"… Society has put a lot of evils in our brains that we need to transcend before we make out." - Cex
Wait This Doesn't Sound Technical
One would normally expect something called a "Developer Guide" to mainly cover technical matters related to a certain technology a developer wants to use. While this document spends most of its words on that, we'd also like to start with a discussion of the ethics of writing and distributing free, open source software (FOSS) that deals with sex. Software ethics in general is an especially complex and difficult topic, and as Buttplug deals with sexual contexts, it cannot really stand apart from the human-focused portion of its use, unless computers somehow start fucking too.
If you want to build software for someone to have sex with, you're taking on some responsibilities whether you like it or not. We can't force you to read this section, but it's good information to be aware of so you're not caught off-guard by what your creation may enact upon the world.
However, if you're curious about how we deal with developing this project, are worried about feeling safe while using it, or want to know what responsibilities come with building software with Buttplug, this section is for you.
The Buttplug Mission Statement
The Buttplug Mission Statement is at the core of how we deal with ethics in the Buttplug project.
Buttplug is committed to the safety, autonomy, and human rights of people using it as a sex technology standard, and stands in solidarity with the many intersectional rights of all individuals to be sex positive. As such, Buttplug encourages individual empowerment through self-directed education, and responsible behaviors which are also respectful of the needs and the choices available to everyone.
Now, you may be thinking "Wait. WTF. I just want to use this project to masturbate/have sex. Why the hell does this software need that kind of language when no other sex project does, and things like my database software also doesn't?"
That's a fair point. We'll be spending some time here breaking down that statement into plain language. We'll provide a few examples of how this project relates to current trends, and can affect many different groups in many different ways.
There is No Such Thing As Ethical Buttplugging Under Open Source
Sex technology has, up until now, been mostly a "fire and forget" ordeal. Tech is either released by a commercial company alongside a product (to be forgotten if/when the product goes off the market), or thrown onto a message board as an attachment in a thread somewhere using psudonyms or anonymous accounts.
For Buttplug, we have real people using their real identities to release software, using professional, documented development practices. While we hope this gives the project a level of quality not normally seen in sex tech, it also means we can be seen as holding more responsibility for the outcomes of the software, as fingers can be pointed and questions asked to a known entity when something controversial happens.
Buttplug is, at its core, a generic library for accessing sex toys. From generic development tools comes user generated content, and from user generated content comes a vast universe of creativity, along with /a world of hurt/. One need only look at the range of articles written about virtual worlds like LambdaMOO and Second Life to see how unpredictable user generated content can be.
With most user generated content platforms, users can create a wealth of content, both non-sexual and sexual. Buttplug, on the other hand, is a project named Buttplug, and deals specifically with sex toys. This means that, from the outset of even uttering the name of the project, we may have problems.
So how do we deal with the fact that people can use Buttplug to connect sex toys to damn near anything? We can't exactly integrate algorithms in the library to detect what it's being compiled to use, and since it's FOSS, we can't monitor and restrict usage on distribution.
That's where our mission statement comes in. It's the best line of defense we have. We'd rather state our beliefs, release the project, and hope good things come out of it while preparing for some not so good things. The other options include:
- Get in an unwinnable arms race by somehow trying to restrict content.
- Not release it at all, which means nothing happens, or worse, someone else creates something similar without a supporting structure, and people get hurt.
This isn't a perfect solution, but it's something.