Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Everyone we dislike is S, and everyone we speak for is M...

One of the things I notice again and again in feminist criticisms of SM is people broadening the meanings of "sadism" and "masochism" until they stand for anything the writer wants them to. Witness:

What Satsuma said about S/M reminded me of this passage from Sonia Johnson’s “Going Out of Our Minds: The Metaphysics of Liberation.” She quotes Cheri Lesh:

It is time to stop pointing fingers and making accusations. Time to look at something very hard and real. We are all crazy and weird about sex. Heirs to thousands of years of degradation and torture, of man as S and woman as M, of white as S and non-white as M, of God as S and human as M, of civilization as S and nature as M–who among us can claim immunity, who among us has not tasted the whip sting of poison in the honey, has not confused the slap with the caress? Sadomasochism is the basic sexual perversion of patriarchy.

Then Johnson continues:

So in arguments for sadomasochism as a way of relating to others sexually, we must be aware that we each bear responsibility for creating an alternative to patriarchy that is an alternative. Hurting others/asking to be hurt, dominating others/asking to be dominated, humiliating others/asking to be humiliated–feeding the basic patriarchal addiction–is not finding an alternative. Instead, it is rationalizing and succumbing to the patriarchal imperatives most deeply imprinted on our psyches. It is fiercely seductive–as all addictions are–and it is lethal.

Rhetorical moves like this are fiercely seductive, as all addictions are. But ultimately, they are lethal to any kind of rational argument. If "S" and "M" are merely stand-ins for positions in hierarchies we already deem bad, well, the outcome of our argument is trivial and frivolous: "S" is bad, and "M" is pitied.

But this does not in any way hook up with the lived experience of people who have certain kinds of sex or become members of certain kinds of communities. Even if those communities and ways of having sex are bad or anti-feminist (for anyone who came late to the party, my view is that no, they're not), saying that there have been unjust hierarchies and then tacking a letter on to positions in them is not making an argument. It's saying "let's call this S and this M, and now we see that 'S and M' relate to one another badly. Now let's turn to this other thing over here, where people call themselves S's and M's. Same letters, same dynamic."

Which is what you're trying to prove in the first place.

Monday, 25 August 2008

BDSM and age

A link to which I can only say "Yeah, exactly":

An addendum to yesterday's blog...

Another issue I would like to cover in relation to what I posted yesterday, is BDSM groups and communities that restrict membership to those aged 21 and up. Here are my personal opinions on that matter:

If you restrict your group membership to 21 and up, you are creating an unsafe environment for the 18-20 year olds you cast out. Speaking from personal experience, a good majority of those of us that have been curious since before we were 18 are so eager to finally get started now that we're old enough, that we cling to whatever we can. If a solid and safe BDSM group or community casts us out simply because of our age, we will turn elsewhere. Unfortunately, elsewhere usually ends up being the dangerous choice. Often, you will find guys (and occasionally girls as well) who basically go "Oh, you're 18? They don't want you? Well... I'll teach you how things work..." Situations like that, more often than not, are highly unsafe, with problems resulting ranging from emotional distress, to abuse, and sometimes, even worse. Those of us that are young often think we know what we're doing, or at least that we know better than to get into bad situations. But we really don't. If a group allows 18-20 year olds in, then they have a safe haven where they can learn quite a bit about the lifestyle, and meet good people who may even help keep an eye on them.

As for the arguments of 18-20 year olds not necessarily being serious about the lifestyle, or being immature... Well, I know plenty of older members of the community who are childish and act like this lifestyle is a game. I know 40+ year olds who gossip and spread rumours like they're in high school. I have seen 60+ year olds throw temper tantrums and start drama. In my opinion, age is only a number. The number of years we have been on this planet does not define who we are.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Disturbing Stuff: "I use the child porn to model the roles I play when I submit"

Sex, Life, and Frilly Bits has the story and comments on it:

Woman begins using online dating sites after a relationship break up. Woman starts meeting men online and woman begins to enter a drug induced fantasy world that also includes role playing to satisfy her online male partners.
So far, it seems ordinary or a part of the contemporary dating scene, but it gets worse:

The role playing isn't adult. Woman plays role of abused children online, and while this may seem to fit into the role of fictional fantasy, it becomes something else when the said woman disseminates child pornography images featuring children between the ages of eight and ten being coerced by adults to perform sex acts.


Shortly after being arrested, numerous images and films are found on the woman's computer. Images include children being forced to participate in bestiality. Other children are tortured, and a disturbing 17 minute film depicts a girl being sexually abused by a man. Police catalogue 2169 still images and 143 films. The images and films were discovered after a tip off from a man the woman communicated with online. The woman has been sentenced to serve four and a half years with a non-parole period of three years, and I'€™m guessing that the children that appear in the films and pictures will experience a literal life sentence of distress.

....The woman in this scenario isn't an impressionable€™ and gullible teen, nor is she a naive twenty year old. We're talking about a forty year old woman here, that sure enough, used her drug addiction as an excuse to obtain, store and display child pornography. The drugs didn't cloud her judgment too much, for her to store a massive amount of child porn on her computer and continually 'role play' to satisfy sickos on the other end of the PC.
And now to the commentary, which I want to comment on myself:

It is cases like this that make me ask another disturbing question: why are some woman so fucked up? Why do they surrender everything for a cock? This case is unlike the Second Life controversies over role playing (under aged parts) for fantasy purposes as it enters the real realm; someone must have captured the images and filmed the distressing scenes, distributed the images, and it isn't fantasy for the children on the other end that are subjected to such debased fantasies. When does a fantasy become debased? When it enters the real realm and affects living people who aren't capable of making an informed choice, and even if you could make an informed choice (to participate in violent sex) as an adult, what does that really indicate about a person's psyche? It isn't politically correct or sexually politically€™ correct to even raise this question but it is a valid question. In this case, we have a forty year old woman who made an informed choice. I'm not convinced about the drug induced aspect. She could still function on a computer, she was aware she was storing illegal pornographic imagery of minors, and she continued in her role play. A four year jail term is incredibly short for people who distribute/disseminate child pornography because when they do this, they’re actually maintaining a market for child porn, which means that a sicko on the other end is procuring minors/children for their sexual purposes. Children disappear each day, never to return, and there are other sicker cases where parents gain an income from their children by filming them performing acts against their will, selling them to the highest bidder online.

How does one go from online dating/chatting to losing their entire perspective? I don't think that the internet can be blamed because adults make a choice. There are millions of people who use the Internet to find relationships or date, and they don’t enter the dark zone of child pornography and questionable sexual fantasies and there are others that have a tendency to take things to extreme levels; they have pathological traits away from the Internet, and when they go online, it mutates to something more sinister.

My only comment is this: Why are we presuming that she's doing it for "a cock?" The news story claims that these were her own fantasies, exascerbated by her drug use making her lose "moral perspective." Where does the idea that her tops got her into finding real material come from at all, much less this link to their organs/gender? The only top I see in this story at all... is the one who turned her in.

It's entirely possible that a fucked up relationship with a predator got her started. And if that's true, this may be a response to trauma. But it sure sounds to me like she's the pedophile here. And yeah, there's a patriarchy, and yeah, it hurts girls. But why the idea that her submissiveness meant she lacked sense, and men put her up to this, rather than the idea that she condoned and abetted predators by collecting and distributing child pornography?

Maybe I'm oversensitive here, being a top myself and all. Is anyone else WTFing at this reaction too?

Friday, 15 August 2008

And now for something serious and relevant

Trans woman Kellie Telesford was found strangled to death in her apartment. The man accused of killing her went free. The defense's argument? That Telesford was into kinky sex, and therefore it must have been breath play gone wrong -- despite that a doctor found no evidence that suggested any kinky games were involved. Apparently, if you're trans, you're automatically a fetishist. And if you're kinky, apparently anyone who murders you can just say it was SM.

The story, from Questioning Transphobia:
A teenager has been cleared of killing a transsexual woman found strangled in her south London home.

Shanniel Hyatt, 18, denied that he killed Kellie Telesford in a rage after discovering she was a pre-operative transgender female who was born a man.

Her body was found after they engaged in sexual activity at her Thornton Heath flat, the Old Bailey heard.

Mr Hyatt, from Norbury, south London, was found not guilty of murder and an alternative count of manslaughter.

Evening date

The teenager, a father-of-one whose girlfriend was away at the time of the incident, admitted meeting Ms Telesford for a date and going back to her flat.

He was filmed on CCTV leaving Ms Telesford’s home in the early hours of 18 November last year, using her Oyster travel card to board a bus.

Ms Telesford, who worked as a florist and beautician, was found dead at the flat three days later. She had been strangled with a scarf.

Prosecutor Sally O’Neill told the court that Mr Hyatt stole Ms Telesford’s mobile phone and electronic equipment as well as her Oyster card.
Lisa's comments:

So, this guy is seen leaving Kellie’s flat, steals her Oystercard, steals other items belonging to her. He is the last person to see her alive, but he goes free because his defense successfully introduced the victim-blaming “she probably died during a sex game gone wrong,” and insisted that Kellie was into kinky sex games. She also suggested that since Kellie was born male, she “had a man’s strength,” even though years on estrogen does affect muscle mass.

So, I realize this is another variation on the “It was her fault” victim-blaming lie. “If she hadn’t worn those clothes, she wouldn’t have been raped,” or “if she hadn’t lied about her genitalia, he wouldn’t have killed her.” Or, “if she hadn’t been playing those immoral kinky sex games, they wouldn’t have killed her.”

I can’t help but think that this has something to do with the idea that trans women are sexually obsessed fetishists, that just being who we are is enough to claim we’re interested in dangerous sex games.

My comment to Lisa's post there, which about sums up my opinion on this steaming bullshit masquerading as justice:

[F]or all that some feminists think that being anti-kink saves women, prevailing anti-kink sentiment is a part of why people bought that defense, I think. It’s all part and parcel of a whole basket of othering. Well, she’s trans, so she’s creepy, and what are creepy people? Perverts. So see, she couldn’t have been murdered.

Linky snippet of the day

From the latest installment of Ellie Lumpesse's fascinating series of masculinity interviews, something many of the readers here probably already knew, but that bears repeating anyway:
I’d never even held a girl’s hand before her, and she’d had a bit of experience, most of it bad. She, like so many women, had been a victim of violent sexual abuse as a child. I knew only that I wanted to protect her, to make her feel safe, to see her really smile now and again. She wanted me to slap her around, call her names, and facefuck her. At first, I was repulsed — mostly by the cognitive dissonance caused by wanting to give her what she wanted, and having based most of my personality around the role of guardian. I’ll get back to this in answering the other questions.
I quote this here because, as I said over there:

I’m glad to see someone talking about how his partner asked him to get into BDSM/rough sex. All too often people make the bizarre assumption that men pressure, cajole, or force women into “porn sex,” when it’s very common for tops/sexually dominant people/etc to be made, not born. :)

Monday, 11 August 2008

Kink and Disability

I recently posted over at the Blog of Pro-Porn Activism about a recent dust-up involving the "Barely Legal" genre of pornography. The conversation turned from why some men enjoy pornography depicting young-looking women to BDSM, and a commenter had this to say:
Like you, Trinity, my early years were all about physical suffering and disability and pain and all the things, good and bad, that come with being isolated from the "normal" process of early maturation. Barely Legal and all its imitators is just far too wholesome, odd as that may sound, to push the buttons my early life installed in me.

This is where the story gets interesting. There is almost no clinical literature regarding BDSM. Research funding to explore it is almost impossible to get, thanks to the political prejudices of grant review committees, and it's a dead-end career choice for psychological or social science researchers. Check out your local university library and you'll find an empty shelf where BDSM is concerned. Much is supposed about it and where it comes from, but almost nothing is "known" in the scientific sense of the word.

That was the very reason my late friend, the kind and lovely Dr. Robert J. Stoller, chose to make some preliminary "ethnographic" sorties into the BDSM world about twenty years ago. He was legendary for his work with transgendered people, about whom volumes of literature can be found, but when he tried to get a little background on BDSM to assist him in his studies on transpeople who were also kinky, he came up with nothing, and that just wasn't acceptable to his scientist's ever-curious mind.

Knowing he wouldn't have any support for BDSM exploration and not much spare time to pursue it, he simply used his connections through the trans community to get a few BDSM players into his office for informal chats. That's how I met him.

There weren't a lot of out kinksters at the time. This was back in the Reagan era and the leather culture was just beginning to slip a Dehner out of the closet. I'm sure his sampling, which was self-selected to a great degree, was skewed in all kinds of ways, but even the informal group discussions he organized revealed some fascinating surprises.

In a mix of gay, straight and bi tops and bottoms from a great variety of socio-economic backgrounds, more differences than similarities quickly emerged. But one curious consistency was exposed at the very first meeting of our little study group.

Virtually all we had in common, and that ALL of us had in common, were childhoods characterized by long periods of isolation due to injury or illness. It was a total shocker when it came out, as much to all of us as it was to him, but impossible to overlook. The predictable histories of sexual abuse and family violence offered up as the usual explanations were largely absent, but the injury and illness thing was everywhere. No doubt PTSD played a role, but the sources of the PTSD didn't seem to be the usual suspects.

The list of medical misfortunes was varied both in nature and severity, but it was unmistakably there. At one extreme, there was the late, great "super-masochist" Bob Flanagan, who was struggling mightily against the Cystic Fibrosis that would ultimately kill him. At the other was a middle-aged suburban stay-at-home mom who had missed a lot of school due to crippling migraine headaches. In between there were immobilizing back surgeries to correct Scoliosis, coccyx fractures, chronic tendonitis and in my case, a near still-birth resulting in permanent respiratory impairment.

The collective shock of recognition in that room was palpable and unforgettable. Here were all these BDSM-identified people with completely different specific orientations and nothing much else in common who had suffered the horrors of pediatric medicine as their only common experience.

We all instantly knew it meant something, but what? Stoller, ethical scientist that he was, couldn't be drawn into any speculations about the causal connection, if any, between these traumas and our adult kinks, and I have no idea to this day what the internal mechanisms might have been. But I'm convinced they were there and are there now, working away in my head.

Perhaps the experience of prolonged helplessness and suffering, surrounded by anxious adults holding you down and doing hurtful things to you while insisting (and clearly believing) that you would feel better afterward, sometimes even achieving that result at least temporarily, had some impact on our perceptions of affection and intimacy.

It certainly created atypical relationships with our own bodies, which generated misery and relief in vast and totally unpredictable quantities. Perhaps the experience created a psychological link between invasive treatment and endophin release. No doubt it raised a lifetime's worth of control issues.

But this is all pure guesswork. Because clinical investigation is such a non-starter, we'll never know much more than we know now about this phenomenon. I personally believe that these things tended to trigger latent genetic tendencies toward what Stoller called "the erotocization of hate." Some of us are wired for BDSM the way others are wired for same-sex attraction, and long periods of bodily unruliness, coupled with the social marginalization that creates, informed our fantasy lives in a way that people who had neither the predisposition nor the experiences that set it off can never know.

So, that's my interesting by woefully incomplete information on this phenomenon, but I think it deserves our attention because it runs counter to all the political baggage loaded onto BDSM, its practitioners and their tastes in entertainment by unfriendly outsiders.

No one knows anything about this, but many people think they do, and what they think they know would seem to be pretty far off the mark from what little information we do have.
Let me first note that I read Stoller's book, and the impression I got of it was that he chose some wildly inappropriate people to hold up as typical SMers. Ernest here claims he interviewed real leatherfolk and kinksters, so I may be misremembering, but I most remember mentions of drugs, rampant sexism, wildly unsafe practices that even the practitioners themselves felt uneasy about, and constant dysfunctional drama. Just like any other set of people, we have our sexists, our junkies, our broken people, but it really bothered me that he chose such people to represent us in his book about us, that he chose that to be the face he, as a "legitimate" scientist/therapist, presented of a stigmatized population.

I personally do not feel that "the eroticization of hatred" is in any way a description of what we do -- and I'm shocked that if someone observed large proportions of disability and illness among us, he'd say something so disgusting as that people with disabilities are erotically hooked on hatred.

I've also seen the book used to tell people (well, me) that I must be wrong to think BDSM people can be emotionally healthy, as we're clearly delving into agressive feelings/hatred because we've got unresolved issues. After all, a PSYCHOANALYST said so! And I'm just a person! With an agenda! So I couldn't be right!

So... well, while I do think that perhaps some of us, particularly edgeplayers, may be more open to exploring our aggressive feelings, I'm deeply alarmed by Stoller's casual use of "hatred" to describe us. But I feel the need to also note Ernest's clear respect for the man... perhaps "hate" means something different to him than to me. I only hope that the "hatred" line is understood differently than it sounded to me, and than it sounded to that professor, by most readers -- though I fear deeply that it's not.

Either way, if Stoller knew of the struggles we've gone through for legitimacy -- and it sounds like he did -- he seems at the very least faultable for such an incendiary phrasing.

But, like I said, it's been a long time since I threw said book down in disgust, and Ernest likes the guy, and I'm not the one who actually spoke with him. So moving right along, here's a more fleshed-out version of my response there:

As far as the observation you mention... I honestly think kinky orientations are quite common among people with disabilities, and I've been open before about my opinion that some people's anti-SM sentiments (or better said anti-pain play sentiments) strike me as honestly ableist.

Because what they boil down to is telling people how they can, or how they ought, use their bodies. What kinds of stimulation mean pleasure, and what kind mean badness. It's taking a normative body-map and saying everyone should fit it, and if you don't you're consenting to be abused.

What I hear when I hear people say liking pain play is "abnormal", when by that they mean wrong, bad, or unhealthy, is the same thing I hear when someone tells me that oh, sure, wheelchairs are great, but it's really natural to walk.

What I hear is that a variation (or even an adaptation, when we find that using our bodies in ways considered standard do not work for us) makes you inferior to the norm. I hear the centering and the privileging of a standard body, with standard responses.

(And I think it's a "standard body" that may not even exist, just as the hairless, manicured, trimmed and tweaked body that gets called "normal woman" doesn't. I don't think endorphin highs from "pain" are abnormal in any way. I think it's just part of how human bodies function.)

And the privileging of such a body is depressingly familiar to me as a person with a physical disability.

And now back to your regularly scheduled snark

I'm not going to do much quoting this time around.

Only say, well, that apparently the existence of seriously fucked up people proves once and for all that female tops are not subversive.

So glad we cleared that up!

But uh, by the same token, do similarly fucked up people prove once and for all that anti-prostitution feminists are really rapists?

My position is "uh, hell no, that's not just jumping to conclusions but performing acrobatic trapeze routines", but if that's how the game is played in your mind, okay.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

More on the Kink.com thing

[xposted from my lj]

I felt this deserved its own post. Did some more digging and found this MySpace post, which appears to confirm that the accusations were in fact true:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=77785818&blogID=345952938 (potentially triggering)
Friday, January 11, 2008

kayden420 leaves the adult industry
Current mood: sore

Jan 09
hey there, so after 2 shoots gone bad (a company that is using my work that didnt pay me and a company that under paid me and beat me) i have decided to no longer work in the adult industry. it isnt what it used to be to me, seems like as time goes on i see the truth in the industry and i dont like it. don't get me wrong the people in the industry are great and most of them are my friends.

yesterday was my last scene, after coming home my body was so weak i couldnt do anything but lay in bed. i couldnt sleep do to the tourment i took earlier in the day i even had bad dreams no joke. not to mention rope burn, caning marks, my breast were beat so bad that i have lumps in both of them and i have a bruise that runs horizontal across my ENTIRE lower back .i was pounded to the point where it feels like i was punched in the uterus (ladies you know that pain im talking about).

im still going to run my work and produce content for it, but no more films.
im going back to working the 9 to 5 baby!

updated 1/10/08
so after 2 doctors appointments and opinions.. i have deep tissue bruising all over my body, and as for my breast both docs have said they feel many contunsions in them and both felt something that they were both concerned that they found a mass in my left breast and i had to get a ultrasound of both breasts :( as for my bad dreams that have been haunting me i have been given ambien to help me sleep. when i had gotten home this afternoon and had taken a zanny bar and for the first time in 2 days i felt great none stop laughing kinda like the way it is when you smoke for your first time and then i passed the fuck out and just recently woke up and needless to say i started writing this about 20 minutes ago... :)
Needless to say, I'm really quite bothered now. Everything people have said here and on the duplicate post I made to my LJ has suggested that this kind of thing is completely out of the ordinary for Kink.com. That's how they've always seemed to me as well, so this still seems quite surprising to me.

Unless what happened is that she consented to it all and didn't like it later -- but even there, the kind of thing she's describing really doesn't seem to me like the sort of thing a person signs up for and then backs out of. Heavy SM is usually something people know they're getting into when they sign up for.

I had deep bruising from a scene once, because I was new and neither I nor my tops knew what I could actually handle. It was miserable for me... but the thing was, I didn't walk away feeling that no one cared. They cared very much, and watched my healing like a hawk, offered me the use of a hot tub as I healed, etc. Ms. Faye doesn't say here exactly how they reacted or responded, so maybe she's just feeling spooked, but even that raises at least a small red flag to me. If you're someone's top and you go too far and they're not OK, it's your *responsibility* to do as much to set things right as possible.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Does anyone know more about this?

Since I posted about Melissa Farley earlier today, I had a look at her blog and discovered this. It's from January, but, well... see for yourselves:

A post about a woman who'd been brutally assaulted as part of a production at kink.com in San Francisco appeared on Luke Ford's blog www.lukeisback.com on January 10, 2008. There were 18 responses, including my own. After 5 days, the thread was removed from his site. I have reason to believe that this account is substantially true. What is really going on at kink.com? What can we do about it?
Melissa Farley

January 10, 2008, 4:59 PM
Kink.com Runs Another Girl From The Business
(from lukeisback.com)
Director Ricky D. writes:

I usually don’t post this kind of stuff, but I really don’t like to see talent get taken advantage of.

A close friend of mine worked for Kink for her third time recently, and had the most traumatizing experience of her life. (No, she didn’t do the Training of O everyone is always talking about) Her injuries after the shoot include numerous lumps in both breasts (from being slapped, whipped with a bamboo cane), bruises and rope burns from head to toe, bleeding from both her vagina and butt, and soreness everywhere from being constantly shocked when she made it known she didn’t want to do it. On top of that, it was shot in a room with running water flowing through the room that was so cold that during the shoot you can see the talent’s breath. On top of that, she can’t sleep because of the pain and flashbacks from the scene in her dreams. She officially quit the business right after the shoot. I’m sure she’s not the only one they’ve driven to leave. It seems as though once they get you in that building, they torment you as much as they can get away with until the talent won’t work for them, or at all, anymore.

People in this industry know the hush money they pay talent to shut the fuck up. I know quite a few girls that they’ve taken advantage of and felt the need to give them extra money after the fact. I’ve talked to producers, directors, and talent - the only people saying positive stuff about them are the ones making money off them.

I know what people will say, this girl is looking for attention: if she was looking for attention she’d post here herself. And no she’s not a drug addict; she had some medical issues as a child that would kill her if she takes almost any recreational drug.

This is just a warning to any girls looking to work for them and people looking to push traffic to them. I just hope you’re okay with promoting sites like there’s with people like that.

Has anyone else heard about it? Not that Farley being the only one reporting it means that it is false, but I'd prefer to find out more information about exactly how this happened.

I've seen some things from kink.com before (admittedly, the only video I have seen was all femdom, and I don't know if there's any difference in dynamics based on gender. And I haven't seen this "Training of O" thing they mention so I don't know if it's more extreme).

It never seemed particularly brutal or violent to me -- just looked like consensual SM. I definitely never saw any blood from orifices or heavy bruising. I've also seen the post-scene interviews that one commenter there describes, which definitely struck me as candid and included the bottom mentioning things he didn't like (for example, a rope bondage harness being tied a bit uncomfortably).

I don't want to say this doesn't go on, or to pretend no one uses "it's SM!" as an excuse to harm people. But I do want to know more about this. If it disappeared from lukeisback, why did it?

If nothing else, if this is going on, we need to blacklist those fuckers.

[ETA: I'm now not just vaguely skeptical, but VERY skeptical that this happened as described, or even happened at all. See comments. Still, if anyone knows about this specific event, I'd really like to hear more. As I said, if it DID happen, it's totally unacceptable.]

[ETA3: Found the original thread where this was posted. (Just a forum link, but there are some NWS/porn images)]

Let's do the time warp... again? Uh, for the first time?

Kind of strange to think I've been fussing about all this since 2003:
Okay, so I'd already seen, and felt indignation about, this: http://www.mediawatch.com/lorde.html

But then, apparently not having had enough of people's hatred of my sexuality:

http://www.mediawatch.com/tenlies.html


Good heavens.
Good... heavens.
  1. What doesn't kill us does make us stronger. Think of all the brave feminists who've seen, and fought, and won. Are they not strong for being our warriors? For another take on this: many people of all kinds of genders like the feeling of ordeals. They like to set challenges for themselves, do something really difficult, and succeed at it -- whether that be a sport, a career goal, a ritual, or whatever else. This isn't about long-suffering women being socialized to endure what men throw at them. It's about choosing which demons to face, doing it, and feeling pride. Men do this quite a bit too.
  2. Destroying the self is one thing. Letting go of the self in a controlled manner is something else. Haven't you ever had moments in which you've freed yourself from your ego and felt peace? That's not death.
  3. First of all, though I would defend people's right to do this, the scene is not solely about people who do this kind of roleplay. Many sadomasochists are as offended by it as you are; I'm bothered by it myself. My guess as to why people do it is that it's not about history, but about the simple fact that the Nazis are the ultimate "bad guys" in our cultural consciousness. A top can use that symbol to project a villain-persona easily. Is that a wonderful thing to do? Maybe not, but that's most likely the reason for doing it.
  4. If consent were truly impossible, how could we account for the choices we make in our lives that aren't sex-related? Humans are choosers. While it's true that there's likely no such thing as perfectly free consent to anything at all, that doesn't make choosing freely any less a true part of our lives. Besides which, how can a feminist sexuality unfettered by patriarchal oppression ever come to exist if we've presupposed that women's consent isn't real? It's only if we believe that women can be choosers that we can have faith in the idea of a feminist sexuality's coming to be at all.
  5. You're underestimating people's capability to understand behavior appropriate to circumstances. I do not hit random people on the street because I take tae kwon do, which can and does involve things like kicking and hitting people (while they hold targets against their bodies). Nor do I hit random people because enjoy impact play as a sexual act. (Oh, and those "intimidating" women who stood around during your meeting? Maybe that's not intimidation; maybe it's a fun little thing called "nonviolent protest".)
  6. I think it may be the case that there are more female bottoms because of our social history. But this does not in any way mean that they cannot create rich, vibrant sexualities for themselves. (Keep in mind, also, that many people come into SM thinking they have a fixed role, but come to enjoy switching, whether occasionally or often.) I believe that some of our sexual patterns are fixed (how, I'm not sure) and that some are created by us. The fact of someone's being a bottom and being unable to change that about herself does not mean that she cannot have a rich sexuality, or have a feminist understanding about her place in the world. The fact that there are more bottom women than top women also could show not that women can only think of bottoming, but that our social history pressures female tops, keeping many from coming to accept themselves. Either way, it's the cultural norms that are bad, not the sadomasochists.
  7. I cannot speak to lesbian realities, as I am not a lesbian. But I do not think that heterosexuality or heterosexual activity precludes feminist understanding. My desire for men is not an unreflective desire that I simply adopted because of the culture; it is something I've thought about, wondered about, and acknowledged. Accepting heterosexuality because one is supposed to be straight is bad. Being straight (or bisexual) is something else entirely.
  8. I agree that this is a myth, because I think SM can be liberating for me, and I am not a lesbian. I think that discovering, exploring, and understanding our sexualities can be empowering for anyone of any orientation.
  9. This can easily go wrong, but sometimes staging a re-enactment of things that have traumatized us in environments where we know we are really safe can indeed help. After my surgeries, I was obsessed with certain aspects of the experience. I did a scene involving those aspects, and it helped me to put some of my fear and pain from that horrible time behind me. (I bottomed. I am a top. These roles, like I said, are not necessarily rigid.) It also allowed me to let go of the fixation I had on the horrible things that happened to me.
  10. If sadism comes from het male power and privilege, and I am a female sadist, does that not mean that I have subverted something? I think it's right to say that power in the bedroom won't necessarily equate to higher paychecks or less poverty among women. But claiming, fiercely and bravely, our right to or own sexuality, standing up and saying that we can and do consent and that our voices HAVE NOT BEEN silenced, seems like true power to me.
Ten lies about sadomasochism?

No.

Ms. Farley, you told more than ten.
And interestingly (or predictably, depending, I've since discovered rather a bit more to be annoyed at Farley for. Ugh.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Today's Linkitude

Is Kink the New Gay, Or Is Gay Just another Old Kink?

You’ve spent the entirety of your adult life engaging in all sorts of delicious (and consensual, thanks for playing!) sadomasochistic activities. And when you’re not, you’re fantasizing about it. And when you’re not fantasizing about it, you’re thinking about fantasizing about it. And when you’re not thinking about thinking about fantasizing about it, you’re reading badly-written porn on teh internets. And even when you weren’t yet an adult, your thoughts were half-formed toward that final intrinsic thesis, be it homosexuality, sadomasochism, or just wanting to have sex in a tub filled with baked beans.

Chances are then that you’ve probably spent some portion of your life wondering just What in the Good Name of Fuck is wrong with you. You may or may not have been abused, excessively shamed, converted to Catholicism, or afflicted with TITC Syndrome (Trapped In The Closet).

But let’s get real here. Correlation does not mean causality.

Your emotional sugar-packets may or may not be over-crammed with a Splenda of self-loathing, or an aspartame-OD of animus toward the gender opposite. You’ve no signs of death-wishery, be it sexual or otherwise. You’re not diseased nor a deviant (okay, you totally are, but at least not in the sort of way that ends up getting made into a bad German porn film).

Paraphilias are the clinical term for sexual deviations or perversions. Until recently, homosexuality was listed among them. Sadomasochism is still on the list. Pop culture has a love-hate affair with the concept of BDSM. It’s incorporated into fashion, referenced on sitcoms, and plastered all over the intertubes like Java-animated low self-esteem. Yet it’s still somewhat taboo, in that “tee-hee” sense.

Which brings up the issue of what is innate and what is learned. There are the assorted teams of researchers searching with intentions smeared across their lab coats for the genetic key to homosexuality, for a varia of reasons. And they’re well on their way; some scientists say they’ve unlocked a few genomes that, after commingling together for awhile, really enjoy the taste of Bacardi and Diet Coke. So what do you think the chances are of them finding a genetic sequence for liking to be tied up? Or not wanting to clean one’s bathroom? Or enjoying FOX News?

Desire is innate, like ball-scratching, over-sharing, douchebaggery, and mawing down triple-cheeseburgers. Laughing at a really inappropriate joke. Or the sorts of Japanese rope-bondage that take an engineering degree and a poppy field of patience. Or not laughing – humorlessness is most definitely a learned trait (see blogosphere, the). Not talking during a movie is totally learned. BDSM as a catchphrase or open-ended search-field is learned, but not the coveting of it – unless you’ve been talking to the Druids – who probably get less play than the weird kid whose play dates always get cancelled by concerned moms.

Liking or not liking penises isn’t learned. Liking or not liking vaginas isn’t learned. So how can it be, whether or not one had a childhood of varying fucked-up-itude, that liking to spank/be spanked is learned? I mean, I wanted to hit from the time I was walking. I think that was what compelled me to take my first baby steps – the shimmering visage of Suzanne Pleshette winking back at me from the TV, the oh-so-naughty glint in her eye whispering, “spank me, Baby Misanthrope!”

....Time for some armchair junk science of a whip-handed bent. Let’s go way back, back to our prehistoric stage. Life was tough. Life was pain. To keep reproduction going, isn’t it conceivable that the DNA would work in a tolerance/appreciation of some kinds of pain? Lots of biting and shrieking and clubbing of heads and dragging about – you know, Clan of the Cave Bear type shit. I mean, sex probably didn’t become really comfortable for everybody until the mid-50s. And that’s just for the menfolk.

So wouldn’t that mean kink is sort of a memetic thing that’s already built-in, like power steering or hi-beams? It’s not an add-on; it’s not a luxury option – it’s just a matter of meme-activation. Kinda like The Manchurian Candidate. With more sexay and less assassinations.

We evolve in ways that make us stronger, like watching reality TV and videotaping ourselves doing stupid shit for YouTube.
Not saying I agree with him, but it IS food for thought. And I'm honestly far more sympathetic to the idea that desire for SM, in people like me who knew we were intrigued by pain or dominance or submission at an early age, is hardwired in us than I am to the idea that it's socially constructed, or a coping mechanism, or trendy these days, or whatever. (Okay, so trying it may be trendy these days in some hip liberal circles.)

I didn't rebel against everything people around me said women desired sexually to be cool. I thought I was a freak and broken. This was something I couldn't turn off, not something people told me to be like. I thought if I didn't get myself submissive and eager to be penetrated early and often, I'd never have an enjoyable sexual life.