Thursday, 31 May 2007

Hey, I did say we might do 'bot fetishism at some point...

voici:



The part that slays me is, I found this at an "anti-misandry" site, (which I found through keyword trackback for the other blog, sometimes it pays to follow the breadrumb trail) as an example of feminist hate in music, you know (the link is here, http://antimisandry.com/discussion5337, we are not hyperlinking directly, we are being vewy vewy quiet, heheheheheheh). The analysis:

The males featured are just some kind of non-thinking, cloned automatons. They are tested by the female technicians who strip and dance around them to determine the response. Those who don't pass the test are put on a bed and set aside.

Is this what the average workplace will look like in two decades' time? Certainly, affirmative action and pro-female educational trends, and also Government policy like that of Labour's in the UK which will freeze wages for male workers will ensure women are numerically dominant. Someone here quoted that 75% of doctors under 30 are female; that's the kind of dominance I'm talking about.

Already the office is a place where the predatory female plays out sex games with male co-workers. Already, 43% of women have had sex with male colleaguesp in the UK, according to a recent report.


I know, right? And yet, I know sure as cheese as cheese that in -other- analyses, the sexy nurses are (all together now)

SEXBOTS!!!

--quite literally, this time; which means, therefore, that this is yet another clear case of Pandering To The Patriarchy, part XXVIIIinfinityeleven.

probably even more so with this one, by the same people along with a Camille Jones (hey, learning about some cool new-to-me UK music at least):



...you know, at the -very end- of the video, there is...a MAN, crawling, on his hands and knees, for about .2 microseconds.

and before that, there are a bunch of somewhere between Robert Palmer and Maggie Gyllenhaal secretaries doing their sexy thing for one guy at the front desk (but but they OUTNUMBER HIM, SCARY) including, yep! crawling!

Either way, it's clearly all Very Wrong.

I'm sure there's far more interesting analysis one could do on either of these two videos wrt automatons and the workplace and maybe an allusion to "Stiffed" and some good ol'fashioned post-Marxist theorizin' along with some other shit;

but mostly, I'm thinking

1) hey, nice beat and I can dance to it

2) hey, I like the Janeane Garafalo-vibe Jones has going there.

3) damn, it must be hard to do those moves in a straight skirt, even with a slit

and later

4) HAHAHA they think the Pussycat Dolls are evil feminist succubi too, PSYCH

Have I mentioned lately...

that I loathe Sheila Jeffreys?

no, really

"We do think...that all feminists can and should be lesbians. Our definition of a political lesbian is a woman-identified woman who does not fuck men. It does not mean compulsory sexual activity with women."




quack quack quack


The pursuit of the orgasm of oppression serves as a new "opium of the masses." It diverts our energies from the struggles that are needed now against sexual violence and the global sex industry. Questioning how those orgasms feel, what they mean politically, whether they are achieved through the prostitution of women in pornography, is not easy, but it is also not impossible. A sexuality of equality suited to our pursuit of freedom has still to be forged and fought for if we are to release women from sexual subjection.


you charmer,

The reasons why adult women seek [gender] reassignment surgery stem from the inequality of women, from male violence and from lesbian oppression. Women who have been abused in childhood seek reassignment so that they can escape the bodies in which they were abused and gain the status of the perpetrator in order to feel safe. Some want to gain privileges they perceive to be open to men. And many feel unable to love women in the bodies of women because of societal repression and hatred of lesbians.


you

I call the practices in which women, and some men, request others to cut up their bodies - as in cosmetic surgery, transsexual surgery, amputee identity disorder (pursuit of limb amputation) and other forms of sadomasochism - self-mutilation by proxy.



yes, we are very, very special


It is hard to imagine lesbians, or
any women, finding utopia in a public toilet...The gulf separating women from this variety of queer politics is extremely wide.’


o yes indeed

(another author talking about Jeffreys):

I was not present, by a margin of about twenty minutes, when a group of women, disguised with ski masks, smashed up Chain Reaction, the lesbian SM London night club with crowbars and injured the women who got in their way - in the name of opposing violence against women; I was present a few weeks later at the Hackney Empire for an International Women's Day cabaret when a group of lesbian feminists were jeered by the queue, among whom were almost no SM women, with a cry of 'Where's your crowbars?' I saw women from Sheila Jeffreys' circle at the picket outside Chain Reaction a few weeks earlier and, if she did not know the women who attacked the club with physical violence, one may assume that she knows a woman who does.

...Jeffreys gets very upset in this book at being called an essentialist, claiming that she regards sexual behaviour as socially constructed. Were this the case, her line on transsexuals would seem a little odd, unless she really does believe that we are Trojan horses of the patriarchy, CIA agents prepared to go that little bit further into deep cover; when she really gets down to it, she does not like the idea of sharing toilet facilities with me, let alone friends. If a belief that I necessarily pass water or give good advice in a sinister and unsisterly manner is not essentialism, I do not know what is.



...unless I'm missing the funny part, and the self-parody is deliberate

In your chapter you say admiring things about Andrea Dworkin and me and that we are bad-asses.(I like donkeys too but I do not think this is what is meant).I do not consider myself a bad-ass at all in fact. I don't see it as a womancentred term.


and, Pauline Bart, could you BE any more of a drama queen?

Women who "came out" in large part for political reasons during the seventies as part of feminism, to make themselves whole, their lives consistent, their political personal, are taken aback when they are considered the enemy, the mothers to rebel against, the anti-sex, vanilla, lesbian feminists who are yoked to the Right Wing. To be a lesbian for political reasons now is like being a Stalinist after the Purge Trials in the Soviet Union (when it was clear that the Soviet Union was not the workers' paradise).

Meeting a lesbian who was not a feminist in the seventies was as rare as meeting a Jew who was not a Democrat in the thirties. Alix Dobkin sang "Any woman can/Be a lesbian." Our movement was revolutionary: aiming at overthrowing the patriarchy and creating an "alternative universe in which we would construct a new sexuality, a new ethics, a new culture in opposition to mainstream culture (ix)." Our method was consciousness raising. Our practice was loving women. Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Studies, marches and journals were unimaginable.

Lesbian feminists produced "women's culture": women's theaters, poetry, music, art, and newspapers, which were crucial in western countries to the creation of a lesbian community. Yet lesbian feminists and their work are currently marginalized by a new generation of women. No good deed goes unpunished!

...Jeffreys's most frightening chapter is the second, "The Lesbian Sexual Revolution," in which paradigmatically brutal or, at best, insensitive practices are extolled and dominance is made sexy and consensual. These s/m lesbians use dildoes, restraints and torture (e.g. dripping hot wax on one's partner)...


"We walked uphill in the snow both ways in manky Birkenstocks, and what thanks do we get? No, don't mind me, I'll just sit here in the dark...alone...get that candle away from me!"

Pillocks.

x-posted at fetch me my axe

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

LOLD/s



T, my partner, made this. He apologises for the grimace..

But seriously, what is the deal with capitalisation? Anyone here use it or ask their partner to use it?

Monday, 28 May 2007

"How a Girl Learns To Say No..."

More linkifyin', this on the potential positive effects of D/s dynamics:
When I first met Julie, she had low self-respect and poor self-image. She was, at that stage, still in an abusive relationship. She was the classic 'victim'.

Then she met me. I made it my business, as her Master, to make her into someone that she loved for herself. A person who valued herself, and thereby who acquired value, someone who was valuable, because she valued herself.

Now, time for a simple comparison. When I first met her, her need to please overrode every other impulse, and she set her own value as being lower than that of anyone else, and more specifically, lower than that of any man who showed an interest in her (yes, I include myself in that - but wait for the conclusion, please!)

Yesterday, she told me about her latest attempt to find herself a man of her own age to give her the BDSM loving that she needs.

....Many women, I think, will be familiar with the routine. She approached him, on a site devoted to alternative sexuality. His response was to ask her to perform for him on webcam. She told him this was not available, and he was, shall we say, a trifle rude in his response to that. Pause for a moment, dear reader, and contemplate what she might have done before her relationship with me...

Now that you've imagined that, let us look at what I taught her, what she learned by being my slave:

Her response was calm, collected, and polite. It was also to the effect of, "No, thank you. I deserve better." She stood on her own two feet to say that, she didn't need me or anyone else. She's a highly sexual being, and she certainly has a strong desire for a partner, but she is no longer the shrinking, insecure woman she was, who would let any jerk order her around.

I don't like to take credit for it, because she is the one who has done all this, she is the one who has moved from where she was to where she is. Nevertheless, she is kind enough to say that she appreciates that I gave her the ability to make that journey.
Personally, I've seen the same thing. If a submissive person (actually anyone, really) wants to believe in herself but has trouble, a person that she respects and trusts reinforcing "Yes, you do deserve better than that jerk/deserve to do that thing you've always wanted/have it in you to accomplish that difficult task" can work wonders to help her get there.

"I believe in you" is a good thing to say to those you love. You should all go do it. So should I.

Intimacy

Several people all around the blogoverse have been posting some personal and deep stuff, so I think I'm gonna come out and link to a recent post at my spot about my personal feelings about vanilla sex, despite that this is actually relatively tough for me to admit (other mods, I'd appreciate you keeping an eagle eye out for trollage here, as I expect it.)

Here's the relevant snippets from the recent post of mine in question, linking to and referencing a video of Marilyn Manson having sex:

Just what the title says it is.

NWS for fucking (though not explicitly depicted), extremely annoying orgasmic moaning, knives, and lots of blood.

Not that I mind tenderness, I just... want to see hunger, especially from someone famous for being dark. These two look like innocent lovebirds until they start playing in blood (and even a little after that.)

....That's the thing about vanilla sex to me. It [edit: often] doesn't look like fun.

I don't know why this is. I have definitely had enough to know that, as much less fun than sex in some kind of BDSM context as it is, it's fun.

And I can tell they like it. Their faces clearly show that.

But vanilla sex often seems sad and silly looking to me. Like little puppies pawing at one another desperate for attention but not really getting it.

I guess that's the thing for me. Vanilla sex isn't intimate to me. It's like... it tries to be intimate and fails and makes me sad. So looking at it often makes me sad.

Hardcore pornography I have a much easier time with because it actually looks like sex. I still kinda wonder in the back of my head how that kind of sex can be as interesting as they act like it is for as long, and interesting with someone you don't really like (for the added intimacy) but they don't look quite so much like astronauts trying to fuck through space suits.

This it's just... in theory I can tell they are being very intimate but my brain doesn't read it that way and I'm going "Sweet Goddess, at least grab her or push her or scratch her or SOMETHING, that looks so SAD."
I've no idea why this is for me, but it's always been the case to a greater or lesser degree. As a young adolescent who wasn't sexually active, the idea of vanilla, cuddly, hair-stroking sex utterly terrified me, to be honest.

Because every time I tried to picture it in my head, I'd imagine people touching each other and not feeling a thing.

As soon as I injected pain, or roughness, or domination into it, it became fine. I could understand the people connecting, opening up to one another, because whatever was happening to the "bottom" (and mind you this wasn't extremely polar in my head, they could be flipping one another over or taking turns inflicting pain or even doing it to one another at the same time) involved being opened, being revealed, some deep part of the self being brought (perhaps even dragged, roughly) into the light in some way.

That I could work with. That I could see as intimate. "Egalitarian" vanilla... it just seemed like statues, trying to get reactions out of stone. It made me sad.

Fast forward to my first relationship, and we had a lot of vanilla sex and looked at a lot of vanilla porn. I discovered that it was nowhere near dead, and my mind opened a hell of a lot. (But I still tend to fantasize that there are BDSM elements to my vanilla sex... that the person eating me out is my slave performing body worship, for example, is a common one. Sometimes I can't quite get off until I do this.)

But I still have twinges of that feeling, and I definitely have it full force watching that video until they get to the blood. It's like they're just moving to move... even though I can tell by their expressions that I'm seeing very passionate sex, there.

But... the sheer similarity of what each is doing to the other just makes my brain go fzzt. Makeouts with no domination element leave me not just cold but wondering why anyone bothers. (And yes, this is true even in real situations. I get BORED as fuck with the french kiss for hours thing unless I'm ravishing my partner with my tongue. Again: clear power shit. (I get tons of people who don't know me and think this means I want them cramming their tongue down my throat -- even if they're bottoming to me. No, no, no! Eesh!))

Yeah okay, he's penetrating her, but... that's just anatomy. They really look like they're trying to mirror one another almost exactly.

*FZZT*

WTF, brain? Why you do zis?

Is that what anti-SM feminists mean when they say that you're spoiled for egalitarianism by patriarchy? Did The Pat erode my "normal" ability to feel and read the passion in sex with no top and no bottom?

Or is this just how I am?

I know that I sought out references to polarity and roles and pain and power dynamics from a very young age. (And as I mentioned in comments to another post, I still remember my reaction to discovering the tops and bottoms in the gay male community. I was cheering. People who made sense! And understood that which role who takes is preference, not gender or some other trait! Damn, were them folx smart! *grin*)

I find it hard to believe that I'm this way because I was socially saturated in it. I know kids learn how to be and how to behave from what's around them... but plenty of "vanilla is sexy" was around me, I can tell you that. Why wasn't I a normal patriarchybot who wanted the standard hetero vague dominance/submission thang?

Where'd I get this idea I was a top and all?

I don't know. But I'm honestly sometimes bothered by this. I wonder if it is some sort of numbness I shouldn't have. Even in the mental health profession, many people get that SM isn't a pathology, but still there's a big "well, if this is the ONLY way someone can have sex, that's not good juju, and we have to fix, er, help you" thing

and

yeah, I can sexually function having vanilla sex. Heck, it's a perfectly nice thing to do when you're bored or tired or don't have much energy. And if you're already really intimate/love your partner, that mitigates some of the Space Suit Factor.

but I feel disconnected, dissociated, especially trying to imagine that as my whole sexual life. How could I... honestly this is where my brain fizzles and asks "how could anyone"

but that's wrong

weirdly enough, I'm the deviant.

Eh.

I dunno what I'm even asking. I guess the standard questions about whether this means our society is numb and I caught it. Though I don't really think so.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

"A Few Thoughts On Sex And Feminism"

An interesting post on the virgin-whore dichotomy, here:

At any rate, some people seem to believe that anything that could possibly be seen as giving in to the patriarchy is irrevocably bad. That includes: makeup, sexy clothes, skirts and dresses of any kind, pornography (no matter if it's "feminist" porn), BDSM, blow jobs, having sex with men at all, etc. All of these things are essentially off-limits to "free" women, and these tacit limits are set to keep you free.

Wait. What? Isn't that like wire-tapping your phone to keep you free? While one of the great goals of feminism is to take back female sexuality, so horniness isn't labeled "hysteria" and considered to be a physical ailment, somehow this doesn't seem right. After all, when railing against things like porn and BDSM, there are always those inconvenient wrenches in the works in the form of female couples who perform BDSM, or women who like to watch porn. If, say, BDSM is really just a legal way for men to tie up and torture women, how come there are so many women who are Doms, or who like to be submissive, either to men or to other women. For real, omfg, how could The Story of O have possibly been written by a woman????? Too bad it was. If the whole Venus in Furs man-is-submissive-to-woman kind of thing can be explained by the idea that masochists control the situations in which they're submissive, how come woman-is-submissive-to-man sex, or woman-is-submissive-to-woman sex can't be explained by anything but "legal torture of women?"

Female sexuality is complicated, and the idea that anything but clitoral stimulation (preferably performed by a woman) is subservience to the patriarchy just doesn't cut it. Sorry. If you want to reclaim female sexuality, you have to acknowledge that it exists, firstly, and secondly, you have to acknowledge that any parts of it that you don't like or understand can exist without being submission to the patriarchy.

Not that everything is hunky-dory in reference to women's sexual options these days. There are still some pretty stupid and damaging ideas about sex that are floating around. However, if a woman tells you that she likes to be spanked or whipped or likes to give blow jobs to her partner, perhaps this isn't the time to go "Oh you poor oppressed dear, let me psychoanalyze you to see how brainwashed you are." But instead, it's time to listen to her.

But I don't think that's what's happening. Which is why figures like Belledame or Ren cause such a ruckus amongst several of the the self-identified radfem bloggers. To them, a feminist who likes anything besides or in addition to clitoral stimulation can't be a feminist. Therefore, she must be the opposite: a Paris Hilton sexbot, a servant of the patriarchy, an oppressor, a status-quo holder-upper. Really? Because to my mind, anybody who breaks paradigms is a lot more radical than someone who goes around espousing old dichotomies dressed up in new clothing.

boldface/"strong" emphasis mine.


I think the notion of the "freak", the maverick, the defier of the status quo, gets lost in feminists' interminable looking at things through a structural lens. Of course the structural lens is important, but when we slot people into "oppressed" or "radical" like this, we lose sight of the freaks.


And I do think there are freaks, are people who are boldly defiant. Of course nowhere near all BDSM people are. But I do believe some are. And I think we need to remember that.

BDSM Intolerance

Mz Raven from Informed Consent kindly gave me permission to re-post her story here:

I've decided to make my reply to a thread currently running on the boards, into a personal blog, but what I want is for people to think before making any sort or reply/response or action.

The subject running is about being “outed” and the consequences of this, there is one reply on the boards which is very well written and precise pointing out the pro's and cons of being outed or even outing yourself. But I feel this is now something I have grounds to comment upon. Yes ok, so you decide to “come clean” to a few people and you relay the basic dynamics of what BDSM is about to you.

Out of experience I can tell you that you will always get one of three responses, those that stand there, raise one eyebrow and go “hmmmmmmmm .. really?” .. or you will get, “errrrrrrrrr .. whats that then?” .. or the one that is most common is, “are you weird or what?” the last kind of response is what happens when people have a lack of understanding and then its down to you as the individual to explain yourself. (why explain yourself you may ask) basically if you don't the media profiles of all of us living this lifestyle turns many peoples minds towards the worse scenarios, ie that we are all deviant freaks that slaughter new born lambs before having wild sex in its offal. Not really the sort of thing that you want others to believe really.

Ok, so there are a lot of plus sides to being honest and open about who and what you are/like doing. But ….. from someone that knows the wrath the of ignorant others .. its really not worth taking the risk … what we all do is ALWAYS going to be considered weird, freakish, abnormal ect .. its not the norm to want to inflict pain or to receive it .. its not the norm to suspend your loved one from beams and set about them with a single tail, basically what we all do and live is not NORMAL in the regular nilla mundane capitalistic world we have to live in.

What I will go ahead to tell you all now is my own personal experience of being honest with people that I thought were friends .. It still upsets me to this day what myself and my family and close friends had to deal with.

So after telling my next door neighbours how I chose to live was first met with the “hmmmmmmmm really?” response .. they asked lots of questions and they seemed to gain a certain amount of understanding of who and what I am about .. no problem so far, then .. my feelings at that point were relief and comfort in knowing I was accepted for ME not WHAT. So cutting a very long story short these people over a period of a couple of months started to change their attitude towards me, they stopped popping in for coffee, they ignored me, their kids stopped talking/playing with mine. Well, ok, fair enough .. life was quiet so I didn't really allow myself to get too worked up about it all .. live and let live is my motto.

Well, that was until one Monday morning at 8am when a team of 10 police officers stood on my doorstep telling me that my house was going to be searched looking for evidence of a crime that I had “supposedly” committed. I was read my rights and arrested on suspicion of drugging and raping my next door neighbour!

My house was turned over by a bunch of overweight CID officers and a few plain clothes coppers, rifling through not only my private items but my childrens as well. They took great delight in trying to humiliate me with all manner of unnecessary questions when finding “the Kit” (and lets just say there's a lot of it Again cutting out a lot of the story here I was hauled down to the police station and after being locked in a cell for a period of time I was then questioned and “evidence” placed in front of me along with the “victims” statement. As previously mentioned it came about that I had gone into their home and drugged her coffee with amphetamines until the point she passed out, then I was supposed to have tied her down and raped her then took photos of her in said position. Okaaaaaayyyyy …… shock and revulsion hits home big time and a multitude of questions of my own… but at that point I was the criminal and had no grounds to ask anything of anyone (or so I was made to feel).

Basically these people had worked out that if they made enough fuss and made themselves victims of a crime they could get what they wanted from the state. They were a family living on benefits in a home that was too small for their needs, they were in a mountain of debt that they could not keep under control, he was a junkie she was a manic depressive. So they concocted a story so extreme, but with a self confessed pervert living next door what an opportunity to not to miss. Here was there get out clause of the avoiding bailiffs and court orders ect. A new life .. a new start with new names. Sounds great doesn't it .. and don't we all wish at times during our lives that we could all do this?

These people (who I say again, I considered to be friends) falsified evidence (including said mentioned photos, which I supposedly posted through there door to intimidate them) they made my life hell, I couldn't even walk 200 yards to the local shop without having abuse screamed at me or my kids, phone calls of people calling me a diseased freak .. people I have known for many years crossing the street to avoid being on the same path as me, the local neighbourhood watch focused solely on my house of ill repute, my kids teased, tormented and bullied at school and all through a couple of peoples SICK and WARPED minds to get what they wanted.

Well after 9 months of living a hell on earth, everything was dropped, there was no physical evidence against me what so ever, (surprise surprise!) they couldn't find my finger prints on the photos that I had allegedly sent, there was no drugs in my home, there was NONE of her DNA on any piece of my equipment, there was NONE of my DNA on or about her body. The case and all charges where then subsequently dropped. The police acknowledged that they concocted this story just because they could, no other reason than to get what they wanted without having to do anything for themselves. Nightmare over! Or was it? NO .. I still have to live here with everyone still whispering behind my back, those that did this to me are now living somewhere in bliss with everything they wanted. They know what they did was wrong but they don't care, they carry no guilt over what they did, they didn't care what lives they ruined on their own paths to get what they wanted from me .. so in retrospect. They have won. I cant prosecute them the police wont do anything to them and all because of the money needed to bring about charges upon them. So unless someone wants to donate in the region of £100K to me, these people will walk free and get away with everything.

What I will say though is throughout this growing acceptance of O/our chosen lifestyle there are many many like myself who have grown complacent with what we do, believing that everyone is going to be “OK” with us, not feeling the need to hide ourselves away behind closed doors because we want to be honest and open and spread the word to make others become understanding of what we are all about. Sorry people but life isn't as kind as that .. yes, you are going to get those that accept you but you will also find those that WON'T and refuse to believe that what we do is perfectly acceptable.. these people don't want to know .. they don't want to understand .. they don't want us upsetting there quiet nilla way of life where the missionary position is the best way. There are many details that I have purposely omitted from this blog and I am more than happy to divulge more details if its requested.

Just take this as a kind warning from someone that knows that being open and honest isn't always the best path to chose. Think very carefully before disclosing anything private about yourself or your partner, you might find yourself the victim of a scenario that you have no control over. Don't let my hell become yours. It's not a nice place to be.


You know, I hope some anti-BDSMers read this and re-think their prejudices against women who choose lifestyles they look down on.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Friday, 25 May 2007

Stacked Decks and Rubber Cocks

I want to talk about stacked decks. I got into a discussion here with another dominant woman about the use of strap-ons with male partners. She is vehemently against them, or at least vehemently against the stereotype that all dominant women use them or that they should be the culmination of a female dominant, male submissive scene:
And, no, fucking someone with a strap-on is not empowering. Having to use a rubber cock to fuck someone is – I think – rather the opposite. It’s like an admission that a woman isn’t equipped to fuck and dominate someone. It’s equating the dom-fuck with the penis.

Having to strap a phallus to myself to be a dom? Empower me backwards!

Listen carefully and you’ll hear the oh so subtle message of strap-on play: You need a cock to be on top, you need a cock to be a dom, you need a cock to fuck.

I mean really, seriously really, does no one else think that it is *fucked* *up* that scenes of a woman dominating a man often culminate in her doing a more politically dubious drag act than your average forced fem session.

A culture where femdom sex puts more value on strap-on up arse than cock in vagina it is saying that the person on top, doing the fucking, intrinsically has more power than the one on her back getting soundly pounded. Which really isn’t true. There’s a lot of nasty things I can do to a person when I’m underneath them, close to their belly and their chest and their nipples. Things that they can’t really stop me doing because their arms are busy bearing their weight and doing all the work of fucking me extremely nicely and hardly
Now if you know me, you can probably predict my reaction to this pretty accurately. That being that it's profoundly insulting to claim that I'm disempowered by having sex in a way that I like, (even worse, that I don't come from the sex that I like, as if 1) I'm lying and 2) how good the sex I had is is dependent only on my orgasm, and whether others are adequately aware of it, even if they're predisposed to believe I must not have had one!) and worse to suggest that I must do it because I'm only serving someone else. As I said in the comments to her post, I fantasized about penetrating my partners since I knew what penetration was. Part of the reason I sought out the SM community was precisely because of that hokey, woman as penetrator stereotype. I was like “Oh, whoa, women like me! I’m not crazy!”

And there's also the disability angle. Relaxing enough to enjoy being penetrated is somewhat difficult for me. On rare occasions, it's worth doing. But when I could be inside my partner, experiencing what it's like to actually literally get into someone... relaxing enough to like something in my vag just seems a bit silly and off-point.

So there's the whole whiff of ableism in people telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing when I'm having sex with a man. (Interestingly I see much less shit about whether I should be penetrating a woman. The feminist in me asks "Why is that?" Knowing what people think of my flexi-semi-stone-ity, I know the answer well, I think: Some cunt needs to be getting penetrated, and well even if hers isn't, at least hers over there is. That's what cunts are for.)

But here BJ is again, responding to me:
And there is so much gender fucking in femdom compared to other deviances. You have to ask why.
That's when I realized, thinking about how I didn't dare say in her space that I love gender fucking (alongside good old fashioned pain, it's my biggest turn-on) and actually prefer to be called Sir rather than Ma'am, that the deck is stacked either way.

The deck is stacked against me because I'm too butch, not adequately representing my gender if I do what I want to do. If I do what I want to do, no holds barred, I must be demonstrating that being masculine and being dominant are one and the same. No matter how vehemently I insist that I don't believe this is the case for anyone else. I will be seen much more easily and much more frequently than I will be heard.

The deck is stacked against her because every time she claims that being penetrated can be a dominant act, someone out there isn't going to hear that either. Someone out there is going to go right back to thinking that she must be less dominant or be submissive deep inside, because she really likes to be on her back.

And I think it's very important to acknowledge that all of us fit the "problem" stereotypes in some way. I fit them because I love being a butch top with the feminized male bottom. I've introduced several partners who never would've liked or wanted it to feminization, who've come to love it precisely because I like making them my "girls" every now and then.

And as far as she goes, I don't know or well enough to know how she fits them or doesn't. But I do know that she calls herself "Bitchy Jones," and even though I get the pun (on "Bridget Jones' Diary"), it makes me groan because I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of the stereotype of a dominant woman as "A bitch." I hate that.

It makes us all sound like harpies, shrilly picking at people, with nothing real or serious to say. It bothers hell out of me. Yeah, we're bitches, baby. It couldn't possibly be that we're smart, or taking pain from us is fun, or we're authorities who deserve to decide. Nope. Don't fuck with us because we're bitches.

Reminds me so strongly of the stereotype of overly "dominant" vanilla wife/female partner-as-petty-controlling-nag that I cringe.

And there she is, OMGBWTFBBQ, REIFYING IT ALL BY NAMING HER BLOGX0RZ NO WOMAN SHOULD WANT THAT!!!111!!!eleventy!!!!zomg! IT'Z BAD 4 UZ.

To me this stuff, this inavoidability to ever fully divorce ourselves from the crap version of what we do, is why a careful, thoughtful feminism is something the SM community badly needs. It's not necessary because it's better not to be feminine, or better to find an empowering way to be feminine. It's necessary because patriarchal stereotypes create Catch-22's where no matter what we do, someone out there can call us not feminine enough, or disempowered due to or femininity, and have what they say stick. Have what they say taken to define us, over our own voices and we have to say for ourselves.

Gendered supremacies and consent

There was a documentary on recently in the UK called Obedient Wives, a glimpse into the lives of women who have chosen to submit to their husbands and experienced greater happiness from this change in their behaviour. I was pretty cynical when I read the brief, and the review that warned against watching it if one happened to suffer from blood pressure problems. Days before the program even aired, we were arguing about the concept of gendered supremacies on a UK BDSM forum, and it became clear that a belief that one gender is inherently more dominant than the other, or should be, made a few of us quite uncomfortable - unsurprisingly, all the 'discomforted' women identify as feminist. Interestingly, I've seen far more male sub profiles seeking a 'female supremacy' model for relationships, an unshatterable belief that women are inherently superior to men, than I’ve seen it the other way around.

Outside the BDSM community, but often closely connected are the Goreans, whose relationships tend towards Master/slave. The Gor subculture is alive and well and is a popular fantasy even for liberal women in the BDSM community, even though we may still ridicule the texts themselves and to a smaller degree, the idea that people would choose to live their lives by the dodgy philosophies of a series of obviously misogynist fantasy novels. I have rarely come across real misogyny on the fetish scene. Sexism, yes. Bigtime. From both sides. But misogyny? No. But I
do wonder whether a belief in gender supremacy, whether it is a genuine belief or a fantasy scenario, encourages thisbehaviour in Goreans, and therefore affects the way male Goreans address and treat women outside Gor who haven't chosen to live a Gorean lifestyle. T (my boyfriend and, yes, dominant) has been flogging his BDSM wares on Second Life, and stumbled across a flourishing Gorean community. As his alterego is female on the site, he experienced some amazing woman-hating comments and was quite shocked by the way he was treated because of his SL gender.

How do we, as feminists, respond to these lifestyles? If a woman's made an informed choice about the way she wants to live her life, how can we disagree with that choice? Indeed, Laura Doyle, author of The Surrendered Wife, is apparently a self-confessed feminist, and speaks of wanting to offer women as many choices as possible. And it was this revelation that perhaps helped me understand why feminist anti-BDSMers tend to misunderstand hetero D/s, or forbid feminist subs, particularly, usage of their hallowed word. To them, there is no differentiation between the Surrendered Wife and the BDSM sub. As long as there is a hierarchical relationship structure, it’s all much the same thing. Yet at the same time, I feel the problem with a lot of these belief systems is that they are so strong and rigid to live by that it is easy to impose them upon people who do not choose to abide by, for example, Gorean rules. I keep a profile on a crap BDSM personals site purely for the comedy messages sent out. I'm quite fascinated by the way men trawl women online, and find it has a tendency to make some ‘dominant’ men act with all this big bravado, approaching women in ways I’m pretty damn certain they wouldn’t down their local pub. Oh, and there’s usually a big veiny cock shot attached. Seductive. Sometimes a daily dose of sexism is reassuring. I just like to check that it's alive and well from time to time, you see, and that feminism is still worth my time. Yesterday I got a message from some uber-dom who wanted someone he could "humiliate, degrade and objectify to fulfill herself as a woman". Because that's what women, to his mind, are for. To be humiliated, degraded and objectified. The thing is, no matter how angry this makes me, no matter how violated I feel by this idea, I can imagine people defending this in the BDSM community; that many women DO want this, many women DO fantasise about this. And of course they're right. And perhaps for that man, even for Goreans, the whole idea of women as a gender as subordinate, and involving punishment and force to subordinate them is more of a fantasy than I imagine. Though many Goreans claim to live their entire lives by the 'philosophies' of John Norman, is the whole thing just a merry bit of escapism? For both genders? As long as a female slave has at some point consented to the relationship, there are no more questions to be asked as to her treatment and the way she must modify her behaviour so as to be consistent with Gor.

On Gorean Whispers, I found the following passage written by what is known as a free woman. I
understand that a slave conducts herself differently to a free woman, but don't see many fundamental differences:

One of the greatest things I have struggled with, is showing certain men respect. It has taken me a long time to even begin to master that. I see some men as weak, and struggle to show them the respect entitled to them by virtue of their sex. Yet, I try hard to give them the general courtesies expected from a Gorean Free Woman.

This includes my daughters school principal. He is an arrogant man, who is often cruel in his dealings with the children. As a mother, and a woman, it is hard for me to show this man respect. I have learnt however that respect is different for each given individual. I can respect that he has accomplished a lot in his career, achieving his placing in the school as Principal.


Okay, so here is my problem with gendered supremacy. To put men, in general, above women here seems to come at the expense of the daughter who I assume is not yet a fully fledged Gorean, although the writer takes pleasure in her daughter’s budding femininity and desire to serve. I do not understand why she would bother to seek out good points in men who are cruel to children in order to 'respect' the fact that they happen to have the same genitalia as her partner/father/John Norman. In the Obedient Wives documentary, I think the moment that really did creep me out was the scene where the mother was teaching her toddler daughter to be a surrendered wife.

The other things that scares me about a number of these concepts – the Surrendered Wife, Gor, even the bizarre Christian Domesic Discipline - regarding sex, there is one quite simple message: no means yes. Or rather, even if a woman does not want sex, she will say yes. Is this the final compromise? Is this a backlash against the 1991 law in the UK (rejected by the Lords more than once) to make rape within marriage illegal and prosecutable? Is it rape? I've still heard similar things from within the BDSM community on the issue of 'consensual non-consent': consenting to a scene in which there is no safe word. You trust your partner to the extent that you don't need one. But can a female dominant carry out a similar scenario with a male sub if she's planning to penetrate him? Can no mean yes in the same way? Do women actually get away with not seeking consent more? T’s best friend, who’s quite submissive around women and is certainly slightly terrified of me was pretty much coerced and harassed into sex when very drunk and stoned. And it happened in our living room. I was absolutely horrified.

There is also the issue of beating one’s wife as part of a marriage. Obviously, many subs are masochists. I’m a masochist. I really love the sensation of pain. I get bored in vanilla relationships if I’m not going to get pain alongside sexual pleasure. It’s just a more intensely erotic sexual experience for me that way, being pushed and pulled one way, then the other, veering towards pleasure, into pain, through pain to a strange alchemic pleasure, and then back down to earth. Yet, in marriages where male supremacy counts, religious marriages, particularly, do women gain pleasure from this experience? More importantly, do their husbands? Where does religious law come into this? In the Qu’ran there is much discussion over what is meant by the permission given to hit one’s wife after admonishment, and banishment to a separate bedroom, if she still does not obey or entirely comply with her husband. Christian Domestic Discipline, on the other hand, offers a safe and consensual model of DD on the front page, but I can’t find the word ‘consent’ anywhere else on the site. But what happens if these wives enjoy being spanked as punishment? Does the relationship then slide into the dirty, immoral world of BDSM? It’s confusing.

The truth is, there are so many different models of D/s, it is impossible to stereotype and say ‘well, D/s ISN’T like that philosophy' and remove ourselves from it. Because female subs sometimes have certain things in common with Surrendered Wives and Gorean slaves and free women. The difference is, at least for me, I enjoy every aspect of a BDSM sexual relationship, and we have taken tiny bits of D/s lifestyle philosophy and made it our own. We are queering D/s our way, in a way that feels right and is productive for both of us. But nowhere in this, nowhere in our dominance and submission, does gender really matter. Apart from the fact that pairings, triads, whatever, will often have different genitalia, I’m quite confused by the idea of polarising gender in BDSM. I’m not sure quite what it might add to a relationship. What does it bring to either party? What does it achieve?

So many questions.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Letters from Gehenna: The World on a Slant: The Marked Case of Equal

Letters from Gehenna: The World on a Slant: The Marked Case of Equal

The usual brilliance from dw3t-hthr, on "egalitarianism":

And here's the thing with certain models of egalitarianism: the argument that people should be treated the same regardless of their preferences on the matter mostly looks like the nightmare-bogeyman that was hacked together to explain why we shouldn't be commies to me. The argument that I shouldn't go my kinky-submissive way because it promotes inequality mostly looks like I am held to be unequal: that because my stuff is outside the Normal Human Thing, it doesn't deserve the consideration that other people do.

And I should be pleased with the way the disability insurance will pay out for my prostate problems, too.

This is the thing: equal treatment has to take into account individual differences, individual experience, context, background. No amount of modelling the default human as male will take away my uterus; no amount of modelling the default human as vanilla will take away my kinkiness.

I've had a relationship with someone who was so devoted to egalitarian treatment that he was deeply, painfully uncomfortable with my submissive tendencies and only faced them with such ambivalence that I wound up, more often than not, suppressing the reactions so as not to distress him.* I have a relationship now with my liege, who not only accepts but cherishes my submission even though he doesn't always remember to do anything with it (outside when it becomes quite obvious in the bedroom). And it's in the latter of these I feel far more treated as someone with equal standing in the relationship -- because even though I am explicitly in a support role rather than one of "equals", even though I have to deal with certain constraints and obligations, I am in a position to define what that interaction means and my satisfaction with the dynamic is of equal importance to his.

As soon as one starts to acknowledge the range of humanity, there has to come an acknowledgement that different people want and need different things as part of their support, satisfaction, and even happiness. And, as the old saw goes, if it were otherwise, think of the oatmeal shortage.

I am not a lesser being because of being submissive, nor is it a sign of weakness or ready compliance.

I'm just a marked case.

Admin stuff

... and she emerges.

I thought I'd make a quick post to ask for suggestions for the blogroll, which I'm going to add today. Who do we love? What makes worthy reading on BDSM on the internet? Is there anything else that has a feminist slant? Where's the good BDSM porn?

Apart from a blogroll, I want to add links to BDSM websites, whether dedicated to specific fetishes, or just stuff we rate that might explore the subject matter of posts we make here in more detail, or from a different perspective. It's worth noting even at this early stage that BDSM terminology is incredibly fluid, and tends to mean very different things to different people. Perhaps we also need to put together a glossary of anything we, collectively, feel we CAN define?

Also, I'm no designer. Clearly. If you can't read the blog in its current guise, let me know. My partner, who is hoping to contribute to this blog himself, is quite up for designing something wonderful, but is in the middle of a big job at the other end of the country at the moment so we'd have to put up with a shitty template for a couple of weeks...

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Service -- reposted from comments to another post.

I originally said this in comments to another post, but I'm reposting it here because I want to think further on the topic:

I think a big thing that doesn't get discussed in these interminable "how much D/s is too much?" headspinning games is:

the concept of service.

Many, if not most, of the "slave" types that I have met are not so much looking to lose their freedom or not make decisions so much as they are looking to serve. They feel called to some kind of life of service, and want to be part of relationships or dynamics that allow them to serve well.

To me, the dominant partner in such a dynamic is not so much The Boss making All The Decisions as she is someone who provides the opportunity for the submissive to be of service to someone. The service is more important, for most I've met, than the decision making.

There are of course many people who do have the Stepford attitude, both male and female: decide everything for me O Sir/O Ma'am. They tend to proliferate, a la roaches or paramecia, on the internet especially -- as do the sorts of "Master" they want.

But in the real, dedicated, M/s community *I've* met -- it's Service that matters most. Obedience is secondary.

Do I know some people who I think overvalue it? Yeah. But I only consider myself qualified to offer relationship advice to people I know. And I find the more I get to know people, the more flexible I realize their power dynamic actually often is.

Yes, even the masters and slaves.

I first really noticed this with an old play partner/buddy. He wasn't my partner, in service to me, etc. But we were friends, and we'd play. I started to notice that he would do all sorts of little small things for me, totally unprovoked. Make little arts and crafts projects to give to me. Clean his car if I mentioned I didn't like it not to be tidy. Small things like that. I didn't ask for them, not at first. But when he did them, and I was impressed and grateful -- his face would warm like the sun. He loved to do those things.

I didn't really know what it was about. Gradually I realized that my buddy was what they call a service oriented submissive. That all was part of what he wanted to do and enjoyed about (mild; remember we were mostly all just buddies) submission to the people he was friends with.

At first I'd always assumed that I wouldn't like service oriented people. I figured that they were servile, and unsure of what they wanted. I felt sure that they would be unhappy, always giving other people what they wanted and never paying attention to themselves. But observing my friend, I realize that the small acts of service that he would frequently do made him happy. He really enjoyed giving toppy friends little things that they wanted.

And I don't remember him being chronically unable to stand up for himself. I do remember a couple of situations in which I thought he was a bit too flexible. But I don't remember times when something was important and he didn't tell us to shove it if we were being jerks.

So I started to realize that for a lot of people who feel called to SM slavery or other forms of deep submission, what it's really about is something similar. Service. Feeling pride in service will given. Of course they enjoy their place in the power relation -- that's part of the definition -- but it seems to me like enjoying that is more about kink and fun, and the service is the real calling.

I don't mean to say that there are never problems. Some people get very into the idea of behavior modification, and even those words make me cringe (if you want to know way too much about why, go have a look at ballastexistenz and look up any references to "the Judge Rotenberg Center"). I remember talking to a certain couple in the local MAsT group, who mentioned to me a persistent problem that they were trying to correct.

The issue was that the dominant wanted his submissive to speak in formal, polite ways: "Yes, Sir." "Please, Sir, may I ____?" etc. She had a rather gruff manner -- think New Yorker, though I don't think she was one. She'd lapse into "Oh, yeah, yeah." when she was supposed to be being formal. It drove her dominant absolutely up the wall.

They described an absolutely sitcom quality carnival of follies coming from attempting to modify this woman's behavior. No matter what they did, she could not speak this way. They were both very distressed about it, as she clearly wanted to change but simply could not.

To my mind, this is where the dominant partner in the relationship cuts his/her losses. If a person simply cannot change something, no matter how much D/s is put behind it, that's just a facet of that person. If he really absolutely couldn't stand it, to the point where it was dealbreaking, then that would be time for a dumping. If not, then that would be time for him to learn to deal with it, and choose some other ritualized behavior to demonstrate her politeness or her elegance or her service, whatever it was that the polite way of speaking was supposed to demonstrate.

So it's not that I think that anyone can do whatever they want, or that I believe that strict behavior modification is a wise thing for people to do. What I do think, however, is that service oriented submission is a valid life path, and that setting up power relations with such people is not inherently limiting, oppressive, restrictive, or bad.

I think if people want to challenge long-term D/s, they should at least be aware of the stress many people put on service, and be able to either argue

that it too is a bad thing from a feminist viewpoint

or

that it isn't relevant to the issue at hand (this would include, of course, a discussion of why it is not)

or

that it doesn't do enough to divorce long-term D/s from problems. This discussion should include, bare minimum, discussion of the nature of service and how it is given and accepted.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Some thoughts on "power play"

This is actually a repost of an older entry from my other blog; since the subject seems to be coming up in comments here, figured: haul it out for another look.

...heh, turns out actually it's mostly links, including one going back to you, trin. There's some good convo in the comments, though.


******

Otherwise known as "BDSM," and/or "kink." And yet, those terms come with a lot of baggage now, don't they. What does it all mean, dear? in relation to "real life" power dynamics? -Is- there a fresh way of approaching this?

For now, just a couple of links to other people; I have some thoughts of my own, but, later: it needs to cook.

First, Dw3t-Hthr at World on a Slant

A Cat May Look: Fealty and Slavery

Three threads to this braid: respect for support roles, individualism vs. collectivism, power and vulnerability. It starts at the beginning of all the threads, but trying to write that will start putting letters on top of each other and be wickedly hard to read. And I'm not gonna try to be clever and format it into columns or shit like that.

First mentioned thread: there's this fascinating thread of contempt for people who willingly take support roles. That nobody would hire on as the night janitor if they didn't have to. That nobody would settle for being the secretary if they could be the power executive. When it goes into caretaking it gets worse -- the idea that a full-time parent is actually working doesn't cross the mind of many, the people who take care of their elderly or ailing relatives are treated as having a time-consuming hobby.

A better person, a more competent, more capable person, that person would be in charge -- would have ambition, drive to succeed, would want to be the name on the letterhead, not the initials in lowercase in the bottom corner. Clearly, the one doing the typing, mopping the floor, changing the diaper, they're not suited to anything better. Anything worthy of respect.

Second thread: there's this creepy hivemind thing that I see a lot in the name of individualism. I mean, one can hearken back to the whole being a special unique snowflake just like everyone else when being flip, but there are Rules out there. Be a strong individual and follow your dream -- so long as your dream isn't to be anything that threatens the Rules. Maybe you get to pick your Rules a little and only take flak from people using different ones, but the Rules are still there. Shouldn't work, shouldn't work in these fields, shouldn't work for less than this amount of money, shouldn't think that way, shouldn't dress that way, why? Because we're more mature than that now. We know better. This is the right way. We don't want to be mistaken for Them.

Being an individual is all well and good, so long as one knows which ideology one's an individual in. Then there are the neat boxes that can be dragged out, some of them marked 'good' and some of them marked 'evil', and everything is neatly filed away, and nobody has to think about who anyone is.

Third thread: In the presence of a power differential, the people on the low end of things are living exposed and somewhat vulnerable. The power exists to affect them, and they have less to retaliate with. Holding that power is a drug, and like any drug, there is responsible use and irresponsible use. The position of power is a position to compel intimacy, to know and control more about someone else's life; even if one is not using that power, the possibility does exist for it to be used. And if the power does not exist in a framework of agreement and sufficient support for intimacy, people are gonna get hurt. And do get hurt, all the time.

Let's knot those three together with: I am kinked submissive.

And starting to braid:...


Read the rest at World on a Slant.

Then, coming from another angle, here's trin at the strangest alchemy:


When I came into SM, it was a group in town. I hung with the townies. And there were some real class differences between my daily life at school and the people I hung out with, learned from, and beat because it's hot. Talking to other kinky folks I often hear that most perverts are high class: we can afford floggers and very expensive leather clothes, corsets, etc.

But the people I knew were not those people. They were rural folk, some of whom had never heard much at all about highfalutin stuff like feminism. I remember being a little scared of them and quite a bit classist -- "what the fuck is wrong with their teeth?" most notably. When my parents later met the guy I ended up dating, who was quite poor compared to most of us attending school on our parents' dimes, many years my senior, and a townie -- oh, the teeth thing. "That person must be someone who can't take care of himself if his teeth look like that. Isn't it gross to kiss him? How disgusting."

...Anyhoo. Pervy townies.

Quite a few were good country girls and boys who'd never questioned that women submit to men, and discovered that could be made into a shitload of fun if you bought yourself a couple paddles for cheapish from the local guy who makes 'em.

And learned by meeting the rest of us that some people are gay, some people are poly, some straight or bi women dominate their men.

Their minds got opened by being involved in the alternative lifestyle, not by theory or by sudden understandings of social oppression. They went to the meetings, met someone nice, discovered he kisses and fucks other boys and went "oh hell, we're all weird motherfuckers here," and moved on with a more open mind.

So for me... eh. I feel like I'm overstepping if I say I know all about the class dynamics of it. I don't -- I wasn't a townie. I did most of my kink out in the country when I wasn't at home with my lover -- rural Virginia or West Virginia. But I wasn't them.

But they were my friends, my leather community, my tribe. Going back to town and hearing the younger, richer, more feminist women tell me that the screen savers they filled up with porn and looped when they threw play parties was a problem... never felt right. That was a country-boy Master's idea of fun. Maybe it wasn't great -- I have some thoughts both about porn and the porn the person I have in mind picked -- but it sure as hell wasn't about sending messages. It was about how nice it is that in a room full of perverts you can proudly display what you like, not keep it hidden and stashed away -- and some of them might like it, too.

Going back to school and hearing the other women scold me for getting used to the porn, for liking some of it -- well, in addition to "Noneya biz!" it also felt like here we are in an ivory tower deciding what other people's lives should look like. That what they consider manners are sexist, even when they're friendly and loving to dominant woman me. That their friendliness and openness and the fact that at least one of my best friends went from being raised strict Baptist to being kinda fundie but bi and kinky and open to just about anyone else's way of life (and a top!)... wasn't enough....



read the rest.

Cuntensquirten: BDSM is Worse Than Hitler!

The inimitable R Mildred goes OFF at those who connect the abuses at Abu Ghraib with BDSM. A fantastic, and long, read -- and something that absolutely MUST get linked here.

Cuntensquirten: BDSM is Worse Than Hitler!

...Or slavery*, or Abu Ghraib or whatever oppression of non-white people a white person is using to make the core point that BDSM is the Worst. Thing. Evr.

The reason why you should get angry, really fucking thermonuclear angry, every time people whip that hyper-hyperbole out at bdsm is thus:

It's designed specifically to minimise and normalise actual atrocities.

You think it's a coinkydink that the height of slavery and the holocaust all existed within staunchly conservative and anti-pron societies? The Nazis and their catholic neo-puritanism, Slavers and their beliefs that man was divided from man along a seam that happened to be marked by the black people being beastial slutty monsters and hte white man being a reserved gentleman who'd never mistreat a lady he didn't have legal ownership over (in which case it's not mistreatment, I say, whot), and therefore the white man deserved and had an inalienable right to own the black person.

It's funny that sex routinely marks the distinction between human and inhuman statuses according to the hegemonic discourse, a trend we see repeated within pretty much every duke rape thread that has ever existed, wherein stripping will almost instantly be conflated with prostitution, and this will magically make her testimony untrustworthy if not down right inscrutable....

....Of course the anti-BDSMers are trying to hide that they're basically too lazy to try to emphathise with subs and masochists (to try to figure out why they do say "si!" to being tied up and spanked, preferring instead to waffle about matrixes and, ironically enough coming from a bunch of people who quite proudly declare that their past experience of abuse is the sole basis on which they're making all their "rational" decisions to follow the teachings of their passive agressive idealogues these days, that all subs are stockholm syndromeing victims of abuse) and too, I swear to god, fucking stupid to grasp the retoric and concepts they're carrying around all happen to be recycled from the rape culture....

....A dom does not take consent away from the sub, they embrace their consent, they hold themselves in sway to the safe word or signal that is where the real source of power in a BDSM context lies. The sub has all the power, all the power that matters - the power of consent, the power to stop it if it goes too far.

The torturer is not there for the victim's pleasure, does not care about their consent, their Nos or protests, the torturer knows that their actions are justified, that they are allowed to do whatever they want because the victim has transgressed some rule, some interlinked system of hatred and societal scorn that enables the actions of the torturer, that validates him and his socially conditioned sense of right and wrong.

Go read it. Massively long, but totally worth it.

Oh yeah--one more thing.

Not -as- big a deal, but: even if you don't wish to get a blogger account (understandable, goddam blogger) or use your regular pseud, please, at least either

1) click the "other" option when signing in and pick another pseud for the purposes of posting here

2) sign your name/pseud at the bottom of the "anon" post.

Because otherwise, speaking of 'bots, it gets very Cylon-esque. "Well, Anon, I think Anon has a point, what do -you- think, Anon? Right, Anon, that's it, you're banned...oh."

"Malkovitch Malkovitch Malkovitch Maaaaalkotviiiiitch...."

SO, I'm gonna go ahead and start a rough "comments policy,"

...which my cohorts are more than welcome to add onto, revise, adapt, nuke, or what they will. We have been discussing this already, however.

As the title of the blog implies, and as the first several posts should suggest, this is a place where we are discussing the intersection of two things that matter dearly to all four of us blogging here--feminism and BDSM. This is -not- a place to rehash eternal arguments about the inherent value of either one, whether the two are, in fact, compatible (hello, basis of ENTIRE BLOG, not up for debate), or whether we are reactionary tools of the patriarchy, ev0l feminazis, deluded fuckbots, fembots, sexbots, or OppressO'bots. (Although we might discuss 'bot fetishism at some point).
We reserve the right to refuse service; my own personal motto, which may or may not be adapted by the others, is "no shoes no social skills no service." Actually, I don't really care about the shoes. Those who ignore this will be directed to various outside sites that might be more suitable, mocked, and/or deleted, not necessarily in that order.

Having said that, discussion and consensual gay banter are certainly more than welcome. And no, you absolutely don't have to be an expert on either subject to participate, and yes, as far as I'm concerned, respectful questions are fine (we may add a FAQ eventually); we are not "advanced" anything, hell, we all start tabula rasa, there's no shame in not knowing shit.

Just don't be an asshole.

We trust that you know the difference.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Introductions, and a review

Trin has a good overview of common stereotypes of BDSM, both mainstream and from a particular feminist analysis. In passing, as it were, she notes, of a certain stereotype which is only reflected irl, if at all, in a very narrow subset of actual player:

Not only are they all male dominant and female submissive, or *maybe maybe maybe* *possibly* butch-femme in an extremely traditionalist way, but they are all male dominant and female submissive in a cartoony way. No one's dynamic actually looks like that


...which is as good a segue as any into my review of a performance I saw last night. Speaking of "cartoony..."

First of all, I should say a little something about my own background. Hi, my pseud is belledame222, and yes, I have been asked before if I am "sans merci," and the answer is: sometimes. Mostly I post over at my other blog, fetch me my axe, which tends to be more political than personal. My -other- other blog, sense and sensuality, was meant to be more intimate, but I haven't been updating it as much as I'd like. Maybe this will be an impetus to put more into that one as well. Kink-wise, I haven't really done more than obliquely touch on my tastes; this post in particular might give you a bit of an idea of my particular bent.

My current career trajectory is in psychology/counselling, and funnily enough, I see my interest in BDSM, particularly my as-yet-mostly-novice-irl toppishness, as...not unrelated. The shadow side, if you will. The way I like to think of it, sometimes...there's a quote from Angels in America, where Belize the nurse has Roy Cohn at his mercy in a hospital bed, weak and debilitated from AIDS but still a nasty, racist, imperious bastard. Finally, Belize gets fed up and says, "very fiercely:"

Watch. Yourself. You don't talk to me that way when I'm holding something this sharp. Or I might slip and stick in your heart. If you have a heart.
...Now I've been doing drips a long time. I can slip this in so easy you'll think you were born with it. Or I can make it feel like I just hooked you up to a bag of liquid Drano. So you be nice to me or you're going to be one sorry asshole come morning.


Of course, there's no room for the "Drano" side in counseling (Dr. Laura or even Dan Savage aside, whose method I emphatically do -not- approve of; no fucking safeword, and even for professional assholes, there really are limits). In real life, though, as opposed to fantasy, you need empathy and compassion for both--topping and counselling. Both require self-awareness. Both require learning about -really good communication,- and boundaries. Each has its own protocol to maintain those boundaries. And both require an intense attention to what's going on with the person who's placed hir trust in you, who is, for the duration of an hour or so, in your care.

I definitely plan to explore this relationship more in later posts, particularly in relation to my experience with more body-centered forms of therapy, drama therapy, and most of all the explicitly erotic healing work I've done with an organization called Body Electric, among others.

Before my interest in psychology, my passion was theatre. Which, too, has many connections with BDSM: there's a reason they call a scene "a scene." Costume, props...power play. These are all things I learned about in my stage training, and possibly part of the reason why some of the things that seem to upset some people so, I just took for granted. Tricky bits of technical stagecraft that can and often do go wrong, setting up, improvisation within a pre-set structure, even the physicality. Most of all, the understanding that what's "real" and what's "not real" is, in such a milieu, rather...ambiguous. This is also a subject I plan to come back to again and again.

For now, though, I want to get back to this performance, which was of the "straight" (hah) theatrical variety, last night.

The set-up: I'd gone to a sort of American Idol for the stage, interesting concept,in order to see the excellent Black Amazon's audition piece(s). After the main "contestants" had finished their performances and received their critiques, as a special treat, we got to see an excerpt from the play that was being auditioned for. A monologue from the POV of a professional domme.

So the lights dim, and out struts this skinny white chick in a black vinyl three-piece that looked like it came straight out of a Halloween costume catalog--ruffled micromini, bra top, and, bizarrely, a neckerchief--fishnets, and lavender "fun" wig. Plants one foot up on the chair placed center stage, jutting the hip of the standing foot out provocatively. Riding crop clutched stiffly in one hand, extended, for some reason, behind her. Already I'm thinking "this can't be good."

She starts her spiel. And, first of all, 1) kink aside, this is just basic: given a choice between a completely inept "accent" and none at all, ALWAYS go for "none at all" 2) yes okay, a German accent, that makes the whole thing much more Serious Domme, not at all Mel Brooks, okay.

But that was the least of it. The speech itself, even if she'd given an adequate performance--even if I hadn't already known it was written by a (probably straight, almost certainly vanilla) dude, it was pretty obvious that the author's knowledge of kink came from similar cutesy-snickery performances and references in mainstream media. The gist: all men, zey are slaves, a real man knows his place is at the feet of his mistress; but, dammit, a good man/slave is hard to find. Where o where have all the good slaves gone. And ends with her sitting alone on stage, as started. Disconsolate. Which -in no way- resembles every other "pushy broad at the top of her career, but just can't get a man" riff.

But even without that, the performance itself...Oy.

YOU! (oo goody, audience participation). Vat are you looking at?! Vell?? Are you looking at ZIS? (thrusts out ass). Vell, DON'T look! (little smile to break the mock-severity!) I zaid, DON'T LOOK! NO ZPANKING FOR YOU! (hands on the knees, little ass-wiggle, grasp crop in both hands as though flexing a police baton, another coy little smile, strut back to the chair for another contorted pose...)

And so on. There's nothing worse than bad theatre; it's actively painful, there's nowhere you can go, you feel embarassed for the actor, and then annoyed for feeling sympathy for someone who's for all intents and purposes keeping you hostage.

What interested me was, the same rather macho writers/directors/coaches who'd been critiquing the auditioners, in many cases with on-the-money observations such as (I paraphrase) "don't wave your hands too much, and don't shout; this character is powerful, and too much motion, especially with your hands, too much shouting, actually make you -less- powerful"--

--and yet, here was this dame prancing about, presumably with their blessing, as the writer/director of the play was in the house and she'd been an actor in a previous performance--and yet, if they had any problem with any of this capering, they gave no sign.

And predictably, when the cheeseball "M.C." that was hosting the thing came back out, mock fear, hoo, I'm scared now, you know.

Of course, he -also- did that in response to BA's not at all sexual but very fierce monologues (angry woman! not kidding! no smiles! SCARY), and even with the pixie-sized actor who did a piece wherein she hectored some unseen henpecked husband, clutching a pair of tongs in one hand (she was grilling, see). Whatcha gonna do with -those-, oo, cower.

And I thought to myself: those same feminists that trin was talking about, the ones who, if/when they mention femdom at all, tend to dismiss it as just a cutesy let's-pretend game for the pleasure of the mens--

--annoying as that is, I can understand why, if this sort of thing was what they, like apparently everyone involved with that play, imagined a female top to be like--well, I can understand why they wouldn't see it as "empowering."

And it's not the first time I've made this observation. Take "mainstream" hetporn, which I don't watch often, but f'r instance the last one I saw, a big deal production called The Fashionistas, which might or might not be worth a review in itself at some point, but basically: same deal. Yes, there were some scenes in which actual, serious technique were shown, but: the female "domme," while lightly bitchy, never really gave the impression that she was to be taken seriously. And in fact, she and her sub "girlfriend" ended up catfighting over Rocco Siffredi, who never really did "bottom" in any real sense. And even before that, I remember, there's a blonde sub who's been "punished" by the leading domme and then left, provocatively posed, for Rocco to find; when asked if she's "all right," she responds, among other things,

"She's just a woman, after all. She doesn't hit very hard."

--with, of course, the suggestion that Rocco do her right, which of course he promptly does (more vanilla than anything else, if I recall). Hetnormativity and sexism 101, ahoy!

And I remember thinking of Midori, of her demonstrating the "Queen's Walk" in a workshop; of the gleeful, evil-six-year-old smile on her face as she nimbly brought a man twice her size to the ground and tortured the tender spots between his toes with a toothpick; of the sensual near-ballet she did with a swooning young woman and a flogger; or her ability to bring a laughing, chattering room to silence without...saying...a word.

Command presence.

You learn it in any number of places besides the dungeon: the stage, yes, but also in politics, in (so I'm told, by Midori, for one, who was actually in it) the military, in front of a classroom. Any place you're expected to -lead.-

The costume, in feminism and elsewhere, is nearly always what gets focused on first: the heels, the cleavage, the long eyelashes, the lipstick. And yes, costume matters, although not always in the starkly gender-binary way so many people seem to take for granted. (Is makeup always pink girlie froufrou? Or might it be "war paint?" Does a glistening scarlet mouth make you think of submissive pouts and blowjobs, or of fresh blood from her latest victim? Do you teeter on your heels, or use them for kicking and crushing?). But it's far from the most important thing.

It's--well, yes, -acting.- Body language. Voice. And...something more ineffable.

-Power.-

It's not what most people think it is, either. It's really more a verb than a noun.

But that, too, is for another post.

I'll just wrap this up by noting, with amusement, that I got three quarters of the way through this without realizing which shirt I'd put on today--a shirt, by the way, I did -not- get at a kink-related event or anything of the sort. I think my (liberal, square, blissfully kink-ignorant) mom got it for me, actually, perhaps through a catalog, or at the mall.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Content! Fortheloveapete! Content!!

I'm feeling rather tired of the interminable feminist bickering about BDSM. I've been studying the arguments on both sides of the sex wars since college and into graduate school. I know them backwards and forwards, whether that's the arguments of people in Against Sadomasochism, or with the that's the arguments of Califia and Rubin.

So there's not much knew I have to say. All I really want to mention is that, as a woman who tops not only women but also men, there really isn't much about us in the internal warfare. And I wonder why this is. on the one hand, I know that it's because the radical feminist analysis (Yes, I realize that not all radical feminists agree with this analysis, but that's what it's most often called, so that's the short cut that I will use.) is concerned about dynamics between submissive women and dominant men. I know that their interminable analyses of lesbian sadomasochism, as well, center around a faulty idea that all leatherdyke are butch-femme, and at a butch is emulating men.

All that means that a woman top, unless she is very strongly masculinely identified (oddly, I think I might actually qualify on some of these analyses, though I doubt people would expect me to top men since this would slot me into "butch" if anything), doesn't make any sense and doesn't show up on the radar at all. Neither does a male bottom, unless he is into such stuff as feminization, in which case he's slumming for fun. ( gay men don't fit into this well at all either, since these sorts of feminists pride themselves on not caring much about men. The assumption is sometimes a similar butch-femme dynamic, which totally misses the hypermasculine emphasis in much of gay leather.)

So the fascinating thing is that these radical feminists have nothing to say to me. They have nothing to say about what it means that my Barbie doll locked Ken in towers and kept him captive there, a boy Rapunzel -- and let's not forget that to a little girl like I was, boys don't grow out their hair!

They have a few things to say about my fascination with pain, since the fantasizing little-girl me was pretty indifferent to who that happened to. But even there, the idea that it's fun at least in part because it feels good, rather than because of incredibly polarized power roles, doesn't show up much at all when you look at their analysis.

And that's the thing. I happen to believe, probably unlike many other sadomasochists who've run afoul of these people, that their analysis is actually impressively internally consistent, and difficult to argue with in some ways because of that. But the big problem with it is that it's extremely narrow. It works, if it works at all, for a tiny set of textbook cases. Not only are they all male dominant and female submissive, or *maybe maybe maybe* *possibly* butch-femme in an extremely traditionalist way, but they are all male dominant and female submissive in a cartoony way. No one's dynamic actually looks like that, not even the M/f folks I know who consider themselves old-fashioned.

And that's the problem. What they've come up with is a theoretical analysis of a theoretical problem. It's internally consistent enough that it can convince people that they understand what's really going on -- if said people don't actually know or want to know about the real nuts and bolts of sadomasochists' lives, play, and (possible) power relations (remember, they're optional!)