my volunteer is into BDSM and wants to be a servant at our living history events

A reader writes:

I am a volunteer for a nonprofit where I help coordinate volunteers for big living history events. At these very popular events, skilled volunteers sign up to be a person from history and portray the historic hierarchy of race, gender, and class for visitors.

I have known for several years that one volunteer (we are both gay) is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately). He behaves appropriately with volunteers and visitors at the historic sites where he portrays a servant, but on Facebook he makes a lot of “joking” comments on other people’s posts about wanting to serve men, be humiliated, be punished, etc. that I, knowing that he is not joking, find very uncomfortable to read.

Over the last six months, his comments on Facebook and in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant and I hesitate to partner him with a “master,” because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent. I have also been in several discussions where other (straight) men have called his social media behavior “creepy” and “obvious.”

I have spoken to him about his social media behavior several times, suggesting that he dial it back, and he has always responded by saying that he is joking and I am misconstruing his actions.

My question is, since this person is behaving appropriately when actually at historic sites, particularly the one I volunteer for as a coordinator, do I need to let this go and pretend I don’t know that he’s getting his jollies off?


If he is involving other people in his sexual fantasies without their consent, that’s a hard no. And he’s looking to you to facilitate it for him, which is another hard no.

He’s welcome to explore his sexual interests, but he’s not welcome to do it with unsuspecting or unconsenting other people, and now that your organization (in the form of you, their rep) knows he’s using their events to do it, they’ve got to put a stop to it.

Also, it’s not clear to me if the other men who have called his social media posts creepy are fellow volunteers, but if they are, that’s a further imperative to intervene.

Look at it this way: If I’m a doctor and I behave impeccably during patient appointments but then make a bunch of sexualized Facebook posts about doctor/patient role-play … that’s very much my employer’s business (and my patients’!) and people would rightfully be disgusted and want to shut that down.

If the organization has paid staff, you should let them know what’s going on and that you plan to stop scheduling this guy for events and why. They’re going to agree with with you, and might even want to handle it themselves so you (a volunteer) don’t have to.

If they don’t have paid staff and this is on you to deal with, you’re on very solid ground in saying to him, “With the information you’ve shared with me, and with what I’ve seen on social media, I’m not able to continue scheduling you for these roles.” You could point out that you’ve talked with him about his social media behavior in the past, which gave him fair warning, but it’s continued and you can’t in good conscience continue pairing him with other volunteers.

He’s not entitled to get to continue to volunteer, or entitled to continue to be given unsuspecting partners. You’re uncomfortable, other people are creeped out, he seems to be deriving something sexual from this — you can and should shut it down.

{ 507 comments… read them below }

    1. Heidi*

      Yes, this is quite unsettling. My family and I love historical reenactments (not as much as this guy, of course). I hate to think of them being used to creep on unsuspecting people.

      1. Gaia*

        I mean, I love me some living history museums and I am all about sexual positivity and just loving what you love. But I would be so creeped out if I found out one of the actors at my favorite living history museum was using their role at the LHM as part of their sexual fantasies.


        1. JohnnyBravo*

          As someone who knows some reenactors/living history people this kind of thinking is SHOCKINGLY common if not the norm. Like they don’t talk about it on facebook but there’s a reason another nickname for the society for creative anachronism is “the society for consenting adults”

            1. JohnnyBravo*

              Agreed. Part of why I super side-eye those people. Imo it’s like fantasizing about a woman at the grocery store. It’s morally fine to mentally undress the hot girl in line but if she ever finds out you’re a scumbag

          1. Rainbow Dash*

            Yes, but this isn’t Pennsic. I legitimately used the words to my 8 year old. “That’s X with zhier girlfriend. You met zheir’s boyfriend last event. They all live together.” This is beyond what I consider normal in the SCA world, at least outside of the household level.

            1. Sagegreen*

              Ya, no. I was in Sca for many years and was also at Pennsic and I didn’t know anyone who was like this. I’m sure there were, but I never heard anyone who was like this.

        2. Blueberry*

          Disapproving of this kind of malarkey is part of sex positivity, I think — part of sex positivity is supporting people’s right to choose what they participate in, instead of being unwillingly or unknowingly involved.

          Or maybe I’m rationalizing, because I read this letter and said, “UGH” too. *shudders*

      2. Parenthetically*

        I just went to one of these a few weeks ago and I’m in full-body shudder mode thinking about some dude trying to secretly get his rocks off while my kid is standing 5 feet away.

      3. Artemesia*

        I am astonished that this guy wasn’t cut loose the first time he posted this crap. No one cares if someone secretly enjoys whatever kink they have; no one wants to be the unwilling participants. This is right up there with the woman who wanted everyone to refer to her boyfriend as her ‘master’ or wear BDSM gear at work. Why doesn’t this lead to immediate dismissal or at least no more than one warning and dismissal?

    2. charo*

      It’s totally wrong to talk like that on social media but also —

      people sometimes can just FEEL that someone is having “too much fun.”

      We may feel icky because we have a gut feeling about it. Very bad judgment that could lead to even worse judgment if he gets caught at it.

      1. a boy named sue*

        I used to work in a library with an embedded museum dedicated to a niche subject with a passionate fanbase. Lawd have mercy, this is the truest thing.

      2. many bells down*

        My nonprofit just had someone donate 10 buckets of llama shit* to our fundraiser. I haven’t heard if it sold or not.

        (*apparently the correct term is “llama beans”)

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          Google asked if I meant lima beans. I don’t think I can ever look at them the same again. So apparently their poop is “100% the best fertilizer.” Alrighty, then.

        2. Curiouser and Curiouser*

          …I’m going to assume you work in agriculture or something because that’s the only context I can see this being a valid sale item.

          1. HailRobonia*

            Take the Black Eyed Peas song “Imma Be” and replace the phrase “I’mma be” with “llama bean.”

            llama bean llama bean llama llama lamma bean
            Llama bean on the next level
            Llama bean rocking over that bass tremble…

            1. What the WhatHalloween-y*

              Freaking hilarious! I’ll never hear that song the same again. (Just like the Taylor Swift “Trouble” song and the goat bleating video).

              1. Pomona Sprout*

                I had to Google that to see what you were talking about and omfg, best laugh I’ve had in ages!

            2. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

              Ha! I hadn’t heard that song in YEARS and now it’s come up twice in one week. I went to trivia with friends and this song was in the music round. We got it wrong… :(

              Your version is better!

    1. De Minimis*

      I’m really disappointed, I’ve worked in nonprofits for a few years now and have yet to encounter any of this. I need to move into different types of organizations, apparently. I will say the coolest people I met at my previous job [educational nonprofit] were the librarians.

      1. Anonapots*

        I run a geek-centric non-profit and can promise that this is way off the rails from what we normally encounter.

        1. LlamaGoose*

          I think it depends on the organization. Volunteers generally have more time on their hands than other people. Sometime this is for normal reasons (they are retired, they prefer volunteering to more popular social activities) but sometimes it’s like…they don’t have many friends to socialize with, or they’re underemployed, and while it’s not 1:1, there’s a correlation between strangeness and a lack of boundaries and having trouble keeping friends and jobs.

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            There’s also a “beggars can’t be choosers” element. I’m involved with a nonprofit that had a volunteer whose skillset we needed, and would have been expensive to get from a paid worker. The guy was an Army vet with PTSD, and his psych issues could make him difficult to work with and frightening to other volunteers. We put up with him for a long time because he was an extremely hard worker and passionate about our mission, but he eventually wreaked enough havoc that he had to be cut loose.

    2. Who cares?*

      I know. This LW is a control freak. What the volunteer thinks and does outside of the event is none of their business. So what if the volunteer “gets their jollies” during the event. As long as know one knows it really doesn’t matter. As a matter of fact, it’s a win-win for both parties. The LW gets a committed volunteer and the volunteer has a healthy and structured outlet for his kink.

      I worked for a non profit and it seems that they are filled with self-righteous try-hards. My managers was super paranoid because we had a volunteer who turned out to be a sex offender and flipped her lid. The guy was a solid volunteer, served his time and never committed offense in the three years he’s been released. But of course I’m the bad guy for giving someone a second chance.

      1. IsbenTakesTea*

        False equivalence though. This is not judging someone for past or outside sexual acts, this is facilitating sexual gratification without consent of all parties. And even if there WAS consent, it is still not a win-win, because a workplace (regardless of volunteer or paid roles) is not an appropriate outlet for sexual gratification. The law is pretty clear on that.

        1. JM60*

          To play devil’s advocate, there are some workplaces (such as a sex club) where something like this would be okay if there was informed consent. The law doesn’t prohibit sexual role play per se in the workplace, but it usually is sexual harassment of done in the workplace (due to lack of consent), and sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal (and immoral).

      2. Kelly AF*

        All this volunteer had to do was keep his freaking mouth shut about his kinks (especially on social media!) and he could have continued to get his jollies with no one the wiser. (I’m assuming here that his actual behavior at events was good.) What he’s doing is absolutely not okay, and it’s not a win-win. A volunteer historical reenactment is not BDSM play party!

        1. Moira*

          Agreed! I keep my mouth shut about my weird fandoms and kinks all the time and no one at the Human Society is the wiser :D

        2. iantrovert (they/them)*

          Aren’t there social media sites that specifically cater to this sort of topic? It sounds like the volunteer is using a ‘vanilla’ one to talk about this stuff, which comes across as even weirder.

          1. JM60*

            Yup. Even though I’m not even into the BDSM scene, and there’s a particular app that jumps to mind that’s specifically intended for gay/bi men who are into BDSM.

      3. Artemesia*

        The guy is posting his sexual fantasies about the other volunteers on line — if ‘no one knew about it’ there would be no question. Everyone knows this guy is a creep who has no boundaries.

      4. Nic*

        “As long as no-one knows” it’s OK?

        Well by your own metric, it’s not OK then. Because the people he’s working with – the people that have to act as his master during the event – are fully aware of what he’s been posting online, and are feeling like he’s using them as sex toys. This is now a matter of consent, and the LW and other volunteers don’t.

      5. AGirlHasNoScreenName*

        I hope this is a troll response, but in case it isn’t…

        My cousin was lured to a house, raped, murdered and her body dumped in some remote location (it wasn’t found for a month) by a man who was a registered sex offender who she met while doing work with a volunteer organization. Said rapist and murderer did his time (the previous conviction did not involve murder btw, but he did rape a woman at gunpoint) and 5 years had gone by without incident. I wish your managers had been her managers, because she might still be alive.

          1. AGirlHasNoScreenName*

            Thank you. Perhaps more germane to the theme of the thread, it should be noted that last year, an appellate court found said organization liable for the promotion of her murderer, so… yeah. Who Cares?’s manager was in both the legal and moral right to “flip her lid.”

      6. Nephron*

        No one would know or have a problem if he was not advertising it with his “jokes.” The LW knows and is being made uncomfortable and other volunteers have worked it out or are starting to.

        If the guy just went home or wherever was appropriate it would be fine, but he is making public statements that are apparently becoming increasingly obvious.

      7. Pomona Sprout*

        I’m going to be charitable and assume (or least hope) that you hadn’t read the letter carefully enough before you posted that. For reasons that have been amply expressed already, the example you cited is not at all analogous to the situation described in this letter. I sincerely hope you can see that now.

    3. Vicky Austin*

      There were some eccentric people at the nonprofit where I used to work, but no perverts like this one.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I read it in my imaginary Miss Manners voice. You don’t have to clutch your pearls, just touch them with your fingertips.

  1. animaniactoo*

    The answer to “I am joking and you are misconstruing what I’m saying” is “Whether you’re joking or not, it’s inappropriate and you need to dial it back. It’s not acceptable even as a joke.”

    Otherwise, all of what Alison said.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yes, this.

      It doesn’t matter if he’s joking. This is not okay. Sexual anything with nonconsenting participants is not okay.

        1. Stixx-and-String*

          This goes way beyond selfish. The correct word for making unsuspecting people unsuspecting players in your sexual roleplay is “predatory.”

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Yeah, I wonder, if the volunteer never posted another creepy thing ever, would OP be okay with them continuing to volunteer? In the spirit of, “nobody can know someone else’s creepy innermost thoughts if they keep them private?” If that is the case, I think OP could state that explicitly as a condition, but I suppose that just takes us further down the rabbit den of policing someone else’s posts and trying to decide where the line is.

      1. Percysowner*

        If the guy never posted or publicly disclosed he was getting off on his role, I think there would be no problem with him secretly fulfilling fantasies, as long as the public was completely unaware. Long before the Internet, when buying shoes was a much bigger production than today, there was a cliche that the best job for a person with a foot fetish was selling shoes. Discretion was the point. As long as no one knew they were getting their needs met, there was not problem, just someone dedicated to getting the proper fit.

        This guy has “outed” himself in regard to his sexual interest. If he had kept his mouth shut he could have enjoyed his role play and none the wiser. By flaunting it, he has lost that privilege.

        1. Quill*

          Also in a way that links to his legal identity… so people he knows IRL can find out… if you’d found out he was say, constantly roleplaying this on a forum under a pseudonym, it would not feel as much a boundary violation, because it’s at least an attempt to keep everything locked down and limited to those who consent to it.

          1. Yorick*

            This is important, because it can also get back to the specific people he roleplayed with and make them uncomfortable.

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, and it makes me think that it’s way more likely that he doesn’t care about other people’s comfort than that he’s bad at technology, because… seriously dude, get a tumblr or find a roleplay forum, they only really ban photos. Sharing things on facebook is a guarantee that people you know IRL / are associated with professionally will find out, and also be creeped out AF.

        2. Witchy Human*

          I’m wondering if the answer is to tell him he can keep volunteering but can no longer play a servant, ever. My guess is “we’re going to recast you as a cheesemaker” would lead to a tantrum.

          Then it would be abundantly clear that his interest in playing a servant is way more than historical interest, whether or not he continues to be open about fetishizing it.

          1. valentine*

            My guess is “we’re going to recast you as a cheesemaker” would lead to a tantrum.
            I think he’d accept that in order to keep the door open. It’s not appropriate to keep him in any role, so, OP will need to tell the volunteers to go through them if they need a sub because this guy’s not eligible.

            1. Sloan Kittering*

              Yeah I started to think “good idea!” but then if I was in OP’s shoes, I’m not sure I want to be constantly policing this guy, making sure he’s not volunteering to switch roles last minute, checking his social media feeds to make sure he’s not posting weird stuff about cheesemaking slavery etc etc.

              1. Traffic_Spiral*

                Yeah. This guy already has serious boundary-pushing problems, and insists you’re just not understanding his jokes when you tell him to cut it out. You don’t want to be constantly trying to wrangle him into behaving properly – it’s too much effort. Cut him loose.

              1. Filosofickle*

                I had the same thought. I had to read it twice to understand that meant “substitute”. Phrasing!

          2. living history professional*

            “I’m wondering if the answer is to tell him he can keep volunteering but can no longer play a servant, ever.”

            That’s a little too close to saying a pedophile can keep their job as long as you move them to a place where they won’t be in regular contact with children. Nope.

            1. Kim*

              Nope. That is not a good comparison at all. Don’t compare kinks to pedophilia please. What this guy is doing is not cool but it’s nowhere on the same level as child abuse.

              1. living history professional*

                Involving non-consenting adults in your kink means it’s no longer a kink and it’s actively sexually harassment.

                1. Gaia*

                  I don’t disagree with you that it is harassment and predatory but it still isn’t pedophilia. That is a whole other level.

              2. Jaydee*

                Technically, pedophilia is a sexual attraction to (prepubescent) children. People can have pedophilia and not act on it. And sex offenders whose victims are children do not necessarily have pedophilia.

                1. The Rules are Made Up*

                  ….. if you have to start a sentence pointing out a “technicality” regarding pedophilia that’s probably not a sentence that needs to be said.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Vicky Austin–I think the point that Jaydee is trying to get at is a definition of pedophilia that involves a specific attraction to children, but there are some opportunistic predators who don’t care who they violate. (Same as, for instance, many prison rapists not identifying as attracted to men; it’s an opportunistic thing more than an attraction.) This is especially prevalent in predators whose motivations are violence, violation, and control, rather than sexual attraction.

            2. Gaia*


              This guy is creepy and weird for using his volunteer gig to get his kinks. But pedophilia is a not a kink and it is really not the same thing.

                1. Indigo a la mode*

                  Blanket comment for this whole thread: Many pedophiles are not offenders. There was a really great piece (in the Atlantic, maybe?) about pedophiles who are not predators, do not have sex with anyone without consent, and are determined to do no wrong to children They can’t help their sexual attraction anymore than anyone else can, but they can control their actions. If you mean child abusers, say child abusers – these aren’t all one and the same.

                  I’ll see if I can find the article. It was really educational and thoughtful.

                2. Indigo a la mode*

                  Found a Medium link to the same article I was referring to, for anyone who’s interested:

                  A kinkster getting his rocks off without consent isn’t the same, so let’s not cross those streams. Predators are predators, and for predators, it’s a power game. (This is also the reason why most sexual violence against men is perpetrated by straight men.)

              1. xlainx*

                Vicky Austin – it’s possible because sexual assault isn’t about attraction, it’s about power. Child sexual assault often happens in the context of other kinds of abuse too, so it’s another way for the abuser to express their power. That’s how. (A significant plurality of child molesters report no real attraction to children.)

        3. Vicky Austin*

          “there was a cliche that the best job for a person with a foot fetish was selling shoes.“
          Or a pedicurist.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        If it was this way from the start, it might be doable (maybe… though I’m not sure), but now that other people have noticed to a degree that they’re commenting on it being creepy/uncomfortable, I think it’s not really an option. At this point others already know that he’s getting his jollies this way, and you can’t put that cat back in the bag.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It would depend. If he had disclosed his fantasies to OP (which he did, here, in addition to the social media), and had made any other comments that suggested he was engaging people in non-consensual sex play, then I think OP has an obligation to remove him from those volunteer activities. If all of this played out in the guys head and no one knew, then there’s nothing OP could do because OP wouldn’t be aware that the guy was being inappropriate.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yep. The disclosure is what tips it from “weird, but keep it inside your head dude” to “holy crap that is not okay.”

          The OP now knows this is a prurient interest for this volunteer, and you can’t unring that bell.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            I do think it’s an unfortunate situation because a) it brings up stigma around alternative sex being “wrong” or “inappropriate” and because presumably OP only knows the details here because they are gay and the volunteer shared something with them in that context. This is actually a little dicey and I would worry about the backlash if the volunteer starts spreading a counter-narrative about how they were banned from volunteering. I’d like OP to screenshot a few of the most unambiguously inappropriate social media posts or something.

            1. Free Meerkats*

              But this isn’t about the alternative sex stigma, it’s about involving other people in his thing without their consent.

              1. CMart*

                Indeed. It’s not that his “thing” is ‘alternative’ it’s that he’s using a public, nonsexual event in order to fulfill his “thing”.

                When a group of people go to Hooters, they all say “it’s for the wings!” even though for lots of people the point is to look at attractive young women (which is creepy but I’m not in charge). This is a fairly conventional and accepted version of using everyday life for sexual purposes. It becomes explicitly creepy and pretty not okay when someone confides in the group “I’m here to ogle the servers.” They would all likely stop going – that guy made it weird.

                OP’s volunteer is That Guy. He made it weird.

                1. MayLou*

                  I think it’s also relevant that the staff at Hooters are aware that being looked at in their uniforms is a part of the job. That absolutely would not mean that any kind of harassment or assault would be acceptable, but they did knowingly accept a job where part of the attraction for some clientele is the servers. That doesn’t apply here. People attend the events to participate in history, not to be ogled.

            2. AnonEMoose*

              If it makes you feel any better, I would be equally creeped out if the guy were getting sexual thrills from watching women work in the kitchen at the events. The issue is not the specifics of his sexuality. The issue is that he is sexualizing something that the other participants aren’t intending to be sexual, and doing it without consent.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yes, totally this. Replace “BDSM” with any number of vanilla or other kinks, and it’s still unacceptable.

                I don’t think OP has to worry about a counternarrative in this case. It’s so clearly inappropriate and so clearly not about the volunteer’s LGBT identity that it’s unlikely that the volunteer would get traction.

                1. Sloan Kittering*

                  Absolutely, I understand everyone’s responses, I just think there’s an intuitive counter-narrative that this guy could trot out that’s unfortunate.

              2. Turtle Candle*

                Yeah, if it was “I want to volunteer for the butter churning demo because watching women in corsets exert themselves makes me hot” it would also be inappropriate. If you can keep the ‘that’s hot’ entirely to yourself there would be no issue because nobody would know, but if you were posting all over, and telling at least one co-volunteer, about sweaty women in corsets it’d be similarly inappropriate.

                1. Vicky Austin*

                  Exactly. Keep the “it’s hot” to yourself and no one will know.
                  It’s like how following a hot celebrity on Twitter and checking out her photos is fine; stalking her is not.

      4. yikes.*

        Creepy, gross, and inappropriate, but on top of that, continuing to have this volunteer exposes the organization to unnecessary risk if there was ever a claim by a staff, volunteer, or visitor that this person sexually harassed them or made them uncomfortable. If it’s known that this volunteer derives sexual gratification from their role, and the organization continues to schedule them, I can only imagine the PR nightmare if that information became public – especially in the wake of any allegations.

        Cut this person loose and let them know in no uncertain terms that their jokes are inappropriate, unwelcome, and out of line with the organization’s mission.

      5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think in this case the “cat is out of the bag” in the sense that lots of people already know he was getting kinks out of this volunteering. Also, even people who didn’t know about his “personal preferences” were being weirded out by or felt something creepy was going on. I think at this point the best thing to do is for volunteer to just move on to a new project, or else you may see lots of other volunteers leave in large groups.

      6. Beth*

        In general, I think there’s something to that. If someone is thinking something in the privacy of their own head, but it’s completely invisible in their speech, behavior, etc., on a pragmatic level at least it isn’t affecting anyone else. (There are exceptions to that–for example, if the ‘private thought’ is something like sexism or racism, their bigotry is likely to leak through into their decision making in subtle ways even if they think they’ve got it locked down, and that’s a problem. But for something like this? If it’s so subtle that no one ever knows, my personal feeling is that it’s probably not worth my time to stress over it.)

        But this guy has already ruined that. He’s already said it out loud. People are already explicitly aware of what he’s doing, and people are already uncomfortable with it. They will continue to be aware and uncomfortable even if he stops all the jokes and comments immediately. That makes it not okay.

        1. whingedrinking*

          Yup. To turn that around, if you teach, say, university classes, you’re probably going to get at least a few students who develop some kind of a crush at some point. Most of them keep it to themselves and can be indistinguishable from any other student in your class. But if they start airing their sexual fantasies in public, in a way that does or could easily get back to their instructor, that instructor has a right to get really uncomfortable.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely. And I agree wholeheartedly with what Wannabe Disney Princess has written below. Sometimes naming what’s going on helps identify how seriously unacceptable his behavior is.

    4. Engineer Girl*

      And let’s not forget – “I was just joking”’is the classic passive aggressive attempt at “get out of jail free”.

      Don’t let them.

      They’ve already made others uncomfortable with heir posts. You have extra info that makes it worse. That’s enough.

  2. Kelly L.*

    Oh wow! On top of the sexual inappropriateness, this has the potential to come off as super offensive if any of his “jokes” sound like he’s praising real, actual slavery.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Which makes me wonder what race this guy is… because that could open up a whole other can of worms.

      1. The Original K.*

        I am straight-up horrified. I’m just imagining what happens when his veneer slips and it becomes obvious that he’s enjoying these scenarios, and all of a sudden observers are watching slave fetish or race play.

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            Oh, yes, Dav Savage has done a number of letters. The Jewish woman with the German boyfriend and she wanted him to play Nazi (he was appalled), the black woman with white boyfriend who wanted slave play (she did, he didn’t), and more.

          2. Kim*

            All forbidden/taboo things are a thing. One of the most common kinks for women is ‘rape-play’. The crux is that this is something taboo that can be acted out within a safe environment. Provided everybody is 100% on board of course.

            1. Moira*

              Agreed! I keep my mouth shut about my weird fandoms and kinks all the time and no one at the Human Society is the wiser :D

    2. Turtle Candle*

      I got the impression that this was a place portraying servants (i.e., hired help) and not slaves, but even so, yeah, it could be making light of very significant real world inequities.

      1. JessaB*

        It doesn’t matter. If the volunteer is a person of colour, there’s still, especially in the US a long history that has *still* not ended regarding servants of colour. Whether during or after the time where slavery was legal in the US. Just because the servant is someone who in real life would have been in a paid position, does not mean there’s not racist undertones if the person is not white.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yes, hence “it could be making light of very significant real world inequities.” But I will say that I do think that slavery (and yes, race) makes it another level even beyond that, and we don’t know if it involved slavery or a POC volunteer from the letter.

      2. Kelly L.*

        OP said something about portraying the historical hierarchy of race, gender, and class, so I assumed there was at least some slavery being portrayed, though possibly also some other forms of servitude as well.

  3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Ugh. And it’s not like it’s even historically accurate or relevant.

    “Servant” in Victorian England or medieval France has nothing to do with modern BDSM.

    Listen to Allison and cut this guy loose.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yep, bingo.

      This is something he should be taking to Grindr or similar, not to his volunteer work.

    2. Antilles*

      There’s an enormous difference between “a modern relationship between two consenting adults” and the actual horrors of serfdom/servants/slavery as practiced in various points of history.

      1. Helena*

        Depends a lot on the time period and setting. Of course slavery and serfdom were horrific, but two of my grandparents were in service in the 1910s/20s (UK), as were plenty of their generation, and it was no more “horrific” than any other working class job. Certainly better working conditions than being sent up a chimney or in agricultural poverty.

          1. Chinook*

            What they said. Being a servant or serving some one is very different from being subserviant and is not in and of itself demezning or humiliating. Dowton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast both show that there can be dignity and even power in being a servant.

            I am as appaled by the historical innacuracies and demeaning of respeactable careers as I am by his use of unsuspecting people in his sexual kinks.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, there’s a vast range of what ‘servant’ can mean and we have no idea what it is here, based on the letter. It doesn’t even matter, though; it’s sufficiently inappropriate in and of itself that any question of whether it’s more inappropriate is more or less irrelevant to the advice.

        2. Antilles*

          First off, you’re overanalyzing my phrasing. Sure there are certain times and places in history when servants were a respected class…but there are also a lot of other times where “servant” was just a pleasant-sounding fiction.
          Secondly, OP specifically said they “portray the historic hierarchy of race, gender, and class for visitors”, which presumably means that they’re going to show both the positive *and* negative parts of the hierarchy. If nothing else, the inclusion of the word ‘race’ in OP’s description would strongly suggest that they do at least some portrayals of actual slavery at times.

    3. Just Elle*

      I love your screen name, and also that you found space among the moral outrage for historical outrage.

      1. Gaia*

        It is comments like these that let me know I have found my people on this site. My first reaction was to be grossed out. Second? Outrage at this historical inaccuracy.

      1. Mrs. Wednesday*

        All of the very good responses about consent are definitely the real thing to tell this volunteer.

        But I’d be sooooo tempted to put on my best Dowager Countess attitude and say, “I’m not dismissing you without a reference simply just because you’ve creeped out the family and the staff. You have, mind you. I’m dismissing you, Wannabe-Servant, because I cannot trust you and that makes you A NON-STARTER AT THE SERVICE THING.”

        For a dude who dreams of being a servant, he’s strangely resistant to being told what to do.

    4. Moira*

      Ha! I was most annoyed by the implication that he was conflating real history with BDSM and didn’t realize the difference. It’s like mixing Wicca with ancient pagan practice, it’s not accurate and Not The Same Thing.

      Then again I have a huge crush on George Washington and I know that wouldn’t have gone well for me in real life. So kinks are gonna do what they do.

  4. Jane Smith*

    People like this give others into BDSM a really bad name!
    What a selfish man; being interested only in his own gratification at the expense of others’ comfort is literally the opposite of what ‘serving’ is. Ugh ugh ugh.

    1. Nonny Maus*

      I myself am not into the BDSM scene, nor have any interest in being so. Several of the social groups I roll with though have a lot of cross-over. The 3 big principles I was always told were held close to sacred in healthy and functional groups were Safe, Sane, and *Consensual*. (Emphasis mine.)

      Even if this guy were behaving Safely or Sanely (which I have doubts), he is NOT getting Consent from others to be part of his kink. Big no no, and BIG RED FLAG.

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        ^^ this. My friends in the scene understand consent much better than most of my friends who, for lack of a better term, are more vanilla. If I’m ever not sure that someone’s crossed a line, I run it by them and if I get a “hell no, that’s not okay” I can totally trust it. This guy sounds like a tourist.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Sadly, the BDSM scene includes its fair share of people who aren’t acting in good faith, whether under SSC/RACK rules or in general.

      2. Tinybutfierce*

        Exactly. If he wants to participate in his kink, he needs to do so in an environment that’s explicitly for it and/or with partners who are willingly, knowingly consenting to be involved. What he’s doing is a huge flashing neon warning sign for someone who’s not a safe play partner.

      3. Yorick*

        I don’t think BDSM is what he’s REALLY into. He’s into some kind of exhibitionism and/or whatever you call getting off on making people feel uncomfortable.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          “Whatever you call getting off on making people uncomfortable”

          That’s called being a pervert and a predator.

    2. SaffyTaffy*

      Sacher-Masoch was like that, too, though, bullying his wife into dominating him. Certain types of people are just so used to getting what they want in every other aspect of their lives that when they try to slum it up as a bottom they have no idea what they’re actually doing.

    3. Nobby Nobbs*

      I have to wonder if he’s getting his jollies from historical re-enactment because he’s already been blacklisted from his local BDSM scene(s). Or maybe a willing partner doesn’t hold the same appeal…

  5. Amber Rose*

    Ugh. D: D: D: D:

    This sort of goes back to other questions about reading slightly risque material at work. It’s not OK to be trying to be aroused while working. Even if it’s not super obvious to other people. It’s just not OK. And since YOU know, and it’s making YOU uncomfortable to work with him, that is enough to make this a workplace issue.

    1. Doug Judy*

      I was alarmed on the letter about the serial masterbater, how many people commented they had also done that once or twice, like it was NBG because no one knew about it, and it wasn’t that often. Sorry no. Don’t do anything sexual at work, ever.

    2. My Highnessness, fka juliebulie*

      I’m not sure this is even close. If you are reading, say, trashy romance novels, you might be fantasizing about the characters, which is very different than looking at your coworkers and fantasizing about them.

      I mean, it is similar in that in both cases you are exhibiting behavior that indicates you’re interested in sex. But pretty much everyone is interested in sex. This guy went several steps further to let people know what kind of sex he’s interested and that he’s going to volunteer for something that extends his fantasies. That’s so very very icky.

      1. Holly*

        It’s not about general interest in sex, it’s about not being aroused or even having the appearance that you are aroused at work.

  6. jiminy_cricket*

    I have found that individuals and couples do this kind of messed up, non-consensual play with service providers with some frequency. The best manager I ever had kicked a couple out because they were obviously using me in a game they were playing that I was not in on. What I’m saying is: 1) don’t non-consensually force others to participate in your play, that’s messed up; and 2) absolutely do not continue the relationship with this volunteer. They’ve already demonstrated horrendous boundaries and borderline abusive behavior.

  7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


    Y I K E S.

    Please, please put a stop to this. He’s being incredibly creepy, and involving nonconsenting parties in his gratification is an extreme hard Not Okay. It doesn’t matter if he’s getting paid or not, it doesn’t matter if the other participants aren’t aware that he’s getting off (even if only emotionally) on it, this is hugely not okay and a massive violation.

    Also, “just joking” is not an excuse. This is massively inappropriate. Please escalate this up the chain.

    1. Jenny*

      Also, historical stuff like this often involves families and school groups. How do you think a school group would react if they saw his social media posts?

      1. pope suburban*

        Frankly, how would anyone react seeing this? I would not go on a tour if one of the actors was doing this stuff where I could see, or if I knew someone who had been bothered by it. I’m not even in what sounds like this man’s demographic is, but I don’t like to see/hear that *anyone* felt harassed or nonconsensually involved in someone’s sex life this way. I would absolutely think less of an organization that tolerated this behavior, especially since it could read as enabling it. This isn’t about judging someone for being into BDSM (or being non-heterosexual), this is about someone exploiting his position to drag unsuspecting people into his fantasy life. This guy is in the same category as subway gropers and people who catcall. LW needs to escalate this, for so many reasons.

        1. Jenny*

          Yeah I’m just trying to drive home to LE that this guy threatens the very existence of your organization. Kids are often the bread and butter of historical organizations. I would never, ever forgive an organization that allowed someone to practice his kink around kids.

    2. Silicon Valley Girl*

      Yeah, that he says “just joking” is him acknowledging he’s doing something potentially offensive — jokes can be offensive! These are sexualized jokes, & that’s not OK by itself.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      “Just joking” often enough means “I said/did something awful and got called out but don’t want to take responsibility for myself”.

      LW you have to end this. If you don’t, somebody else will and it might very well get your organization called out in public, which is currently not deserved but which will be if it doesn’t stop this guy.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Schrodinger’s joke, more like. How you react determines whether they say they’re serious or not.

      1. My Highnessness, fka juliebulie*

        I should have added that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a joke or not.

        I just get extra-offended when someone tries to claim “joke status” to protect their bad behavior when what they’ve said/done doesn’t qualify under any definition of “joke.”

          1. whingedrinking*

            Sadly, some people will take refuge in that line of thinking. There was some guy who made YouTube videos a while back who used a rubber hand to touch the butts of people he perceived as women (on camera, of course, and then showing it on his channel without blurring their faces) and then claimed this wasn’t sexual assault. And some commenters were defending him. Because he didn’t use his *actual hand*, you see, so he wasn’t *actually touching* these people.
            Curiously, he did not touch the backside of anyone who was presenting male. I wonder why that could be!

    4. Nea*

      My advice is to screenshot the Facebook comments, bump those up the chain, and let the bosses tell him it’s no joke.

    5. chickaletta*

      Joking is such a common response from people when someone calls them out on being inappropriate.

      “Please don’t call me ‘doll'”
      – “Aw, I didn’t mean anything by it”

      – “Please don’t pinch me”
      – “I’m just teasing you”

      – “I think my shirt is fine”
      – It’s a compliment, lighten up, hun

      “That comment was inappropriate”
      – It’s just a joke

      These types of comebacks are as old as dirt and don’t mean anything.

  8. Johnny Tarr*

    Ew, gads. If I knew that my employer had set me up to play an unwitting role in someone else’s sexual fantasy, I’d absolutely feel violated and disgusted. If an organization that I loved and supported did that, I’d cease all support and probably never want to hear their name again. OP, I think that if you do nothing, you’ll really be hurting the organization that you volunteer for.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yes, this. OP, you don’t just have a commitment to this volunteer, but to all the other volunteers and the reputation of this organization as a whole. Additionally, if the organization serves kids in any way – recipe for trouble, especially if those kids are teens.

      This volunteer is just trouble waiting to happen, don’t let him destroy the organization, and please stop scheduling him as a re-enactor if any type.

      1. AuroraLight37*

        Agreed. The obligation of this set up is to teach living history, not let people play out their personal fantasies using other people who have not and cannot consent.

  9. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Repeat after me: using people for sexual satisfaction without their consent is not okay.

    1. Hamster girl*

      Exactly, let’s call this what it is: sexual harassment. Other people are commenting about feeling creeped out by him and he’s using his position for sexual gratification at work – this guy is a lawsuit waiting to happen and OP could get in big trouble if anyone feels as though they are complicit in facilitating his continued harassment.

  10. alittlebriton*

    What he is doing is involving people in a sexual scene WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT. It is a violation. And anyone, anyone! who is into BDSM knows that first rule is Safe, Sane and Consensual.

    He might be a good volunteer, but he’s a terrible person and a terrible submissive for doing this.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Unfortunately, even within the community, there are many people who don’t care, or who figure that if they are not actually whipping it out in public then it’s not a “scene” and no one needs to know.


      1. Just Elle*

        This reminds me of all the letters about people engaging in office affairs, who think they are sooooo sneaky, and they are just not, and everyone else around them is forced to suffer in silence. For the people getting busy in the copy room, its thrilling that they might get caught. But for everyone who actually does know whats going down, its miserable.

        I seriously questioning this guy’s ability to hide what he’s up to from those around him. I bet he thinks his Facebook posts are subtle too.
        (To be clear, even if he DID manage to hide it from those around him, its still not ok. But forcing your scene on people who know what you’re up to is an extra level of ick).

  11. AnonEMoose*

    EEEEWWWW! My skin is seriously crawling…

    If he were engaging in fantasies, but keeping them strictly to himself, and were behaving impeccably when actually dealing with others…that would be his own business.

    But he is posting about this on FB, knowing that at least some of the people involved can see it. So he is involving them without their consent, essentially in front of others, and that’s really, REALLY inappropriate and creepy. It’s like the guys who “jokingly” hit on a woman or ask her out, or the Schrodinger’s Date gambit, only more sexual and thus even worse.

    I agree that you need to shut this down; it’s really inappropriate. And on a thoroughly practical note – you can either lose this guy, or you can start losing other volunteers and have your organization gain a reputation for not dealing with creepy behavior.

    1. Lynn*

      I agree. If he kept his fantasies to himself, he could get away with this and noone would be the wiser. But, apparently, part of what he wants/needs out of this is for others to know that he is getting gratification out of it.

      As many have noted, it is time to shut down his access to people to use in this manner. Allowing him to do this at the expense of the other volunteers isn’t okay in any way, shape or form.

      There is a song lyric out there “Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.” It definitely applies to his claim that he is only joking about making people props in his sex life without their consent.

    2. Kesnit*

      “If he were engaging in fantasies, but keeping them strictly to himself, and were behaving impeccably when actually dealing with others…that would be his own business. But he is posting about this on FB, knowing that at least some of the people involved can see it. ”

      No, he’s not. Or if he is, the OP didn’t make the link clear. People are making assumptions and reading something that is not actually in the letter.

      1. bolistoli*

        “but on Facebook he makes a lot of “joking” comments on other people’s posts about wanting to serve men, be humiliated, be punished, etc. that I, knowing that he is not joking, find very uncomfortable to read.”

        I think this link is pretty clear – and in the letter. Maybe you didn’t read the whole thing? This guy is a disgusting creep. And I’m not talking about BDSM.

        1. ACDC*

          There are a few elements in this that really don’t make me feel like it’s that far of a leap to say the volunteer is getting something out of this for his fantasies. 1) He’s a volunteer. He’s not getting paid to be at this event, meaning he sought out the group and asked to be involved. 2) He’s specifically asking to be in a servant role. If he was just a history lover volunteering at this event, asking to be involved in any capacity, I don’t think this would even be a letter to AAM. 3) He’s very open about his BDSM fantasies with the volunteer coordinator, the other volunteers, and his social media following. Couple that with my 2nd point and I don’t think this is that big of a leap at all.

      2. Beth*

        Pretty sure there’s a general policy here of trusting letter writers in absence of clear reason to doubt what they’re saying. OP has seen the posts and ‘jokes’ in question, and OP says there’s a clear connection, based on those things, between this guy’s kink interests and his involvement in the historical reenactment. That’s the information we’re working with here; we don’t need to see the posts verbatim to give advice on the situation.

  12. MuseumChick*

    It’s time to fire this volunteer. As someone said above, The answer to “I am joking and you are misconstruing what I’m saying” is “Whether you’re joking or not, it’s inappropriate and you need to dial it back. It’s not acceptable even as a joke.” but frankly, I think this is beyond the point of having a discussion. Here is a good article about firing volunteers. Good luck!

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      If I remember correctly they’ve already had the conversation, that was the warning. I really feel now it’s just time for this volunteer to go find something else to do with his free time.

  13. mb13*

    Regardless of the argument if someone who has a specific fetish should work in a job that indulges their fetish under no circumstances should he be making comments about it online. People who come to your events will find his post and it will effect the organization. Especially if your organization ever gets school events the last thing you want is the parents to know that this was happening He needs to be let go.

    To put it in another perspective a massage
    specialties can be attracted to their clients, but they should never discuss it in a public space where previous or perspective clients can find out.

  14. Crivens!*

    What is it that makes people think that its okay to involve other people in their kinks without consent?

    (Rhetorical question, I know it’s entitlement and rape culture and a lack of appropriate boundaries)

  15. Jenny*

    If this got out, this could do serious harm to your organization (and given it is on social media, it could very, very easily get out). This is not okay. He needs to be gone yesterday.

  16. Lana Kane*

    He should not be volunteering at these events – aside from the absolutely inexcusable behavior of involving others in his sexual fantasies, he is fetishizing slavery. It’s only a matter of time before someone makes that connection and (appropriately) complains.

  17. Hadespuppy*

    Oh wow. This is right up there with the gentleman (and I use the term loosely) I heard of once who used adult diapers, which would be fine, but deliberately chose the bulkiest, most obvious style, and didn’t change them as needed due to what was later determined to be a humiliation fetish. He’d also screw up in ways that invited public dressings down. It was super gross all around

  18. OrigCassandra*

    At least three US states (California, New York, Oregon) extend sexual-harassment protection to volunteers and interns.

    This guy’s conduct… IANAL, but I’d be concerned about liability over this behavior were I (and the organization) in one of the relevant states. Would a harassment lawsuit against the organization be successful? Heck if I know. Would it at least be plausible? I think it might.

    That’s not what worries me most, of course — OP, my shoulders were up around my EARS reading about these gross shenanigans. I hope you get rid of this guy fast, block him everywhere, and never have to deal with him again. But if this legal wrinkle applies to you, it might be something to have in your back pocket.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Nonprofit organizations that follow best practices will adopt a sexual harassment policy that would include volunteers like the person OP describes. If I were this organization’s lawyer I would not want to hear that the volunteer had been allowed to continue to participate in the org’s activities in any capacity.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      He’s not only doing this to volunteers either, so it doesn’t matter if it’s in those protected states or not! The OP is being sexually harassed right now by this guy, since they are an employee.

  19. Some Sort of Management Consultant*



    Don’t actively live out sexual fantasies at work. Jesus.


  20. MistOrMister*

    Oh my sweet jesus. Can you imagine volunteering at an event and you’re fake whipping someone and they start carrying on moaning and making sexual innuendo? Or being someone attending such and event and witnessing that???

    I agree that this volunteer needs to, at the very least, not be put into any more roles that he could get submissive jollies from. It sounds like he’s getting more bold and I would not be surprised if he didn’t reach the point where he does something inappropriate at an event. OP, you dont want that to happen and you could have prevented it. I am squicked out just thinking about this!!! Blech!!

  21. ANON for Today*

    Wait, so if someone in is into BDSM in their personal life they shouldn’t be allowed to volunteer as a servant for this organization? Not trying to be rude, I feel I’m missing something here. Has he said this is a part of his BDSM on social media?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Yes, that was the point. He’s professional at work, but being exceedingly creepy on social media in a way that is making his intentions obvious to people who see his posts.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        If they are getting off on it *in any way that is perceptible to other people*, no they should not.

        I’m not gonna police thoughts, but actions, including ‘making jokes’ or comments on facebook, mean it’s not ok.

        1. yala*

          I mean, making other people participate in your kink without their consent, even if it’s without their knowledge, is pretty ethically wrong. We can’t “police thoughts” but it seems like someone who’s doing that deliberately is someone who’s bad at boundaries and respect.

        2. Parenthetically*

          I mean, it’s only enforceable if it’s perceptible to others, but I’m still gonna say it’s not okay to bring your kink to work and practice it with non-consenting people, even if those people aren’t hip to your scene.

        3. Turtle Candle*

          Right. If nobody knew it was going on then that would be one thing. But people inherently know it’s going on–the LW at least, and possibly/probably the people who saw his Facebook comments–and so it’s no longer a matter of ‘personal life.’ The LW didn’t go spelunking on Fetlife for stuff; this was actually brought to them.

          Lord knows I wouldn’t want my workplace to judge everything that goes on in my head. But once I tell someone in my workplace about it, it becomes a workplace issue.

          1. xlainx*

            As a kinky person, my rule of thumb is “anything I do in public with my partner should not come across as an obvious kink thing.” My partner is the dominant one, and will pay for meals or tell me to hold his hand as part of our dynamic, but anyone watching wouldn’t think twice.

    2. MuseumChick*

      He wants to volunteer as a servemt to fulfill a sexual kink of his. The other volunteers and visitors would become part of his kink without their consent that is not ok.

      1. ANON for Today*

        It’s not clear thats why he wants to volunteer though. And its not clear his volunteer work is fufilling that kink for him.

        1. earl grey aficionado*

          I think this is the wrong thing to get hung up on at this point. The appearance that this is getting him off is enough. (And it clearly appears that way if others are calling him out.) We can argue about what’s in this guy’s heart all day long but whether he means it or not, his social media behavior makes him a liability for the organization in this role. He’s received a warning and ignored it. It’s time to fire him.

        2. Ethyl*

          LW says in their letter:

          “is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately)”

          So… does, actually, seem clear that his kink is why he wants to volunteer.

    3. Kheldarson*

      The volunteer has made commentary about wanting to be a servant on other people’s posts in relation to the non-profit and is making others uncomfortable with that aspect. Paired with the coordinator’s knowledge that it’s a kink of this volunteer’s, you have a situation where you could be playing into a person’s sexual fantasy without the knowledge of other potential “partners”.

      That’s a problem.

      It’s basically a case of the volunteer should’ve kept quiet to begin with (since coordinator admits that volunteer’s behavior at events has, so far, been fine) but now that the coordinator knows, they may be liable if the volunteer escalates or another volunteer complains more forcibly.

      It’s not about the fact he’s into BDSM generically but that he’s into a specific kink that the volunteer role could facilitate for him. (To put a different spin, if he were into rope play, it wouldn’t be a big issue for the coordinator to know, but the social media commentary would need to still stop. But if they needed someone tied up, volunteer shouldn’t fill that role because now you’d be involving whoever tied the volunteer up into volunteer’s fetish.)

      1. Kesnit*

        The key word is “could,” and that is something that seems to be missing in the OP and a lot of people’s assumptions.

        I’m not seeing the link between the volunteering to be a servant and that he is actually using it as part of his kink. Maybe the social media posts directly address this, but the OP doesn’t say they do. What I see is (1) volunteer likes being a BDSM slave and posts about it on social media and (2) volunteer volunteers to play a servant. What is missing is that the volunteer is actually making the living history events part of his kink. (Again, maybe that link is in the social media posts and just not made clear in the OP.)

        1. ANON for Today*

          Yes! Kesnit this is the point I’m trying to make but less eloquently than you. Just because there is an intersection between his kink and his volunteer work doesn’t mean he’s engaging in his fantasy during his volunteer work.

          In the dr/patient situation, I honestly don’t know that I would care that much. I think someone can do their job and have a kink that relates to it without necessarily having the two bleed into each other. But that’s just me.

          1. Lance*

            Personally, I feel it doesn’t actually matter whether he is or not; what matters is that he’s made people uncomfortable (including the OP) regarding the subject, and there’s way too big of a risk that he is fulfilling his fantasies through this. That alone would make it not okay, and put OP well within their rights (and potentially obligated to, given said risk) dismiss him from this position.

            1. ANON for Today*

              Yes, I think the fact that his posts are making other volunteers uncomfortable means that it’s time to shift his role, and at the very least move him out of those types of roles.

          2. Not Me*

            “is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately)”

            This seems pretty clear cut. There is no “could”, he’s told the OP his intent. The social media posts are just further evidence.

            People who are ok with being unwittingly and unwillingly involved in another person’s sex life are few and far between.

          3. whingedrinking*

            We’re not pulling out the volunteer’s heart and weighing it against a feather teaser here. Maybe he is indeed, enjoying his volunteer role in a completely platonic way and never lets a single kinky thought cross his mind while he’s at work, but that’s not the point. He has said and done things that, in combination, make his coworkers think he’s getting off on the job, or at least wonder whether he might be. That’s not something your coworkers should have grounds to ponder at any length.

            1. xlainx*

              Exactly. A lot of people don’t just enjoy links for sexual reasons, they can be psychologically or sensually satisfying as well. (This is why asexual people can be into kink.) Even if this guy is getting a purely psychological thrill out of it, it’s not cool to explore that in the workplace and on facebook in front of God and everybody. It’s a boundary violation that makes people uncomfortable, regardless of motive

        2. Anax*

          Honestly, “creeping out coworkers” seems like sufficient reason to ask someone to stop volunteering.

          Because this isn’t a job – Servant Dude doesn’t rely on this for income, health insurance, etc. – I think the bar is much lower to say ‘dude, you’re making this suck for everyone else, please change your behavior or go away.’

          It seems to me that one of the main roles of a volunteer coordinator is to make volunteering a pleasant and rewarding experience – and that does mean curating the group to some extent.

          This also isn’t a job for the other volunteers – which means if they’re uncomfortable, there’s a good chance that they just won’t come back, and that’s a huge problem. At work, we’re usually kind of stuck with whatever unpleasant folks we share the office with; when volunteering… not so much.

          I definitely ran into this while on the board of a makerspace, and asking someone to leave for “soft” reasons like “creeping people out” feels really weird and gross. But I also saw directly how people avoided the space, stopped volunteering, and felt unsafe, when someone was being creepy – there was a marked drop in engagement, and that’s a problem for a nonprofit.

          OP – It helped us to write up some formal guidelines for “what behavior we expect, what behavior is unacceptable, when we would ask someone to leave, and the procedure for asking someone to leave,” then asking everyone to sign them. It didn’t cover every case – nonprofits attract the WEIRDEST people – but having things written down helped us to be fair and consistent, and it made our actions more transparent to the membership so there was less speculation about what ‘really’ happened and whether we acted appropriately. If you don’t have those guidelines written down, I would really recommend it.

          1. ANON for Today*

            Hmm, where there specific behaviors you observed with the person that creeped people out? I think it’s better to focus on the behaviors “talks about inappropriate topics, lack of boundaries” than banning someone for making others feel uncomfortable.

            There are a lot of reasons people will feel creeped out, and some are for valid reasons and others are not. I agree with your suggestion to write down expectations of behaviors/guidlines. That makes it very easy for everyone involved to understand when someone is crossing a boundary.

            1. Anax*

              Yeah, I was generalizing – in our case, we thought they were all reasonable, but here’s some specific things that various people did, which contributed to them being asked to leave…

              – Kept leaning REALLY close to women and trying to get their contact information – first by asking, then by asking other people, peeking over their shoulders at their phones, etc.

              – Started screaming at another member, including threats of violence, due to a misunderstanding about the handicapped parking space.

              – Continuously begging others for money, despite repeated requests to stop.

              – Constant presence (12 hours / day), frequent “napping” in the space and lack of hygiene. It was open 24 hours per day, but having this person CONSTANTLY there was freaking people out, as well as obvious concerns about whether they were trying to use it as a secondary residence.

              – Minor safety infraction (left a puffy lithium battery plugged in), followed by a long rant about how the electronics captain was wrong and dumb and this was perfectly safe.

              – Guilt-tripped others into supervising their preteens while they ran “a quick errand”, repeatedly, after being asked to stop. (There were power tools EVERYWHERE, so while minors were allowed, continuous supervision was necessary.)

              There were quite a few other things – I know there were other sexual harassment incidents, a couple other incidents where people endangered themselves, and at least one homophobia issue.

              There’s also, of course, issues we heard about from other makerspaces – like the anarchist makerspace which required unanimous approval to boot someone, and therefore could not boot someone who was making meth in the kitchen because he voted to stay. Or the local makerspace which didn’t enforce sexual harassment policies, and which nearly every female member left because they felt unsafe.

              For the “softer” issues – where people felt uncomfortable, but not unsafe – we had a plan for trying to get the behavior to change, with timelines, and folks would only be asked to leave after exhausting those avenues.

              The specific behaviors were of course what we tried to correct, but… y’know. People will be weird in MANY new and interesting ways, so general guidelines (and guidelines for making guidelines) are also necessary.

              I never expected someone to repeatedly use a school bus to take up half the parking lot on busy nights, or put inappropriate images up to the webcam, or angrily insist that a puffy lithium battery is NOT an explosion risk, but here we are.

        3. Kheldarson*

          The Volunteer has made comments on activity-related social media about wanting to be a servant and serving a man, be punished, etc. So he’s already bringing his kink to work in a manner that he considers “joking”. However, with the knowledge he’s given the coordinator, these “jokes” take on another edge of potentially being his true thoughts (and please note, I’m using “could” and “potentially” simply because I’m not there. Coordinator has to judge it for themselves.)

          Either way, regardless of Volunteer’s “true” intent, he’s making things uncomfortable for other volunteers and participants (as noted by the complaints) and is putting the coordinator in a bad position of potentially allowing someone to unethically fulfill their kink against an non-consenting participant. The social media posts reveal that Volunteer is starting to cross streams; Coordinator needs to nip it in the bud real quick.

        4. AngryAngryAlice*

          Idk… I feel like if I were the volunteer coordinator for, say, people who volunteer to tutor high school seniors, and one of the volunteers privately confided in me that they really got off on teacher/student role play and then made weirdly suggestive comments on social media about their relationship with the students they tutor, that’s more than enough evidence to boot that volunteer from the program for eternity, regardless of whether or not I know for sure that they were getting off on the whole thing.

    4. Princesa Zelda*

      So, the issue isn’t that he’s into BDSM. It’s that he’s bringing it into the workplace. He talks publicly about how servant-master play is his thing, and by itself that would be fine. However, by volunteering to be act as a servant in a work context, he’s making work into a scene, which is absolutely not fine. Alison’s analogy with a doctor who talks about being into doctor-patient roleplay is spot-on. Being a doctor is fine, and being into doctor-patient roleplay is fine, but being both at the same time? Most assuredly not fine, and if I knew or vaguely suspected that my doctor was using treating me as a scene I’d probably never seek medical attention from anyone in that practice ever again — same goes for the living history museum.

      1. Anonapots*

        It reminds me of the letter writer who had an employee who was in a BDSM relationship and wanted people at work to refer to her partner as her master. No. Absolutely not. Stop it. Please leave.

        Spoiler: She did, in fact, end up leaving.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        Also, per the letter, he actually told the LW that that’s why he wants to act in that role, with a specifically male master. It’s not guesswork, it’s what he said. “I want to be a servant to a male master” (as against being a servant to a female mistress, or, you know, a blacksmith or cheesemaker or third son or farmhand) “because of my interest in BDSM” doesn’t require any assumptions, leaps of logic, or guesswork to interpret.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If they’re into it without saying anything that’s fine.
      Second paragraph: “he divulged this to me privately”
      More importantly, elsewhere in the letter, LW says his comments on social media & behavior have ALREADY made other participants uncomfortable. And I’ll add that’s the ones who are uncomfortable AND self-assured enough to say something to staff.
      Once it spills over onto others, yes it becomes problematic.
      I knew a couple who did the full BDSM scene and for a while attended historic re-enactments as merchants who sold (among other things) hand-crafted flagellation devices, which were religious tools in that period. That’s what they showed in the documentation books on display. Anyone who asked about their use as toys could learn more. Their behavior did not involve anyone who didn’t inquire & express an interest.
      That’s the difference to me.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      No, if he’s bringing BDSM into the job he can’t volunteer here.

      He can do what he wants in the rest of his life, but he can’t do it at work/volunteer job.

      1. ANON for Today*

        Doesn’t sound like he is bringing it to work, but I agree with the other commenters here about it’s still lack of appropriatness.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          He gets off on being a slave. He is acting as a slave in these reenactments. How is that *not* bringing it to work?

          1. ANON for Today*

            I mean this might be an agree to disagree thing, but I think someone can be aroused by role play but still be able to engage in the activity without it being a sexual event.

            1. Delphine*

              From the letter: ” I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent.”

              1. ANON for Today*

                Thanks Delphine, this is what I had missed in the original post. I will take LW at their word that they know this for good reasons.

                1. Turtle Candle*

                  Per the letter, the person specifically told the LW that he wanted this role because of his interest in BDSM. It’s not “he roleplays a servant and he’s interested in BDSM,” it’s expressly “he roleplays a servant because he’s interested in BDSM, and he has told at least one co-volunteer as much.” The LW knows for good reason because the guy told him.

              2. Choux*

                I’ll admit that I know very little about kink, but like, if he’s just gathering material for his imagination later that night, is he still involving them in his sexual fantasies? And if so, isn’t that basically happening all the time everywhere around us? You see a hot guy on the street, you go home and have some “alone time” while thinking about him? Your professor is cute, you go home and renact the day’s lesson with him but let your imagination run wild as to how it might have played out alternatively?

                1. Jack Be Nimble*

                  I think it’s a grey area — obviously, everyone draws on aspects of their daily life to embroider their fantasies. To me, the issue is the intentionality — you’re walking down the street to get to where you’re going, not to scope out strangers to fantasize about. You’re taking lessons to learn things, not to gather materials for your fantasies. If you’re taking going out and interacting with unwitting strangers specifically to gather fodder for steamy daydreams, it starts to cross lines.

                  For example, you’re into redheads, see someone cute at the grocery store, and fantasize about them. Fine. If you’re into redheads and hanging out at Irish dance competitions specifically to encounter redheads — yuck.

                2. New Jack Karyn*

                  Jack, I think you’re still in the clear going to the Irish dance competition. Just don’t be crude to/around the redheads. Observe, enjoy–don’t leer or ogle.

                  And don’t go to the pub’s FB page and ‘joke’ about how hot the dancers are, etc.

                3. whingedrinking*

                  @ JackBeNimble: it’s also about the impact it has on other people. If you go to the gym with the absolutely pure intention of working out, and then when you get there you start visibly salivating over the attractive person doing squat thrusts in the corner, you are being gross and you’re grossing out innocent gym-goers. If you go to collect material for your spank bank, I the omniscient creator-god of this thought experiment think that’s not morally excellent but you’re not actually hurting anyone.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              “I think someone can be aroused by role play but still be able to engage in the activity without it being a sexual event.”

              I get that not all specific events might be sexual events, but that’s not a risk the organization is well-served to take. Somebody who makes racy comments on other people’s FB posts has already demonstrated that he can’t keep this figuratively in his pants and is a loose cannon, so trusting him to not bring the fetish that he’s already publicly stated that he has, to an event where he can play a role that could indulge it, is naive at best.

              1. ANON for Today*

                See, I disagree. I think he has clearly done something that makes the LW know he is bringing that kink to work, but I don’t agree that it’s because he’s posting that on other’s social media. It’s unclear if the comments are on the posts of other volunteers or just the volunteer’s friend’s posts. I don’t think it’s being a loose cannon to post on your friend’s social media about a kink you have- especially not knowing the content of the post he’s commenting on.

                1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  The OP has said that this volunteer told him about the fact he’s into BDSM, and specifically the master-servant relationship. He’s only playing the part of a servant (and only with the gender he’s interested in), and something about either his actions, comments on OTHER PEOPLE’S* social media, or both are bothering the other volunteers. It also sounds like he has been spoken to about his behaviors and brushed off concerns/criticisms as “I was just joking.” I think it’s the totality of everything that makes it a case of this particular volunteer needs to find a different group.

                  I don’t think the volunteer is evil, maybe just needs to learn better boundaries. I also don’t think you can’t ever be involved in something out in the greater world that is part of your more private life, it’s again all about the boundaries and keeping good strong ones in place.

                  * I capitalized other people’s in this case because the implication is that other members of the group are posting about the group on their social media accounts, and volunteer’s “uncomfortable” posts are not just on his personal page, but on the pages of other people who may be worried about what bosses/friends/family will think when these posts are seen. I think that adds to the bad boundaries on the volunteer’s part and why it may be time to part ways and join a different group.

            3. Holly*

              Aroused by role play is one thing – but if role play is your JOB then you are being aroused at work which is inappropriate. Actors acting out sex scenes are not supposed to be getting off – it’s a workplace. Same safety rules apply even though it is acting out sex.

          2. Kesnit*

            A person can be into “daddy play,” then go visit their parents and NOT have sexual fantasy about their father. A person can enjoy “medical play,” but not get their rocks off at a real medical appointment. Heck, a person can enjoy vanilla sex with their spouse, but can go out to dinner with that same spouse and not be thinking about sex throughout dinner.

            1. IsbenTakesTea*

              I don’t disagree. But if we believe the OP as per site rules, the person involved has given enough evidence that he IS thinking about sexual stuff in this context to make them uncomfortable. It’s not that the OP has learned discreet private information and is projecting the possibility of the volunteer sexualizing his work: the volunteer has explicitly shown that he cannot or will not keep his sexual comments or desires separate from his work. That is a fair (and depending on the explicitness and context of the comments, legally required) point to address.

    7. Kelly L.*

      If, hypothetically, he could keep it entirely within his own head so that no one would ever notice, it would technically be unethical but kind of a victimless crime…but I have my doubts about a person’s ability to keep it under wraps. And yes, he posted about it on social media.

    8. FormerFirstTimer*

      No, he’s being creepy and has told a volunteer at the org what he is doing. He’s also making other people uncomfortable with his online and in-person.

    9. Quill*

      Not if they post about using their job for their gratification on the public facebook account under their legal name that can be accessed by the public, for SURE

      1. Kesnit*

        You are making an assumption. The OP does NOT say the social media posts say the volunteer is posting on social media about getting his rocks off posing as a servant at a living history. The OP says the volunteer posts about BSDM on his social media, and that he volunteers to be a servant. Other people are making the jump from BSDM to “getting his rocks off by volunteering to be a servant.”

        Perhaps the social media posts actually do make that link. The OP isn’t clear about that. As written, there is a huge assumption being made.

        1. Ethyl*

          Nobody is making a logical jump here, LW literally says the volunteer told him that he wanted to be a servant because of his interest in BDSM. Here’s the relevant quote:

          “[He] is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately).”

          1. atma*

            Yes, I’m reading it different as well. To me it seems more like method acting, like researching about the role of servant/master. Much like you could probably have clothes custom made from a professional seamstress without engaging her in anything non-consensual even if the cloths were alter used in that context. So even if he’s later using the knowledge in his kink situation, while he was doing the volunteer work it wasn’t necessarily sexual.
            So I think maybe the BDSM is a bit of a red herring. If he’s ACTING creepy, then remove him. If he’s consistently acting professionally, I think that should be taken at face value.

            This is very similar to not hiring someone who is gay, because he COULD be fantasising about you in his head. Or someone heterosexual for that matter.

            So if he’s acting creepy, if he gives off a creepy vibe, act on it. And if he is not, no one at the event will be disturbed.

    10. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      The issue isn’t the BDSM. It’s having people indulge him sexually without their consent or knowledge.

      1. ANON for Today*

        It’s not clear to me these people are indulging him sexually. Only that he has a kink and there is a connection between that kink and his volunteer work.

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          This, to me, signifies that he is getting sexual gratification from this:

          “Over the last six months, his comments on Facebook and in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant and I hesitate to partner him with a “master,” because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent. “

          1. ANON for Today*

            Yes, you’re right the LW does say he knows he is involving the LW in his fantasies. That is a more clear justification.

          2. Jenny*

            Yeah trying to argue he’s not bringing his kink to work when it is *right there* in the letter is a losing argument. This guy is indefensible.

            1. ANON for Today*

              AAM frequently asks us to take letter writers at their word. I agree, if LW states they know- then we’ll trust them.

            2. anne_not_carrot*

              It’s literally in the letter that the volunteer told the OP this though. I’m confused that this isn’t clear?

          3. Myrin*

            Yeah, I felt the same. I get what the commenters arguing differently mean but I’m getting the sense from basically the whole letter that in actually reading these social media posts and in actually talking to this guy, it’s very clear to the OP that his coworker does indeed get sexually aroused by his work.

            1. Quill*

              Sometimes you learn these things in ways that don’t translate to text: the guy who waggles his eyebrows at you when asking an otherwise 100% unobjectionable question, for example.

    11. MCL*

      I mean, if he had been more discreet about his kink, he probably could have continued to volunteer until the end of time, because who would know unless he was being super obvious. But now he IS being super obvious on social media and blabbed to the volunteer coordinator that this type of role-play is interesting to him explicitly because of his interest in BDSM, so now the volunteer coordinator is put in the position of facilitating this guy’s sexual fantasies whenever he schedules the volunteer to portray a servant. Involving co-workers (or fellow volunteers) in a sexual fantasy without their consent is not okay.

      1. ACDC*

        This! If no one knew, it really wouldn’t be a problem. But since he’s parading it all over social media, it becomes a problem. Especially since others have already mentioned to the coordinator that they are uncomfortable.

    12. starsaphire*

      100% this has nothing to do with BDSM.

      If this guy were running the blacksmith’s booth, and commenting on social media that the sound of the hammers got him off, and getting all excited at whoever was striking the hammer, and the person using the hammers told me s/he was creeped out, this guy would need to be asked not to return. Not to the blacksmith’s booth, and not to the entire faire/reenactment/plantation/whatever.

    13. animaniactoo*

      Not if the only reason he’s volunteering is to feed his sexual fantasies.

      If he can’t be delegated to play a master or another role, the volunteering is not about the organization, it’s about the role-play for him and it is completely inappropriate to use the organization for that – no matter how professional he is about doing it in the moment.

    14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think the post about an employee wanting people to call her boyfriend “master” has a helpful discussion for why this situation is inappropriate.

      The problem is not that he’s into BDSM. The problem is that he’s trying to use his role as a volunteer, and the resources of the museum, to engage in non-consensual sex play and sexual gratification with other volunteers and the public. It’s the lack of consent, coupled with the misuse of the museum’s resources and his behavior, that make his ongoing participation in historical reenactments a problem.

      OP has noted that this guy has talked about his sexual fantasies regarding playing a “servant” role (in a BDSM context) directly with OP and repeatedly via social media. He’s asked to play a servant in order to satisfy those sexual fantasies. That alone is not an appropriate workplace exchange. But once you add in others who are not aware and thus cannot consent to participating in that sexual conduct, OP has a heightened responsibility to remove the volunteer so that OP is not creating harmful conditions for the other volunteers.

    15. Observer*

      What he thinks in his head and what he does on his own time in private is his business.

      What is the OP’s business – and what the OP EXPLICITLY stated – is that he is making comments about how he’s getting his fantasies fulfilled in his role at the organization and he is doing do very publicly.

      Choosing to ignore that doesn’t do anything to bolster your case.

      1. ANON for Today*

        Reading the post the volunteer has never stated that his fantasies are fufilled at the organization? I think he’s saying he is into a certain type of role play- but I can’t tell what if anything he mentions on social media about the organization

    16. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      “Has he said this is a part of his BDSM on social media?”

      That’s literally in the post, yes.

      1. ANON for Today*

        He behaves appropriately with volunteers and visitors at the historic sites where he portrays a servant, but on Facebook he makes a lot of “joking” comments on other people’s posts about wanting to serve men, be humiliated, be punished, etc. that I, knowing that he is not joking, find very uncomfortable to read.

        I’ve read the post several times, and I still am not sure. Is he saying on social media that he is into serving men/humiliation or is he saying that he has this need fufilled when he’s volunteering. That was the question I was asking, and I disagree with you that it is literally in the post. It’s open to interpretation.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          The fact that you are even asking that question means there is an obvious corollary and automatically makes it inappropriate.

          1. ANON for Today*

            No, because I’m not asking if there is a obvious corollary, I’m trying to understand what is *literally* being said in the posts.

            1. animaniactoo*

              My takeaway: The fact that he is getting off on his role was said privately to someone (OP) who would then be in a position to be the person he was getting off on – without said person’s consent, simply because of the nature of the roles.

              Separately, he is behaving on social media in such a way as to make multiple people uncomfortable with the comments he is making – whether they are aware that he is into BDSM or not – and that anyone who was aware of the very public comments would have cause to be uncomfortable with the idea of him performing this role.

          2. Kesnit*

            No, actually it’s not clear at all. The OP does not say under what context the volunteer makes his BSDM posts. The OP specifically does NOT say that the volunteer’s BSDM posts are in response to posts about living history events.

            I would also point out that the section of the letter you quoted (“wanting to serve men, be humiliated, be punished, etc. “), with the possible exception of “serving,” is far in excess of anything that would happen at a living history. (Technically a servant bringing a drink would be serving, which could happen at a living history.) If the volunteer gets off on punishment and humiliation, he likely ISN’T getting that at a living history.

            1. Alexandra Lynch*

              It wouldn’t surprise me if he was trying to set up situations where, as a servant, he must be corrected by the person he is serving, and is saying, “It’s in the primary sources, you have to slap my face and call me an idiot!” well….. that’s not because he’s worried so much about historical accuracy as…. he’s enjoying the action, and will, ah, enjoy it more in memory, and enjoys the fact that other people are watching this. He isn’t considering at all that the guy who’s supposed to slap his face is deeply uncomfortable with the idea and doesn’t want to do it. He isn’t considering that for some people in the public, this would be highly triggering and shocking, and they don’t expect to see this in the reenactment. And he isn’t considering that it exposes the reenactment to liability if the face-slapping is done wrong and causes harm.

        2. evilbunny*

          When I read the letter my conclusion was similar to yours. The issue seemed to be that the guy was making inappropriate comments and references to BDSM when responding to other volunteers’ social media posts. This made other volunteers feel creeped out. Because the guy has said he sexually fantasizes about other volunteers on social media, they don’t want to work with him when he reinacts being a servant.

          I think whether or not this guy is sexualizing the reinactment, is focusing on the wrong issu – The issue I think should’ve be the focus is should someone have to work with another person who has told them on social that they have sexual fantasies about them and commented in sexuality inappropriate ways on their social media feed?

          The answer is no, any volunteer organization should eject a volunteer who is being a creep on social media, you don’t need the dress up part of this scenario to make the volunteers’ behavior inappropriate.

          The volunteers should have been kicked out the first time he told another volunteer that he sexually fantasize about them, and should currently be kicked out for inappropriate social media comments. Not for hypothetically getting of on dressing like a servant (which is not clear from the letter is even happening).

    17. hbc*

      Look, let’s grant that he *is* being perfectly professional at work in thought and deed, and he only lets his hormones fly when he’s doing the servant thing outside of his volunteer/workspace. He still needs to be aware of appearances and not make constant “jokes” that will obviously make people feel like he’s doing bad things at work. A doctor with a doctor-patient kink has to keep those two worlds separate. If you get off on touching hair, none of your customers or fellow stylists should know, or at least not face regular reminders.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        Exactly. The OP spoke to him about it. He is aware that this is how it’s being perceived. Perhaps if he had said he was joking and then discontinued the social media posts/comments, it would be one thing, but he’s persisting in it.

  22. Quill*

    NOOOOOPE. Not work appropriate! Nobody coming to your place of work is consenting to this! Do not involve your coworkers, not to mention random facebook aquaintances, in anything tied to sex or kink without their 100% informed consent.

    This is like… kink 101. This volunteer needs a reality check.

  23. FormerFirstTimer*

    Well, color me thoroughly creeped out. I would probably leave out the whole “involving other people in his fantasies” and just go straight to the social media behavior. The fact that people have actually mentioned the fact that they find it creepy should be enough to keep him away from attendees. I would also recommend instituting a social media policy for all volunteers, making it clear that they can’t be making people uncomfortable with their comments on the organizations (I assume that’s where at least some of the comments are made) social media posts. If you wanted to underline your reasoning, just say that he is making other volunteers uncomfortable and it’s not acceptable.

    1. evilbunny*

      This was my thinking as well.

      Being a creep on social media to other volunteers should get you immediately bounced. Telling another volunteer you sexually fantasize about them should get you immediately bounced.

      Maybe getting off because you’re dressing up like a servant is almost beside the point

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        Honestly, it strikes me as the same principle as the Tarot Boss/Hypothetical Praying On Issues Boss a week or so back: there are contexts in which this particular behavior can be pretty harmless and not interfere with your work or co-workers. Once you start telling people at the office about that behavior, exactly zero of those contexts apply.

  24. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    Based on the social media behavior, it’s decent odds that his behaving impeccably while on the job will eventually slip. And THAT is something you really, really, don’t want.

    1. Carlie*

      And when he does, he will get in trouble, and will then throw LW under the bus with “Well, LW knew and didn’t have a problem with it, so what’s the big deal?”

      You really don’t want this.

  25. Dust Bunny*

    OK, I have zero problem with BDSM, but . . .

    . . . you do not bring your sex life to work. Period.

    I rather suspect that even if your job is sexually-oriented, there is only so much of your personal leanings that is appropriate to share while on the job. But if your job is not sexually-oriented, that amount is zero.

    Also, as somebody above pointed out, this is fetishizing slavery/servitude, which is an even higher level of Not OK, as is involving other people without their consent. Yeah, he cannot participate in these events if this is his motivation.

    1. Jenny*

      This. Ignoring sexual misconduct around children is unforgivable, in my opinion. Like close the organization and salt the earth bad. If he’s making creepy comments about getting off at his work, he needed to be gone already.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      There’s no conversation about this ever happening around minors. Please don’t go down this pathway, it’s actively harmed LGBTQ people over the years when their sexuality was being tossed under the “Think about the kids!” bus.

      He’s behaving at events, presumably due to the fact they have children or just the public. He’s acting out around other adults and it’s still not okay, keep it about the behavior he’s exhibiting.

      1. Jenny*

        This isn’t remotely equivalent to that. If a guy was making creepy comments to women on social media and sexually harassing women entirely because he was a big ol cis hetero creep, I would still not want kids around the guy at his work and question an organization who let him harass people around kids.

      2. Rae*

        Living history events often include entire families. I simply meant that sexual misconduct around adults is very different than sexual misconduct around children from a legal (and reputation) sense.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I’m absolutely on board with getting rid of this guy. But there’s no indication that he’s behaved inappropriately around kids, in a way that anyone would notice. So let’s dial that one back, please.

  26. Scarlet*

    I’m with Alison on this one. You cannot let this guy continue to volunteer, knowing what he is doing.

    Also, I have to wonder if he’s ever really been “checked” on this before. Has anyone ever told him this kind of stuff is not okay? Because if he has ever been even close to the BDSM community and shared this stuff, they would have shut this down yesterday. So really if you look at it that way, you’re doing him (and by proxy those around him) a huge favor.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Or he’s doing it here because he *has* been shut down elsewhere but enjoys being the rulebreaker/thorn under everyone’s saddle.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, there are PLENTY of people who are estranged from kink or poly communities because they crept on the people there, and who continue to not take people’s consent seriously under a variety of excuses.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah I was wondering this then I realized that he’s probably been kicked out of the scene or been rejected due to his inability to draw firm boundaries.

      This is the kind of person who you can’t trust and this is something that the foundation is all about trust in the end.

    3. New Jack Karyn*

      That’s assuming a lot. Not all scenes are great about policing and checking this stuff. And, in the kink world, the aspects of it that are inappropriate (work/volunteer related, nonconsenting people) might not have come up.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, there’s often a No True Scotsman about this kind of thing–but while the vast majority of BDSM scenes and practitioners are serious business about consent, the truth is that some aren’t, either maliciously or by conveniently overlooking missing stairs. There are bad apples, and bad apple-scenes, in any group. I know that The Pervocracy has spoken about this specifically.

  27. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    He also gets his jollies from “joking” and making you all uncomfortable, this is some voyeurism at play. So he’s really crossing his streams here and you should relieve him of his duties to protect everyone involved.

    1. MsSolo*

      Yeah, this is my read – he wants people to be annoyed and creeped out by his behaviour. He never had to comment on anything or tell the LW it was his kink – he could have simply enjoyed himself in professional silence and gone home with a very thorough sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. He wants other people to know he’s getting off on it and involving them in his scenes, not just without their consent but by letting them know he’s trapped them in the scene with him (in the sense that most people will feel obliged to stay in character in front of the visitors so they don’t also get enmeshed in it).

      1. Quill*

        I met people like this when I worked at ren faire. Not much was done about them then (over a decade ago) but in this day and age I’d hope they’d get thrown in the pond or otherwise escorted out.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yep. There are literally clubs out there to join to share this world with others who are “in” the whole kink scene.

        I don’t fault him for possibly putting out feelers to the OP but when someone recoils or says “nope not for me” whatever the obviously negative reaction is, you say “Oh I’m sorry to make you uncomfortable, I’ll never speak of it again.” and then you don’t.

        This can also result in problems for the business if he’s propositioning others on their premises and they don’t put a stop to it.

        He’s not just into being humiliated, he’s into watching others be humiliated as well most likely from his behaviors here.

    2. Hedgehug*

      I had no idea this was even a thing. I have an acquaintance, and suddenly, his incredibly annoying troll behaviour completely makes sense. ….ugh…..

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s the same thing that makes people expose themselves to others and do things in places they may be caught. He may not get that far but yeah…it’s often escalating behavior =(

        It’s a form of control issues.

  28. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    Yes to what everyone said. This isn’t acceptable and it’s violating to your other participants/volunteers.

    That said, if for some reason you absolutely, truly can’t get rid of him, every event has some unpleasant solo work that needs to be done that no one else wants to do. Give it to him. Let him patrol the grounds shoveling up horse poop or clean ye olde timey porta-outhouse or empty trashcans into ye olde timey dumpster or something. Alone.

    1. Fool*

      I hate to say it, but being ordered to perform some unpleasant or degrading task by an authoritative man might… not be a deterrent to this dude.

  29. Storie*

    It seems there organization would be vulnerable to harassment-type lawsuits if other participants discovered what he is doing and that the nonprofit (you, OP)knew and didn’t say anything. So they will back you up .

  30. Alexandra Lynch*

    As someone kinky, living in kinky relationships, this is NOT OK. He should have kept his big mouth shut about any gratification (it’s not sexual per se, but it’s sort of next to it) that he was getting from volunteering. Since he opened it, well, I think that you get to say, “That doesn’t come to work” and fire him.

    My boyfriend and I (I am the dominant one) work very hard to make our lives both work for our needs and appear pretty unnoticeable to the rest of the world that doesn’t kink the way we do. That’s just what you have to do in life when you’re kinky. You don’t get to shove it on to the rest of the world.

    My advice to the fellow is to find a partner with whom he can play overtly kinky games and then, having it largely out of his system, he can do other things vanilla without this sort of difficulty. He’ll have time for that when he gets let go from this position.

  31. Sharpie*

    (First time commenting here… Please bear with me!)

    I’ve done reenactment/living history, and you get families with kids of all ages at these events. Using the cover of a historical persona/type to get your jollies on in that kind of environment is just NOPE. And that’s without the total skeeviness of what it’s like for the other volunteers and people working with this guy – and especially the person playing his employer in the setting. (I would use the historically correct term ‘master’ at this point, but you can see the problem with that!)

    If he shows up and does this and it comes out – which it likely will, because people gossip! – this whole thing will lead to a bad name for the specific event, the people running it and even, potentially, living history/reenactment as a whole – the ordinary paying people who watch these events don’t realise the hard work and sheer amount of research that go into accurately portraying someone from a historical period of history. Never mind the work that goes into the clothing and equipment. It’s so so so easy to lose credibility among the wider onlookers who aren’t involved with it.

    This guy needs to be told that he can’t continue to use the field of living history in this way. The other volunteers need to feel safe, and so do all the (presumably paying!!) members of the public who will be at this event.

    If he wants to take part in a BDSM scene, he needs to go to somewhere where that’s appropriate, like a BDSM club. This sort of event is not an appropriate place for BDSM activities, even covert ones.

    1. AKchic*

      I would agree with you up to a point. Many patrons don’t do the same research as the volunteers and workers of living history / reenactments and wouldn’t actually be able to tell much of a difference. Unless he were overtly kinky, or so in-your-face about his kink, most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between kink and bad acting/stereotypes.

      I have this problem as a woman (and wench) in a renaissance fair. Some days, a good portion of my time is spent protecting my 16-24 year old castmates from drunken guys who assume that corsets/bodices = consent, and that *all* women in costume are subservient to men in general because “that’s how it was back then” (yeah, not really).

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        So very agreed (also end up being a serving wench type role). It’s amazing how the corset can make some guys forget all common sense/public behavior and decorum standards.

  32. LGC*

    …I was about to say that Sally has moved on to bigger and better things!

    Anyway. I’m kind of on the fence. I think the big issue with Sal is his social media usage, really – the way I’m reading it is that his fantasies don’t directly involve his volunteer role, right? So much of this depends on his feelings – is he clearly fantasizing about patrons?

    On the other hand, I think what’s clear is that he’s making YOU feel unsafe. And that’s enough reason to ask him not to return – you’re important as well. If an employee said he had sexual fantasies about me and then just said he was joking and I shouldn’t be upset, I’d be pretty incensed. As a coordinator, it seems like you have some leverage here.

    1. JustaTech*

      Depending on the time period that they’re working in, many servant positions involved pretty intimate actions like dressing the master and mistress of the house (and sometimes the upper servants as well). And it’s not just helping you into a jacket or tying the tie, it’s things like buttoning pants (again, depending on the period).

      So that could go very inappropriate very fast. Being the under-groom shoveling horse poop? Less so.

      I totally agree that the consequence of being a creep is that one is asked to leave. OP, you’re well within reason to ask this guy to leave.

      1. LGC*

        True, although LW says Sal is appropriately behaved when he volunteers. (I’ve settled on calling him Sal. #dealwithit) And I’m not sure of the exact nature of his social media posts from the letter – I’d be more bothered about patron conflict if the posts tied (oh nooooooo) his fetish and that specific history period together than if he was just posting “RAW ME DADDY” on LW’s wall.

        (I am using a LOT of phrases here that I’d never think I’d use here today.)

        I agree that there are a lot of ways this COULD go south, but I think that the real issue is that Sal is harassing the LW, and LW seems to be minimizing his actual discomfort as opposed to potential patron discomfort. LW – you have enough grounds to boot him for perving on you!

      2. Sharpie*

        And of course the guy who’s BEING dressed hasn’t consented to being involved in this guy’s fantasies.

        It’s wildly inappropriate and he needs to be gone.

  33. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP is one of the volunteer coordinators? Fire this volunteer, period. As one of the volunteer coordinators, OP has a responsibility to the organization, any other volunteer coordinators, and the volunteers they coordinate to remove this person from the ranks of the volunteers.

  34. Jennifer*

    This is extremely offensive either way. I’m not sure where this is taking place, but I know of a similar situation at a plantation in Louisiana where there are volunteers that portray slaves in the antebellum south and many visitors have made sexually inappropriate comments to them, particularly the women. Wherever this is taking place, he is making light of what happened instead of honoring the people he has been hired to portray.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Sadly, this goes hand in hand with the (mostly white) people who are uncomfortable when the actual horrors of slavery are not downplayed at plantations and they have to face exactly what was so wrong about slavery in a very real and present way, not some abstract way that seems like it was all another time and we’ve all recovered from it and nobody should have any issues in the present or be “made to feel ashamed” for being part of the dominant skin color population.

        1. Jennifer*

          That’s exactly it. They make “jokes” so they don’t have to face how horrible this actually was and the long-term effects that last to this day.

  35. AKchic*

    “I’m joking and you’re misconstruing” (or “I’m only joking” or “you/they can’t take a joke) is the *oldest* line in the book for harassers. Please know that cishet men are not the only ones who can harass (sexually or otherwise), they are just the ones we are generally trained to recognize and somewhat trained to handle in a professional setting.

    This is classic / textbook sexual harassment coupled with unconsenting kink / fetish / fantasy play brought into the real world.

    He is a volunteer. He is not obligated to be there in any way, and honestly, how many people is he potentially chasing away with his overt harassment? People have outright said he is “creepy” and “obvious”. That’s just the people who have spoken up. There are going to be a lot more who are quietly disgusted who have either already left, who are looking to leave, or will leave with very little provocation. He is not worth keeping. Especially when word gets ’round that he has been kept on despite you knowing his proclivities, which would indicate a tacit approval, which would signal that the organization itself approves (or at the very least, doesn’t care). We know that’s not true, but it’s the message that at least one aggrieved person will take away from the inaction of keeping him.

    Discuss it with upper management/HR. Figure out how to separate the organization from him. Then, be very clear. He’s been spoken to multiple times. No, he’s not joking and everyone is quite clear on it and he has made multiple people uncomfortable. He is no longer welcome to volunteer at events.

  36. QCI*

    Everyone seems to be caught up in their belief that BDSM has to be sexual or sexually gratifying. Kinks don’t have to have anything to do with sex, and OP doesn’t mention anything about it other than the guy is into slave/master dynamics. The only problem that you can specifically address is the social media comments.

    Also, don’t kink shame, everyone has something about themselves that someone else would find gross or offensive.

    1. Observer*

      Sorry, you’re just making stuff up here. Most of the commenters have explicitly pointed out that the problem is not the kink, but the fact that he is using others without their consents AND that he is making this know very publicly in the guise of “jokes” on OTHER people’s posts. That’s just gross. Doesn’t matter if it’s kink or not, homosexual or not, or even “purely” sexual. You don’t get to impose your fantasies on others.

    2. ACDC*

      “Kinks don’t have anything to do with sex” – Sure Jan.
      Also, most of the comments have an issue with the lack of consent happening here, not what the volunteer is specifically in to.

      1. Anon-ish*

        It genuinely doesn’t always. People do kink for all kinds of reasons, many of which are sexual or sex-adjacent, but not all.

        But that’s ultimately irrelevant here, because even if it’s not being done for sexual reasons, consent is still necessary!

      2. Alexandra Lynch*

        Many of them don’t. Certainly I enjoy control in and out of the bedroom, but I don’t get sexually excited planning the menu, even though knowing he doesn’t eat anything I don’t approve of is part of our everyday kink.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      It’s not about the kink, it’s about the consent. I’ve spent time in the BDSM community, and
      1) Using non-consenting people for your play is unethical.
      2) If you decide to be unethical, then you should expect (and deserve!) repercussions if you’re found out.
      3) If you post on Facebook, you’re gonna be found out.

      1. QCI*

        OP said the guy hasn’t acted inappropriately towards anyone during the events. Saying this involves his kink is projection at this point and a ton of bias from the peanut gallery. If OP never knew about the kink this letter would be “can I do something about the guy leaving creepy/weird social media posts”, followed by comments along the lines of “tell him to stop or don’t bring him back anymore” and that would be the end of it. Nobody would mention consent or using people or “getting his jollies off”, and until he brings his kink directly into the world and makes that the issue, it’s ultimately not an issue.

        1. Lance*

          ‘until he brings his kink directly into the world and makes that the issue, it’s ultimately not an issue.’

          That’s flat-out not good risk management, though, in light of all the information OP has.

          1. QCI*

            The information he has is that BDSM has done the job without issue and only has a problem with the social media posts. The kink has not been an issue that OP has made us aware of.

            1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

              Except he has been made aware:

              “I have known for several years that one volunteer (we are both gay) is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately).”

              1. QCI*

                “He behaves appropriately with volunteers and visitors at the historic sites where he portrays a servant”
                Do you fire a bartender for being in AA?

                1. Jenny*

                  How is that remotely equivalent? You would fire a bartender who made comments to his boss and on social media that his kink was, say, watching people drink beer.

                2. Jules the 3rd*

                  “his comments… in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant… because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without… consent. “

                1. QCI*

                  Would it be ok if the fact the guy was gay was what made him uncomfortable? The comments can be a problem and worth termination if op believes so, the fact he’s into BDSM is not a terminable offense.

                2. Jenny*

                  Because there is no action in being gay. This guy is getting off on master/servant role play based on the work. That’s a complete false equivalence.

                3. Jules the 3rd*

                  It would be firable if the guy was hitting on OP / making sexual comments / etc. It’s about the unwelcome actions (telling OP about his kink; sharing kink-related jokes on facebook) and their persistence, not the exact subjects.

                  Look, BDSM’s a fine thing. But it is not appropriate to link your BDSM play with work. It’s like someone bringing their marital conflict into work, asking co-workers to weigh in on who’s right or not – not appropriate. The fact that BDSM often has a sexual component just makes it more charged.

                4. Jules the 3rd*

                  And I want to modify this comment, because I missed something before: OP says the guy is still making comments to OP in real life despite being asked not to, comments that tell OP that OP is an object in the volunteer’s sexual fantasy.

                  The role can not be separated from the kink and sexuality, because the volunteer is continuing to link them. This isn’t about ‘BDSM might have a sexual component’, this is ‘this guy is talking about sexual feelings regularly and in a way that makes me aware that I’m an object of his sexual fantasies, despite being asked to stop.’ The BDSM is just the flavor of sexual feeling.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          The volunteer has brought it straight back into the world: by telling OP about his kink. The posts are the *next* level of non-consensual involvement, not the first.

          And that’s escalating in a way that means there’s a track record of this volunteer violating boundaries and not being responsive to people setting them (joke!), which is a good predictor of him violating boundaries within the role instead of just around it.

          I understand that it can be hard to recognize this behavior as not ok, because it is so very normalized in our society.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yes. It’s hard for me to buy “this is his personal life and his business and it has nothing to do with his personal behavior so you’re all just kinkshaming” when he was the one who brought it up first. To the LW. If you bring this deliberately into the workplace, then it’s kind of a bit much to say “it shouldn’t have any impact on my workplace.”

            Had the guy not brought it up, nothing probably would have come of it. But he did.

        3. Beth*

          My answer to “can I do something about the guy leaving creepy/weird social media posts” would also be yes, you can and should! This is a volunteer position; no one is relying on it for their livelihood, no one is entitled to have it. Being creepy is likely to chase off other volunteers and, if it gets out more broadly, possibly even give the organization a bad name. He’s already been told it’s a problem and he’s continued to do it. That’s plenty of reason to end his time there, and that would be the case regardless of the kind of ‘creepy’ involved.

    4. Quill*

      You can’t involve anyone in nonsexual kink without their consent, regardless. Much less post about it on social media under your legal name where it can get back to them and make them uncomfortable.

      The BDSM or relationship to sex is not the problem, it’s the lack of consent.

    5. Lance*

      I don’t think anyone’s kink shaming here? But regardless of the motives or any such thing behind his kink, the pure and simple fact is, he’s bringing it into the workplace. That’s made crystal clear by him spelling out to the OP what his kink is, and no matter what sort of satisfaction he gets from it, the pure and simple fact is: that’s not okay. OP is well within their rights to say so, even just based on what he told them.

      1. QCI*

        If the role isn’t played buy BDSM guy, it’s going to be someone else. What’s the difference? They’re portrayed the same, but one guy enjoys it slightly differently (and as far as we know completely to himself) but suddenly it’s not ok because of his extracurricular interests?

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Because this guy has made at least semi-public statements about his enjoyment of said activities and that means he is involving people in his “enjoyment” without their consent.

            1. QCI*

              If you want to get technical, then everyone consented to being there and watching/portraying/interacting with the production. Fire him for the comments, not because he enjoyed it differently.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                If he hadn’t made the comments to OP and on Facebook, there would be no letter, and no issue, so…. maybe we all really agree?

              2. 1.0*

                for real? look, if I go to a friend’s place and find out they were jerking off to my bare feet or something, that’s creepy and gross. this comment is weirdly victim blaming — “if they didn’t want to be part of this guy’s sexy servant play, they shouldn’t have gone to the ren faire” is not the slam dunk you seem to think it is

            2. Jules the 3rd*

              Ok, so this seems to be where we see it differently: I, and most commenters here, see ‘volunteer told LW about kink’ and ‘volunteer made comments on facebook that LW and others were able to link to kink-centric enjoyment of this role’ as inappropriate actions that the volunteer took.

              You seem (and I could be wrong) to think that only actions *in the role* would be of concern / appropriate for LW to consider? Maybe seeing the role and behavior elsewhere as separate?

              What we’re seeing is that by telling people who are aware of the role about the kink (OP for one), the volunteer has linked the two, and made his actions outside the role relevant.

              1. QCI*

                I think the job/role should be separate from the actions/kink. If his actions outside the role are so bad to remove him then fine, but I don’t agree with the “involving others in his sexual fantasy” aspect of it, because that’s entirely projection at this point. Firing for being creepy seems to be a gray area, but it’s volunteer work, so -_O_-

                1. Ethyl*

                  From the letter:

                  “[He] is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately)”

                  No projection here, just straight up telling the volunteer coordinator that he’s getting off on his reenactment roles. You misread the original letter, which is fine, but maybe it’s time to stop doubling down on this.

                2. animaniactoo*

                  For a clear line: The action in the role is that he told someone who has to perform the role of “master” to his “servant” that he is actively getting off on it in those moments – when that person would not be performing the role of master for the purpose of mutually fulfilling their kinks, they are not into it and are not consenting to having that be part of the dynamic. But by the nature of the role that each is playing as part of doing their volunteer job, cannot avoid doing it without not doing the volunteer job. He has also made that person that every time anyone else is in the master role, they are fulfilling his sexual fantasies. And the person that he made aware of it is the volunteer coordinator. Thereby essentially making him a high-level accessory/conspirator.

                  If he wanted to keep them separate he should never have clued the guy in. There’s no projection at the point that he has literally stated he’s doing this to someone who is then an unwilling participant and responsible for putting others in the role.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LOL at the idea of “kink shaming” when a person is being wildly inappropriate.

      Kinks have everything to do with sex, you’re making stories up over there to fit your agenda.

      1. QCI*

        Based on just what the letter has, it’s everyone else in the comments making up stories to fit their bias.

        1. Delphine*

          The letter specifically says that this person is involving the LW and other men in his fantasies without their consent.

          1. QCI*

            He’s there specifically to portray this very fantasy. Ya’ll are projecting bias. You think it’s wrong because he (not so secretively) privately enjoys it.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              It’s wrong because he’s involving other people in his sexual acts without their consent. Full stop.

              1. QCI*

                Where’s the sexual part? You believe there is one, but don’t have any evidence of it, and OP hasn’t mentioned it.

                1. ACDC*

                  If it wasn’t sexual, why would the volunteer specifically ask to be in a servant role? Why not any other role?

                2. Ethyl*

                  Here’s the sexual part since folks keep missing it (emphasis added):

                  “…is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master ***because of his interest in BDSM*** as well as history”

                3. QCI*

                  I don’t see how it COULD be sexual. It’s public and portraying a specific set piece (?). You’re implying sex because that’s what BDSM is commonly linked to. There isn’t enough information to make that jump.

                  Can it be what you’re implying? Sure, but it could just as likely be that he thinks the role is a good fit because of outside experience. Don’t really know.

                4. Ethyl*

                  You’re damn straight I’m implying sex, because it’s literally right there in the letter. You’re the one making assumptions and jumping to entirely unwarranted conclusions as some sort of Occam’s Big Paisely Tie defense of kinksters, and have further backed yourself into a really gross “non-consensual sexual activity is ok” corner here.

                5. Jules the 3rd*

                  Actually, here’s the sexual part, which *I* missed the first time around;. The ellipses are the references to facebook and other men, which distracted me first time around:

                  his comments… in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant… because I know he is involving me… in his sexual fantasies without… consent.

                  I very much trust OP on this one. Having been in a situation where I was the object of someone’s fantasies, it’s very clear when those are sexual.

            2. Jenny*

              No one is biased. There are peo ppl le here who are into BDSM on this board who are calling it out because this guy is violating the number one rule of BDSM (and, frankly the number one rule of ALL sexual stuff) – consent. You do not foist your sexual stuff on people without their consent. It is sexual harassment.

              1. Quill*


                This letter is not an SAT question. It’s not that ambiguous. The people consistently arguing that everyone is reaching by having boundaries and trying to help OP figure out where to draw his are at this point not arguing in good faith.

            3. Jack Be Nimble*

              The “not so secretly” part is the entire problem. If you fantasize about your cute coworker, there’s no problem. If you’re finding ways to make sure that your cute coworker knows about your fantasies, there’s a big problem.

            4. AKchic*

              You don’t even know what the volunteer event is. It wasn’t specified. It could be a living theater piece. It could be Shakespeare in the Park. It could be a renaissance festival. It could be some sort of church-type re-enactment.
              Whatever it is, there are multiple volunteer acting roles, and he very specifically wants to play a submissive slave role to a “master” role, after posting some very inappropriate commentary online that has made some people openly say it’s “creepy” and “obvious”, and has already outed himself as being a sub to the volunteer coordinator. He is involving others into his kink without their consent, which is a violation of the BDSM principles. He is there to volunteer / work, not get his kink on.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                I just re-read the post, and the volunteer’s not just posting on facebook, he’s still making comments ‘in real life’ to OP, after being asked to stop. Nope nope nope.

    7. Jack be Nimble*

      This is splitting hairs — kinks don’t have to involve sexual gratification, but often do. To the average person outside of the scene, kink is synonymous with sex. Even if the volunteer isn’t using the role to find physical release, he’s still contributing to a sexually charged dynamic and involving unknowing persons in his kink. And given that these are presumably all-ages events, it really crosses the line.

      I think if he privately enjoyed fantasizing about servitude and just enjoyed the endorphins of playing that role without a sexual component and kept everything 100% to himself — fine. Not great, but fine. But the social media comments coupled with explicitly telling the volunteer coordinator about his kink? No, no, no, no, no.

      1. Jenny*

        That does happen unfortunately, people defend the indefensible here sometimes.

        I volunteered with mentally disabled teenagers when I was in high school and we STILL had processes to protect us from unwanted sexual behavior even when the kids weren’t aware of what they were doing.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’ve noticed that here as well. Even if the person is unaware of what they’re doing, which isn’t the case in the OP’s situation, the impact can be traumatic.

      2. Starbuck*

        What, are kinky people meant to be oppressed, or something? How is it ‘woke’ to try to defend this guy, who OP says is behaving like a sexual predator?

        “I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent.” What more is there to say?

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      BTW, I just re-read, and OP totally mentions it, beyond the basic statement:

      “his comments on Facebook and in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant and I hesitate to partner him with a “master,” because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent. ”

      The volunteer is telling OP that OP is part of his play, and telling OP that the play is sexual, despite being asked to stop. Completely, totally, straight up sexual harassment there. Exactly the same as if the volunteer were a straight guy telling the female receptionist how he thinks about her during sexy-time.

    9. Queer Earthling*

      I’m in a nonsexual 24/7 kink dynamic with my asexual partner, and I write about kink and sexuality for a living. I am, therefore, something of an expert in this area, and I’m the last person to kinkshame someone who isn’t harming anyone. So let me give you my official ruling.

      This dude is being inappropriate. Nonsexual kink still requires fully informed consent from all parties, and no, “I agreed to be here” is not consent. If absolutely nothing else, he has made OP extremely uncomfortable and doesn’t seem to care, and that alone is sexual harassment.

  37. Stixx-and-String*

    TOTALLY agree that this guy needs to go. He’s been asked, he’s been warned, and he responds with the classic gaslighting line, “It’s just a joke.” He’s making people uncomfortable and could get the organization in a whoooooole lot of trouble.

    I mean, if sexual roleplay is what he’s after, there are appropriate spaces for that.

  38. A*

    It’s been a while since I’ve had to flag an AAM post to read later due to being NSFW! Good times, good times

  39. Luna*

    Rules for Kinks:
    If you are into it, that is okay.
    If anyone participating is a consenting adult, that is okay.
    If you perform these kinks in the privacy of your home or establishments specifically for it, that is okay.
    If you want to shove these kinks into non-consenting people’s faces in places like work or public, that is NOT okay.

  40. nnn*

    It might be useful to focus on appearances and the organization’s reputation.

    Whether he’s joking or not, whether his external behaviour is appropriate or not, he has left social media comments that others can find that led people to believe he’s involving your organization’s clients and volunteers in his kink without their consent.

    Therefore, your organization needs to be seen to be protecting its clients and volunteers by getting this guy out of this role. If your organization is not seen to protect its clients and volunteers, that gives the impression that your organization is okay with volunteers getting off on their interactions with clients and other volunteers without their consent.

    This approach might disarm some of the “I’m just joking!” and “You’re misconstruing!” and “OMG, kink-shaming!” responses. The fact of the matter is his posts gave people a negative impression of the organization, and the organization has to be seen to respond, period.

  41. CubeFarmer*

    Wouldn’t this also be an issue where LW would want to put the organization’s lawyer on notice? Seems like this volunteer doesn’t understand appropriate boundaries, so I could also see him going off the deep end and suing for “discrimination.”

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      mm, most people don’t sue over discrimination against BDSM. LW could mention it, but would want to do it in the context of ‘I asked this guy to stop volunteering because he was making some inappropriate references and wouldn’t stop when requested, and I didn’t want our org associated with those comments.’

      1. Jenny*

        I’d be worried about an employee or other volunteer suing. OP is right to hesitate to assign people to work with this guy.

      2. Observer*

        Most people also don’t do what this guy is doing. If you look at the post that’s been referenced here, you’ll see an example of what happens when someone goes off the rails. It started with that person wanting everyone to refer to her Dom as her master. And when no one was interested in going along, she started yelling discrimination and “silencing” etc.

        On the other side, you don’t want someone who he makes uncomfortable to sue, either.

      3. CubeFarmer*

        My concern was more that the volunteer could say, “LW won’t let me participate because I’m gay!” Which is clearly not the case at all. We had a situation where we had to decline an applicant because she didn’t meet our requirements. She immediately turned it around and said we rejected her because she was a lesbian. Not true at all, and luckily we had documented it.

    2. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      I was more thinking along the lines of “making absolutely sure he hasn’t victimized someone or otherwise opened the org up for being sued by guests or other volunteers for not stopping him earlier”

  42. Jules the 3rd*

    Hey OP: Don’t feel bad about needing external feedback on this. Your volunteer is gaslighting you (‘joke!’), and that’s just so weird that most people would want a sanity check.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Also OP, I just re-read the letter, to try to understand some opposing viewpoints. I think Alison missed something: It mow reads to me like you are being sexually harassed.

      “his comments on Facebook and in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer… because I know he is involving me … in his sexual fantasies without … consent. ”

      IANAL, but if he’s making comments to you in real life about how this role fulfills his sexual urges after you told him to stop, that looks like harassment to me.

      In a formal work environment, it could be harassment even if you didn’t tell him to stop, but in this less formal situation, with you being friendly acquaintances outside the org, it may not be until you tell him it’s unwelcome.

      Either way, that’s a completely legitimate defense for refusing his volunteer services. You should probably discuss it with a paid org employee, and use the term ‘sexual harassment’, with example of comments.

  43. Hexiva*

    Eurgh, what is it with “submissive” men who are like REALLY into violating other people’s boundaries. I feel like they’re everywhere.

    I guess it’s because “dominant” men who are really into violating other people’s boundaries just don’t stand out at all in the miasma of other gross men.

  44. Who Cares?*

    Meh, this isn’t that big of a deal. You said that the volunteer behaves appropriately at these events. His sexual fantasies probably make him that much more suited for the role. So what if you’re involved in his sexual fantasies? Are you saying you’ve never looked at coworker and had fantasized about them? My employer knows that I’m a heterosexual male, should they ban me from talking to the admin assistant?

    I think you’re letting his kinks get to you. You have a good volunteer and from my experience in being a coordinator they are often hard to come by.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If you were posting on FB all about your sexual fantasies about bending the admin assistant over her desk at work and doing dirty things then yes, you should.

      1. MuseumChick*

        Who Cares? posted above defended allowing a sexual predator volunteer at their institution. “My managers was super paranoid because we had a volunteer who turned out to be a sex offender and flipped her lid. The guy was a solid volunteer, served his time and never committed offense in the three years he’s been released. But of course I’m the bad guy for giving someone a second chance.”

        I can only hope this is a troll.

        1. -----------*

          Just to clarify, you do not think someone who was a sexual predator should ever be eligble to volunteer for an organization despite the offense/institution? Not necessarily saying I agree or disagree- but I don’t think it’s ridiculous for someone to choose to give that person the option to volunteer depending on the org/history

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Depends on what kind of org they are volunteering with. If they are in anyway dealing with a vulnerable population, then yeah, it would be reasonable to ban a sexual predator from being involved. Especially since NPOs rely on the good will of the community. If word gets out that Mr. Predator is a convicted sex offender and the Happy Funtime Organization is allowing him to have proximity to children or abused women, well… that’s going to be a big hit on their reputation.

            1. -----------*

              Yeah, I agree there are caveats, but I would far from assume someone is a troll because they thought it was reasonable to have an ex-sex offender volunteer for their org (without knowing any specifics).

        2. Whimsy*

          To be clear, being a sex offender doesn’t mean you are predatory. My nephew was put in a registry for urinating near a school at 2am. There were no kids around but unfortunately a cop happened to be patrolling the area.

      2. Platypus Enthusiast*

        Also, the difference between speaking with a coworker and this situation is that the other person is being made a participant in a sexual kink without their consent. If someone knows that you’ve spoken about the admin in a sexual manner and that you are aroused by this particular type of interaction, then yes, something should be done.

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      If you’re making “obvious” and “creepy” comments about the admin and playing it off as a joke, then that’s a problem.

      1. QCI*

        And then you get told by HR to stop it and probably fired if it happens again. You don’t fire the guy for being attracted to women.

        1. Jack Be Nimble*

          They have told him to stop making comments and he hasn’t. They’re not firing him for being kinky, they’re firing him for making everyone else uncomfortable. It’s not about his inner life, it’s about his behavior.

          1. QCI*

            And firing him for the behavior is perfectly fine. I’m arguing against people trying to fire him just because of the BDSM aspect.

              1. QCI*

                It’s actually the majority of comments. Everyone screaming about consent and unsuspecting participants. OP said he hasn’t acted inappropriately towards anyone, ONLY that he leaves creepy comments on social media. His actions are the same as someone who isn’t into BDSM. His role wouldn’t even be mentioned/or matter except for the kink aspect.

                1. Jenny*

                  You’re blatantly ignoring the comments he made to the LW.

                  If he told LW his kink was the song happy birthday and posted comments about it on others social media to the point LW felt uncomfortable doing birthday parties with him, it would be just as bad.

                2. Platypus Enthusiast*

                  OP said “because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent”. It has nothing to do with the BDSM, if this was any other sexual kink he was involving people in without consent, the same standards should apply. If he was keeping his fantasies to himself, that would be one thing, but he’s not. He’s being open enough about it that OP knows.

                3. Jack Be Nimble*

                  I honestly have no idea what you’re arguing. He is using his role to gain some kind of kinky/sexual pleasure from unwitting participants. He makes comments that are both “obvious” and “creepy.” If the guy had been circumspect about his turn-ons, he could have cheerily continued in the role with no one the wiser. But he wasn’t circumspect, so he can’t continue in the role.

                  Your comments come across as defending bad behavior for the sake of it, and it’s not a great look.

                4. QCI*

                  Knowing the kink is irrelevant if it’s not affecting the job he’s performing. Fixing his media comments is the issue.

                5. Anon-ish*

                  Making comments on social media is an action. It involves composing a thought, typing it out, and hitting post in a space where his fellow volunteers will see it. By doing that, he is acting inappropriately.

                6. Platypus Enthusiast*

                  Replying to your other comment here- it may not affect his role in the reenactment that visitors can see. But OP says they are now uncomfortable working with him or assigning him a partner for this work because OP knows that the person is involving them in his fantasies. So it is affecting the job he’s performing.

                7. QCI*

                  If the guy is creepy in general (very possible) and people don’t want to work with him, then you either A: work around that somehow, or B: remove him from the picture. But make it very clear he’s not getting the work for a legit reason.

                8. Jules the 3rd*

                  Telling the LW about the kink *is* inappropriate action, as are the comments on social media.

                  The problem is not that we disagree about ‘this should be about actions’, the problem is that you do not agree with the rest of the commentariats’ definitions of actions. Communications that can tie the kink to the volunteer role are the relevant actions – the volunteer is making his kink known to the people he’s using.

                  The relevant actions come from the core unethical action of involving others in his play without consent, but we would not know about that core without the communications. If the volunteer only did the core, no one would ever know or care. But unethical behavior has a tendency to leak and stain, and betray itself through secondary actions.

                  (just finished _Emma_, this volunteer is *such* a Frank Churchill it’s not even funny…)

                9. Jenny*

                  Especially since he told someone who had to participate in the action with him. That can’t be emphasized enough.

                10. yala*

                  “Everyone screaming about consent and unsuspecting participants.”

                  Well, firstly, no one is “screaming.” I dunno, would you like to try and work “hysterical” in there as well.

                  But secondly, consent is kind of a big deal. In fact, consent is the cornerstone of responsible BDSM (or sex of any kind, really). So no one is suggesting that he be fired for being into BDSM. Just the *way* he’s going about it, ignoring other people’s boundaries, and bringing non-consenting folks into his scene.

                11. Jules the 3rd*

                  I think, reading QCI’s comments, he missed that part: “[the volunteer’s] comments on Facebook and in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant and I hesitate to partner him with a “master,” because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent. ”

                  OP knows. OP is uncomfortable. OP has asked the volunteer to stop. The volunteer didn’t stop. That’s all it takes.

                12. Turtle Candle*

                  The BDSM is relevant because the fact that he’s specifically asking for roles that put him in a position to satisfy his kinks–and telling people about it–is relevant. It’s not why he’s inappropriate, but it’s how his inappropriateness is expressing itself, and so of course the LW brought it up; if he hadn’t, we’d be the ones clamoring for ‘but how is he inappropriate?’ details.

                  It’d be like “My volunteer only wants to be partnered with blondes, because he said blondes really do it for him.” It’s not that it’s wrong to prefer blondes (just ask Marilyn Monroe) but that it’s the way that his inappropriateness and lack of boundaries are expressing themselves.

                13. whingedrinking*

                  @ TurtleCandle: Or even if he’d just said, “I think blondes are hot” and asked to be paired with only blondes at work without providing a reason. Even if, within his heart and soul, he is so good at compartmentalizing that unprofessional thoughts about his blonde co-volunteers never ever cross his mind and he just wants to work with blondes because, I dunno, they match his clothes better or something. It is not unreasonable for the blonde coworkers to think he wants to be paired with them for prurient reasons. Saying, “But he never actually *said* he wanted to fuck his coworkers specifically” is disingenuous.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      *squints* if… if you’re only talking to the admin assistant so you can fantasize about her later, then yes, yes they SHOULD ban you from talking to her!

    4. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      Well… I would care very much if I found out a coworker was 1) living out parts of his sexual fantasies about me at work, 2) posting often and explicitly about said fantasies on social media.
      I would care VERY, VERY much.

    5. Starbuck*

      What a frightening take. OP is being sexually harassed, and you don’t think it’s a big deal? Yikes.

  45. So very, very anon today*

    I’ve been involved in various areas of BDSM, including the master/servant and humiliation part.
    And yes, many people in this area are quite obnoxious in *running*, or rather *directing* the “scene” where they serve/are humiliated/punished etc. The jargon calls it “topping from the bottom”, and it is annoying as heck.
    (Think, oh, a shoe fetishist sneaking up from behind at a BDSM meetup, grabbing your foot, and firmly planting it on an, ah, inappropriate area without asking you. And then proceeding to squirm and moan. And then complaining loudly to the organizer in the most entitled way if pushed away. Just great.)

    This guy has no boundaries and must be completely removed from the reenactment volunteer job. He’s exactly the type that gets kicked out of every forum, party, club.

    1. Quill*

      Just like you should kick the guy who drags the D&D group, unwilling, into “roll for venereal disease” territory out immediately, you gotta kick the guy who has done absolutely no due dilligence on the concept of boundaries within kink immediately.

      1. AKchic*

        And the ones who love to describe how the characters move. Sorry, but I can only take 2 seconds of hearing how your curvaceous, buxom lass with the bountiful backside that sways like a coconut-filled palm tree in the breeze walks gracefully through the crowd, whose bosoms defy gravity and bounce boobily against her strained corset laces, yearning to be set free… Gag me. Gag me now. It’s an NPC bringing your party their tankards of ale before you even start questing. And that’s not how a corset works. It’s why I stopped tabletop games with guys.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          Lol… depending on the setting, the corset would be like “her bosoms sat upon her conical undergarment like two scoops of ice cream. The steel boning and many layers protected her from even the most ardent of gropers.”

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            Ha, yes! I’ve nearly always been in great tabletop groups, but it was MUSHing where it *really* became evident when a female character was being played by a man vs. a woman.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        “Are there any girls here? ‘Cause if there are, I wanna DO them!”

        (The other thing I can’t help but think of: the infamous FATAL and “Roll for anal circumference!”)

  46. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    I’m fairly active on a certain website for kinky folks, where I’m part of a group for submissive men. You would not believe how common it is for particular men to point to things they do in their daily lives as “submission,” whether it’s for strangers (“I opened a door for someone at the bank! That’s submissive!”) or for their partners (“I did the dishes for my wife! That’s submissive!”) without their knowledge or consent.

    Every. Single. Time. They need to be told that foisting their kinks on people who have not knowingly chosen to dominate them is 1) not submission, since they’re only pleasing themselves and there’s no relationship between them and their chosen object, and 2) extremely creepy.

    I’d find it just as disturbing if, for example, a woman joked about random men being her boyfriend, called them “snoogy-boo,” and otherwise acted as if she was already dating them. You don’t assume an intimacy, especially not with coworkers or customers.

    1. Jenny*

      I worked in a coffee shop as a teen and there was this one guy who clearly got off on ordering us around. It was just so bad. He got away with it because he never touched anyone or made an explicitly sexual comment but his leers and “yeah you do” comments were clear. We all hated it.

      1. Quill*

        Growing up theater adjacent has made me want to chuck all those types of people into the sea. (Not just men, either, one of the reasons I didn’t work more than one season at ren faire was that one of our supervisors was VERY vocal that she looked forward to the boys working there turning eighteen… enough that some of the older ones would enlist a girl in the company to be their fake girlfriend for the summer in the hopes that it would make her back off.)

        1. AKchic*

          I am so sorry that you had to deal with that. Fair is family in my area. We take care of our own, and it is multigenerational. We do what we can to protect our younger volunteer actors to ensure they want to keep coming back.

  47. Anon-ish*

    What really gets me here is that the guy is making what he’s doing obvious on a platform where his fellow volunteers clearly see his posts.

    I’ve been involved in kink for most of my adult life. I’m pretty familiar with nuances and varieties of power play at this point, if I do say so myself. And my read is that making his fellow volunteers aware of his kink stuff fundamentally changes the dynamic between them.

    If he were keeping his kink totally separate from this role (e.g. not friending fellow volunteers on facebook where he talks about his kink life, not joking about enjoying the dynamic around them, etc.), I’d be inclined to ignore it. In that scenario, he’d be keeping the dynamic focused on the reenactment aspect, which is what people are actually there for. If he’s also fantasizing about it later, in private…on a purely pragmatic level, does it really matter? I hear the people saying that they’d be upset if he was turning them into passive, unaware objects for his fantasy, but to me, it doesn’t feel different than a random dude on the street enjoying my boobs a little too much: I’m sure it happens, but as long as keeps it in his head and leaves me out of it, I’m not inclined to stress over it too much.

    But this guy isn’t keeping things separate! He’s actively telling his fellow volunteers about his interests. (I’m going to assume, based on OP’s assertions, that his facebook posts and ‘jokes’ make it clear that he’s getting something sexual out of the reenactment. It’s possible for someone to be into power play and also into historical reenactment in a totally non-sexual, non-kinky way, of course–but OP is telling us that they’re seeing a connection, and they’ve seen the actual posts, so I’m going to trust them on it.) In doing so, he’s making them active, aware participants. “We are acting out a historical dynamic for the sake of education/reenactment” is plain old different than “We are acting out a power dynamic for sexual gratification.” By telling people that he’s doing the latter, especially in a context where they can’t easily say “Good for you, no thanks on my part, I’m gonna just go over there and not engage,” he’s pushing them to step into the corresponding role whether or not they’re comfortable with it. That’s very not cool. OP should feel absolutely no qualms about refusing to schedule him based on this.

    1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      I don’t know if it’s a thing or if there’s a word for it, but it sounds like he *likes* people knowing. Like a sort of exhibitionism? “No one will be able to look at me and not remember that this is one of my kinks”.
      Or he might just be a jerk. I honestly don’t know.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        I’ve known plenty of people for whom boundary-pushing and transgression are part of the excitement. If Steve The Friendly Foot Fetishist compliments your shoes in a way that makes you uncomfortable and is mortified when you say so, then he’s a good dude who slipped up. If he blows you off, say he was just joking, and keeps complimenting your shoes then it’s eminently fair to conclude that he likes knowing you’re uncomfortable.

      2. Anon-ish*

        I mean sure, that’s common enough. Exhibitionism is a common kink, as is playing with transgression and taboos and the discomfort associated with them. But forcing it on a captive audience who didn’t explicitly opt in isn’t okay! There are spaces to do that shit, but they’re kinky spaces, which this is not.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, this! Though I’d also argue that telling OP about the kink in the first place was the first step in this.

      If ya wanna get away with unethical behavior, don’t tell people you’re doing it.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        I could also imagine that Steve The Friendly Foot Fetishist might be able to work in a shoe store and treat it as work. Like, it’s work he likes partially because he finds feet attractive, but he’s not actively getting jollies out of it at work? Being all “oh, I’m totally into this” to his boss and/or online is when we get a sneaking suspicion that his boundaries are… weird.

    3. Alton*

      I agree. It’s not inevitable that someone who has these kinks would mix them with work. I think that because kinks by their very nature can involve scenarios that aren’t inherently sexual, it’s common for people to compartmentalize and differentiate between fantasy and real life. But talking openly about his kinks in contexts where colleagues can see it creates an uncomfortable situation, and suggests he doesn’t have great boundaries.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, it’s like… I used to work with someone who I had a major crush on. I kept a huge lid on it and told nobody but my husband (who found it mildly amusing) and my therapist. I don’t think it was a big deal that I had the crush, but it would have become a big deal had I told anyone in public, let alone at work(!!), about it. This is largely the same thing, I think: the emotions aren’t the problem, and certainly the kink itself isn’t; the lack of boundaries and bringing it quite expressly into the workplace in a visible fashion (telling the LW) is.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          I was on the other side of this once, and you are so right! I was perfectly pleasant work colleagues with a guy at a former job, until he had some kind of erotic dream about me and chose to *tell* me about it. Even then, I was willing to laugh it off and be business as usual, but he acted weird and crushy around me ever after. Telling just made it worse for everyone, especially for the crushee!

  48. Liz T*

    The weirdest part is–gay male submissives are popular enough in most BDSM scenes that he could easily just go be someone’s kinky servant! The fact that he’s exploring this kink only with unwitting, non-consenting people instead of going to a club or getting on FetLife makes it seem like he gets off a little extra on people not knowing. (And/or is dealing with a lot of shame about his kink but that’s no excuse for bad behavior.)

    1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I find there are some people for whom the “danger” aspect is part of the allure (“oh, ~no~, what if someone were to ~find out~ about my ~dark and hidden desires~? that would be ~bad~”).

      Of course, he could find out exactly how dangerous it is by getting fired.

  49. Anon16*

    I got to say (and this isn’t specifically regarding this letter which I know is fun), these letters are getting so outlandish that I can’t relate to them anymore and I don’t find them useful. I would love more letters about difficult bosses/coworkers that fit within the realms of normal, job hunting, etc. I just find I come to the site and exit immediately because I relate absolutely nothing to the letters posted and come here for useful advice.

    Sorry to criticize! Usually I really like this site, would like to see more relevant content.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No apology necessary! I do think 90%, maybe more, of the letters published here are on pretty “normal” stuff. But the weird ones definitely stand out!

      1. Quill*

        Today’s other set was pretty normal! Especially on the topic of “how do I listen to something except office without streaming services.”

    2. SaffyTaffy*

      Anon16, are you reading the ‘5 Answers to 5 Questions’ posts? They’ve been at least 4-out-of-5 “normal” for the past two weeks that I just checked.

    3. MuseumChick*

      Interesting! Being a museum professional and having run into a number of bizarre situations with both volunteers and visitors over the years I found this post extremely relevant and useful. I guess it all depends on what kind of job/industry you are in.

      1. Night of the Living History*

        Same — this was the most intimately (no pun intended) relatable one I’ve seen in a while.

  50. GreenDoor*

    I think the OP needs to do more than just say “I can’t schedule you” anymore. This guy thinks that calling his online posts “joking around” excuses things – liek there’s some kind of invisible wall between his online self and his volunteer self. I’d spell it out. “You are pulling other volunteers and guests into making your sexual fantasies reality without their consent. Therefore, we will be unable to schedule you any more.”

  51. wittyrepartee*

    Man, I feel like there’s people that would be able to do this job AND have his fantasy life without being creepy. However, this guy’s exercising really terrible judgment and not setting up his boundaries the way he needs to. Ick.

  52. anon4this*

    “Over the last six months, his comments on Facebook and in real life have reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable working with this volunteer when he is portraying a servant and I hesitate to partner him with a “master,” because I know he is involving me and other men in his sexual fantasies without our consent.”
    “… this person is behaving appropriately when actually at historic sites, particularly the one I volunteer for as a coordinator”
    I think this is my biggest issue. You say he is 100% professional at work, and in social media, just makes comments on other’s posts (so not creating original content; wouldn’t you have to be specifically looking at his activity to see what he comments on?).
    How does that directly tie into his volunteer work? Has he actually told you this gets him off? I’m wondering how you made this connection, that’s all. Wouldn’t the assumption be that this volunteer work lines up perfectly with his outside interests (rather than him actually gaining sexual gratification from a historical reenactment)?
    For example, liking to use edible paint during intercourse and being an artist by day? Or volunteering at a pet shelter by day and being a furry at night?
    I know American is puritanical and I wonder if it’s your discomfort more than anything actually happening?

    1. animaniactoo*

      …is interested in experiencing the master/servant dynamic as a servant to a male master because of his interest in BDSM as well as history (he divulged this to me privately)

      1. anon4this*

        Then assign him to a female master and “ruin” the experience for him? I don’t really get this.
        It sounds like it lines up well with his outside interest, rather than him experiencing direct sexual gratification publicly from this (in which case of course he should be fired and/or possibly arrested).

        1. animaniactoo*

          In most cases, that would not be historically accurate and therefore not possible to do.

          Note: Are you still okay with this if he gets aroused by it all day and then goes to beat off in the work bathroom at lunch or as soon as he goes home? Because that’s the kind of direct gratification he is most likely to be getting. When the issue is not so much that he gets aroused by it and does it for that purpose, but that he has made the LW an unwilling participant in him doing that given that the LW is doing it for a different purpose, not that one, and pretty clearly wouldn’t participate in that one with him? That the unwillingness of it is in letting OP know that this is happening when he’s in that role? That other people he’s responsible for putting in that role (as the coordinator) are unknowingly participating in it?

          Also, given that the issue here above all is consent, re-reading your examples: The artist’s partner is fully aware of the reason for the edible paint and has agreed to have it used on/by them. The animal shelter: If the furry is getting off on playing with those animals at the shelter and that is the *primary* reason for volunteering, most people would also not be okay with that on the same basis of utilizing something for your own non-consensual purpose.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      1) We usually trust the LWs on this site, so if LW says ‘I know he is involving me… in his sexual fantasies without… consent’, then we accept that. And this makes sense, because LW is hearing these comments (‘in real life’) and we aren’t.
      2) I would believe LW even if that weren’t a site rule. Because when people make you an object in their spank bank, you can tell.
      3) American gay culture tends to be the opposite of puritanical, and there’s decades of overlap with BDSM. LW’s fluency in ‘consent’ and similar terms makes me think they’ve been around long enough to have a realistic picture of what’s going on.

      1. anon4this*

        Oh. I’m not necessarily distrusting of OP’s opinion, just wanted him to check himself (gay men can be especially spiteful within the community to each other).
        Also, I don’t know anything about the BDSM culture (probably obvious), and I guess and don’t understand how someone could “get off” in public (without breaking laws or exposing himself or something). Is it like a satisfaction sort of thing? Does he secretly get happy from it and that’s enough? I dunno, I’ll probably just stop commenting since clearly I don’t get it.

        1. Alton*

          I don’t think anyone is suggesting that he’s literally having an orgasm while at work or something like that. It’s like if someone became a doctor because they enjoyed seeing people naked and touching them–they might find it arousing even if they don’t do anything obviously untoward.

        2. Parenthetically*

          I think it’s just that this guy is deliberately manipulating situations around him for the purpose of titillating himself! Like if you were a security guard with a voyeurism kink and were slightly aroused all day watching the CCTV feed. It’s just not part of your job, and not an okay think to do at work, and not cool to nonconsensually involve other people in your kink.

    3. Observer*

      wouldn’t you have to be specifically looking at his activity to see what he comments on?).

      Nope. He’s commenting on OTHER PEOPLE’S posts, which means that the OP (and others) are seeing his “jokes” even when they are not looking for him. And, even if it really were on his page – he’s making these “jokes” in a very public manner which means he can’t expect to have them treated like private comments.

    4. Starbuck*

      But OP is also uncomfortable, and that counts for something. We take OPs at their word:

      ” I know he is involving me…in his sexual fantasies without our consent.”

      Not okay. OP should feel free to fire the volunteer, if only for his own sake.

  53. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    LW has spoken to this person about his behavior “several times,” telling him to dial it back–*over and over*, he says “I was just joking.

    After the first time, someone who really was just joking would have realized that the jokes were falling flat, and stopped making them to LW or in places where LW would see them.

    If this wasn’t already a pattern, it might make sense to go to this guy and say “If you’re going to keep volunteering here, you have to stop making these remarks [specifics] to me and other volunteers, or in places where we’re likely to see them… If you’re just joking, it shouldn’t be a big deal to stop, now that you’ve been told that those comments are making people uncomfortable.”

    “Just joking” is usually an excuse rather than a true statement–but someone who really was just joking, and said something they didn’t realize would be offensive, or forgot that their family private joke wouldn’t be funny at work, will usually be willing to stop. “Sorry, I thought it was funny. So, how about that sportsball team” is rather different from “I was joking, you should know that, don’t you have a sense of humor?” and then repeating the remarks next week.

  54. lilsheba*

    While I do agree that sexualizing a living history event is a little creepy, I have to say that whatever this person posts on his facebook profile is really his own business. And as for wearing BDSM gear, I wear my eternity collar and bracelets every single day, and that is not involving anyone without consent. It’s my jewelry and that is all, and I will continue to wear it. It’s no different than a wedding ring to me.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Is it only his own business when he is making people uncomfortable enough to the point that they would feel REALLY uncomfortable to see him in that role and think that he might be getting a lot more out of it than the simple worth of re-enacting for the visual understanding that people get from seeing something rather than the more abstract sense that they may get from reading about it?

      Note, from a consent standpoint, he’s replying to people’s posts with the stuff that is making them uncomfortable. Not simply posting on his own wall and anybody who doesn’t like it is free to de-friend him kind of stuff. I think it’s also regularly getting missed that he’s making some of these comments IRL, and not just over social media.

    2. Parenthetically*

      He’s not posting on his OWN facebook profile, lilsheba. From the OP, emphasis added:

      on Facebook he makes a lot of “joking” comments on other people’s posts about wanting to serve men, be humiliated, be punished, etc.

      And you know what? Even if he were just writing status updates on his own profile, if he’s posting in a way that his fellow volunteers and the volunteer coordinator can see his posts, it’s not “really his own business;” he’s making it THEIR business by posting it for them to see. He’s alerting them to the fact that he’s using non-consenting people as part of his kink, and knowing that, the volunteer coordinator HAS to do something about it.

    3. Platypus Enthusiast*

      If it was just his own social media, I’d take into consideration if this person’s account is publically searchable, and if he makes it obvious that he is affiliated with this organization. But also, OP said that it was his comments on social media and in real life. You make a great point about your jewelry- it doesn’t involve anyone else in your relationship, and certainly not without their consent. But this man’s comments, verbal and written, are making it evident (to OP, at the very least) that he is involving people in his sexual fantasies without their consent. And I think that as the volunteer coordinator, if OP possesses the knowledge that this is happening, he has some sort of moral obligation to make sure the behavior stops. OP has tried addressing it, and that hasn’t discouraged the behavior.

      1. Mockingjay*

        He’s deliberately orchestrating a public volunteer position into satisfying his personal kink, without the consent of the others involved.

        Can you imagine being assigned as the “master” to this dude? You’re there to perform a historical re-enactment and pass on a little history lesson to John Q Public. He’s there using you to fulfill his fantasies. Given what the OP has stated about this guy’s kink spilling into the workplace, he’s likely going to make this volunteer very uncomfortable as well.

        Nope. Just no.

        1. Platypus Enthusiast*

          I tried to imagine it, and I felt awful. If I was aware that my supervisor knowingly assigned me to work with someone who was using this situation for his own gratification? I’d be hurt, I’d feel betrayed, upset, disgusted, and angry. Especially if I found out this had been known for MONTHS. There have been comments about how not allowing this man back would mean the loss of a great volunteer, but what about all the other volunteers who might not come back? And again, if he had kept this to himself, nobody would ever know, and obviously, you can’t police someone’s thoughts. But he has repeatedly done this, made multiple people uncomfortable, and shows no sign of remorse about his behavior making people uncomfortable.

    4. Observer*

      What he posts on his own page is only his business if he posts in ways that are not public – so he keeps his page provate and does not write anything his friends an identify.

      Also, he is NOT just posting on hos onw page. Hw is commenting on the posts of OTHER people. That’s is the opposite of private. And he has TOTALLY made it other people’s business.

    5. Anon-ish*

      Social media is by definition social; what people choose to put on things like facebook can and does influence their relationships with others, including their work relationships if they choose to connect with coworkers in that space. If it’s severe enough, it can reasonably lead to those relationships being severed. It’s not a diary.

      As for wearing things publicly…you’re right that it would be too black-and-white to say “no one can ever under any circumstances show any sign of their kink proclivities in public.” But it’s also too black-and-white to pretend all kink stuff is created equal in this sense. Eternity collars are an example of something that’s genuinely fine in most environments, because as you say, they’re jewelry! But I’m sure you’re aware that if you replaced them with thick leather cuffs held closed by padlocks, that would probably lead to a lot of concern and tension, because that particular kind of BDSM gear isn’t actually appropriate in many vanilla situations.

      When you decide to bring elements of kink things into non-kink spaces, it’s your responsibility to evaluate whether that specific thing will be acceptable in that specific space. If you calculate wrong, you have to bear the consequences of that. In a social situation, that might mean alienating a friend; in a work one, it might mean losing your position. That’s how social relations work.

  55. Lady Phoenix*

    Nope. Nope nope nope. Fire this man. Do not pass go. Nope nope nope nope NOPE.

    Kinks have to have all parties consenting, or else it is bad. He is being bad.

  56. Curmudgeon in California*

    Ewww. *squick*

    If he kept his fantasies and kinks to himself, if would be a minor thing. People have weird fantasies all the time, but don’t drag other people into them. Yes, I believe that some people might get off on having a clerk help them try on shoes or something, but as long as they don’t creep on the clerk, the clerk isn’t involved. (Contrived example is contrived.)

    But when he posts about it on Facebook, even “joking”, he’s dragging his fellow volunteers into his fantasies *against their will*. It changes their perception of his role, from volunteer into kinky creep. It brings them into active participation in his kinks *without their consent*.

    He needs to:
    a) Stop with the creepy kink stuff on Facebook. There are specific sites where that sort of think is ok and expected, and people there want to read it.
    b) Stop playing that role at reenactor events around anyone who has been exposed to his “jokes”. They have been dragged into his fantasy against their will, he needs to stop it.

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