Archive for September, 2009

commitment – reply to a comment

i got a comment today on one of my earliest posts, “why do we do this?“. as i was replying, i realised that this was turning into a proper post, and decided to reply here instead. here is Shelley’s comment:

I have been searching within myself & trying to read up on donating. I haven’t quite figured out what my motivation for it would be. I feel like I would be some of each category you described but I think I lean towards the fetishistic. Although it would feel sexual, I wouldn’t necessarily need there to be sexual acts involved. I don’t have the need to be dominated but it would naturally feel dominating to be fed from. The experience may also feel mothering as if I would be taking care of the vampire. I am still searching my commitment level as I think that would be fair to be commited to the vampire. Do you know of anything I can read to help me understand what would be involved over the long haul? Or any advice you could give me?

hi Shelley, and thank you for your comment.

to start at the end, i don’t really know any specific texts to recommend, there’s quite a few texts for beginners out there, but not that much in regards to the long term. my best recommendation would be to join forums such as www.blackswanhaven.org or www.vcmb.org. the first is run by and for donors, the second is (in my opinion) one of the best vampire forums around. in both you will get to talk with vamps and donors, some of whom have been around for a decade and more.

one of the important things to know, but you’d see that soon enough, is that many vamps – in particular sangs – have had hard lives, and are marked by that. it is not just that many of them find it hard to deal with having to hurt others for their need, or with the taboos surrounding drinking blood. it’s also the experience of growing up “different” which many of them share. the commitment i made isn’t just to be my vampire’s donor, but also to be a support in their life. a black swan isn’t just a donor, but also an ally, a supporter of vampires.

as to your motivation for donating, i think you are doing well in being honest to yourself about why you want to donate, and that will be appreciated by any vampire whom you chose to approach. when i wrote the original post half a year ago i was still very unclear on how any sexual aspects of donating might work for me, and was quite wary of the whole potential link between sexuality and vampirism. in the meantime i’m less worried about that. there are plenty of vampires who are into bdsm, and that is okay. but i find that the simple direct intimacy of being fed from is wonderful in itself.

i hope that helps a bit, and that you don’t mind your comment being brought to the front like this.

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first result in google

yes, this blog has finally reached the top spot in google! though unfortunately not for an obvious search which many people would make. but searching for “vampire top of the food chain” (without the quotes) will give you a link to my recent musings about not being top of the food chain any longer.

randomly, this is also the fiftieth search term which has led people to my blog. in total 59 views are recorded as having been referenced from search engines. most of the searches are actually relevant to vampirism, though there’s several which reference “top of the food chain” and one or two other extraneous ones.

the most common searches reference the VVC, next come searches combining vampire and donor or swan in some way. Laycock got several hits too, as did real vampire (i climbed to twelfth result in google for that, but dropped down again, unsurprisingly).

what puzzles me is how deep people seem to be searching. okay, i don’t know what search-engines people are using, but in most cases google will be a good bet. i always plug search terms into google, just to see what i get, but often i’ll only appear way down in the results, somewhere between the fifth and tenth page (i rarely dig deeper than that). when i search for/by myself, i almost never go beyond the second or third page.

but yeah. today was the first time i got first result in google for a search which led somebody here, and i thought that was worth a little celebratory post. and that will be all with the navel-gazing for now.

the Donor Bill of Rights – a critical reading

the Donor Bill of Rights (hereafter DBOR) is possibly, together with the various versions of the black veil, one of the most widely circulated documents in the vampire community. it is one of the default texts which donors are pointed at, and is commonly referenced in outside media when donors or vampire ethics are discussed. in style it seeks to be a foundational work, laying down the basic rights of donors which are to protect them in their relationships with vampires. the project is laudable, but it seems to me that the actual importance ascribed to the DBOR and its wide circulation are in stark contrast to the quality of the work.

i have talked about the DBOR before, and not been too happy with it (though had trouble putting my finger on why exactly i didn’t like it). i’ve mentioned my discontent with it in a few public forums too, going so far as to suggest that it ought to be revised. this was even brought up briefly in the latest VVC public meeting (page 30 in the transcript), but the reactions were dismissive, asking if it even needed to be revised. so here’s my critical reading of the DBOR, and why it needs to be revised.

right from the beginning it is apparent that the language of the text is unnecessarily florid: “the most precious of gifts”, “life essence”, and “my personal sacrifice” are a few examples of this. this style, while lending the document apparent weight, obscures the actual content, and should be eliminated in favour of precise language.

the suggestion in the preamble that the DBOR be signed as a contract between vampire and donor is beguiling, even more so as it includes the possibility for re-negotiation. however, the DBOR does not have the form of a contract or agreement which could be signed, so it is unclear what the signatories would actually be agreeing to. additionally, foundational texts are usually not re-negotiated, they act as frameworks within which negotiations can take place.

the actual enumeration of rights is also problematic and lacking in clarity. though there are ten articles listed, a careful reading reveals that there are actually only seven rights listed. some articles list multiple rights, others don’t list any and on the contrary contain obligations, and some rights are listed repeatedly.

these are the actually enumerated rights, with the number of the articles they appear in:

  • 1. right to decline to donate; 5. right to decline to donate
  • 2. right to know that in a vampire/donor relationship
  • 3. right to time to heal; 4. right to heal
  • 5. right not to be or feel threatened; 10. right to feel safe
  • 6. right to seek guidance or counsel (but only if feeling threatened)
  • 7. right not to be blackmailed (right to discretion/privacy)
  • 10. right to terminate relationship

the articles ought to be re-written to be clear and precise in meaning, and to the extent feasible to use language which is applicable to both donors and vampires. it also ought to be discussed if and to what degree the enumerated rights are actually the ones which we want to have in a new DBOR.

article 9. deserves a special mention, because it extends the rights to the vampire. i find this to be a good sentiment, but for it to easily make sense almost all the rights would need to be re-worked. it also doesn’t work easily with the title of the text, which ought to be extended to “Donor and Vampire Bill of Rights”. but i agree that the text ought to be expanded to include vampire rights as well, as within a vampire/donor relationship a lot of these apply to both parties.

the closing words are again interesting, and possibly reveal the intention behind the creation of the DBOR. vampire/donor relationships are not as such more prone to abuse than other relationships, but the secrecy which is necessarily implicit in the relationship makes it potentially more difficult to deal with abuse when it happens.

in sum, the Donor Bill of Rights as it stands is too busy, tries to do too much, and is critically unclear in content. i think those are sufficient reasons for it to be revised or replaced. obviously just criticising the DBOR is easy, creating something new is a rather larger order. but these are my reasons why i think it might be worth the effort to revise the DBOR.

i always appreciate comments on my posts here. this post has been on my mind for quite some time, and might regard others as well; i would particularly welcome comments on this post.

donor- and vampire- education

so the VVC has been at it again with another public meeting*, with one of the three main topics being donors (“What’s The Donor Thinking”). i got mentioned by name**, makes me feel rather chuffed (i can be incredibly vain, right up there with the best/worst of them). one of the subjects discussed under the topic of donors was donor safety information, what should be readily available to donors so that they don’t get fucked over.

i won’t go any further into the VVC discussion, but the VVC had publicly asked for topic suggestions, and i’d been asked directly for my opinion on the donor topic. at the moment i wasn’t able to come up with anything – sometimes my brain is slow – but here’s an issue which finally got the right triggers to surface.

the (sometimes almost knee-jerk) reaction when an underage (most people with this kind of reaction blithely assume that “underage” = “under 18”) donor speaks up anywhere is that “you can’t donate until you’re 18” or “it’s illegal”. i can understand the origins of that reaction, it is easy to say, it covers the speaker’s legal ass***, and solves the problem (at least for the speaker). of course not everybody reacts that way, but it is common enough that

i certainly agree that people shouldn’t be donating before they reach a certain level of maturity, i’d actually say that 18 is rather young to become a donor. but what i and other old farts like me (full disclosure, i’m currently 35) think and what the law says matters preciously little to the underage vampires and donors. because the vamps will still need to feed, and will still seek donors, and the self-motivated donors will still be seeking vamps to donate to. they will feed, and they will donate, and they won’t give a flying fuck about what us old folks think of it.

telling the kids that they can’t donate or can’t feed doesn’t work. it’s just like telling the kids that they can’t have sex until they’re 18 (and thank Eris for living in a country where the legal age is 16, 14 if the age difference is less than 3 years). abstinence based sex-education doesn’t work. it does not keep the kids safe. it does not raise the average age at which kids start having sex, and importantly, it increases the amount of both teen-age pregnancies and STDs. the whole concept of abstinence-based sex-ed is a contradiction in terms: education means learning about something, not being told “don’t do it”.

abstinence-based donor-education (or vampire-education) is going to misfire just as badly as abstinence-based sex-ed. the kids will still feed, they will still donate, they will still cut each other in dangerous ways, they will still catch diseases from each other. they will also be prey to abuse, as they won’t have reliable adults to speak to (remember, you just told them to sod off, i doubt they’re going to listen to you), so any random twenty-year-old claiming to be an elder can lead them wherever they want.

what we need is actual vampire/donor-ed. this needs to be easily available within the community. it needs to be simple and understandable. we need to teach the kids where it is safe to cut, and how – preferably with graphics. telling them to go read some anatomy book which they can only actually find in a library once they start college is not useful. we need to teach them about disinfecting, in a way which actually makes sense – in most guides to cutting this is utterly overblown. we need to teach them where to get health-tests done, and done anonymously, before donating/feeding – almost none of the info out there is useful for kids. we need to give them a straight list of what they need to get tested for, cut to affordable length – there’s articles out there which talk of dengue and malaria as blood-borne diseases; certainly true, but not helpful. we need to teach them how to negotiate donating and feeding – none of that idiotic black veil stuff, but nice concise lists of things they need to discuss with each other before they go omnomnom on each other. we need to put out reasonable guides to legality, which specify where they are valid and not. and we need to teach them what to do in an emergency, when they need to get help and where they can go for help. we can include reasons for not feeding/donating until they are adult and/or legally able to, but that must not overwhelm the information on how to stay safe.

i can already hear the outcry in at least part of the community. we’re supposed to teach that to kids aged what? 16? 14?! fact is, there are kids who are fourteen who are feeding blood from donors no older than themselves. two friends of mine are currently starting up a vampire/donor relationship, one is 14, the other 17. they are both rather intelligent and i believe that despite their young years have the experience to actually work this out reasonably safely on their own.

but the point is made: people that age do donate, they do feed, and once they’ve got their mind made up the best thing we can do is help them be as safe as possible.

if you’ve read this so far it is evident that i’m speaking mainly of specific issues confronted by sanguinarian vampires and donors. that doesn’t mean that the same issues don’t apply to psi-vamps and donors. the common approach here seems to be that as there’s no legal framework for energy-work (including energy vampirism) there are no major issues with it either. i’ve more than once seen the suggestion that somebody who’s under 18 and wants to donate find a psi-vamp to donate to. personally i see that as a bad move; in my experience donating psi probably has a stronger impact on the psyche of the donor than donating blood does, and psi donors should be even more mature than sang donors. the issues which need to be addressed for young psi donors and vamps are different than those for young sanguinarian donors and vamps, but just as relevant.

in closing, i want to relate a recent experience i had with a 16 year old kid i met in chat. they were quite shy, but over the course of a week or two kept returning and asking more questions about vampirism, and in particular about donoring. i answered them as best as i could, and eventually they admitted that they wanted to become a donor. i continued answering questions and pointing them at websites where they could read more, advising not to hurry, to take their time, that they were still very young to be a donor. then they discovered that just about anywhere they went, they had to be 18 to post a donor ad. even through chat the protest in their voice was palpable as they said “but that’s not fair”. they had made their decision without us, and the best us oldies can do is help them make as informed a decision as reasonable.

*the public meetings are the ones which non-members can’t attend. yeah, makes sense to me too. anyway, grab your transcript here if you want to see what they’ve been going on about, it’s a good read if you’re interested in the vampire community. and actually, before anybody comes nitpicking (i know that people from the VVC come by here every so often), i do know that they’re called public meetings because the transcript to them gets made public, while the rest of the discussions they have at the VVC don’t get published. the ones open to the public are the vampire global community discussions.

**for those of you who read the transcript (or were at the meeting) and remember the topic in relation to which my name was mentioned, i’ve actually got something sketched out (i.e. in pre-draft format), but it needs a lot more work.

***well, at least they think/hope so. in some jurisdictions the legal age at which somebody might agree to a sang donation is higher, in some places one can never legally be a donor.

i hate my veins

may i just say this? yes i may, this is my blog:

i hate my veins. they are utterly useless for giving blood. it welled for maybe a second or so, and stopped. utterly useless.

in other news, i’m doing well, posting more sometime soon.

top of the food-chain

this is perhaps a slightly whimsical post, but bear with me. i do not know if it has deeper meaning, but it might give you something to muse over.

it occurred to me tonight that i have willingly relinquished my spot at the top of the food-chain. humans are, for the most part, the undisputed top of the local food-chain. there are very few creatures which eat humans, and humans eat pretty much everything. furthermore, if something does actually eat a human, it will be hunted down systematically. we had a bit of a discussion on whether humans would still be the planetary apex predator without technology, and while i agree the position wouldn’t be as clear-cut as it is now, there would still be very few other animals capable of hunting humans.

and here i am, and have given up this spot in not one, but two distinct ways. i went vegetarian a long time ago – if i’ve worked it out right it was over 13 years ago – and early this year i went vegan. in other words, i am no longer a predator, i live exclusively from plants, from the primary producers. in contrast, apex predators on land live off of herbivores, who live from primary producer; they are two levels removed from the primary producers. apex predators at sea are usually many levels further removed from primary producers.* even whales, whom we are often told are exceptional because they feed at the bottom of the food-chain, are actually second- and third-level predators. but i digress. i have made myself, through choice and conviction, a herbivore.

the second characteristic of an apex predator is that it isn’t usually eaten by anything else.** while this might apply for whales,*** who are apex predators at a much lower degree of separation from the primary producers than other marine apex predators, it doesn’t apply to me. because, and this is where this post finally connects to the subject of this blog, i’ve gone and made myself prey. i am food, and not just to the insects and bacteria and fungi and so on which will feed on my decomposing body.**** i am (willing) prey to the actual apex predators on land: vampires!

and actually, while thinking on this, i realised that we might just have a possible cause for the wide-spread taboo on cannibalism. humans tend to see themselves as superior to pretty much everything else around. and if anybody comes along and starts eating them, it implies that they’re inferior (at least in simple human minds it might). and they have a real inferiority complex to deal with. which is probably why they come up with ideas like transforming all predators to herbivores.*****

*the marine food-chain is a lot more complex than the one on land, and almost everything large enough to be seen by the naked eye is a predator.

**well, besides the whole complex and multilayered series of organisms which decompose everything back into primal mulch; there’s a word for them, but i forget. all the billions of billions of creatures riding the last bit of the wave as it dies on the beach.

***with the exception of the occasional baby taken by a pod of orcas, or a beluga taken by a polar bear; but i did say “usually”.

****which will probably feed on my decomposing body. in an ideal world, my body would be eaten as food after i’m dead. lots of good meat on there!

*****not directly related, but came up in a concurrent discussion, and it was too funny to miss.

“real” vampire blog

the other day i stumbled across this blog: “Musings of a High School Vampire“. it is smart, funny, acerbically witty, with extreme violence and gore hidden just below the surface (i.e. you have to supply the visuals yourself – not that difficult if you’re me). it’s an easy and amusing read, starting at the beginning i got through it in three or so session. it is also a work of pure fiction. “real” vampire means, in this case, immortal (they are already dead, heh) undead blood-suckers, hollywood-style.

why am i writing about this here? it’s not like i’m in the habit of reviewing vampire fiction here, heck, i’m not even in the habit of reading vampire fiction which might subsequently be reviewed. the last vampire novel i read was “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson, several years ago, and that’s hardly your typical vampire novel, more of a reversal in which the human becomes the monster while the vampires are just normal nondescript people. oh, i watch the occasional vampire movie, and true-blood, but i don’t obsess over fictional vampires.

but two things struck me as i read this post. the first is a strange bleed-over from the discourses held by real vampires into fictional vampirism. perhaps the most obvious example is this entry with “dear Jonathon” questions to the vampire. read the questions, also read the questions posted by “Ana” in the first comment; these are all questions which real vampires have to field as soon as they’re out of the coffin, and they’re all pretty sick of it. sometimes we have threads making fun of the worst of them, but the comic relief is not really worth the annoyance.*

Ana is also worth a remark. she’s linked back to “Infectious Bites“, another website by “real” vampires, or at least claiming to be so. they link news about vampirism to activism against malaria – important issue not just for humans, but also for vampires concerned about the quality of their foodstock. we again find a bit of leakage from real vampirism into fictional vampirism, specifically in their blog. it also brings me to my second point.

vampires, mostly fictional ones, are everywhere in society. some of them are still bloodthirsty killers, some are totally cuddly and cute, some are secret fantasies of stuck-up mormon house-wives.** now they’re even used as mascots for charities! with such an overwhelming presence of vampires in society, how the heck can real vampires get themselves heard? the articles about real vampires are few, and when they do appear they are drowned under by fiction. even most of the non-fiction books are about fictional vampires, or about the vampire archetype in psychology, or the sexual allure of the vampire. even books about (and by) actual real vampires are often more full of lore about mythical and fictional vampires than of knowledge about real vampires. how is anybody seriously going to believe those few who are actual real vampires when they say that it’s not about the dark, not about evil, nor power, nor sex, nor some game gone too far, but that it’s simply a matter of health?

the vampire community is starting to get voice, or rather, many voices, and they are having an effect. but at the same time the real vampire community is so deeply permeated with fiction and myth that it will take a long and conscious effort to separate itself from them.

*suddenly i remember that i once got a comment here by some idiot desperately looking for a “real” vampire.

**or of a specific one. the woman should just get herself a proper dominant from the bdsm scene who can actually fulfil her fantasies.