One thing that has always really bothered me in feminist discussions about kink is the assumption I often see that a woman could only want to be submissive if she’s been abused, coerced, brainwashed — that nobody could possibly be born with these sort of desires, that they’re inherently unhealthy and abnormal and could not develop on their own in a vacuum. There’s this sometimes unspoken, often articulated, assumption that the only way a woman could want what I want is if she has been emotionally damaged.
I suppose I’m just here to say: well, they can develop in a vacuum, and they’re not abnormal for me. I have never been sexually or physically abused by a parent, family member, friend, partner, or anyone else. As much as I desire a relationship where I am not in control, where there is a distinct power imbalance, where I might get bitten and smacked a little, pushed to my limits and beyond my comfort zone sexually, mentally, and emotionally…I have no desire to be abused. Wanting to be dominated consensually by someone I trust who respects my hard limits but not always the more flexible, softer ones is entirely different from being with someone who forces me to do things I really don’t want to do.
....So now that I’ve laid that out, the real point I’m trying to get at. One thing that’s been nagging at me for awhile is the realization that these criticisms of kink are exactly the same as arguments about homosexuality. The argument, especially, that women are made queer by rape or other trauma. Most of the normally, otherwise very intelligent women I see arguing that BDSM is inherently harmful and degrading to women would never say such a thing about queer women because it’s plainly ridiculous. Most women do not decide to be lesbians because they’ve been damaged by men in their lives. The assertion is clearly and fatally flawed.
So why is it okay to say these things about submissive women? (And it’s always submissive women. The very concept that dominant women could possibly exist seems to fly over these people’s heads — when they do acknowledge the existence of dommes, it’s usually in a sneering, “it’s all just an act they put on for men, they aren’t actually powerful” sort of way. And forget the idea that a submissive woman might want to be topped by another woman.) Why is it not okay to say that I only like women because of some severe psychological trauma, but it’s perfectly fine to assert that I Must Have Nasty Issues if I want to let a partner (especially, heaven forbid, a partner with a dick) to tell me what to do and be in control?
I am not damaged. I am not queer because of abuse. I am not submissive because of abuse. I have been both queer and submissive my entire life. I can recall having both of these desires from an incredibly young age: an unusual attachment to female friends and a near total absence of crushes on male peers, and a persistent desire to be “owned”, an eagerness to please and take care of everybody in my life. These are the things which fulfill me. These are the things that I need to be happy. Attempting to deny me that because it’s “un-feminist” or “unhealthy” denies and undermines my actual health (mental and emotional, by extension, physical) and my very real dedication to women’s rights.
I should not have to justify my submissive identity (and it is that — it is not simply a role I adopt in the bedroom, it is a basic cornerstone of who and what I am) anymore than I should have to justify my attachment and attraction to women. Would the feminists demanding that I “examine” the roots of my kinky desires for their entertainment ever dare to say the same thing about my queer desires? Of course not! Even if (and this is important!) I did feel I were only attracted to women due to an abusive past, it still wouldn’t be relevant, it still wouldn’t mean there’s anything wrong with my same-sex attractions, and it still wouldn’t be any of their damn business. Because there is nothing inherently wrong with my sexuality, in the queer sense or the kinky sense.
I find the allegations I’m not a real feminist actually hurtful. It’s like someone saying that because I like to play video games with fake violence in them I can’t be part of the anti-war movement. One has pretty much almost nothing to do with the other. While it’s definitely worth looking at how violence is normalized in our culture and how that feeds our willingness to do real harm to others, my personal recreational habits don’t disqualify me from standing up for my pacifist principles.
The post itself is a bit longer than this. Oh, and I have been abused and I'm dominant. Which of course must mean I identify with someone whose idea of fun is torturing kids with disabilities. OH WAIT EXCEPT NOT.