Sunday, 19 April 2009

Facebook...

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First up: if you link Melissa Farley's horribly outdated little "Ten Lies About Sadomasochism" in all seriousness, I'm not so sure I'd consider you sex-positive, really.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?

Third:

"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.

50 comments:

Dw3t-Hthr said...

"Ten Lies about Sadomasochism" strikes me as a remarkably honest title. Not that Farley's stuff is regularly not full of lies, but it's nice that she claims to be generating bullshit right up front, eh?

One of the things that drives me bats about this sort of thing is how much is taken as axioms. I mean, I can see at least some set of arguments against "degradation, violence, oppression, slavery, or abuse" without them laying them out, but that doesn't mean that they don't need to be made. Treating dominance as axiomatically bad, meanwhile, appears to me to be equivalent to pretending to be a floating head that has transcended the animal kingdom.

Constant reiteration of "abuse", typical for this sort of bullshit.

Quoting some bits that make me go bwuh in particular:

Light spanking, biting, hair-pulling, and other mild acts done without the intention of establishing dynamics of dominance/submission, or of causing pain or degradation, but rather as an expression of passion, out of the enjoyment of the sensation, or some other benign motivation are not considered BDSM in this group.Why not?

Another thing that needs an explanation.

"These things are okay because we say so."

And when these things are not okay? They are not okay because of mad mindreading skillz, yo.

Then we get stuff like
Tops are dominators (doms) and/or sadists. Bottoms are submissives and/or masochists.which mostly leaves me going, "You don't know as much as you think you do, kids." I mean, setting aside the blowing off the existence of the switches, there's that whole conflation thing going, as if there's no such thing as a dominant masochist or whatever else.

There is also wide variation in the specific scenarios that get acted out, but they always falls into two broad dynamics: that of the willing victim and that of the unwilling victim.I do wonder what happens to the dynamics with no victims.

Have I mentioned I hate the word 'victim' sometimes? It's dehumanising in the mouths of people like this. Reminds me of the pity thing that I commented about at Ren's the other day -- the way I didn't tell anyone about my sexual assault because I didn't want to be truncated into The Victim.

To paraphrase Andrea Dworkin: *The question is not ‘Why are some people into BDSM?’ but ‘Why isn’t everybody?’This always makes me laugh. It reminds me of a thread on a message board I participated in a while back where some guy basically was going, "Why doesn't my girlfriend like the sexy lingerie I got her? Is she defective or something? Women like that, right?"

I eventually managed to bash through his head that just because his fetish is promulgated by the mainstream doesn't mean that anyone else is obligated to share it. He seemed dubious, but eventually allowed as how his social indoctrination into the fundamental normality of his kink didn't obligate anyone else.

I compare cases like that to BDSM and the deep knowledge that my desires would be considered defective by just about everyone I know, and just ... what can I do but laugh?

"It is just that I have never been able to see life as anything other than a vast practical joke, and it is far better to laugh than to cry." --Robert Heinlein

And I go and read the "These are all the oppressions!" shit and wonder what they'd make up to project on me. Probably sexism, since I'm a heterosexual female submissive, even though it pisses me off to have them conflated.

A healthy, healing relationship would be one in which their partner encouraged them to exercise their agency, to be free and take self-control, both inside and outside the bedroom.Not that I'm one of the mentally and emotionally crippled people that they think I am here, I'm sort of bemused by this one too, given that in the hour and a half my liege and I spent working on wedding vows this evening, a goodly chunk was spent on the line in his that commits him to promoting and encouraging my maintenance of my own power....

But then we go off into the whole "these people" line again, and I thoughtfully contemplate biting things in an unfriendly manner. Has there ever been a usage of "these people" in such a context that wasn't dehumanising?

Approval of BDSM by progressives is counter to our overall goal of an egalitarian, classless, casteless, and truly democratic society. We should see BDSM as a symptom of the lack of such a society, and like any other such symptom, we should mourn it, not defend it or celebrate it.The marked case of equal strikes again!

Sigh.

I woulda fisked it if there were less batshit, man.

Trinity said...

"To paraphrase Andrea Dworkin: *The question is not ‘Why are some people into BDSM?’ but ‘Why isn’t everybody?’This always makes me laugh. It reminds me of a thread on a message board I participated in a while back where some guy basically was going, "Why doesn't my girlfriend like the sexy lingerie I got her? Is she defective or something? Women like that, right?"

I eventually managed to bash through his head that just because his fetish is promulgated by the mainstream doesn't mean that anyone else is obligated to share it. He seemed dubious, but eventually allowed as how his social indoctrination into the fundamental normality of his kink didn't obligate anyone else.

I compare cases like that to BDSM and the deep knowledge that my desires would be considered defective by just about everyone I know, and just ... what can I do but laugh?"

Like I've said here recently, I get why they think BDSM is normalized. I also think it's a really bad argument, but I get how it's supposed to work.

What I totally don't get is how they manage to be totally oblivious to actual kinksters who say "Uh, then why are we in closets?" and "Uh, then why do we lose our jobs/kids?"

Trinity said...

Yeah, and my response to that post was, well, basically, "I probably need to say something about this. Then, fuck it, I'm going to bed/watching Hellraiser again/drinking tea."

Becstar said...

As a previously anti-SM person precisely because I had tried it I think there is another angle to why come people turn away from it. The only time I ever literally wanted to be submissive was when I hated myself and thought I didn't derever to be treated well. With my newfound self-esteem I realised that all of my fantasies were based on self-hatred and the more confident I became the less I had submissive fantasies. For people like me who had absolutely hate themselves SM provides a relatively socially acceptable way to get people to treat them in a way that validates their self-hatred.*

*I'm not saying this is the case for everyone by any means, but that it definitely can be one reason why people turn away from it.

Alexandra Erin said...

The Dworkin quote... doesn't it ever strike any of them that it highlights a compelling argument against their position?

Trinity said...

Becstar,

Thanks for dropping by to share.

Personally, that sort of thing is very outside my experience. Still, I don't doubt that such a thing is true for some people.

I'm glad that you're healthier now and that your sexual life is better for you.

For me, though, it was always very much the opposite. When I had high self-esteem, I could trust myself and not believe there was something wrong with me for wanting the things I did. When I had low self-esteem, I thought I was broken and deformed and not as good as people who liked and wanted other things, and I became desperate to change.

Anti-SM people often really don't like it when I compare this to looking for reparative therapy, and I do think there are definite differences, but in a sense I do think it's similar. First, I tried religion. Then, I tried shrinks (most of whom told me that I was perfectly fine as I was but were concerned about my deep distress.)

I never really tried feminism as a tool of change, but I do know that reading Dworkin and Farley and the like doesn't make me feel greater self-esteem. It just makes me feel that other people want to decide for me whether I should be divided against myself and full of self-hate, or whether I should accept myself as I am.

I find it easier for me to do good work for others, including feminist activism and the like, when I begin from a base of trusting myself.

roykay said...

People get into BDSM for a huge variety of reason. I suppose it could be because some really do feel like shit.

For those I have known in the scene, however, the motivation is exploration of roles and sensations. They are usually so strong (nearly arrogant) in their self identification, that I wouldn't know where to begin if I wanted to undermine them. I'm usually a service top, since I derive a great deal of pleasure out of my partners pleasure.

Jennifer said...

my last post (which no one commented on; did I frighten all y'all away?)::puzzled::

Clicking on "Older post" gets me one called "Roaring", which does have comments and isn't about transgression - has the one you're alluding to maybe got lost somehow?

Link?

Trinity said...

Tell me why you think Roaring isn't about transgression. Maybe I wasn't clear?

Dw3t-Hthr said...

This comes from the land of best possible responses to the thing.

Hat-tip to Queen Em.

Alexandra Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexandra Erin said...

Y'know, reading deeper into it, the part you quote:

"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."Not only is this nonsensical for the reasons you highlight, but they say much the same thing themselves:

"Members of this group believe that people who are sexually aroused by BDSM should not feel ashamed. After all, it’s not like we freely choose our sexual desires."Talk about putting two and two together and coming up with two and two. Or more to the point, putting two and negative two together and coming up with four.

(reposting because it did something weird to the formatting.)

belledame222 said...

Yes, because "it's your INTENTION that makes the difference" is not at all headfucky in the context of the crap they're spouting, and certainly could never be misused.

that is, "consent" isn't an adequate concept, i.e. whether -you- want what I'm doing to you; but "how I feel about what I'm doing to you," that makes all the difference.

that and the implication that retaining shame about one's sexuality is a GOOD thing and by Jeeves we're right back into classic corporal punishment mentality!!

"It's For Your Own Good."

just whatever you do don't admit you get -off- on that phrase, either as utterer or receiver.

I like the member there who's flashing a semi-crotch shot; apparently Dworkin is good with disembodied panty pics as long as it's "sex positive," just so the panties aren't leather and no one's getting spanked -too hard,- or, you know, doing it the -wrong- way...

srsly, all you can do is point and mock after a while. The tortuous rationalizations for "I still want to adhere to this ideology about clear bright lines of Good and Bad in sexuality while retaining an out for myself, so I'm just gonna inch the line over farther and farther and hope no one else notices" are just -funny-. And sad.

Trinity said...

"The tortuous rationalizations for "I still want to adhere to this ideology about clear bright lines of Good and Bad in sexuality while retaining an out for myself, so I'm just gonna inch the line over farther and farther and hope no one else notices""

That's exactly what it seems like to me too, Belle.

"Well, we didn't mean you couldn't be KINKY, we just meant BDSM. Wait, some of us like a bit of pain, we don't mean THAT. Except we do if you're talking about doing THAT, THERE."

belledame222 said...

per the parody facebook group: see, you laugh? but in fact there are other radfems arguing that line -completely seriously-. Not many, especially nowadays, but they are Special enough to make up in quality what they lack in quantity.

Alexandra Erin said...

belledame, if they have to fuck with a bunch of women's heads in order to make the world safe for women, that's what they're going to do.

Oh, well... you can't make a feminist omelet without breaking some of your fellow sister eggs, right? There's never been a society in history that got by without sacrificing some women on one altar another. Why should their post-Patriarchal one be any different?

belledame222 said...

What have the Romans ever done for us?

belledame222 said...

AE: oh yeah, 've been wrangling with the eejits for years now. at this point I'm just sitting here with the popcorn mostly. they'll never change.

belledame222 said...

p.s. I'd join, AE, but I still have The Fear of facebook. I like your style, though.

Alexandra Erin said...

belledame:

It's one of my firmly held beliefs that if art can be a mirror to nature, then parody can be the magnifying glass.

I think a lot of the specifically anti-BDSM crowd would be horrified at the thought that they were being like "those radfems", just as NineDeuce was so apoplectic at being told (quite rightly, and by several queer folk) that she was utilizing the language and tactics of homophobia, but they aren't inclined to see it for themselves.

Not that I think my little group is going to change any of the most entrenched hearts and minds, but if somebody's on the fence... or if somebody is in a vulnerable and insecure place because of the conflict between what they think they need to be like to be a good feminist/good woman and all the things they can't help feeling... then a humorous bit of magnification can be just what they need to put the flaws of the anti-BDSM message into perspective.

Alexandra Erin said...

I don't blame anybody for having the fear of Facebook. :P I wasn't quite dragged into it kicking and screaming, but my livelihood depends on being able to reach out to my existing fandom and on making it easier for them to spread the word, and I'm told that being on Facebook helps there.

I haven't seen huge returns from it just yet, but I also haven't done a lot with it. I'm still kind of working out how it all works.

belledame222 said...

oh, I didn't look too closely, but yeah, I guess if they're calling themselves "sex positive" they probably -don't- want to be like Those Radfems, do they.

snerk.

and yeah, I doubt Saint Dworkin would approve, although they probably -are- closer to her pov than some of the more draconian ones actually.

meh, it's like any other internecine dogma battle.

belledame222 said...

I did join Twitter, and am now Hopelessly Addicted alas.

belledame222 said...

mocking is good. they really can be sucking black holes of energy creatures, though. I try these days to remember these general principles whenever I can.

Trinity said...

"just as NineDeuce was so apoplectic at being told (quite rightly, and by several queer folk) that she was utilizing the language and tactics of homophobia, but they aren't inclined to see it for themselves."

Yeah, this... it was really hilarious because one can understand her apoplexy, but really, she *was* doing it.

That's the thing that kind of gets me about "don't compare oppressions" as a rule of thumb (not that I actually think BDSMers are oppressed, actually).

On the one hand it makes sense that sometimes people do it just for stupid reasons "Oh, someone called me a bitch today, and all of feminism must now console me, because that's just like a lynching" etc.

But on the other hand, sometimes it really does make sense to say "I've run into this attitude that we all accept is bigoted. When people have that attitude, they do this, this, and this. Now I run into people doing those things about something else, a stigma that you all don't see. But I see people doing that list of things again. Maybe you should think about whether there's bigotry here?"

Alexandra Erin said...

Trinity, I agree completely. There comes a point when something that was intended to make people stop and think is instead used as a shortcut to let people stop thinking, and I feel that "don't compare oppressions" has become just that for many vocal people.

Some people act like they ought to be able to shut down any line of argumentation or inquiry out of hand if they can prove that somebody mentioned two oppressed (or even better, one oppressed and one otherwise disadvantaged) groups in the same sentence, regardless of what was actually said or any meaning or truth behind it.

***"You compared oppressions! You lose this conversation!"***

I think a more useful formulation would be "don't equate oppressions". I can compare apples and oranges. I can compare apples and orangutans. I can compare my experience in high school as a gay-identified male-identified person to my experiences now as a transgendered bisexual woman. I can compare what I went through as members of those groups to what I go through as a kinky individual.

I'd be foolish to say that those are the same things, as foolish as I would be to say that an apple is an orange because both are fruit, or that an apple is an orangutan because both are organic matter... but I ought to be able to say that they're both organic matter and that they have some similarities without somebody shouting me down on the basis that I'm insulting orangutans by saying that apples are the same thing.

But sadly, changing "compare" to "equate" wouldn't really change anything because the people who are willing to think that hard about it aren't confused by the current wording, and the people who want to shut down these lines often genuinely believe (or claim to believe) that if you mention bi-specific or kink-specific hardship in the same paragraph as homophobia that you're trying to inflate the one or deflate the other.

Alexandra Erin said...

Actually, I suppose "compare" might still be problematic if taken in a greater than/less than sense... perhaps "relate" might be the better word.

Also, it lends itself to rhyme:

"Relate, don't equate."

I can see how my experiences in high school while identified as a gay male relate to my experiences now as a transwoman, I can see how they relate to the challenges I face in society through my kink... but in being able to see how they relate, I would not equate them to each other... I explore the differences as well as the similarities.

Trinity said...

"I can compare my experience in high school as a gay-identified male-identified person to my experiences now as a transgendered bisexual woman. I can compare what I went through as members of those groups to what I go through as a kinky individual."

yeah, exactly.

and... I lose points here maybe but I'd go further. I'd say that a straight kinky person who has carefully studied homophobic rhetoric can in fact say "Here is how I understand 'love the sinner, hate the sin' as certain Christians apply it to homosexuality, and here are the parallels I see when I read 'you ought not be ashamed of your kinks, but you ought to know they're not what's best for you.'"

I think there are plenty of counterarguments to be made to this position, and some are good and some are bad. But I don't really think it's out of bounds to say "I see something that looks oddly similar here" even if the person saying so is HORROR OF HORRORS not queer.

Because it does look oddly similar.

SnowdropExplodes said...

"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."

To me this sounds like "they are fundamentally opposed to the idea that Marmite is tasty" While you might get a lot of people agreeing with you on that, there's also quite a lot of people who like Marmite.

Oh yeah, and BDSM ≠ abuse, so "abuse" has no place in this discussion. Abuse is something that gets done to someone; sexy (including BDSM sexy) is something that happens between two (or more) people.

Becstar: please check out my post "How a Girl Learns to Say No" for the other path (not saying it invalidates yours, of course, just that different folks have different responses to it - also the point that I believe a responsible Dominant should have worked to improve self-esteem, not validate bad self-esteem)

Becstar said...

SnowdropExplodes - While I have no doubt that in certain individual circumstances BDSM could be used to increase self-esteem I think it is a very dangerous path to walk because the alternative response is too dangerous to risk.

When I was "experimenting"* as a sub I was the one asking for it and I would have also defended it. My partner knew my self-esteem problems and yet, because of his won dominant desires, overlooked this and convinced himself that I really wanted (he was the kind of person who thought it was what all women wanted).

Had I not managed one day to never do it to me again (by text, because by this stage my ability to say no was absolutely shot) I really in all liklihood would have committed suicide. Acting out such a power difference when I was weak was an incredibly dangerous situation.

It was incredibly hard to get out of given that my experience was being validated through my partner saying that he was glad that I had "opened up" and was more relaxed about it when in reality I was more messed up than ever and I honestly believe he should have seen the signs. I don't think he was delibrately trying to encourage my self-hatred and did actually believe it was good for me. It's just so scary to think that it could have continued and scary to think that others could go through the same situation.

As Trinity said up above through, people who are into it feel more confident when doing it unlike me who was never naturally into it. I just think it is very tricky territory to navigate because while one person is thinking they are doing BDSM it is very easy for the other to feel like its abuse - and yet still ask for it and even want it.

*Experimenting here meant in the context that I wanted to be treated like shit because I thought that was what I deserved.

Alexandra Erin said...

Becstar:

Forgive me, but while your experience is perfectly valid when you say "it's not worth the risk" it seems to me like you're trying to universalize it, to use yourself as a case study of one for a risk analysis for the world.

And I say this as somebody who has been in an abusive relationship dressed up as BDSM that was basically motivated on my part by the desire to be treated like what I thought I deserved.

But that happens in "vanilla abusive" relationships, too. If you were in that headspace and there was no such thing as BDSM, or if you'd turned your back on BDSM from the beginning, do you honestly believe that you wouldn't have found something else to hurt yourself with?

Becstar said...

I meant that it's not worth the risk to just assume that all BDSM and BDSM fantasies come from a non-harmful place when someone does have low self-esteem and therefore continue to play it out without thinking of the consequences. If a person has already established that BDSM can help their self-esteem or it is proceeded with caution that's one thing, but I think to completely disregard possible consequences is dangerous.

I think its better to make sure that it will help and not hinder because if it does end up harming the person's self-worth even more (as in my case where it could lead to very serious consequences) then taking time to think about that is less harmful than the alternative.

Surely in a case where one partner's self-hatred is known it is better to go slowly than to jump right in and end up making their situation worse? I see it as a matter of safety - you wouldn't do something to make a (bad) physcially painful situation worse, why would you do it with someone's mental state?

Becstar said...

Also, I absolutely think it can happen in vanilla relationships but in my experience again, it seems like it would be easier to say you want something because you hate yourself without the other person knowing that you do in BDSM than in a vanilla relationship. For example if I had asked someone to hit me in a 100% vanilla relationship they (hopefully) would have probably looked at me strangly. Being in a relationship which involved BDSM made it a lot easier for me to sabotage myself.

Trinity said...

"Surely in a case where one partner's self-hatred is known it is better to go slowly than to jump right in and end up making their situation worse? I see it as a matter of safety - you wouldn't do something to make a (bad) physcially painful situation worse, why would you do it with someone's mental state?"

I've had someone want to do BDSM with me who I really did think were not emotionally healthy enough for it. I refused to do it with him.

Then again, I refused to do anything romantic/sexual with him.

I do suspect BDSM would probably have been "worse" than vanilla sex for him (and for me, too, honestly, in that situation) but I think that the wisest choice was the one I made. Not to stick to vanilla, but to not get caught up in his issues at all.

However, I can imagine falling for someone who just had a vulnerability or an issue with BDSM that I didn't think extended to sexual relationships in general. In that case, I could see "sticking to vanilla."

I don't think that would be good for me personally, so I'd probably just say "I like you, but I don't think we're compatible." I can definitely think that others might handle it differently, though.

I certainly don't support pushing someone into something that will upset (or even harm) them because you really want it, or even need it. If it is a need, I think people should put on their big girl/boy panties and leave the relationship and look for someone who is compatible with them and will not be hurt by doing BDSM.

belledame222 said...

nodding @ trin

Becstar said...

BDSM definitely provided me with an avenue in which I could be "punished" in the way I thought I deserved, but I agree that even if I had had sex (I don't think romance would have effected it too much) within a vanilla relationship it probably still would have screwed with me.

The other thing was that the self-hatred developed (along with the increase in BDSM actually, but I think that was again with me punishing myself more than anything else) after the (previously vanilla) relationship had been established a while so I think we were at a point where him just not dealing with it did not seem like an option.

I agree that people need to know when to leave or at the very least when to at least stop with the sex. That I think is a more general issue rather than a BDSM one because in my situation at least I don't think it would have mattered whether he had been BDSM or vanilla. Ultimately he did not pay attention to the signs because it was easier to ignore them and fulfill his desires than to question it and not get laid. Definitely a personal failing, not a BDSM one, but one I think that was exacerbated by the fact I was agreeing to things I really shouldn't have and which would not have been an option in a vanilla relationship.

To take it back to my original point because I think I've drifted a bit, there can be non-feminist reasons for beginning to dislike BDSM which take on a feminist shape because that is easier to deal with compared to taking personal responsibility. Blaming it all on the patriarchy making me feel like I should and him not stopping is easier than admitting I should have stopped sooner and brought it partially upon myself.

SnowdropExplodes said...

My partner knew my self-esteem problems and yet, because of his won dominant desires, overlooked this and convinced himself that I really wanted (he was the kind of person who thought it was what all women wanted).From my first comment:

"I believe a responsible Dominant should have worked to improve self-esteem, not validate bad self-esteem"

(Incidentally, the part about "thought it was what all women wanted" suggests his understanding of BDSM consent theory was somewhat suspect).

From my post that I linked above:

"I made it my business, as her Master, to make her into someone that she loved for herself."

In many ways the route that I took with Julie was similar to some of the counselling techniques that can help people suffering from depression, in that I provided discipline but also an independent assessment of her value as a person, that was perhaps more objective (and definitely more positive) than her own poor self-image (and also, unrelated to her willingness or otherwise to engage in BDSM). Similar techniques appear (in a vanilla context) in some self-help books aimed at those suffering from depression (although I hadn't read those books at the time I was in a BDSM relationship with Julie).

I think one of the trickiest parts of BDSM is the relationship structure that depends upon "give them what they need, not what they want", and in Julie's case, happily, I was able to do that. There have been cases where I have not been able to do that and I have always backed away from engaging with those relationships, once the nature of them is revealed.

BDSM in general deals with big, intense emotions, through both the D/s and the SM side of things, so I would certainly agree that there are greater risks involved when BDSM is part of the mix when also dealing with self-hatred issues. I think it definitely requires a very responsible and aware attitude from Tops especially to remain alert to the risks and to take responsibility for the mental well-being of a partner as well as their physical well-being. And, where they do not find themselves competent to do so, not to engage with the partner in the first place.

Becstar said...

"I believe a responsible Dominant should have worked to improve self-esteem, not validate bad self-esteem"But that's the thing, he wasn't actively trying validate my bad self-esteem and probably thought he was helping (he made several comments that indicated as such).

I think it definitely requires a very responsible and aware attitude from Tops especially to remain alert to the risks and to take responsibility for the mental well-being of a partner as well as their physical well-being.I agree that a top needs to take some reponsibility for their partner's mental well-being but I also think that in the end we are all human and not perfect.

In some cases I think the only solution is for someone to step up and say "stop" and that that needs to be done before the point that the person with low self-esteem is pushed to the point of almost destroyed before they can do it. This is especially true in situations like mine where I was actually asking for progressively "worse" things while continuing to remove myself emotionally from him, a fact he was either unwilling or unable to see. I think that humans are too easily misled, especially in situations where we are fulfilling a desire, to be objective enough to always realise the signs that we should stop and that that is when it begins to become dangerous.

It's a tricky balance I think between creating the environment that someone can grow in and one which makes it worse and it depends highly on the person. I maintain though that it is better to figure out non-physical ways to support the growth of self-esteem

Jennifer said...

Tell me why you think Roaring isn't about transgression. Maybe I wasn't clear?::feels a bit foolish::

no, sorry, I can see in one sense it's all implicitly about transgression.

Reading the bit "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", for some reason I imagined a post much more centrally "about" those things - especially transgression as sexy in itself. (which b.t.w. I think is an interesting subject, so the mythical other post was something I was thinking I'd like to read :-) )

whereas Roaring had been parsed in my mind as a different angle, centring on the "OK then, where's my gold star from the patriarchy?". The point I got from it was "If you think we're about naively/passively complying with what the patriarchy wants, think again, people, and here is exactly how ridiculous that is".

::thinks::

This is getting very subjective I know, but I think it's something to do with the metaphorical sense of movement - for me, refusal to conform is like "You can't get me where you want me to be", "Not playing", "Can't make me", whereas transgression is "I cross the line". One is metaphorical movement and one is metaphorical immovability. And the Roaring post had landed for me more in the "refusal to conform" category. What I heard in it was about refusing to play the prescribed game, and in my reading of it, it didn't really centre on the enlivening and sometimes beautiful moment of choosing to cross the line, that I think of in connection with the word "transgression". (but maybe that's just me - I seem to have "transgression" as a kind of "reserved word" for only quite a specific category of events :-) )

and yes I can see now, in retrospect, something similar to that was there in the "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?" - but (a) I hadn't read that as central to the post, more as one of a series of challenges, and also (b) in context it seemed less about crossing a line and more about something more aggressive/destructive, a kind of "Fuck you all" in retaliation to the people & memes which would have liked to squash you.

I.e. I agree it's perfectly valid to call that transgression, it's just not a word that would have occurred to me in that context.

So maybe that mental modelling is partly why I didn't match them up. But also I was just confused from the start by the ref to no comments (and looking back I still am - there are two comments on Roaring from 16 and 17 April, and this post is dated the 19th)

so, anyway, no, I don't necessarily think the Roaring post was unclear in itself. Depending on what you wanted to put centre stage in it. Maybe if anything was unclear, it was just the allusion to it here (esp the no-comments bit). But clearly a lot of it was down to my relationship with the word/concept "transgression".

I shall ponder this some more now :-)

Maitresse Hecate said...

Hi, it's wonderful to read other people's wrestling with ideas about BDSM and feminism. We may be kinky but at least we're discussing our bent stuff consciously rather than splattering it allover others in unconscious projection. Mostly. Sometimes? ;)

Beste said...

If you want to know where Bell Hooks quote came from

http://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/402/transcript_402.pdf

It's the part where she taliking about the movie "Kids"

I also don't see how the "Roaring" post is about transgression

Beste said...

Sorry, I was meant to post this link

http://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/402/transcript_402.pdf

Beste said...

I don't know why it keeps trimming the end of URL


Hope this works

Trinity said...

Define transgression for me then, Beste. It's rather obvious to me that I'm talking about defying the norm and clearly saying that doing so isn't toothless fake rebellion, which is the line anti-BDSM feminists so desperately cling to.

Beste said...

Trinity,

Your average serial killer is could be considered as resisting the norm. But nobody argues that they're uprooting the system.

Are you really defying what is normal for you? Could a femsub say the same thing?

I've seen many feminists argue that BSDM (femdom or otherwise) is an extension of our hierarchal ideals about the dymanics of dominance and submission. so they're arguing that it is merely extension of what is considered a normal patriarchy.

To me, transgression is about resisting what is normal for youself.

Trinity said...

I'm not sure what "resisting what is normal for yourself" would even mean, Beste.

Nor do I think doing so would be any kind of good idea. Not being yourself is the root of a heck of a lot of personal despair and unhappiness. I don't think people who refuse to be themselves -- even if they do it for noble reasons -- are in any kind of good personal shape to lead political movements.

It's a "get your own house in order before you try to order the world" thing, for me.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

"Resisting what is normal for yourself" sounds to me like "Suffering and martyrdom is virtuous; you will know what your merit is by what you will sacrifice."

I am not inclined to sacrifice myself on the altar of someone else's feminism.

I am also highly transgressive in a lot of ways, and not terribly so in others.

Jennifer said...

Beste wrote:
To me, transgression is about resisting what is normal for youself.Just for the record, in case it wasn't clear from what I wrote already, that is nothing like my sense of it.

Ernest Greene said...

They're still bashing us over there with retread bullshit from Nine Deuce's site and nobody else seems to be calling them out on it.

I'm starting to feel like a troll for challenging every lie and distortion I read on Harmony's little hate log, but Facebook is seen by millions and I think it's important for us to rebut being trashed in such a high-profile venue.

I hope some others here will have a look at the latest affronts and weigh in with some solid counter arguments and positive examples.

Harmony continues to throw down the glove in front of us and I think we need to pick it up. There are readers out there who are conflicted about their BDSM sexuality and they require our support in the face of the ugly misrepresentation of who we are and what we're about that this group promulgates.

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