Most interesting is the corners they try to paint any feminist who dares question BDSM. Usually they will say, upon reading any criticism of BDSM from a feminist standpoint, that we just must not know anything about it, we must be ignorant about how truly wonderful and sexy and enlightened their “underground” society is. But when someone as myself or Biting Beaver reveals we have lived that lifestyle for years and hated it due to the abusive nature of said “lifestyle”, we are told “it’s just you”. It must just be me, just because “I didn’t enjoy it” doesn’t mean other women can’t! What’s wrong with you that you didn’t enjoy it?Okay, first thing: Yes, I did in fact say "Why didn't you leave?"
Then there were the ones who feigned some sort of coyness: “She says she was involved with the BDSM lifestyle for 15 years, what does she mean?” I mean I lived it, from any number of angles, no, not just one, and not just with one man, it wasn’t a problem of just it being “the wrong man”. Then there’s the clincher which would be floor-rolling-laughter funny if it weren’t just so fucking sad from someone who thinks they are a feminist: “If she didn’t like the lifestyle WHY DIDN’T SHE JUST LEAVE? WHY DID SHE STAY SO LONG?” All of this: “it’s just you” “its an individual problem” “why didn’t you just leave” are the farthest things I can think of from a feminist standpoint.
However, I wasn't referring to a person there, I was referring to the Scene itself. The paradigmatic reason people stay in abusive relationships is usually that they are wrapped up in a particular dynamic of violence and terror with a particular person who they alternately idealize and live in terror of. It's very dyadic, and it often comes with particular attempts on the part of the abuser to isolate his victim, so that she remains unaware that his behavior is unacceptable. The more time she gets away from him, the more chance there is that she will realize either that behavior she has been taught to excuse ("he's just angry" "he's jealous because he loves me so much" "he had a bad day") is actually out of line. So there's this very isolating bent to it all.
But the Scene itself is not an abuser. It is not a person that can force you to stay for fifteen years if you are ideologically opposed to it. Particular partners can force or coerce or terrorize you; The Eulenspiegel Society can't. That's what I meant by "why didn't you leave?" I don't believe that a social community can batter a woman.
Well... maybe not. There are such things as cults, and she might mean by mocking my comment that I should have understood that she was indoctrinated so severely that she couldn't break free, and had taken on "BDSM's Value System" or something because BDSM communities are cultic. That would at least make more sense, and fits with some of her other comments about how BDSM supposedly makes people see behaviors that are obviously ethically unacceptable as right dandy.
The thing is that I just haven't seen cultic dynamics in SM groups, and I'm very familiar with them. Those kinds of group dynamics are the sorts of dynamic that silence people if they disagree, pressure people if they don't want to do something, etc. And I have never seen this. I've never seen anyone at a demo say "and if you don't want to do this you're not good enough." Or, you know, "you're not really ONE OF US if..." (I have seen a little bit of this in some online circles, though. But it certainly doesn't sound like she means "I lived it" as "I hung out on Gorean message boards.") What I do see is people bending over backwards to remind people that they need not do anything they don't like, that what works for one person or couple or group may well be disastrous for another, etc.
So I'm left utterly flabbergasted, really. It's possible that smaller kinky enclaves are less well-policed and more pressure can happen there. So it may be, "I passed up the groups in the big city because I just didn't think they were TPE enough and joined TrueSlaveHearts out in bumfuck, where you had to write contracts in your heartsblood to prove you were SEEEERIOUS." But in that case, how is that a reflection on "the Scene," whose face is actually, you know... TES or Black Rose or APEX or places like that?
She calls me young, and I probably am younger than her. But really, how can you even talk to someone who won't give specifics at all? Who says, "the Scene is like this" and doesn't say, "this is what the presentations were like, this is how people acted at parties, this is what my partners said?" How is that any representation, when it's just "I'm older than you so I don't have to tell you what I'm actually talking about, now shut up little girl?"
And really now -- "little girl"? I'm a "little girl" now because I disagree with her? And obviously I haven't read anything from the Second Wave!
Who exactly has given up power dynamics here?