Fetish Friday: Trademark Infringement and the ABDL Community, Part 1 – What’s ABDL?

Welcome to Fetish Friday on Lawyers and Liquor and oh my god I have learned so much about Adult Baby Diaper Lovers over the past 72 hours. Seriously, I have just learned so much. It is so damn interesting. I mean, it definitely isn’t my bag (no, no I do not need to try it to be sure, I get bothered by changing my kid’s diapers) but I had no clue how deep and complex the whole community of “ABDL” actually was.

I mean, honestly, when you hear “full grown adults who enjoy wearing diapers” you don’t actually think that it’s going to be some amazingly in depth area of study. You think it’s going to be about fucking. Because, as humans, everything at some point becomes about fucking for some people. And I’ll be the first to admit, that was flat out my thought process on ABDL until I started researching this article. “Self,” I muttered, “we’re about to go down a very unsettling rabbit hole without a diaper genie in sight. Just remember your three rules.”

My three rules, by the way, determine if something ranks on my “give a shit” scale:

  1. Is it non-consensual?
  2. Is anybody being severely injured?
  3. Is it illegal?

If the answers to all three are “No,” then have at. You do you. It doesn’t affect me and it’s none of my goddamn business what you do in the privacy of your own nursery.

Instead…well, look, let’s just jump straight into this faster than I jumped off the changing table as a kid (ask to see my scar sometime).

First, let’s start with my standard disclaimer, okay?

I’m A Big Boy Now, But Still Not Your Lawyer.

Few things I want to get started before you motherfuckers  start freaking the fuck out: this is an academic and esoteric discussion. This is not fucking legal advice, do not fucking run out there screaming that the world is ending because a lawyer on the fucking internet said some shit to you. The laws I’ll be discussing are state-specific, jurisdiction, and fact specific, as are the interpretations of the same, and I’m only presenting them here as a means of having an academic and entertaining discussion on a subject.   If you have legal questions, or you’re involved in any of the cases I discuss today, you should definitely have legal counsel that isn’t me, because I’m under no set of circumstances your lawyer, and this is definitely not legal advice.

What exactly IS ABDL?

It’s an acronym.

Smartass.

Oh, I’m sorry, are we just now catching up with that fact? You should really work on your tone recognition.

Fine. What does the acronym stand for?

It stands for “Adult Baby Diaper Lovers.” The classic representation of this, and the one that appears to be the most prominent in the mind’s eye for the general public, are the folks who would show up every now and again on a sensationalist daytime talk show. You know the ones I’m talking about. The fat guys with a rattle, a gigantic fucking bottle, a baby bonnet (which always raised some questions for me, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby bonnet on an actual goddamn baby), and some oversized Pampers. There’d be some clip show of how some woman a quarter of their size would be caring for them in some giant crib, and then a whole thing where the audience members would stand up and roundly berate them, telling them that they needed to grow the fuck up and “stop being nasty” or some shit.

Hey, you know what I discovered over the past 72 hours? The Jerry Springer Show is not a reliable source of information. Who would have thunk it, huh?

Turns out ABDL folks run the gamut from combat veterans to government employees, researchers, learned professionals, teachers, etc. I mean, strange isn’t it? That folks who have a specific thing they do because they enjoy it and it doesn’t really hurt other people may come in all shapes, sizes, intellects, and professions! The world’s just a fucking melting pot, folks.

…It’s a sex thing, right?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

In preparing for this article, I talked to a lot of folks who are part of the ABDL community. I mean a lot of them. Like, I announced I was doing this article and my inbox became a whirlwind of people offering to give me their perspective on their very particular, and to those outside of it maybe peculiar, little corner of the world.

It’s undeniable that the desire to wear adult diapers and…use them, to phrase it delicately…may have a sexual connotation for some people. As one person stated when I asked if it was a sexual thing:

“It’s a kink. Oh my god, it’s a kink.”

But one person doesn’t speak for an entire group of people, and another that I spoke to stated the exact opposite. For the second person, there wasn’t a sexual aspect to it all, there was an emotional aspect. The person in question had significant past trauma, and there was an emotionally comforting aspect to putting on a diaper and regressing to a happier time in their life. It wasn’t sex, in short, it was therapy. Which…is neat. I mean, look, guys, we live in a time where MDMA, a drug known on “the street” as Ecstasy, is being recognized for having genuine therapeutic benefits. If we’re saying “Hey, this drug that kids used to take at raves before spinning glowsticks is actually helpful” is it really strange that some folks find wearing a diaper and acting like a kid comforting?

Then there’s this interview from one of the showrunners over at Tykables, a supply company for the ABDL lifestyle (who will be  a prominent player in the next post we do about this), who points out that there are also people who are into this for genuine medical reasons. Be they people on the autism spectrum who find comfort in the sensory aspects (the touch and feel of diapers or the environment), or people who may be in adult-sized diapers for medical reasons and have found a more welcoming and understanding community by engaging in this.

I mean, with all the people I talked to regarding this, the fact is the answers on “What’s the attraction to it?” were varied. Very varied. There are a lot of reasons someone may enjoy it, some of them sexual, some of them not, some of them a mix of both.

You know, like with all goddamn people. We’re humans. You leave a group of people alone with an idea for more than two minutes, someone in the group is going to figure out a way to make it about fucking and some others are going to agree.

I’m certain that, among a group of people who like McGriddles for various reasons, there’s at least one guy saying “I like them because they’re warm and gooey when I add my ‘special sauce'” It’s natural.

So they dress up in diapers and act like babies…

Let me stop you real quick.

The acronym is “ABDL,” but it likely should be AB/DL, because what we’re talking about are two separate communities with a significant amount of overlap.  But they aren’t necessarily the same. There are adult babies, who for one reason or another like the aspect of being, for all essential purposes, babies in their private time and among like-minded people, and then there are diaper lovers, who enjoy wearing (and using) diapers. Yes, there’s overlap, but they’re not one and the same thing. Some are both, and some are one or the other.

And the second part is the “acting like babies” portion. There have been actual goddamn studies on this one.  Role play can be a part of it, but isn’t necessarily a part of it. For some people, just the act of being able to dress up like a kid and regress slightly in their surroundings, their dress, their environment, etc. is more than enough. For others, especially those with willing partners who like it as well, role play can be a part of it.

And, as the study above mentions (no, I won’t link the whole article. You pay for it like I did), sex isn’t even necessarily a part, as for some people the idea of making it sexual would violate the whole concept of “being a baby.”

Pedophiles.

I haven’t talked to a single person who has stated there was a desire to actually have sex with a minor in looking at this, and I didn’t see that given as an answer on any anonymous study I reviewed. There are pedophiles everywhere. The Catholic Church had them. Unless you can give me something more than anecdotal evidence that shows a higher prevalence of pedophilia in this community than in any other community, you can fuck right off with that “But the children” bullshit being used as a justification for your own distaste of other people’s preferences, Ms. Bryant.

Still. They use diapers. Like, as intended.

Yeah, some of them do. And some of them don’t. The same study above shows that there is a not-insignificant number of people who do not, in any way, “soil” their adult diapers. This is somewhat backed up by a study/survey performed anonymously in 2006 that shows the number of people who “wet” or “mess” their diapers never really rises above 90%, meaning a full 10% of respondents did neither. In that situation, how the hell is this any different than any other type of dress up?

The answer is “It isn’t, you fucking asshole.”

Even for those that do enjoy making boom boom in their diapers, the same study indicates that there is a significant difference between “wetting” and “messing,” urinating in or defecating in the diaper (respectively). By the way, I like the euphemisms. Seriously. No shit (Look, you gotta give me one pun, okay?).  This survey sort of backs up the anecdotal evidence I gathered from my conversations with AB/DL enthusiasts: many enjoy wetting, a smaller percentage (though not an insignificant one) enjoys messing.  One anecdotal percentage given to me was something like half of the folks they know in the communities engaged in “messing” when they were in the zone, so to speak, and enjoyed it.

Boozy, they’re using the restroom on themselves.

And?  So did my grandmother, though that was out of necessity.

And let’s not forget, there are people in this community because it is a place they can feel accepted despite their medical need for the use of a diaper. Imagine that, feeling fucking ashamed and then finding a place where it’s not shameful to mess yourself, but okay to do so.

Frankly, from conversations, there’s a code here, just like there are in other communities society at large may deem distasteful or judge. That code is “be considerate.”

As one AB/DL told me in our conversation, in reference to using the diaper in public:

“Just like a fart doesn’t keep to itself, scat doesn’t either. So that’s a major no no, to the point people are ostracized from the community for it.”

Note, this was in reference to messing, i.e. defecating, in a diaper, in public. From the conversation, wetting is generally more acceptable because it isn’t generally noticeable unless you’re really looking for it. There’s less odor, people likely aren’t squishing when they walk, they aren’t leaving a trail of urine, etc.

And, by the way, that’s only talking about the people that would engage in such behavior in public. Like every other kink or fetish tangential thing in the world, I would assume a large number of folks who are involved in ABDL, and are involved for non-medical or emotional reasons, engage in their past time primarily in private or around other like-minded people or otherwise in safe spaces.

So, you know, stop getting your asses all red and chapped over shit people do in private or respectfully with consideration for others when it will never really have any negative impact on you.  You don’t have to understand or be into something to let other people enjoy it. There’s always the option to shrug, not be a flaming jackass, and say “I don’t get it, but I don’t have to” and choose not to participate in it.

Seriously.

But there was this time a guy with a diaper walked by me and he really stank!

Yeah, that may have happened.

There was also the time the priest molested kids.

Or the time a furry fucked a dog.

Or the time a Master in a BDSM relationship was literally abusing his partner damn near to death.

Or…look, the list goes on and on. Every community has its bad apples. Every community has the Jerry Springer Show guy. And that’s the image that gets fixed in the imagination whenever the community is mentioned because we, as people, latch onto the most sensationalist fucking thing we can. Sex sells, disgust sells, ridicule sells. But pointing to the worst case scenarios as examples of an entire community made up of diverse people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, reasons, motivations, and standards of conduct has a word.

The word is “stereotyping.”

Their media/drawings/websites really bother me, though.

Then don’t fucking look.  I don’t spend my days googling bloodplay images so I can be bothered by them.  It exists, it isn’t my thing, but it’s someone’s thing and as long as they aren’t breaking laws, doing serious harm, and everyone’s consenting why the fuck should I let it bother me?

For that matter, why the fuck are you letting it bother you?

You understand not everyone in the world has to sanitize their legitimate interests, kinks, fetishes, and communities just to fit them into your worldview, right?

Right?

Why are we even talking about this?

Because next time, I’m going to talk about a couple trademark infringement suits that are really interesting to me that center squarely around the ABDL community, its business structures, and the attention to detail those companies exercise when protecting their brand. And frankly, I don’t want the comments section or Twitter to go off on a tangent about this shit and how “gross” people think ABDL practitioners are. So I’m talking about the community now and making my position clear:

I don’t care if you think it’s gross or not. They’re fucking people, they aren’t hurting you, they’re involved in it for a variety of reasons which may or may not include kink/fetish related purposes, and you need to calm your tits on being a prick about this shit moving forward.

I got no tolerance for unreasonable intolerance, folks.

So, till Part 2 where we examine the case of the Diaper Dispute, this is Boozy saying “Night Night, little ones.”

-BB

Author: BoozyBarrister

From a riverboat to a law office, the BoozyBarrister is a civil litigator with a bad attitude.