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.

    • cheshirecatman
    • September 20th, 2009

    I think those are valid criticisms and, if implemented, would indeed make the document clearer and more concise.

    • thank you, it is good to hear that my criticism seems valid. it feels a little daunting to take on such a widely distributed and recommended text, and a bit of validation helps a lot.

    • blackswan21
    • September 20th, 2009

    Nods in agreement throughout the whole thing…Yep yep…

    • Talon Bloodrayn
    • August 15th, 2012

    Have you looked at this one:

    Here is a version that I use within my Clan:
    This Bill of Rights is to promote the continual safety of our Donors as they share their blood and/or energy with us. It is suggested that this be signed by both the Vampyre and the Donor on a 30 day/60 day /90 day/6 month/1 year basis. At the end of these contracts, discussions can be made as to whether or not changes regarding what will be allowed and what will not be allowed in the relationship should be done not be allowed.
    1) As a Donor, I know that it is through my personal sacrifice that the Vampyres needs are met. It is my loving nature that allows this relationship to continue. At no time should I feel stressed about giving of my essence, if at any time I feel stressed, I have the right to back away from the feed, without being or feeling threatened by my Vampyric partner. It is my right to decline to feed the vampire for any reason.
    2) As a Donor to a Vampyric being, it is my right to know that I am in a Vampyre/Donor relationship that will be mutually beneficial to both me and the Vampyre I am donating my blood and/or energy to.
    3) I am the blood and/or energy provider. It is for me to decide whether or not I am able to give of my blood and/or energy to the Vampyre I am with. At no time should my wounds, on any level, not be allowed to heal.
    4) Should I feel threatened in any way, shape or form. Ultimately it is my right to know that I will be safe in all aspects of the Vampyre/Donor relationship and should I ever feel that my safety is jeopardized, I have the right to seek guidance and council from other Donors and leaders of the Vampyre Community and/or to walk away clear and free.
    5) As a Donor to a Vampyric individual, I have the right to know that my position as lover, friend, family, and/or roommate should not be jeopardized by my not wanting to give of my myself. In the slang, “it should not cost me my ass to be a Donor.”
    6) As a Donor, I should also respect the needs of the Vampyre and try to learn more about his/her feeding habits in order to help stabilize his/her imbalances in energy.
    7) As a Donor in a Vampyre/Donor relationship, I realize that though I have many necessary rights, I must also take care not to abuse the person I am donating my blood and/or energy to.
    Ultimately, it is both of my responsibility to insure that I am not abused. It is my personal responsibility to leave a Vampyre/Donor relationship that I feel is abusive in any nature.
    Donor: _________________________________________ Date: ___________
    Vampyre: _______________________________________ Date: ___________
    Length of Vampyre/Donor Relationship: ______________

    • Thanks for your comment. As you can see i am no longer maintaining this blog, but i am still involved in the vampire community and an active donor, so this stuff still interests me. I’m going to have a closer look at this when i have time (later tonight).

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