Tuesday, 31 July 2007


Apparently this blog was linked at Alas some time ago and then the post was deleted or removed. At least according to Technorati:

Exploring Feminism In Relation to BDSM, Part 1: Control Without Consent

1 day ago in Alas, a blog · Authority: 757

I believe Myca is correct. Neither of these two men is practicing good BDSM as I seem to be encountering it when I talk to friendly, enthusiastic, healthy practitioners, or when I read blogs like this one, which has some exceptional writing: Let Them Eat Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces

The link no longer works. Did anyone see the post when it was actually up?

Thanks, whomever, for the compliment!

Monday, 30 July 2007

Letters from Gehenna: The World on a Slant: Delusions of Inadequacy

Letters from Gehenna: The World on a Slant: Delusions of Inadequacy

dw3t-hthr, weighing in on the whole femsupremacy thing and rocking my sox as usual:
And I'm not going to get into the weirdness of parsing sex- or gender-based supremacy stuff to me, as I'm sure folks can figure out how baffling that is to someone genderqueer. I mean, it needs to be noted as one of those, "Wow, your universe has no space for certain types of deviants to exist, let alone have anything to do" things, but ....

The weird thing about this stuff for me is how oddly restrictive it gets. Not just in the gender-assumption bits, or in the obvious 'men are like this, women are like that' stuff (whether it's male-superior or female-superior, it still has something of that sort), but in the whole rest of it.

Like one of the comments E got was from someone who claimed to agree with the female gender supremacy thing (I think; it's not entirely clear in context) and was full of supercilious contempt and dismissal of a woman. Which probably indicates that a woman who doesn't fit someone's model of Correct Womanhood doesn't count as a woman, and is thus beneath contempt according to The System.

And not only does one have to fit into a gender and do it the right way, one has to fit into a model of what it means to be dominant or submissive or whatever else. Which reminds me of all the posts I've seen recently about female doms/tops being expected to fulfil certain fantasies -- look a certain way, behave a certain way, be into certain things. Not be in to certain other things. (And I'm sitting here watching this one guy who comes across as obsessed with not-being-into-pain, and my thought process goes something like, "I'm not into pain, and I'm doing research about floggers on the side ...." Though that's sort of a complicated side tangent into different ways I'm a freak.)

....The whole men coming up to dominant women and casting their 'female superiority' stuff there is just ... why should those women give up their power of self-assertion about the nature of their desire for some random dude?
Yes, that last, exactly! Particularly since... well, as another blogger pointed out, these terms do get used rather differently by different people

and "submissive" in particular is often quite ambiguous between "she enjoys going into subspace and does so at every opportunity" and "she is service-oriented" and various other things

but well

at least to me, "the woman is dominant" means that on some level (perhaps a very mild one indeed, depending, but) she's the one who ultimately dictates what's happening and, depending on the dynamic, why.


I'm crossposting this from my LiveJournal, because I think it's worth discussing. There are a lot of us in the Scene who choose not to use particular words, set up particular types of dynamic, or role-play certain scenarios because they mimic or draw on an oppressive history. Personally I tend to be very live and let live about this myself, but there is one place I draw a very firm line for myself personally.

It's probably not the place you'd expect, unless you're also big on disability issues:

I know a few D/s types who like the term "behavior modification." When I try to describe to them why I'll never use that term (or what I perceive to be those methods) people blink at me incredulously.

So before I forget, here's why not.

And here, too:

EVELYN NICHOLSON, ANTWONE'S MOTHER: He would call me up crying and say, "You've got to get me out of here. I can't take this."

KAYE: Because along with the perks at this center for troubled children come the punishments. The Judge Rotenberg Center claims to be the only one in the country using electric shock aversion therapy. They call it the Graduated Electronic Decelerator, the GED. And half their students go to school each day tethered to electrodes housed in a fanny pack.

....Dr. Matthew Israel has been under fire from parents and doctors and psychiatrists since he invented the electric shock device 16 years ago. Dr. Israel calls it behavioral skin shock, a bee sting, a prick, an electric spanking, nothing like the convulsive shock treatments demonized in films.

DR. MATTHEW ISRAEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUDGE ROTENBERG CENTER: Children who otherwise might blind themselves have been able to stop that behavior and become a much more normal life.

....KAYE: It was really painful. The folks at the center told me it would feel like a bee sting, and that's what Dr. Israel had told us as well, but it feels far worse than that. It feels like a constant bombardment of pin pricks. It only lasts about two seconds, but you lose complete control of the muscle.

I couldn't control my arm anymore. So I could see why it would stop these kids, young kids, even, to stop them in their tracks.
While I realize that consenting adults choosing a power dynamic is not this, I can't be at home with the term. I imagine it's similar to how some people feel about others using slurs for groups they're members of in erotic play. For those particular people, the term is not a game, it's a history of pain and terror.

I don't think any of the people who get so gd puzzled and give lengthy explanations of what positive and negative reinforcement are (as if I don't know) when I flinch at this term read my blog, but just in case you do... here you go. And here's the ABA controversy, briefly, so you don't have to wonder if I'm making shit up. :)

Here is why I much prefer to call any changes to habits that happen as a result of D/s (and I personally don't expect many would or should, myself) something else. And flinch on occasion when you don't, though your methods are your own.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

E is for Eclectic: Why Female Gender Supremacy is Ignorant Crap, part 1 of 87

E is for Eclectic: Why Female Gender Supremacy is Ignorant Crap, part 1 of 87

An excellent post detailing why female supremacy (or any other gender supremacy in BDSM really) sucks hairy donkey gonads -- excuse me, licks the pristine vulva of a queen goddess -- er

really stinks:
I try to ignore it, believe me, but this shit is everywhere.

Why bother? Somebody has to. If the intelligent, thinking female doms and male submissives keep ignoring this crap and not addressing it head on, it will never get addressed. Everybody else is too busy laughing their asses off at such ridiculous statements, when they aren't in stitches or up in arms over male supremacy in Gor. Or when they aren't writing all female doms and male submissives off as fucking nutters.

....This is embarrassing, people. Embarrassing! It's like attending a University science school that has a small group of religious zealots preaching Creation Science with megaphones. Imagine them getting all the press attention, them pretending that of course, all of the University believed and preached Creation Science. Not only would I be mortified, but I'd eventually have to look up from my legitmate lab work and say something.

....Being a dominant woman or a submissive man is a sexual kink. You can make a sexual kink into a lifestyle, if you like, or you can keep it for sex play, but you are deluded if you try to make the whole rest of the fucking world fit your own sexual kink. Not to mention making yourself look very, very silly in the process.

"Ah, I'm kinky turned on by imagining submitting to a woman, therefore this is the One True Way and all men should be submitting to all women all the time." 'cause god knows, you couldn't be like specially perverted or something.

....What the fuck do my perversions have to do with the real world? I am now going to use my perversion to believe that the world is flat, the sun revolves around the Earth, that dinosaurs lived at the same time as mankind and that all women want to hurt men and all men want to be hurt 24/7.
Right on, E.

The bizarre thing to me is when people say "this is what women are and this is what men are, and that's that" and then claim "it's my belief":
Why is one person's point of view so unacceptable to others? If she believes in Female Supremacy - than so be it. There is a desire for men to openly submit to the leadership and decision-making prowess of women. I'm one man who is all for it.
Basic logic for those who slept through it in college (and I don't blame you if you did, it's boring shit. What I do blame you for is being unable to figure this out for yourself):

If you assert that all A's are B's, you're asserting that no A is not a B.

Thus if you assert that all men are submissive and all women dominant, you ALSO (it's magic how this works!) assert that
  • No man is not submissive. (Which is broader than, but also includes, "no man is dominant.")
  • No woman is not dominant. (Which is again broader than, but also includes, "no woman is submissive.)
If you assert that (or the related "Men should submit to women"), you're no longer making a statement about you yourself and what you like. You're being prescriptive. You're telling others how to live their lives, how to set up their relationships, and how to fuck.

There is no cute little backdoor by which you can escape saying you're for anyone living as she likes if your whole framework for looking at the world involves all men doing one thing and all women another.

[sarcasm] Though perhaps people this incapable of using their own reason do need to be governed for the sake of the health/sanity of the rest of us humans. [/sarcasm]


(and don't even get me started on the blazing heterocentrism of role-by-gender approaches. I guess, being bi, I have to co-own the harem of slaves in Femdom Utopia with another woman rather than owning her too, or something.)

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Technorati Trackbacks are Weeeeird, Maaaaaaaan (Woman?)

I was having a peek at who links to us, here, and found a rather unusual little post which I reproduce in its entirety here:

Loved the article and comments here.


Agreed with lots of it, too. So how does that square with my earlier "I wish BDSM didn't exist" posting? Well, I was discussing an impossible dream - a world where our sexuality isn't linked with pain and powerlessness and general creepy stuff. It's never going to exist, because we can't get there from here. But they're using the "feminist utopia" concept to discuss a potential reality: the best possible outcome for this BDSM thing, in this world, with the kind of people we have. So this "utopia" doesn't rely on changing basic human nature, merely political/social structures, which brings the plan into the realm of possible-but-bloody-hard. And that's how I can hold two incompatible views at the same time.


Wondered if I'd found a garden-variety, anti-BDSM feminist, thought perhaps not, and did a bit more perusing:

I know this will probably be interpreted as denial or self-hatred, but I'm resigned to the existence of BDSM: I can't bring myself to celebrate it as others do. Sure, I celebrate the fact that we have a smart, friendly, informed community for this stuff, and that fewer people than ever think themselves sick or evil for the sake of a few fantasies. But it would be so much simpler if we didn't have those desires in the first place. Imagine if the sex instinct had nothing to do with power or sadism, just pleasure and/or love. "Boring, boring", I hear. The nasty stuff is so deeply embedded into our souls (for want of a better world) that we believe if it wasn't there, we'd be left with fluffy bunny Wonderland and no excitement whatsoever.

But imagine - no desire to hurt or be hurt by the one you love. No deep, innate need to play out scenarios which are really rather weird and/or nasty, and confuse beginners and vanillas no end. No thinking you're sick, weird or (worse) unwillingly assimilated into the patriarchal system, their disgusting ideas eating into you like maggots in an apple as you try to pursue pleasure and autonomy. No engineering real conflict and drama to manipulate or provoke your lover for the thrill of it. No confusing your fantasies of submission with lifestyle D/s or even traditional religious ideas - in fact, no painful soul-searching at all. (I know self-exploration is generally a good thing, but budding kinksters are basically *required* to soul-search pretty deeply, from the outset, to not get into one of the previous scenarios. But, since they don't start with a copy of SM 101 in front of them - finding your way to the scene and its literature are a big step in themselves - they don't know how to think constructively about this kind of stuff. Which is why they fail a lot). And all those new concepts you need to know, and argue about, and tell new people. Subspace. Consensual non-consent. TPE. WTF?

I mean, yeah, we've got it pretty nicely figured out by now but it's still a response to a rather inconvenient situation. We're built on an animal template with hormones and so on, so removing the power struggle stuff can never be more than a nice dream. As a humanist, I want our sex lives to be happy, which in a perfect world would mean less complicated (or at least nicely complicated, something to puzzle apart with a smile at your leisure, not a tangle of politically-charged mess). But we don't live in a perfect world, and during our efforts to create one, we've still got to live somewhere. So I am doing the BDSM thing, and I'll be the first person to kick your ass if you criticise it. I just won't throw my hands in the air and say hallelujah like some of the crowd I see, never mind the vanilla-bashing on the more extreme sites.

Hmm. Well, I've got no interest in telling her not to feel that her desires aren't good to have if she really wants to feel that way.

And tackling the lifestyler issue is really beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say I strongly recommend anyone who wants to go on about M/s at the very least attend workshops on it before assuming that it's necessarily about what random people with an Internet connection and verbal diarrhea claim it is. If you've done that and still object, great -- I respect knowledge-based criticisms and even agree with several myself.

But to get back on topic.

One thing that really sticks out for me is "weird and nasty." What exactly makes these desires weird and nasty, again? I mean, yeah, I get that there's a whole radfem framework for "examining" them. And there are also the conservative types who hate deviance. But since I don't agree with any of those views, figuring whether BDSM is weird or nasty takes a bit of thought.

Weird: well, weird could mean statistically deviant. Rare. In that case, well, BDSM desires truly aren't all that rare as I understand it. "One In Ten People Is Gay" is a common soundbite, and the numbers of BDSMers in the US aren't all that different from that according to sources I've seen.

"Weird" can also mean something like "objectionably odd." I'm not so sure the odd is objectionable, myself. I often find that when I have a reaction of revulsion to something I've never seen before, it's worth examining. I may later decide it's repugnant, but I do so with knowledge of why people see it as worth pursuing.

Now for "nasty." This one's tougher. Of course, there's the standard bit of pro-BDSM prestidigitation that one can do here. Namely, pointing out that a rather large chunk of what counts for "sadism" in our community actually consists of doing things that get painsluts off, early and often. (Wheee!)

Which is, of course, true. Giving "pain" in a BDSM context is actually very often doing nothing more than giving pleasure.

But there's also something, well, dark about BDSM desires. Wanting to hurt people or be hurt is at least a little sinister, even if it's usually about nothing but orgasms. And domination and submission in-scene can get pretty severe. Role-playing can involve emblems of social domination, insulting words, degrading actions.

So "nastiness" isn't so easily scrubbed away. And I can say I prefer it that way, but without explaining why that just makes me look mean. Or at least meaner than the average bear.

There's a term someone mentioned on an e-mail list I am on: "white light Nazis."

Let's leave aside the much vexed discussion of whether it's OK to use the term Nazi to refer to someone attempting to force others to behave in certain ways. I only bring up the term because, even if inappropriate, it gets across the idea particularly well.

That idea being that we should always be good, always attempt to distance ourselves from the dark or selfish desires that we all have. For some people, cleansing ourselves of negative emotion or negative intent is a full-time job. The idea seems to be that if we don't do regular pruning of our mind's garden, the weeds will utterly overrun it. Without periodic soul-vacuuming, the Dark Side overtakes us. It's Nastiness Entropy!

We must be ever vigilant, then. The reason the world is as bad as it is, in fact, is because we have these kinds of desire.

The best thing for us, then, would be not only to prevent ourselves from acting on these desires, but to be able to get them out of our own heads in the first place. If we could just get ourselves to not have a cruel side, or to minimize it, we would cut off the problem where it starts.

What this poster seems to be saying is that she recognizes that cleaning our minds of dark desire is impossible. So she's not the kind of white lighter who worries me exactly. Still, she's sympathetic to the idea. Wouldn't it be nice if we could clean ourselves?

I've never believed that. Well, I did believe it as a kid, but my thinking as a child doesn't count. What I found when I grew up was that really accepting and trusting other humans meant accepting the dark desires are normal. It didn't mean accepting that people should act on them, or the people who dwell only on them are wonderfully stable. But it meant that acceptance and trust of people means understanding and knowing that we all have both a light side and a dark side.

Other people really trusting and accepting me meant accepting all of me. It meant seeing my beast and not running away.

Which happens, of course, every time I top.

And that's what I think BDSM is for.

No, that's an oversimplification. BDSM is for and about a whole bunch of different things. But a big part of it is about the fact that we all have dark desires. Sometimes we don't want to be kind. Sometimes having power is exhilarating. Sometimes tightening your iron fist feels delightful. Sometimes surrendering is exquisite. Sometimes having pleasure forced out of you, wrung from your cells by someone who, goddamnit, Refuses. To. Let. Up., is an incredible, wonderful ride.

"Setting up scenes" is about setting up places to do that, to be that, without the very real fallout that would have in daily life. And I don't see why that's wrong. I don't see why exploring those feelings is bad. I don't believe in Nastiness Entropy.

No, wait, that's not so. I do. But I believe it catches white light only-ers just as often as (if not more often than) it catches us. Because all the cleaning means mistrust of yourself, and that's when the Nastiness Entropy begins. Sure, some people get overwhelmed by it because they neglect white-light work -- the basics. "Be kind." "Don't always behave selfishly."

But by the time you get to the scrubbers, you get something very different, I think, than recognition that we shouldn't behave cruelly just because we feel like it. Or even than "with mindful behavior, meditation, prayer, or volunteer work I'd be cruel to others less often." We've gone skipping right over all that into hatred of those feelings. Or hatred of ourselves for having them. Both of which do precisely nothing to excise them.

I think knowing ourselves is important, and I think really knowing ourselves means knowing things that make us all uneasy. I have a hard time imagining that even the whitest of white light paths can be effective for anyone if it doesn't involve facing our monsters.

So yes, BDSM engages the "nasty." And yes, that's actually... okay.


(Or not. I'm more into praising Ma Kali than Jehovah.)

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Fetishising Innocence

I've been reading de Sade. And, well, thinking about sex (as usual). 'Scuse this post being a bit personal and ranty..

Okay, here's Thing I Am Confused By In BDSM no. 23235264369034314:

People who fetishise innocence and naivety in submissive women.

Most people I know find the 'But I'm thooooooo innothent' eyelash-batting princess sub type irritating if not nauseating. I don't see too much of it on IC, to be honest, but on various other sites it seems generally that the younger, the more inexperienced, the more naive the femsub, the better. Why is this such an apparent ideal? Is it all to do with a fantasy of corruption? Or is it a virgin fetish? Is this the madonna/whore dichotomy raising its weary, medusa-like head yet again? Or what?

I've been reading some Marquis de Sade short stories I hadn't really explored before, and it's easy to see where the virgin fetish emerges from in SM. It's the story of Eugenie de Franval, and this is de Sade's description of the girl de Franval was to marry:

"the girl was fifteen, and had the most delightful physiognomy to be found in Paris at that time ... one of those virginal faces, in which innocence and charm are depicted together, in the delicate features of love and the graces ... fine blonde hair floating below her waist, large blue eyes expressing tenderness and modesty ..."

You get the picture. The ideal for a lot of dominants now, still, I should imagine.

I don't think I have one of those virginal faces. At drama school and in the world of acting I've been told many times my casting stereotype would be 'wench', 'prostitute', 'whore', etc. Fun to play, but nonetheless hardly de Sade's ideal of submissive female beauty.

I didn't like being a 'pure' virginal teenager and I wanted to get rid of my virginity at the earliest possible opportunity. In truth, virginity made me feel dirty and ashamed. It just didn't match up with the rest of who I was. My fantasies by this point were pretty intense and explicit, always involving pretty intense sadism and masochism. I have never liked nice, sweet, respectful sex. I always wanted to be roughed up, called names, bite, scratch, lick cum off my face and emerge sweaty, hair all over the place, bruised, sore and grinning ecstatically on the other side. That was ever my fantasy. I wouldn't be rewarded for being dirty, but I wouldn't be punished either. It would just be accepted and acceptable as being as precious to me as first time fumbling, vanilla, missionary position virgin sex.

So the idea of purity and virginity? It just never sat too well with my head. I didn't want to 'give it away', as though I were marrying it (and therefore myself) off to someone! I wanted to misbehave and break rules and rebel. I felt uncomfortable with the idea that I 'owned' something people seemed to want to take from me, that it was somehow precious and important and sacred to be chaste and unspoiled. It seemed so utterly unimportant to me to 'give' it away to the Right Person, with whom I would inevitably live for eternity in loving, married bliss.

But, you know? If I end up single in later life, still a femsub, still look like a filthy Lilith rather than a virgin Mary, have I blown it? At the moment I'm still vaguely hanging onto the youthful bit, but that'll be gone in a few years.


x-posted on IC

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Shout out...

Here is a newsletter from The Spanner Trust (who need a post of their own, if you don't know about the Spanner case). I think this outlines what's gone on in the UK quite nicely.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE BILL On 26th June, the UK Government finally published the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 (CJB). Sections 64-66 lay out plans to criminalise possession of "extreme pornography" - in terms even more sweeping than those of the original Home Office consultation document. Rather than actions, the proposed law is aimed specifically against pictures. Regardless of what is actually shown, what "appears to be" shown will determine the legality of an image. As well as necrophilia and bestiality, this includes acts which "threaten or appear to threaten a person's life" or "result in or appear to result (or be likely to result) in a serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals".

Coupled with the stricture that images must be "pornographic" in order to qualify as illegal, this means that you can watch all the gruesome cop show murders you like, but if you like pornography of consensual fisting - which could cause serious injury if not done with due care - you risk a three-year jail sentence.

BBFC classification of your favourite porn may or may not help you. You are safe watching sexual violence on an 18-certificate DVD, for example the ball-busting scene in James Bond: Casino Royale. However, if "the image was extracted" - i.e. you have made a screen grab or a clip - then you could be guilty of possessing extreme pornography.

This is demonstrably ludicrous, and the Government actually admits in the notes on the CJB that it "constitutes an interference" with the European Convention of Human Rights. However, it is necessary, we are told, "for the protection of morals".

Part of this "protection of morals" is a blatant attempt to clamp down on the BDSM community. In spite of bland assurances during the consultation process that the proposals were not intended to target anyone in particular, the actual bill drops this pretence, and explicitly refers to the Spanner trial (R v. Brown and Others) as an example of activities that are illegal in themselves and will now become illegal to film or photograph.

What can be done at this stage? Well, the CJB has so far only had its first reading, which essentially means that MPs now know what's in it and can think it over before the second reading and a debate followed by a vote, which is expected by mid-July.

Although the CJB, which totals 245 pages of repressive measures on a whole raft of topics, is unlikely to be thrown out in its entirety, there is scope for the amendment or rejection of certain parts at this stage.

That makes this a particularly good time to write to your MP and express your views. Given the size of the bill, an MP who has received no letters opposing the "extreme pornography" sections is unlikely to even notice them. But an MP who has received one letter might start thinking about the issue; and an MP who has received 20 may well take the time to read the small print and realise just how unworkable this part of the legislation is.

If you need help finding your MP or constructing a letter then please visit the BACKLASH website: http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk - Backlash is leading the campaign against the proposed law with the full support of the Spanner Trust.

If you live in the UK please also consider signing an online petition against the law at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/extreme-images/

The Government's success with this measure so far relies on decent people seeing the words "extreme pornography" and simply thinking "well, with a name like that, of course it must be bad". Backlash and the Spanner Trust are questioning this assumption as loudly as we can; every voice helps.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Submissive Men and Radical Bullshit, er, Feminism

A couple of people had asked me what radfem theory has to say about submissive men. Well, hunting back through everyone's favorite piece of completely wrongheaded literature I found it! Here y'all go:
Some politically co-optive men have even claimed that their masochistic identification is "woman-identification" and that it is meant as evidence of sympathy with feminism -- which shows how abysmal is their understanding of women and feminism. But that any men should wish to experience what they think women experience -- this is old news, as old as Pentheus' curiosity (and is rooted, I think, in envy.) Men who see themselves as relatedly masochistic, "femme," feminine, etc. obviously are insulting the female (in person and in principle.) If they grovel to a male master they are mimicking (for fun) an experience all women in patriarchy are in some way or another forced to endure in reality. If they cower before a female 'dominatrix,' they are superficially reversing, and thereafter trivializing, real women's real oppression. The one act literally makes fun of the pain of our reality by ignoring our powerlessness; the other act mocks the reality of our pain by denying our powerlessness. Both are vicious, expectable, and for the purposes of our investigation, irrelevant. [i]

[i] Morgan, Robin. "The Politics Of Sado-Masochistic Fantasies." Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis. Edited by Robin Ruth Linden, et al. (San Francisco: Frog in the Well, 1982), 117.

*huggles the irrelevant femmes* I still love you...

And honestly:

"You mock my pain!"

"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something."

Honestly that's SM in a nutshell to me, right there. LIFE HURTS. Might as well have fun with that rather than sit around blubbering about it. Orgasms > pissing and moaning.

Friday, 13 July 2007


I occasionally hear the sentiment that in a feminist utopia, there'd be no BDSM.

I don't believe this, and I'm hazarding a guess that y'all don't either. But it does raise an interesting question:

What would BDSM look like in a feminist utopia?

Would certain dynamics disappear, or become more prevalent, or become less prevalent? Would less people be interested in certain fantasies or fetishes? Or would everything be pretty much the same as it is now?

Tawk amongst y'selves!

(I'll give my own answer in comments later.)

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Letters from Gehenna: The World on a Slant: For the SM-Feminists crowd ....

Letters from Gehenna: The World on a Slant: For the SM-Feminists crowd ....

dw3t-hthr dug up this lovely post on "animal lust" here. Not specifically about BDSM, but I do think there's a lot about it that parallels some folks' interest in SM, and also that it touches on some of the gender stuff we as pro-SM feminists babble about in here:

"Let's have a pillow fight," I might have said, and I think, after some teasing and goading, perhaps it was he who first lightly, good-naturedly smacked me with his lumpy, worn feather pillow. I grabbed the other and smacked him back. We were laughing; he hit back again, a little harder. I jumped to my knees while he was still half-lounging below me, raising my pillow above my head to deliver a fatal smacking blow. While I still had the pillow raised over my head, he smacked his full into me, across my face.

And suddenly the air became charged. Delighted at his dirty fighting, I howled with the fake anger of wounded betrayal and pounded him with my pillow, seeking revenge. He leapt up out of bed and I pursued. We ran around the room and scrambled over the bed, smacking each other over and over, each time progressively harder. And each time I got hit, I loved it. And each time I hit him harder and harder, I loved it. It was like my whole life had been slow up to this minute, and now, now I finally knew what it was like to have blood coursing--rushing--through my veins. It was a delicious, delighted rage I felt. It was a heady insanity; an intense reverse evolutionary rush that changed us from adult to child to--yes, yes!--animal in mere moments. We ran, screaming and laughing and hitting each other harder and harder. And it was so good. I couldn't stop, now that I had found this feeling. I could feel him fighting and I fought back; it was so good; beyond words.

I hit and hit and hit and hit again, harder, harder, teeth bared with effort, noises coming out of my throat, hoarse and growling with delight... and it was better than orgasm; better than heaven; total release, complete freedom, no sense involved, just sheer rage-filled adoration and arousal---and I wanted to live there forever.

And suddenly he wasn't hitting back anymore...I heard him shouting something....I held back for a moment...and everything zoomed in to a hyper-suspended moment of stillness...

And there we were staring at each other...him barefooted, bare-chested, breathless, on the floor at the foot of the bed, looking up at me as I stood above him on the rickety bed, barely clothed, pushing my hair out of my face, panting, eyes locked with his. My pillow raised and ready to defend or strike, shakily balancing myself, watching him for any sudden move. I stared into his eyes, a strange kind of exhilaration coursing through me. I felt like a wolf, like a cougar, some wild thing, circling another of my kind, ready to run in for the final fight. And oh, I wanted it. I wanted to feel the moment of engagement. I wanted to feel the fight and the rip and the kill. I wanted to feel myself doing it and I wanted to feel him doing it to me. I looked deep in his eyes, ready to howl in ecstatic rage as we leapt at each other. And he looked back at me and I could see...fear.

No, no! I thought. Don't back down! Don't leave me here! Fight back! Stay up here with me in mad animal nirvana! Show me what you're made of! Make me fight you! Wrestle me down and roll with me on the ground, biting and scratching and growling and fucking and fucking and fucking me till we lose our minds.

I tried to say this with my eyes. But I could see the light had gone out in his; all I could see was fear. And then hidden close behind, anger and possibly disgust and...was it humiliation? But above all, a desire--a begging--to turn to back to normal. Not just begging for him to. For both of us to. For me to not be this thing I had become. And the feeling inside me, it was like a balloon slowly being leaked of its helium.

I have never found any man, ever, who wanted to stay there with me at that level of animal savagery; who didn't hold back or back down and stop it before we'd really gotten there--beyond. It is a crossing over, allowing oneself to be in that state, and one needs to be willing to turn certain things off to be brave enough to stay there. Most people are not comfortable with the absence of those things.

*Trin pauses for a moment to fribble in "Oh hell yes" style arousal at that excerpt*


I notice specifically that she talks about men not wanting to go there. I'm not sure if this is just because she's hetero (is she?), or if this is a statement about particular nervousness on the part of male lovers.

But I do wonder how many people really *get* there. According to some people (some of them the sort of feminists who are concerned with examining and pruning desire, some not), arousal fueled by the destructive sorts of animal passion is a big no-no. Sexual energy should be, is supposed to be, about creation and love and light and fuzziness. Not about smashing things.

But -- and I admit I'm coming at this from an SM angle and not just a rough sex angle (have a look at that link if you found the Sexeteria post hot; I think Ren is talking about the exact same thing in the latter part of her post, in the section after the one on SM) -- for some of us the power of breaking things

of tearing into someone's psyche by breaking their skin in SM

or by fucking the hell out of them and symbolically "tearing them apart"

or even just of letting go and letting emotions, whether dark OR light, ride us for a while and use our bodies as a conduit for pure lust

is really what we want the most.

And I think there's something really missing when people tell others to totally lock away negative emotions. It can, surely, become a bad idea for some people to practice being aroused by their own rage. I'm not doubting that.

But in some situations it can also be healing. I remember the first time I beat someone when I had PMS. According to standard Scene wisdom, one does not hit when one is not in control of her emotions. Ever.

I was bubbling with senseless and contextless emotions. Rage, sorrow, feeling inadequate -- a giant pile of intense bad feelings I just couldn't keep under control. I'd already found that my partner holding up a pillow and me hitting it could help, but I was worried to top under those conditions. Despite the only flogger I owned at that time being about as scary as a clump of matted dog fur.

He told me to let go. I did, flailing away with this tiny thing, hissing and screaming and seething and letting all the emotions that threatened to boil over inside of me, well, out.

I remember the calmness I felt afterward.

The PMS wasn't totally gone -- I could feel it lurking like a snake made out of estrogen, biding its time until it could pounce on me again. But the overwhelming feeling that either I or the world around me was simply so horribly rage-inducing that I couldn't contain my seething fury -- that was gone.

There's a lot said on both sides about catharsis. Whether it actually ever happens, for one, or whether it just fans the flames of negative emotions, training them to come back stronger later. For myself, I think that the problem comes when we expect catharsis to be an easy solution. Like if I'd thought "Bing, my PMS is now gone," neglecting to understand it would, in fact, be back later and that all I'd done was tire myself out enough to calm down some.

I think some people can get caught in cycles like that. "I'm a sadist because I'm trying to work through my misanthropy. *beat beat beat* Oh, it's not gone! Poor pitiful me, I'd better try again, harder!"

and the person ends up in a cycle, because he expects catharsis by itself to fix him.

When I think what a lot of dark fantasy and dark sex is better used for is: Hey, lover. I trust you. I trust you to see even this about me, this yen to hurt or be hurt that all humans have but I still fear in myself. I can show you that sometimes I want to be consumed, broken, used, with no thought but lust. Or I can show you that a part of me sees you and covets your body and I want to rip you apart, consuming, destroying, claiming.

And we can still not fear each other when it's over.

No human is respectful and affirming all the time. No human wants to be held up all the time, either, I don't think. Sometimes we want to lash out, or to feel small. I personally find it exhilarating to let that part of me exist, be, happen in safe environments.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Blood and Introspection

It's late, and I'm sure I've said this before in more convincing ways. But I was just thinking about my own fantasy life, and about how so much of the discussions of SM revolve around an assumption that SM fantasies happen because of, or least derive from, the social situation of women with respect to men or some other oppressed social group with respect to their oppressors.

And my fantasies, which I've had since my late teens, have never really seemed hooked up to that to me. They tend to be violent in rather cartoonish ways. Pints of blood filling rooms. People being violated by strange contraptions that would surely kill them, only to miraculously survive and beg for more. The obligatory dungeons. Cyborgs and magic. Impossible anatomical feats. Magical healing potions that allow people to fuck or beat each other close to death, slather on some ointment, and start all over again. Switchiness the "subordination" meme doesn't account for, either -- many times the people in my fantasies would rip one another apart! That penchant I still have for looking up pictures of random medieval torture devices, which often arouses and squicks me at the same damn time. :-P

And very often, at least in my early fantasies, there was no sex. Or if there was sex it was a strange SM type version of sex. A common fantasy of mine was to cut a man's skin in a way that created a wound that looked like a vulva, and then press in to this wound. Instead of the normal bodily fluids associated with vanilla sex, there would be blood instead. Or, in many of the fantasies, a cocktail of blood and sexual fluids. I would actually find myself grossed out by sexual fluids by themselves, but turned on by the idea of them mixed with blood. (yes, for those of you who are following my novel, this is where that one cunnilingus scene came from. And yes, I greatly enjoyed writing it.)

it's very difficult to falsify a theory that suggests that we eroticize what we do based on how we are raised from earliest childhood. But all of this seems to me that it's always been just as much about pain and about fantasizing about unrealistic extremes and the intense passion brought on by them as it is about power. I won't, as I did in the past for a while, deny that I'm also sexually dominant, or that these two things are related. They are. But for me personally, they're two pieces of a whole, and they're inseparable. It's very hard for me to hear about the power, the "Subordination" as if it somehow the essence of all of it, all rolled together, as if the extreme aspect of the fantasies, or the obvious fetish for blood (for those who want to know, I don't currently indulge it, but I sure as hell think about it all the time), are all somehow subsumed in a fantasy about social domination.

So the idea that SM fantasies are rooted in the saturation of pornography and hypersexualized media in our culture really doesn't resonate with me. I am almost certain the wound thing came from the wound in the side of Jesus. While I'm definitely sure that some sadomasochists use those images the way more mundane people use porn, those images by themselves aren't porn unless you're us!

And I definitely caught on to and was affected by the sexualized media and our culture. Every image of a woman that I saw was an image of a bottom. I knew this very well. I knew that it didn't resonate with me, and I often worried about it and felt that I was crazy. I remember tirades I would go off on about the way such and such a woman in such a such an advertisement was always draped over the bed, and the man was always upright and powerful looking.

But if the anti SM types were right, it would seem that after a while I would've started to change. I wanted to change. Every once in a while, when I hear something about how real women are bottoms and our biology and anatomy prove it, I still do. (It's very tough to be constantly told by almost everyone around you that you are a this without occasional bouts of where's my thisness?) So how they account for my feeling like an absolute deviant and freak and not being proud of this at all back then, but never changing despite the absolute saturation of messages of heteronormativity, masculine virility, and feminine surrender?

And if we're supposed to get all of this from porn or porn like advertisements, where did all the blood come from? How about the pointy sharp things? If we want to look for some sort of social influence, it becomes easy to say all that came from my surgeries (scalpels anyone?), with maybe a little bit left over for the fantasy novels I loved to read. And that's more plausible, but I'm still not entirely convinced that all of the sexual interest came directly from that. Possibly, but I was fascinated with power and pain in more abstract ways even earlier. Maybe that was my abuse, but that gets us so far into the realm of the abstract that I get very uneasy. (This is me, personally -- others do know that certain fantasies or interests stem directly from abusive situations or scenarios. I don't.)

And it still doesn't explain why the shaping coming from surgeries or abuse would stick more than the shaping coming from television, which is always around. So where did my magic half-immunity come from?

I've never gotten an adequate answer to that one.