By Sarah Dorrance
Do you absolutely have to follow these rules, to be a “vampire in good standing?” No. (In good standing with what?) Do I think they’re sensible? Yes. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered to type them up.
- If you are involved with blood or other bodily fluids, practice strict safety precautions. I suppose this isn’t all that important if you’re not worried about your health, or the health of anybody who comes into intimate contact with you — good luck getting laid or finding a donor, by the way, unless you want to find another Darwin Award contender. There’s an essay elsewhere on the site about blood safety and safer feeding precautions. Read it.
- Be honest with yourself and others. Don’t play games. You get out of your relationships what you put into them. Pretending to be something you are not, pretending that there is more (or less) to a relationship than there is, being passive-aggressive about your needs, etc., are all great ways to sabotage a relationship. This holds true for vampires and non-vampires alike. Know yourself, know your limits, know what you want, and make these things clear from day one. Know that some of these things can change over time due to the natural process of growing older.
- “No” means “no”. Respect other people and their limits. Don’t impose yourself on anyone. If somebody does not want you to do something, don’t push. There are reasons that we have laws regarding sexual harassment, sexual imposition, and rape. While blood drinking and energy feeding does not have to have sexual overtones, it’s still intimate contact, so the same social rules apply. And yes, this is true for donors, not just for vampires. There aren’t many pushy, aggressive donors out there — but if you’re reading this and you spot some of your negative behavioral patterns in this description, shame on you. Play nice. Sheesh.
- Use common sense. You owe it to yourself. Don’t put some idealized idea of what vampires or the vampire community are “supposed to be like” above the way things really are. Don’t fall hook, line, and sinker for every myth, no matter how attractive some of them are. Research organizations before you get involved with them. Don’t go out and buy books, fangs, paraphernalia, etc., if you are on a budget and don’t absolutely need them — you can have community without such geegaws, and you can get information from the internet or the library. You’re a normal human being like everybody else. You have a life (or so one would hope). That ought to come first.
- Watch out for internet predators. We spend a lot of time on the web; it’s often easier to socialize among our own kind here than in RL. If you answer a personals ad, be sure to meet in a public place, and consider using a “safety call.” The same holds true if you place a personal and somebody answers it, or if you meet somebody in a chatroom or in a web forum and start corresponding privately. Don’t give out your address, phone number, or other personal details via e-mail or online profiles unless you absolutely know who you are giving that information to.
- Don’t come out of the closet unless you are comfortable doing so. People pick up on confidence (or lack thereof). They will judge you based on what they perceive in your behavior. If you act defensive, either cagey and guilty and evasive or obnoxious and “in your face,” it will leave people with a bad impression. They will think that you are acting this way because there is something wrong with you, and they will attribute it to whatever quirk you are acting defensive about — especially if they don’t know too many other people who have this quirk. Vampirism, in this regard, is no different from queerness. On the other hand, self-confidence goes very far. A self-confident person who accepts himself or herself completely and who acts as though s/he has nothing to hide can do some really great public relations. It’s been proven that when people get a chance to see that the ordinary guy next door, the bus driver, Aunt Myrtle, etc., are queer, they question the negative stereotypes they learned long ago, and they are more sympathetic to the notion that queer people are just like everybody else and deserve equal rights. The same principle can, and should, be applied to vampirism.
- “Mundanes” are people, too. (The term “mundane,” by the way, was originally used within the Society for Creative Anachronism to describe a person who wasn’t into medieval reenactment. It wasn’t meant to be pejorative. “Mundania” referred to the real world, and the “Knowne World” referred to life within the SCA.) Don’t belittle people who aren’t involved in the vampire subculture, or who aren’t vampires, or who aren’t psychic, or who don’t have six fingers on their left hand, or whatever. Don’t act rude to them because they’re “less than you” or “outsiders.” How do you like it when people act that way to you? Hmm?
- Donors and vampires are equal partners. Without donors, guess what? Vampires don’t feed. At least not consensually – and this is supposed to be a “safe, sane, and consensual” scene. Seeing other people as “prey” only invites other people to treat you as a would-be predator. What do you think prisons are for?
- You don’t need an elder, a group, or a “sire” unless you absolutely want one. Not all people are into that. It’s nice that there are plenty of groups for people who are, but there are alternatives. Also, the sort of people who claim to be “elders” and who seem to be celebrities within the vampire scene are usually the sort of insecure, lifeless types who least deserve the title. A mature person has a life outside of the vampire scene and does not need to engage in power plays. A wise person can impart wisdom and let that wisdom speak for itself, without having to back it up with fancy titles or group affiliations. (For instance, if this piece of advice seems wise to you, you’ll take it; if not, you’ll ignore it. There, that was easy enough, wasn’t it?)
- Do your research. The more informed you are, the less likely it is that you will find yourself in a bad spot.
- Sometimes, the Golden Rule is really underrated. Try to be fair in your dealings. Whether there is an agent of karma, a “threefold law,” or any other divine set of checks and balances is up for debate. At any rate, it’s a matter of faith, not knowledge. On a practical level, we humans are the only authority we have. We police ourselves. We make our own rules. We have an obligation to be decent to each other – because we have to create our own justice. Without our self-imposed decency, we have nothing. Absolute freedom demands absolute responsibility. If you have a right to act freely, so does everybody else. Think about it. It’s easier for all concerned if you have some sense of maturity and restraint. Ethics aren’t the natural law — but they’re a damned good idea.