Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Interesting conversation....

There's a guy over at Nine Deuce's comment thread here who's making some pretty damned rather creepy comments about BDSM affecting how he relates to his partners. I was wondering what you all think of him or would say to him. Some samples of his comments:
Most, if not all, of the girls I have had sex with enjoy being dominated in one way or another. Not necessarily like extreme sado masochist, but many wanted to be choked/slapped/spanked/called degrading names and such. I wasn’t into this stuff at first (for a long time I felt weird about receiving oral sex because the act was not reciprocal), but now it seems to me that girls can’t enjoy sex unless they are acting out a power fantasy. What to do about this?

How do I deal with the fact that they often want to be degraded or dominated sexually but at other times treated with respect and regarded as an equal? Sometimes immediately after she will feel ashamed or angry. It can be kind of confusing. Should I separate the two worlds and somehow just not think about it?

Yeah, I realize that, in some ways, a person’s sexual fantasies don’t make them good or bad, worthy or unworthy. On the other hand, sex is a part of the whole human being, and it must say something about the person as a whole. In day to day life, I find it difficult to respect a person who is submissive or sycophantic. On the other hand, that’s just one side of the coin. I am also bothered by the fact that I take pleasure in having power and violence.

Yeah I am making a generalization based on personal experience. I am sure there are many women who have different tastes and desires. It just has been so predominant in my experience that I’ve started to wonder where it comes from and how to deal with it in a real relationship. A female friend of mine told me she wanted to break up with her boyfriend because he didn’t “throw her around enough”. It’s hard for me to understand a girl wanting to be “objectified” (or whatever you want to call it) and then treated as an equal.

I am only speaking from personal experience. I have had only a handful of sexual partners (5). Each woman was very different from the others, but when it comes to sex they all encouraged a very strong power dynamic. I have been wondering about where this power stuff comes from. For me, sex was primarily a sensual experience and not really about power. But after having a few girlfriends I am finding that many women want to act out fantasies of rape and submission, even women who seem very strong and independent.
(please pardon me for not linking every comment.)

I'm not sure what to think. Several of these comments just... strike me as Creepy Nice Guy. Calling those he's had sex with "girls" and talking about how every woman wants something different from what he wanted, and admitting his difficulties with respecting people all raise red flags for me.

Thing is, it doesn't seem at all obvious to me that someone who can't spank someone without seeing her as a "sycophant" would lack problems relating to women if only he were vanilla. Even his description of the "sensual experience" in the last bit I quoted seems like it's all about him and what he wanted sex to be like, rather than about enjoying the sensuality together.

I actually agreed with several people over at ND's in recommending he avoid BDSM if it exascerbates a problem he already has with respecting his partner in daily life.

But I do wonder how you all feel about this. Here, finally, after the years of our saying "prove it" is an individual who appears to be admitting that BDSM makes him less likely to respect his partners. What do we think about it?

As I said, my personal feeling is that he's probably got an issue doing so anyway, even without the spanking. But I do wonder: BDSM is intense, and it definitely can be dark and play with things that aren't so sweet or fair.

I've always said doing BDSM is like using a knife or starting a fire. Most of us do these things fairly often in our lives and it's not even particularly remarkable. And, sometimes, they are the best or even the only tools available to do something we want or need to do, despite their having the potential to cut or burn us. Still, they are, by their very nature, potentially dangerous if misused.

Thoughts?

27 comments:

Myca said...

This dude has internalized the idea that what you want in bed must be the same thing as what you want in life, or at the very least must indicate something about what you want in life or what kind of a person you are.

I mean, saying, "I am finding that many women want to act out fantasies of rape and submission, even women who seem very strong and independent," isn't precisely wrong, it's just that it seems surprised in a way which indicates some prejudices on the part of the person saying it. I mean, it's like saying, "I am finding that many women want to enjoy intellectual things, even women with blond hair and large breasts!"

Like ... dude ... there's no connection, and the part where you think there is or ought to be one kind of freaks me out.

---Myca

Trinity said...

"I mean, it's like saying, "I am finding that many women want to enjoy intellectual things, even women with blond hair and large breasts!""

Well said.

violacious said...

I agree. I think those same prejudices are also what's preventing him from being honest about what he is getting off on in the present tense, rather than what he perceives many women to want from him (which positions him as some kind of passive sexual agent, free of internal desires or external responsibilities). He is so reluctant to actively engage in kink, he wonders "Should I separate the two worlds and somehow just not think about it?"

The closest he comes to an honest admission is "I am also bothered by the fact that I take pleasure in having power and violence," which suggests a process of moving away from his past orientation: "For me, sex was primarily a sensual experience and not really about power."

My sense is that he's on the cusp of coming out as kinky, but he's so ignorant about what that means, he feels the need to project his sexual about-face onto his past five sex partners.

Unfortunately for him and, well, everyone, he's chosen to do this over at Nine Deuce's...

Steven said...

Maybe, for some reason internal to himself, the only women he is attracted to end up being sexually submissive.

Or maybe he talks them into it and has convinced himself that it is their idea in the first place.

Or maybe he just has a problem respecting women and has found a reason to justify his lack of respect.

Here, finally, after the years of our saying "prove it" is an individual who appears to be admitting that BDSM makes him less likely to respect his partners. What do we think about it?

I think that it takes a certain level of intellectual and emotional sophistication/maturity to separate your view of yourself or someone else when it comes to sex and everything else.

I think that seperatation is pretty basic for a lot of people, but I think some sexually submissive people don't explore their desires because they cannot, in their heads, separate themselves as a sexual (private) being and a public being, with full equality in the public sphere.

This dude does not seem to be able to separate it as well.

Trinity said...

"My sense is that he's on the cusp of coming out as kinky, but he's so ignorant about what that means, he feels the need to project his sexual about-face onto his past five sex partners."

Maybe. I remember worrying that my desires meant there was something terrible about me, too. But the thing is... there's something about this whole exchange that strikes me funny, too. It doesn't seem to me that he's just conflicted about his new, scary fantasies.

He seems to be desperate for his kinkiness to be something people told him to do. It has to be "how women work." He doesn't want to take responsibility for his own feelings.

And honestly, someone saying "Yeah, I have these dark thoughts and I've chosen to do all of this with them, and here's why" scares me a lot less than "Tell me all women like this mean stuff, so I can tell myself I had no choice but to be mean" does.

violacious said...

His selection of the Nine Deuce context seems important, too, to the creep factor--

Not just "Tell me all women like this mean stuff, so I can tell myself I had no choice but to be mean"

but, given the context of the question:

"Tell me women who like this mean stuff are unevolved and pathological, so I need have no qualms."

Lissy said...

Here, finally, after the years of our saying "prove it" is an individual who appears to be admitting that BDSM makes him less likely to respect his partners. What do we think about it?

I have to wonder if the lack of respect for his partners is really about lack of respect for himself, "oh Noes! I can't be one of those perverted people who get up in the leather. They're weird and wrong... I'm not like them! It's not me it's my girlfriends."

So I agree with violacious, I get the sense this guy's currently suffering from Cleopatra Complex, ie "is being a Queen of Denial" (diagnosis from my alternative version of the DSM) and it is unfortunate that he's using 9-2's to try and shore up his sense of self as a 'non-kinky nice guy'...

I see potential for him to end up being a repressed kink-hater or one of the "twue Dom" types... I don't know which one is worse...

Orlando C. said...

It's also possible that this is a guy who isn't so much attracted to submissive women, but whom submissive women and/or women with low self-esteem are attracted to. I think that happens a lot (just as there are straight men who the gay guys keep falling for, etc.)

But mostly what I'm hearing here is that he's trying to make his sexual behavior not about him. Cause it's either uncomfortable to him or he's defensive about it or both.

Marie said...

Hi everybody! I have been reading for a while and want to join the conversation.

Something about the dude's comment struck a painful chord with me, and it took me a bit of thinking to realize what resonated: this sounds an awful lot like what happened during my first - very misguided - forays into BDSM.

Lacking the knowledge, skills, and confidence I have now made it very dangerous territory indeed. I was not nearly as mindful as I should have been of which things I wanted to pursue and which didn't yet sit right with me. And mine/my partner's lack of confidence and experience made effective communication near-impossible.

What followed is eerily similar to what this creepy nice guy is describing: shame/anger for me, confusion/creepy conclusions for my partner.

So yes, it does take a bit of maturity to figure out the dividing line between sex and life. But, honestly, it's something you need to be able to do as an adult.

This is definitely one of the more dangerous anti-BDSM testimonies - a person that has SOME sort of experience with it that grants him some amount of credibility, but is lacking context. This reminds me a lot of mainstream porn that uses BDSM imagery without following the rules of BDSM: the effects can be very negative if no context is provided.

V said...

Here, finally, after the years of our saying "prove it" is an individual who appears to be admitting that BDSM makes him less likely to respect his partners. What do we think about it?

The reaction I had reading this was the opposite of everyone else's (and mirrors the problem I had with Nine Deuce's research methods, which I may still leave a comment on her blog about). It sounds to me like this dude is not inherently kinky, like he really is just doing it to please his partners. But because he's kind of a creepy guy, and is just humoring them without understanding them, and because the appeal of BDSM is kinda mysterious to him since he doesn't feel it, he's coming up with all sorts of weird, creepy explanation for why his partners would be into it. It seems to me he'd be a lot more likely to be able to understand what's actually going on for them, and less likely to draw totally weird conclusions about it and respect his partners less, if he were actually kinky himself and understood the give and take that's supposed to involve.

Rachel said...

For me, reading that diatribe made me wish I had a sound-effects box so I could play the "you're a lying sack of crap" song. I don't think this guy is kinky. I don't think he's ever dated submissive women, but I do think that he's got too much time on his hands. Enough to, say, make up a scenario where he might feel superior to a woman who is kinky. I'm not sure to what ends, but my guess is he's just trying to impress the people on ND's blog so that they think he's superior too.

Breeder Biter said...

I absolutely agree with Rachel. This dude sounds like a bitter, woman-hating virgin with serious issues about his own fantasies that he projects - pruriently and hatefully - on to the women he at once desires and despises. Kink is both a scapegoat and a red herring for general misogyny here. The internet is full of these arse wipes, all of them noxious, most of them probably not acting on any of it in the world.

Trinity said...

"I don't think this guy is kinky. I don't think he's ever dated submissive women, but I do think that he's got too much time on his hands."

Heh. I do think he's lying about at least some of it, too. I doubt every woman he's ever dated (however many he has) has fallen all over him going "spank me, you big hunk o' dominance" at random.

That somebody may have, somewhere down the line, expressed an interest in such fantasies and blown his Nice Guy circuitry, I can imagine may actually be the case, though.

Then again, he could just be a troll out for a chuckle. I'm just not sure we should write it off simply because, well, one of our opponents' favorite tactics is that whole "they act as though they're all not creepy because they refuse to accept that some creeps do kink" thing.

So I think "if this is real, how should we respond?" may still be a valid question.

Trinity said...

"It's also possible that this is a guy who isn't so much attracted to submissive women, but whom submissive women and/or women with low self-esteem are attracted to. I think that happens a lot (just as there are straight men who the gay guys keep falling for, etc.)"

Y'know, I don't think so. The aura he projects is very wishy-washy, and I don't think that would pull a submissive woman in.

I mean, I've certainly met people who have been very meek-seeming in general but have the whole "I'm different in bed" thing going, so I'm not going to say it's impossible. But, well, for those people I'd imagine what leads to D/s is *not* "You have presence, Sir, I want to submit to you" but negotiation, knowing one another well, etc.

I'd imagine that the kind of person people would throw themselves at because of magnetism of some sort (whether he really fits their idea of a good partner or not in the end) would be different from, say, a partner they bring up kink with in embarrassment because they want it.

Then again, I can imagine someone who's really brazen and does buy into weird gender stuff going "Stop whining and smack me around, you spineless not-man!"

I just can't imagine this occurring five times in a row. He's either a troll or exaggerating or projecting. Or all three.

Renegade Evolution said...

I think he should spend a weekend with me :)

I might break him though. I mean, I seriously wonder what he would do with himself if the woman was "rough" back?

This is the sort of thing that blows my mind. Yes, I tend to often be and prefer to be more "submissive" in bed and prefer for the dude to be aggressive/dominant...but any meatsack who thinks I will let that play over into other aspects of life is in for a shocking surprise.

And you know, I sure as heck know a lot of women who feel the same way.

Bean said...

Yes of course. Most men have. I think rape, and violence in general, is on most of our minds. It is easy to forget another’s humanity. I’m not sure this even needs justification…it’s simply the nature of the beast.

*shudder* This guy seriously gives me the heebie-jeebies. Like, it's one thing to have dark and violent fantasies, sure. But something about the breezy way he says, "Oh, all men think about raping women! It's really easy to forget that they're people, you know," is really, really creepy.

I also think he's lying or exaggerating in order to try and impress Deuce and her friends. It's all over the strained attempt at sounding clever.

If he had posted this somewhere else - like in a kink-friendly online space - I might give him the benefit of the doubt that he was genuinely conflicted/confused. (Although if he'd posted the same thing in a space like that, I might wonder if it was trolling or veiled criticism...nothing about his comments sound honest.)

But I imagine that he chose Deuce's blog because he wants to puff up his ego by getting one of them to acknowledge his brilliant insights into the human condition. Problem is they aren't brilliant, so it's not working.

I'd tell him he's a creeper, but I doubt Deuce will publish my comment. I don't think she's published anything I've said since I slammed her "feminist unity" post in my blog, so I think she's blacklisted me.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Super-creepy guy.

I don't know where he gets his ideas from but I think he sounds like a weird version of "if they didn't want to be slapped they wouldn't talk back" combined with cheesy romance-novel versions of romantic interactions.

The line about "Sometimes immediately after she will feel ashamed or angry." is really really bugging me out, because to me it sounds like this guy is assaulting women because he thinks they want it, not because they've expressed any interest in it. Certainly there doesn't seem to be any engagement with them on a human or negotiation level.

He also seems to have serious issues with boundaries, of the order of "she must have wanted sex, your Honour, she was wearing a short skirt!" type.

I can answer his question for him (and for all the people at ND's, and all the radfems and so on) though:

How do I deal with the fact that they often want to be degraded or dominated sexually but at other times treated with respect and regarded as an equal?

That's easy - actions and beliefs are separate things and motives are important; so respect people and regard them as equals at all times, then negotiate those times when they desire certain types of actions. Respect is constant, even when degradation is taking place - that way, degradation stops, "regradation" happens and respect remains afterwards!

And the motive of giving pleasure makes all the difference to the ability to do that.

Simple, really, if you actually view women with respect in the first place. This arsehole clearly doesn't.

Gaina said...

I think people like what they like and if - after a period of experimentation - person decides that they are really not into something then they really need to break up and find someone with whom they are more compatible.

If you are not prepared to be honest and say when something isn't working in the most intimate area of your relationships then you're both going to be miserable and resentful eventually. I think that even applies when both parties are vanilla, not just when kink is a factor.

Renegade Evolution said...

You know (and I guess I am in the minority here)...but I do not find him that creepy. Confused, yeah...creepy? Nah, not so much. Then again, I am creepy, so what the hell do I know, eh?

He has some seriously fucked up ideas about life and sex and all, but I'm not the type to doom someone to hell for that. He'll learn, or he won't, you know?

clarissethorn said...

I have a really good friend who is kind of like this guy, actually, except that he's had many more sexual partners (his number is more like 20+). He has said similar things -- along the lines of, "It seems like every single girl I've ever slept with enjoys some amount of pain, and I don't know what that means." He's not the one who originally brought the sadism into the bedroom, but I think it's entirely possible that after enough experiences of having someone ask for it, he just made it part of his "usual repertoire".

I also don't think I ever heard him say anything quite as bad as, It’s hard for me to understand a girl wanting to be “objectified” (or whatever you want to call it) and then treated as an equal. But my friend has also come out with comments during our many, many gender/sex discussions like "Knowing whether a person is a man or a woman tells me a huge amount about that person," which make me really uncomfortable. So maybe he'd come off a lot like this dude if he were posting online.

I totally agree with Myca's point -- it's like saying, "I am finding that many women want to enjoy intellectual things, even women with blond hair and large breasts!" -- and I think it's an excellent tactic for revealing the stereotype at hand. But I also suspect that this stereotype is common, and I'm not sure how productive it is to broadly condemn the people who carry it. More interested (as always) in tactics that will highlight and destroy the stereotype.

As a last note, I don't know if it's reasonable to condemn him for posting at 9-2 ... I mean granted, I don't know anything about the situation, but it seems entirely possible that it's simply the first (or most familiar) place he's seen where he can discuss this stuff.

Oh, wait, no, here's the real last note. I remember once an ex of mine -- not nearly as kinky as me -- came to me after we'd broken up. He told me that he'd gotten rough with a subsequent girlfriend and she'd flipped out at him. He said it with the attitude of a confession -- he was afraid I'd be angry because he hadn't used sufficient care in getting her consent; I think he also wasn't sure who else to talk to about the issue, which is why he brought it up at all. But interestingly, my reaction at the time wasn't anger so much as guilt. I found myself beset by internalized stigma in the form of, "Well shit, my awful kinky fantasies have now warped this perfectly decent guy into thinking it's okay to be kinky with women who aren't nearly as fucked up as me!" In other words, I was afraid that my (careful, consensual) practice of kink with him had "turned him into an abuser". Since then, I've concluded that this reaction was a product of my cultural context and fear of my own SM side; but it messed me up for a while there.

sera said...

I agree with what violet and Lissy said--that this guy is kinky but not comfortable with himself. Heck, I've written and thought things VERY like this about male sadists (as opposed to female submissives)--just as gendered, just as negative, just as stereotyped, and ultimately just as self-hating. I have huge trouble with sadism, at the same time I struggle with my own masochistic desires. And it is hard for ME to reconcile love and sadism, and not to link sadism to patriarchy.

So I want to know why it's creepy and horrific if this guy says that he's troubled by the gender implications of what he perceives as a demand by women for submission, but not creepy if I'm troubled by the gender implications of men wanting to hurt me. Or are they both creepy???

Trinity said...

Sera,

I can only speak for myself, but I am, yeah, a little tweaked by people who are bothered by tops but who like us, and yet seem to not be bothered by people like themselves. I mean, I certainly don't think people have to pretend they're not tweaked by something if they are, but I do get tired of people who are purportedly *on my side* deciding I'm creepy.

And, again, personally, for me, it really doesn't soothe me to hear "But you're female, Trinity. YOU don't bother me." What that says to me is thar there's something inherently bothering about what I enjoy (consensually and responsibly thank you very much) but that my femaleness is somehow a pass or ticket that excuses me from fear or scorn.

I'd rather be feared or scorned -- treated as if I actually do have the power in the world and in personal interactions to be a threat -- than deemed a mini-threat. Though of course I do not think I should be deemed either.

Orlando C. said...

Oooo, thanks Sera. I remember as I kid becoming comfortable with my own masochism/submissiveness, but definitely feeling like any sadistic/dominant people out there were sure to be fucked up. It was a very hypocritcal stance, and I think the hypocrisy masked a lot of fear and confusion...and maybe justified being alone?

What bothers me (a little bit) about the writing in the OP is that he makes so many generalizations while trying to subtract himself from the equation....and no one's experience of humanity is a random sample.

sera said...

Orlando--thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in my hypocrisy! I agree with you (and others) that the yucky thing about the guy is that he doesn't stop at talking about his own experience but generalizes to all "girls".

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