Sunday, 31 May 2009

Pervertables.

Hello! Bet you've forgotten I was even a co-host here, right? Long time no etc etc.

Afraid I don't have anything too profound right now, more practical: lifestyles of the cheap and kinky: Discuss.

That is:

After a long dry spell, am easing back into actually y'know -doing- stuff. Unfortunately my cupboard's been rather bare apart from two floggers. And the specialty stores are, well? Expensive.

So the other day I went to the friendly local hardware/miscellaneous dry goods store, and picked up:

a couple of wooden spatulas, one with slats, one without;

a long wooden brush meant for cleaning out barbecues or something;

bag of wooden clothespins;

ostrich "quill" plume.

Total cost: About as much as one small "novelty" item would've been at Good Vibes or one of the local boys' toys shops. They should work fine, too. Great thing about SF: discreet "testing" of such items against ones thigh in a non-speciality shop doesn't raise an eyebrow. In fact there was a gentleman in the aisle who was getting assistance from one of the employees fitting a chain around his neck.

Am now wondering: what else? Anyone have any ideas? Common or not so common householdy items one can use for nefarious purposes? Seriously, that store's a treasure trove if you know what you're looking for.

Friday, 29 May 2009

And one more comment...

...on one of the bits at Feministing, here:
becstar replied to Lumix :

Actually I have just returned from doing a lot of research about BDSM. I didn't begin being this anti-BDSM. I researched it and talked in depth with the people involved in it. Then the longer I stayed there the more creepy their conversations got.

Women who were clearly in an abusive relationship (even outside of violence during sex) were told to accept that that is their proper position and that to be a true submissive they must learn to accept it. Other who didn't practice violence but rather subjagation were in relationships because they didn't feel like they were enough on their own.

They advocated for violence and refused to ever truly question how it is effecting them or why they desire such things. I have done my research alright, and it is precisely because of the abuse I saw within the community that I became so staunchly opposed. Perhaps you need to dig a little deeper than the happy face they put on for those outside of the BDSM community.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I've asked it before and never gotten an answer, so here I am asking it again: where does one do this "deeper digging?"

Because I repeatedly see "You're just talking about the public face of it!" and "Stop being disingenuous!" when I try to figure out where this sordid truth comes in. I'm an eight-year veteran of the Scene in multiple locations. I've had multiple long-term relationships with other kinky people. And I am at a loss to find this rotten heart under all our... glitter? Black leather? I've no idea.

I have met some kinky people who were more interested in casual play than relationships and weren't entirely open about this, and I've been hurt by that and seen it hurt other people. So I won't say that sexuality-based subcultures don't have potential downsides. They certainly do.

But I absolutely don't see where this... shadowy cabal comes in. Maybe I'm just not 31337 enough to have met the Kinkster Illuminati, but I highly doubt that.

It's interesting to me how people who make this sort of claim always say "Look deeper," or "do your research," or "we all know it's there," but never give any names, any locales, any groups. I wonder why that could be...

Fnord.

Feministing

As Kiya just posted here, there's a discussion of BDSM going on over at Feministing here.

Initially, I didn't want to comment, but the more I read of the comment threads, the more I feel I have to say something to Becstar. She participated in a comment thread here, in which she claimed not to be anti-BDSM "anymore." After a conversation with many of us, she's apparently changed her mind. Apparently she was so bothered by many of us not concurring with her stance on porn that she left, here.

I missed her inflammatory flounce somehow. If I had seen it, I would have said this then. But I didn't, so I'm saying it now that she's spewing anti-BDSM nastiness all over that Feministing blog post, including talking about how awful we are.

So I have this to say:

Becstar,

Your views are your own, of course. But many of us here bent over backwards to be kind and helpful to you. Hell, in the Facebook thread I defended you against a good friend, thinking that while you held some views I found repugnant, you were here in good faith. When you spoke of problems you had, many of us jumped to try and help you, to offer you support and possible solutions.

Is this how you repay us?

I hope you think long and hard about how you are behaving, because I find it profoundly dishonorable.

It's things like this, really, that convince me that the pro-BDSM position is not just one I hold because I want to have my selfish fun. I have seen people get heated on both sides, even mean and nasty. But I have never seen this "well, I'll kind of be here, hang out, stay relatively peaceful, and then completely go off and badmouth people who stood up for me and tried to help me" in pro-BDSM and pro-porn circles.

And the more I think about it the more I suspect that the zealotry on the anti-side is to blame. Because if you are a zealot, any time someone says "Hey, do you have figures to back your claim up?" or "actually, I'm in a TPE relationship, and..." or "Hey, I'm a sex worker, and you've left out this, this and this..." it becomes a horrible, horrible affront. Merely saying "Hey, wait, actually no" is, on the zealot's view, justifying real-world violence.

There is no room for considering any other viewpoint, because the connection to violence is instantly made and is unassailable. And anyone who would assail it is a monster, a lover of horrific cruelties.

I stand where I stand not because I like orgasms too much, but because I believe that way of thinking is downright dangerous. And, as this current fracas clearly shows, that way of thinking justifies totally dishonorable behavior, because anything that can be done in service to the Cause must be done, and damn whether it's dishonorable or obnoxious.

I stand where I do because I'd rather make an honest mistake and accidentally allow for horrors than go against my principles.

The Revenge of Return of Second Cousin Of Rape Culture Strikes Back

In comments to the previous post, ggg_girl linked us this post on Feministing, where I made the mistake of reading the comment threads.

This has had sufficient useful results to produce one sane and reasonable post, which is going here; the ranty thing will be in LfG:WoaS when I have time to write it, but for now I'm writing while the cookies cool enough to be packed up.

I have had a radical revelation about "rape culture".

The primary contributor to "rape culture" is the idea that people -- particularly women -- are not competent definers of their own sexuality. That they 'really want it' even when they don't, or that they only need to be instructed to become fully sexual in the manner their instructor desires, or that their decisions about sexuality in one set of circumstances mandate that they make the same decision in different circumstances.

See the blatant rape apologist in the comments here suggesting that a woman's participation in a threesome means that any random guy can come join in. (h/t Cheshire) Rape culture.

See any number of discussions about whether "date rape" is really rape, about whether "she was wearing that outfit" is really consent, about whether someone is to blame for their assault because they didn't jump out of a car in a strange neighborhood, etc. Rape culture.

"The porn made him do it", "Men are all just naturally rapists", and similar matters -- also rape culture, and rape apologism, removing responsibility for the choice to rape from the perpetrators.

"It only shows how far the patriarchy has gone in making women internalise self-hatred simply for being born in a certain body" -- a quote from becstar in that thread -- ... also rape culture. Definitionally declaring kinky women not competent to defind their sexuality.

Discuss.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Ren, on examining...

...And how could I leave out this recent gem, from our favorite loudmouthed gonzo creep, Ren:
Right then! So, I am taking a break from my mad rush to get old D there to level 50, do some poking around and reading of shit I’d missed here in bloganistan, and I head on over to one of my favorite kink-friendly haunts…

And start reading all this shit from some self righteous holier than thou facebook asshats who think BDSM is the great evil of the universe and wow, they are just so much smarter and enlightened and self aware than those dregs in black leather!

First off, I am the great fucking evil of the universe, and I will not share the honor with BDSM’ers. I don’t even I.D. as a full on BDSMer, despite having been called a creepy sadist a whole lot. Okay, so maybe I am a creepy sadist…but hey! I’ve examined that! In any event, what continues to make me smirk and want to punch people is this whole idea that the BDSMers or people into that horrible nasty degrading language or rough sex or whatever are, well, somehow more flawed that those who aren’t? I mean check it, this is choice!

(responding to Ernest)

When she requested that I be the acting administrator for this group during her absence from the country, I asked her if she would mind me deleting the trolls from the group. She told me something along the lines of “do what you want, I don’t give a shit.” So I am going to go ahead and delete you and the other trolls from this group. I am also going to delete all your posts. And I’m going to enjoy it very much.

Blah blah blah…

Know your place. –some asshat called Blaize…

Okay, now, really, right off…and as a creepy sadist I know it when I see it: “And I am going to enjoy it very much”, “Know your place”…what the fuck does that sound like to you? Holy shit, sounds like a creepy fucking sadist to me! I mean, come on, that is straight out of bad BDSM porn right there…just switch it up a bit… “I am going to fuck you up the ass, and I’m going to enjoy it very much”… “I am going to erase you, and enjoy it very much”, “I am going to mock you, and enjoy it very much”….”Know your place –(bitch, slut, whore, pathetic whelp, boot-licking plebian!) So yeah, anti BDSM Master Blaize practicing some fine creepy sadist shit right there. I mean, (s)he seems so fucking gleeful with hir position of power, malevolent too. That shit is kinda hot!

Hey Blaize, you wanna go on a date? I’m easy…and I promise to use lube on ya first. You kinda turned me on there, squid.

But hot creepy sadism aside…these fucks are a good example of why I don’t like humans. Buckets full of smug superiority, and yep, the whole idea that since there is BDSM porn, all porn is BDSM, and all BDSM is porn, and all people involved in BDSM (and all people involved in porn) must be pathetic little dupe victims with more trauma in their pasts than an entire ward of criminally insane serial killers…or criminally insane serial killers. And gods, that shit is just soooo old and stinky. Like my socks after 3 hours at the gym stinky. Until someone can provide actual vetted proof that there are more fucked up kinky people than non-kinky people, this shit needs to be shoved right back up the asses it came out of. And gads, need I mention the fucking universals?

Oh yeah, and the image they are using for their group? A nice non 2257 compliant shot from Kink.com, of a woman whose consent they never obtained before using it, and gee, have no idea how she might feel about having her image used for an anti BDSM agenda! Holy fuck, where have I seen this before? Oh yeah, out of a shit ton of meatsacks who care about women, their feelings, and do not want them to be used and exploited! Well, fuck me with a tire iron, that’s sure a great way of showing it, no?

And I do have to ask, nay, even beg (come on, give it to me, I need it!) for an answer from the oh so wise and superior and not fucked up people spouting this crap…why the grim and obsessive interest in what kinky people do in their bedrooms? I mean, if I, oh, happened to seriously rough someone up and cane their ass bloody (not that I would ever do such thing –smirk) what business is it of yours really? I mean, if said person not only consented, but did so enthusiastically, and I dealt with such person in an ethical manner (I am capable of such things on occasion), and we weren’t hurting anyone else and had a grand old time…why the fuck do you care? What business is it of yours, exactly? I mean…last time I checked, none of the kinky people I know of were standing on your doorstep demanding you put on the cuffs or flog them. Even the dudes on Craigslist or whatever are not, oh, making any of you do BDSM, right? The letters SSC do exist for a reason you know…

I mean, it just seems…creepy to me…and since I am the creepiest chick on the block and all, I have to wonder, because you know? I could care less what y’all do in your bedrooms. They are your bedrooms for a reason after all. But hell if these folks don’t seem to…well…get off going through kinky peoples metaphorical panty drawers…

Fucking pervs.

Now come on Blaize, I’ll certainly disrespect you in the morning!
I feel pretty much the same as Ren on this (aside from feeling very done with the Facebookians. I reported on them and now my duty's done, and they can come up with as many lengthy talking points as they want, really, because right now my prevailing sentiment is Really Can't Be Arsed.) I think everybody, no matter how politically pure, or sweet, they want to pretend to be, has a mean streak. We all have moments of enjoying being mean to other people, particularly if we've pre-defined those people as less than human. (Which is what this person is doing with Ernest. He's a pornographer, therefore he's Satan, therefore it's not actual cruelty to mock him, deride him, deny him a voice, and enjoy it very much.)

Now, I don't like that, in part because Satan happens to be my friend and I'm tired as hell of "you do this job, ergo you hate these people" because it's bullshit. But in other part, I don't like it because doing it means being hypocritical and giving yourself a free pass to do so because you're feeling self-righteous. What they're saying is "because this person's occupation squicks -- okay let's be generous, maybe even triggers -- me, it's totally OK for me to be cruel."

That's dangerous, folks, in a way that "Yeah, I've peered into the abyss in me, gone dancing with my own demons, and seen a sadist there, sometimes. I've reveled in it and wallowed in it, and I refuse to call it what it is not because I know when I do and don't give it rein. I'm responsible enough to do my best to control it, and when I go off and behave viciously, as any human will, I understand that the responsibility to fix it is my own" is not.

Because guess what? If it's you, if it's a part of you, you own it. You don't get to say that the devil made you do it, whether because you were tempted by evil iniquitous lust or because your politics of the week makes it a perfectly laudable act to shit on somebody who gets shit on all the damn time anyway.

Even if that means doing something as distasteful to me as, you know, apologizing to Satan.

Threats

I posted this to my LJ, but hadn't posted it here, so:

From [info]tgstonebutch on LJ:
Mollena is teaching a class on race play this Tuesday night. And has received threats of violence regarding it. She is refusing to censor herself, and has gone public regarding the threats
I understand people really not liking this, but threatening a Black woman for doing race play, simply because you disagree that it's acceptable? What is wrong with people?

I think people just don't realize, when they get into their Lists Of Reasons Why People Can Engage In Generic Kink, but Not In Scary Kink X, just how inhospitable they make the environment for people who engage in Kink X. Suzy Essaywriter may be saying "And thus I impeccably argue that Whatever cannot be reclaimed as shown by the previous twenty pages of careful argumentation," but what happens down the line is "You're so appalling we will get violent."

And what's always really bothered me about this is the whole "Oh, but I only mean it if you're a member of the oppressor group." Not because I don't think that in some places, the standards are a little different. But because it becomes very stark for some people, "you're OK and you're not." And I don't think that's a wise way to be.

I don't like it when I see, for example, "women can fantasize about being ravished, but if their partners get off on playing the opposite role, they're evil." It just makes no sense.

Similarly, there's been a bit of "Oh, I'm OK with you women discussing whatever, but when a man says the same things it scares me" in discussions at places I often mention here, and I even see it (though fortunately rarely) from commenters here.

That's something I can't get on board with. It's just never made sense to me that an oppressed person can say something and maybe even be right, but the minute it comes out of someone else's mouth, it's suddenly Wrong-O-Wrong and even Scary and Threatening.

I'm probably peeing into the wind even saying it, because it's a favorite trope of all kinds of anti-"liberal", anti-"colorblind," etc. people. I get the concept of privilege and I do think it exists, but I think there's something going wrong somewhere when one person saying X can be brave and true and someone else saying the same thing is threatening and violent.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Guest Post #2: Stoicism by cereus_sphinx

This was a recent post on cereus_sphinx's livejournal. I asked for permission to crosspost it here, so here it is:

###

OK : Warning this is going to be a really rough draft. But I've been thinking about this for years and I'm finally getting to the point where I can sorta-write about it. I know - I come up with big Ideas, but it can take months/years to say them - it makes for sucky conversation. And the latest post on SM-F triggered this. Because I see one attitude in rape and the other in BDSM I guess.

One of the things that bugs me is the way stoicism gets put up on some pedestal and masochism gets dragged through the dirt.

Stoicism - going into a bad situation DESPITE the fact that you hate it for the benefit of others.

Masochism: going into a bad, dangerous, scary, difficult situation BECAUSE it's something you can enjoy or get something out of that might benefit other people.

It seems that the first one makes you a hero, the second one makes you a creep.

I can't afford to be stoic, it's like my mortal enemy. I see myself stuck in a bad situation that I don't want to be in, frozen because I should just be self sacrificing and put up with it. Going Numb. I see myself turning away from enjoyable things (that others might even appreciate me doing) because I might enjoy them and that would be sick.

Or dancing through flames, unharmed. A plant rooted in bare rock, my face turned towards the unmitigated sun, the monsoon deluge.

(Or in Dune, transforming the Water from poison into the stuff of visions ;) )

Numbness and pain, or joy.

My experience with SM and Hypersensitivity/Aspergers actually are mutually beneficial because they both show how to enjoy myself even if it means doing something different than other people find enjoyable. I can put a soft limit on sustained social interaction and noisy places (and cold :( ). I can fully enjoy 100+ temperatures. My body can perform miracles, It Comes First. No matter if what it wants is not what it's supposed to.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Guest Post: "BDSM: A Class Act?"

This guest post is by Mz. Muse (I gather this is the name she uses on Feministing, but I don't know how to find her profile to link it). It was originally posted to a locked post in her livejournal some time ago, and I offered to give it a wider audience here; after some edits and tweaks, here it is.


"BDSM: A Class Act?" by Mz. Muse


I read this article about BDSM and feminism linked off a friend's journal. I ranted about it a little in his journal, but it was still bothering me in the shower this morning (and not in the way I might like kinky feminists to bother me in the shower).

So it gets it's own ranty little post. In the above article, "The Fantasy of Acceptable Non-Consent", Stacey May Fowles puts forward the theory that BDSM culture shares culpability for creating what she calls "rape culture", a culture that normalizes violence against women. Her article is well worth reading, so don't see my recap of it as a short-cut to her own thoughts. I'm responding to just one section, in which she suggests that BDSM tropes leak into mainstream pornography. Without the benefit of careful training in the BDSM community's standards of safe, sane, consensual play, Fowles believes that young men who grow up seeing images of women bound, gagged or apparently forced into sex will enact these scenes on unwilling victims instead of enthusiastic play partners.

Fowles treads dangerously close to the anti-porn feminist position that pornography inspires rape. If that were true, logically such pornography should be banned, which leads us right down the primrose path of censorship to the lovely hell of condemning ourselves and others for thought crimes. There's also the risk of hanging our allies out to dry for being too dark and dirty, as happens so often in minority rights movements, especially sexual ones. For the most part, mainstream porn doesn't turn me on, but I still feel compelled to defend its right to exist and get others off.

Fowles talks about sexual domination of women as if BDSM invented it. For example, she refers to anything approaching rape fantasy as "desires specific to BDSM". I'd venture that the reverse is true - the desire for sexual power play prompted the creation of BDSM. Violent sex is hot. People of all genders have, I'd venture, been fantasizing about it and doing it for as long as there's been sex and power.

The Marquis de Sade, in the 1790s, eroticized rape, torture and even murder. It's from his writings that we draw our word for sexual cruelty. Masochism comes from Sacher-Masoch, who published Venus in Furs, his autobiographical account of making himself his mistress' slave in 1870.

My suspicion is that modern BDSM evolved as a way to play with fire and not get burned; it's a safety code and community that lets us do the dark things our ids beg for without exposing our polite, socialized selves to the pain of becoming either victims or brutal aggressors. Knowing about BDSM doesn't make me want to have kinky sex; being human and wired that way makes me want kinky sex. BDSM just gives me tools to do it safely.

Inside Fowles assertion that "serious BDSM practitioners" can and should be allowed to do the violent, dark things that the "average young male heterosexual" can't be trusted to even jerk off to fantasies about, I think I see a hidden class issue. It's not merely that Fowles’ BDSM culture is defined as much by expensive props and $400 leather boots as it is by the rules of safe-sane-consensual play. It's that she's missing the history of sexual aggression between classes when she asserts that we live in a modern, newly created rape culture.

Fowles is looking at BDSM tropes in the mainstream porn videos distributed on the Internet and seeing the cheap, easy access to these images as a source of "rape culture". She thinks these images suggest desires and acts to young men that otherwise they'd be blissfully ignorant of.

We have a solid literary record stretching back at least three hundred years of a culture where women were expected to maintain their virtue through chastity, young men were expected to engage in casual sex, and there was plenty of kinky porn. Probably those things have been true much longer; it’s my personal knowledge of literary history that goes back only that far, not the existence of kinky porn. If "women", by which we mean middle- and upper-class women, were all going to their marriage beds virgins, who were these guys fucking?

The servants. Prostitutes. Poor girls. These are the people de Sade was routinely accused of abusing and molesting before he was imprisoned. The people who over and over again in literature and historical record are raped, knocked up, “ruined” and cast aside by men of a higher social class who would never dream of laying an improper hand on their social peers.

I would suggest that the cultural shift which has occurred in the past few generations is not the creation of a "rape culture", but a culture in which respectable middle-class women are more likely to be targeted as victims of sexual assault by their peers, and therefore one in which rape has become more visible as a problem. I would bet that women are no more likely to be raped now than they were a century ago; in fact I bet we are on average safer from sexual assault. But the breakdown in rigid class systems and rigid sexual mores creates an atmosphere where "nice girls" are at greater risk from assault by otherwise “nice” boys.

I think the responsibility for this shift could be argued to lie with the Sexual Revolution and the accompanying wave of feminism that followed it. Around the middle of the 20th century, (I am wildly theorizing) two things happened: young middle class American men (the group I think Fowles is really talking about when she refers to "average males") stopped having access to socially sanctioned targets for sexual aggression - domestic servants have become wildly uncommon, visiting prostitutes is not part of the normal adolescent experience in the States, class barriers got a lot mushier after WWII, women's rights in general have come into public awareness to the point where raping anyone is frowned on - and young women began to claim their sexual agency and independence in a way that made them newly sexually available.

We now have a culture where young men are taught to view young women of their own class as sexual commodities, while a few generations ago they would have been brought up to view their female peers as the "angels in the house" whom they might love or marry and the lower class women in their lives as sex objects who they might fuck, with or without consent. A man growing up today learns to look to his girlfriend/wife to play out violent fantasies that he might once have satisfied with a prostitute or not at all.

This cultural shift gives us a lot of great things - sexual agency! safe, sane, consensual kink! birth control! - but with it we have all inherited some of the risk that used to belong more clearly to women on the fringes of respectable society. It's not BDSM, or its watered-down aesthetic leaking into mainstream porn, that contributes to a culture of rape.

The possibly increased risk that "nice" middle-class white women will be raped by "nice" middle-class white men is a shadowy by-product of the otherwise good work of liberal feminism and the sexual revolution in giving women more sexual agency and "leveling the playing field" as it were.

We now have a more fair, just system than in the past, where any woman can be seen to be sexually available to anyone walking down the street, instead of only certain classes, races and roles of women being seen that way. Which means that more women who otherwise might have expected to live in sexual safety are exposed to situations where they might be raped.

Similarly, men who previously could have used their power to demand sexual consent from a servant, slave or lower-class woman now have to negotiate for any sexual encounter, so more of them are exposed to charges of rape where before their behavior would have been written off as "sowing wild oats" or "boys being boys".

Also, I think more people now expect to get from their partners/spouses the kind of sexual services they would once have not dared ask for, and only expected a whore to be available for. Which again means more negotiation of the kind very few of us get good training in.

It's not that feminism is a problem per se. It's just that in solving one set of problems we've created some new ones, which we can in turn solve by doing a next layer of work on sexual consent and gender rights. I think that work is well under way. But pointing fingers outside of mainstream feminism to blame kink or porn for "rape culture" is not helping.

NOTE: I was painfully aware of the specter of race as I wrote this, but didn't feel like I had the background to do it justice without a lot more research than I was going to get done this afternoon between diaper changes.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Clean-Up Crew (Xpost)

Crossposted at Trin's request.

(Semi-set off by a thread of commentary at SM-F.)

A number of years ago I was working the local polyamory group's table on Pride Day. Just talking to people, being visible, that sort of thing. I bought a t-shirt (I think it was the one with 'Sharing is a family value' on the back), changed into it in the freedom of the clothing-semioptionality on the Common that day, and just chatted with people.

At one point I went for a walk through the crowds, possibly looking for a drink, as it was reasonably hot; possibly wanting to browse through the vendors. I wound up snagged for conversation by a woman who spotted the shirt and wanted to demand an explanation.

It's been long enough that I don't remember the details of her story precisely and have quite likely replaced them with archetype, but the truth of the matter is that this happens often enough for me to have an archetype to substitute for lost details.

She was a lesbian who had been, briefly, in a relationship with a married bisexual woman. She had been told that the woman's husband expected to be involved in their relationship as a matter of course, at least as a jacking-off observer, and, further, that if said husband was unhappy with the way their relationship was going, she would be dumped without a second thought. She found the interaction understandably disappointing and frustrating, and because she had been told that that was a perfectly normal way of conducting polyamory, widely accepted within the community, was more than a little pissy about the entire thing and, I rather suspect, wanted to know why the assholes were invading her Pride event.

About half the resulting conversation consisted of me assuring her that no, it didn't have to work that way. That everything they'd said about how that's what polyamory means was a lie, in fact, by the simple fact that plenty of people don't do that sort of thing. Much of the rest was talking about what I do, in matter of fact terms, peppered with more assurances: no, I don't expect everyone else to do it that way. No, I don't think that I'm a better person because of this. No, my way isn't What Polyamory Means either, it's just what I do. No, it doesn't bother me that she wants a monogamous relationship, I think that people should have the sorts of relationships that work for them.

I think, though I'm not sure, that we parted with her somewhat baffled by the weirdness of humanity, but at least familiar with the fact that the poly community consists of more than entitled bisexual women and the creepy voyeurs they're married to.

Another time I got into a throw-down fight that I don't think escaped beyond the bottle of the poly community with someone who wanted to create an organisation claiming to speak for the interests of polyamorous people - that was not actually about polyamory at all, but about a certain left-anarchist set of politics that he assumed was the reason people were poly, because who would have multiple relationships who wasn't interested in Breaking Down The System and proving the superiority of their liberationist worldview? I hammered on consent, that he did not speak for me unless I gave him permission and I explicitly denied him permission, and that no, I was not interested in subscribing to his newsletter until he snarled about evil reactionaries who had destroyed his happy fluffy vision of what Polyamory Was All About and were just there to subvert Teh Movement and probably didn't have more than one partner anyway and finally, blissfully, shut the fuck up. I hope he took his sooper-speshulness somewhere pleasant so he could be superior in a more congenial environment.

I get aggravated by the whole thing. I write about pretty much this thing when I wrote about the word 'lifestyle', pointing out that some people hook into Gor Is The Way What I Want Is Okay and try to universalise it, as well as, from the flip side of that particular kink perspective, the people who have an ideology of universal female superiority and abuse any woman who doesn't agree. Hell, I explicitly drew attention to someone making up just-so stories about an anti-BDSMer once upon a time, because someone claiming to be on my side being a fucking hypocrite does me no favors.

And this is the thing. My polyamory, my kink, my religion, my whatever else, these do not make me sooper-speshul. To the extent that I may be sooper-speshul, it's because sooper-speshulness is my birthright as a human being, and expecting everyone to bow down before it is unrealistic; if we were all bobbing and genuflecting to the sooper-speshul all the time we'd never get anything done 'cos there just isn't the time. Yeah yeah yeah namaste but the onions still need hoeing.

A couple of weekends ago I got into a long conversation about sex and power and individual choice and similar matters, and among the things that came up was using kinkspace to recreate and reprogram a trauma. And there was a story of someone who did this on a second date, which horrified all of the kinksters (and everyone else for that matter) in the room, even (perhaps especially) those of us who had done some sort of work of that sort in a controlled environment with trusted partners. There were discussions with people who had been interested in BDSM until they ran into someone who used it abusively, who wanted assurance that their perspectives on the existence of abuse was justified. There was exploration of what it meant to do power exchange sex in the context of an ethic that does not tolerate the bending of the head to accept shackles from the outside. (And I did not talk about the time, in a similar context, that I said I refused to submit my life-force to an ethic that required me not to do d/s, that I was too settled and secure in my power to put up with being lesser like that.)

There are no cure-alls and panaceas; there are only people working out what works for them. I can scream my story into the void all I want, but I have to take care to not drown out the stories of others, the people who do it differently. Monocultures die in plagues.

I've spent too long cleaning up spaces that have been damaged by people selling their social and sexual snake oil. "Take this, and your problems will be solved!" "This is the way the best people do it!" "This is just the way things are!"

In the memory of that confused and hurt woman at Pride, who went away maybe a bit more confused but also maybe a bit less hurt, I will always strive to be part of the cleanup crew.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Facebook, Vol 2

A while ago I posted about the "Sex-Positive Feminists Critical of BDSM" group on Facebook.

Not having a Facebook (still) and not wanting one (still), I'd left it at that and had no idea what they were, or weren't, up to. I must admit that I'd expected them to get bored fast; many BDSM-related blogthrashes die quick.

But now I notice Ernest Greene commenting that they're apparently still going strong, and exhorting us to keep challenging their views.

ETA: Looking at her page again, I do not think Harmony's "throwing down a gauntlet." I wrote this assuming I'd missed her doing so, but perusing more carefully I find she's saying she wants a "safe space" free from debate. I have strong critiques of the whole concept of "safe space," but that doesn't mean I'd crash people's meeting.

I leave this up as is because I do think it's easy to see the provocative pictures and text on the main page as a challenge, and because I stand by what I'm saying in the post. However, I wanted to note that I wrote it as if Harmony wanted a fight. I now see that she didn't, and people might assume from reading me that she does. It's only right to apologize to her for that, so: I'm sorry for not checking more thoroughly whether that was so.

Here's Ernest's comment:
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.
So I had a brief look, and decided to say more.

I don't know if Harmony and her little club know about this blog, and if they do, whether they'd be the sort to read it or avoid it, but on the off chance:

I'd just like to ask why it is, Harmony and others, that what we do matters so much to you. We know your arguments so well we've got most of them memorized. It should be pretty clear that your being "critical" of what we do and enjoy is not going to convince us. Similarly, we've learned from the many reiterations of these conversations that we're not all that likely to convince you that your "theories" are old, removed from reality, and not supported by the admittedly small amount of data presented by studies of those who practice BDSM.

So I've got to wonder: what exactly is your goal? It might be to sway those in the middle, if you can. It might be to assert, in what you feel is a deluge of pro-BDSM feminism (I would call it, at best, BDSM-tolerant feminism, myself), that some of you do still loudly and proudly hold the opposing view.

But it really seems odd to a lot of us on the pro-BDSM side of the aisle. There is quite a lot of lurid description. There's even a pornographic image on your website, albeit with a line through it. While there's been frank discussion here of quite a few kinks, and we've not hidden from talking about things in detail, we're not the ones putting a gagged, bound, naked woman on our welcome mat.

So my challenge to you is just this: Do you have more to say than simply lurid recountings of what we like? Can you talk about those of us who are survivors without using the sort of maudlin language that dehumanizes us, but titillates those who want to see us as people with tragically maudlin stories?

(Examples of this:

The desire to dominate, degrade, and hurt others usually comes from a person’s own psychological wounds. People who are into BDSM are more likely to have been abused [corroborating data conspicuously absent], especially during childhood. And abuse teaches victims that relationships can only be hierarchal, can only be between dominator and dominated, abuser and victim. Or even without abuse, the experience of living in a racist patriarchal capitalism is enough to teach these lessons and do psychological damage.

....These people are in serious need of healing. They are in serious need of understanding that power need not be about power imbalance; that there is such thing as healthy power that is shared in relationships of equality; that you don’t need to have power over someone else to have power within yourself.

....As with the desire to act in the role of the dom/sadist, the desire to act in the role of the sub comes from psychological wounds. As mentioned, those into BDSM are more likely to have been abused, especially in childhood. And even if they were not abused, the experience of living in a racist patriarchal capitalism is enough to do psychological damage and to teach us that relationships are by definition hierarchal.

....Given the psychological wounds and previous traumas that people carry into BDSM, the presence of “free choice” should be critiqued, even if the presence of “consent” is not denied. “Free choice” is an idea promoted by ultra-libertarians and post-modernists who don’t recognize the profound impact that society, culture, and our personal life experiences have on shaping everything about who we are. Does the victim of child sexual abuse, who has been taught that she is worthless and that her sexuality is degraded, freely choose a life as a prostitute or porn actress?*** Does the war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder freely choose to drink to oblivion everyday?
Is it at all possible for you to treat people who have been abused as people, Harmony, rather than as damage-objects? Is it possible to treat our desires and wants as legitimate, or do only people who have never been victimized get to be unsullied?

For all that you rant about setting up hierarchies, you are creating one here. The untouched people for whom "free choice" is critiqued less, and those of us who have had our choices destroyed by someone else's exercise of the agency we don't get.

Why do you have this need to talk down to us, Harmony? Why set up the hierarchies you do? If you're one of us, and you truly believe you have less of a self than people who have never been hurt, I feel sorry for you. If you're not, and you savor the idea that those poor people who've been hurt are below you and have less authentic choices than you, I call bullshit on you saying you're "anti-hierarchy."

Saturday, 2 May 2009

You are not a serial killer! Or a rapist!

I lol'd:



Part of me thinks it's a joke, and part of me thinks it's a terribly sincere confused person.

What say you, Internetz?