Sunday, 10 June 2007

Who Matters? or Why A Lot Of This Shit Is Just Silly

reposted from a comment of mine here:

Dw3t-Hthr: "And I'm just kinda going, "Uh, force is force. It doesn't have balls or tits."

Moi, somewhat extended from original:

well there IS cultural encoding to that effect, and the cultural encoding isn't something BDSMers are immune to.

but yeah.

eh. which goes back to the whole "how do we root out the sexism in BDSM" kinda thaaaaaaang

Except, you know: should we really be wasting our time on these people?

Not feminist orthodoxy to say it but: do we REALLY CARE?

does some dom who thinks he's ubermensch really MATTER TO FEMINISM?

on a radfem/radfemlike view, yeah, because the more of them there are the more likely there's the conglomerate that shames/diminishes other forms

but y'know, i'm leery of that whole idea that some anti-SM feminists have that what some members of an already small sexual subculture do... means something hyooj.

much more likely that The Pat has filtered down even to us than that we (supposed darlings o' th' Pat ourselves, to these folks) are making sexuality funked.

cos really? who are these people? and what do they MATTER unless we're a unit taking THEM on as a unit?

Eh. I think there are productive ways to, say, attempt to change The Face Of The Scene.

But I think a lot of what people notice isn't really a generality that means something so much as: y'know, many if not most heterosexuals have never thought about this shit. F/m people maybe, but you still get occasional pockets of, say, "Dominant women shouldn't be too masculine" or "Dominant women are weak if they get fucked" (lovely catch-22!) and such crap.

so rather than considering them Das Problemm, maybe like I said the best thing to do is foster alliances with people who think differently

get 'em into some alternate environments

where, y'know, to really count in the community as Mr. Butch Uberdom, you have to compete with gay leather titleholders who could out-butch pit bulls... and who fuck submissive MEN



verte said...

Have been reading the previous comment thread with interest. I think there are two things to say here: a) I don't like sexist values imposed on me (I suspect subs get this a bit more) and b) politically, if we're going to be accepted, I don't think sexism in the BDSM community is helpful.

We have a piece of legislation going through this week in the UK (that I will write about AGAIN here, I think) that does discriminate against the BDSM community, citing violence against women as the main reason it goes through. Unfortunately, the MRA approach to stopping the law passing has not been helpful, although a number of overtly feminist types are also at the front of the campaign.

I agree - fostering alliances is a great idea. But some people don't want to share environments with 'types of people' they aren't likely to approve of - and often that'll include feminists, gay leather families, goreans, etc. To be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn't really want to hang out alone with a load of gorean masters.

Trinity said...

Oh, I agree with that. But I want to make sure we get clear on *what* we mean.

Do we mean the public face of the Scene?

If we don't, *which* Scene are we talking about? Het? Queer? Pan (which is basically het, again, with some bi women)

because a big thing I notice is different subcommunities are VERY different. I've never felt that the Scene was homogenous, and I've found that I had to do a LOT of shopping around to find communities in which I was comfortable.

and I wonder about that when I see people blanket claim "the Scene is sexist." Because... which one? What different places did they try?

Or did they have this idea that one group was all that they should try? Or was one group all that was available?

Were they going to TES or BR or other large groups, or were they meeting with small enclaves? Were they looking for dates on Alt?

(I think here of one anti-BDSM woman I talked to who if I recall right put out personals ads on the 'Net looking for daddy-doms, said she at first enjoyed it and consented, later decided it and all BDSM was bad for you

and I just found myself thinking "what else did you try?" and it really seemed like her answer would be "nothing" -- she wanted daddies, she wanted to role-play abuse, etc. and to me it's fine both that she did it and that she stopped, but I wonder if that gives one a good enough sample of what BDSM is "about" -- again that doesn't show her anything about non-het dynamics, about people who aren't doing ageplay to deal with real history, etc.)

If they were in the large groups, would a change of management/new elected board help?

and how are we talking about improving it? that's my big thing here. because y'know -- I don't think all THAT many people DO accept the Goreans. Most people I know give them a wide berth when they show up

and usually they don't show up at all. Mostly they're onliners. I think I've met all of two Gorean masters

one of whom was a perpetual *annoyance* at a local group, but just about everyone knew he was full of shit, and the one time he did try to prey on a young femsub, I and two other tops immediately swooped in to let the woman know "you don't have to obey this guy, he's not what we're about"

and the other of whom bought some paddles from Gorean Master #1 and then disappeared after maybe a month.

So... what does that mean? Is that a battle worth picking? Okay, let's just say it is. What really *happens* when we win, other than an irritating asshole is gone?

I guess I buy that it's more welcoming, and more femsubs feel secure -- but I'm not so sure it's a big huge change, since everyone wrote the guy off already anyway.

So... eh. I dunno. It's worth doing, but... when is it a feminist project and when is it "hey you, stay home?"

when is it something we present to other feminists as "we've cleaned the scene" and when is it... sexist jerks are sexist jerks, here or elsewhere?

and on fostering alliances: well, if a certain subcommunity doesn't WANT to foster alliances, what does that mean for the rest of us? do we cut our losses and say "'kay, go be humbled females OVER THERE THANKS" or do we be unsatisfied with that as feminists who'd like to see all those enclaves go poof?

I'm not sure myself. Because... I've engaged with some of the women in those online comms, and... what I saw was people just not interested in understanding feminism at all. They've got this idea that feminism wants them NOT to be submissive to men or wants to force them to work or something, I don't know what, and are defending their own choices tooth and nail from a false opponent. There's no reasoning with that.

and okay, so in some Grand Feminist system, it sucks that they exist at all, but really

my question is: how much do onliners really matter?

that's why I'm asking "what does this mean we DO?" not because... nothing's worth doing but because, well, just, "hey, MacKinnon had a point"

sure she did, but she was trying to change things. and at least she had a theory: no porn. a BAD theory IMO, but something to do, somewhere to really base the activism. something to say "okay, we've done something: we've gotten such and such out of our town, our culture, our whatever, now let's see what that does"

I want to see something similar for the Scene. What are we to do? If it's ousting Gorean masters... fine by me. If it's major groups publicly distancing from these small enclaves... also fine. Whatever.

I just... well, I'm pretty done with the "feminist malaise" thing. Yes, it's real, yes, we all have it to some degree. Okay, yeah, it can come up during BDSM too, particularly for hetero, sub women.

Sure. But what do we DO? The current feminist... fad... is "examination of desire" but where does that get us? When is that fixing something? When does it really raise consciousness, and when is it just... navel-gazing?

That's what I want to make sure we get hashed out. Because ultimately I want to see this CHANGE. Whether that's by creating a culture in which these people can't flourish at all (which personally I think is a pipe dream) or by driving them underground and upping the possibility a new femsub will find a nonsexist or less sexist community upon seeking BDSM out.

Trinity said...

i guess the thing is that i see a fair number of femsubs *seeking out* things that look sexist to me because that's their fantasy. and i don't know what to do about THAT

because I don't think it's really productive feminism to go up to someone and say "dearie, d'you really really want a Daddy like that?"

I mean, encouraging her to examine her desire is all well and good, but a lot of people *already have* thought about things

and if their mind's gonna change, you can't hurry it up. so... what do you DO, other than "hey, that particular dood is a jerk"?

Trinity said...

also for me personally it's a little hard to keep my brain focused on M/f hets ALLL THE TIME, as one often is when talking about anti-SM feminist arguments

maybe this is selfish but i get to the point where i'm like "wait, if i'm a feminist, why am i focusing on one particular and particularly hetero dynamic i'm not even a part of


and y'know, maybe not because y'all need the most help. but after a while someone like me just goes splork.

maybe stupid & selfish but there ya go.

belledame222 said...

"wait, if i'm a feminist, why am i focusing on one particular and particularly hetero dynamic i'm not even a part of



which is by no means limited to BDSM discussions BY the way.

ellefromtheeast said...

One thing that I've been part of that combats sexism in the scene is a NextGen discussion group, where we try to catch people age 18-35 as they come into the scene. A lot of these kids (I'm under 30 myself) have had no exposure except online stuff, and this is a way to expose people to live community norms, as well as more fun social chat.

I think this helps combat sexism in a few ways. First of all, the asshole male domly doms always go for the nubile and clueless, but this gives young sub women a space to meet other nubile and cluess players, as well as some social tools to defend themselves.

Secondly, it gently indicates to incoming male tops that this is a pansexual community, with plenty of female tops and switches, and you can take any ideas of "natural female submission" and cram 'em where the sun don't shine.

Thirdly, these norms are all transmitted through explaining the community history and practice, so you don't get the constant "DEAR GODDESS CAN WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE" feeling.

Trinity said...

yes yes yes elle

that's the sort of thing i'm talking about!

i never liked the local TNG, they never quite seemed to take leather *seriously*

and seemed to be young geeky guys for the most part who'd just discovered DOMINANCE!

and... yeh, for ME I fit better with the older folk... more laid back, more serious about leather history and how it all fit together.

but i'm sure that helped some people, too. damn sure.

Chewie said...


(This is Elle's husband/top; I also read this [excellent] blog.)

Mileages vary across communities. We're very lucky, in that the Next Gen community in our area is actually misnamed; a goodly proportion of the members are following a relatively traditional Leather path, myself included. I just wanted to chime in to point out that participating in Next Gen and traditional Leather need not be exclusive activities. Although there may be some tension between the groups in some areas, I think engagement in cross-cutting cleavages can be valuable both in fighting sexism (both within the community and without) and in setting boundaries and categories for that fight.

Trinity said...

hiya Chewie!

and thanks. I'm glad to see that. I know I'm not the only fairly young person who is more interested in a Leather path (I won't quite say "traditional Leather" because it seems there's a lot that that could mean, from patterning my life in leather on that of the folks from the '70s around here, which wouldn't work for me, to ties with certain subcommunities, which do) than a different path.

It's just that... again, this particular TNG never had that "feel" to me, so I never got deeply involved. I'm not trying to say that TNG groups are not valuable or make any kind of blanket statement like that.

I think the more subcommunities the better, actually. Big groups are nice for newbies and for a general sense of solidarity, but smaller ones are lovely because not only are they closer-knit, but also you're more likely to find what YOU are looking for

whether it's edgeplayers or folk discussing relationships or people into a specific dynamic or... whatever have you, there's some group.

That's part of why I consider myself fortunate to live in a big Metro area now.

Trinity said...

and actually the TNG here has had some switches of management since I was last there, so it may suit me better now (though in the meantime, I got older! *laugh*). I still have the general impression that they're very... Pepsi... about BDSM, which suits me sometimes but doesn't really reflect what I want and need as a leatherperson interested in a serious LTR, though.

I'll have to get to something of theirs and see how it's changed.