suffering, it has to be consensual. And if it’s a realistic setting, the master must not use means of psychological manipulation which, in effect, invalidates any consent the sub could give.

We have countless stories of where the subject doesn’t get to give any consent and is just manipulated against his will. But they’re all in the realm of fantasy. This story was not. It’s meant to be realistic, so it cannot use that loop-hole. There just HAS to be consent. Period.

Also, the story was posted on Spiral ONLY because I chose to set the default of the “Pure Mode” to off on Spiral. That means that ALL stories will be visible on Spiral - just like on Kinky itself. I’ve made that decision to give the authors a broader readership because more than 80% of the users are visiting Spiral only - most just out of habit.

The author had set his story to be posted on Kinky, Cupid and Collar (why on Cupid, I honestly cannot say, as it doesn’t fit there at all, there is no love or romance as far as I can see).

If you want to make sure to only see Mind Control stories on Spiral, you can either turn on the “Pure Mode”:
image

Or you use the Category Selector (with Pure Mode off) to specifically select which contens you want to see:

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Perhaps I did not make myself completely clear, for which I apologise. Iwas very angry when I wrote my response and emotion clouds the mind. It is not the categories or tags themselves which are ‘wrong’ in themselves. What was wrong was the tone which was used to correct this first-time writer in their use. His errors could have been pointed out more gently and with more understanding. As for the ‘emotional abuse’ issue, I’ve read many stories on this site which are ten times worse. Of all the categories, it fits best in BDSM, although it is not textbook BDSM (safewords, consent, etc) by any means.

My main point really is that in fiction bad things happen to people. Fiction is always about conflict of some kind. In fiction, people often die, get hurt, suffer and/or have untold unpleasant things happen to them. They are not actual people though; it is not real. Being bullied into being a servant by his boyfriend and having his face slapped is pretty small beer compared to what happens in most 19th century novels, for example. Many stories on this site involve non-consensual rape. Merely saying that they are ‘mind-controlled’ is not really a good enough excuse. For one thing, such total mind control is impossible. For another, mind-control is by its very nature non-consensual because it removes the possiblity of informed consent on the part of the victim.

So what am I trying to say here? Essentially, that readers acting like social workers towards fictional characters as though they were somehow responsible for them or have a duty of care to them is absurd. I’m all for readers getting emotionally involved in fiction - that is one of the great joys we gain from it. However, there is a creeping tendency to block off creativity for various reasons. One is guilt on the part of the reader for being turned on by something which they perhaps feel they shouldn’t be excited by. Another is the spurious idea that writing about anyone who is different from you in terms of inate characteristics is ‘cultural appropriation’. Another is the idea that what happens to fictional characters is real in some way. None of these ideas have any basis in fact.

Obviously, we do not want gratuitous or extreme violence, or incest or anything involving minors. However, I feel that with this story the heavy criticism was a gross over-reaction. Essentially it is a story about bullying and manipulation of a weaker personality by a stronger one. As I’ve said before, there are far more violent and more drastic stories on here. It is also a story. Not real. No one got hurt. No one died. The people involved do not exist. It’s called FICTION.

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I think you’ve hit on the key point here. The things that are bad in other stories are, indeed, fantastical and “impossible”, just as you said. Yes, hypnosis and the like remove the possibility of informed consent (depending on the story, mind you). So does the more realistic scenario in “From boyfriend to butler”. The issue is that it is realistic, it’s something that may have happened to someone or, in a worst case, it could even be instructional. That’s something you don’t get in the hypno/MC realm. Hell, even the authors I know who’ve studied hypnosis IRL are careful not to get too close to the real thing, just to be 100% safe.

You’ve mentioned several times now that there’s an increasing/creeping tendency towards puritanism or blocking off creativity. Where? How so? One story that clearly went against one of the main rules (regardless of which sub-site it’s on)? What other stories/comments are indicative of this?

You’re right, we shouldn’t be acting like social workers who have a duty of care to the fictional characters…and we’re not. Nobody has said that in this entire discussion. The problem lies in the very real people who may have gone through something like this. This is literal, classic abuse, as practised in reality by abusers. You can’t say that about the more fantastical stories. That’s the issue here: the mental well-being of the readers, not of the characters.

Unlike you, I don’t see this as a story about bullying and manipulation of a weaker personality by a stronger one. I see it as an abuser causing mental harm to his victim, which is the same thing that happens far too often in reality. That’s the line that was crossed that caused people to complain.

I do agree with you to a certain degree, though. Incest is a perfect example to use here, since it’s a common theme in many stories on the site, including my own. It’s entirely possible that someone might have experienced that in their lives and be seriously bothered by it in a story, even one that’s clearly not based in reality in any way. The one difference, though, is that that’s clearly tagged and therefore readily avoided by those that need to or those that dislike that. We can’t say the same of “From boyfriend to butler”. And yes, to me, tagging or a brightline warning at the top would have made the story acceptable, but I’m not the one running the site. Martin made his own rules, which are even more forgiving than the previous owner’s, and this story crossed that line. I’m quite happy to hear that that’s being resolved.

Oh and I wanted to take you up on this. As someone who’s been in the BDSM community for 30+ years, it’s not BDSM of any kind. The moment enthusiastic consent is missing or withdrawn, it becomes abuse. That’s the literal definition we use to make the distinction between the two.