Saturday, 16 June 2007

Gender Supremacists in BDSM: A Difficult Confession

I was just thinking of a comment of Verte's in another thread, wherein she mentioned asking people into male-supremacist BDSM "why they get off on it"

and I was thinking that it seems to me that they're not just getting off on the idea of a world following the dynamic they like, but interpreting the world AS secretly following that dynamic. And I don't know why that is, but my guess is insecurity. If you know something secret about women or men that they don't admit to, you don't have to feel like a pervert or an outcast or a nostalgic, reactionary person.

Why am I mentioning this? Because of an old, completely cringeworthy personal diary entry of mine from Feb 2001 (at the time -- though it should be obvious -- I thought I was straight. I was also trying to use "femdom" as a way of making myself more feminine. I'd always been more comfortable androgynous or masculine, but felt ashamed. When I discovered the Scene, being a feminine top seemed a good compromise and I tried to shoehorn myself into it for a while. Later I let go of that and realized that I didn't really want to be feminine, even in a dominant way.)
I realized something today: I never thought I saw things along gender lines, but I'm now realizing that I do. i just see things along backwards gender lines. :) I am beginning to think that maybe the reason I'm still a tad confused by Maledom/femsub relationships is that in some fundamental way i see things the opposite way. I always used to think I was totally egalitarian on this -- equality, M/f, F/m, But I am beginning to believe (to my own disquietude) that what I have is not only a preference but perhaps a paradigm. No, I don't wnat it to be one -- I want everything to be equal in my own eyes... but right now I think it's not.

I say this because I think of the Femdom as the ultimate in the ideal of a female -- a sort of goddess nature that I strive toward and can't help but believe other women strive for as well even though I know their quest for their inner divinity doesn't have to take that form. I say this because I see male bottoms the same way -- as a perfection, as this noble form that exemplifies what the male essence really is. I know it's not actually true, but it is what my instincts tell me: that all the male posturing, endless male jockeying to be at the top of the sexual totem pole, subjugation of women in the not-too-distant past, etc is all an illusion, built on fear of losing power and becoming what they truly are.

I don't like that I have this feeling -- I know it is not true, and everyone is everywhere along this spectrum. But I can't shake it, and that is what makes me find Maledom/femsub so odd. I can't imagine that any woman in her right mind would be submissive. Not that I think it's wrong in any way... just that it leaves me confused. I can imagine easily a woman submitting to another woman -- then she'd just be lower in the hierarchy than the other woman who Doms her. But I just can't picture why someone who has the inner force and actie spirit of Goddess would choose to give herself over to the sublime passivity that for me is the domain of the guys, I know our culture says the opposite, and I myself tried to fit into the "passive, feminine girl" mold -- and only felt natural when I let that go. But i am universalizing my experience here, and that's not good.

Why am I? I don't know. Rationally, rthere's no reason for it. Rationally, I see that many people see men the way I see women, and women the way i see men, and such views have limited both. But for some reason, my instincts tell me it just makes more sense one way than the other.
Yowie. Yuck. Ewww. Gah.

But re-reading it, I DO remember feeling that way. And I DO remember having no idea why, feeling that I was being unfair, etc.

Now that I think about it years later, having been exposed to tons of different BDSM dynamics and people, being comfortable with my bisexuality, having played with women, dated a woman, etc...

...I really think that came from insecurity on my part. I was a very new top, and very young (21, at the time) and overwhelmed with new feelings. I was frightened because I knew that society in general thought I should submit to men. And in the dungeon I was seeing men let down a facade of dominance and become comfortable and open in a way I often didn't see from men with macho walls up.

So I suppose it was easy for me to look at men who were behaving nastily or who seemed insecurely macho and grin knowingly and think "I know what you REALLY are..." (and of course, that meant that what had been a threatening or uncomfortable interaction with a sexist fool could become a sexual fantasy about what might happen when he let that facade down... ;)

Applying this to male tops, I can easily imagine similar faulty reasoning on their part too. Silly as it looks to most feminists, there are a lot of men out there who feel insecure because feminism has shaken up what's expected of them. Witness how incredibly incensed men can get about minor points of etiquette, like whether or not women want doors held open for us any more, and how rude or disorienting this is for some men.

As silly as I find all that stuff, it's not hard for me to think myself into the place of a man like that and think that, perhaps, believing in some secret kernel of submission in all women could make him feel just a little less threatened and bewildered. If he's not secure enough to let go of that thinking... well, that's where some of the pushy insistence that all women submit (or should) could come from.

As far as the submissive people who are into gender supremacy, that one I can't wrap my head around as easily because I'm not submissive. But I suppose it could be similar. A straight man comes to terms with the fact that he yearns to be a woman's slave, but still feels emasculated among his straight male peers -- and BAM! secret truth: Women are Superior Goddesses and patriarchy is bitter fear of The Real Reality. A straight woman finally manages to escape the pressure of what she deems a "feminist" life path/demand set, and BAM! "we're all unhappy with 'the feminist new order', deep inside..."

I don't know. I'm embarrassed at that old post of mine. But I do remember thinking it. And I remember the thought that most straight men were liars, that they secretly yearned to be mine, under it all... it was an exhilarating thought.

Remembering it, I'm not surprised that some immature people would be stuck there.

38 comments:

belledame222 said...

I dunno if it's -that- untrue. at any rate i do think that there's a lot of yearning/fear of submitting in the most adamantly macho macho men. but that has less to do with inherent nature and more with what i know about basic psychology ("undoing," overcompensation, etc. etc.)

Trinity said...

"i do think that there's a lot of yearning/fear of submitting in the most adamantly macho macho men"

oh, yeah, so do I. I'm just saying that seeing some of that led to generalizing in a way that was't respectful, and that's not good.

And that that can easily be what's going on with the men lingering around the Scene going "you're really not happy with that career track, are you, honey? I'll bring out your slave slut" and whatever.

Because I DO hear from some femsubs "I'm a manager at work, and..."

ArtfulSub said...

I liked that "Women are Superior Goddesses and patriarchy is fear of the REAL REALITY" line.

Is it a quotation?

I've found just about everything I've seen on Female Supremacy to be cultic and irrational. One of the 7 hallmarks of a cult being offering adherents "secret answers" to questions the society's major religions leave unanswered.

So, we get Men who submit to Women who become nutty conspiracy theorists. Eager to accept pseudo-science with no valid studies to support the findings. Eager to read borderline-porn descriptions of "Ancient Cultures" that never existed or were, in fact, largely run by males. The hidden truth of those Paradise cultures suppressed by evil patriarchs time-and-time again.

Again displaying cultic traits, they won't listen to dissent from the unenlightened. They stopped reading my point when they saw I chose to capitalize Men and left the Y out of Women.

Femdom Gnostics blessed with a gnostic "special knowledge" given to them by "The Supreme Goddess" that others in the wider community don't have.

I suspect that Trinity's explanation for male submissive's motivation for getting into the cult is correct for many. Perhaps most.

And the really strident "All WomYn are Superior to all male creatures" types are over-whelmingly male, in my experience.

I also suspect that many of the "Superior Lillith Goddesses" that pop-up on the internet have rather pronounced adam's apples to go along with their penises and really really low self-esteem.

I'm a pretty libertarian person in terms of other people's lifestyle-choices and beliefs. "If they don't scare the horses", I say it's none-of-my business.

But I think obsessive male Female Supremacist's DO scare the Domme Filly away from what cold be the right lifestyle choice for them.

And leave the impression all or most of us are freaking nutballs.

JMHO. If anyone has any sensible Female Supremacy literature, I'd be happy to take a Gander/goose at it.

as

verte said...

And that that can easily be what's going on with the men lingering around the Scene going "you're really not happy with that career track, are you, honey? I'll bring out your slave slut" and whatever.

I think 'lingering around' is the operative part, tho, really. In reality, I've met very few male dominants at clubs or munches who don't want their sub to be financially independent, for example, have a career or lead an independent life, speak as they please, etc. But there are the exceptions. There are both male and female gender supremacists who'll talk to you as an inferior in a way you know they wouldn't talk to a male or female dom.

For the same reasons, I'm incredibly cringed out by some of my first writings on BDSM. And, when I thought I was entirely straight, my profile thing was all 'I am SO challenging and SO strong. It will take SUCH a big, strong, arrogant man to make me submit'. And in the end, that wasn't it at all (although T is 6'4" and well built, and has a huge amount of quiet self-confidence). I just wanted to ward off the ego doms. But in the end, that was exactly what my first dominant was like! I guess it's a case of being careful for what you wish for. That even if I do have fantasies of and play out humiliation, degradation etc, in a way that's probably gendered and un-PC and all the rest of it, that's not something I'd ever want in reality. And there are some men and women who really want that all the time, I guess.

verte said...

As to why some male dominants believe in male supremacy, I've met a few evolutionists and Darwinists on the scene, though I still can't think of anyone who would describe women as intellectually inferior. But still, perhaps that's it? Some just believe patriarchies create the most successful relationships for them, a la Surrendered Wives, perhaps. And then there's the Goreans...

thene said...

Your 2001 thinking - secret truth: Women are Superior Goddesses and patriarchy is bitter fear of The Real Reality - reminds me of the Scum Manifesto, though without the hate! I think if you sympathise with a paradigm like that, it's easy to turn up evidence for it under every stone - as with any other conspiracy theory. Gender seems an attractive target for conspiracy theorising and gross generalisations, because almost everyone's got one so anyone you meet can be part of the plot, yey!

Trinity said...

"Is it a quotation?"

No, it's just me riffing. :) But it's a sentiment I heard from a lot of femdom folks on the Internet. I joined some Internet groups when I was new in hopes of understanding femsupremacy. There was a lot of talk like that.

"I've found just about everything I've seen on Female Supremacy to be cultic and irrational."

I think both sides can be. I think it's a danger of justifying interest in power by deciding that whatever you are is What's Meant To Be.

"I also suspect that many of the "Superior Lillith Goddesses" that pop-up on the internet have rather pronounced adam's apples to go along with their penises and really really low self-esteem."

I actually suspect a lot of them are professional dominatrices who are selling a fantasy. It's a selling point to guys like this: yes, we know The Truth, and we're eager/DESTINED to immerse you in it, worm!

annnnnnnd he shells out the dough. bing.

I have met one person in the local community who is something of a female supremacist. Nowhere near as icky as she could be, and often a rather nice person... but seeming to need to justify what she does and who she is with universal theories about what men are. Again I personally think it's insecurity.

Some people around here invited me to join a chapter of Club FEM and I talked to the women who ran it. I was very concerned about whether it was okay that I'm not a femsupremacist (hell I'm not even hetero...) and basically the anwer I got back was "a lot of us aren't either. Just profess it and maybe be quiet about not believing it."

Which -- eh. I didn't particularly feel like all that silliness would be worth it just for a ticket to a few more play parties.

Now I've heard there are two Club FEM groups locally, and that the schism was actually over this issue. I haven't really looked into it further, though.

Trinity said...

"But I think obsessive male Female Supremacist's DO scare the Domme Filly away from what cold be the right lifestyle choice for them.

And leave the impression all or most of us are freaking nutballs."

Actually when I was first interested as a teen, the first resource I found online (too scared to look anywhere else at the time) was actually one of those M/f "Christian D/s" websites.

I eagerly read it because I'd finally encountered people who did some of the things I fantasized about and described them as positive, fun, and fulfilling.

But I made the mistake of showing my face (er, my text) and the shower of "You're really submissive with a strong feminist defense mechanism. Let us help you discover your true essence"

yeah. ew.

ArtfulSub said...

Hi Trinity,

Oh yes, I completely agree all sides can be obsessed and/or cultic. It's possible the Male Supremacy fanatics are WORSE. I don't know, as I've never studied them.

You made me laugh with your Christian D/s M/f Group Encounter!!

I looked at one of those with the very naive hope of conversing with pervs who actually know the Bible as well I do.

Truth was, many of them knew exactly 3 scriptures. All from Paul, all concerning Male/Female relationships. Took two of them out-of-context theologically. And put WAY more emphasis on ALL of them than Paul intended.

The couple that founded the group were well-schooled and pleasant, though.

Anyway, neat blog you have here.

as

Trinity said...

"Truth was, many of them knew exactly 3 scriptures. All from Paul, all concerning Male/Female relationships."

Ah yes.

It was actually rather funny when they started talking to me, and quoting

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

at me, in contexts that had NOTHING to do with churches.

and of course, ONLY saying that to me AFTER I'd been talking a while and they wanted to shut me up.

"if you REALLY want to know about BDSM, ask your Husband once you find Him"

"er, aren't there other singles here?"

"didn't you read the quote? it says be silent. I suggest you start now..."

Trinity said...

Interestingly, it tended to be some of the *women* at that site who were most vocal about me shutting up.

Others of the women were actually a lot more open-minded. But mostly the men ignored me... until I defended a new (male) poster who was a switch.

Then they got into a flaming fight with me, at which point I let them have it ("you think a flap of flesh makes you entitled to own someone? you're the last people on earth who should. bye.") and got banninated.

verte said...

Interestingly, it tended to be some of the *women* at that site who were most vocal about me shutting up.

Yup, same here. I mean, sure, I'm an activist, I've spoken at various events where I am, in effect, representing the community, written some stuff for publication, etc, so saying 'ZOMGZ, this is GROSS' publically all the time in internet communities would hardly be a good or fair move. It would be a bit of a 'my kink is 'better' than your kink'. But it wasn't a judgement at all. Just an expression of discomfort, and a desire to understand where that kink comes from, and why my reaction to it is so kneejerk, a bit better. But still, I'm being really careful how I phrase things as the site owner seems to find me offensive.

Anyway, I think we established on the other thread that vanilla relationships are mostly based on patriarchies or even male supremacies. And most of the time that's not really based on informed consent. Which these relationships are, so.

Iamcuriousblue said...

I just wanted to ask what you mean by "gender supremacist" in a BDSM context. Would this mean all Maledom/femsub and Femdom/malesub sexual relationships? Or only ones (like Goreans, Taken in Hand, Domestic Discipline, etc) that extend the sexual relationship out to the entire lifestyle? Personally, I'm very much a male top (but in the context of vanilla sex rather than BDSM) sexually, but that doesn't mean I think I should dominate in all aspects of a relationship.

Iamcuriousblue said...

Re: what Artfulsub and Thane are saying about femsupremacy.

I've noticed this kind of rhetoric around femsupremacy as well, both by fem dommes and male subs in that scene. What really strikes me is how close in some ways the rhetoric comes to that of radfems. Female radfems seem very dominant and bossy, for the most part, in spite of all their self-professed "egalitarianism". (Susie Bright was definitely on to something when she referred to Andrea Dworkin as the modern-day reincarnation of DeSade.) Male radfems come across very much like male "true submissives". John Stoltenberg's books could practically be training manuals for male subs.

I think where radfems differ from femdom BDSMers is that radfems simply are hugely unconscious of their own will-to-power (they cling to the illusion that everything they do is about "equality") and are conversely offended by open displays of sexual power. Also, in some ways radfems are more ambitious than femdommes – I think they really want to beat the ass of the entire patriarchy, not just a few men. (Which must be a frustratingly unachievable goal.)

Trinity said...

I think Stoltenberg sounded, the one time I saw him present (right after Dworkin's death) like the bottom in a very creepy F/m dynamic yes...

...but I have a hard time calling that submission. it sounded like he'd just been totally downtrodden such that he felt he had to repress any feelings and thoughts he had that might seem concordant with "masculinity"

which seemed a lot more like cult thinking/cult obsession with "purity" than submission, to me.

i guess to me there's a difference between "submissive" and "crushed."

"Female radfems seem very dominant and bossy, for the most part, in spite of all their self-professed "egalitarianism"."

They're total Passive Masters.

"I don't believe in hierarchy so I'm not telling you what to do, no no never never, but don't you UNDERSTAND HOW BAD FOR WOMEN THAT IS?"

ergh.

Trinity said...

"Susie Bright was definitely on to something when she referred to Andrea Dworkin as the modern-day reincarnation of DeSade."

re this

i've heard it several times

but y'know, having read Juliette multiple times (it's one of my favorite books)

i just. don't. see it.

i mean, AD flat out admitted she's got some SM tendencies which is totally NOT surprising

but beyond that... eh?

Renegade Eye said...

Religious guilt?

verte said...

iamcuriousblue:

I think you asked this question on the other gender supremacies thread, and I forgot to answer it..

Personally, I am in an M/f relationship that contains elements of 'lifestyle' D/s and it's not just sexual. However, I wouldn't refer to this as a gendered supremacy at all.

I would say that gendered supremacies in a BDSM context are defined by pinning down and restricting gender roles to mean something particular (that one gender is inherently dominant and the other submissive). For instance, domestic discipline stuff? That's not something we've ever done (T works from home, so it would be wholly impractical!). I think it is possible to practice gendered supremacies just in terms of sexual role, but then that's make-believe and play, not a life philosophy. Goreans have a philosophy that very much defines gender role, for instance.

verte said...

ps: anyone read Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman? One of my favourite, favourite books.

Trinity said...

"ps: anyone read Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman? One of my favourite, favourite books."

I keep hearing that it's good, but the few excerpts I've checked out don't sound appealing to me at all. I can't remember specifics, but I do remember that it stuck me as... essentialist or Freudian or body-part-focused or SOMETHING

...eh. been too long since I took a look.

ArtfulSub said...

I like this blog. It's unique. Although y'all do use terms and reference writers I'm not familiar with. Don't know much about feminism, in general.

The only semi-famous self-proclaimed feminist I know and sorta like is Tammy Bruce. And I've no idea what her views on BDSM are.

Hope you do a post on her sometime so I'll at least have some familiarity with the subject.



as

Trinity said...

I don't even know who that is.

Trinity said...

And AS... go look things up! Or ask questions!

Don't rely on people to write about what you want them to...

Trinity said...

Oh. but judging from Mr. Bruce's website's most prominent graphic beign a white fist proclaiming KEEP AMNESTY DEAD

realmente... no creo que quiero saber quien es.

Uf.

Trinity said...

I also see affiliations with Reason Magazine... and it may only have been one contributor I take issue with

but having gone to this big symposium on the ethics of "designer babies" and the like, and hearing this bigwig from that magazine completely dismiss the concerns of the disability community (of which I am a part)

I tend to look askance at Reason Mag as well.

verte said...

as:

It is kind of unique. I saw nothing like it, and I wanted something like it, so I set it up. And so far, so good.

I've never heard of Tammy Bruce, but by the sounds of it she's not for me... Does she have anything to do with BDSM?! There's a hell of a lot of feminist bloggers and writers out there. If you want to know about Tammy Bruce, read her blog!

Yeah. Maybe some term-defining stuff is in order? The curious probably aren't going to have a clue what we mean half the time, I guess. Or belle's idea of an FAQ? I think that's an excellent idea.

ellefromtheeast said...

iamcuriousblue:

"Personally, I'm very much a male top (but in the context of vanilla sex rather than BDSM) sexually"

What do you mean by this?

louisa said...

I find that " possible matriarchy a long time ago" stuff to be fascinating, actually. Not from a "oh man this means wimminz should rule the world!11!" point of view but more of a "hey, those in power can do vicious things, no matter their sex, and we should be aware of that as feminists" sort of way.

Or maybe I just like looking at labrys. :P

Louisefeminista said...

"Or belle's idea of an FAQ? I think that's an excellent idea".

That would be useful, Verte.

I know I am bit late in the discussion but can I just say that I too think The Sadeian Woman by Angela Carter is a fascinating bk. Read it years ago and it made me rethink my views on pornography.

Regarding Dworkin. I always found it bizarre (not sure if that is the right word) that for someone who loathed porn she quoted reams of the stuff in her bk Pornography.

Sorry if I have gone topic a tad..

verte said...

Just another reading idea:

Trin, have you ever read the boards on http://www.theslaveregister.com?

It's certainly tamed a few of my kneejerks.

Trinity said...

Honestly the TPE/APE subset of Master/slave are the people who most worry me, Verte, for reasons like this

http://www.slaveregister.com/boards/enslavement/147581/

That these people are talking as if refusing to let someone leave a relationship is a good move... well, it scares me.

And it's not anything I hear from the offline M/s folks here, to be totally honest. I've never heard anything but "...and of course, the slave can walk out. In some setups, it may be the only power he has, but it's the ultimate veto."

So yeah... with respect to that site, "Internal Enslavement," "TPE," and "APE," my kneejerks are alive and well.

Now if I were to meet some of these people and discover that this thread is an aberration (which may well be likely -- my impression of the M/s groups around here was WILDLY off), that would be different.

But my ears tend to prick in a suspicious manner when I see "APE" "TPE" or "Internal Enslavement" for just that reason. If the slave can't leave, the relationship is grounded on force.

Trinity said...

And even if it weren't grounde don force... the way they talk about that not being able to leave freely thing as a cornerstone of "ownership"

well

people who see "oh, AND she can never break up with me! YAHOOOOOOO!" as a particularly lovely selling point... are not really the best dominant partners, I'd guess.

Trinity said...

also I could go on and on about the way they use Reactance and theories about helplessness on the IE site and the many questions I have about what scientific data they actually have about positive helplessness, and if this has ever been studied or if this is just something some guy proposed to explain why the world has extremely submissive folks in it... but I'd be here all week.

bdsm Slave said...

super nice.
I love.

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