Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Excess

One topic that I don't often see brought up in discussions of SM and feminism is one reason that I enjoy it, and one reason that I sometimes had trouble reconciling with particular political stances, was excess.

Think about standard criticisms of the rich and opulent. Whether they're criticisms of the nobility, of the bourgeoisie, or other criticisms of the rich and powerful. The idea that these people are decadent, that they wallow in excess, drown themselves in pleasure.

That kind of excess is actually a big turn on for me. The idea of going further and doing more, overflowing with energy, desire, and intensity. It's something I began to have a very hard time with when I got into feminist circles that were also socialist or influenced by socialism.

Because the central idea of that kind of political movement is that some people have too much and some people don't have enough. If that's the material situation of people in the world, and I seek to be committed to some kind of distributive justice that least makes the first step to equalizing some of that, how can I get into bed and touch myself while imagining, sometimes literally, that I'm lord over other people?

It made it very difficult for me to enjoy sexual fantasy and sexual play with other people. Because for me, a huge part of the appeal of SM is the excess. The idea that too much sensation may be painful, but that only feeds an intense loop of pleasure that increases and increases, until I feel capable of devouring the world. And the person beneath me becomes a great consuming wild creature, able to take anything, transmute anything, beg for more, opening and opening, endlessly devouring in a different way.

And that sort of energy is a kind of destruction and consumption. It's a sacred kind, the consuming fire of the Destroyer . that fire runs through me when I'm high from topping. Frightening, sacred fire that seeks to devour to bring rebirth and joy.

I've long since remembered that it's not a bad kind of destruction or consumption, but for a long time looking at the world around me and sneering at American consumerism made it hard for me to understand where classist gluttony ended and sacred consumption began.

I'm a lot more suspicious of critiques of "decadence" these days, if they're not quite specific about who has too much and precisely how she's being frivolous with the resources in question.

And perhaps I've betrayed the left wing somehow, but I find the term "consumerism" less and less useful as time goes on.

Not because I don't think American culture has a problem with consuming. We do. Or with allotting ridiculous amounts of resources to people who don't really do much to better the world, like CEO's and astronomically rich sports stars. We do.

Rather, because I increasingly grow leery of American culture ever getting better about that if we don't specify what we're consuming and how, and understand that the problem isn't the desire to consume or devour, but the way that is aimed at inanimate objects rather than allowed to fuel passion and spirit.

And the way that we'll always be aiming that yen for excess at inanimate objects if we ignore that the desire to be consumed also exists. Which I think we have a big problem with. People who want to be guided by others, let go of the ego, submit, are deemed weaklings in a world where only literal consumption of inanimate objects is encouraged.

Because we don't remember what being burned by the sacred fire is. What it feels like. We only remember what it's like to toss the plastic wrapper aside once we've eaten the junk food. SO that must be what submission looks like.

Asking to be dumped aside because you think you're unworthy. That's all that shows up.

To me, that is the problem. Consumption without... passion. Consumption with desire, with little niggling yens that ads create and a new IPod might assuage, like scratching a mild itch, but without... transformation.

Yeah. That's it.

Consumption of objects. Which is a safe kind of consumption, a kind that doesn't bring you face to face with the possibility of being devoured yourself, or face to face with what it really means to channel the Devourer.

Consumption without transformation.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Interesting Posts

Feministing has an interesting post up on the "Christian Domestic Discipline" types here:
This is billed as completely consensual, with it made clear that "the husband has authority to spank the wife. The wife does not have authority to spank her husband." The site was created by wife-spankers who were sick of stumbling upon porn when they searched for other like-minded folks online. Lest you become confused that the CDD site is a BDSM site with a Christian spin, they're sure to reiterate that this is about adhering to Biblical gender roles -- not about sexual pleasure. Unless you get off on asserting your patriarchy by slapping your property wife. Not an unheard-of phenomenon, as the site acknowledges
Could be just that I'm in an odd mood, but I'm less angry right now and more blackly amused by their "we're not SSC wait yes we are wait no RTFB!" take on consent issues:

But what if sometimes your wife doesn't want to be spanked? Well, let's not use an inconvenient phrase like "domestic violence" or "spousal abuse." Nah, "non-consensual CDD" would be more appropriate, really. And the site basically says that it's a man's god-given right to hit his wife, even if those pesky laws against domestic violence get in the way.

Non-consensual CDD:

Though we believe the Bible gives a husband the authority to use spanking as one tool in enforcing his authority in the home with or without his wife's permission, in today's world we recognize the legality that mandates that all CDD must be consensual. Therefore we will do not condone nonconsensual CDD as a rule.

How progressive of them!

Somehow I don't think "just because you can doesn't mean you should" quite applies. But that might just be my "rabid feminism" talking. Ooof.

Anyway, I'll try to resist further snarking. On to my point:

How concerned should feminists really be about this? Should pro-SM feminists specifically be more concerned about this than anyone else?

I've pretty much written these people off as an example of the wonders of the internet: No matter what it might be, however weird or vile, there is at least one internet group devoted to it and how cool it is.

Is this stuff worth any more attention than that, do you think?

Friday, 17 August 2007

Okay, fuck this shit.

Agh.

Just agh:

http://sparklematrix.wordpress.com/2007/04/09/let-us-draw-the-lineso-bite-me-im-a-nun/#comment-29593

Not linking directly because I don't want any "they LINKED TO ME" histrionics.

Witness:
As I say, I know quite a lot of women who have been involved in BDSM and I don’t think objecting to BDSM as a practice is objecting to them as people - love the ’sinner’ hate the ’sin’, so to speak. I don’t doubt that BDSM desires are strong, since I know at least one woman who is currently trying to balance her own attraction to BDSM with the feeling that it’s inherently harmful to her. And I personally also don’t doubt, for the same reason, that BDSM is harmful.
Anyone else struck by the sheer irony of feminists using "love the sinner, hate the sin" language?

People tend to roll their eyes at me when I compare these sorts of anti-SM sentiments to antigay sentiments among the "loving" Christians who just want to "teach" people not to get involved in "a sinful, self-destructive lifestyle"... but it's exactly the same. The rhetoric, the understanding of what's wrong with us, the notion of us as fallen from a radical feminist ideal.

And here you see it in the same words. The exact same ones.
The advocates/current practitioners of BDSM I personally have met are not in the slightest bit willing to accept that the practice may be in any way abusive. It is only former practitioners who seem to be willing to brook discussion.
Well, duh. If I thought that the way I fuck were inherently abusive, I would not fuck. I would choose celibacy. (Shades of the "good Christian gays and lesbians are called to celibate lives...") As would any decent human who "accepted" that her fetish meant, unavoidably, abusing others.

The idea that we'd still be doing it, that we'd nod our heads accepting "yeah, that us being abusers thang, you really have a point there!" is ludicrously illogical.

Of course people who do BDSM are not going to "accept" that we're abusers. I'd worry profoundly about anyone who continues to participate in it and does "accept" this. (Same goes for vanilla sex. I don't believe that, say, blowjobs invariably = patriarchal dominance imposing sexual cruelty on women, but if some guy accepts that ludicrous theory and continues to get blown... that's not a person who ought, methinks, to be sticking his dick in people's mouths thx.)
Just as when the Mormons stop you in the street and ask if you believe in the afterlife, they don’t really want to hear your views on Joseph Smith, they want to spread the word.
The word? That's rich. When a homophobe talks to you, do you listen respectfully and answer with "well, you do have a quite valid point about my loneliness and my family dynamics, and I'll concede that some of that may be part of why I'm queer, but I believe that I can 'do' queerness healthily! Because I'm an especially together queer, unlike most people who, as you say, are terrible sinners who just need to get their shit together and would never fuck people of the same sex if they actually realized where it's really coming from!"

or do you answer "fuck off, you're speaking from hate and ignorance and I don't have to put up with either, good day."

I know where I stand. And I know where I think we should stand, personally.

And I'm not particularly interested in "debate" for the aforementioned reasons, thanks.

Call me "intolerant" if you will. I'll laugh in your face, just the same as if you'd said the people who don't want prayer in schools are "intolerant" of evangelical Christianity.

(speaking of Intolerance, that's a damn good song, that is *crankin' up the TOOL and yellin'*)

Thursday, 16 August 2007

So where did I come from?

Every so often I go around trying to figure out if there's any 'cause' to my kink. Mostly in the idle curiosity sense, rather than in the Examine Your Desires, Hoor! sense.

And you know something? I got almost nuffin'.

I originally wrote out a long paragraph about background information, early childhood stuff, but really, I got nothing. The closest I've got to an explanation for anything is that my experience with a parent who I believe has Borderline Personality Disorder as primary caregiver has left me with a really intense craving for stability and security which may contribute to the sort of structured relationship that really hits my kink buttons. (But on the other hand, I can get that sort of stability and security without the structure of d/s. Which brings me back to "I got nuffin'".)

I mean, I can make just-so stories out of it: "Oh, my experience with a somewhat distant nurturing father through childhood makes me attracted to a man who can provide that sort of nurturing support without the distance". But I'm well aware that if, say, my father had been the dominating power in the household, the just-so would be, "Oh, my experience with male power and strength means I conceive of male attractiveness in terms of domination." Anything can be used to "explain" this stuff, like half-constructed memories justifying Satanic Panic. Anything can be stretched and twisted to come up with a reason, and I don't really see any way to judge that as anything other than an interesting creative exercise, since I can use the same factoids to "prove" a half-dozen mutually contradictory realities.

My first romantic fantasies, back before I had any sort of concept of it, had me as the actor, the one seeking the favor of the Desired One. Fairy tale structures in which I had to rescue the handsome prince trapped in the tower, that kind of thing. (It never occurred to me that the standard gendering structure of fairy tales meant I should be the one trapped in the tower.) By the time I got old enough to start thinking sexually and imagining sex, the fantasies were all -- every one of them -- serious d/s. Into the realms of sex slavery, some serious objectification, that end of things.

And I was wracked with guilt by them, when I thought about them consciously, because of the whole Women Should Be Equal, We're Fighting For Equality culture in which I was raised. Wracked with guilt when I thought about them, and would still wrap my legs tight around a pillow when I was going to sleep and speculate about how to transport those sex slaves, what the conditions in the slave harems were like, what that illicit genuine love affair between the master and the slave-who-was-my-POV felt like.

A couple of years after I started having those fantasies, I had my first experiences with sexism. (Harassment, justified with "boys will be boys".) After that was the assault -- which, as I wrote over at my place a while ago, killed my ability to fantasise at all for a number of years and completely changed the structure of my sex fantasies (from speculation to pastiche).

I don't know where it came from. I know I was given a copy of Tigana one year (I was probably twelve, given the release date), and read the bit with the guy tied spreadeagle to the four-posted bed over and over again because it was hot. Furtively in my own room, because juvenile sexuality is such a scary thing to be caught at. That's the only image from the outside world that ever caught me like that, put me in an 'I want to do that', these two hungry switchy people let loose from their mental cages with each other.

It's not clearly modelled on either my family as a child or an inversion thereof. It predates the assault, and probably some of the earlier clear threads exist in the same timeframe as the harassment, but in my head they feel like separate worlds, the waking one with its guilt and shame and then the coiled up going to sleep with my mind in a horrifying world that was, nonetheless, irresistably sexy. The cultural pressures I was aware of kept it from being something that was entirely safe to imagine in the cold, unforgivingly harsh light of day rather than the safe embrace of the darkness.

The monsters in the dark always seemed more like me -- and liked me more -- than the ones in the day, I guess.

And that's what I get when I examine my desires.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Face of the Scene

Pantryslut on LJ writes in a post titled "on the Fetish Flea, and the scene in general":

    Really, I don't think it's nostalgia that has me remembering a time when "the scene," that is, the public face of BDSM ("our community," however you want to put it) was much, *much*, MUCH more diverse. D/S was always the predominant flavor, of course, and that's always chapped my ass a little bit. But there were all sorts of ways to do it, and all sorts of folks to do it with, including a hefty dose of queers, and a lot of dominant women, and quite a few just kinky weird folks doing whatever the heck they felt like at the time.

    Now, there's a definite predominating dynamic.

    It's male dominant, female submissive.

    In fact, it's a little more specific, but I am having a hard time right now explaining exactly how. But, you know, women are there to be displayed, men are there to display them. Women are there to give blowjobs and accept spankings. Men are there to dole them out. Women are on their knees, or on leashes. Men hold the lead. Women smile and flirt and tilt their heads, or they stare at their feet. Men bare their teeth and joke about "if you know any beautiful young Scorpio women, send them my way."

    It's also aspirational, with people aspiring to be more and more submissive, give up more and more control, and not just in scene. And you're supposed to have one role with one person. You can switch, but that means you top person X and you bottom to person Y, not "yesterday I tied you to the bed and cut pretty designs into your chest, and tomorrow I think I want you to spank me."


Which of course reminded me of maymay's There is so little space for me:

    The overwhelming feel of the event was decidedly…patriarchal. "This is a flirt-heavy zone," the greeter told us as we entered, and proceeded to inquire about Eileen's weekend. Maybe "flirt-heavy" is just the PC word for meat market now. Maybe that's too harsh, but there's no denying the implication that men would do the purusing and women would be the pursued. There's nothing wrong with that (putting my head in Eileen's lap at a party was how we got together—quite the forward thing for submissive male to do, many people would probably think), but the expectation is nauseating.

    Even the men, the poor ignorant sods, are succumbing to the peer pressure. (Maybe that's because most of them are spineless bastards to begin with who are just aching to be told what to do. Oops, maybe that was too harsh again.) You see it in their ridiculous bait-and-switch routines where the submissive men pretend to be dominant only long enough to get the woman to bed with them. Then they turn around and get on their hands and knees and start talking about how pathetic they are. This is probably one of the very few times I'll actually agree with those men: they are pathetic, and I'm not only ashamed but enraged to be thought of as similar to them, not to mention just how many things are wrong with the very idea that this tactic might actually work out well for anyone.

    I'm jealous of the submissive women for whom this kind of space must be an incredible cornucopia of sexual celebration. I bet they actually had a blast at the art show. At the same time, I'm sorry, for their sake, that this potentially wonderful environment is all but destroyed by utterly disrespectful men.


Now, I'm light-years from being experienced with the way things are in the "scene", as I'm pretty much a private player and always have been, but I've seen bits and pieces of this in a lot of the online conversations I've seen and the references people who actually do nonprivate play or interactions make. And I can't say I know how it used to be, any more than I can say I know how it is now.

If I make it out to the Flea this weekend, though, I'm going to look and see what I can spot.

How hard do folks here find it to find diversity in their kinked communities, or niche communities that are friendly to their particular things? For people who have been around the scene for a while, how has the diversity changed where you are? Has the community fractured into splinter subcommunities, have people gone more private in disproportionate fractions, is it the big town luxury of having kinksters one can afford to dislike? (Thinking of Trinity's comment on Little Light's small town queer folks post on Feministe, here.) And how can it be fixed?

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Stealth Kink

Got thinking about this while writing my most recent comment on the "Superiority" thread a bit down.

One of the things I see a lot of in the fractal edge between the vanilla world and the kinked world is this notion that kink is clearly visible and obvious to others, that one can tell who is 'us' and and who is 'them' easily, by some set of tells. I see it in the discussions of Those Kind Of People in some spaces -- which have often led to me starting to put That Kind Of Content occasionally into my discussions there in response. In the discussions of things like dress codes -- formal or otherwise -- at certain sorts of events, even reasonably open-access things like the Fetish Flea or the Folsom Street Fair.

I've been in email correspondence with another submissive woman I met in the friends-of-friends way, and she commented something to the effect of, "I tend to think it's obvious in the way [my partner] and I interact". I flagged her as probably a sub because she came to dinner wearing a collar, and probably would have missed it otherwise -- she flagged me as something of the same in significant part because I played up some of the subtle interactions I have with my liege in order to try to communicate that back to her.

I negotiated a business transaction recently through Craigslist, and when I met the woman I had been corresponding with, I said, "Yup, rainbow Pride license plate frame and ... isn't that a leather pride flag?" Didn't notice a single bit of kinkiness aside from the sticker, in her or her partner.

I suspect that this feeds into a bunch of issues with prejudice around kink, because there is that invisibility -- and even if people are putting their leather pride stickers on their cars or doing other reasonably low-key communications, that doesn't necessarily break through the symbol-knowledge barrier. (With the woman I'm chatting in email with, I suspect that if I weren't BDSM-aware I'd have flagged the collar as being part of her, to nick her phrase, "punky biker chic" kind of look, with which it was entirely consistent.)

When I say I'm 24/7 or non-scene-delineated or whatever else, I sometimes get the impression from some folks that they can't wrap their heads around it because much of my life is so normal. I'm not wearing a collar and leather bangles and going on all fours and master-this and master-thatting all the time. I refer to my liege by his name in general conversation rather than some set of titles. I am reasonably competent, am not looking for a get-out-of-responsibility-free-card, and make my own decisions about the major matters of running my life. I don't wear fetish stuff all the time -- I mean, at the moment I'm wearing an old ink-stained school t-shirt for the math team, which while I'm sure it's someone's kink ....

And I've gotten the head-snapping, "Wait, what, you're a submissive?" response from people. One who had, say, the image of the snivelling whiner who thinks kink is about not having to think because Master does it. Or the person who's constantly blatantly expecting other people to engage with their dynamic. Or whatever else.

And I'm here, relatively stealthed, with all these little cues -- like the way I do small favors for my liege without him prefacing the requests with anything other than the expectation that I will do it, the way he touches my neck and shoulder when we're out together, the way I will occasionally sit on the floor when he's on the couch and rest my head on his leg and get petted. Stuff that I think is reasonably clear cueing, at least. And when I explicitly mentioned the d/s relationship to a friend -- the one who introduced me to the woman I'm corresponding with, actually -- she started visibly and said, "Oh really."

And so I'm sort of wondering how to deal with the stereotypes, in the whole pro-SM sort of way, the presenting things, because -- y'know, damn, it's not like I don't talk about kink. I wrote a trip report in my livejournal that included mentioning my liege dropping me into subspace in a bistro a couple days ago. And still people don't seem to notice, really. Which makes it hard to back up far enough to get a sense of what people understand about kink (I tend towards education as activism in all my weirdnesses), because there's this sense that the stuff that isn't obvious and fitting the prejudices just goes under the radar. (And this isn't just the sort of relationship d/s that I do that goes invisible -- witness Trinity's comments about being invisible as a female top as another example.)

It's an interesting problem for education and activism, really. How to express the breadth of what exists without necessarily needing people to be blatant about their private lives. How to shift the stereotypes so the quieter folks get recognised as existing at all. I know I'm at a loss.

Dworkin and sexual submission

The following is a collection of Dworkin quotes. To me, they suggest that AD may have, before her relationship with her husband turned brutal, have had a penchant for erotic submission and perhaps even for BDSM.

This is not a fleshed-out theory, but rather something I always found intriguing. I'm not asserting it in any serious way. But the idea that she's an ex-BDSMer, someone who had erotic submission go bad in her personal life and that fed into her theories of what sex meant, what intercourse meant, what porn meant, what submission meant, intrigues me. So I thought I'd share.
I was happier when we moved from dolls to canasta, gin rummy, poker, and strip poker. The children on the street developed a collective secret life, a half dozen games of sex and dominance that we played, half in front of our mothers' eyes, half in a conspiracy of hiding. And we played Red Rover and Giant Steps, appropriating the whole block from traffic. And there was always ball, in formal games, or alone to pass the time, against brick walls, against the cement stoops. I liked the sex-and-dominance games, which could be overtly sadomasochistic, because I liked the risk and the intensity; and I liked ordinary games like hide-and-seek.

(http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/AutobiographyI.html)
Also, O [as in, the character in The Story of O] is particularly compelling for me because I once believed it to be what its defenders claim--the mystical revelation of the true, eternal, and sacral destiny of women. The book was absorbed as a pulsating, erotic, secular Christianity (the joy in pure suffering, woman as Christ figure). I experienced O with the same infantile abandon as the NEWSWEEK reviewer who wrote: "What lifts this fascinating book above mere perversity is its movement toward the transcendence of the self through a gift of the self . . . to give the body, to allow it to be ravaged, exploited, and totally possessed can be an act of consequence, if it is done with love for the sake of love."

(http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WomanHating.html)


And these, from a work of fiction... not sure how much they reveal, but they seem consistent with the other two:

I was a person who always had her legs open, whose breast was always warm and accommodating, who derived great pleasure from passion with tenderness, without tenderness, with brutality, with violence, with anything any man had to offer.

I was a person who always had her legs open, who lived entirely from minute to minute, from man to man. I was a person who did not know that there was real malice in the world, or that people were driven--to cruelty, to vengeance, to rage. I had no notion at all of the damage that people sustain and how that damage drives them to do harm to others.

I was a person who was very much a woman, who had internalized certain ways of being and of feeling, ways given to her through books, movies, the full force of media and culture--and through the real demands of real men.

I was a person who was very much a woman, accomodating, adoring of mens bodies, needful, needing above all to be fucked, to be penetrated, loving that moment more than any other.

I was a person who was very much a woman, who loved men, who loved to be fucked, who gloried in cock, who called every sexual act, tender, violent, brutal, the same name, "lovemaking."

....I was happy. I loved you. I was consumed by my love for you. It was as if I breathed you instead of the air. Sometimes I felt a peace so great that I thought it would lift me off the earth. I felt in you and through you and because of you. Later, when you were so much a part of me that I didnt know where you ended and I began, I would still sometimes step back and marvel at yr physical beauty. Sometimes I would think that my life would be complete if I would always be able to look at you.

(http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/FirstLoveI.html)
These few snippets -- and again, I'm not saying they paint a whole picture of a whole person -- suggest to me that maybe AD was particularly fulfilled by a certain sort of submission to men. A fulfillment and a joy that fell apart when her dominant partner turned abusive. Here's the novel again:
I dont know exactly when or why yr anger took explicit sexual forms. You began fucking me in the ass, brutally, brutally. I began to have rectal bleeding. I told you, I implored you. You ignored my screams of pain, my whispers begging you to stop. You said, a woman who loves a man stands the pain. I was a woman who loved a man; I submitted, screamed, cried out, submitted. To refuse was, I thought, to lose you, and any pain was smaller than that pain, or even the contemplation of that pain. I wondered even then, how can he take such pleasure when I am in such pain. My pain increased, and so did yr pleasure.

Once you stopped speaking to me (had I resisted in some way?). When finally (was it a day or two?) you came to me I waited for an explanation. Instead you touched me, wanting to fuck me, as if no explanation were necessary, as if I was yrs to take, no matter what. Had I been strong enough, I would have killed you with my bare hands. As it was, you were weak in yr surprise, and I hurt yr neck badly. I was glad (Im still glad). We fought the whole night long, with long stretches of awful silence and a desperate despair. In the course of that night you told me that we would marry. It was towards morning, and after you had raped me as is the way with men who are locked in a hatred which is bitter, and without mercy, you said, thats all thats left, to get married, isnt that what people do, isnt this the way that married people feel. Bored and dead and utterly bound to each other. Miserable and sick and without freedom or hope. Yr body moving above me during that rape, my body absolutely still in resistance, my eyes wide open staring at you in resistance, and you said, now Ill fuck you the way I fuck a whore, now youll know the difference, how I loved you before and how I hate you now. I said, numb and dead and dying, no, I wont marry you, I cant stand this, its worse than anything. You said, we cant be apart, youll see, it wont be so bad. I remember that then you lay between my legs, both of us on our backs, and we didnt move until dawn. Then you left.

(http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/FirstLoveI.html)
All this suggests to me that maybe she was someone who really liked domination and submission, at least as a sexual game or spice, and that someone using that to abuse her destroyed a part of her spirit and she's writing from that hurt: "Don't you other women see where this led me, and will lead you, no matter how good it feels now?"

To me that gives a quite plausible explanation for why she'd be so against it the rest of her life: that it IS in fact attractive, but brought her misery, so her role is to warn everyone of the hidden horror.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

definition: I am not damaged

An awesome post that needs linkin': I am not damaged: the intersection of queer and kinky

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.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The word "submissive"

...what does it mean?

"Dominant" I feel like I've got something of a handle on (and I didn't for years) because there's a distinction between "topspace" and "dominance" in a lot of people's minds. Topspace is about the thrill of control or the thrill of seeing someone in pain or both. It's a rush. But dominance is often, when I hear it described, used to talk about something more permanent. A personality trait or a desire to have control in non-sexual arenas too.

"Submissive" I hear in a lot of different contexts. Some people mean "I like subspace; being sexually vulnerable excites and/or otherwise gratifies me." Some people mean a personality trait, whether that's tending to defer to others, being a "people pleaser" generally, not liking to lead groups, having a deep need to serve others, or various other things. (Some of which I think are good and some of which I think are self-deprecating.)

And there is a lot of emphasis on who's "lifestyle/24/7/TPE/Master/slave/whatever word offends you least" and who isn't, and a lot of insistence that one's submission is "real"

and I keep thinking that some of it is the term being so broad.

My old problem with "dominant" is it seemed to specific to apply to me, and "top" seemed too broad and unconnected to power dynamics. I liked "submissive" because it could apply to all kinds of people easily.

But now I find myself actually feeling the opposite. Because with "dominant" -- well, there are similar ambiguities but they don't flummox me quite as much somehow. But with "submissive" I really have no idea whether someone means "I want to bottom, but I also want a power dynamic temporarily that makes me feel vulnerable" or whether sie means "I want to serve."

If someone is a potential partner of mine, this is no huge issue -- dating is about getting to know someone, and once I've done a bit of that I know what their submissiveness is about. That tells me whether I want a D/s dynamic with that person, or if they don't suit me, or if they use "submissive" to describe things I think more of as "bottoming" with, perhaps, a slight twist of surrender.

(Note that I see nothing wrong with that last and have plenty of fun with such people. I don't know that my brain would slot them into "sub", but their labels are their business, and I don't and have never required heavy power exchange from everyone I date, hook up with, or beat for fun. That would be exhausting and limit my pool of friends and lovers for no good reason.)

And recently when I called out one of the guys on here for on the one hand espousing very strict submission to "women" as a gender, but on the other being petty and obnoxious toward the people that his own apparent interpretation of "submission" meant he should have been taking seriously, several people interpreted that as me endorsing a very strict form of submission, rather than my finding this particular person's behavior inconsistent with what he professed to be.

So... submissive people in here: what do you mean by submissive and submission? Is it about sexual play? Personality? How you choose to live? If it's a cordoned-off part of you for sexual thrills "only", does it ever impact your daily life? Is this good or bad? If you see it as a part of your personality, integral to your relationships, etc., how is it?

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

OH HAI I HAZ AN AGENDA

Apparently we have an agenda. No less than taking over all of feminism and making all women submissive.

(Before I go on to quote, let me first make a note of the fact that this comment is a response to some truly vile hacking, inflammatory and violent commenting, and DoS attacks, which are never justified. I don't like these people at all, but that shit is NOT. OKAY. Neither are the attempts I've now heard about to track down these folks in real life. THAT IS. NOT. ON.)

And now, for the revealing of my agenda:
The true enemies, the enemy that can truly subvert are the enemies within, the women who are basking in the chaos that has happened here, the women who are implying and out and out saying that this is all made up, all a campaign to garner sympathy and the men who will attached themselves to those women, convince those women that porn is fun, being a submissive is fun, cool, and eventually, it will be the way of life for all women. Radical feminists fight this goal and are obviously putting a dent in their mission, making sense, being logical, gaining allies, —the works, if not, the opposition would not be interested in trying to retard us, hinder us, destroy us.
Submission will be the way of life for all women. Because, of course, my purpose in life is to obsolete myself.

:)

(Eh, knowing the transphobia of some of these folks, my last great act before the Masculist Revolt is complete will be a phalloplasty and a new name.)

Note: Any comments suggesting the hacking is/was acceptable -- not that I expect them from y'all, we're grownups in here -- will be disemvowelled and most likely also mercilessly mocked.

Anonymous troll

In response to this fine post of Trinity's and vaguely related discussion, the following comment recently appeared:

Anonymous said...
Hello.
I am a friend of Glenn Marcus, and having known him for years, (since 1998, met him in person in 2003) and having spoken to both him and the complaining woman, Jodi, I can say with 100% certainty that the jury believed her lies. To convict, the jury had to overlook so much...that she stayed in touch with him after her supposed escape, went camping, had fun, other things as well. I was in a BDSM relationship with Mr Marcus as well, and from that, I also know he acted with full and informed consent. I believe the jury WAS biased, and acquitted on obscenity because they didnt understand what the statute meant. They asked the Court several times for explanations on the definition of "obscenity"

They convicted because they saw the images on the site and were horrified; vanilla jury could not concieve of consenting to that, so they believed Jodi did not either. As Glenn Marcus was involved in consenting adult acts, it WAS BDSM.
-meesekite

http://meesekite.livejournal.com/


Dear Anon,

I might be more prepared to give you some credence if you hadn't ranted about wanting to slaughter the bitch ...

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Superiority

I've been hanging out on a BDSM community on LJ for tops/dominants/masters/etc. and predictably disgusting "superiority" discussions are going on now. "A dominant should be more intelligent than his slave. She's looking for someone who's better than her," etc.

Basically this guy is claiming that dominants need to be "superior" to their charges, such that a slave feels "he's always in my head," etc. He defended "manipulation" and "opaqueness" on the part of the Master (hiding his intent from the slave, basically, because he knows better) while of course "transparency" in all things is required of the slave.

He mentioned also that dominant partners (men, of course, in his wording there) need to be more intelligent than their slaves (women). When I called bullshit, asking "hey, what if my slave has a degree I don't, or kicks my ass at chess?", he picked at my examples, saying I should know that "smarter" != "more educated."

(This is of course true, but I do think it gets used in some discussions as a way for the unintelligent to defend themselves. "Oh, I didn't mean THAT kind of smarts. I meant THIS KIND, the rules of which I've just set up myself so as to exclude you! HAH!")

And I'm wondering -- I do seem to see this line of thinking a little more in M/f online circles than the reverse. (And, well, I note that I only see it online for the most part -- offline I don't see many people who like "superiority" notions or claims.)

But... does it come from sexism? Or is it simply a warped mode in which "dominance" is taken to mean "superiority of smarts", a kind of nerdy spinoff of "might makes right"?

I mean, we've discussed "female supremacy" into the ground recently. So that made me think. My initial reaction was that this fellow is very sexist, just buying into the "men = logic, women = mysterious emotion you can manipulate for control, mmm!" but then thinking of femsupremacy made me wonder:

Sexism, or just your standard assholery that goes with believing D/s is about "superiority?"

Anyone with more familiarity than me with gay/queer circles and heavy D/s: does the same stuff get bandied about, or does this stuff tend to happen with hets?

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Fear and Sex and Power

(Well, I appear to be on staff here now. I considered doing an intro thing, but I'm terrible at explaining who I am. Hi! I'm Dw3t-Hthr, I'm (for stuff that may be relevant here) an introspective poly genderqueer sub with a thing for altered consciousness and an interestingly tense relationship with boundaries in a non-scene-delineated relationship in which the formal power exchange started I think about a year and a half ago, and I rant a lot. Hi!)

I was talking the other evening with a friend of mine who had managed to shed some of their fear around sex and sexuality and was exploring a bit what it meant to have done so, and wound up thinking a bit about some of my own experiences, and how they interact with matters of kink.

I was sexually assaulted when I was fourteen.

This did a lot of things, but the thing that gets me most is the way it linked fear and sex. Especially the concept of first sex with a new partner. And I've never had a mature sexuality that did not have some of that flavor of fear touching it, though now that that's over half my life ago, it's less of a constant awareness and more of a "Damnit, stubbed my toe on that thing again." Most of the time.

For the decade or so after the assault, whenever I started a sexual relationship, it was with that fear pushing me. I refused to admit it to partners, because it was my own private nightmare and I couldn't figure out how to talk about it. Once I got past the part that was beginning a sexual relationship, the vast majority of the fear became irrelevant, so I would stifle it and lock it away until the really scary stuff was over, and then I didn't have to deal with the emotion.

With my most recent ex, I told him that I was frightened, and when we got around to sex, I shoved the fear in the closet until it became irrelevant and went away again. But it was something, to be able to tell someone, "This terrifies me, so's you're aware."

With my most recently developed sexual relationship, I made clear that the whole thing terrified me. And we started to negotiate around it -- I need an overnight, not an evening, so I have time to be not afraid in if I manage to get there, for example. So there's time to let things settle. And we got our night -- after a couple of times when the sexual tension had gotten to a point that I didn't care about doing the sane thing, doing the thing that was acknowledging the fear and he would hold me and murmur that I'd told him I needed the longer time, and he was going to respect that. And when we got our night, he had me bring up some music because he knows I find that soothing and it keeps my mind from spinning out of control. And he held me, and took everything very slowly, and watched me with this expression of obvious wonder that included some intense, focused gentleness, noticing when I was hitting too much terror and starting to lock up, watching the emotions start to dissolve and flow away into a space where I wasn't afraid anymore.

There's a space in that wide-open terror that's not far off subspace, was one of the things I learned there. Going to the place where it feels like someone could do any of a range of things, has this sort of ultimate power aimed at vulnerability. That was why I always squashed it and put it to the side before, because I couldn't face that level of risk, and I knew that the teetery vulnerability of that new-lover space would fade once the new was over.

He opened up the space where I could ride through the fear rather than hide from it. And where I could learn the trippiness of acknowledging the risk of opening up and do it anyway.

And while I didn't ask him until months later, I'm pretty sure that that was a big chunk of what set the tone for our power relationship -- the shape of his intense, vibrant carefulness pulling me open and letting the emotions flow without doing me harm. Keeping me safe through it. And it's a cradle in which the hair-pulling rough sex is still that gentle, safe world to me, even when I get a sharp edge of fear in it, because I've been through fear and back with him.

I was reading back posts in Maybe Maimed But Never Harmed when reading blogs that commented on the femsupremacy thing, and came across this one -- a very different experience, a differently framed interaction entirely, but there's still that thing in there that I recognise, the emotional vulnerability, the riding through it.

The being okay afterwards.


(And I have places I could go with this -- stuff about kink with emotionally damaged people (you know, normal people), the way assault damage (and other PTSD experiences) can interact with sexuality, the entire altered consciousness angle ... but mostly I just want to leave it at 'the being okay afterwards' and see what other people make of my ramblings.)