Friday, February 03, 2006

wha-bamm! (hats and devotees)

wha-bamm #1/whip out a hat:
The other day I wanted to start knitting up that "little something to keep my shoulders warm in dance rehearsals" and I couldn't find my size 8 needles. As it turns out, they already had knitting on them. I forgot that I had started a little beanie for MyFK. Not that 9 rows is much of a start. But I wasn't about to take it off the needles. If I did that, knowing me, I'd never finish it. It would end up in a tangled mess at the bottom of some bag.
So wha-bamm!

I knit a hat. Quick knit, just a couple of hours. It looks adorable on him--you'll have to take my word for it (until I can figure out how to blur his face using photoshop or whatever). The yarn is Mission Falls 1824 and the pattern is from their "Just Kidding" pattern book.

wha-bamm #2/catch a pervert in a lie:
At TheMIG's request, I present to you an entry I wrote the first week of January, but never posted:

TheMIG and I think lots of funny and sometimes offensive thoughts in relation to being an amputee. The(VeryWonderfully Geeky)MIG formats our silly ideas on t-shirts at café press, so that I can order them, and wear them. I like wearing t-shirts that say silly things about being a gimp. And I don't care if it's not PC. For kicks and giggles, we have decided to leave the shirts on café press so that other people can order them if they want to (and they actually do).

Within the first few months of being both an amputee and (*ahem*) fashion designer, I was warned that other amputees would probably deem our shirts not only offensive, but that the shirts could especially push the buttons of female amputees. Apparently the shirts could potentially attract “devotees”.

“Well, what, in good lord, is a devotee,” I asked when told that (because honestly, I did not know). And what’s so bad about someone being devoted?? That doesn’t sound too bad. It's maybe a term I’d normally use when describing a religious nut, but isn’t being devoted typically associated with loving-feel-good things?? Why wouldn’t I want to attract someone who would be devoted to me?

Well apparently, there are people out there with the fetish-level desire (primarily sexual, I assume) to be with an amputee. Fetishists as in like right down to seeking out amputees and stalking us. And they are called “devotees”.

I honestly thought this was a joke at first, some kind of urban legend, but I guess not (I also thought the notion that someone would have the fetish-level desire to BECOME an amputee was an urban legend as well, but apparently this is a true fact as well, and that is whole ‘nother post, probably one I will never make).

Anyhow, one night I bring up the discussion of this fetish concept at the beginning of one my dance classes, and a student of mine says, “You know, I felt like I didn’t know a thing about amputees, so I decided to do some research because I wanted to understand you better. I googled 'amputee', and the entire first page of hits were for amputee porn!”

NO WAY. I was shocked. Seriously. SERIOUSLY??!?! You have GOT to be kidding me. This could not possibly be true.
I immediately phoned TheMIG to query, and he’s like, “Oh, yeah…you could make a fortune.”
I couldn’t believe it.

Now, let me say this: I am certainly no prude. I am open minded to the extreme, and I even have a few perversions of my own. But I simply could not wrap my brain around this devotee thing. I mean, I am definitely thrilled to know that someone can accept another one’s body exactly as it is, imperfections and all, finding them erotically attractive no matter what form the body takes…and I don't have an issue of calling that kind of love or affection “devotion”. But to actually desire being with an amputee to the point of fetish??? To the point of needing to track down an amputee?? Aye aye aye. And then of course comes my next question: Why oh WHY has the amputee community decided to call these prowling fetishists “devotees"??? Doesn't that seem just a little bit FLUFFY to you??? Let’s try STALKER.

Well here for you, my friends…is the text of an IM chat that came to me yesterday (reminder: this post was drafted in January).
It is loooong. My apologies. I wanted to include the chat in it’s entirety…scroll down if you only want the punchline. But if you can stand reading the whole thing I would love to know at what point you begin to figure out that something is wrong with this picture....

I wish like hell the first line of the IM archived itself (like the entire rest of the text did), but for some reason it did not….however it was something very close to:
pieter65nl: HI! I am female RAK, 30, from Holland…and would like very much to conversation with you…would you do this?

Here is what followed:

Me:'d you get my contact information, please?
pieter65nl: i looked for blogs of other amputees and found yours!
pieter65nl: actually reading it now and I saw you have a yahoo account too...
me: great..hello...nice to meet you.
me: I was curious. There are strange people everywhere.
pieter65nl: oh yes I know... *frown*
pieter65nl: i was just reading that you are getting up on two feet again! great !
pieter65nl: how is progress? My name is Petra btw
me: Slow going. It's raining here and I am sick with a cold, so I've been inside a lot.
me: You have a blog, too?
pieter65nl: no i dont..
pieter65nl: i lost my leg 10 years ago to an accident

me: sorry to hear it, are you using a prosthesis or not?
pieter65nl: yes i am; i try to wear it most of the time
me: I'm sure I'll get there eventually.... so Holland, yes?
pieter65nl: yes, Holland Europe, not holland michigan *wink*
me: I figured. What time is there?
pieter65nl: just after midnight
pieter65nl: how long ago was your amputation and what was the reason?
me: auto accident, march 2004
pieter65nl: so very recently!
me: coming up on 2 years
pieter65nl: i was in a car accident too, and lost my leg about half thigh
me: me too
pieter65nl: its tough right....
me: what do you mean
pieter65nl: its tough often to be an amputee....both fysically and emotionally
me: oh, yes. sorry...true. sometimes it is tough. but I'm adjusting.
pieter65nl: it gets less tough over the years, less frequently that you are confronted to it so much, it becomes part of your life
me: that's what I've been told. I've been told that after awhile it just becomes an inconvenience.
pieter65nl: yeah thats right. You dont think about it anymore
pieter65nl: a prosthesis didnt work after rehab?
me: My rehab was long as I had multiple injuries. I was fit with a prosthesis about 4 months after the accident but we discovered that I needed a second operation to my limb, so I was delayed another 5 months or so. I got my first prosthesis Dec 04 and used it occasionally for about 6months, but it never really fit well. It was usually back at the doctor'soffice being adjusted.
pieter65nl: okay, i understand!
pieter65nl: i really hope that it will fit well because its so good to have your hands free
me: yes...I walked and held hands with someone New Year's Eve. It had been awhile. * smile *
pieter65nl: wonderful!
pieter65nl: is there a reason why it shouldnt work out this time?
me: My residual limb changes shape in terms of size very quickly. The second surgery left me with a lot of swelling. In the morning I would put the prosthesis on and it would be too tight, I almost wouldnt fit into it. After a couple of hours it was perfect, but by the afternoon, it was falling off of me. I would shrink.
me: but this new socket is adjustable, so I can tighten it as I shrink . I'm doing well with it, provided I can keep at it
pieter65nl: is your stump still fluctuating so much?
me: yes, quite a bit, but not as much as it used to. it's slowly beginning to stabilize with the compression of the new socket and all the walking
pieter65nl: mine is quite stable as long as i keep my weight exact on the same level
pieter65nl: and i have problems with swelling around the start of my period
me: yes, women will talk about how the prosthetist will tell you to try to stay within 5 lbs, but how women can change 5 lbs in one day just from water weight

* now at the very beginning of this chat, I’d received a request to add each other to the one's “friends” list. I've left the dialog box just sitting there, without either accepting or denying, because while chatting, I was simultaneoulsy checking out this person's user profiles and following links to try to get more details. There was little to no information available. It was at this point in the chat that I hit “deny”.

pieter65nl: why are you denying me as a contact?
me: because your profile is vacant, sorry
pieter65nl: i had more on it but was attacked by jerks too often
pieter65nl: so i keep it intentionally left blank
me: I dont blame you, but I dont feel comfortable adding you without knowing more about you, sorry. nothing personal
pieter65nl: well, i told some pretty intimate things right now....but i hope to gain your trust....
pieter65nl: i always retain a lot of water when my menstruation starts
pieter65nl: that has always been the case but its uncomfortable even more now
me: and you have access to my blog, so thanks for sharing, but that doesnt allow you onto my contact list. nothing personal
pieter65nl: how old are you btw?
me: I'm in my 30's
pieter65nl: is it you on the picture on your blog?
me: I dont know which picture you are looking at.
pieter65nl: with the knitted hat?
me: yes, it says it is me in the text.
me: and it also says how and when I lost my leg, too
me: sure you are READING the blog?? lol
pieter65nl: i havent been reading it all
pieter65nl: lol
pieter65nl: I ask you a you have any questions?

* it is right around here that I begin chatting with TheMIG. He is so amazing at finding anything on the internet that his boss even refers to him as "The Secret Weapon". I ask him for help in finding any possible information about this person, and why I am asking for help, and he comes to my rescue.

me: no...and I'm sorry, but I'm carrying another chat simultaneously, sorry. I'm distracted.
pieter65nl: ok!
me: I wouldnt be sure what to ask you anyhow!
pieter65nl: prosthetics, adjusting, everything you would like...i am an open minded person *wink*
me: well, ok sure.... I have one for you go out dancing?
pieter65nl: yes i do! but only with my leg on, i dont like it very much going on the dancefloor with my crutches
me: tell me about the first time...because I havent gone yet (to a nightclub), and I'm going to give it a whirl soon. I've danced at a wedding on crutches or leaning on someone, and I dance professionally on one leg.
pieter65nl: the downside is you have to wear nonslippery shoes
pieter65nl: in a club its always wet on the floor
pieter65nl: best is to keep your weight entirely on your good leg, but that is quite exhausting when the song is long *wink* and swing a bit without weight on your prosthesis
me: 1 sec please

* it is at this point that My Hero TheMIG has hit pay dirt tracking down information about this person (he finds a link their profile on an online dating service). and the TheMIG is now coaching me on how best to use the information

me: I should play psychic and try to guess your height and weight
me: ready?
pieter65nl: yeah
moon_woman247: 190cm 80kg
pieter65nl: no
moon_woman247: am I close?
pieter65nl: no
moon_woman247: really???
pieter65nl: really, why?
me: because it says you are a MAN Pieter
me: so dont pull my leg, I only have one as it is
me: it's been nice chatting with you
me: have a nice day
pieter65nl: have a nice day

So wha-bamm! That's how to nail a pervert. Super Duper Special Thanks to TheMIG for keeping me safe.

FYI, it only took me the very first sentence to smell something fishy, but mabye I'm a little jumpy ;-)

hoppy? ;-)



Anonymous said...

As a 'devotee' myself, I'm sorry you encountered such deceptive and disturbing behavior. I was shaking my head reading your post, but sadly I have seen it before. It's a case of a few bad apples but, of course, they tend to be very visible exceptions.

Can I have a go at explaining this whole devotee thing? I'm a heterosexual male first and foremost. I also find female legs and feet attractive - that's still pretty common. Take a leap down the mobility path, and I'm also attracted to women on crutches and with amputees: much, much rarer, but that's the hierarchy of physical traits I just happen to find attractive.

I don't view that negatively: whether it's a nice smile, good hair, pretty legs or one leg(...) that pushes your buttons, it's an incentive to take the first step and get to know someone. You may have nothing in common and it might go no further, or it may lead to a genuine meeting-of-minds. I don't see that as a bad thing.

What about seeking out amputees? If devotees don't actively look for amputees (labels, labels everywhere) then the chances of connections happening would be rare indeed. That rarity probably leads to perhaps a slightly inflated importance as a physical trait. I'd still like to think that people could actively seek out those they find attractive in a reasonably common-sense manner.

I found your blog - and check back sometimes beacause it's an entertaining read - but I'm not one for stalking or deception, and I'd suspect most devotees aren't either.