In what manner does my career as a 15 year State-licensed engineering nexus professional have to do with this; a viral suspension failure shown on Instagram?
Casting aside all the mansplaining I read, deflections, explanations, excuses or name calling (e.g., a Gate Keeper) which I may be acting like, I want to reflect on what that viral video showed me. It demonstrated an engineering systematic failure.
A systematic failure is in essence a ‘built in’ engineering flaw such that when a multiple of safety factors and/or checks and balances are lost catastrophically, a failure occurs that otherwise, would not generally happen. As a professional among others who work in the engineering realm, we collectively recognize that one of the most important elements for us to work together and prevent systematic failures, is a framework design. The ability to create a clear working design centers on those who have licensure or certification, experience (sound), peer review and inspection, and education (B.S., M.S., PhD’s) among so many others keys. This creates accountability and workman ship.
The Kink Educators Code of Conduct (www.thekecc.com) summarized our community right, we are a collective of professional amateurs who practice, teach, and perform rope bondage that has no certified professional experience level. Therefore, we act and moderate each other on a level with the best interests to safe guard outreach, practices, and the community at large. The aim is to help perpetuate safe work like practices.
KECC was right on. We are practicing amateurs. Because of this we lack accountability, we work only in a social collective which together to moderate, accept, and believe in each other. The ability for us to ensure that we work harmoniously and correctly through sound judgement is through social pressures. More to the point, we don’t need a license to practice and we have no real world accountability, except through maybe the legal system if we act negligently.
Systematic rope failure mechanism – THE ROPE DROP
Systematic failure mechanism of the rope drop, a few key contributing elements.
a. What I observed was a person who felt that to practice suspension in front of an audience meant success (my impression). They felt that to be tying in front of others, was a recognition of achievement. I observed them fumbling to untie a back line and let their partner fall, with warning signs of a fault occurring. Instead they focused more on looking the part than engaging in safety and stopping the failure. The focus was being a so called performer in the limelight. Hence a notable failure element of why it happened; the rigger put too much into their performance as a hallmark to convey skill. This is caused by the “halo effect” we provide in the community to those that tie for an audience.
b. The rope work. Truly abysmal rope work for a person practicing suspension in front of an audience. (Yes I am judging, believe me, we all need it for this line of work. I get every day at work.) The rope top proclaimed ‘years of experience.” Question: Years of experience practicing bad rope or good rope? This is where obtaining a license to practice comes in. A license requires years of prior experience to be accepted for examination, and it requires years of real world, sound and proven experience under another licensed person. A key to accountability. Years of experience means absolutely shit if your foundational practices are flawed, poor, weak or elementary.
Is my point of systemic failure making sense? You see, it is a cascade of a series of events that leads to a failure, a mechanism, 1-2-3, break. A rope drop. Or real world, the Champlain Towers South Condo collapsing in Miami. What happened to that building, should they just fall like that-Fuck NO. Should a rope bottom just fall like that, absolutely not!
c. Fundamental element – the fail safe (lock off). Clearly the rope top was not practicing a simple, commonly recognized lock off that would have prevented the rope drop (see my photo above). A total fail safe measure employed by us to prevent drops. (The deflection of this point by many is baffling!) This event could have killed the person who fell. Not using a lock-off was pure and simple, ‘negligent,” and probably the key most IMPORTANT ingredient that perpetuated the rope drop. Not an oversight, a mishap, or accident. Imagine what a prosecutor would say if they decided to prosecute? Think I am ridiculous, the family may ask for it. If you were a key expert witness for this on the stand; what would your answer be?
I’ll conclude one more mechanism element that seemingly let this happen, and may indeed let it happen again-again. The Rope Community.
d. While we are infighting between the gatekeepers and peacekeepers, and those that stand silent, we are losing a real sense of accountability. Our lack to recognize this systematic failure, with our part to look the other way, not point this out is key. And now not to sit down among each other and say, we shall not allow or condone through silence or infighting the continued practice of unsafe rope, may indeed be the ultimate tipping point in any fail safe that can be designed to help protect rope work. I am speaking generally and not necessarily about you.
As educators, performers, and purveyors of rope bondage, we must account for events like this, or we take a part in the undue injury to mind and soul of humans and any possible reputation we may want to have to those that we tie with.
In conclusion, we seemingly have a few who really care about rope practices, and they are leading the pathways in Transformative Justice for Consent Violations. Let’s not over burden them with this, a simple recognition of right and wrong that happened after a rope drop will suffice. As for myself, there is no right, no justification, no explanation or exceptions for this viral rope drop. What happened was a result of a systematic failure and one absolute, defining negligent move on the part of the rope top, “not locking the fucking up line.”
Closure: The writings are my feelings expressed and my opinion, that are subject to change, expand or diminish. You may not like them or agree, I get it, I may be wrong. Often I am.