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.

Damn.

x-posted on IC

77 comments:

Dw3t-Hthr said...

I hate virginity fetish so much. And I hate that it's actively marketed by mainstream culture. Creeps me the hell out.

It's all tied up with this notion that sex is something that ruins and degrades women, as far as I can tell, which is a pervasive bit of nastiness. And that the one who 'gets' the virginity is the one who has won some secret 'I got there first' prize, and taken away all the potential value for someone else.

That's the thing -- the woman's 'value' depends on whether or not she's been 'used'. And playing the innocent naive thing is playing the game that whatever master wins her will get to be the one who extracts that value.

Which is lost, it just vanishes in smoke -- one doesn't get particular benefit from fucking a virgin -- one just undoes the virginity. It's a ghost value, a control trick.

The whole dirty-vs.-purity with regards to sexuality mostly makes me seethe incoherently.

Kramnik said...

I don't think the virginity fetish is primarily about ownership, though possession is a part of it; if you blow her mind, all future partners are measured against you and she'll always remember you fondly and come back later for seconds.

Nor is it really about purity -- most men I know love filthy women who want to be treated filthily.

But it is about bitterness and closed-mindedness. Women with a lot of sexual partners can be very closed-minded as to what they like and dislike, and because they have a lot of experience (even if it is bad experience) they tend to trust that rather than the prospect of untapped gratification. They are also likelier to be bitter about what has gone wrong and have rules, restrictions, or emotional blocks that make the experience of being with them less intense. Not to mention emotional baggage that must be discussed and perhaps worked through. Whereas a clean slate is open to experimentation, easier to please, more willing to please and, in essence, easily trainable. In other words, more submissive.

Trinity said...

Hmm. I don't have the kind of negative reaction that either the OP or dw3t-hthr are expressing.

I suppose because, well, I like to peg people. And a fair number of the men I've done this with (not that I've done it with hordes of people mind you) are new to it.

And honestly, that's *delightful* to me, in a way that, yes, does engage my dominance.

Because this person is trusting me to give them a new experience. An experience that no matter how much they've thought about it, they're in some sense not quite ready for. There's a nervousness and fear that's not really about terror or worry, but about being on the threshold of a new experience. Excited and interested and fearful in a way and wide-eyed and eager.

It's nice. :)

And as kramnik says, there's the idea that the person will always remember you, always associate you with an exciting new experience.

Now, that's not to say that there aren't scary and creepy versions of this fetish. Where it's more about fearing a woman will compare you negatively to partners who actually know what they're doing. Where it's about tricking people or skimping on safety, emotional or physical, because they're banking on the "virgin" in question being ignorant.

But I don't think those are automatically the same, or that they should be conflated.

And Sade was, well, Sade. ;)

faustopheles said...

I agree with what Trinity said (nothing unusual there). I also share dw3t-hthr's distaste for certain attitudes regarding virginity and appreciate kraminik's concerns about non-virgins being spoiled in the sense that they may have been damaged. My perspective here is more SM than D/s.

I don't particularly fetishise innocence myself, though I do often enjoy doing new (to them) things. The nervous excitement of someone trying something for the first time can be very delicious. And I like expanding someone's sexual horizons and knowing that in doing so I have had a positive effect on their life. It also helps build trust. I also think that if someone tries something with me first, they are more likely to have a positive experience than with many other people. And I would like their first time with a particular act to be positive, rather than have someone come along and ruin that act for them. If the first experience is a good one then if it isn't good with subsequent people they are likely to realize that the problem is with the actor not the act.
And it is a lot easier than dealing with someones dislike of various activities due to someone elses ineptitude. I do, however, do cathartic repair and that can be rewarding as well (though you need to be prepared to invest a lot of time). And I like taking someone from "I would never do X" to "Would you do X to me?" But if someone else has been boorish about trying X, the bottom may have built up a strong resistance against trying it. For these reasons, "taking someones innocence" can actually be an act of protection.

I also like playing with people who already have a wide range of experience.

I recall one man from vanilla life who was insistant that he would only marry a virgin (though he would sleep with non-virgins). That turned out to be a fear of comparison.

I am concerned that some people who like naivete may be chickenhawks who leave a trail of scorched earth.

Alexis said...

Let us remember that the theme of the work "Philosophy in the Bedroom" which introduces Eugenie, written by Sade, is that of corruption. Corruption in the extreme...for the purpose of pushing innocence into the mud. For disdaining innocence. Let us also remember that Eugenie embraces fully the libertine, complete with every sick fetish Sade can dream up, ending with sewing up her mother's vagina with thick, waxed twine.

The fetishistic love of innocence will always reveal, for me, someone who is woefully banal, ignorant, blind and--like Eugenie's mother--ultimately a victim.

Joan Kelly said...

I tend to agree with Alexis about the idea that innocence is better. Also, although my very first dominant partner did like the fact that I was a novice at the time, it is not my experience that *attractive* dominant partners (not talking about the physical) have the jaded attitude towards supposedly bitter non-innocents that have been expressed in the comments. It is actually my experience that the opposite is true, that doms/tops I've been with who are the most intense and intensely enjoyable are turned on by what I already know about myself and my body, my ability to express that, and my self assuredness in all kinds of ways. I think the issue of how it's pleasurable to introduce partners to new-to-them things is separate from the innocent-is-better mindset. I LOVE to do something to a sub/bottom that no one has done to them before, or that no one has done *well* to them before, but considering all there is to discover and do, I can't imagine someone (male or female, as I have had sub playmates of both sexes) being too experienced to enjoy that with.

Trinity said...

Alexis:

Let us also remember that Philosophy in the Bedroom is a work of fiction.

And why exactly Eugenie's ultimate conversion in that work should be interpreted as being ruined I'm not sure. Yes, she does become a libertine and embrace an inverted value system. But this is de Sade we're talking about here -- the idea that people who do embrace such a value system are in the end superior to those who don't is a common theme in his work.

Which means that the way you're supposed to interpret it is that they are not making Eugenie wretched, but rather saving her from the wretched existence of, say, her mother.

Also, recall that throughout the work Eugenie is described as high-spirited, lustful, curious, devious, and cunning. That reads a lot more like "newbie libertine" than "innocent with anti-libertine values" to me. Give the girl some credit! (Within, of course, the funhouse mirror universe de Sade's creating.)

Yes, the ultimate rape scenes at the end are disturbing and creepy, and yes, Eugenie is probably going to go off and gleefully murder. All that is worth critiquing, sure. But I think one also needs to consider the topsy-turvy worlds Sade creates.

Trinity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trinity said...

Oh, and on Philosophy in the Bedroom, I've also just gotta say that Sade lamenting the lack of female tops in the world cracks me the fuck up.

I guess some things never change! ;)

Trinity said...

Joan Kelly:

"I think the issue of how it's pleasurable to introduce partners to new-to-them things is separate from the innocent-is-better mindset. I LOVE to do something to a sub/bottom that no one has done to them before, or that no one has done *well* to them before, but considering all there is to discover and do, I can't imagine someone (male or female, as I have had sub playmates of both sexes) being too experienced to enjoy that with."

I agree with this. I don't think that enjoying people's newness somehow means that experience isn't just as hot for different reasons. It is.

But I'm not entirely convinced that enjoying inexperience is totally divorced from "innocence fetish." I think there are two (if not more) different ways of eroticizing innocence, and that one is bad and the other isn't.

pepomint said...

kramnik said:

Whereas a clean slate is open to experimentation, easier to please, more willing to please and, in essence, easily trainable.

I'm not sure if you're talking "in the top's fevered imagination" or in real life here. If we're talking in real life, then I have to disagree. I'm not all that interested in bottoms that are new to the scene - somehow who's been around the block a couple times is much more amenable to what I want to do, and therefore more trainable.

So yeah, give me a bitter jaded experienced kinkster over a fresh-faced newbie any day of the week. And as for virgins? Eeeeek! Does anyone else remember high school? I do, and the sex sucked.

I wonder if the people who get into this thing (and I have no doubt that a lot of guy tops do) are shooting themselves in the foot, for this reason. "She just seemed so cute and innocent and fresh, and then I spanked her twice and she never talked to me again." Not to say all newbies are like that, but you get the idea.

That said, I like a cutesy attitude, but I like that attitude on a bottom of any age who knows their shit. And cutesy in no way excludes bitter and jaded. =)

Dw3t-Hthr said...

In a slightly more rational mood today ... ;)

kramnik wrote:
Whereas a clean slate is open to experimentation, easier to please, more willing to please and, in essence, easily trainable. In other words, more submissive.

This makes me intensely wary.

Back when I was inexperienced, mostly what that inexperience meant was that I wanted to explore things and had no mechanisms for doing so in a safe -or- sane way, and that I did not know how to communicate "No" and was thus incapable of consent. I did not have a good handle on risks. Basically, I was stunningly unqualified for anything resembling healthy BDSM, or indeed healthy any-form-of-sexuality.

That biddability that I had when I was young, the compliance? Was mostly cognitive lockup mixed with terror, and not a good kind of terror.

When I see that equated with genuine submissiveness, it mostly reminds me of the experiences I had with the overbearing and pushy, who were willing to take advantage of my inexperience and get more out of me than I was able to give without suffering emotional damage. That was not genuine submissiveness; that was bending to pressure, going with the flow, realising that I was no longer equipped to not consent to things because the person I was with had blown past those boundaries without checking in.

It's very difficult for me to extract this notion that the naivete is somehow a 'better' sort of submission from my experiences as a young teenager who was sexually assaulted because of that same sort of naivete. The entire thing translates, very viscerally, to me as "Ah, fresh meat that won't be equipped to protect herself from being taken advantage of." I recognise that there's some level of "I want to be a guiding/shaping force in this young woman's life" or something, but it is really hard for me to separate that from "She won't know any better, so I can fuck her up at will."

My submission now is from a place where I am a capable adult who is choosing to give service -- and frankly, I'm better equipped to do so than I was when I was 'innocent' and had no clue what I was doing. And as someone who is competent in a wide variety of things, I'm far more valuable property than I would have been as a flailing teenager.

Trinity said...

"It's very difficult for me to extract this notion that the naivete is somehow a 'better' sort of submission from my experiences as a young teenager who was sexually assaulted because of that same sort of naivete. The entire thing translates, very viscerally, to me as "Ah, fresh meat that won't be equipped to protect herself from being taken advantage of."

I see two things going on here. Well, three, I suppose.

1) is that I don't actually agree with Kramnik that "less experienced" means "more submissive." I don't know if that's poor wording on his part or not but ... no.

Well, I guess it depends what submission means. Subspace or propensity for it, or a path of serious service and devotion?

Either way I'm not seeing a connection.

But that aside... you seem to be jumping to rape/defilement and I honestly don't think that's where a lot of people with innocence "fetishes"' heads are. Some, sure. But I think for a lot of people it is something more like I've been saying. The thought that you were there to see someone's first adventure, and that memories of you will be extra clear for being first.

I don't see how that always would imply desires to defile.

Lindsay1984 said...

I distinctly remember there being two groups of virginity admirers back when I was one, which was, sadly, not so long ago. There were the men who loved the idea of pervy inexperience, and wanted to crack the dam to collect on the built up sexual frustration. Then, there were the creepy ones who just wanted, in general, to defile something,and had very negative views of sex, overall.

I think I gradually separated them into men who loved madonnas, and men who loved whores. Obviously, there are and were plenty who were indifferent to the whole thing, but I regarded those who chose to put virginity on a pedestal as either of the two. I don't think I have to say which brand I preferred.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

But that aside... you seem to be jumping to rape/defilement and I honestly don't think that's where a lot of people with innocence "fetishes"' heads are. Some, sure. But I think for a lot of people it is something more like I've been saying. The thought that you were there to see someone's first adventure, and that memories of you will be extra clear for being first.

As I said, it's hard for me to separate this stuff out in any sort of tidy way. And the fact is, the overwhelming majority of stuff I've seen going on about 'innocence' has come across as very creepy, not in a 'defiling' way, but definitely in a 'someone who doesn't know any different/better is appealing'.

I also just wouldn't describe an enjoyment of initiation in terms of 'innocence'. Someone who knows that they want to do something and is seeking out an initiator, or someone who is willing to be brought into a new experience with reasonable awareness of what they're getting into, is not an innocent. This may be a word usage difference that makes a major difference in interpretation -- but to me the concept of 'innocence' in a sexual context is all about lack of knowledge and understanding, the lack of ability to meaningfully consent.

Trinity said...

"I also just wouldn't describe an enjoyment of initiation in terms of 'innocence'. Someone who knows that they want to do something and is seeking out an initiator, or someone who is willing to be brought into a new experience with reasonable awareness of what they're getting into, is not an innocent."

Yes, I think I agree. Particularly since your use of "initiation" is rather creepifying to me. An initiation is a gateway into a way of life, as I see it. And yes, a relationship with a mentor or the like could have those contours. But the idea that one's first sexual partner (or the first person to do X with them) is one's *initiator* -- well, that to me implies a degree of attachment that really does sound terribly exploitable.

As a powerful word used in a dark sexual fantasy, fine, but as a description? Oof! I would never want that much responsibility, unless I were officiating something religious or the like. Yack!

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Funny thing, language, isn't it? ;)

I tend to use 'initiation' in terms of 'a transformative experience', generally with, 'You'll only truly understand what it's like once you've done it' stuff.

I find this a much more affirming way to treat, say, first sexual experience than the common phrasing 'losing one's virginity' is. It's an apprehension of something new, not a loss; one is now someone who has dealt with theory -and- practice, not just theory. This doesn't necessarily carry with it a whole other way of life, except insofar as being someone who knows is different than someone who suspects.

Cassandra Says said...

Parts of this conversation remind me of why I have an instinctive distrust of male doms. There always seems to be a bit of unreconstructed gender role crap in there.

The other problem with the fetishishing innocence specifically in female subs thing, in addition to the stuff already stated, is that it often seems to lead to a situation where young women coming into the BSDM scene get sort of trodden on and have their actual wishes ignored. Real life example - when I first hit the scene in London I encountered tons of male doms who kept trying to persuade me to sub (bully or browbeat might be better descriptions, honestly). None of them suceeded, of course, and lots of other people in the scene told them to knock it off when they observed it, but the very idea that anyone experienced in the scene would try to persuade someone who unequivacally says "I am a dom. I do not sub. It holds no appeal for me" to sub anyway, and would refuse to listen to what that young woman was telling them...where does that come from? How does that happen? Part of it is sexism, obviously, the way men are raised to expect women to defer to them spilling over into their behavior within the scene, but still, I can't help but wonder if the fetishising of young female subs played some part in that. As in, does a certain kind of male dom simply look at any young woman and assume that she must secretely want to sub regardless of what she says? Are they reading young+female+relatively inexperienced as automatically meaning sub? Because that was the impression I got, and I didn't like it, and I don't think it's OK.

Kramnik said...

It's very difficult for me to extract this notion that the naivete is somehow a 'better' sort of submission from my experiences as a young teenager who was sexually assaulted because of that same sort of naivete.

This is exactly not what I was saying. My point was only that there are dominants who prefer virgins for reasons other than that: 1. they have a bizarre whore/madonna complex; 2. they just want to take advantage of ignorant newbies; or 3. they suck in bed and need someone who can't criticize them. In other words, they aren't seeking out virgins, or seeking out virgins as virgins, but there is a correlation between virginity and certain desireable traits that makes holding onto one you come across a pragmatic policy, even if in x% of the cases she turns out to be harder to train because she's ignorant of the basics.

Obviously, we all speak from our experience, and I can certainly tell you that there are emotionally damaged women in this world who are unpleasant to be around. That is something many men, dominant or not, try to avoid vigorously. My view is based on many of the conversations I have had with men over the years, in and out of the scene, whether dominant or not.

But there is nothing to be wary of, as I would probably let Trinity peg me at the drop of a hat. I'm not dominant.

Kramnik said...

Part of it is sexism, obviously, the way men are raised to expect women to defer to them spilling over into their behavior within the scene, but still, I can't help but wonder if the fetishising of young female subs played some part in that.

I don't mean to brush aside your experience, but if you state "I am X," that is going to prompt others to test you on it.

Joan Kelly said...

Really? I must have a broken *something* in my brain then, because someone's declaration of being x or y does not "prompt" me to do anything but take in the information. Now, someone saying "I am x" and then acting completely y - that might make me cough "bullshit", but just like I don't have any interest in disrespecting what people tell me, I also don't have time to go around "testing" people who are either confused or lying.

Cassandra Says said...

Kramnik - There's testing the waters in a friendly way and then there's bullying and attempts at manipulation. I'm not an idiot, I can tell one from the other.

Also, since I am a dom, let me point out that if someone tells me they don't sub, I respect that. I don't try to talk them into it. It's one thing to play-act reluctance as part of a scene, but to flat-out disregard another person's clearly stated preferences? I really don't see any way that could be anything other than assholish behavior and completely unnacceptable, especially if the one doing to pushing is significantly older.

Mortimer Brezny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kramnik said...

Really? I must have a broken *something* in my brain then, because someone's declaration of being x or y does not "prompt" me to do anything but take in the information.

I didn't say "any and all others". I said others. X% of people will do that. Perhaps not you, but obviously it happens. It is not a rare happenstance. Thanks for taking a general statement as a categorical one. Very civil.

It's one thing to play-act reluctance as part of a scene, but to flat-out disregard another person's clearly stated preferences? I really don't see any way that could be anything other than assholish behavior and completely unnacceptable

And plenty of dominants (particularly male ones) see that kind of nuanced reservation as an indication you aren't actually dominant, which is exactly why they would f*ck with you.

Joan Kelly said...

You stated it as if it were a matter-of-fact response, not "some people will do this even though it's lame," and I was responding to the lameness of it being a matter-of-fact response, in anyone. Whether or not it happens, or is not-rare, is irrelevant to its lameness. Your statement and its tone sounded like your point was that she had no right to expect better from people - "hey, if you go around saying you don't like spaghetti, you have to expect that people will automatically try to serve it to you to test whether you know your own mind or not." I don't agree that that is just something that "happens" and has no context worth addressing. It's a bullshit thing. I said so. You're welcome.

verte said...

dw3t-thr:

I hate virginity fetish so much. And I hate that it's actively marketed by mainstream culture. Creeps me the hell out.

Hell, yes. Creepy as fuck.

Cassandra:

when I first hit the scene in London I encountered tons of male doms who kept trying to persuade me to sub

All too familiar a situation. How long ago was this? I wonder if I know any of them.... There's so many more young faces on the scene now than when I first got involved, so I think that kind of prejudice has become far less acceptable to most. I tend to get the opposite ("you can't POSSIBLY be sub. You're too assertive/not 'innocent' enough. etc").

Trinity said...

"I tend to use 'initiation' in terms of 'a transformative experience', generally with, 'You'll only truly understand what it's like once you've done it' stuff."

And that's not exactly my view of first sex, which I think is part of what's going on here. I actually found myself truly startled to discover that the experience didn't transform me.

Eased my frustrations, sure. Made me feel comfortable, sure. Fun? Sure. But I always thought the world would look different to me once I Became Sexually Active, and that it's contours would change for me once I'd used a whip.

I'm very often struck with just how much the same life feels to me on the Other Side of those divides.

So yeah, initiator is not a word I'd choose at all.

Which may be part of why sexual interest in virgins worries me less than it does you all, actually. If I'm someone's first and that's especially fun, I'm not necessarily thinking it means I profoundly altered them, such that they've been transformed.

For me using my dominance to TRANSFORM is very slow, gradual, and only works with people who are interested in the journey. Not just one experience.

I suppose one experience could be mind-shatteringly profound, and I'd be honored to be part of that, sure. But transformation isn't something that I think frequently happens all at once.

Trinity said...

"Are they reading young+female+relatively inexperienced as automatically meaning sub? Because that was the impression I got, and I didn't like it, and I don't think it's OK."

Yeah, I got that too (still do on rare occasions), and I agree wholeheartedly that it sucks.

Trinity said...

"Also, since I am a dom, let me point out that if someone tells me they don't sub, I respect that. I don't try to talk them into it. It's one thing to play-act reluctance as part of a scene, but to flat-out disregard another person's clearly stated preferences? I really don't see any way that could be anything other than assholish behavior and completely unnacceptable, especially if the one doing to pushing is significantly older."

Right on.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

And that's not exactly my view of first sex, which I think is part of what's going on here. I actually found myself truly startled to discover that the experience didn't transform me.

Whereas my standard metaphor for initiatory experience is learning to turn when downhill skiing.

I got told ahead of time that the way you turn when downhill skiing is 'down, up, down'. And I said, "Well, that's soooo useful, sheesh."

And I went skiing, and flailed a bit, and then I turned, and I said, "Oh!"

And if anyone asks me how to turn when downhill skiing, it's just, "Well, you kind of go ... down, then up, then down." This didn't transform me profoundly, but it is still a transformation from the not-known to the known.

belledame222 said...

I like "first time" erotic stories, but not because of the inexperience per se (usually it's "first time" doing something in -particular-, not doing anything sexual ever, and among adults), more because they tend to build up with the sort of erotic tension and slow sensual detail that i like, and often don't see elsewhere.

belledame222 said...

what i dislike about virginity fetish most, i guess, is that like most "mainstream" fetishes, it isn't -seen- as a fetish; it's normalized and often passed off as something other than it is. hell, i think the whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing is a fetish, a really boring one for me, but i'd mind it a lot less if people would just come clean that that's -all- it is, not some description of -everyone's- reality all the time.

Trinity said...

"they tend to build up with the sort of erotic tension and slow sensual detail that i like, and often don't see elsewhere."

also an excellent point! :)

Trinity said...

"what i dislike about virginity fetish most, i guess, is that like most "mainstream" fetishes, it isn't -seen- as a fetish; it's normalized and often passed off as something other than it is."

YES!

This comment wins. I wholeheartedly agree. I think that an interest in innocence or in virgins is just that, an interest, just like an erotic interest in feet or floggings or sploshing or chastity belts or whatever. It may well be a common one, but it would still be much better if it and all the other "mainstream" sexual interests were acknowledged as such.

"ell, i think the whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing is a fetish, a really boring one for me"

Oh you totally win. My mom always had the whole "I don't see how queerfolk can really be sexually excited by the same gender. What's hot about men is that they're NOT women! The MYSTERY!" thing going

which always just led me to shake my head and wonder why all erotic charge is supposedly based on opposites/polarities.

I mean yeah. I'm a top who loves me some bottoms. Polarity abounds. But I've never really felt that this is the only possible erotic charge for anyone out there ever... or even for me myself!

Kramnik said...

Your statement and its tone sounded like your point was that she had no right to expect better from people - "hey, if you go around saying you don't like spaghetti, you have to expect that people will automatically try to serve it to you to test whether you know your own mind or not."

But it is a matter of fact that x% of people will act that way. I never justified it or said it is pleasant, but it is life. I think it's rather lame to think as a mature adult that others will accomodate your worldview, when that clearly isn't the case. If it were, spaces like this one wouldn't be necessary. Obviously, the appropriate attitude isn't to be bemused: how many times do you have to encounter a phenomenon to realize that your normative evaluation of it ("I find it lame") is not what's driving it, and that it's there to stay? No matter how lame you think others are, that's not an excuse for living in denial. Grow up.

Kramnik said...

I tend to get the opposite ("you can't POSSIBLY be sub. You're too assertive/not 'innocent' enough. etc").


See? And this happens in every context in life, to almost everyone, probably every day.

Kramnik said...

hell, i think the whole "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" thing is a fetish, a really boring one for me, but i'd mind it a lot less if people would just come clean that that's -all- it is, not some description of -everyone's- reality all the time.

True enough. But I wonder if part of the enjoyment of the fetish is that it is not admitted, not discussed, and not analyzed.

Cassandra Says said...

"And plenty of dominants (particularly male ones) see that kind of nuanced reservation as an indication you aren't actually dominant, which is exactly why they would f*ck with you. "

To whatever extent that is the case I would respond that the problem is that those people don't seem to realise that there's a difference between a dom and a selfish asshole with an entitlement complex.

Cassandra Says said...

Verte - Almost 15 years ago. I'd imagine some of the same guys are still around and still attempting to bully younger women into shagging them.

One of the reasons that I really don't think that was, or is now, just a matter of them being doms with poor table manners is that not a single one of the people who treated me in that way was a woman, and I was very much openly bi and willing to play with women.

Cassandra Says said...

Trin - Given that you get the same thing I wonder how a person's overally look plays into it? I think you're a lot less femmey than me, but we're both pretty small, and that may well be part of it. Especially when you combine small with young looking.

Karmik - Yes, one does well to expect that X percentage of people will always be assholes. That does not change the reality that they are, in fact, being assholes.

Trinity said...

"I think it's rather lame to think as a mature adult that others will accomodate your worldview, when that clearly isn't the case."

Very true as well.

Trinity said...

"but we're both pretty small, and that may well be part of it. Especially when you combine small with young looking."

Yes, especially coupled with the fact that I often WAS the youngest person there.

belledame222 said...

But it is a matter of fact that x% of people will act that way. I never justified it or said it is pleasant, but it is life.

Who here is saying it isn't?

It is of course also a part of life that some people will react strongly to the assholian behavior and stop interacting with the asshole in question; and frankly i feel it is incumbent upon those of us who can recognize such assholery for what it is to inform the people who accept the assholery with passive unhappiness, as though such were their fate, that no, in fact, it really isn't.

belledame222 said...
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belledame222 said...
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belledame222 said...

...per the spaghetti thing, all I can think of is a friend of my grandparents who kept kosher. One day went to some "friends" of hers for dinner, who kept trying to wheedle her out of her kosherness as something she ought to grow out of like they had. Well, on this occasion they didn't say anything; they just served her what they told her was lamb. At the end of the meal, they asked, how was it? She said, delicious; whereupon they smugly informed her that it was pork.

she ran for the toilet and was violently ill. and guess what? That was the end of that "friendship." As well it should have been. And, let's make this perfectly clear: she did not PROVOKE these people into testing her limits by declaring that she had boundaries. There is nothing -except- assholery that caused the so-called friends to test her boundaries. They were putting their own shit onto her, and no shit, the assholes will always be with us; but that doesn't mean it is the fate of the rest of us to have to just sit back and accept the boorish, invasive behavior of any -given- asshole. It is, in fact, an assholian attitude that leads to the belief that it -is- so.

And, kramnik, kindly do not tell the other commenters here to "grow up," or what is or isn't appropriate; you are, from where I sit, scarcely in a position to do so. And I will add that I personally have no more interest in playing "test people to see how far they can be pushed via being a boundary-violating asshole" games online than I do in any other context.

Trinity said...

"No matter how lame you think others are, that's not an excuse for living in denial. Grow up."

Whoa there, Nellie.

I agree with you that saying "I am X" provokes testing behavior. Hell, try being a brand new person to a BDSM group all of whose members are older than you and claiming "I'm a top."

Fun times.

Been there, done that, got the leather vest. :-P

But telling Cassandra to "grow up" for calling attention to the difference between gentle ribbing and assholic behavior? That's bullshit and you know it.

"But there is nothing to be wary of, as I would probably let Trinity peg me at the drop of a hat. I'm not dominant."

Let's see:

-condescending attitude

plus

-insulting my friends

plus

-talking about sex with me as if I'm not even here

equals

hell no.

EthylBenzene said...

"that doesn't mean it is the fate of the rest of us to have to just sit back and accept the boorish, invasive behavior of any -given- asshole. "

I run into this attitude a lot -- that sort of "grin and bear it" thing. You know what? It's nearly always from a man to a woman. I've seen it so fucking much, and every time, it makes me so mad. No, I shouldn't just expect people to treat me badly. I shouldn't just put up with it when it happens to me. Saying "eh, well, that's the way people are" is not a solution. Part of what feminism is about (to me, YMMV) is standing up and saying "hey, the world shouldn't be like this!"

belledame222 said...

well and golly gee, here is a dude swinging by and not only expressing but acting out that very same attitude on a female-hosted blog. mhm. You can rationalize it or intellectualize it--in a BDSM context, gender, however you like--but it sure -smells- like plain ol' ordinary trolling however you dress it up. And, I have no patience with it. Period.

belledame222 said...

btw, welcome, ethylbenzene.

belledame222 said...

and by the way, a general note: the word is "fuck." I hate those minging little asterisks and find them particularly ludicrous in a place where we're discussing forfuckssake kinky sex.

belledame222 said...

oh yeah, and: even putting aside the whole "nobody asked you sir, she said," the automatic assumption that the one who physically penetrates the others' orifice is the "dom" is pretty unsophisticated.

Putting that aside, there is, as we have just seen, such a thing as "topping from below." Maybe that's worth a separate topic. I know some tops who like "SAMs." For me,

1) they'd have to be pretty damn winsome to attract me; it's a fine art, is smartassery, and i'd have to be genuinely entertained by it, which means i'd have to genuinely -like- the person at some level, and be even more simpatico to engage at that complexity of game-playing

2) as with everything else being discussed here, what's fun play in the dungeon or the bedroom generally isn't so hot when nonconsensually acted out, unacknowledged as such, in "real life."

EthylBenzene said...

~waves at belldame~ Thanks for the welcome! I'm very glad I found this blog!

So fucking (heh) tired of entitlement-minded jackoffs trolling feminist blogs. Honestly. Don't you people have anything better to do?

Kramnik said...

Yes, one does well to expect that X percentage of people will always be assholes. That does not change the reality that they are, in fact, being assholes.

I don't disagree with this; but my point is that "asshole" really is not an objective term. It's normative. Your norms aren't what cause people to act they way they do.

To whatever extent that is the case I would respond that the problem is that those people don't seem to realise that there's a difference between a dom and a selfish asshole with an entitlement complex.

I would personally agree with this; but my point is that "selfish asshole with an entitlement complex" just means "this person acts in a way I dislike". Just because you dislike it doesn't mean it isn't actually "dominance" in a sociological sense.

frankly i feel it is incumbent upon those of us who can recognize such assholery for what it is to inform the people who accept the assholery with passive unhappiness, as though such were their fate, that no, in fact, it really isn't.

Okay, fine. But Jehovah's Witnesses think coming over to my house and boring me with their religious nonsense is incumbent on them as well.

Again, expecting that x% of people will be "assholes" is just a part of accepting reality. That doesn't mean you have to put up with it.

But part of avoiding "assholes " successfully usually involves understanding what motivates their behavior. Simply calling someone names doesn't help. Yes, I would call that immature.

Trinity,
I don't recall insulting Cassandra, and I think she responded to my posts in the spirit they were written. Absolutely nothing I have written here is conventionally objectionable, but many of the (false) inferences made about my motivations for writing them are.

I'm not a troll, and brushing me aside as one simply because I happen to disagree -- on this particular thread -- is rather ridiculous.

Kramnik said...

the automatic assumption that the one who physically penetrates the others' orifice is the "dom" is pretty unsophisticated.

I never made this automatic assumption, if this comment is directed to me. But as a matter of social practice, this is generally how things go. You're right that if I made a categorical statement, it would be crude. I did no such thing. You're presuming a made an "automatic assumption" -- something you'd need to be inside of my head to know. Why presume bad faith? Because I'm male?

belledame222 said...

"selfish asshole with an entitlement complex" just means "this person acts in a way I dislike". Just because you dislike it doesn't mean it isn't actually "dominance" in a sociological sense.

Nope, don't accept that.

Time for a "boundaries 101" post, maybe. When I get a chance.

belledame222 said...
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belledame222 said...
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belledame222 said...

Or, well, let's put it this way. It may be a "dominance" thing as far as the dominant/asshole is concerned. It is not, however, MY concern when it comes to my interpretation of his behavior, and more important, what i choose to do about it viz how it affects me and mine. If you're in my house as a guest, and I say you're being an asshole and you got to go, you don't have to accept the "asshole" designation; you don't have to believe that you are "objectively" being an asshole outside the context of the house party; you don't even got to go home; but you do got to go. Hypothetically speaking.

belledame222 said...

Again, expecting that x% of people will be "assholes" is just a part of accepting reality. That doesn't mean you have to put up with it.

That's wight, wabbit.

But part of avoiding "assholes " successfully usually involves understanding what motivates their behavior.

You know, I used to think that; and actually I'm generally pretty good at that, the armchair psych. But at the end of the day, actually: no, all that matters for the purposes of successfully avoiding assholes is saying, you know what? This is assholian behavior up with which I will not put; and then, stick to that boundary. Works like a charm ime.

Trinity said...

"no, all that matters for the purposes of successfully avoiding assholes is saying, you know what? This is assholian behavior up with which I will not put"

right on. psychoanalyzing them can be entertaining, but it doesn't actually do much, really.

Cassandra Says said...

"I run into this attitude a lot -- that sort of "grin and bear it" thing. You know what? It's nearly always from a man to a woman. I've seen it so fucking much, and every time, it makes me so mad. No, I shouldn't just expect people to treat me badly. I shouldn't just put up with it when it happens to me. Saying "eh, well, that's the way people are" is not a solution. Part of what feminism is about (to me, YMMV) is standing up and saying "hey, the world shouldn't be like this!" "

Yep. And who other than me thinks that the person in question wouldn't be taking that tone with me if I was a bloke, either?

Sorry, Karmik, nobody's buying it. And just because some of us like to peg asses does not mean that we like to peg assholes in a more generic sense. Personally I prefer playmates with better manners.

Cassandra Says said...

"But part of avoiding "assholes " successfully usually involves understanding what motivates their behavior."

Not really. Assholes are unavoidable. The relevant question is what one does when one encounters them.

As I said before - these people aren't displaying dominant behavior so much as poor table manners (and poor social skills, which are a fairly important thing for BSDM people to have).

belledame222 said...

Poor manners, poor social skills, poor emotional/interpersonal skills, and particularly, poor boundaries.

The very very basic principle is: "the right to swing your fist stops when it meets my nose."

In BDSM it's MORE important, not less, that people have a solid grounding in that basic principle, because when we go to temporarily put aside some of those boundaries in a very specifically delineated arena (including such rules as, actually, literally fist-->nose is not on the safe/sane/consensual table), it is -paramount- that the top as well as the bottom understand exactly what it is that is termporarily being set aside. Otherwise, well, that's exactly where you start getting into abuse territory. And no, gender doesn't necessarily matter, although certainly various fantasy scenarios like Gor or female supremacy can, as with any other fantasy, be a problem if there are poor delineations between the fantasy and everyday reality.

belledame222 said...

...essentially what the top is doing is expanding her boundary to envelop the bottom; that means that the top is MORE responsible, not less, for not damaging the bottom. That's also true in any position of authority, particularly so when anyone is placing hirself in a position of extreme vulnerability to you--all kinds of therapy, some even more so than others, shamanistic journeying, and so on. Yeah, you have a right to get your own needs met, but absolutely -not- at the expense of fucking with the other person's hard limits just because you think you're all that and a box of Rice Krispies. Anyone who was talking like that and still never seemed to tweak what the problem was would be off my playlist, and I'd be warning other people about hir as well.

Anonymous said...

Karmik - Yes, one does well to expect that X percentage of people will always be assholes. That does not change the reality that they are, in fact, being assholes.

Or change the fact that they're being sexist. The people who feel compelled to test your boundaries this way are heavily skewed male, IME, although there've been a few women who've tried it too. The aggression is part and parcel of entitlement. In other words, you're both right!

--Piny

Joan Kelly said...

And, uh, post script - I believe he was addressing me with the "grow up" admonishment, not Cassandra. Which, I can't help it - made me wish I was an HTML wizard so I could invent some code that would allow me to post a sound file of me giving the ol' raspberry.

Kramnik said...

Sorry, Karmik, nobody's buying it. And just because some of us like to peg asses does not mean that we like to peg assholes in a more generic sense

I never made any such argument. Just like my name isn't Karmik.

Kramnik said...

But at the end of the day, actually: no, all that matters for the purposes of successfully avoiding assholes is saying, you know what? This is assholian behavior up with which I will not put; and then, stick to that boundary. Works like a charm ime.

No, that's wrong. If you have to experience the assholian behavior to know your boundary has been breached. Successful avoidance means there is no confrontation, i.e., no breaching of your boundary.

Kramnik said...

Nope, don't accept that.

Well, then I guess you reject any and all findings of any social science, then.

belledame222 said...

That's quite a leap. and: wrong again. Studying psych at the moment, as a matter of fact.

No, that's wrong. If you have to experience the assholian behavior to know your boundary has been breached. Successful avoidance means there is no confrontation, i.e., no breaching of your boundary.

Are you arguing just for the sake of it?

Anonymous said...

You need to experience violation in order to predict it? That's not true at all, and it honestly makes me wonder if you've played around much. Generally speaking, you've got a lot of meet-and-greet, some secondhand testimony via the incestuous gossipy calling circle, and even a few preliminary negotiations that will offer up plenty of red flags. Your friends and exes are a fountain of more-or-less accurate information. The communities tend to be a bit precious and overbearing, but anonymity strikes me as much worse.

For example: I made a command decision to never ever play with one particular asshole when we went out to a bondage munch together and she was a horrible asshole to the waitstaff. She was officious, rude, and completely unreasonable. How would someone like that treat a sub, do you think? Not a top I was willing to take a chance on. Lo and behold: she's been horrible to just about everyone she's gone off with.

--Piny

Kramnik said...

You need to experience violation in order to predict it?

No, and the "no" argument is the one I am making. My point is confrontation is unnecessary to avoidance. Prediction would mean you're aware of it before your boundary has been breached.

Kramnik said...

That's quite a leap. and: wrong again. Studying psych at the moment, as a matter of fact.

It's called sarcasm, and I was pointing out where the logic of your position leads.

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