Sunday, 17 January 2010

I wish I had...

a coherent response to this:

Orlando,

I feel like you must not understand what privilege actually is, to frame non-defensiveness as a privilege.

For real does everything have to go bugshit on the internet?

Maybe if my fellow perverts (and well-meaning self-appointed allies) stopped acting like there was such a thing as “non kink sexuality privilege” and stopped insisting that kink IS TOO more egalitarian and less oppression-y than what gets called “vanilla” sexuality, maybe people would be too busy going about their business, not caring what others do in the sack, to be bothered with a “wait, what? are you kidding?”

There IS something about some kinky people and their need for validation. I would add that it’s my observation that there are also non-kinky people (although god help us all it mostly seems to be fucking women) who need validation for their non-kinky sex-having-ness as well. Hence an endless supply of “I love push up bras and deep throating and it’s unfeminist for you to critique either one!” missives on the internet.

Every single BDSM related media that I’ve ever seen promotes female subjugation and male supremacy as the sexiest thing that ever could happen to anybody. The presence of other pairings – female tops and female bottoms, female tops and male bottoms, billy goats and people they like to butt off mountain sides – does not mitigate the fact that the majority of BDSM imagery is about female people submitting to male people and being hurt. The fact that people who are into BDSM may experience pleasure through sensations and experiences that other people would identify as strictly painful also does not mitigate the blueprint of what’s happening.

Someone living in a small midwest town where they can’t go out in full leathers to their heart’s content, leading their “slave” around on a leash, is no more oppressed than someone whose desire to suck cock in the middle of a restaurant is also unwelcome. And if you’re living on either coast, shame the fuck on you if you ever pretend like kink isn’t wholly accepted and even encouraged.

but honestly I don't, other than "Jesus God, someone is angry."

(Cue "you're using The Tone Argument" in five, four, three, two...)

I guess that leads in to what I want to say, though, which is that in my own little-bit-more-rad days, the thing that struck me was how angry we all were. Everything was us pushing back against a horribly, horribly hostile world. Every statement had meaning, and that meaning had to do with crushing us. Every little thing people said got exaggerated -- which I see reflected in the "wearing more leather than I'd like you to = blatantly sucking cock at restaurants" remark. Calmness and thinking things through were really not the order of the day. In fact, I lost a friend for good commenting on an article by a gay man and shrilling that he must be "a misogynist" for... I can't remember. I think wanting space for leathermen to be by themselves. Which, okay, yeah, "boys only" has a history... but there are also het women who want into leathermen's space to stare at the pretty. Letting them in is, maybe, not so Politically Importante as I thought, now.

Though I guess one could say I was still angry here, and maybe that's why I don't post much any more. I still hate it when people spread vile nonsense about kinky sex, kinky people, and even, yes, the erotic media that kinky people like (I've said it before and I'll say it again: my belief is that the fact that erotic media are far from perfect does not condemn them. Intelligent people know that not everything they see is realistic or desirable, and my life should not be forced to revolve around keeping complete morons away from porn they'll use as model or excuse.) But I no longer feel like it much matters. Being away from those enclaves, I see that such pearl-clutchers are shrill and obnoxious... but rare. Why bother?

But I still see a difference. When I was kinda wannabe rad, I jumped at shadows. Women not being invited to a party for leathermen was proof that The Man hates all women and women would never have a home in the world oh God oh God they've got us. Whereas even when I was angry as hell here and really should have just calmed down, I was reacting to something real. People "dog-daring" us to defend what we want. People insisting they knew the etiology of our fantasies. People wanting us to change.

And that to me is the difference: Are you legitimately, but perhaps a little too, mad at something concrete you see happening? Or are you interpreting what you see through the eyes of "raised consciousness," which actually, as most frequently used, means "our ideology, without which you'd see something harmless or merely irritating?"

28 comments:

Orlando C. said...

I've taken my bestest calmest shot at it.

But what I think gets lost on that endless thread, with all its little side roads (like cutting...) is the shell game being played.

It begins with: "Fuck you, kinky people. Defend your shit."

And if someone does, speaking from personal experienc, the chorus goes:

"Fuck your subjective personal experience. What really matters is studies."

And so we mention some studies, and then it's:

"Fuck your coldly scientific studies. What really matters is personal experience."

And then, if we still don't shut up, it's:

"Why are you so defensive?"

I realize that the chorus is not a monolith; sometimes it's different people saying those things. But it feels like a tag-team.

Trinity said...

"But what I think gets lost on that endless thread, with all its little side roads (like cutting...) is the shell game being played."

Precisely. Goal posts get moved every passing moment, because it's the worst horror in the world if we're right.

Also, the idea that no one gets "defensive" after 500+ comments is just plain fucking stupid. Faith and Joan and Laurelin aren't getting defensive? Snort.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Hum hum hum. Sort of cracking open a noodle here:

There is a privilege in having one's sexuality be considered "normal".

What that actually means is a lot more complicated than these arguments ever get on about.

Because 'normal sexuality' is a whole bunch of things. It's heteronormative. It's monogamy-with-a-bit-of-catting-about (I think neither true monogamy nor any forms of ethical nonmonogamy are normal, culturally speaking). It's a weird variant of vanilla that includes a lingerie fetish and might (and also might not) toy with mild bondage on an exciting special occasion. It's "Ten things that will drive him crazy in bed" and "Use this diet to reveal your hotter inner self". It's a whole bunch of things.

On top of that there's the kink-specific privilege stuff, ranging from incidents like Paddleboro, to people having custody or job issues because someone finds out about their kink, to essentialising all BDSM as "female subjugation and male supremacy". I think, for the most part, that that's fairly minor, when compared to the crushing weight of the hegemony of supposed "normal sexuality".

Trying to express nuance is hard. Certainly with that crowd it's nigh impossible, because they don't give a flying fuck at a rolling donut about anything a kinkster says if they can't trim it down into a hostile sound bite.

Becky said...

And to claim that the only BDSM on the web is of the male domination type is to have had willful blinders on when looking. There's plenty of male submissive porn if you look for it. There's even homosexual BDSM porn. I can hear the complaint-"How do you know who's the top??"
If what posters like this want is to have folks ignore other people's bedrooms-why don't they start?

Alcibiades said...

I think her point, poorly expressed, is that in spaces where the BDSM community as a whole is represented, the focus is on maledom femsub. Which, going off of places like Fetlife and Collarme, is largely true.

And yeah, I get why that's troubling. Without condemning any individual, it's symptomatic of greater social ills that the gender aren't more evenly distributed across the power orientations. As a male submissive, I'd be thrilled if feminists smashed the patriarchy so we could have a more equal distribution of genders across the power roles, but I don't think targeting kink.com is the best way to do it.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

the focus is on maledom femsub.

My question: for how many people is this actually a gendered dynamic, like she is explicitly claiming and this use of language suggests?

SnowdropExplodes said...

I think her point, poorly expressed, is that in spaces where the BDSM community as a whole is represented, the focus is on maledom femsub. Which, going off of places like Fetlife and Collarme, is largely true.

I don't think that's true of Fetlife (in the Groups, although the word "slut" came up a lot in group names, it seems to me that it's used as a non-gendered term (i.e. includes "male slut")). Although the M/f group had around 16k members while the F/m group had only around 10k members (the gay/lesbian kinksters group had around 3k members) I think this probably reflects more or less the actual gender/orientation balance - I would not say that there is a "focus" in any particular direction.

I know that on bondage.com they have two options for the "theme", which are "female Dominant" or "female submissive", and I find this problematic on a gender-roles level (i.e. it says women are the things you look at, men do the looking) but not a problem with associating kink roles to women.

Discussions on Informed Consent (which is the UK-based online kink community) seem to be fairly evenly balanced, and most discussions seem to involve plenty of contributions from each gender/orientation and relationship dynamic (including those who are currently single). So I think it's a misconception that kinky spaces are more focussed to one dynamic over another in general.

(I won't argue re: CollarMe, though - because it has a very bad reputation among kinky folks anyway, and certainly I never use it even though I have a profile there, because I dislike it so much)

I think there does seem to be a direct correlation in kinky webspaces, though: in general, the more closely linked it is to real life kink spaces, the more even the balance between M/f and F/m (the most evenly-balanced space in my estimation is the local online community that serves as a support network for the various munches in the region)

Trinity said...

"I think her point, poorly expressed, is that in spaces where the BDSM community as a whole is represented, the focus is on maledom femsub. Which, going off of places like Fetlife and Collarme, is largely true."

Y'know, Alci, I don't disagree with you (or with her, if that was what all that "everybody loves the kinky" bullshit was really getting at), but...

...I just don't have the energy to care any more, to be totally honest. I understand why that's problematic and I don't like it either...

...but I am sick to my damn bones of having to stop every minute and tailor everything I think, say, do, and argue around the primacy of a dynamic (M/f) that I am not and never have been part of.

I am tired as hell of people making dynamics I am part of "not the point," not worth hearing, not worth thinking about.

And I am tired of people talking about how the prevalence of M/f proves what's wrong with the world when they are the ones who don't know how to shut the fuck up about it.

Ever.

"Everyone else is catering to the patriarchy. Not me!"

Yeah, right now I'm... fucking done with that.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be ready to jump on the treadmill again and nod and bow and scrape, and yes, you you yours that you is all that matters.

But for this moment...

...I am done.

Orlando C. said...

Snowdrop-

I've tried to summarize the ratios you are looking at here:

http://kinkresearch.blogspot.com/2009/10/best-guess-at-demographics.html

There is considerable suggestion in the scholarly literature that M/f attunements, while probably slightly more common than F/m attunements, are overrepresented in purposive studies. In other words, maledom femsub kinksters are more likely to make themselves known in forums like bondage.com, or community groups or clubs or the like.

SnowdropExplodes said...

Orlando C. - very interesting! I left a couple of comments on pieces linked because of thoughts that occurred to me.

I would say that my observation was about how much the various gender+orientation combinations are discussed in kink spaces online, so iI wasn't making an observation about the prevalence of couplings or the orientations themselves, just on how common it is to find them discussed. I think that a 8:5 ratio of F/m:M/f discussion probably would not add up to there being a particular "focus" on M/f.

Bean said...

The reason I don’t feel defensive when anyone critiques or even flatly condemns kink from a supposed radical feminist perspective is that to me it seems like anti-kink radfems = just about zero sociopolitical clout and pro-kink kinksters = carrying the day.

Yeah, I needed that rage-induced headache. Ugh. Left a comment, but I won't be surprised if Deuce refuses to publish it again.

I guess that leads in to what I want to say, though, which is that in my own little-bit-more-rad days, the thing that struck me was how angry we all were.

Oh, yes.

When I first heard that there was such a thing as a [feminist] anti-porn movement, I actually burst out laughing.

But then, I was 17 at the time and my experience with porn was not mainstream. I associated "porn" with things like sexually explicit self-produced fanworks/original fiction and such. And the social communities in which these things are produced were ones that (as a teenager) I found enormously supportive and affirmative. (In fact, one lj community I was in was run for and by teenagers producing porn-y HP fanworks...and it was expressed in that community many times that it doubled as a safe space for some queer teens.)

I was aware of the existence of mainstream porn, of course, but other than recognising it was culturally an open secret that cismen wank to it, I didn't see it as having any real relevance. So I thought the idea of being against porn was silly and senseless. And not especially feminist or alt-sex friendly, at that.

Still, I checked it out. I believe in doing that. I've been vaguely following the anti-porn/kink/sexwork radfems ever since.

And the one thing which stands out more than anything is the overwhelming anger. Not just, "this is wrong, and I'm angry about it." But, "I'm sick to my stomach with anger every day." Cultivated, carefully nurtured anger.

Then the argument goes, "See how angry you made me? That's a sign of how you've hurt me. So you're in the wrong, because you've hurt me. Which makes me EVEN ANGRIER!"

Seems almost every position and argument gets justified by this it's wrong because you hurt me which I know because I'm angry because you hurt me because I'm... argument.

In part, I'm sure, because it's so difficult to argue against.

It was the primary thing that made me step back and say, "If this is what this 'analysis' produces, something is going very wrong somewhere in the process."

Trinity said...

Yeah... most of these folks don't mean "fanfic" when they say "porn." It's handy -- women get their erotic media and men don't.

I do think the fact that porn is filmed can indeed matter, but I also find myself thinking that "yours is different" is just a little bit convenient.

And where does that leave someone like me who "uses" porn and writes and reads fanfic?

Trinity said...

Especially when there's plenty that this type of feminist should consider problematic

(NB: I don't consider it problematic, because I think fantasy lives are supposed to be full of things that don't make sense or are scary or weird or would be wrong in real life. I am talking about things by their lights, which are most emphatically not mine.)

about a lot of fanfic, including

* straight women posing gay men in whatever way arouses them most, usually with no regard to any realities of queer culture

and

* top/bottom dynamics in almost everything (again, I don't find this problematic at all, being someone who fucks/lives like that myself, but they should if they're consistent), very often including stereotypically feminine behavior from the bottom (who is sometimes absolutely histrionic, actually) and more masculine behavior from the top

Bean said...

I do think the fact that porn is filmed can indeed matter, but I also find myself thinking that "yours is different" is just a little bit convenient.

Ab-so-fucking-lutely. In fact, huge arguments have erupted in lj's anti_porn community in the past because some members saw nothing hypocritical about their membership/participation in either the vintage_porn comm, or R and NC-17-rated fanfiction.

(And remember demonista's smutty RPF? I mean, sheesh, talk about having your cake and eating it.)

One argument that I've seen made about fanfiction in particular is that it has "artistic merit" while porn does not.

I've certainly seen fanfic which does not contain what we generally would call "artistic merit." (Although I personally think that distinction is bullshit.)

And, well, Pirates XXX, for example? Pretty sure the parody aspects of it qualify as having "artistic merit."

Especially when there's plenty that this type of feminist should consider problematic

Yeah. I have the same problems you do, but I at least think they're interesting to discuss. It's rather telling that radfems do not want to discuss something which far more women are directly accessing.

(Although the criticisms of top/bottom dynamics in particular aggravate me because they tend to make those dynamics sound freaky AND be blind to their own assumptions about top/bottom mapping to gender, about queer fans, etc.)

Another one: romance novels.

I grew up in a household swimming in them: I've read thousands. It is a HUGE industry, producing those things.

And the ways in which they portray sexuality (not to mention gender and race) are ALL kinds of fucked up. I could damn well write a book.

You won't find a single radfem who finds the topic worth discussing, though.

Alcibiades said...

"* top/bottom dynamics in almost everything (again, I don't find this problematic at all, being someone who fucks/lives like that myself, but they should if they're consistent), very often including stereotypically feminine behavior from the bottom (who is sometimes absolutely histrionic, actually) and more masculine behavior from the top"

It always seemed odd to me that power dynamics and mimicking of traditional gender roles in the gay community was immune from criticism, unless you started wearing leather, in which case it was of paramount importance to critique.

Becky said...

About romance novels-
It's often assumed that the readers of romance genre lit are of a lower educational class than the True Feminists, and thus can't be expected to understand the deepest levels of meaning in their culture. Those who have been enlightened must carefully expunge the hurtful stuff for them, so their exposure is limited.
Also, the vast majority of them are hetero oriented, with the desired(and always achieved)goal being a stable M/F relationship. Sex, while often portrayed as a good thing and in positive terms, is always within the relationship. Even the quickest of quickies is somehow deeply emotionally important.
And the relationship has the guy being the strong protector, often impregnating the girl with one thrust, as it were.
I myself stopped reading nine-deuce some time ago. I got tired of being told my agency wasn't being denied, I just wanted to do the wrong things with it. As long as I wanted to chose the same things nine-deuce and her cronies wanted me to chose I was great. Chose something they don't like and I'm now corrupted by the patriarchy. That they can't even see the inherent contradictions is what they have to say is sad.

Orlando C. said...

I want to plug a little taxonomy of porn critiques I wrote over here:

http://inscarletink.blogspot.com/2010/01/susies-complaint-last-part-porn.html

Trinity said...

Orlando --

I wish I had something coherent to say. I totally don't because my brain is just

oh hahahahah he brought up the Transformers rape comic ohgod hahahahahahaha can't stop laughing now ohgod he wins everything ever ohgod

and I am no longer capable of coherent thought. Being that I, you know, write BDSM-y TF slash and all.

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4wowgold said...

I realize that the chorus is not a monolith; sometimes it's different people saying those things. But it feels like a tag-team.

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