Thursday, 26 February 2009

Curiosity, again

I'm betting the answer to this question is no, especially since "On Not Asking Why" has garnered so many positive responses, but I'm curious:

Have any of you out there reading this blog ever decided not to engage in certain kinky activities because they go against your principles?

Have any of you examined your desires and decided that any of them clearly result from patriarchy or other oppressive systems? If so, has this affected what you're willing to do, or is it something you don't think matters?

I ask because one thing I've noticed about the current "examination" kerfuffles is that while most of the pro-SM folks say either
  1. "I tried that and it yielded nothing useful," or
  2. "Why? How have you made sure you are not invested in a system that posits that we are deviant and therefore require explanation, while you do not?"
there are always one or two who say that they continue to examine, or that they seek a way to examine that works for them and isn't accompanied by hostility.

However, I rarely see people on our side who value examination commenting here. McStar, Ren's anonymous commenter, anyone else: are you here?

Can you explain why you feel examining is useful? If you're someone who wants to examine and seeks examination discussions from the pro-SM side, what is it you're looking for?

24 comments:

joscelinverreui said...

I hope I'm not missing the point here. I haven't been reading as many of the posts as have been linked. So I might be talking about a different kind of examination here than has been discussed. But I do think examining what I do is worthwhile.

First, examination is crucial to negotiation and communication. Questions like, "what is it that I want" and "why do I want that?" help me answer "what can I get instead, that works for both me and my partner" which is the soul of negotiation.

Second, I would care if what I do contributed to the oppression of women, or anyone else. I consume (and therefore support) BDSM porn, I run a blog and comment on blogs, my Mistress runs a blog based on her experiences with me, I play in public and talk about what I do to the people around me who I feel I can trust, and occasionally, I even wear my collar to an all-night diner or the grocery store. Besides which, sharing what I am is pretty much inevitable for me. I can't stand to hide things. So if what I did was detrimental to women, I may not stop, but I would look into ways to change how I affected other people.

I also know of two different women who, out of submissive desires, have attempted to manipulate men into violating them, one of whom was successful. The other, thankfully not; the partner in question refused, and I call that a victory of feminism. Hopefully the latter woman has had the opportunity to play in a more overt fashion where the lines of consent are clearer. I would say that these women both contributed to the patriarchy when they did that, and they both know it.

Now, are some people dominant and submissive because of the patriarchy, or does the patriarchy exist because some people are dominant and submissive, or does the patriarchy exist because of simple greed? Not only is the question unanswerable (thus making it perfect for moral objectionists to harp on), but it's the wrong question. Whether patriarchy causes BDSM or not is completely irrelevant to the question of whether BDSM causes patriarchy. And the question of whether BDSM causes patriarchy is a much more addressable question. Still murky in areas, but you can study the mental health of people who who engage in their preferred sexual activities, study the effects of BDSM educational materials on people's attitudes, and so forth.

Ailbhe said...

In the sexual arena, there isn't anything I want to do which doesn't conform with my broader principles or ethics. There's stuff I found erotic and then had a think about and was immediately turned off by, but nothing I'd love to do only I can't conscience it. That's not how *my* conscience works.

devastatingyet said...

There were things I would "never do" because I thought they were vile - things like wearing a collar or using the word "slave" (trivializes real slavery, which is abhorrent). But I no longer hold those positions. I guess I just don't really care if people (including me) do things that look bad but aren't harming someone. You want to dress up like a Nazi with a consenting partner for hijinks? Fuck if I care.

There are things even today that I'd have similar qualms about, but if I were motivated to do them, I'd get over my qualms.

Where I do focus my energy is on making sure that my partner isn't hurt and that we are both getting our needs met.

Alexandra Erin said...

When I've tried to stop indulging in gynophagiac fantasies, I have found things better left as fantasy creeping over into my more serious writing.

It seems like when you've got to sneeze, you should grab a handkerchief. Pretending like you don't have to is just going to make a mess somewhere you don't want it.

(Not to say that kink is a lot of germy snot. Analogies only go so far.)

Trinity said...

Joscelin,

The kind of "examination" being referred to may not be the kind you mean. ND and crew aren't so much talking about careful negotiation as, well... this:

http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2009/02/01/bdsm-the-sexual-equivalent-of-being-into-renaissance-faires-part-4-bullshit-posturing/

"When considering sexual matters and their relationship to the general misogyny that pervades our culture, I generally pretend I’m a justice in the Supreme Court of Gender Issues and apply the ol’ strict scrutiny standard (albeit my own modified version of it). Sex, as it has been used throughout history as a tool of domination and as it is the locus of the negotiation of gender roles and a large majority of our social behaviors, requires close analysis. If I’m going to give a sexual practice a free pass and the Nine Deuce seal of approval, it’s got to meet three criteria:

1. First, I ask myself whether women are ever hurt as a result of the practice under consideration. If the answer is yes, the practice has not earned immunity from examination and analysis.
2. Second, I ask myself whether those who engage in the practice ever do so out of a hatred of women. If so, it’s up for discussion and judgment (a nasty word for those with po-mo leanings, I know, but a necessary one nonetheless).
3. Finally, I have to ask myself whether the practice would occur in a society that wasn’t characterized by male supremacy and the hatred of women, both of which tend to manifest as the mixture of sex and power. I’ve got a really impressive imagination (I invented unicorns), so if I can’t imagine a sex act having the power to excite in a post-patriarchal world, I get a little dubious.

If a sex act fails to meet any of these three criteria, you can expect that I’ll be questioning the fuck out of it, and BDSM really blows it on all three. I know what you’re going to say: mainstream “vanilla” (a term I’ll not be using again because it’s insulting, hackneyed, and really not clever) sex doesn’t pass Deuce’s strict scrutiny standard. Fuckin’ A right it doesn’t, but I’ve never made the claim that it does. Many of those who responded to my previous posts in the series created that false dichotomy and pretended that I was out campaigning for the kind of sex we see in the average Michael Douglas movie, but I think we all know that’s bullshit. BDSM, just like mainstream sex that seems to mirror porn more and more every day, won’t be escaping my jaundiced eye just because a few people tell me they do it “right.” There’s too much ambiguity involved in BDSM with regard to my criteria for that (as is the case with pretty much all sex acts — in a misogynistic society, there may not even be such a thing as a sex act that’s free of the influence of patriarchy, though that thought makes me want to start an emo band). But the fact that I urge scrutiny doesn’t mean I’m here yelling, “Real feminists don’t engage in BDSM!” It does mean we all need to think about what our desires and choices mean to us as individuals and in relation to other women. If one does so and still decides BDSM is where it’s at, whatever, but it needs to be discussed in an open forum where those who are working things out for themselves can get access to the experiences and opinions of others and where issues can be raised that will help us all figure out how to try to move toward a future in which sex isn’t used as a tool of oppression. "

I'm personally hostile to this sort of examination for reasons I detailed here:

http://sm-feminist.blogspot.com/2009/02/on-not-asking-why.html

Basically, I think that asking those you see as deviant to study themselves is often rooted in judging them.

I was asking if anyone actually finds this productive because of a couple of comments over at ND's, such as McStar's (quoted in my post linked above) that suggested that examination is indeed "fair" to require, or at least ask for.

Trinity said...

DY:

"There were things I would "never do" because I thought they were vile - things like wearing a collar or using the word "slave" (trivializes real slavery, which is abhorrent)."

The funny thing is, I know a lot of people who still do think certain things are trivializing. I've never been able to figure that position out, and I wonder what I'm missing.

(I really do mean this; I'm one of the few people with disabilities I know who isn't immediately squicked out by the mere idea of devotees, etc.)

Sometimes I think I'm just wired funny on that score. I've never thought that playing pretend about something reflects on its reality, or has anything to do with how you feel about the something. I mean, you can pretend something *because* you're (say) a racist creep, but in that case your racist creepitude came first. It's not created from your saying "slave."

Nor do I -- and maybe I'm just confused, I don't know -- see how someone saying it in private (or even in the semi-private of the kink community) makes the reality of slavery in American history or anywhere less horrific. I just don't get it. One's a cute guy kneeling because it gets him hard and me wet, and the other is a horrific human rights violation. Where's the trivialization exactly?

I'm not saying I'm *right* here, just that that line of thinking has just never made sense to me.

I've got a good friend who can't stand the way pirates are used as a symbol of jolly fun, because it trivializes the history of brutality and violence. I just... I don't see how laughingly saying "YARR!" or "me wench!" means not knowing that real pirates raped women, or somehow means not condemning that.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Have any of you out there reading this blog ever decided not to engage in certain kinky activities because they go against your principles?

About the only gender/orientation combination I am uncomfortable with assuming is CD/sub, because I see far too often that placing a male submissive into a feminised role/appearance/dress is treated as a form of humiliation play. Now, I don't go for humiliation when I sub anyway, but I find it especially troubling when it's wrapped up with a message of "female is lesser/humiliating" in that way, so I would say that my principle influence how I feel about that particular sort of play, yes.

Have any of you examined your desires and decided that any of them clearly result from patriarchy or other oppressive systems? If so, has this affected what you're willing to do, or is it something you don't think matters?

I don't think I ever came to any kind of clear answer on those things, except that I'm pretty sure the patriarchy is not responsible for me being the way I am - there's some other messed-up stuff in my life that might have something to do with it, but as far as I'm concerned, those things are way off-limits for any public display, and would to my mind be a massive overshare if I did talk about it. Suffice to say that overall I think it's more likely to be my own self-doubt and insecurity that makes me wonder if there's a link there, than any real chance that a) caused b).

Ultimately, as that passage shows, for me examination just led to a very dark place full of paranoia and self-doubt that did nothing to stop me feeling sadistic/Dominant, but did an awful lot to damage how I saw myself and the world I'm in. So examination led nowhere good, and came back with no real answers, except that consensual BDSM practised sensibly is not in itself harmful to anyone.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I've never thought that playing pretend about something reflects on its reality, or has anything to do with how you feel about the something.

It has me stumped, too. I mean, we watch television, right, and we can tell the difference between a movie and a documentary or news programme? We know the difference between, say, CSI and a report on an actual murder, right?

It has me baffled any time someone wants to suggest that we must be horribly affected by the make-believe.

Livetta said...

That kind of "examination" strikes me as a very self-injuring practice, like looking into a mirror every day and repeating "what the hell is wrong with me? I such a sick fuck!" The only way I've found that asking the question "Why do I like that stuff?" helpful is when it's approached not with the judgment ND advocates, but with honest curiosity and wonderment, as a complement to the questions "Why is it that people like things in general? What is desire? Hey, that stuff is nifty, let's find out what makes us all tick!" From that kind of questioning I've discovered that sometimes my kinkiest desires stem from trying to work through ideas that the culture as a whole is conflicted on, and I've discovered that BDSM is one of the few ways I can put my academic brain on pause and just enjoy something in the moment, so that I can set it aside and think clearly later. But this examining has never come with the implicit judgment that I am somehow "wrong" or "broken" and my bedroom practices need to be fixed because of it.

One thing that I've decided I won't do is age play, but that decision wasn't accompanied by a desire to engage in it and an ideological rejection-- rather, it was trying to understand what about it squicked me so and why my ideology was so set against it. Whenever I encounter a new sexual practice or idea, my "examination" is framed according to the emotion-- "Why do I like this? Why do I reacted so negatively over that? Why do I have a 'meh' response to this other thing?" None of these questions come packaged with a sense of ideological right or wrong; just exploration.

Trinity said...

"From that kind of questioning I've discovered that sometimes my kinkiest desires stem from trying to work through ideas that the culture as a whole is conflicted on, and I've discovered that BDSM is one of the few ways I can put my academic brain on pause and just enjoy something in the moment, so that I can set it aside and think clearly later."

That's actually how I feel about it too. It offers me a chance to stop thinking and become a predatory thing: hunting, stalking, pouncing, devouring. Everything is larger than life and obvious.

devastatingyet said...

I'm not that interested in whether my own desires come from the patriarchy. What interests me to examine is whether I'm doing things I don't want to do, that don't serve me, because I think I have to, because of the patriarchy or some other reason.

For instance, at some point in my life I tried wearing makeup. I absolutely hated everything about it. The only reason I ever tried it is that I knew it would make me look more appropriate for work. I gave it up because I hated it, but also because I'm not willing to buy into the idea that I have to do that.

But if I loved wearing makeup and thought it was just wonderful fun and I liked how it looked and felt and shopping for it, etc., then the fact that the patriarchy instilled that desire in me (or not) wouldn't be nearly as important to me. I would probably worry a bit about sending the message to other girls and women that wearing makeup is part of what women have to do, but that's it.

But I'm really just not worried that I'm sending a message to other girls and women that tying up and hurting their partners (or being tied up and hurt by them) is something they have to do. I just don't think I actually send that message, at all, to anyone, even if it is a patriarchal message (which I'm kind of neutral about).

devastatingyet said...

(Uh, to clarify, a message that you have to beat up your partner, or be beat up by them, would be a bad thing, and definitely part of a crazy authoritative culture that forced people to live counter to their own desires. I wouldn't support that at all. What I meant by saying it wasn't necessarily patriarchal is that I don't think the patriarchy necessarily does actually promote that - not that it wouldn't be patriarchal to promote it.)

Sarah S. G. Frantz said...

I review BDSM romances. I recently reviewed a romance that pushed all my "OMG this sux!" buttons. Well-written romance, fucking terrible view of BDSM. It was maledom BDSM, but it was terrible not because of the patriarchy, but because it infantilized submissives and portrayed a BDSM that was close to abuse of the dominant. I don't necessarily think it had anything to do with patriarchy keeping us down--it never crossed my mind to think about it that way.

In practice, BDSM needs to turn on all parties involved. And as long as everyone involved is consenting, then it's fine by me. Your kink may not be my kink, but that doesn't make it wrong.

Sometimes sex is just sex, yanno? I know the radfems would say I'm suffering from false consciousness or colluding with the enemy, but give me a fucking break.

EthylBenzene said...

Trinity said:
I've never thought that playing pretend about something reflects on its reality, or has anything to do with how you feel about the something.

Agreed -- I mean, most people can understand that an author who writes movingly and vividly about horrifying things isn't somehow then driven to or compelled to commit horrifying acts, yes? Why is it that sexual fantasies that people have, that I submit are in a certain way somewhat equivalent to imagining a story in your head, are subject to a whole different set of assumptions?

Oh right because it's sex. Somehow when it's sex it somehow means that we REALLY want to reinstate slavery or Nazi Germany or the inquisition or whatever. And writing a book about that stuff is A-ok.

Anyway that is kind of off-topic. I've never found "examining" to be useful, because it's always -- IME -- at the direction of someone who is against what you're doing and want you to figure out why it's wrong. I've never encountered "examine your desires" in a place or stated by a person who made me feel like it was truly for my own personal growth and not to advance someone else's ideological agenda.

EthylBenzene said...

ETA: and when I have examined it's been useless. My childhood was happy and my parents are wonderful people who never abused me. I've never been raped and have had essentially a very easy and privileged life. And. Ever since I can remember having sexual thoughts -- LONG before I ever knew what sex even was or what these feelings were -- I had submissive fantasies. So yeah, now what? I've examined and it seems I'm just this way. Yet that's not good enough. I have to keep examining until I can come up with the way I'm damaged, in their opinion. Fuck that.

joscelinverreui said...

It does mean we all need to think about what our desires and choices mean to us as individuals and in relation to other women. If one does so and still decides BDSM is where it’s at, whatever

A charitable interpretation of ND (which she doesn't deserve) says that by "what our desires and choices mean to... women" she means "how our desires and choices affect... women". If that's what she meant, then I think ND and I can agree. If what I do affects women, maybe I should think about what/how I do it. She even lets me off the hook once I've done that work.

I mean, think about the Goreans and the other male superiority BDSM people, and for that matter the female superiority BDSM people. They exist, they're an embarrassment, we wish they'd shut up, and THEY should probably examine how they affect other people. It's one thing to have sexual desires, another entirely to build an ideology of oppression around those desires out of an ignorant assumption that everyone is the same.

I agree wholeheartedly about your post about homosexuality, insofar as it's wrong to ask why they're homosexuals. But if ND is saying what I'm allowing that she's saying, then she's asking not where BDSM comes from, but what its effects are, and that's different.

In the question of how our sexual preferences affect the world around us, I feel homosexuals get a "more free pass" than we do. If a child sees a movie with two men kissing, little damage done, but if that same child sees a movie with a man whipping a woman, and her liking it, there is a risk that a misinterpretion can cause a problem for a woman later on. Not that a vanilla sex scene couldn't be problematic as well, of course.

Now, in response to the question, "what does what I do mean to myself and the women around me," I answer, "By having the kind of sex and relationships I want, I show people that they can have the kind of relationships and sex they want, and sex is a deep and powerful part of life that should be enjoyed to its fullest."

Dw3t-Hthr said...

If a child sees a movie with whatever type of sex scene, that's the fault of whatever parent was not engaging in proper supervision, not the people involved in the sex scene.

When you compare "two men kissing" to "a woman getting whipped" you're feeding into this notion that kink is exhibition and that the way kinky people present is intrinsically and overwhelmingly overt. Why not make a comparison that actually is dealing with things on roughly the same level? Compare that whipping to a blowjob, or the kissing to ... kissing.

qingzhao said...

I'm just dipping a toe in here, so please tell me if I'm out of line. I just felt I had to say something...

I grew up and live in a very conservative Asian society that can be described as "illiberal" at best. Having different sexual preferences in such an environment has been a constant struggle: from a young age I've been trying to cope with a feeling of oppression without having learnt the language of freedom to begin with, so to speak. The institutional ideology has, to a large extent, blocked out competing theories and experiences which could have armed dissent or given me an outlet.

Having lived in what was (and is, in some ways) still a very ideologically closed and tightly-controlled society, I am acutely aware of how my preferences have been shaped by the "system". I am still unable to determine where my identity begins and where I have assimilated the prescriptions of societal values.

As you can imagine, this affects my kink as well!

Have any of you out there reading this blog ever decided not to engage in certain kinky activities because they go against your principles?
Yes, this has primarily had to do with race. I have chosen not to engage in activities where I felt my race was being treated as a fetish, or that I was fetishising another person's race.

Have any of you examined your desires and decided that any of them clearly result from patriarchy or other oppressive systems?
Yes. Patriarchy is definitely a contributing factor, but racial issues and a kind of conservative Confucianism are others.

If so, has this affected what you're willing to do, or is it something you don't think matters?
It's definitely made me more critical about what I do. It hasn't made me the happiest person, but I feel that examination is crucial in uncovering how deep the influence of social oppression is.

Trinity said...

"Have any of you out there reading this blog ever decided not to engage in certain kinky activities because they go against your principles?
Yes, this has primarily had to do with race. I have chosen not to engage in activities where I felt my race was being treated as a fetish, or that I was fetishising another person's race."

Is that something you've otherwise wanted to do, though? A lot of people don't like the idea of this at all, so I'm just curious whether you mean "I love the idea, but worry I'd be perpetuating racism" or "I can't believe people are so creepy as to fetishize race."

I meant the question to be "Is there anything you really want to do that you refuse to because you feel it would be wrong?" but I'm not sure that came through in what I said.

Basically I'm trying to determine if anyone out there feels that not indulging in some kinks they have is positive for them. If there's, shall we say, a middle ground between "I'm kinky but I know it runs counter to my feminism so I won't do it" and "I'm kinky so everything I'd like to play with goes as long as I'm thoughtful about it."

"As you can imagine, this affects my kink as well!"

How so? Are you saying that you kink on defying the social order, that you kink on rigid structure, or something else?

"Have any of you examined your desires and decided that any of them clearly result from patriarchy or other oppressive systems?
Yes. Patriarchy is definitely a contributing factor, but racial issues and a kind of conservative Confucianism are others."

But what is patriarchy a contributing factor to? You haven't said what your kinks are, so how would I know what you mean? Similarly, I know a little bit about Confucianism, but since I don't know your kinks or how you experience them, I don't know what kind of influence you're saying it has had.

Mighty Fast Pig said...

I think self-examination about your kink is important and worthwhile. Exploring my kink has gotten me thinking about other aspects of my life and

While this has never come up in my life, I wouldn't do Nazi play or race play. Also, since I've studied the history of slavery, I've become less comfortable using the term "slave." There are various other forms of play I consider unethical (e.g. zoophilia)

However, I don't think ethical or psychological self-examination should be done because somebody else demands that you do it. That's saying, "You have to live up to my standards."

qingzhao said...

thanks for the response, i'll try to be clearer here.

Re race: The issue of race is a very sensitive one in my country, to the point that speaking out on race can led to prosecution for treasonable activities. This has created a situation in which racial grievances and dynamics have been glossed over, or ignored completely.

needless to say, this approach to race has shaped citizens' views on who they are, to a very deep extent. studies have shown that some minority races in my country labour under a sense of institutionalised inferiority. those from the dominant racial group do not comprehend their own privilege and, in many cases, actively exclude members of other races in the workplace.

have these unquestioned racial dynamics influenced kinky people here? yes, they definitely have, at least among the kinky people i am familiar with. have i been tempted to act likewise? yes, insofar as i imbibed the same environmental influences as many in my country. but examination of these desires has helped uncover their racial undercurrents and informed my decision on whether or not to act upon said desires.

playing or formaing relationships in a dynamic that fetishises race is something that i want to do - hell, was even brought up to believe was part of gaining status. i feel this would be wrong, so i do not do it.

race, then, is one element where an oppressive set of social values has affected my kink. this doesn't mean that i kink on social structures per se, but that the social structures have shaped who i am and what i desire.

at the risk of perpetuating the BDSM blog-wars, i think that patriarchy has influenced (in my country at least, that's all i can really speak about) the way M/f and F/m relationships. there is a lot of "i am liberating the woman so she doesn't have to take responsibility for her own sexuality" hype in the M/f sphere, for instance. it seems, at least, to be the dominant frame of mind among the male doms i know. most women tend to swallow this wholeheartedly, since the prevailing social norm is, indeed, that women do not display sexual desire of their own.

As for Confucianism; the system of thought is broad in and of itself, but has been given a conservative spin here. It has been interpreted in a highly communitarian manner, where the individual is encouraged to place society above the self and to consider all social relationships hierarchical (with the exception of friendships). The parent-child and husband-wife relationships are singled out for particular emphasis and the government has even made policy to ensure that men remain "heads" of their households.

The intersection of this ideology with my submissive position in an M/f relationship has disturbed me and driven me to examine my desires more closely. I am acutely aware of how I am using one hierarchical relationship (M/f BDSM) to escape from another (the parent/child one as conceived by my culture). I haven't stopped acting on those desires, but I cannot deny that they trouble me at the same time.

Hope that clears things up!

McStar said...

I was asking if anyone actually finds this productive because of a couple of comments over at ND's, such as McStar's (quoted in my post linked above) that suggested that examination is indeed "fair" to require, or at least ask for.

OK, I think you misconstrued what I said at ND's. What I said was, "It’s quite fair, and potentially very interesting, to question why people desire certain acts, and in what way their desire is influenced by patriarchy." Meaning that I think it's "fair" - reasonable, logical, interesting, whatever - to engage in the act of questioning how patriarchy may affect sexuality. I didn't say it's fair to "require" or force anyone else to engage in that questioning, or to impose one's personal conclusions on anyone else. ND and her gang can question and hypothesise about my sexuality as much as they like. NSOMN. The problems arise when people like ND regard their own answers as The Only Truth and decide to continue pontificating about them in the face of a huge amount of rebuttal from people who have far more experience with kinky sexualities. I think there's a very important difference between questioning, and demanding that others "question" (ie: "question, and then come to exactly the same conclusions as me, or I shall repeatedly accuse you of failing to question").

So to answer your question... it depends on exactly what you mean by "productive", I guess. I find thinking about sexuality and culture very interesting. I personally like to try to link feelings or experiences of childhood with my adult sexuality (though the conclusion I've always come to is that I was born pansexual and kinky). I find it interesting to look at the ways in which my sexuality does and doesn't match up with social rules and portrayals of women's sexuality. I find it interesting to see what sexualities and sexual acts are portrayed as normal or deviant in different cultures or media; and wonder about why. (I have to agree with ND's bemusement re. the cliche of men wanting to fuck twins, for instance. Where DOES that come from? Why WOULD hetero men want to fuck identical twin women? and so on.)

In the past I have regarded specific sexual acts as inherently degrading to women and thus seen them as hard limits for me. Nowadays I don't think that any sexual acts are inherently anything (as I think we agreed on one of the epic ND threads?) Ultimately, the big conclusion that my own examining has lead to is the polar opposite from what the internet radfems would want - I've decided that feminism and kink are not mutually exclusive, that my kinkiness is (almost certainly) not caused by patriarchy and that it doesn't harm women or feminism.

I've found my personal approach to examination useful, I guess, because it's been a central part of my adolescence and growth as an autonomous sexual person. And it's been very interesting. But I've never demanded that anyone else engages in any examining.

Trinity said...

qingzhao: Yes, that helps me understand. Thanks. :)

McStar: I misunderstood you then. I thought you meant "it's fair" in the sense of "It's fair to demand that someone think about how patriarchy has influenced her sexuality." And, well, while I hope that people are generally reflective about what they want, I think for reasons I explained in "On Not Asking Why" that requiring this is stacking the deck creepily.

Especially since I think it's only people especially invested in feminism whose thoughts would automatically turn to patriarchy for explanation. For me personally the questions have always been about disability -- how being physically "different" has shaped my experience of pleasur eand pain, and how being subjected to both invasive BUT NECESSARY, RATHER THAN ARBITRARILY OPPRESSIVE *and* abusive treatments and therapies has shaped my experience of social and personal power.

When we focus the discussion on the kind of "examining" that has to do with "the patriarchy" we're leaving out all kinds of discussion of embodied desire that have nothing to do with social power, personal dynamics of power that are not social, AND social dynamics that are not based around that of men relating to women or vice versa.

I suspect that for some white straight able-bodied feminists, "the patriarchy" is relevantly interesting in ways "the medicalization of bodies" isn't for them, but... yeah, it's always struck me as odd.

Kind of like "Make sure you figure out what cars have to do with your kink."

"Cars? Cars don't really affect me as much as wheelbarrows."

"Wheelbarrows? What the fuck? Cars pollute, and have done so to you, DEEP INSIDE..."

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