Saturday, 22 December 2007
I post it because it reminds me of my own experience as a teen, when I finally got up the guts to tell the therapist I was seeing that I had sadomasochistic fantasies.
"Imagine touching a boy," he said (I thought I was heterosexual at the time), "and then imagine petting the cat."
Ostensibly, it was to teach me to learn to enjoy touching people gently -- which I was never against doing, anyway.
I tried it all of once. Attempting to conjure up thoughts of my cat while sexually excited did nothing but creep me out.
I never brought up sadomasochism again to that therapist. I think I might have told him that I didn't think his method was helpful, but I may not even have done that. I just let the matter drop. I wanted health care -- I needed it, for a lot of other more pressing reasons. So I got the health care, and pretended my sexuality issues weren't there.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
The Pleasure Salon is being created to build community, allowing sex-positive activists to cross-pollinate. We are inviting organisers, activists, pioneers and the movers and groovers of the BDSM, swinger, alternative gender, LGBT, sex-activist, nudist, sex-magic, polyamory, Pagan, radical faerie, tantra, dark odyssey, sex-blogger, porn, pervert and sex-worker communities. Through networking and learning about each other, The Pleasure Salon hopes to act as a sex-positive think tank and eventually create a sex-positive world. It is a place for the open exchange of ideas and sensual expression.
Pleasure Salons will take place on the second Wednesday in each month, starting in March 2008. They will be in Amora, the Erotic Museum 13 Coventry Street just next to Piccadilly Circus from 7pm to 9pm.
Each month will have a speaker - one of us who has something exciting to share, or an expert to advise us on how to lobby, influence the media, politicians, and society. The talk will just be for 20 minutes with ten minutes for questions and then a short news update. After that it will be networking. There is a bar and we will charge a nominal £2 to cover costs.
The Pleasure Salon is replacing the Sexual Freedom Conference and will hopefully continue to improve on it, both in enjoyment and effectiveness.
Suzanne Noble has attended the Pleasure Salons in New York and testifies that they are most empowering, and we start one in London with their blessing.
Suzanne, Tuppy, Cat
Well, I'm excited!
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
It's a bit petty of me to quote this, but I want to for a not-petty reason.
From Heart's place, discussions she will not allow on her blog.
See here: http://womens space.wordp ress.com/2007/11/29/discu ssions-we-will-not-h ave-here/
Defenses of sadomasochism as liberating, empowering, or good, whether it occurs in the course of sexual intimacy of any kind, in “scenes”, in “play parties,” between fundamentalist men and their wives, in marriage, out of marriage, in relationships, in friendships, overt, covert, unapologetic, unrecognized, none of it is going to be defended here. Sadomasochistic relationships are at the heart of the systems, institutions, mechanisms, dynamics, social orders which have created the world as we know it, teetering on the brink of annihilation. Whether it is the sadomasochism inherent in war, imperialism, colonialism, conquest, fundamentalisms of all kinds, sexism, racism, classism, lesbophobia, transphobia, abuse of children disguised as “discipline,” abuse of animals, abuse of the planet, seas, mountains, skies, earth, or whether it is sadomasochism in intimate relationships between individuals, all of it, because it is about dominance and subordination, about some groups subjugating others, harms human beings, creatures, and the earth, it participates in the destruction of beneficent life on the earth, and so I oppose it. It will not be defended here. Defend it elsewhere.What I really want to point out, to people who have not seen this yet, is the way the term "sadomasochism" gets expanded here. Inflated like a balloon until it has no precise meaning. Watch:
whether it occurs in the course of sexual intimacy of any kind, in “scenes”, in “play parties,”okay, that's about the SM scene, a particular subculture, and also some people outside the subculture who fuck a certain way. "Sadomasochism" here means something like "people who consensually play with power for sexual gratification." Which is what I'd say it usually means, though I'd add "or pain"; I don't think all consensual sexual SM is about power, and some may arguably not even involve it.
between fundamentalist men and their wives, in marriage, out of marriage, in relationships, in friendships, overt, covert, unapologetic, unrecognizedAnd here, well, wrt "fundamentalist men": yes, there's traditionalist Christian D/s if you want to look for it. And, expanding further, an argument could be made that a particularly consensual, aware, chosen version of religious submission *could* be similar to the D/s sadomasochists do.
But "in friendships" is where she begins to lose me, and she doesn't stop there. Yes, there are power dynamics between friends. They can be harmful. But why are they "sadomasochistic", if so? In most cases, they will not be sexual, though they may have undercurrents of sexual intimacy and attraction. Are they consensual? Do they really involve submission? How are we defining domination and submission when talking about friends?
What leads people to conclusions like this, as near as I can figure, is a notion of "sadomasochism" that divorces it from sex or even from chosen dynamics of nonsexual service, and takes it to stand in for any and all relations of power-over:
Sadomasochistic relationships are at the heart of the systems, institutions, mechanisms, dynamics, social orders which have created the world as we know it, teetering on the brink of annihilation.Which of course means you find it anywhere and everywhere, and there's no relevant difference between the play party and the invasion of Iraq:
Whether it is the sadomasochism inherent in war, imperialism, colonialism, conquest, fundamentalisms of all kinds, sexism, racism, classism, lesbophobia, transphobia, abuse of children disguised as “discipline,” abuse of animals, abuse of the planet, seas, mountains, skies, earth, or whether it is sadomasochism in intimate relationships between individuals, all of it, because it is about dominance and subordination, about some groups subjugating others, harms human beings, creatures, and the earth, it participates in the destruction of beneficent life on the earthThis is just sloppy. Which is what gets me so much when I look at things like this (and you can see it other places too... just go read some Daly, for example) isn't even the opposition to consensual sexual sadomasochism (though duh, I don't like that) but the sheer papering over of issues.
Even if the play party *is* objectionable, because power-over *is* dangerous and not to be fucked (heh) with:
where is the difference between the play party and global warming? Surely, even if these are related (and I don't think it's completely *unarguable* that they are, *if* we assume all power-over to be pernicious), the harms each does are not the same.
Shouldn't it be part of our analysis, a strength of our analysis, that we can say
"these are the harms of consensual SM"
"these are the harms of religiously-motivated female submission"
"these are the harms of war"
"these are the harms of rampant consumption of resources"
"these are the harms of child abuse"
and have each of those be A DIFFERENT THING?
Presumably, "sadomasochism" is a word, here, for whatever thing they have in common, whatever holds them together.
Which has to do with power.
But we can't really say how. It's like Socrates asking "What's virtue What's common to any and all virtues that makes them what they are?" No one can answer him, and he doesn't know himself.
"What's pernicious power-over? What's common to it in every instance, when the instances look so different?"
No one can answer, and we don't know ourselves.
Which is why we need the ten-dollar word that means fucking to paper over it.
Monday, 10 December 2007
On the term "sex pox", coined by some anti-porn radical feminists as a cutesy put-down version of "sex positive":
So - "sexpox".Totally bang-on, AP.
I think the term originated a couple of months back, as a way to convey contempt for people who espouse a non-anti-porn, non-anti-sexwork, non-anti-BDSM, "sex-positive" point of view.
And then it was bandied about by people who espouse a "sex-positive" point of view, as a sort of snide self-identification, as a way to convey contempt for people who used the term to convey contempt for "sex-positive" people.
Now that I think about it, despite the fact that it's catchy and easy to remember and evocative and really, only five or six people use the term in its pejorative on a regular so maybe it's not such a big deal - I gotta say, I'm agin' it.
cuz, y'all, what about AIDS?
whatever side of the porn/sexwork/bdsm fence you sit on, what about AIDS, y'all?
I'm not HIV+, nor am I an AIDS activist. But I know people who work long and hard to purge the idea from the human consciousness that there is some consensual sexual behavior that deserves PUNISHMENT. Not just any punishment, but The Biggest, Baddest, Most Punishing Punishment - long, slow, conspicuously Capital Punishment in the form of a wasting disease, with clearly visible physical benchmarks of its progress as it slowly kills its victims.
so, when I see the word "sexpox", I don't think of cute hawtt titjobbed bisexee suckfuckers who giggle and simper on their spindly heels and tilt their empty heads and smile while cooing "ooh! I'm so empowerful! aren't I, Nigel?"
(and even if I did get that mental picture, it wouldn't match any of the individuals I know who identify as "sex-positive." the gulf of understanding here is unbridgeable, apparently, when it comes to that.)
when I see the word "sexpox", I think of a fatal disease that happens to people who fuck the wrong way, and need to be punished before they can die as a consequence for their behavior.
And pretty chilling.
Personally, I don't know if the person who coined this *was* thinking of HIV or not. I personally thought of syphilis. And while "syphilitic" isn't the greatest thing to call someone, it doesn't kill like it did back when *it* was the scourge. (At least until the "Bah, I scoff at your silly antibiotics!" version has its fun with the silly little humans....)
And I'm a bit leery of getting too Freudian, usually.
But I really do wonder: if you come up with a term like this, you have to know that you're calling people diseased. From sex. And any way you slice it, that's creepy.
That's not just calling people bad, wrong, misguided in a hellaciously frustrating way. That's saying people ought to be suffering for their views. That we're destined for illness, as AP says, as a punishment for our refusals to fit a particular mold of female sexuality.
I see a very strong loathing of bodies, in general, in the insult of choice being "sex pox.:" There's a strong body-disgust there. It's not just about the realm of the mind, when you call people poxy. It's like something out of the Old Testament: misstep and you get LOATHSOME BOILS as punishment for your sexual sin.
Or at least, that's the mild version. AIDS is our big sex pox, as AP points out -- and AIDS is worse than an angry deity giving you a few boils.
I'd know; as I've mentioned before, I'm watching someone waste away of it. And it's not pretty. He had a brain infection, people. He went blind. This isn't just "You get pneumonia one day and can't fight it off."
(ETA: I'm also grimly amused that "sex pox" is usually used by these people to indicate feminists who are pro-porn. Porn is generally used as a masturbation aid, and masturbation's guaranteed *not* to give you the sex pox, whatever disease it may be.)
Saturday, 1 December 2007
http://wom ensspace.word press.com/2007/11/30/todays-m ale-terrorism-exploiting-the-brut al-murder-of-emily-san der/#com ment-72901
I’m wondering (no seriously, guesstimate with me) how long it will take before “rape kill fantasies” are defended. Women collecting en masse (feministing, Bitchphd, pandagon, feminste, etc…) to assure everyone they find pleasure and joy in the sexualization of their own death.
Then police won’t even have to worry with their half-assed investigations–all “murders” of women will be considered assisted suicide (which will become legal once more).
Can we, as radfems, not use words like “want” and “consent” for, I dunno, another 1,000 years? Right now it has F$$$-all to do with us and I’m really tired of such concepts being thrown around.
My heart goes out to Emily Sanders and her loved ones.
I'm not here for long today (yay weekend fun -- no, not quite that kind), but I just want to note it.
I know these people aren't representative of feminism or even of thoughtful radical feminism. But it's often taken as a Feminism 101 point to assume "no one would ever REALLY say 'all sex is rape,' stop putting words in Dworkin's mouth."
And the thing is, whether Dworkin said it or not, there was, and still is among a very kooky, small minority of women who use feminism in some very weird ways, a strain of feminism where this kind of inversion happens. And it makes sense that it would, among absolute extremists, really, because their basic position is that choice is illusory in a world where one social class has control. If that control extends to hearts and minds, consent isn't real, isn't deep, isn't personal...
...so it's hardly surprising someone would go all the way and ask if consent is meaningful in any way at all.
But of course, that's chilling. With no notion of consent, everything is rape.
Or nothing at all.
As suspicious as some of us are (and rightfully, in some cases, IMO) of liberalism... we do need some liberal concepts mixed in with our radical ones. We need notions of bodily autonomy, free choice, and consent (whether to sex, to medical procedures, to body modifications, etc.) I'm the first to acknowledge that autonomy is a tough one, consent is a tough one, fully free anything is impossible since we're influenced all the time.
But that doesn't mean we abandon these concepts. That means we use our massive monkey brains to be sure as we can of when and how they apply.