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.)


ellefromtheeast said...

I'm not totally sure of the answer, but here are two things I think would happen:

1) There would be a roughly equal number of M/f and F/m scenes and couples. (maybe obvious, but worth saying)

2) "Forced feminization" as a humiliation kink would disappear - because in a feminist utopia, there would be nothing humiliating about being feminine. Some people might prefer not to wear dresses, like some people now say that the color orange doesn't suit them, but it wouldn't be emotionally laden enough to be a kink.

belledame222 said...

i don't buy utopias, so it's hard to say.

i suppose if we really had totally gotten past our Victorian/patriarchal heritages, it'd be reflected in common fantasies: not so much with the strict daddy, the chastity belts, the shaming over being sexual at all, the domestic discipline, etc. etc. or, cops, dungeons, etc. etc.

...or, who knows. maybe they'd get more mileage because they'd be -totally- fantasy, like wearing corsets.

hey, maybe "forced masculinization" would be more of a kink...

i think what's called sensation play and stuff that deals with, y'know, pain, mortality, control/power and surrender, those things are pretty universal actually. they'd just maybe not be wedded so much to the same "scenarios" and common fetishes that are popular now. either there'd be different scenarios and fetishes (more likely) or there'd just be a lot more "pure" bondage, pain play, etc. etc.

Trinity said...

"1) There would be a roughly equal number of M/f and F/m scenes and couples. (maybe obvious, but worth saying)"



Yeah, that.

""Forced feminization" as a humiliation kink would disappear "

*sad panda*

Actually, I'm not sure about this. I think a lot of the kinks that have roots in social dynamics/social domination can involve eroticizing history. I mean, a lot of the scenarios that people find erotically charged still exist... but I also think there are scenarios people eroticize based on a certain romanticized history.

Pagan goddess and supplicant. Hetaira. A Roman-style slavery fantasy.

I don't know. Part of me agrees with you there, and part of me doesn't.

(And there's also the wrinkle that, well, someone who isn't feminine might not find it humiliating per se, but still find being *forced* to take on a new persona a very D/s experience, erotic because of that.)

So. I dunno.

I also think a lot of the "BDSM for God" would either disappear or become much more "this is a chosen lifestyle and way of merging SM and spirituality."

Trinity said...

"i don't buy utopias, so it's hard to say. "

Neither do I.

"the chastity belts"

Oh that one I really doubt would disappear. For a lot of people, going without sex for a while makes sexual energy really intense and powerful. I can easily see people still liking that.

And I think power games would still be fun for people actually. I don't really buy that there isn't ANY degree of dominant or submissive temperament innate to humans, such that we'd all be egalitarian blobs in utopia.

So... mix sex and power/control and yeah, I think "chastity" would still be a big one. Because that's a very basic form of sexual control.

Renegade Evolution said...

feminist sex is so me anyway....but yes, I'd picture a more even split between dom/sub at least.

Trinity said...

"feminist sex is so unsexy"

heh. yeah. that's exactly why I think people would still be crazy perverts in bed. I don't think that not thinking something is a good idea in real life means eschewing acting it out in fantasy. I think people would have plenty of rough sex in any universe!

(Which makes me think about the whole RealDoll issue again. A couple people in the discussion on Feministing were saying that the dolls needing repair implies/reveals misogyny in our culture... but, y'know, as someone with very violent fantasies myself I can easily imagine breaking mine if I owned one. Does that mean I hate th' wimminz?)

Lindsay1984 said...

I think there'd be a lot more discussion, at least openly, about anal activities, because none of the good feminists I know have any nerve endings between their vaginas and tailbones. Not a one.

Trinity said...

"because none of the good feminists I know have any nerve endings between their vaginas and tailbones."

uh oh, I'm a Bad Feminist!

Oh wait, I already was one of those. *meanders off to get rimmed because it's awesome*

faustopheles said...

I think it would be hard to tell the difference.

The pansexual SM world is already one of the most non-gender biased spaces and a laboratory for exploring gender power dynamics.

- You get to choose your gender without regard to your biological sex.
femme, butch, androgynous, etc.
- You get to choose your power role (top, bottom, Dom, Sub, Pitcher, Catcher, switch) without regard to your biological sex or chosen gender.
- You get to chose your play/sexual partners without regard for your respective biological sex or gender.
- You get to choose your pronouns
However, while female Doms may asked
to be called sir, you don't tend to
see male ones being asked to be
called ma'am. I may amuse myself
by remedying this in a future
- You get to change your choices
- straights, bisexuals, gay men, lesbians, dykes, transvestites, transexuals, and hermaphrodites coexist in the same space.
- Power is given, not taken, and it can be revoked.
- there are more checks and balances on abuse of power

While power roles exist, they are independent of gender. And they are more egalitarian than they may seem superficially. The bottom has strategic control and the top has tactical control. And both partners are benefiting from the exercise of the power roles. And frequent switching between the same partners can be a form of egalitarianism.

If biological sex or gender disappeared, there would still likely be power roles in real life. Likewise if gender continued to exist but simply failed to matter.

Trinity said...

"I think it would be hard to tell the difference."

Same. I think we might see a bit less Gor, a bit less "Christian D/s" on the half-kinked/half-religious sidelines, a bit different numbers wrt who takes what role... but otherwise, well, yeah.

ellefromtheeast said...

trinity, I think you're totally right that cross-gender role-playing would still exist. You might even sometimes get people playing the scenario "Imagine you're a twentieth-century man, and imagine how humilating this pink dress would be for that person." But I don't think the whole "sissy maid" phenonemon would be a big, specific, humiliation fetish.

I agree about chastity belts still being hot. Pent-up energy is powerful.

faustopheles, I completely agree with all your points about how in many ways, what we have inside the BDSM community is already a lot like a feminist utopia. (Hell, that's why we rock!) What's interesting to me about this question is what would be different if we changed the world *outside* our community. What if we came to BDSM from a more just world, grew up socialized without gender oppression? How would changing outside the community affect what we do inside the community?

And that's why I think there'd be more F/m couples. In my experience, female tops and switches are completely welcome to the kink community, but there are somewhat fewer of them, I think because of how girls are raised from infancy.

verte said...

I've never bought that anything in BDSM is really 'forced'. But yeah, I suppose I've never really thought about how misogynist the origins ofthe feminisation fetish is.

I would like to see a bit less of the older man/young girl thing. Or, at least, not such a fetishization of naivety, innocence and inexperience in young female submissives. It's always creeped me out a bit. Older, experienced straight female subs don't always find it easy to find partners.

And I'd really, really, really like it if people stopped questioning sexual preferences because of someone's demeanour towards them. I only sub to people I choose to sub to, yet even in an activist meeting the other week my orientation was raised and questioned AGAIN. So all of that would go.

But I agree - those are smallish things!

Trinity said...

"Or, at least, not such a fetishization of naivety, innocence and inexperience in young female submissives."


To me, maybe... not so much that this shouldn't exist, but that it should be a fetish like any other, rather than "I must find a pretty girl because the older women are 'used up'" or "I want a youngun because I don't want anyone knowing I've no clue how to fuck" or the like.

I think in a more utopian universe it would be more a consensual role-play than a "I only seek to date those women."

Chewie said...

This may nudge in an unhelpful direction, but...

Which feminist utopia? Does it really make sense to treat feminism, especially in this context, as a monolith? I tend to think not, myself.

For example, the changes I would expect to see in my feminist utopia would be things like:

- More couples (or triads, &c.) with children coming to public events.

- Harder SM play, because of our new utopian single-payer health system.

- Not having to run set-up or tear-down at the local dungeon, because zoning laws have been changed such that a permanent dungeon space could more easily be found.

ellefromtheeast said...

After some in-person discussion, Chewie would like to clarify that in the post above he didn't mean that players bring their kids to parties or munches. He just meant that it was possible for to be both a member of the BDSM community and a parent, that there would be no judgement that you were unfit and decent childcare available when you wanted to go out to events.

Trinity said...

"people who have kids" as opposed to "people bringing kids"? Yeah, that's how I read it.

Trinity said...

"Which feminist utopia? Does it really make sense to treat feminism, especially in this context, as a monolith? I tend to think not, myself."


One of my old professors used to use the example of "feminist utopia" just to differentiate between an ideal world and the one we're in, so we could debate/discuss positions like:

"In a feminist utopia, prostitution would not exist, as sex ought not be commodified. In the real world, prostitution should be decriminalized, for the good of real people with real lives."

(I don't agree with "sex shouldn't be commodified" myself -- I'm not sure why that should be. But that was a very popular position in the class.)

verte said...

(I don't agree with "sex shouldn't be commodified" myself -- I'm not sure why that should be. But that was a very popular position in the class.)

Me neither. People I know do enjoy sex as commodification as a fetish, almost, and many women (including me) find pleasure sometimes in objectification. I think objectification is a lot more complex than how I've seen some radfems paint it.

I also wonder about 'forced' bi...

Trinity said...

"Me neither. People I know do enjoy sex as commodification as a fetish, almost, and many women (including me) find pleasure sometimes in objectification."

For me it's not so much that as, well, sex as commerce has existed throughout human history. It's very difficult for me to imagine that we've all been making a moral mistake, and sex should never be a transaction.

I suppose that the people who think this is so could say "well, slavery existed all through human history -- and that was the paradigm case of people assuming something (human beings) could be goods that, morally, cannot be."

BUT the difference I see between those two is that if I have sex for money, I am choosing what to do. If I am captured and enslaved, that's not me deciding to sell something, that's someone deciding to sell ME.

Alon Levy said...

Hmmm... like Elle says, there would be equal numbers of M/f and F/m couples (aren't there already equal numbers, though?), and probably no forced feminization.

But the rest really depends on how sexually liberal the feminist utopia is. Sexually liberal feminism is a product of the 1960s, and societies can become more sexually conservative, as the West did in the 1930s. It's entirely possible for the world to become gender equal and even homophobia-free but at the same time adopt the 1950s' sexual norms, only epicenized.

But for what it's worth, prostitution tends to correlate with sexual conservatism. In sexually liberal cultures it's easier to find free sex; in a completely liberal culture, I imagine people will start opening sex bars, where you enter personal details plus your sexual tastes, and get matched to a partner by an on-site computer system.

Obviously, that depends a lot on health care technology and public health. AIDS set back the sexual revolution; a cure will most likely spring it forward. Further in the future, imagine what kind of hardcore kinks will be there if it's possible to regenerate limbs quickly and cheaply... say, one where the dominant amputates the submissive's arm as a punishment, or perhaps one where the dom restrains one of the sub's hands in such a way that the sub's only way out is to chop it off with the other hand.

Alternatively, there might already be technologies that use some form of restraint to give orgasms that no natural or bondage-free scene could match - something involving electrocution of various kinds, for instance. Say, if society becomes sufficiently non-judgmental and open to experimentation, and the cost of devices like those on Wired Pussy drops to something couples can afford without hesitation...

Anonymous said...

hey, maybe "forced masculinization" would be more of a kink...

Isn't that what women make men in this society do? Have you been a supermarket check-out lane recently? Just look at the mass market paperbacks sold there.

belledame222 said...


Actually I was referring to "forced masculinization" of -female- subs.

Alon Levy said...

(Vas is meant to be Yiddish, not German - right?)

I honestly don't know if there will be forced masculinization... either kind of forced gender change requires some conventions about differences between male and female sexuality. You can have those in a gender-equal society; even very rigid roles can exist in a non-exploitative setup. But if the prevailing idea is that gender is just something incidental, with no differences between men and women, you're probably going to have neither feminization nor masculinization.

hexyhex said...

Well said, faustopheles. Although:

However, while female Doms may asked
to be called sir, you don't tend to
see male ones being asked to be
called ma'am.

I do, quite frequently :)

I think a lot of the activities would be the same... there'd just be a hell of a lot fewer hang ups and less angst about kink. People would be free to make their choices without having to deal with the societal drama around such things.

hexyhex said...

I'll also add: While I don't think BDSM would change so much, I do think PRO-BDSM would be incredibly different.

The dudes who see pro-Dommes because they can't find a kinky partner, or because their partner doesn't share their kink? They'd still be turning up. In a feminist utopia, though, I think the guys who see pro-Dommes because they have to keep their kink hidden and secret (particularly those whose hidden desire is anal play, genderfucking, sexual humiliation etc etc) would be severely diminished in number.

P. Burke said...

Mostly what faustopheles said.

Also, it would be possible to post an ad as a female sub on a personals site without getting creepy responses from guys who can't tell the difference between dominating a woman and treating her like shit. (Not that those guys are generally practitioners of BDSM, rather than random assholes.)

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