Wednesday, 29 April 2009


I'm getting into a bit of discussion in the comments to my post "Facebook" on the topic of "transgression."

In that post, I use the dreaded T-word to describe part of the point of my recent post "Roaring."

People don't like that. They don't like that at all.

It's a hot little buzzword in feminist circles, and it's usually said derisively. It's supposedly something ignorant people do. Young people, who fancy themselves rebels and aren't actually resisting anything. This is contrasted with real work for social change, which as described is less flashy, less attention-grabbing... and, perhaps most importantly, less personal. Transgression is something someone does to be shocking; revolution is for the good of the People.

Commenters to "Roaring" are, therefore, quite displeased with me for using the T-word to describe it. On the one hand, I'm pleased they consider my personal story politically important enough that they'd cough and sputter "You? Transgressive? Oh, honey, you're much more intelligent/important/interesting than that!"

On the other, I used the word for a reason. I intended to get people thinking -- and it seems I failed.

I wanted to say "Yeah, this has those personal elements of that disgusting T-word all over it. I'm not just talking about how F/m dynamics don't fit the cozy thirty-year-old 'radical' 'feminist' 'theory.' I'm also talking about having fun. Fucking with people's heads. Laughing and defying their expectations."

I'm saying, in "Roaring," not just that that can be important, but that it's also fun. That it turns me on. That it makes me laugh.

I'm being "the fun kind." I'm letting myself be, despite the gasps and tremors even from my allies.

I'm doing so to make a point. And that is that just as the personal can be political (and I'd encourage everyone to actually look up Hanisch's work and get a firm bead on what that phrase actually means, as it's very often misused), so can fun be. So can very personal and rather selfish kinds of "rebellion."

Not because feeling daring, by itself, changes the world...

...but because it's only people who feel daring enough who would try to change the world in the first place.

If we really want shock troops eager to take down the Patriarchy, it's very odd that certain feminisms have so little interest in those troops' morale. "Activist burnout" is common. "Blogging burnout" is more common still.

And perhaps this is just my strange brain making odd connections, but I think the constant de-emphasizing of pleasure, the constant aping of "...not the fun kind" as though that were in fact a point of pride, has something to do with it.

No, feminists should not be "the fun kind" if that means "backing down when things get ugly."

But if not being "the fun kind" means we don't get to take pride in our defiance, laugh about our defiance, omg she's gonna say it get off on our defiance, we're not gonna last long.

Yep. I'm "transgressive." For those who want to toss tomatoes, the line forms around the corner.

Take your best shot.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Violent Content

This is silly rather than serious, but I figure the regular readers of this blog will find it hilarious.

Video, from The Onion: Should We Be Doing More To Reduce the Graphic Violence in our Dreams?

Sunday, 19 April 2009


I am not on facebook.

Nor would I want to be.

But here are some comments about this little group here, "Sex-Positive Feminists Critical of BDSM."

First up: if you link Melissa Farley's horribly outdated little "Ten Lies About Sadomasochism" in all seriousness, I'm not so sure I'd consider you sex-positive, really. Haven't you got anything more recent that doesn't, y'know, include the heavy-handed hint that we kill each other?

(We kill each other, but you're not for outlawing what we do. Logic, yours would be stellartastic!)

Second, I've gotta ask why it is that on so many anti-porn websites or anti-SM websites there's a big honkin' image of some really hardcore stuff with a big NO sign drawn over it.

If that's something you think no one should see... why d'ya do the equivalent of painting it on your front door?


"Members of this group are critical of BDSM not because they are religious fundamentalists, but because they are fundamentally opposed to the idea that domination and abuse are sexy."

How can you be opposed to "the idea that something is sexy?" "Sexy" is not something absolute; even the most staunch "social construction" type admits that, in my experience. Even if "sexy" is highly culturally determined, "sexy" is in part something that happens to us. Fantasies arise in us unbidden. Even if things are often sexy to us because of the way we're raised or the environment we're in, sometimes things "are sexy" regardless of our opinion of that. Hell, you all admit that yourselves.

I've met many an anti-SM person who admits to having tried or having enjoyed BDSM. I can think of more than a few people who've given it up or "are critical" of it from "a feminist perspective," but who still fantasize about it. I can think of a few who have all that critexaminey and still do it.

Being against the idea that something "is sexy" is like being against the idea that something makes people sneeze. Good luck with getting it to "not be sexy."

(They could of course mean that they don't like cultural norms of heteromance that say women are supposed to swoon over strong men, but if that's what they mean, picking on BDSM is an utterly bizarre way to address that.)

Fourth and Last: I notice a link to something labeled "Transgression For Its Own Sake Not Radical; Depends on the Content."

Now, I've just admitted in my last post (which no one commented on; did I frighten all y'all away?) that I find transgression sexy, and that I do think that losing control is frightening for many men, and that that makes me feel powerful. So I can see how they'd say maybe I shouldn't be talking.

Except that why is it that they always think we're saying we're "radical" for it? I've written reams about how I think the whole concept of "getting to the root" is actually deeply flawed. There is no root, there is no "radix" to hunt out and yank free of the ground. There is us. Our own faces, our own greed, our own shame.

It is not a carrot, single and obvious and orange. It is a tangle of hatreds, some that have names we readily believe, like "misogyny" and "racism." Some that only few of us see or acknowledge: "ableism," "transphobia." Some that we have no names for, because we still consider them as normal as breathing air.

If the process of eliminating them is uprooting, it does not take a search, a getting-to. The getting-to is easy. The getting-to is looking in a mirror, beholding your flaws, and vowing to live better. Theory is not needed for this. Honesty is, and a willingness to listen.

I am not radical. Calling me insufficiently radical is like noting I lack blonde hair, expecting me to come back swinging and spitting, enraged at the slight.

Monday, 13 April 2009


Sure, I can do that.

I've talked about this before. A lot, honestly.

But here we go. People who don't like me, or what I do, or my people, I have a challenge for you all, and I'm all hyped up on way the fuck too much aggrotech right now (and oh my Goddess, does it feel good) and have no problems throwing down the fucking gauntlet. So:

Where exactly is my gold star from the patriarchy?

Come on now, where is it? Your eternal refrain since 1987 has been that I'm a colluder. Okay, tell me some shit.

When I laid there awake at night wondering when the second bath of hormones would come, the ones that would make me into what people told me a woman was in mind rather than just in body, eager to spread and be covered and entered and give myself over to the hairy, muscled, smelling thing called a real man, where was it?

Because to hear you all tell it, the hell no, I will not that screamed out of my soul and all the fantasies that came out of that, many of them cruel and violent? That's all collusion, the norm with reversed polarity.

When I was hungrily reading stories about demon bitches with foot-long, razor-sharp nails, tearing rapists to shreds from the inside (yeah, meaning there), where was rape culture's representative telling me I'd gotten it... right?

That's the thing I never got. I never understood why feminists would think of me as the enemy, when part of what made me is revenge.

Do you all really think I don't know the world I'm waking up to? Do you really think I don't know it in my bones, the rhythms of it pulping me half to death?

Do you really, really, think I don't live in the same world as you?

Bend over. Dress up. Wear frills. Perfume yourself. Always let him make the first move.

You really think I heard that and licked my lips and said whatever you say, baby? You really really really honest to Hell think that for reals?

You really think I sat there going maybe I'd get more attention if I pouted like a magazine and added a whip?

You really don't think I want to make that compulsory conformity asshole bullshit bleed?

You really don't get that part of what I'm getting off on is doing that?

You really think sitting around drawing up charts about who should fuck and how is scarier to Dude Nation than I am?

Open your fucking eyes.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Race Play

You all need to go read this, here, right now. A frank discussion of race play between two Black people. Start at Part 1 and read the whole thing in order.

I do not have snazzy, witty commentary right now. I have some things floating in my head, especially as a white kinky person who dated a Black kinky one (in big letters I announce loudly that we NEVER DID RACE PLAY and did not have any kind of D/s relationship in either direction), but every time I try to write them down I rethink them.

So I'll just say that I do think it should be read and thought about. And that it especially should be read by the folks who seem to think that race play is always white tops' idea.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Sex, Intimacy, Connection, and Critique

Roy Kay has an interesting post up at his LJ on the "radical feminists vs. BDSMers" dustups that happen now and again in blogland:
There is an additional obliviousness about one of the chiasmic differences among BDSM communities – whether or not sex in properly even involved in BDSM. Yes, there are a lot of BDSM practitioners who really and truly fuck – and have sex in myriad other ways. However, there is a contingent which absolutely insists that sex is a frivolous distraction from the True Deep Relationship formed in pain, submission and other elements.

I personally don’t concur with this view. I mean, I AM one of those hyper-frivolous sluts that would take a pass on the whole deal if it didn’t get me and my partners’ orgasms, preferably many of them, on the road from interest through excitement to exhaustion. But the truth is that some people are quite the opposite, and that BDSM is wholly NOT about the sex – it’s about the emotional connection. Somehow this is another aspect they prefer to be oblivious too. Maybe it’s because its too close to the emotional connection they feel in keening against those outside the RadFem community.
I commented to him there with this:

I'm not entirely sure this would actually be convincing to them, though. I think they're concerned about the whole idea of valorizing power relations, and so I think they might respond that whether or not power play causes orgasm is not the point.

I don't think "She's my slave, but I don't fuck her" would get anything like a "Oh, well, that's different then" from these folks.

To further expound, I do think that one part of what worries them is "orgasm as a powerful reinforcer," which you see in a lot of anti-pornography feminism as well. On such a view, coming to something means associating that something with a flood of happy brain chemistry, and this is uniquely suited to making you want more of the something, sometimes against your own better judgment. (I think here of some comments in the anti-pornography documentary The Price of Pleasure, wherein a guy who uses porn describes how he has orgasms to porn, but feels dirty and ashamed and sullied after doing so.)

So if you have nonsexual D/s, you remove The Pavlovian Pitfall -- so Roy has a point; what about when that's gone? Doesn't that invite the possibility that it's not merely swoony infusions of serotonin that keep some people desiring to serve and valuing serving?

I think that's a good point, but I think we need to say more. The obvious question that comes next is "what does it mean to value serving?"

And the thing is, as I've said many times, I don't think kinky people should be required to justify our desires. But I do think "radical feminists" of this stripe will want to know what people get out of service. (And will probably dislike some answers to this question. Then again, so do I, and I'm an unrepentant pervert and dominant to boot.)

The thing is, though, that instead of this meaning "All you subbies have your assignment, dears: prove that what you get out of service is worthwhile and the meanie radfems might leave you alone. You just haven't examined enough!" I think this means something else.

I think the burden of proof is on the anti-BDSM folks. To them I say:

You already have our stories written down for you. You've had them since the publishing of Coming to Power, even all neatly wrapped up in feminist contexts. It's you who are not defending yourselves. All you can say when we say "Prove that our stories are meaningless in a feminist context" is some vague, lukewarm old politics you haven't heated enough on your stoves. It's cold and it's old and there might be some mold. Why are "trends, not anecdata" so popular with you, when you don't explain these "trends" with reference to anything like scientific studies?

The few times I have brought up data from studies -- usually the ones in Powerful Pleasures -- they haven't gotten any comments at all, not even very obvious criticisms of methodology! Hell, usually I'm the one saying "Here's the data, though of course this and this don't quite tell us what the researchers wanted, because of that..." What is up with that, exactly?

Really, if you want to be taken seriously as speaking in some Objective, Observing Voice, unlike the partisan people who are swayed by, uh, doing something because they like it, you need far better methods of data collection and collation.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


I'm not sure at the moment if I ever linked this post of Kiya's, on the word "lifestyle" and what it means to call a subculture a "lifestyle." Perhaps I have and my memory is murky.

Still, I wanted to do so "again?" because of something she says that I think is quite relevant to the endless bickering about whether or how BDSM is inherently sexist/creepy/badevil:
And there's a dangerous, nervewracking thing -- the fact that sometimes people hit the lifestyle stuff, with all of its attendant nonsense, and wind up believing that they have to have all the crap additional stuff to be whatever they are -- all the trappings and dancing around and all the other stuff that they'd only be interested in because it legimates their identity. I saw a discussion recently about Goreans, and a number of people who got into that whole subculture with all of its sexist baggage and mediocre prose because it gives them a structure under which it's okay to be kinky. If the only way one thinks it's okay to, say, be a female submissive is to go do Gor, then by all that is good and holy they will do Gor, and even the weird shit will be critical to defending it, because it's the only way that's acceptable to embrace that identity.
This, I think, gets lost in a lot of discussions. Feminists of a certain stripe see Gor, and see the people of all genders who go "We discovered Rebecca truly thrived as slaveslut #46, and so it must be true that Norman was onto something with that 'women are really slaves inside and feminists are ruining women's happiness!' thing," and think that must be what we all think somehow.

When, really, we have to consider what may be going on with Rebecca more complexly than simply "she's a sexist colluder" or even "she's acting out her programming." It's also possible she wanted to submit all her life, and was told by people around her that good women (perhaps even "good feminists") no longer prostrate themselves before men.

If the first group of people she finds who allow her to act like herself and to have sex she enjoys (because, yes, orgasm can be a powerful motivator), tell her "you ran into such trouble because those other people just don't understand what it is to really be a woman," she may agree gratefully with them rather than use her brain.

We, whether "we" means "kinky feminists" or "radical feminists suspicious of BDSM in the first place" might not like this, but the phenomenon is not unique to sexist people. (I think here of discussions I've had with anti-porn feminists wherein it became obvious to me that they hadn't seen any porn, ever, and were content to let Dworkin or their professors tell them what it contained and what that meant.)

If what an anti-SM feminist wants is for Suzy Slavebelly to understand that women are not inherently subservient... would it not likely be more productive to say, rather than "your lifestyle is antifeminist," something like "You're very happy satisfying your 'slave belly,' okay, but what about women for whom such an idea is not only foreign but offensive, upsetting, even triggering? Why see 'slave bellies' as something all women have, rather than something of yours?"

I've never been able to figure out why the aim of such feminists is, apparently, not just telling off the people who universalize creepily but also getting those of us who are perfectly aware we're uncommon to admit that we're making some kind of mistake.

Monday, 6 April 2009


xposted from my LJ

I posted to my LJ the other day about re-reading Dworkin, and I was just thinking that I want to say more about that. As that post mentions, what I chose to re-read was a few snippets available online from Intercourse. (Yes, I realize that re-reading excerpts is not the same as re-reading the book itself. Yes, I did read the whole book, about a year ago. Yes, I freely admit I do not remember it very well, because I found it rambly and off-point often, and yes, I admit that this means I don't know it as well as those who love AD do.)

I wanted to mention that because I think, as someone who is female and a sexual top, I have an interesting perspective on heteronormativity and on the acts often expected in it. I too have noticed the laser-precise cultural focus on penetrative sex involving penises, particularly PIV, as "real," as particularly fulfilling, and as "counting as sex" when other things do not.

(Interestingly, the penis seems to be the important, er, part. I've even had one friend tell me that my penetrating my partners is "anal play," where his penetrating his would count as "anal sex," because he has a flap of flesh I lack. WTFLOLZ.)

So the idea of this book is honestly something I really like. I still remember an old therapist asking me, before I was ever sexually active, "what using dildoes would mean to me." My response, "it seems like it would feel good to be inside somebody," was insufficiently introspective, and I was asked again what it "meant."

I was a marked case, and there was something unsettling or confusing or to be worked through about my desires and feelings. I countered asking if she would ask a male patient why he'd want to penetrate his partners, or if "That would feel good" would count as an answer from him. Sometimes I'm clever. ;)

So the idea that a woman -- a feminist legend -- would examine and question heteronormativity and its focus on PIV is actually awesome to me. Despite not liking Dworkin much most of the time, I remember feeling (once I'd learned that her point was not "all penetrative sex is rape") like I'd probably like the basic idea of Intercourse, because I've had those same questions about the norms and the standards and what they mean all my life. How my mental state and healthiness has been judged has even occasionally hinged on them.

The thing is, I was profoundly disappointed by the book. Take a look at this:

What does it mean to be the person who needs to have this done to her: who needs to be needed as an object; who needs to be entered; who needs to be occupied; who needs to be wanted more than she needs integrity or freedom or equality? If objectification is necessary for intercourse to be possible, what does that mean for the person who needs to be fucked so that she can experience herself as female and who needs to be an object so that she can be fucked?

The brilliance of objectification as a strategy of dominance is that it gets the woman to take the initiative in her own degradation (having less freedom is degrading). The woman herself takes one kind of responsibility absolutely and thus commits herself to her own continuing inferiority: she polices her own body; she internalizes the demands of the dominant class and, in order to be fucked, she constructs her life around meeting those demands. It is the best system of colonialization on earth: she takes on the burden, the responsibility, of her own submission, her own objectification.

Now, I understand and admit (though I suspect some may, even after reading this sentence, say I don't) that my perspective as a female top who usually fucks men is not what she's talking about. I understand that I look at this through odd, nonstandard eyes, and that doing so fundamentally means not responding to the original point in the way intended.

Still, seeing that sentence I bolded, right there at the beginning of a paragraph, introducing its main idea, is familiar and unsettling. "What does it mean to want this?" is the same question I was asked. If asked of men, of lesbian women, of straight women who've rejected heteronormativity radically only to discover that they like to be fucked and miss it when they refuse it for politics -- in short, of anyone but those who blindly follow heteronormativity because they know no better or fear censure for defiance -- this is the therapist's question to me, in reverse.

How is it useful to ask what a bottom's needs "do to her," "mean to her?" What begins as "What does this social expectation mean?" somehow turns into "what have you done to yourself, darling?" In the second paragraph, it's said right out: she takes the initiative in her own degradation.

Oddly enough, I thought feminism was supposed to stress not how women "victimize themselves," but how men have traditionally victimized them and continue to do so.

It's just sad to me, because rather than an exploration of "Where did the social expectation that females are women, that women are hetero bottoms, that being fucked is more satisfying for hetero bottoms than clitoral orgasm, and that this is kind of degrading and weird and makes men 'the boss' come from?" it becomes "How have you been harmed by having a need?"

It's not the desire that's harmful, it's the compulsory scripts.

Why is this so hard for people to get? Why is calling my partner a degraded dupe (male bottoms get this all the time, thanks, and it's not progressive at all, and I'm not sure "I meant to be talking about women, so you're derailing, unicorn" excuses you when you actually worded it as "what does it mean to need this done to you?" and only later add "in order to feel female") okay, suddenly?

Why can't we put the blame on the system, not the people who happen to have orgasms doing the things the system says are cool?