BDSM (the sexual equivalent of being into Renaissance faires) Part 3: Some of the Data

29 Nov

The respondents to the personal ad I mentioned in the first post fell into three rough categories, which overlap and share some common features (don’t read these bullet points if you’re upset by the kinds of shit these cretins fantasize about, which would be completely understandable):

  • The dudes in the first group were the least overtly terrifying of the bunch, but they were creepy and offensive in their own way. Most of them wrote what could best be described as novellas and used the word “art” in their comical and terribly written blatherings about their BDSM “philosophies.” Their descriptions of their sexual fantasies were like letters to Penthouse Forum written by dudes who wear eyeliner, with a lot of “trembling,” “aching,” and “quivering” in between the generous helpings of “pussy” and “cock.” They all described the mental and physical sensations they would cause our poster to experience down to the last detail with the kind of confidence that only men who are terrible in bed possess. Nearly all of them explained that their ultimate purpose was to help their submissives grow as human beings and that they understood that feminism had caused emotional conflicts for women who felt the “natural” “feminine” urge to submit to a (much older and wiser, naturally) man/dad/teacher (for a bunch of purportedly countercultural motherfuckers, these guys sounded an awful lot like Promise Keepers). Many of them addressed our poster as “little one.” Honestly, I thought I was reading the lyrics to a George Michael song half the time. Retch is right. These guys may have even fooled themselves into believing that their particular sexual fetishes are the kinds of things that women “crave deep within their souls,” but they’re kidding themselves with all their talk of transgression. 
  • Then there were the dudes who didn’t bother to pretend there was any kind of philosophical basis for their desire to dominate and humiliate (their words, not mine) women. Their responses were all detailed descriptions of the kinds of sex acts they’d be carrying out on her, with nary a question about what she might fancy. They got very specific about the kinds of tools they were bringing to the table (literally and figuratively) and exactly how they would restrain our poster so they could “rape” her “asshole” and whip her “tits” and “cunt” with whatever instrument their shockingly uncreative minds could come up with (usually a belt). They too described the sensations this would cause for the poster, because they were just positive that they could make her “cum over and over” by hitting her and calling her a “filthy little slut,” a “cum slut,” or a “little whore.” These dudes made no attempt to disguise the fact that they get off on humiliating and hurting women, though they did dress that up a little with candle wax, leather, and various bizarre implements. (A lot of them were really into shibari, a — surprise! — Japanese bondage technique involving rope. Seriously, fuck Japan.)
  • The third group was by far the most frightening. They read the word “submissive” and creamed their shorts at the idea that there was a woman out there who’d let them act out Max Hardcore vignettes on her. None of them had anything to say about the “art” of BDSM or the sensations our poster would experience, but rather just told her which hole they’d like to rape her in (guess which one came in at number one) before they ejaculated on her face. Her wishes did come up a few times, always in the form of the insatiable desire to lick semen up after being raped. That’s about all I can say about that lest I break something or kill myself. 

I told you that shit was gnarly. Sorry. 

I suppose a lot of people will claim these last guys aren’t a part of the BDSM scene, and that’s true, but what’s the difference between them and the guys in group two? That they’re less fruity about their rape fantasies? That they don’t pretend to be a part of some revolutionary sexual counterculture movement? Please. All of these dudes share one thing in common: they derive sexual pleasure from dominating and humiliating (and in many cases hurting) women, and they’re all foaming at the mouth at the idea that there are women who will eagerly submit to the worst humiliations they can come up with. That they want the woman to be into it too doesn’t make them cool guys, it just means they don’t want to have to feel guilty. These motherfuckers at worst hate women and consider them to be subhumans, and at best think of women as mental children that they want to fuck in between teaching them life lessons. 

The serious analysis is still to come (and I’ve got some more results of my research to report), but I’m tired if this shit for tonight.

To be continued…

Bookmark and Share

165 Responses to “BDSM (the sexual equivalent of being into Renaissance faires) Part 3: Some of the Data”

  1. question November 29, 2008 at 8:39 AM #

    but rather just told her which hole they’d like to rape her in (guess which one came in at number one) before they ejaculated on her face
    I am unsure whether it was ass or usual orifice. Usual is more standard, but may be ass is more humiliating in those sickos’ fantasies.

  2. panoptical November 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM #

    Well, I’ll start by saying that I think you’ve made a compelling argument against posting personal ads on craigslist.

    I’m not surprised that you solicited the opinions of anonymous internet dudes who like submissive females and discovered that their personalities thoroughly explored the vast continuum between and including “dingbat” on one end and “sociopath” on the other. And of course the examination of these fine examples of twisted human wreckage produced by our patriarchal society is a source of unending fascination for those of us who can actually recognize them as such.

    However, there are additional perspectives to be examined and I’m hoping that you will get to them in your later parts on this subject. For one, I’d be very interested in reading about the experience of women who practice, or have practiced, BDSM – I’d certainly have greater regard for their opinions on the matter than I do for those of the men who you describe in this post.

    The reason I mention this is that by examining these men, you can get at one facet of the BDSM situation, but that may not be the most representative facet. On the one hand, all of these men have victims, and we can infer the experience of women who are subject to the attitudes and behaviors that were expressed in the responses to your posting. However, it’s not as though men who identify as Doms have a monopoly on this sort of behavior whereas men who prefer to associate with mainstream sexual practices are shining paragons of virtue and morality. A key insight of radical feminism is that the kind of dynamic that you express here underlies all sexual relations in a patriarchal society, not just the ones that openly identify as BDSM.

    And so from my point of view, there are two points of interest in examining BDSM. One, which I think lies somewhere close to the direction that your posts are taking, is that BDSM allows the extreme and open expression of the women-hating, patriarchal sexual norms that are usually kept hidden by “polite” society.” These extreme elements therefore get folded into our definition of BDSM. The other, though, is that BDSM is also explored and practiced by many women for a variety of reasons, and many of these reasons share in common the desire to move away from the meager options afforded them by mainstream sexuality and explore new ways of expressing their selves and their sexual desires.

    Anticipating a possible objection – that there is nothing to suggest a propensity against mainstream sexual identity in a woman expressing herself as a submissive receptacle for pain and abuse – BDSM beats out mainstream sexuality in this case because women who make a conscious decision to pursue BDSM, even if this decision is implanted by the patriarchy, at least have some protections that women in the mainstream do not have. These protections include, for example, the right to consent and to withdraw consent. Under American law, in some states a man can legally rape his wife, that is, can force her to have sex with him, without her consent, and without any legal ramifications. Any BDSM practitioner with any experience at all would know that a precondition for any BDSM activity is the establishment of a safeword, which either partner can say at any time in order to withdraw consent and stop whatever activity is going on. The women I know who practice BDSM – even the submissive ones – feel a greater sense of security and have a greater understanding of their rights as human beings than women who are steeped in mainstream sexual traditions.

    Anyway, I guess my point could be summarized by saying that when evaluating a practice, it’s important to consider who’s doing it, and how, and why. BDSM as practiced by random internet jerks is bound to be a steaming pile of misogynistic crap – just like everything else practiced by random internet jerks. But if you look at women who practice BDSM, and look at why and how, and what effect it has on them, then, I think, you get a more complete sense of the subject and perhaps an understanding of the disconnect between those who dismiss BDSM out of hand and those who embrace it.

    • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 9:21 AM #

      Please watch this short interview from the PBS series, Makers Women Who Make America about the history of the Women’s Equality Rights Movement, the whole series is very good and important. Actress Meryl Streep narrates this series.
      Gloria Steinem is interviewed about how pornography is about men’s domination and it’s about women as sex slaves(she says porne means female slaves,and she wrote about this in her great 1977-1978 Erotica vs Pornography whete she also wrote about how it also sexualizes men’s hatred of and violence towards women and portrays women as masochists who want and deserve this, article in Ms.Magazine that I read in her excellent 1983 best selling book,Ourageous Acts And Everyday Rebellions,and that porne is a Greek word and comes from when men owned women as sex slave prostitutes in Greece before cameras got invented) and degrading women not sex, but erotica(explicit sexual images) is about love and equality and the public still doesn’t understand this.She says first that we came to understand that rape is about violence not sex.But we haven’t gotten to the point of understanding this about pornography too.

      http://www.makers.com/gloria-steinem/moments/porn-v-erotica

      • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 9:23 AM #

        For about 15 years I have had Shere Hite’s excellent book,The Hite Report On The Family:Growing Up Under The Patriarchy in which over 1000 girls and women and over 2000 boys and men from countries all over the world,mostly from the US and then Briton, answered question surveys about their experiences growing up in a sexist gender divided,,gender stereotyped,woman-hating family and society,and the messages and training they got into “feminine” and “masculine” and she addressed how sadomasochism is about confusing “love” as power and control and aggression and submission and pain and this goes back to childhood spankings and how in sadomasochistic pornography it’s almost always the woman who experiences pain and domination of her body,and how it’s a statement about the power relationship between men and women,and as she said sometimes an incitement to men to abuse women.
        She also mentions child abuse expert Alice Miller and a book,Spare The Child by Phillip Grevin about how childhood spankings get eroticized for adults and that sadomasochistic whippings and beatings by adults stems from this.

        • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 9:24 AM #

          ` -*-

          I read Gloria Steinem’s great important quotes on the great informative AntiPornography.org’s Gloria page about how pornography sexualizes,eroticizes,and normalizes men’s domination,women’s submission,and men’s violence and teaches that this is what sex is,and no other equal alternatives. And how she said we have to eroticize equality. And also what she says about sadomasochism being in society’s where is a lot of child abuse,and also that the confusion of sex with violence is most obvious in any form of sadomasochism. I have her best selling great book since it came out in the Fall of 1983,Outrageous Acts And Everyday Rebellions and so I had a lot of her quotes from there,but I see she revised some of them in her 1995 addition and added to it.What I don’t understand at all,is why hasn’t she spoken out against Fifty Shades Of Grey for normalizing and sexualizing the same *exact* harmful injustices? Even one of the many women on Amazon.com who gave the book a bad review and said on every level,artistically,politically and psychologically the book is misogynistic junk and she said Gloria Steinem speak out against this crap book PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 9:26 AM #

            Customer Review

            676 of 704 people found the following review helpful
            “Fifty Shades” of really bad, May 1, 2012
            By Kate August “Bookdweller”This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy (Paperback)
            Holy Cow! Triple crap! My inner goddess just kicked the stuffing out of me for finishing “50 Shades” of the worst book ever written; my psyche may never recover. I’m sure this must be some type of hoax perpetrated by a 10th grader, with unsupervised access to the internet, because it’s hard to believe that an adult actually wrote this drivel. Simply put, the characters are flat and uninteresting, the dialog is beyond childish, and the writing is sophomoric. Oh, and the book has no plot. I’ve never read a book with no plot before, and in the future, I’ll try to avoid reading another.

            I will say I’m not a fan of the subject matter, but I have read books by talented authors that have explored the subject matter , and I really enjoyed them. Go figure! Maybe it was the fact that the books were well written, with a storyline that had a purpose.
            I have a thing about violence against women. About women that are abused, demoralized, and dehumanized for the enjoyment of others; call it a silly quirk of mine. There is nothing fun, or flirty , or sexy about the BDSM in this book. This man enjoys inflicting pain on woman for his enjoyment, he states it over and over. The hero *cough, cough* wants to inflict as much pain on this girl as she can tolerate for his pleasure. He stalks an innocent, young woman, and then spends the entire book trying to convince her that it’s a freeing experience to be hurt and humiliated, and how much she’ll enjoy the experience. I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. This man is no romantic hero, and he is beyond flawed. I’ll stick with writers whose alpha males are flawed, but don’t need to abuse women for their enjoyment.
            I must say, that reading the smart and clever reviews has been more enjoyable that reading this book. ~Kate August

            ——————————————————————————–

            Posted on Jun 23, 2012 8:36:15 AM PDT
            A. Buschman says:
            I have enjoyed reading the reviews more than I enjoyed reading the book.
            Reply to this post

            12 of 12 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

            ——————————————————————————–

            In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2012 12:08:04 PM PDT
            J. Beardsley says:
            I could not agree more. It’s appalling that in this day and age this book is striking (no pun intended), a chord with so many women. The American woman seems to be under assault – in the workforce, in the arena of health issues, and culturally -(how thin do you have to be?).
            And it’s so badly written it’s painful. ugh.
            Reply to this post

            12 of 12 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

            ——————————————————————————–

            Posted on Jun 25, 2012 12:11:49 PM PDT
            J. Beardsley says:
            I must point out that there is a great YouTube video of Gilbert Godfried reading 50 Shades – and it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages – it was a little palate cleanser for the spirit after this dumb, depressing book.
            Reply to this post

            10 of 10 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

            ——————————————————————————–

            In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2012 5:26:45 AM PDT
            Jenny Seymour says:
            I was going to buy the book, but have had such fun reading the brilliantly written (unlike the book apparently!) reviews, including yours, I’ve decided not to bother!
            Reply to this post

            6 of 6 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

            ——————————————————————————–

            Posted on Jun 29, 2012 9:27:22 AM PDT
            nco says:
            Great review! And I agree, reading these reviews has brought more satisfaction to me than any page in that book! I am shocked that women actually find something romantic or errotic about this book. The lead male clearly has a deep hate for women and he feels the need to hurt them to bring him satisfaction and somehow that is a turn on? It’s bad enough the author wrote a book glorifying abuse and manipulation but for so many women to enjoy it is simply disturbing.
            Reply to this post

            4 of 4 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

            ——————————————————————————–

            Posted on Jul 4, 2012 6:10:35 PM PDT
            M. Cobb says:
            As a woman who has been with a man who tried to get me into BDSM, PLEASE don’t let this book sucker you into thinking it is somehow an enjoyable or thrilling lifestyle. It’s painful, dehumanizing, and makes you feel like you are nothing more than your partner’s sex toy for his enjoyment. I was lucky enough to escape from that relationship before things got really bad, but a lot of girls aren’t so lucky. I ended up meeting a lot of “submissives” (all women) who were basically brainwashed into believing they had no choice. The roleplay aspect of it is so convincing that if you don’t have a really strong type-A personality like I do, you can wind up getting trapped in the situation. It’s really sad. One girl had even given up her college education to become her partner’s “sex slave”. :(
            Reply to this post

            11 of 11 people think this post adds to the discussion. Do you?

            Reviewer

            Kate August “Bookdweller”

            Location: USA

            Top Reviewer Ranking: 909

            See all 119 reviews

  3. Nine Deuce November 29, 2008 at 2:19 PM #

    panoptical – I’ll be getting to a lot of that in the 4th and 5th posts, the 4th being about the remainder of what I observed on the internet (some of which is much less disgusting than these personal ad responses but which I still feel the need to analyze), and the 5th being about what I’ve read of women’s views on BDSM.

  4. Trinity November 29, 2008 at 4:15 PM #

    Why look at these people, who answered an ad on Craigslist, rather than looking at the established BDSM community?

    Or are you planning to do that later in the series?

  5. Nine Deuce November 29, 2008 at 5:28 PM #

    I am.

  6. Dan Holzman-Tweed November 29, 2008 at 5:52 PM #

    “I am.”

    That’s good, because using Craig’s List as a data source on BDSM is like doing marijuana research with government-supplied schwag that’s been sitting in a freezer for 20 years.

  7. Luke November 29, 2008 at 6:09 PM #

    I’d point out that what’s being said here isn’t necessarily “what these guys think”. I’ve been in BDSM relationships in the past and one of the most difficult things was that my submissive partner wanted me to be a lot more brutal than I felt like being. The result was that not only was I playing a role, but I was striving to make it as dominating, aggressive, and extreme as I could, not because that was how I felt but because that was what I felt was called for. That wasn’t because I wasn’t into it myself, but because I couldn’t easily be as single-minded and extreme about it.

    Similarly, some (certainly not all) of the men who wrote about how viciously they wanted to rape and humiliate may have felt that only by expressing that level of hatred could they ‘compete’ with all the other potential doms. Internet sites can often develop that kind of ‘who can be most extreme’ culture. I’m not saying this to dispute that many people on the internet genuinely hate women, in their whole lives or in their playing, or anything. I’m just pointing out one additional dynamic that could get ignored if we take these men as necessarily expressing their true selves.

  8. Charlie November 29, 2008 at 6:17 PM #

    I think it’s really unfortunate that you both make overstatements and then consider them part of your hallmark, as you state in your response to my comment to your first post in this series. One of the challenges that we face when it comes to developing a good picture of sexuality is that the majority of writers consistently neglect the diversity of experience.

    It may seem that sweeping statements may make for better rhetoric. However, my experience has been that it tend to either make people defensive (in which case, they stop listening) or it suggests to people that what the writer has to say is irrelevant (in which case, they stop listening). If you want to create dialogue and inspire people to come to a new perspective, or at least consider a new perspective, you may find that your overgeneralizations hinder you. On the other hand, if you want to keep on speaking to people who already agree with you, then go right ahead. I just wonder why someone who seems to have a genuine desire to have a positive impact on the world wouldn’t want to create a situation that would encourage people to change their beliefs.

    On another note, I think it’s also worth noting that for many people, BDSM isn’t about dominance and submission. For example, some people like to experience strong sensation and may discuss their desires in advance in order to plan to make them happen. That might be as simple as telling your sweetie that you like to be bitten on the neck, or it might be a more detailed scenario. Another example- some people simply like the sensation of bondage, without any sense of submitting to another. My point being that many behaviors that generally fall within the BDSM umbrella have nothing to do with D&S.

    Since your posts to CL were about submission, then yes, you got respondents who were drawn to that dynamic. As an example of an overgeneralization, you’ve been writing so far about BDSM and I suggest that it would be more accurate to write about D&S. That might inspire someone who enjoys strong sensation (for example) to reflect on how they could work with those desires without playing into heteropatriarchal normativity.

    I also suggest that you do some research into fantasies. Note that I’m not suggesting learning more about porn or BDSM. I’m suggesting that you learn more about how people experience sexuality. One good book is “The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasy” by Bader. He discusses some of the ways that people develop fantasies in order to try to gain some control over their internal landscape. A deeper understanding of that process might help you develop your analysis of these issues. I get that you like to look at the socio-cultural dynamics. But those are (in part) the result of individuals making specific choices. Understanding how people make those choices has given me a deeper analysis on a larger scale and I think you might find the same.

    In your second post, you discuss your take on “spicing up your sex life.” I agree that adrenaline is not a substitute for intimacy and if you want the latter, then it’s more helpful to find ways to create it. I thing that it’s really unfortunate that many people confuse the two, but on some level, it’s no different from people who mistake novelty for change in other areas of their lives. Having said that, I can tell you as a sex educator that kink is only one way that people respond to changing desires and (again) that not all kink is about D&S. It can often be about exploring sensory experiences within a very intimate context, even if the external appearance makes it look like it’s about D&S.

    The situation you’re exploring offers a lot of valuable information. And there’s more to it than you include. It’s not just about making sweeping statements, although that’s part of it. There are contextual elements that influence these dynamics and from what I can tell, you seem to be less aware of them. I think that your insightful analysis would benefit from exploring them and that it would make your writing more likely to inspire others to do the same.

  9. Nine Deuce November 29, 2008 at 6:22 PM #

    I’m considering closing comments until I’m done with this series since just about every objection anyone’s raised will be addressed shortly. In any case, I’m a little annoyed with the assumption that I’ve not thought of any of this and that I’m not aware of all of it.

  10. Trinity November 29, 2008 at 8:14 PM #

    “I’ve been in BDSM relationships in the past and one of the most difficult things was that my submissive partner wanted me to be a lot more brutal than I felt like being. The result was that not only was I playing a role, but I was striving to make it as dominating, aggressive, and extreme as I could, not because that was how I felt but because that was what I felt was called for.”

    I’ve observed this too, not only in my own life but in the lives of *many* other tops I know. “I was OK with spanking her, but I really recoiled from calling her my little slut [or worse].” It seems to get ignored pretty often that that happens — or chalked up to the bottom being either damaged from abuse or affected by patriarchy.

  11. Laurelin November 29, 2008 at 8:56 PM #

    I think this is very important research you are undertaking, Nine. That there are any number of men whether on Craig’s List or a BDSM site or in a cafe who get off on raping women is extremely frightening. But their hatred must be exposed, and that is what you are doing here.

  12. Aaron Boyden November 29, 2008 at 10:22 PM #

    I intend to read the rest of this series. I always get a little annoyed at what seems to be the pattern of many of your arguments, namely “X is problematic, so everybody should avoid it,” since I think everything, or nearly everything, is problematic, and I don’t consider it desirable to avoid everything, or even nearly everything. However, I do think it’s a good thing to point out the ways in which problematic things are problematic, and for people to discuss and think about problems, so I keep reading your blog. Still, I feel I have to comment on that last comment of yours; you do an awful lot of assuming the worst about other people in your posts. I’m not sure why you think people you’ve annoyed have no right to annoy you in similar ways. I’m also not sure I’d say it’s “assuming” when people think you’re “not aware of all of it.” Surely nobody is aware of everything, and to be honest I think you’ve displayed some definite signs of obliviousness in the past which could easily justify someone concluding, rather than assuming, that you’re “not aware of all of it.” But whether it’s a conclusion or an assumption, I suppose you will soon demonstrate whether it’s true or not. I’m looking forward to seeing that demonstration.

  13. Charlie November 29, 2008 at 11:04 PM #

    “In any case, I’m a little annoyed with the assumption that I’ve not thought of any of this and that I’m not aware of all of it.”

    Speaking for myself, part of why I raised some of the points that I did was that, in your posts so far, you have used language that I think indicates either a limited context and understanding of these issues or a belief that the contextual pieces aren’t important.

    You have a gift for insightful analysis and your passion shines through your writing. And your choice of language limits both of them. Here’s an example:

    “That they’re less fruity about their rape fantasies?” Given the connotation of “fruity” meaning gay/less masculine, I found myself getting stuck on that sentence. As a queer man who has been accused of being fruity my whole life, I experience that term as judgmental and homophobic. Whether that was your intention or not, that’s how it landed for me. I also see a certain amount of irony in your use of the word. You are exploring issues of patriarchy and then choose to use a word that reinforces it.

    Whether you’ve thought about these things or not, your actions seem to me to send a message that you haven’t. That’s why I raised these points. If you want your readers to assume that you’ve explored these issues, then I suggest that you write in ways that will let us know that.

  14. Nine Deuce November 29, 2008 at 11:20 PM #

    I appreciate what you’re saying, but don’t you think it’s a bit presumptuous of you to tell me how to present my views and how to write? Who told you I need advice? One of the chief complaints feminists have about men who comment on our blogs is that kind of unsolicited advice (I even have an entire category dedicated to it). In any case, I’m not done with the series, so I’d appreciate it if people would quit telling me that I’ve missed their experiences before they’ve even seen what I have to say about anything beyond these personal ad responses.

    As to my use of the word “fruity,” do you really believe that I meant to imply that these men were less masculine than the men in group three? Seriously? On a radical (read: for the abolition of gender roles) feminist blog?

  15. Trinity November 29, 2008 at 11:51 PM #

    “As to my use of the word “fruity,” do you really believe that I meant to imply that these men were less masculine than the men in group three? Seriously? On a radical (read: for the abolition of gender roles) feminist blog?”

    Probably not, but I think it’s an easy to make error, 9-2. What you’re criticizing the “fruity” men for is a kind of (really gross and icky, I agree, and this actually *is* one of the things I think is widespread among onliners) overwrought, supposedly “romantic” writing style that, yeah, I do think would be seen as feminine under patriarchy.

    What these men are actually doing (and yeah, I don’t like it) is appealing to a gender stereotype around how to seduce a woman. Sort of a kinky guy’s imagined idea of what a Harlequin novel is like.

    Well, either that, or some of them really do earnestly believe in the fantasy-tapestry they’re weaving, but that makes them particularly clueless Nice Guys.

    Either way, yeah, I think readers can be forgiven for thinking you’re sneering at the femininity, there.

    (There’s also the amusing [to me anyway] twist that you compare them to George Michael, who is a gay man.)

  16. Nine Deuce November 30, 2008 at 1:00 AM #

    I was referring to the fact that these guys’ tack was offensively paternalistic and hence reminded me of the song “Father Figure,” which I linked to. Any implication that I was referring to their being like George Michael because he’s gay is a serious stretch.

    I don’t consider describing sex acts in embarrassingly trite terms a feminine characteristic, I consider it a fruity one, fruity meaning corny. That ought to be obvious in context. In any case, I’d assume that any reader on a radical feminist blog would know I’m not going to use femininity as a basis for an insult, considering the fact that I’m opposed to all of the bullshit that binary sex roles entail. It’s kind of the keystone of radical feminism.

  17. A Sub Par Pro Domme November 30, 2008 at 2:58 AM #

    Interesting so far…I’d be curious to see you do this same experiment with submissive men. I bet you’d find out what I’ve discovered as a pro domme: most “submissive” men are more interested in dominating and objectifying women than in truly being dominated and objectified themselves.

    Anyway, there are some things about BDSM that I personally think are fun, but I’ll spare you my personal anecdotes because overall I agree with your general conclusions.

  18. Trinity November 30, 2008 at 4:38 AM #

    “I bet you’d find out what I’ve discovered as a pro domme: most “submissive” men are more interested in dominating and objectifying women than in truly being dominated and objectified themselves.”

    Do you find this is different when you compare clients to others? I’ve found in my own experience that men who met me after many years of experience hiring prodommes had very specific ideas in their heads about how I should act, and it didn’t make me feel very dominant. But men I met who didn’t have that history tended to be less like that, at least in my experience.

    Or at least tended to be self-aware enough to say “Hey, I’m not really interested in that getting bossed around stuff, but I think it would be fun if you beat me. What do you say?” I have no problem with people who aren’t submissive if they’re not pretending they are.

    Have you found differences yourself, or not?

  19. Trinity November 30, 2008 at 4:39 AM #

    “Any implication that I was referring to their being like George Michael because he’s gay is a serious stretch.”

    I didn’t say you meant to do that. I said I found it hilarious that you did.

  20. Odium November 30, 2008 at 10:53 AM #

    There’s much I could say at this point, but I’m sure nobody wants to read through 10+ paragraphs of pure bile. I’ll just stick with saying that anyone interested in being a BDSM dom probably fits the same personality type as those who staffed the camps at Belsen and Auschwitz. Torture is torture by any name.

  21. Laurel November 30, 2008 at 11:35 AM #

    @ProDomme–I’ve always suspected this. I once dated a guy who “wanted to be a sub.” That meant he wanted to dictate what I wore and what “naughty things” I did to him.

    Sheeeeeeit.

  22. Jenn November 30, 2008 at 4:25 PM #

    As someone who’s ancestors were in concentration camps (Polish), I’m a little offended by comparing doms to Nazis. Extermination of people != non-mainstream expression of sexuality. Godwin’s law declares this thread played out.

  23. myth November 30, 2008 at 6:56 PM #

    @Odium

    I’m a woman who enjoys bdsm, and usually as the top. My grandparents were prisoners in Auschwitz. As were other members of my family, many of whom did not get out alive. So I’ll have to second Jenn’s response here. Even my grandmother is subject to Godwin’s law, and so are you.

  24. Trinity November 30, 2008 at 8:27 PM #

    “To use experiences as a pro domme as a model for what happens in romantic/relationship BDSM is like saying that because you worked in the kitchens at McDonalds, you know what people like to cook for each other at home.”

    Thank you, SD.

    Are there men looking for relationships who act this way? Why yes.

    I blame the patriarchy — not the fact that they are into BDSM.

  25. Gayle November 30, 2008 at 11:27 PM #

    “romantic/relationship BDSM”

    That is one fucked up expression.

    You have it pegged with the 1/2 goofy, 1/2 horrifying description, Nine. If women weren’t raped, tortured, abused and murdered so damn often, I’d probably find the ritualized aspects of BDSM more amusing.

    Unfortunately, normalizing porn-sick violent fantasy by copying it, internalizing it, and justifying it as mere “kink” makes life even more dangerous for women and girls.

    But who cares, right? Anything goes as long as someone gets off on it.

    • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 7:12 AM #

      That is really messed up and disturbing that you would find this sick,sexualized,men’s violence,cruelty and irrational hatred of women,(and men are born from and nurtured by *women*!,and a womqan giving birth to a son is exactly like if a Jewish person could give birth to a Nazi or a Black person giving birth to a White racist Klu Klux Klan members,and women are the only hated oppressed group of people who actually literally give birth to our oppressors,haters and haters,and are expected to have ”romantic” and sexual relationships with them and marry them,and incomprehensibly,they do and have been doing so for 1,000′s of years for as long as men have been born from and nurtured by women!

  26. bonobobabe December 1, 2008 at 12:14 AM #

    I think people are dichotomizing too easily. It’s real easy to say that only “losers” or whatever put ads on craigslist or answer ads on craigslist, and then there are the “normal” people who don’t. Sorry, ain’t happening. Everyone is the same. We all like to harbor the delusion of uniqueness, but we’re not unique.

    Why do people into BDSM wear leather? Because everyone else does. They all use riding crops and cat o’ nine tails. Because everyone else does. They probably all have the same scripts and words that they use.

    You know what would be unique? A dom punching a sub in the face. Seriously. If you’re getting off on causing someone harm, why use a whip? Be original. Sock him or her in the face. Or pinch the person really hard. It’s like some game that everyone plays the same, thinking they’re being oh so transgressive. Meh. Sheep. Copycats.

  27. Trinity December 1, 2008 at 12:27 AM #

    “If women weren’t raped, tortured, abused and murdered so damn often, I’d probably find the ritualized aspects of BDSM more amusing.”

    It’s precisely because life is horrifying that some people “play” with such themes. (And I’d say I disagree that it’s especially horrifying to women — people are marginalized in innumerable ways, many of them violent.)

    For some people, it works on a similar principle as black humor. Sometimes the only way to look at the horrible parts of reality is by doing so on a slant.

  28. Trinity December 1, 2008 at 5:40 AM #

    Bonobo, certain kinds of pinching are actually pretty good for takedowns. :)

    Punches in the face would do entirely too much damage.

    But yes, although your comment strikes me as less of a thoughtful comment and more as snark, I do think it is true that any time a subculture exists, it has norms. Yeah, a lot of us do similar things, adopt similar styles, etc.

    But that’s hardly a criticism of BDSM as a whole.

    I’ve seen a lot of radical feminists who say, think about, and are interested in the same things, sometimes to the point where I can predict what one will say or think about something. Does that make radical feminism a dull little groupthinky subculture?

    (Okay, my personal opinion is that it often is, actually, but the mere fact that people in a community do a lot of the same stuff isn’t what makes that true.)

  29. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 1, 2008 at 6:48 AM #

    @bonobabe: Wow, way to stereotype. You do realize that not everyone who’s into BDSM wears leather, yes? That not everyone who’s into BDSM uses riding crops and cats o’nine tails? That there are people into BDSM who don’t do any sort of impact play?

    When I use[1] a cat[2], it’s because it causes a precise sensation I wish to cause and the person with whom I am playing wishes to experience, not because of any third party. Aside from a lack of people interested in the sensations that come from a punch in the face, punches in the face carry the risk of actual damage well beyond what anyone doing BDSM wants to inflict.

    Pinching is far less original than you seem to think.

    [1] Or have used on my, with approriate reversals of pronouns further down in the paragraph.
    [2] Or any other tool.

  30. Miss Fit December 1, 2008 at 8:20 AM #

    Hello,

    I would like to commend you on your bravery to post on such a sensitive subject. It’s obvious that you have done research concerning this topic. However, I would like to point out that not all forms of BDSM include violence or power play at all. In addition, I would hope that you can accept that not all sex is accompanied with a relationship. And, in some cases, intimacy can be a dangerous thing. Just as there are drastically variedsexual preferences, there are vastly different types of relationships. They may not be conventional, they may not last forever, but they exist. They have always existed. They will continue to exist long after you and I both leave this world. People will always feel the drive to copulate with other people, and with all these billions of free wills running around, someone or another is bound to do something ‘freaky’.

    I would hope, while writing subsequent blogs in this series, that you take the time to read through S&M 101 by Jay Wiseman. When you walked into Whiplash in San Diego in the mid 90’s, this is what you should have been shown, not a full body latex suit with butt plug.

    Yes, there are many people into autoerotic asphyxiation, or spanking, or schoolgirl outfits, or whatever the particular kink might be. And yes, many of these kinks point to misogyny. Many of the responses to your fake post were thinly veiled sexual predators hiding behind BDSM for social acceptance. But to say that all in the greater BDSM community are sexually deviant is the same as saying that all Catholic preists are pedophiles.

    I worked in a bong shop in Northern California in the ’90’s. I remember what being a goth was like, back when you had to buy a year’s supply of white facepaint and black nail polish in October. I remember the advent of Hot Topic. I was then, and still are now, heavily pierced. And, much like you, I assumed that BDSM was the next natural progression in my gothdom. However, I was not introduced to BDSM by a shocking store display and waves of creepy sexual predators replying to a fake personals ad. I took the time to research as best I could, and I took the time and attention needed to discover exactly what I was, and what I wasn’t, willing to do. Sure, I had some experiences that were a little too heavy for me – but that’s why safewords exist.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, BDSM is like sushi. It’s too freaky and raw for a lot of people. It’s different, and unrecognizable at first. It takes you a while to figure out just what you like, and once you know what that is, you need to be specific when asking for it. Some people never develop a taste for it, and some people love it more than anything else on the planet. And you can’t just grab it wherever you see it – you need to look for the freshest, the best, the cleanest you can find. And if you can’t find it, you need to move closer to the ocean.

  31. tor December 1, 2008 at 11:44 AM #

    “If you’re getting off on causing someone harm, why use a whip? Be original. Sock him or her in the face. Or pinch the person really hard. It’s like some game that everyone plays the same, thinking they’re being oh so transgressive. Meh. Sheep. Copycats.”

    what makes you think a lot of us don’t forego whips and leather and all the rest? Another female top here. And I don’t use equipment, costumes or special language.

    Also, what’s up with this idea that SMers are trying to be transgressive anyway? I have no doubt that some people dabble with SM for this reason, but I suspect most of them lose interest once they grow out of their goth/emo/angst phase. The people in it for the long haul however generally aren’t trying to be original or transgressive to begin with. So why begrudge them their leather?

    And really, it’s probably impossible to be original with any kind of sex anyway, kinky or vanilla.

  32. gare December 1, 2008 at 1:39 PM #

    I hear you consistently say that you are interested in raising consciences with how society affects choices, and understand that since you have an identification with ‘radical’, this leads you to exotic fringe topics you attempt to apply to mainstream concepts. And you do a good job, especially touting intimacy over variety in sexual matters. I do take exception however, to your need to make your points at the expense of other innocent groups that are not hurting anyone, like reenactors. I would think a radical ‘equal playing field’ person wouldnt find it necessary to put down people who are really 1) trying to put the best face possible on enlightenment (as you are, arent you?) 2) are no different in concept than me cringing at the thought of watching a musical like mama mia 3) are really there to sell jewelry and turkey legs! 4) reenactors could be said to be in the education field, just like you!

    You always seem to feel the need to put down somebody else to make your points.. George Michael for instance (wake me up before you post post) … seems to me radical people should rise above this. All in all though, once I get through your fancy icing (subject matter), I usually find you have a good cake underneath. Though I hate chocolate! No response necessary gare

  33. Trinity December 1, 2008 at 3:58 PM #

    “Also, what’s up with this idea that SMers are trying to be transgressive anyway?”

    Yeah, no kidding. When I first realized what my fantasies meant, I didn’t think I was awesome. I worried that I was sick in the head and would get violent.

  34. Cindy December 1, 2008 at 4:03 PM #

    http://psych.mcmaster.ca/dalywilson/TheManWho.pdf

    A link you might be interested in given your research into this topic.

    I enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for…well…writing it.

  35. Gorgias December 1, 2008 at 4:09 PM #

    I’ll also note that sticking to methods of delivering pain that the community has a lot of experience with is a Good Idea. I’m pretty thankful that people before me figured out what types of pain aren’t likely to cause to harm, and what aren’t, and I’d be pretty leery of going off the beaten path (that said, there isn’t nearly enough BDSM porn about hair pulling… or sandpaper. Yum.)

  36. Cindy December 1, 2008 at 4:10 PM #

    I would also suggest:

    fetlife.com for some interesting input, as well as, alt.com. However, keep in mind that many of the people on alt have a rather romanticized vision of d/s-bdsm, or…they simply see it as another means of finding sex partners.

    I would make a distinction between bdsm…the ‘activities’ involving bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (usually not involving d/s, but related only to a ‘scene’ whereby the activities agreed upon are carried out between a top/bottom), and d/s (dominance/submission) as the ‘relational’ aspect where the power exchange dynamic is more in place.

  37. Cindy December 1, 2008 at 5:00 PM #

    9…

    After reading all of the comments here, I’d like to add a private aside to you. I participated in the Phoenix, AZ bdsm community (see APEX…ArizonaPowerEXchange) for close to 5 years. The choice to do so was based on quite a bit of research, and a desire to explore certain aspects of my own sexuality. Many other issues played into that decision.

    Most recently, I made another decision to remove myself from that community based upon my experiences, and observations of those living within the context of this ‘lifestyle’. I would agree with one response that said you found the sexual predators who would disguise their desires under the guise of practicing d/s-bdsm when placing your ad on Craigs List. There are far, far too many who would prey upon both male, and female practitioners. I would also add that many seek a return to what they see as a more traditional way of living relationships…patriarchal?…certainly. However, I think some of that is a desire for a simpler, more innocent time, as well…patriarchal issues aside.

    There are also large numbers of people involved in this community who have mental health issues. Many claim that the numbers are in line with general society, but seem larger due to the fact that bdsm communities are smaller, sub-groups of society.

    BDSM is a practice that involves a chemical change in our chemistry…an increase of adrenalin, and endorphins that will affect the participants in such a manner that they feel ‘high’…stoned…an altered state of reality. I encountered many who were addicted to that ‘high’, needing the next ‘fix’ to assuage their addictions to that chemical change physiologically. As a recovering addict/alcoholic of 25 years, I was ever aware of that potential, myself. There are many in this community who are also clean/sober individuals. As a matter of fact, I was initially quite surprised to find so many…until I exprienced my first bdsm scene, and reached that plateau that they describe as “sub-space”. I get it…at that level, anyway.

    My involvement in the bdsm community was, overall, a positive one. I learned an awful lot about myself, personal interactions, and the levels to which so many will wander in order to avoid personal intimacies. Eh…a confusion of what constitutes intimacy is one of the greatest flaws in that community.

    I’ve no doubt that you’ve done the research necessary to evaluate one’s involvement in this community. I’m looking forward to reading the remaining elements of your series. For the record…chucklin’ now…I have a triple Masters’ degree in English, Creative Writing, and Women’s Studies from Prescott College…Prescott, AZ. I am a retired high school, and college teacher, a feminist (no, not a ‘radical’ one), a mother, Grandmother, and…well…you get the picture. Just your normal, everyday Jane.

    • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 7:29 AM #

      How totally sick,horrible and disturbing,no BDSM is *NOT* ”normal” at all,it’s very sick,damaging,exualized,eroticized,woman-hating,and violence against wonen that comes from men’s sexist,woman-hating male dominance and violence that typical pornography sexualizes,normalizes! And it comes from the whole sexist,gender stereotyped,woman-hating male dominated sick society we all live in and are so conditioned in. And no genuine feminist supports or practices it! You and they aren’t feminists you and they are total fake traders and hypocrites!

      • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 7:36 AM #

        I just realized I made a few typing mistakes.But I also want to say that is very disturbing,sick,scary, and horrible that Cindy was a high school and college teacher,there are sickos in any field,and a mother and a grandmother! I feel sorry for her children and granchildren.

        • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 7:42 AM #

          Below is from the anti-pornography feminist site Pornography And The First Amendment. Twiss Butler of The Washington NOW said to me that women who support pornography and call themselves “feminists” are supporting sexism and woman-hating and are *NOT* feminists,and she’s totally right they are fake traders and hypocrites!
          Women’s Institute for
          Freedom of the Press
          Pornography and the First Amendment
          Twiss Butler
          from her chapter “Why The First Amendment Is Being Used to Protect Violence Against Women,” in The Price We Pay, The Case Against Racist Speech, Hate Propaganda, and Pornography, Laura Lederer and Richard Delgado, eds. (NY: Hill & Wang, 1995)
          “Twiss Butler argues that men’s control of institutions of communication and education allows them to support speech that harms women and to suppress speech against that harm. She observes that the publishing industry funds legal, journalistic, and nonprofit organizations endorsing a First Amendment absolutist position. She contends that the industry’s defense of pornography as protected speech serves the dou ble purpose of dignifying misogyny and establishing the First Amendment as the publisher’s product liability shield.” (p. 160)
          “When feminists criticize pornography as graphic misogyny, they are attacking not only the system of sexism itself, with its economic and social pay-offs for men, not only Playboy’s advertising rates, but also publishers’ broad First Amendment shield against liability for any harm caused by the products that they produce and sell.
          “The publishing industry and the men in it therefore have a conflict of interest in reporting a critique of pornography as inimical to women’s civil rights (unsecured as those rights are by the Constitution). We need to consider how that conflict of interest distorts the information we receive through journalistic coverage of public debate and action on this issue.
          “Publishers protect their liability shield either by silencing feminists while granting speech to those who vilify them, or by misrepresenting the feminist critique of pornography. Women are given credibility and access to speech to the extent that they say what men want them to say. Stray from the script and you will be attacked, misquoted, or simply go unheard. As power brokers in a large industry profiting from sexism, publishers disguise this censorship as selfless concern for the First Amendment and freedom of speech. (p. 163) …
          “In the news business as elsewhere, men have long relied on the weapon of pornography to avoid having to compete on their own merits. The role pornography plays in keeping women journalists at a disadvantage is evident in the experience of Lynn carrier, an editorial writer for the San Diego Tribune who sued the paper in 1990 for sex discrimination and harassment. Men coworkers attempted to intimidate and segregate Carrier by displaying pornography in the office, using sexual insults when talking with her, and asking her to run out and buy a copy of Playboy for her supervisor–who also wondered aloud what she would charge Playboy for posing nude for photographs. Carrier won her civil suit (refusing, incidentally, to accept a secret settlement), but the outcome was typical–she no longer works at the Tribune, but is employed instead at a smaller paper in the area. (p. 164) …
          “To protect pornography, women’s speech must be carefully controlled. When Linda Lovelace said she loved starring in pornographic films, she was treated as credible; when Linda Marchiano said that she had been beaten, raped, and coerced into making those films, her credibility was questioned. No risk is overlooked. At a National Press Club speech by Christie Hefner in 1986, I addressed her ‘as a pornographer’ in a written question about her lawsuit to censor testimony from a federal hearing that referred to Playboy as pornography; when my question was read aloud by the club’s president, these three words were deleted.” (pp. 166-167)
          [This chapter by Twiss Butler alone is worth the purchase of The Price We Pay, The Case Against Racist Speech, Hate Propaganda, and Pornography. The entire book is excellent and highly recommended.] These comments are from this not mine.

  38. subversive_sub December 1, 2008 at 9:08 PM #

    I’m curious to know what you posted to Craigslist. Was it simply something along the lines of “I’m a submissive woman looking for a good time?” Or was it more elaborate, describing specifically what you wanted? I assume it’s the former, but either way, the responses are….well, geez. The gall of writing to you with this assumption that they know exactly what you want, because the person who wrote that ad identified herself as a submissive, and obviously all submissives enjoy penetrative sex, degrading language, being “raped,” whipping, rope bondage, cum shots to the face, and all of the rest of their own personal fantasies. “Pssh, there’s no variation in women’s sexual desires, they all want exactly what I want. Right? And it’s totally okay for me to call you things like ‘little one’ and refer to you as a ‘cumslut’ even though I’ve never actually talked to you and have no idea if such terms are a turn-on for you at all.”

    What disturbs me most of all is the first batch of responses, the idea of the male dom as the all-knowing and benevolent Master who will help their submissive overcome her feminist hand-wringing and fulfill her deep need to submit to A Man. It bothers me more than the “I will make you cum so hard when I rape your face” responders because it’s these people — the self-satisfied, philosophical, sweet-talking Masters — that I imagine are the most likely of the bunch to be a part of a real BDSM scene and not just jerking off to Craigslist ads in their mom’s basement.

    (Well, now that I think about it, it’s maybe more likely that the second batch — the ones to focus on which activities would be taking place, and what skills/interests they could bring to the table — would be part of a real BDSM scene, but still…)

    Speaking as a straight female submissive, I’m really, really grateful that I’ve have never had to search for a non-fucked-up male dominant on the internet in order to find a suitable sexual partner.

  39. Trinity December 1, 2008 at 10:30 PM #

    Cindy,

    I know you were writing as an aside to 9-2, but I wanted to thank you for being so frank about your experiences, even to the point of mentioning which group you left. Every now and again, I and other people still active in the scene will see someone posting about how she left, saying “I know how it really is”, but rarely saying: “Look, these are the people I was around, this is what they did that I found uncomfortable, and this is why it didn’t suit me any more.”

    I really appreciate your being willing to say flat-out that you were in APEX, as well as mentioning that you ran into many different kinds of people, rather than just saying we’re all one way or another way, all subscribe to some theory of what sex or love is like, etc.

    If you don’t mind my asking, would you be willing to tell me what you saw that indicated that people were “avoiding intimacy?” Do you just mean that people played casually a lot, or did you see patterns in long-term relationships that troubled you, as well?

    Again, thank you for your honesty, and for talking about your experiences in a nuanced, detailed, and careful way.

  40. Trinity December 1, 2008 at 10:44 PM #

    “it’s these people — the self-satisfied, philosophical, sweet-talking Masters — that I imagine are the most likely of the bunch to be a part of a real BDSM scene and not just jerking off to Craigslist ads in their mom’s basement.”

    SS, I actually disagree. I could be very wrong here, but in my experience such flowery, “D/s fulfills my dear pet’s heart” and “my dove-soul takes wings as His hand twines in my womanly hair” is generally the work of onliners. Back when I was first interested in BDSM, I found scads of very flowery, “romantic” style websites, by submissive women (not quite so much by dominant men, but whenever they wrote a guest post, it would often sound like that.)

    My assumption would be that the men who write such things would be the sort who surfed the ‘Net, found those websites, and either liked that romancey-goo themselves or saw that many women wrote that way and copied it, thinking it would get them attention.

    When I got into the actual BDSM community, I found very little of that sugary, D/s-y romance. I think it’s an online thing.

  41. Trinity December 1, 2008 at 10:45 PM #

    (Actually, if anyone remembers “The Castle Realm,” I think some of it might have started there… though they weren’t quite as cavity-inducingly sugary as many others. GACK.)

  42. subversive_sub December 2, 2008 at 1:47 AM #

    @Trinity: Yeah, that’s why my second guess at “spot the real BDSMer” was the people who got right down to the nuts and bolts of what they were interested in doing, what skills they had, etc…I’m sure you’re right. I think it wasn’t the flowery talk that made me think that so much as the subtleness of their response, and the sort of “I’ll teach and guide you” sexism that, I imagine, does happen in the real-life BDSM scene…?

  43. hexy December 2, 2008 at 4:42 AM #

    Now you know why kinky women tend to avoid net personals! I have to deal with them via work, and the amount of bullshit on the laughable-to-stomach-turning spectrum that shows up is definitely worth noting.

    In my experience, most of the dudes who send you the “I have great plans, which I will now outline in great detail. I want to do X, Y, and Z to you, which I will now outline in great detail.” emails… the bit where they write out the ridiculous, unrealistic, over-the-top fantasy and send it to a Possibly!Actual!Woman! to read IS their kink. They’re wanking away at the thought of you reading it, and that’s enough for them… which is why they’re not too perturbed at the thought that you might be a similarly horny internet-dependent male.

    Awaiting parts four and five.

  44. Trinity December 2, 2008 at 4:59 AM #

    “I think it wasn’t the flowery talk that made me think that so much as the subtleness of their response, and the sort of “I’ll teach and guide you” sexism that, I imagine, does happen in the real-life BDSM scene…?”

    I’m sure that it does, but I’m a top, so I don’t generally get people acting that way toward me. I’ve heard some submissive women saying they get that a fair bit of the time.

    Now and again I get people not really understanding what “submissive” means and trying to insist they are despite pushiness, but that’s the worst of it… and I find I don’t encounter it much unless I’m taking leave of my sanity and flirting with clueless n00bz.

  45. Trinity December 2, 2008 at 5:00 AM #

    “the bit where they write out the ridiculous, unrealistic, over-the-top fantasy and send it to a Possibly!Actual!Woman! to read IS their kink. They’re wanking away at the thought of you reading it, and that’s enough for them…”

    Exactly!

  46. hexy December 2, 2008 at 5:43 AM #

    I’m sure that it does, but I’m a top, so I don’t generally get people acting that way toward me. I’ve heard some submissive women saying they get that a fair bit of the time.

    Lucky you! I cop enough of it from dudes who are convinced that I, as a mostly-top-never-sub woman, just need their particular brand of wanky, flowery, show-me-the-way dominance to realise my submissive potential.

  47. Trinity December 2, 2008 at 6:05 AM #

    I haven’t heard that in about ten years, Hexy… and when I did, it was because I was looking up SM on the Internet, and found a group of “Christian D/s”ers, who believed it religiously inappropriate for me to top.

    After them, really, I never saw it from anyone.

  48. Evo December 2, 2008 at 3:28 PM #

    I am really enjoying this series. I have typed and retyped my own experiences with bdsm here, but have decided against sharing too much since this seems to be such a popular topic around the interubez. Suffice to say, your findings do not surprise me at all. I can’t wait for the next installments.

  49. Screaming Lemur December 2, 2008 at 5:46 PM #

    @Trinity:
    I’ve never heard of Christian D/ser’s, and your description of them (“religiously inappropriate for you to top”??!) has me not sure whether to laugh or be horribly, deeply disturbed. I hope I never, ever meet anyone like that. Yeecch.

  50. ThedaBara December 2, 2008 at 6:27 PM #

    I’m with Evo, I’m really enjoying this series. My experiences with the BDSM scene was short-lived, and I will say that your findings do not surprise me in the least.

    And you have put into words my issues with the scene, and why I left it.

  51. Trinity December 2, 2008 at 6:56 PM #

    “I’ve never heard of Christian D/ser’s, and your description of them (”religiously inappropriate for you to top”??!) has me not sure whether to laugh or be horribly, deeply disturbed. I hope I never, ever meet anyone like that. Yeecch.”

    That was about my reaction. And yeah, it’s pretty much what it sounds like: religious fundamentalists who think that whatever kink you wanna get up to in The Hetero Marriage Bed is perfectly sanctified, so long as you obey Paul’s fun little injunctions that tell you who the submissive one is.

    I stayed around because I hadn’t found other resources on SM and how to do it yet, and they talked pretty frankly and realistically about what they did, how they did it, and why they liked it. It turned me on to read about their scenes and such; I just switched genders about in my head and made things M/f or F/f in my brain.

    In a funny sense I liked them because they really seemed very everyday in a lot of ways. I mean, I didn’t share their religious beliefs, but it wasn’t like they were The Special Erotically Sophisticated Elite. They were regular, folksy-seeming folks, with families and regular lives and a few whips hanging in the closet.

    I didn’t like the patriarchal part (and they hated me once they realized I wasn’t gonna be easily convinced to find my Head), but it sounded good to me otherwise.

  52. Sam December 2, 2008 at 8:37 PM #

    Another admirer of your tenacity chiming in. Women’s liberation or bust!

  53. buggle December 2, 2008 at 9:36 PM #

    Nice work 9/2. Like Evo, I’ve also typed and deleted many responses.

    The bottom line to me is that I don’t want to get off on causing someone pain. That horrifies me. I don’t want anyone to get off causing me pain. That horrifies me. I don’t want my sexuality connected to pain or to unequal power relationships. (I live with a man, so obviously the power stuff is already hard enough to deal with, as a feminist!). I’ve done a lot of work over the years to disconnect pain and abuse from my sexuality, and it’s really damn hard.

    I really don’t care what other people do (as long as they aren’t hurting someone else, and I’m not convinced AT ALL that S/M’ers aren’t hurting people), but I really get pissed off when I hear/read people trying to claim that BDSM is a “feminist choice” or that there is nothing about BDSM that is influenced by patriarchy, by women-hating, by the sexualization of power differentials. Or that they have “thought about this stuff a ton” and so that means they don’t need to continue thinking about it. Or that I want to outlaw your whips and cuffs. Or think that they can convince me of how GREAT S/M is, and how much I’d love it if I just learned more about it. Hah.

    Also, totally off-topic- I met my lovely boyfriend on craigslist, so there! I also have been babysitting a great little dude for the past 5 years- a job I got on craigslist. And my last 6 roommates were all wonderful- found them on craigslist. There’s a lot of nasty shit on craigslist, but there’s great stuff too!! :)

  54. hexy December 2, 2008 at 10:00 PM #

    I haven’t heard that in about ten years, Hexy… and when I did, it was because I was looking up SM on the Internet, and found a group of “Christian D/s”ers, who believed it religiously inappropriate for me to top.

    After them, really, I never saw it from anyone.

    Eeeesh. 0_o

    From what I’ve gathered from other femdoms, it should stop happening soon. It seems to be a combination of “young” and “femme” that leads idiot maledoms to conclude I must be submissive, because that’s what they associate young femmes with. *rolls eyes*

  55. C December 3, 2008 at 12:07 AM #

    Thanks so much for putting this post up. I’ve been waiting for it for awhile and am surprised at how accurate it is. I’ve met all of those guys you talk about in this post and am so happy that someone else acknowledges that they exist and I find that very scary. I agree with subversive_sub about the first one probably being the most disturbing because #2 and 3 seem like the type who just sit at home alone with no intention of doing the fucked up shit they talk about.

  56. Trinity December 3, 2008 at 2:51 AM #

    “It seems to be a combination of “young” and “femme” that leads idiot maledoms to conclude I must be submissive, because that’s what they associate young femmes with. *rolls eyes*”

    IBTP.

  57. Trinity December 3, 2008 at 2:58 AM #

    “I really get pissed off when I hear/read people trying to claim that BDSM is a “feminist choice” ”

    Buggle,

    Can you give me a specific quote for this, here? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone say SM is feminist; the vast majority of pro-SM feminists I’ve known say SM is neither inherently feminist nor inherently antifeminist, so I’d be interested to see the precise wording of people who seem to be suggesting that women should take it up.

  58. thebewilderness December 3, 2008 at 3:03 AM #

    I admire your nerve 9/2,
    yes I do.
    I wasn’t able to wade through the comments once they deteriorated to torturers discussing among themselves. Although I must say that the idea that having been related to a victim of torture means that you must not be compared to certain torturers was revelatory.
    In future I will try to remember to refer to you lot as followers of Pol Pot.

  59. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 3, 2008 at 7:03 AM #

    @buggle:

    ‘I really get pissed off when I hear/read people trying to claim … that there is nothing about BDSM that is influenced by patriarchy, by women-hating, by the sexualization of power differentials.’

    I haven’t seen anyone make that claim — if nothing about BDSM was influenced by patriarchy, etc, we’d have accomplished something that vanilla sexuality hadn’t. What I have seen people refute is the claim that all BDSM is influenced by those things, to the extent that BDSM is problematic to the point of untenability in a way that vanilla sexuality — or even celibacy — is not.

    ‘Or that they have “thought about this stuff a ton” and so that means they don’t need to continue thinking about it.’

    Who has claimed to stop thinking about it? What has been refuted is the idea that we are thinking about incorrectly because we do not reach — and confirm — different conclusions than you.

    ‘Or think that they can convince me of how GREAT S/M is, and how much I’d love it if I just learned more about it. Hah.’

    Again, who’s claimed that? None of us care if you think it’s great. We’ll be quite satisfied if people stop comparing us to Nazis or serial killers, if people stop coming up with all these bullshit proclamations about how BDSM is somehow incompatible with intimacy, with love, with everything that is a part of vanilla relationships, too.

    • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 8:10 AM #

      BDSM *is* totally incompatible with love and intimacy,it’s the total opposite of these things! But you and all of the other supporters who do it,because pornography,which was so wrongly and unjustly put on the internet and so unjustly and wrongly mainstreamed and it sexualizes,normalizes and eroticizes male dominantion,female submission,and men’s cruelty,violence and irrational hatred of women and very sadly and unfortunately many women have been influenced by it too!

      And now with this horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey which is a written version of it,that is so disturbingly,messed up and horribly so popular with women,millions of women now find it ”sexy”,”romantic”,”normal” and ”erotic” to be dominated and brutalized by men!

      And nobody would defend a racist or anti-semitic version of BDSM of a Jewish person ”willingly” ”consenting” to be dominated and brutalized by Nazis,or Black people for White men,I’m sure if this horrendous Fifty Shades was about this and written by a Black person or a Jewish person,the media would never have put it all the place,and normalized and glorified this way or if was about a woman dominating and abusing a man,because of course women are not conditioned to identify with dominating and brutalizing men,mostly thanks to pornography that hs been so unjustly mainstreamed and made acceptable,women still identify with being submissive, objects,and victims dominated,used and abused by men.

  60. Jenn December 3, 2008 at 9:04 AM #

    Just as an aside, I’m not the same Jenn as the one above. Which is weird, because I’ve never come across anyone before that uses my moniker.

    Anywho, I am Jewish too, and I don’t think that conflating sexual torture with genocide is inappropriate. I mean, shit, disgusting human behavior does not arise in a vacuum. The most valuable part of the remembrance of the Holocaust is the reminder that nasty people will kill and hurt lots of people before anyone pretends to give two shits about it, especially if the dead are members of an unsavory class. Dehumanizing massive swaths of the population whilst the rest of the world sits about with their heads up their asses is nothing new. I know the temptation to isolate the Holocaust as the Greatest Tragedy Ever is tempting, but doing so dodges the real meaning: humans are capable of really nasty shit via socialization and the deliberate conflating of torture and death with “what is necessary”. For the Holocaust, it was the Fatherland and racial purity. For BDSM, it’s orgasm.

    Anyways, this series is fantastic Nine Deuce. Slogging through the qualifiers is tedious, but I understand why you spend so much time hashing out exactly what you’re not saying. Seems like there’s already plenty of rule-breakers.

    Another thing to consider: I can’t tell the difference, in most of my sexual encounters with men, between dominance/submission role playing and plain vanilla sex. It’s basically considered the default that I like having things done to me, that I like being on the bottom, and that I like it when they tell me what to do. Ugh. Specifically because of shitheads that assume that, submission in a het encounter is disgusting. I’m already smaller than you and my genitalia is more fragile, so what I say goes or I go. Maybe I’m defective because I physically cannot get off on adrenaline and fear. That shit’s for giggling like a loon while cliff diving, not for bumping uglies.

    Considering what you’ve said so far about the BDSM scene, it just sounds like Warren Jeffs meets Hot Topic. That is, plain old traditional male dominance dressed up for consumerism and counterculture with a delicious side of torture, cruelty, and deliberate selfishness and psychopathy.

    That said, if I had a therapist who told me I needed more role-playing in bed, I’d laugh so hard I’d probably throw up on her shoes.

  61. Rosa December 3, 2008 at 2:09 PM #

    “Another thing to consider: I can’t tell the difference, in most of my sexual encounters with men, between dominance/submission role playing and plain vanilla sex. It’s basically considered the default that I like having things done to me, that I like being on the bottom, and that I like it when they tell me what to do. Ugh. Specifically because of shitheads that assume that, submission in a het encounter is disgusting. I’m already smaller than you and my genitalia is more fragile, so what I say goes or I go.”

    I can definitely tell the difference. In “vanilla” encounters I have experienced consent as presumed, that because I’m willing to kiss or grope or get naked or whatever I have consented to have penetrative sex. My experience of BDSM is very different – that consent is explicitly stated, discussed and negotiated; as a bottom I have a safeword and on the handful of occasions where I’ve needed to use it it’s always been immediately respected – followed by lots of reassurance and discussion of *why* the scene wasn’t going right and I had to call a halt to things.

    That negotiation and explicitly stated consent is of course entirely possible in a vanilla encounter – “I’m ok to do this, this and this, I’ll do that if you really want to and under no circumstances will I do the other” but it’s far more likely to be found in a BDSM scenario.

    “Maybe I’m defective because I physically cannot get off on adrenaline and fear. That shit’s for giggling like a loon while cliff diving, not for bumping uglies.”

    I don’t think anybody said that here. But I’d like to point out that I’m not defective, broken, mal-adjusted, un-feminist or whatever because I *do* get off on adrenaline and fear – in a safely negotiated context that is.

  62. Cindy December 3, 2008 at 2:14 PM #

    Trinity,

    In advance, I’ll apologize for such a long post. I don’t do secrets, and believe if I‘m willing to say something, then I need to be willing to say where, when, and who, as well, or simply keep my mouth shut.

    In all honesty, I should have made my comments about APEX, and the “bdsm community” a bit more clear. I moved back to Illinois a little over a year ago, and became involved in the community here, as well…in several towns…in an effort to find a group in which I might feel comfortable. When I say the “bdsm community”, I include all facets within my experience…APEX (and AZ kinksters I know outside of APEX), Illinois groups, and online.

    There is certainly quite a bit of casual play, Trinity, but I also saw patterns, and had ‘inside’ peeks at long-term relationships that were troubling, as well. I believe that many in this lifestyle falsely mistake sexual intimacies (whether actual penetrative sex is involved or not) for intimate relationships…issues of patriarchy, and such aside.

    One of the things that is promoted vehemently as an almost absolute in bdsm circles is the ability, and need to communicate with one another, to be open about who we are, and what we want from these relationships. There is an arrogance in thinking that we are much more apt, and able to be so than other members of society…the ‘vanilla’ folks. I’ll say up front that I have a great dislike for that term for many reasons, but will use it as a commonly understood distinction. I, personally, don’t compartmentalize my life in such a way. What I observed from the majority is that communication skills within the bdsm community are as lacking, vague, and misdirected, in general, as they are in the vanilla community. The dysfunctions created as a result are probably more damaging than with vanillas because of the betrayal felt as a result of those miscommunications, and an inherent belief that what we do is so much more honest, and open than the general population. I’ll give an example, and please understand that this is only one of many such.

    I know a couple who have been married for about 15 years; they’re a poly family. He is dominant, she is also, but submits to him. They both have submissives, and play casually with others, as well. The façade presented to the community is one of unity, near-perfection, openness, honesty, strength, etc…all the qualities that are seen as hallmarks of an open, poly family. They are seen within the community as paragons, examples by which those interested in such relational dynamics should model their own. They give many demos/presentations of their bdsm skills, and poly dynamics.

    The reality is that the jealousies experienced amongst the family members are intricately interwoven, which manifests in rather manipulative, dysfunctional behaviors for all concerned. For example, the primary couple have an acknowledged agreement that they will discuss, and integrate new submissives into their family amongst themselves prior to such taking place. Imagine her surprise, well hidden except with friends in private, when she was presented with a new submissive that he had been fostering for some months…unbeknownst to her. All of this is justified as his being the dominant partner, and, therefore, within his right to choose, and do as he pleases within that dynamic…regardless of their agreement. She seethes with resentment, and anger, but does not discuss this with all involved. Ultimately? I don’t see any of them surviving the lack of communication, and openness needed in such a dynamic.

    The facades presented are often just that…facades. They are not the reality underlying relationships generally begun with a focal point of bdsm, and little, or no exploration of commonalities beyond those. When the relationships fall apart, there is usually great dismay. When there are no commonalities beyond bdsm, or d/s, what will hold them together within a relational context? What of values, life practices, common likes/dislikes, politics, family, emotional wants/needs, means of interacting relationally, and so on? Rarely have I seen anyone within this community approach a relationship as a relationship, but merely as a means of practicing their kinks. It’s as if the intimacies found within a relationship are after-thoughts when, in fact, they are the glue that will hold the rest together in practice.

    I’ve been told that those are ‘vanilla’ values, and morals, which have no place within this community. I’ve also been told that I need to open my mind to the openness by which those in the bdsm community live their lives. I disagree. I see a lack of basic relational foundations (and skills) that, when present, will strengthen a relationship, and when absent, will destroy one. Period. Sexual practices do not build relationships, but this is how they are largely approached within this community. I can only name two relationships that are more well-rounded, and inclusive of all facets of life…they’re strong relationships (one of 20+ years, the other nearly 10 years). Most often, there is a shuffling of partners that continues to move rather rapidly as one relationship ends, and another begins…always with play as the central focal point to who they are as a couple.

    It’s been my experience in life (both personally, and through observations) that when any one ‘thing’ becomes a focal point of living, it has the greatest potential of becoming a dysfunction. There needs to be balance in life…a means by which I, as an individual, feed needs/wants on all levels of who I am…not just one aspect. I don’t think I’m unique in that, but hesitate to say this as seeming to say that my way is the right/only way.

    As a woman in recovery, involved in yet another community…way of living life…I see similar dysfunctions within that group, as well. I don’t think these are issues that are specific to the bdsm community. I believe it’s a manifestation of a deeper issue that is buried in a very sick society that has come to a point where personal intimacies aren’t the norm. We are, largely, a throw away society, one that wants what it wants when it wants it…immediate gratification. Individuals rush headlong into relationships that have no chance of surviving because they don’t take the time to know potential partners, and see if they are, indeed, mated matches. We have little sense of commitment…long-term. Doesn’t work? Leave it. Doesn’t work? I would ask, “Why?” Is there a true reflection given to the why, and a commitment to self and others to approach things differently so as to meet wants/needs within that context in a healthy way, and not perpetrate further dysfunctional interactions? Not usually.

    For me…it’s about balance in life. Again, I really don’t think I’m unique in this, but I also don’t think most people approach life in that manner, either. It’s far easier to surf the surface than to delve more deeply. It also points to an inability to accept personal responsibility, and be accountable for self. Far simpler to say, “He/She just wasn’t right for me” than to look at the why of it, and make changes in self to help one choose a ‘right’ partner.

    I often heard, “We know ourselves better within the bdsm community.” Again, I would disagree with that. They are more open about their sexuality than the general population, but there isn’t more depth to most involved beyond that. Many don’t understand why it is they do what they do…what attracts them to bdsm-d/s. It could be as simple as…it just turns them on, or as complex as a nurtured nature that is more dominant, or submissive, and finds great joy in serving from either perspective. “I just am” is a common response. Why are you…just you? Most don’t have a clue.

    Largely, from what I observed, the power exchange that takes place within d/s relationships is not a balance of energies as it’s proclaimed, but one in which one is subjugated to another in such a way so as to stifle emotional/mental/spiritual needs while more exclusively feeding the physical. How can there be an exchange when so much of any one part of that dynamic is so stifled? How can there be true intimacy when so much of ourselves, and lives are left out of the communication of who we are?

    Anyway…a very long response, and, again, I apologize for that.

    • Cindi Gold (@topazthecat1000) March 18, 2014 at 8:53 AM #

      Shawn,

      I read Gloria Steinem’s great important quotes on the great informative AntiPornography.org’s Gloria page about how pornography sexualizes,eroticizes,and normalizes men’s domination,women’s submission,and men’s violence and teaches that this is what sex is,and no other equal alternatives. And how she said we have to eroticize equality. And also what she says about sadomasochism being in society’s where is a lot of child abuse,and also that the confusion of sex with violence is most obvious in any form of sadomasochism. I have her best selling great book since it came out in the Fall of 1983,Outrageous Acts And Everyday Rebellions and so I had a lot of her quotes from there,but I see she revised some of them in her 1995 addition and added to it.What I don’t understand at all,is why hasn’t she spoken out against Fifty Shades Of Grey for normalizing and sexualizing the same *exact* harmful injustices? Even one of the many women on Amazon.com who gave the book a bad review and said on every level,artistically,politically and psychologically the book is misogynistic junk and she said Gloria Steinem speak out against this crap book PLEASE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      C

  63. Trinity December 3, 2008 at 5:05 PM #

    Cindy,

    No apologies necessary. And again, I disagree with you on several points, but I deeply appreciate both your honesty and your talking realistically, rather than bringing in the Nazis, Pol Pot, the idea that people who aren’t where you are need therapy, etc. :)

    I too have seen things like what you describe, and I don’t like them either. I think the difference is that you seem to ascribe them to people’s being kinky, or to people’s socializing in kinky circles. I don’t — I think most humans I’ve met act that way, and that it takes careful and serious work to separate the wheat from the chaff anywhere.

    BDSM or not, anywhere I’ve gone in my life I’ve found there were people who were keepers and people who were not. I don’t really buy that somehow people who don’t do or like things I enjoy in bed have a better shot at finding someone to love. I just can’t make that make sense in my head: Be dishonest about something you need in your sex life, be more likely to find someone who loves you and have less drama in your life? It’s like telling a gay person that the gay scene is full of club bunnies, so date a nice woman instead. I can’t make that make sense in my head — wouldn’t it make more sense to cultivate discernment, and find the person to date who isn’t a club bunny?

    Maybe this is because my first relationship happened after I got into the Scene, and is with someone who is still a dear best friend who I’d take a bullet for, and I know he would for me. Maybe this is because I’m in a relationship now that’s lasted a year, and I feel damned sure that whatever happens to him and me, whether we stay together or split, do D/s or don’t, fuck or watch television, we love one another and that is NOT going to ever change, sex or not. The fact that he’s attracted to me and enjoys submitting to me is just gravy on top of “You’re nifty. I like you.”

    But that’s what I tend to think a lover is: gravy on top of a friend. And you don’t find those often. People to fuck, sure, or people to play with — and I don’t begrudge anyone any of that, it’s fun. But it’s easier to find those than anyone.

    “It’s been my experience in life (both personally, and through observations) that when any one ‘thing’ becomes a focal point of living, it has the greatest potential of becoming a dysfunction. There needs to be balance in life…a means by which I, as an individual, feed needs/wants on all levels of who I am…not just one aspect. I don’t think I’m unique in that, but hesitate to say this as seeming to say that my way is the right/only way.”

    I agree with that, and I think that’s part of why Monkey and I (silly name yeah, but I’m not outing people just to make their nicknames less goofy!) aren’t always going to meetings and munches and demos and on. Sometimes it’s fun to be really involved like that, and sometimes it’s a good way to see dear friends from far away geographically, but yeah, that way lies burnout., too.

    “I often heard, “We know ourselves better within the bdsm community.” Again, I would disagree with that. They are more open about their sexuality than the general population, but there isn’t more depth to most involved beyond that.”

    Bragging is usually a sign of insecurity, unless it’s done with tongue firmly planted in cheek and a healthy ability to laugh at yourself. :)

    That said, I’ve known a *lot* of people who’ve been too scared to admit the first thing about what they wanted if it didn’t fit the norm. And I think BDSM people can fairly brag that many of us have gone through that struggle of “Shit, I’m supposed to be normal!”, realized that sometimes you just don’t fit, and taken the first step towards looking at themselves and what they really want, rather than “well, the culture says I was supposed to get married and have two kids, and I did that and the whole time my life felt like an itchy sweater. I wish I’d looked inside myself a little more at eighteen.”

    I was looking inside myself at eighteen, because at eighteen I knew I was wired different than most people around me. I don’t think that makes me a better person than anyone, and I sure don’t think I was the most reflective person ever… but I do think that it forced me to be reflective. It forced me to ask myself WHY exactly the cultural message was “Let men dominate you,” and what that really meant people thought about women, me, and individual choice.

    “Many don’t understand why it is they do what they do…what attracts them to bdsm-d/s. It could be as simple as…it just turns them on, or as complex as a nurtured nature that is more dominant, or submissive, and finds great joy in serving from either perspective. “I just am” is a common response. Why are you…just you? Most don’t have a clue.”

    Thing is, though, there’s not having a clue because you’re not very introspective, and there’s not having a clue because years of thinking about it hasn’t yielded an answer. I’ve got this amazing book from when I was a kid, called The Gifted Kid’s Survival Guide II (I never found Vol. I), and one of the things in it that affected my life very deeply from the time I was twelve was a panel that said something like “The real questions are the ones where you lie awake at night with your head buzzing and buzzing and you’re no closer to an answer in the morning. The real questions refuse to be placated.”

    I don’t know why I’m sexually sadistic. I don’t know whether the patriarchy had anything to do with it. I do know that it’s one of the real questions, and that it’s been with me all my life, and I don’t think “patriarchy! ding!” placates it any better than any of the other ding!s I’ve tried. But to say I haven’t thought about it, that I haven’t lain awake with those pistons moving and moving and moving in my head, is to miss what I’m saying, which is: Real questions? Are worth asking precisely because they don’t budge.

    I don’t say “I don’t know” because I’m shallow and gave up. I say “I don’t know” because it’s the only real answer I’ve ever found to a big, big question.

    “Largely, from what I observed, the power exchange that takes place within d/s relationships is not a balance of energies as it’s proclaimed, but one in which one is subjugated to another in such a way so as to stifle emotional/mental/spiritual needs while more exclusively feeding the physical. How can there be an exchange when so much of any one part of that dynamic is so stifled? How can there be true intimacy when so much of ourselves, and lives are left out of the communication of who we are?”

    I can’t really answer you here, because I don’t think I’m doing this. :) I think we do some stuff that we like because we like it, and it makes us feel good. Hell, half the time we forget our protocols (such as we have) are even there. They’re for us when we want them and not when we don’t.

    But I do think what’s consistent, and what I like and makes me happy, is the way that Monkey sees things in terms of service. If I do something he likes, even if I’ve had a blast myself, he wants to do some service to thank me. He feels weird if we play and he doesn’t massage my tired muscles. It’s just how he sees things. I don’t think it’s stifling to be “Wow, thanks, that makes me feel really special and loved.”

    As far as the desire to “own” him and keep him and treasure him… it’s another thing that I don’t know the why’s of. I do know that if I thought that was stifling him, I would miss it, but I wouldn’t do it any more. First and foremost he’s my beloved friend.

  64. Trinity December 3, 2008 at 5:06 PM #

    “I can definitely tell the difference. In “vanilla” encounters I have experienced consent as presumed, that because I’m willing to kiss or grope or get naked or whatever I have consented to have penetrative sex.”

    Yes, exactly. Vanilla folks seem to be very into having scripts, except that they vehemently deny they are scripts, until you try to do something else and they go “But you’re the woman! This is where I put my dick in, right?”

  65. buggle December 3, 2008 at 5:55 PM #

    Wow, Cindy, that was an extremely helpful and useful post.

  66. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 3, 2008 at 6:32 PM #

    @Jenn the Second “I can’t tell the difference, in most of my sexual encounters with men, between dominance/submission role playing and plain vanilla sex. IT’S BASICALLY CONSIDERED THE DEFAULT…”

    Jenn, you named the difference, and I’ve emphasized it for clarity in the above quite. In BDSM there is no default, there is explicit discussion and agreement prior to activity.

    @Crystal: You appear to be saying that the problems that you found in your experiences in some BDSM communities aren’t reflective of the BDSM community itself, but of the larger culture of which we are all a part. Certainly, you describe no dynamics, behaviors, or dysfunctions that are absent from the vanilla world!

    By way of contrast, I have no trouble finding examples of “strong relationships” that are “well-rounded, and inclusive of all facets of life…they’re strong relationships” in BDSM communities. I include my own in that, as my wife and I will celebrate 10 years together in June.

  67. hexy December 3, 2008 at 10:00 PM #

    Trin: IBTP.

    Absolutely.

    Cindy:

    Wow, great post!

  68. Cindy December 3, 2008 at 10:07 PM #

    Trinity,

    Thanks for your response, as well. Excellent points, and I appreciate your sharing personal experience for clarification, also. I would like to clarify one point. I did say the following in my previous post, but would like to repost that part as it may have been lost in my long-winded narrative.

    “As a woman in recovery, involved in yet another community…way of living life…I see similar dysfunctions within that group, as well. I don’t think these are issues that are specific to the bdsm community. I believe it’s a manifestation of a deeper issue that is buried in a very sick society that has come to a point where personal intimacies aren’t the norm. We are, largely, a throw away society, one that wants what it wants when it wants it…immediate gratification. Individuals rush headlong into relationships that have no chance of surviving because they don’t take the time to know potential partners, and see if they are, indeed, mated matches. We have little sense of commitment…long-term. Doesn’t work? Leave it. Doesn’t work? I would ask, “Why?” Is there a true reflection given to the why, and a commitment to self and others to approach things differently so as to meet wants/needs within that context in a healthy way, and not perpetrate further dysfunctional interactions? Not usually. ”

    I think there are a lot of reasons for the dysfunction we experience as a society, but was focusing on the issues of bdsm-d/s relationships in comparison to what I’ve seen in recovery communities, as well. Just trying to keep a somewhat complex issue a tad simpler.

    As to understanding self, I’m really only speaking about the folks I know. I am a curious sort, and ask rather pointed questions. Some of my friends tell me I’m relentless as I attempt to answer my own questions by probing others to share their own experiences. Anyway…I can’t tell you how many times I was told, nor by how many different people…”I don’t know. I really don’t think about that.” There are exceptions, of course, and I did try to qualify each of my statements so as not to make them seem like absolutes.

    (I’m chucklin’ as I type this.) I never said I wasn’t still participating in bdsm activities. I simply said that I’ve removed myself from the bdsm community, and not so simply…some of why I removed myself from it. Largely? The simple answer is that my wants and needs aren’t met within that community. I don’t think I need therapy to ‘cure’ me of a disease, as I’m quite comfortable in my skin regarding my sexuality. I don’t see it as a patriarchal manifestation of social hierarchy, but as a means of stimulating a variety of sensory input. I am, ultimately, a sensualist…and for me?…it really is that simple. On the other hand? There are many practicioners who do need therapy, but not because they choose to act within this framework. That they have serious, unresolved issues that need addressing…period…is the issue. Not bdsm.

    I really am enjoying the exchange here, and appreciate the diversity of ideas.

  69. Cindy December 3, 2008 at 10:19 PM #

    Ack…I missed an important part I wanted to address.

    Trinity, I’m not talking about service as being stifling, but the idea that submissives can’t express themselves openly, or it’s seen as a violation of the d/s dynamic that is in place for d/s relationships. Once again, I apologize for not making that distinction. I know far too many submissives…male, and female…who have issues with their dominants because they aren’t free to express wants/needs based on the structure of d/s in their lives.

    I know that d/s can be constructed in as many ways as there are people living within that dynamic. However, I’ve seen far, far too many who subjugate their own wants/needs to their dominant, and explain it as part of the power exchange in which they are involved. They seethe with resentment, and anger because they don’t feel they can express themselves openly (that communication issue, but even more so…the issue of not choosing a mated partner with life commonalities that would offer balance, as opposed to what they have), and they justify it as meeting the dominants needs above their own. I see that as more of a stifling imbalance, than an exchange.

    Again, just my two cents.

  70. Trinity December 4, 2008 at 2:59 AM #

    Cindy,

    Again, thank you. I hope it hasn’t gotten lost in the back and forth that yes, I have seen some of the things you describe. I’ve taken plenty of short and long hiatuses from the larger community. But I come back. Both because it’s fun and because, dammit, I like having a community of people who don’t think my fantasies, my relationships, and my idea of a good time are too weird for them. Also because while abandoning drama is always wise, abandoning my friends just doesn’t strike me as healthy, ever, and never did.

    Most of the people I know who are long-time veterans of the Scene go and come back, IMX. I’ve rarely seen anyone who didn’t leave the larger community for periods of time.

    “I believe it’s a manifestation of a deeper issue that is buried in a very sick society that has come to a point where personal intimacies aren’t the norm. We are, largely, a throw away society, one that wants what it wants when it wants it…immediate gratification.”

    I did see that bit, and I apologize for not responding to it. I didn’t because I don’t really know how. I spent a lot of time… mmm, well I called myself “radical feminist” at the time, but I don’t think I fit what much of the current crew deems radical feminist to be. At any rate, more of a thoroughgoing patriarchy- and society-blamer than I am now.

    Anyway, back then I was really into trying to figure out what’s wrong with so many people in the world, especially to come up with society-wide answers like “patriarchy” or “consumerism.” And nowadays, I… well, I just don’t know. I mean, on the one hand, yeah, I’ve observed people whose attitudes toward relationships are very impatient. Hell, I’ve been them myself! :)

    And I think that it’s clear that society has something to do with that — we’re not really encouraged to be patient and mindful, at all, in anything, and a society that put more value on mindfulness would be a better one. But at the same time, I’m leery of my own tendency to snap to “Aha! Society is all broken, and I know how, and I know why, and if everyone just listened to my theories, that would fix it!”

    Not that that’s what you’re doing, but I found that’s what getting too deep into that line of thinking led to in me, and I don’t like the person I became. There’s a fine line, like you (and all the parrots in the community who may or may not know what they’re saying, heh!) say, between dominance and ridiculous arrogance. I find it healthier myself, nowadays, to put my energy into other things… so I wasn’t sure how to answer you there.

    “As to understanding self, I’m really only speaking about the folks I know. I am a curious sort, and ask rather pointed questions. Some of my friends tell me I’m relentless as I attempt to answer my own questions by probing others to share their own experiences. Anyway…I can’t tell you how many times I was told, nor by how many different people…”I don’t know. I really don’t think about that.””

    That’s true. I remember asking a friend of mine, who was very kinky and very activist, about kink and feminism, and she just answered, “Whatever. I’ve got no interest in thinking about my fucking.”

    At the time, I thought she was being really stupid. Now, though, that I’ve gone through years of feminist soul-searching myself, I’m actually less angry. Like I said, I think these things are those Big Questions, the ones you can hammer on for a lifetime and come up with nothing but how you’ve grown from asking it. And while I don’t think not asking it at all is wise, I also think there are times when we ask not because it yields wisdom, but because we’re stuck in a rut or afraid to accept ourselves.

    I think knowing how we’re using “questioning” and “examination” and the like requires practical wisdom as well.

    “I never said I wasn’t still participating in bdsm activities. I simply said that I’ve removed myself from the bdsm community, and not so simply…some of why I removed myself from it. Largely? The simple answer is that my wants and needs aren’t met within that community.”

    Ah, okay, I thought you meant you weren’t. :) For me I’m pretty sure some level of interest will always be with me, so the idea of deciding “I won’t do BDSM because these people don’t sit well with me” wouldn’t make sense.

    “I don’t see it as a patriarchal manifestation of social hierarchy, but as a means of stimulating a variety of sensory input.”

    *nods* For me… well, erm. I have some answers to that that get kind of specific and think I’d rather continue this conversation in email or at my blog. I don’t want to talk about specifics in a place it might trigger people or be taken the wrong way, so I’d prefer if you email me, trinityva at yahoo do]t com, or comment here if you want to know: http://trinityva.livejournal.com/939385.html

    But yes, for me that’s part of it. That and I’ve been attracted to D/s all my life. The thought that patriarchy might have something to do with that is particularly odd to me, as I felt really ashamed as a girl for not wanting Prince Charming to sweep me off and masterfully woo me. I spent long nights of my adolescence praying to not be backwards any more. Yet people seem to think I’m patriarchal with reversed polarity! Heh.

    “That they have serious, unresolved issues that need addressing…period…is the issue. Not bdsm.”

    Thank you! Me, too.

    And I hope you don’t take my questioning you as some sort of insistence that the Scene is awesome. Your reasons for leaving make sense to me. I just don’t see those things as endemic in the way it seems you do, so I stick around. Hell, I met Monkey there a year ago, at some silly demo. I wasn’t expecting us to end up together. I just thought he seemed like fun, and I wanted less seriousness and more fun in my life. I didn’t know how right I was… :)

    “Once again, I apologize for not making that distinction. I know far too many submissives…male, and female…who have issues with their dominants because they aren’t free to express wants/needs based on the structure of d/s in their lives.”

    *nods* Yes, I can see how that could happen. I’ve been very choosy about the D/sers I hang out with and listen to, because I do think there’s a lot of bad advice out there that really does rely on this idea that D/s can take precedent over being friends and partners first. And IMX it really, really can’t. Even with people who I do think successfully pull off “I’m his majordomo, not his main squeeze” there has to be a core there of friendship and respect, and people can easily say this but not really do it, when push comes to shove. And I want to go, “Hey, dammit, like each other first!” :-P

    “the issue of not choosing a mated partner with life commonalities that would offer balance, as opposed to what they have), and they justify it as meeting the dominants needs above their own. I see that as more of a stifling imbalance, than an exchange.”

    Yes, I agree. I do wonder though if it’s D/s leading people to do that, or if it’s just that a lot of kinky people worry they won’t find partners, and aren’t as healthy about maintaining boundaries.

    I dated someone once who was poly, despite at the time feeling very firmly that I should not do so, and… well. Ugly, ugly kaboom.

    The relationship failed for many reasons, so I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying “POLY PPL SUXS” because I know people who do poly in ways that seem perfectly healthy to me. But I think that even if it had been a healthier poly relationship in general, that setup just wasn’t one I could truly thrive in. But his response to my dominance gratified me, sexually and personally, so much that I was like “I can’t lose him.” And that was a recipe for disaster.

    I lost him, of course. Better for all, in the end.

  71. belledame222 December 4, 2008 at 6:56 AM #

    Off the side thread between Trinity and Cindy:

    the thing is, yes, I am sure there -are- plenty of people in the BDSM community who don’t have basic relationship skills; this is because there are plenty of -people- who don’t have basic relationship skills. And the thing is, yeah, sure, you’re gonna find a number of people who rely on their shared kink to bind them together, -possibly- (I’ve no idea how one would determine such a thing with any degree of scientific objectifivity) even more percentage wise than the number of vanilla people who rely on the “well we both have PhD’s, love Thai food and Bergman movies and long walks on the beach and everyone says we look so good together and besides we already got all this matching furniture from the bridal shower,” because people with non-normative sexualities may well take -even longer- getting through those early dating and community-building stages that straight vanilla people at least -theoretically- are encouraged to go through in their adolescence.

    and then, too, most of the self-help books and couples’ counselors (how many triad-plus-more counselors do you even -find- outside the Bay area and maybe one or two other urban centers? and that’s with actively looking for it) are geared toward, surprise het vanilla couples.

    Is it any wonder that people cling to dysfunctional relationships when it’s probably still the most fulfilling approximation they’ve had?

    And the trouble is, of course, as with decades’ worth of solemn pronouncements wrt “homosexuals just are too promiscuous and fucked up to build relationships, which is why we mustn’t let them get married like normal people”–hello! It’s nothing inherent about the “lifestyle,” it’s that already fucked-up human beings (humans being what they are) are coming into the already difficult arena of building adult relationships not only without the encouragement you probably take for granted, but in the face of active pathologizing!

  72. Maggie Hays December 4, 2008 at 4:02 PM #

    Wow, Nine! Thank you so much for exposing the truth about those men’s misogyny- it is undeniable, IMO.

    The results are definitely not surprising though they are triggering. I have a question. Was it in any way emotionally difficult for you to carry out this research? I mean: having to put up with those men’s blatant, and sometimes brazen, woman hatred? Just wondered…

    I love your new series. :) Findings like these are important, even though they are pretty much what you hear if you ever happen to overhear an all-male group conversation about ‘what sex is supposed to be’ or something similar, i.e. men bonding with each other over their fucked-up fantasies of “dominating and humiliating (and in many cases hurting) women,” as you said.

    Strongly admiring your fight against sado-patriarchy ;)

  73. Maggie Hays December 4, 2008 at 4:56 PM #

    p.s. Nine, now that I have commented, I would like, please, to make it crystal clear that I am not interested in having any conversation with any BDSM-apologists in case any of them tries to engage in one with me in this thread. My comment was meant for you, Nine, *not for them*. Just making it clear.

  74. SnowdropExplodes December 4, 2008 at 11:25 PM #

    I think I can confess (sort of) to being the one who said BDSM is a feminist choice.

    The exact wording was that BDSM “is actually one form of relationship that is “feminist-positive” and leads towards the liberation of women.” (I said it here)

    However, I said it in the specific context of saying that explicitly negotiated activities in the context of free and informed consent have the consequence of liberating people from patriarchal norms. Since much of the culture of BDSM is built around the concepts of explicit negotiation and informed consent, then to the extent that these hold true, then BDSM can be seen as being one possible relationship form in a feminist world, and that by promoting those values, BDSM culture can help to promote feminist ideals of equality of the sexes.

  75. Trinity December 4, 2008 at 11:55 PM #

    Okay, then, I sit corrected.

    I don’t think a few people doing SM is likely to wildly overhaul society in such a way that vanilla men start thinking seriously about not following standard scripts when they fuck… but yeah, I do think that some people are pleasantly surprised to find that the community is a place where those norms aren’t followed.

    (Though there are, as we’ve all mentioned, enclaves within BDSM that are just as bad about stupid normative silliness.)

  76. Gayle December 5, 2008 at 2:00 AM #

    ““If women weren’t raped, tortured, abused and murdered so damn often, I’d probably find the ritualized aspects of BDSM more amusing.”

    It’s precisely because life is horrifying that some people “play” with such themes. (And I’d say I disagree that it’s especially horrifying to women — people are marginalized in innumerable ways, many of them violent.)”

    We don’t see other groups of oppressors /oppressed “playing” with the horrors of past torture and abuse. Reenactments of this kind would be viewed, rightly, as abominations, no matter how ritualized.

    The fact that you can’t even recognize epidemic violence against women as “especially horrifying” is the heart of the problem.

  77. Trinity December 5, 2008 at 3:10 AM #

    “The fact that you can’t even recognize epidemic violence against women as “especially horrifying” is the heart of the problem.”

    I disagree. There’s plenty of violence out there. All of it’s horrific. Not all of it is aimed at women.

  78. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 5, 2008 at 5:04 AM #

    @Gayle: “We don’t see other groups of oppressors /oppressed “playing” with the horrors of past torture and abuse. Reenactments of this kind would be viewed, rightly, as abominations, no matter how ritualized.”

    If you don’t see it, you’re not looking very hard. Off the top of my head, I can think of people I know personally who play with issues around race, homophobia, antisemitism, classism, religion, ageism, fatphobia, lookism, and ableism. They do so from the perspectives of both oppressor and oppressed along those axes as the individual case may be.

  79. Konservo December 5, 2008 at 2:19 PM #

    It seems to me that sex is better when one is open and honest as possible with one’s partner. Any kind of escapism necessarily makes sex more like acting, less authentic if you will, unless you consider (heterosexual) sex a mere act of penis in vagina with no real emotions involved. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with acting or pretending, being silly or anything similar to that, and hell, I’m interested in history (I read books but don’t go to Renaissance faires). But anyway, that’s why I don’t find the whole bdsm thing appealing, it seems too fake.

    Also, “Sadism” … ? That sounds French and, therefore, Anti-American.

    • Nine Deuce December 5, 2008 at 3:34 PM #

      Konservo – I really hate it when I agree with you.

  80. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 5, 2008 at 8:39 PM #

    As a white man, it is not my call to make whether a person of color involving racial issues in their BDSM is “cool” or not. Further, it’s not my call to make whether it’s “cool” for a person of color to involve a white person or for that white person to agree to it. I’m sure you can modify those two sentences to apply to each other axis of oppression.

    As a Jew, I have no problem with people playing with the trappings of antisemitism in their BDSM. I’ve known people who use those trappings, I’ve known antisemites, and I have no trouble telling the two apart. As a pagan, I have no problem with people playing the trappings of religious oppression in their BDSM. I have observed people who struggle with these issues find ways to control that struggle rather than let that struggle control them through such play.

    The statement was made that a thing does not happen. I refuted that statement.

  81. wild onion December 6, 2008 at 2:27 AM #

    I’m a longtime lurker and… what Maggie Hays said. So happy to see this series, Nine. This woman-hating stuff needs to be exposed. Eagerly awaiting the rest.

  82. Trinity December 6, 2008 at 3:31 PM #

    “As a white man, it is not my call to make whether a person of color involving racial issues in their BDSM is “cool” or not. Further, it’s not my call to make whether it’s “cool” for a person of color to involve a white person or for that white person to agree to it.”

    Thank you. Exactly.

  83. SnowdropExplodes December 6, 2008 at 10:52 PM #

    @ Konservo:

    “It seems to me that sex is better when one is open and honest as possible with one’s partner… that’s why I don’t find the whole bdsm thing appealing, it seems too fake.”

    For me, personally, ordinary vanilla sex would be fake. Seriously, I would never have figured out without school-based sex education that penis-in-vagina was the way you’re “supposed” to enjoy the body of your partner. To me, it was always much more natural that I would be spanking her bottom. For me, BDSM is natural expression, that comes from being open and honest with my partner. It isn’t “play-acting” in the way you seem to imagine. To engage in vanilla sex with no hint of power-exchange or S&M play, that would require that I play-act or fake it.

  84. Trinity December 7, 2008 at 12:55 AM #

    What SD said. For some people, SM is work… for others it’s just what makes sense to them.

    Which is one of the reasons that objecting to BDSM on the grounds that it resembles heteronormative sexual scripts is just odd to me. I’ve always had a similar response to the whole “PIV is regular sex” deal, too. Not that that isn’t fun, but who decided…? (People who wanted kids, probably.)

  85. buggle December 7, 2008 at 2:20 PM #

    So, one thing that is really bugging me from the BDSM defenders is that they KEEP saying that PIV or “vanilla” sex is based on power differentials too. Well yeah, duh. That is not news to any radical feminist (or shouldn’t be!) ALL of us act out power bullshit, in some ways. I don’t think that anyone has tried to claim that non-BDSMers have perfect sex lives that are 100% equal with no power differentials or influence from the patriarchy. The difference is, for me at least, that I try to be aware of it and work to change it. This requires hard work, and most people don’t want to do it.

  86. Trinity December 7, 2008 at 6:32 PM #

    “I don’t think that anyone has tried to claim that non-BDSMers have perfect sex lives that are 100% equal with no power differentials or influence from the patriarchy. The difference is, for me at least, that I try to be aware of it and work to change it. This requires hard work, and most people don’t want to do it.”

    I don’t think any non-BDSMer has claimed that, that I’ve heard. I just think the quest to purge that out of your sex life makes no sense.

    I’m not any more for telling other people how to have sex or what sexual focus to cultivate than your side is, but personally it seems to me like a real waste of effort.

    I can put time into trying (and, likely, failing) to change my sexual mind-map, or I can put that time into my work, wherein I actually devote time and energy to really improving real people’s lives.

    Personally, that more than anything is the issue I have with a lot of radical feminist thinking. I don’t feel that the focus on studying the culture and purging oneself of complicities (some I agree are real, and others I disagree even exist) really squares with the ultimate goal of a more just society wherein people are not downtrodden based on membership in non-dominant social groups.

  87. Konservo December 7, 2008 at 11:56 PM #

    The context of my PIV-as-sex remark above should have made clear that I believe there is more to sex than just physical acts. If sex becomes a form of ritualistic escapism (and it’s not hard to see this happening with some BDSMers), then I think it is unauthentic insofar as sex plays a role in making love, bonding with your partner and other functions of human life. That’s not to say that PIV or BDSM sex is inherently authentic, it’s depends on the situation and the individuals involved.

  88. Octavia December 8, 2008 at 5:49 PM #

    “These motherfuckers at worst hate women and consider them to be subhumans, and at best think of women as mental children that they want to fuck in between teaching them life lessons. ”

    Exactly. And as other people have already said, its the latter group that seems more insidious to me, because they are more than likely the same group of male BDSM practitioners who think that they are ‘feminists’, that they ‘don’t benefit from male privilege’, or that women and men are ‘equals in our kink community, more-so than in non-kink circles’. The same old rhetoric.

    Excuse me whilst I puke into my own mouth a little.

  89. Octavia December 8, 2008 at 6:10 PM #

    “Most of them wrote what could best be described as novellas and used the word “art” in their comical and terribly written blatherings about their BDSM “philosophies.”

    and

    “(for a bunch of purportedly countercultural motherfuckers, these guys sounded an awful lot like Promise Keepers)”.

    And therein lies the rub, for me at least, in examining kink culture with anything other than a derisive snort: it’s the same old bullshit, simply re-packaged and dressed up in new leather garments.

    It’s like Suicide Girls and all the other ‘new’ and ‘transgressive’ porno cultural trends. The people who buy into it are, I believe, on a subconscious level trying to abandon critical thinking and merely pay lip service to the destruction of the heteronormative sexist regime. The irony is that they are behaving in ways that will reinforce it and ensure its survival. Nice work.

    Thank god for the last bastion of sanity: the wordpress powered blogs of radical feminists. It’s a shame, though, that these ritualized-rape apologists feel that we’re not allowed to have even THESE spaces, and fill the blog comments with their BDSM BS.

    Much love to you Nine Deuce. Keep doing what you do.

    • Nine Deuce December 8, 2008 at 7:24 PM #

      Laurelin, Sam, Stormy, Gayle, Maggie, Buggle, and Octavia (and anyone else I forgot to mention) – Thanks, I needed that. It’s rough sometimes when I allow comments from non-radicals on these posts that deal with sex because it tends to keep radical feminists from participating, which means I hear from no one but those who want to reframe everything. I approve their comments because I really do want to have a discussion, but I’m glad to hear voices besides my own stand out from among the pro-porn/pro-BDSM deluge.

  90. Octavia December 8, 2008 at 8:28 PM #

    The thing is, these ritualized-rape apologists could go ANYWHERE to discuss their kink krap. Online kink forums are a dime a dozen. BDSM/fetish magazines like ‘SKIN TWO’ can be bought at book stores in the UK, they’re not relegated to underground sex shops. I’ve seen fluffy wrist restraints at department stores.

    Despite their beliefs that they’re some sort of minority community of non-conformist sex rebels, it’s absolute horseshit. BDSM and fetish lifestyles have become fashionable and seep into the mainstream more and more every day. Why? Because it suits the status quo to co-opt the culture of kinksters. It reinforces and builds upon the notion that women are the subjugate sex class. If it didn’t, then discussing ‘kink’ would be about as easy as discussing radfem views: kink groups would probably only have the internet in which to do it.

    Like us.

    Do we see people lining up around the block to co-opt radical feminist views? Nope.

    I won’t be discouraged from commenting on your blog, though. I like your style. A lot. I’m a former sex worker, Japan hater (lived there for two years, speak the language fluently) and ex ‘sex pozzie’ (god the term makes me RETCH now, I much prefer the term ‘sex-whateverist’) and I applaud you for your strong words.

  91. buggle December 8, 2008 at 9:04 PM #

    And I’m really not sure what these people hope to gain here- in a radical feminist space. If they are all hunky dory and 100% a-ok with their choices, then what are they doing here trying to convince us that S/M is great and wonderful? Seems weird to me. I wouldn’t go to some Christian blog and spam an abortion thread, and try to convince them abortion is fine. I mean, that would be a huge waste of time. So why do they come here? It’s strange to me. Why do they need validation from radical feminists? What are they getting out of participating in this conversation?

  92. buggle December 8, 2008 at 9:12 PM #

    Honestly, 26 posts from Trinity-all about defending BDSM. That is a LOT of space to take up at someone else’s blog. 26 posts out of 93, so far. Why do you need our approval so badly?

  93. Trinity December 8, 2008 at 9:53 PM #

    “The thing is, these ritualized-rape apologists could go ANYWHERE to discuss their kink krap.”

    All 9-2 has to say is “Go away, please” and I will, for one.

  94. Trinity December 8, 2008 at 9:55 PM #

    “Why do they need validation from radical feminists? What are they getting out of participating in this conversation?”

    I’ve said before that I’ve got no interest in changing people’s minds that are already made up, and there are quite a few such folks on this thread, on both sides. (Yes, I’d be one too.) What I personally am getting out of it is coming from the people who aren’t convinced, on either side, or those who’ve asked me about my personal experiences or discussed theirs.

  95. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 8, 2008 at 11:19 PM #

    @Octavia & Buggle:

    9/2 writes: “I really do want to have a discussion,” and I’m willing to do that. As Trinity wrote, if she stated a preference for not having a discussion; or changes her mind and decides she doesn’t want a discussion — either with me in particular or with pro-BDSM folk in general, I’d be posting someplace else.

    You both appear to be laboring under the misapprehension that anyone’s hoping to get validation from you about BDSM. I’d be very surprised if that were the case — it’s certainly not in my case. My goals in this conversations are replacing assumptions with facts and providing answers to questions. I do so with the full understanding that once that task is accomplished, 9/2 (and everyone else to whom I’ve responded.) will likely still not think much of BDSM, and I’m OK with that.

  96. Luke December 9, 2008 at 12:29 AM #

    “I’m really not sure what these people hope to gain here- in a radical feminist space”

    Maybe they are, in fact, radical feminists?

    The reason none of us would go to a pro-life thread and pour out our energies there, surely, is that we see pro-life-ism and our own views as far distant and having little common ground. The impression I get is that most of the pro-BDSM commenters are commenting precisely because they see their views as being radical feminist or close to radical feminism, and want to have a debate within that.

    • Nine Deuce December 9, 2008 at 2:58 AM #

      Uh, no, they are not radical feminists. Also, it’s anti-abortion, not pro-life (that’s their term, the opposite of which is “pro-death,” which they intended).

  97. Gorgias December 9, 2008 at 5:14 AM #

    “The thing is, these ritualized-rape apologists could go ANYWHERE to discuss their kink krap. Online kink forums are a dime a dozen. BDSM/fetish magazines like ‘SKIN TWO’ can be bought at book stores in the UK, they’re not relegated to underground sex shops. I’ve seen fluffy wrist restraints at department stores.”

    Maybe it’s because we want a frank and honest discussion, on the chance that we might be wrong and therefore improved by the discussion? I think those who try to block off dissenting voices tend to be the ones who subconsciously realize that their argument is flawed.

    “Despite their beliefs that they’re some sort of minority community of non-conformist sex rebels, it’s absolute horseshit. BDSM and fetish lifestyles have become fashionable and seep into the mainstream more and more every day. Why? Because it suits the status quo to co-opt the culture of kinksters. It reinforces and builds upon the notion that women are the subjugate sex class. If it didn’t, then discussing ‘kink’ would be about as easy as discussing radfem views: kink groups would probably only have the internet in which to do it.”

    Just because Queer eye for the straight guy is on the air, and there’s a wave of “metrosexuals” doesn’t mean that homosexuals aren’t being persecuted.

    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=162102

    24% of us have lost a job over our sexuality. 3% have lost a child. The patriarchy ain’t doing us any favors. Besides which, there are many BDSM relationships that are not predicated upon traditional gender roles. You’re being very heterocentric by excluding any gay BDSM practitioners from the conversation (for the record, I’m a bisexual male submissive currently collared to a dominant man), and being very patriarchal by focusing the conversation on only those relationships that fit the standard mold. The most common form of relationship in BDSM is in fact the dominant male/submissive female, but this is mostly due to patriarchy, and once patriarchy is gone, the dynamics will even out. But in a patriarchy-less world, BDSM would still exist.

    “Do we see people lining up around the block to co-opt radical feminist views? Nope.”

    You guys also don’t tend to have a distinctive and attractive visual style like us BDSMers do =P

    “Why do they need validation from radical feminists? What are they getting out of participating in this conversation?”

    Because dialogue is the first step to stopping hate, and living in a world where I don’t have to fear for my job if my employer discovers my blog.

  98. Trinity December 9, 2008 at 5:53 AM #

    “You’re being very heterocentric by excluding any gay BDSM practitioners from the conversation ”

    Thank you, Gorgias. I love how many radical feminists will critique heteronormativity when it’s convenient for them, yet have a laser-focus on relationships between men and women (and their interpretations thereof) when that is most convenient.

    Especially given how much of BDSM’s history is gay male. Why is that *never* discussed at all?

    “The most common form of relationship in BDSM is in fact the dominant male/submissive female, but this is mostly due to patriarchy, and once patriarchy is gone, the dynamics will even out. But in a patriarchy-less world, BDSM would still exist.”

    Yes and yes.

  99. SnowdropExplodes December 9, 2008 at 8:57 AM #

    I’m here because I believe myself to be feminist, in that I want and work for, equality between men and women; radical because I believe that equality can only be achieved through changing society from the roots up, to rid us of the Patriarchy; sex-positive because I believe that people’s individual sexual choices/lifestyles/orientations are generally not anything to get upset about.

    Because BDSM tends to promote open, negotiated, informed consent, I believe that it is not the problem that is being suggested here. The suggestion that BDSMers are unaware of the power differentials they play with is absurd, since that awareness is necessary for “power-exchange” to be a part of the kink.

    I am here to defend BDSM because I object to people trying to police my sex life based on half-truths and mistaken assumptions about what it all means. I particularly object to “feminists” telling other women that their experiences and choices don’t count, or make them not worthy – because I hate hypocrisy.

    I’m also here in the hope that just one person might read the evidence presented by real BDSM folks and find that, while BDSM may not be for them, it is not a problem that other people enjoy it.

    As far as confronting Christians – actually, I am a Christian, and I have gone face-to-face with other Christians to argue vehemently in favour of a woman’s right to choose abortion, and against their homophobic hate-speech. I do it in the hope that a seed may be planted that will carry fruit eventually. I do it in the hope that acceptance and understanding will blossom where once there was fear and distrust. Which is also why I’m here.

  100. Luke December 9, 2008 at 3:42 PM #

    “Uh, no, they are not radical feminists”

    True enough, some have said that themselves, while also saying they are in fact ‘feminists’. Others haven’t said anything one way or the other (I considered this by doing Ctrl-F on ‘feminis’, so I may have missed something).

    Now, unless you’re going to say that anyone supportive of BDSM is therefore knowably not a feminist, I think the point remains that most of the pro-BDSM commenters, as far as I can see, are commenting out of a sense that this here is a discussion within feminism, and hence not out of place on a radical feminist blog. That at least is why I’m here, and is the impression I get from others, though I may be wrong.

  101. Dev December 9, 2008 at 4:50 PM #

    Yep, I too am here because I am a feminist (who also practices bdsm). I’m disturbed by the degree to which the anti-bdsm commenters here continually misstate our motives for doing bdsm. Many of us are not doing it because we think it’s counter-cultural or “cool” or because we like shopping at Hot Topic (??) or whatever.

    Speaking very generally, to the extent that women are supporting patriarchy, they need to be convinced to do something different. And I don’t see how you can hope to convince someone if you have no idea whatsoever of what their motivations might be. So if you think the women here who practice bdsm are supporting patriarchy by doing so, maybe your battle against us will be helped by understanding what you’re fighting.

    Going back to an earlier point – I can’t share your beliefs that a man being a bdsm top is evidence of particular misogyny. (We’re all misogynists, right? This is why I say “particular.”) I don’t top men because I hate them, and I don’t think lesbians top each other out of misogyny, and I don’t think gay men do it out of misandry either. I just haven’t seen anything in my experience to suggest that.

    Maybe some of the people who answered the Craigslist ad are sick assholes. It’s Craigslist, after all. But I tell my (beautiful and beloved boyfriend) things like “I want to crush you into dust” because (a) I feel that way (but in a sexy way, not in a way of wanting him to be harmed), and (b) I know it makes him feel good to hear. To an outsider I might sound like a psychopath, but I’m not (not even a little bit).

  102. Octavia December 9, 2008 at 5:14 PM #

    What a surpsise! Snowdrop jumps in and starts yelling at us that we’re ‘policing’ people’s sexual behavior. A minority of a minority activist group is ‘policing’ the BDSM community!!!

    So fucking laughable.

    This might be the 20 millionth time I say this on a radical feminist blog (and I will continue to say it until I either turn blue in the face or someone finally gets it): We’re not trying to dictate, police, or control ANYONE’S personal proclivities. SORRY, that’s the patriarchy’s job. We simply like to examine the social conditioning that underlies why people enjoy certain activities. No ‘hypocrisy’ there, my friend. Just you reading your own message of hate into our words.

    And Gorgias, I am not convinced that gay, straight, bi, other BDSM is not a rehashed roleplay of the domination of the sex class (women). I have seen little evidence to suggest that gay BDSM practices exist in a magical vacuum away from the socialization of women as chattel and men as the proprietors of a woman’s vagina. If you have evidence of this, I would like to read it.

    For Nine and others:

    I think I understand why radfems tend to just stop commenting, go away and silence themselves out of frustration. It’s because these arguments always come down to personal sovereignty for these people, and we’re not allowed to discuss anything pertaining to a person’s choice. The problem is that ‘choice’ doesn’t = ‘feminist’ just because you say it is. People are no longer wishing to look internally in order to understand larger social constructs. For the last decade, in all other movements (such as environmental conservation) we’ve used mottoes like ‘think globally, act locally’. But once you apply that same reasoning to feminism, and ask individual women/men to examine their choices for the good of the entire sex class, suddenly ‘UR OPPRESSIVE’. Why have we become SO self-centered?

    I realize that long spiel was probably a ‘DUH, Octavia’ for some of you veteran patriarchy-blamers… I guess I’m still finding my feet after being a sex-and-capitulation machine for the last few years. ;)

    • Nine Deuce December 9, 2008 at 5:33 PM #

      Octavia – That’s exactly what these discussions tend to boil down to. It’s sort of like a conversation about single-payer health care between a Democrat and a Libertarian. One side is about the big picture and the other is about individual interest, with the Libertarian being unwilling to consider the implications of the bigger picture lest he be forced to admit that his stance is myopic and might have effects outside of those he experiences directly. I understand people’s not being into hearing me disapprove of what they’re aroused by, but that’s not the point. The fact is that mingling sex and power is inherently problematic in a hierarchical society and it directly affects our ability to ever dismantle patriarchy. I’m not saying that means I have the right to tell people not to do something, but the fact remains that there’s a problem. But then that’s the subject of the next post, so I’ll save it.

  103. Gorgias December 9, 2008 at 5:38 PM #

    “And Gorgias, I am not convinced that gay, straight, bi, other BDSM is not a rehashed roleplay of the domination of the sex class (women). I have seen little evidence to suggest that gay BDSM practices exist in a magical vacuum away from the socialization of women as chattel and men as the proprietors of a woman’s vagina. If you have evidence of this, I would like to read it.”

    Why in the world would you think this? I see gay male BDSM, and I see a guy dominating another guy. I see gay female BDSM, and I see one woman dominating another. What would make you think that the gay male submissive or the gay female dominant are the way they are because society views women as chattel and men as the proprietors of a woman’s vagina? There is no woman’s vagina in my relationship! I think you’re the one who’s going to have to back up your claim.

  104. Trinity December 9, 2008 at 7:46 PM #

    Gorgias,

    Having studied it, from what I understand they’re saying patriarchy is the norm and we all grow up in a world where it is the norm, so whatever we choose to do or not do, our preferences will be colored by the norms of the society around us. Even if we’re, say, lesbian or gay, we’ve been taught that romance involves certain behaviors, that courtship does, that love does, etc. So we may act out some weird shit that comes right from the hetero romance-script even if we’re dating people of the same gender.

    Personally, I don’t buy that, because it’s always struck me as odd that everyone but a certain subset of feminist is seen as deluded, but that certain sort of feminist is particularly able to see, with clear eyes, what everyone else is doing wrong.

  105. Luke December 9, 2008 at 8:40 PM #

    “But once you…ask individual women/men to examine their choices for the good of the entire sex class, suddenly ‘UR OPPRESSIVE’.”

    That doesn’t really sound too much like what I see happening here. What it looks like to me is 9-2 and others are asking people to examine their choices, BDSM-ers are saying ‘thank you, but we have examined our choices already, here are some of the opinions we’ve reached’.

    What I haven’t seen from anyone opposed to BDSM is a suggestion of what someone with sadistic/masochistic feelings should actually do, since ‘participate in BDSM’ doesn’t seem to be acceptable. You say you don’t want to shame anyone for their sex lives, and most of the BDSM-ers here are saying they already have ‘examined’ the dynamics involved. So what is the actual point of contention?

    What I have seen is:

    “ritualized-rape apologists”
    “probably fits the same personality type as those who staffed the camps at Belsen and Auschwitz”
    “derisive snort”
    “bullshit”
    “trying to abandon critical thinking”
    “1/2 goofy, 1/2 horrifying”
    “dorks with no sense of the absurd”
    etc. I agree it’s a mistake to suggest that the anti-BDSM commenters here are being ‘oppressive’, but I do think they’re being rude.

    • Nine Deuce December 9, 2008 at 9:23 PM #

      I spend a lot of time crafting my insults, so please quote them properly.

  106. Octavia December 9, 2008 at 8:57 PM #

    Gorgias, I already kinda did explain myself. But I guess I’ll try again.

    I believe that BDSM, like pornography, is the fetishization of dehumanizing women. It doesn’t really matter that there’s no vagina in your relationship: you did grow up on planet earth, right? You did grow up around other human beings, correct? You’ve thus been socialized into a world where men are dominant and women are submissive de facto. It’s my assertion that gay relationships aren’t sacrosanct; they are just as permeable and just as influenced by the dominant culture.

    As a sex worker with connections to alt-lifestyle folk, I encountered many gay male BDSM practitioners. That the ‘sub’ in certain relationships was often ‘sissified’ and chose to adopt ‘feminine’ attributes during brutal role play did not surprise me. I am not insinuating that ALL gay BDSM practitioners follow this paradigm, but it is interesting to note, is it not?

    I’d ask you once again to prove to me that gay relationships are forged from the pure utopian steel of a post-patriarchy world and that you weren’t brought up in a world where there were binary sex roles, because I am desperate to escape to that world, plz. I think this one is boring me.

  107. Octavia December 9, 2008 at 8:58 PM #

    “You guys also don’t tend to have a distinctive and attractive visual style like us BDSMers do =P”

    Yah, we’re all substance and you’re all riding crops and sparkly shit. Funny about that, eh?

  108. Dev December 9, 2008 at 9:03 PM #

    FWIW, I do not feel in any way “oppressed” by this conversation. I don’t have a sense that radical feminists intend to oppress me, nor that they have the ability to do so.

    I wonder, if bdsm is just an extension (?) of the patriarchal norm, why more people don’t practice it or feel attracted to it? Why don’t mainstream pro-patriarchy Christians or Muslims promote and support it? I mean, if you like “lighter” patriarchy-supporting things like women deferring to their husbands’ authority, why not “heavier” patriarchy-supporting things like wives tying their husbands up and beating them?

    It seems like there is more bdsm than ever, while other measures of patriarchalness are mostly decreasing. What the hell is that about?

    And why is there more bdsm in America than in comparatively patriarchy-loving Saudi Arabia? And why more bdsm among liberals than conservatives?

  109. Luke December 9, 2008 at 9:33 PM #

    Ah, you’re right – it was Gayle who put the balance at 1/2-1/2. Your view was that the goofy/ridiculous was a mere 2/5 and the terrifying/horrifying was 3/5.

    I apologise.

    • Nine Deuce December 9, 2008 at 9:41 PM #

      Close – hilarious/terrifying (but the ratio is right).

  110. Trinity December 9, 2008 at 10:52 PM #

    “As a sex worker with connections to alt-lifestyle folk, I encountered many gay male BDSM practitioners. That the ’sub’ in certain relationships was often ’sissified’ and chose to adopt ‘feminine’ attributes during brutal role play did not surprise me.”

    Octavia,

    That hasn’t been my experience. Among the gay leathermen I’ve known, feminization hasn’t been much of an interest. My impression is that in gay leather circles, there’s much more of a fetish for hypermasculinity for both than for feminized or sissified submissive partners.

    Can I ask which segments of the gay leather community you came into contact with? I honestly think a femmed-up male bottom would probably get laughed out of many leather bars. (Which is itself a problem — men not accepting femininity. IBTP.)

  111. Trinity December 9, 2008 at 11:09 PM #

    “It’s sort of like a conversation about single-payer health care between a Democrat and a Libertarian. One side is about the big picture and the other is about individual interest, with the Libertarian being unwilling to consider the implications of the bigger picture lest he be forced to admit that his stance is myopic and might have effects outside of those he experiences directly.”

    9-2,

    With all due respect, I don’t think they’re similar at all. The presence or lack of a health care system, and the details of coverage and what one must do or have to get health care, affect the welfare of the citizenry obviously and directly. It’s nonsensical to say that individual interest trumps the good of the uninsured, because it’s obvious how they’ll be affected.

    In the case here, we’re talking about a personal behavior choice. While it’s true that we disagree about how much “people doing BDSM” affects society as a whole, I don’t think it can be at all disputed that whatever effect it would have is tiny compared to the effects of one health care system versus another.

    • Nine Deuce December 9, 2008 at 11:42 PM #

      Trinity – Libertarians with money (who usually have insurance) think their best interests are served by our not having a single-payer system because they believe having one will cost them money. They’re all about individual choice and responsibility when it benefits them and refuse to admit that what they do as individuals is connected to a larger system of phenomena. It’s an each-man-for-himself thing, which is naive and selfish. And the same goes with “sex-positivism.” The counterargument to radical feminism is always personal choice/liberty, and it’s always made from the “I get off on this, and anyone telling me that I have to consider the fact that my choices take place in a larger context is trying to oppress me, and is therefore just as bad as the patriarchy itself” position.

  112. Luke December 10, 2008 at 12:32 AM #

    “The counterargument to radical feminism is always personal choice/liberty”

    I think in this case the counterargument (to anti-BDSM, not radical feminism in general) is just as much that no actual harm has been shown to happen. I think most people are accepting that patriarchy conditions the development of BDSM, just like it conditions anything else, but for the analogy to hold there would have to be some argument that BDSM-ers doing negotiated self-consciously kinky stuff to each other in private or in their clubs, in heterosexual, homosexual, M/f and F/m forms, is not only actively encouraging patriarchal norms but doing more harm than whatever alternative you want to suggest. Which alternative is still not very clear since you’ve said you don’t want people to closet themselves or be ashamed. Such an argument would have to go beyond simply observing that the content of M/f BDSM is similar to patriarchal violence, and give positive reasons to think that the negotiated self-conscious context is irrelevant and that the homosexual and F/m occurences are irrelevant. I don’t think that’s been argued yet.

    Sorry if I sound like I’m instructing you on how to proceed, I’m just saying what would be persuasive to me, as someone willing to be convinced on either side.

    In short: I think the main counterargument is that no argument has been made yet.

    • Nine Deuce December 10, 2008 at 1:57 AM #

      Luke – Of course BDSM, at least M/f BDSM, as a practice that abets patriarchy, does harm. And people here can pretend all they want that my alternative is mainstream sex, but I’ve stated clearly here that it is also problematic, revolving as it does around the male use of female bodies. Everyone wants to know what alternative I have in mind, but that’s missing the point. The point isn’t “have sex this way and you won’t be doing the patriarchy’s dirty work,” it’s that we’ve got to face the fact that male dominance saturates human relations, and sexuality especially. I think it’s dangerous in such a situation to pretend that mixing sex and power to an even greater extent than people already do amounts to resisting heteronormativity and patriarchy. Sex isn’t a stand-alone deal, it’s part of a larger cultural system. It may tickle your pickle, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have negative consequences in the grand scheme of things. Why aren’t people more imaginative? Everyone’s running around telling me how creative they are when it comes to non-vanilla sex, but I have to be honest, I ain’t seeing it here. What’s creative about role-playing that mirrors/amplifies everyday reality?

  113. Trinity December 10, 2008 at 3:47 AM #

    9-2,

    You’re missing my point. Which was that liberty should be overridden when whatever’s limiting it only intrudes a little into people’s lives for massive gains in social welfare, but should not be when what limits it is quite intrusive and does not result in appreciable gains in social welfare.

    So yeah, “my sex life is not a social ill” is a personal liberty-based argument. But the thing is, not all personal liberty-based arguments are the same, as you’re suggesting they are.

  114. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 10, 2008 at 4:57 AM #

    @9/2: “Of course BDSM, at least M/f BDSM, as a practice that abets patriarchy, does harm.”

    That’s where the disagreement begins: we disagree that “M/f BDSM does harm” because we disagree with the underlying assertion “M/f BDSM is a practice that abets patriarchy.” M/f BDSM occurs in the context of the larger society, but you do not appear to acknowledge[1] that M/f BDSM also occurs in the context of F/m BDSM, M/m BDSM, F/f BDSM — to say nothing of combinations that involve more than one person such as M/ff, F/mm, MF/mf, M/mm, ad infinitum. Nor does it take into account a couple that’s M/f on Monday and F/m on Tuesday.

    The characterization of M/f BDSM as “male use of female bodies” tells me that you also do not acknowledge that the woman in question is an agent acting to meet her own desires.

    My assertion, and I’ve not yet seen it refuted, is that BDSM explicitly decouples the states “female” and “submissive,” explicitly decouples the states “male” and “dominant.”

    I further assert that through the practice of open and informed negotiation and consent, plus the explicit recognition that consent can be withdrawn at any time, BDSM undermines that idea that someone who is female, submissive, both, or neither is obligated to tolerate abusive behavior. What’s more, it firmly and unambiguously identifies the person receiving a given behavior as the sole judge of whether a given behavior is abusive or not.

    I assert that these decouplings and underminings have a positive effect on the larger cultural system.
    If none of these things are your idea of undermining patriarchy, I don’t know what else to tell you — I’ve counseled lots of domestic violence survivors in the last 20 years, and not one has told me about their abuser stopping because they safeworded.

    If you want to convince me[2] that M/f BDSM per se has “negative consequences in the grand scheme of things,” I need something more solid than “of course it does.”

    [1] I believe you’ve said that you’ll address this in the upcoming entries finishing out the series, but as things stand while I write, this is where we are.

    [2] And, I suspect, Luke, Trinity, etc.

  115. Luke December 10, 2008 at 5:04 AM #

    “Of course BDSM, at least M/f BDSM, as a practice that abets patriarchy, does harm.”

    That just doesn’t seem convincing to me. Obviously in the sense that all ‘practices abetting patriarchy’ do harm, BDSM will do harm, but to say that something is ‘as bad as every other cultural practice that exists’ doesn’t seem like much of a criticism. When I buy a sandwich, that does harm, insofar as it abets commercialism, the exploitation of labour, the degradation of the environment, etc. And sure, people should be aware of that. But that doesn’t seem to me like a reason to be ‘anti-sandwich-buying’, or a reason to devote specific attention to sandwich buying.

    “we’ve got to face the fact that male dominance saturates human relations”
    I agree, but a point that applies to behaviour X in the same way that it applies to all other behaviours seems to do the opposite. ‘Facing’ that fact, it seems to me, implies asking ourselves, in however vague a way, what we do here and now, and that means distinguishing different courses of action, not just repeatedly emphasising what they share.

    Now, what would interest me much more would be if someone could show me a distinction between one way of acting and another, where one abetted the megatheocorporatocracy more or less than the other. For example, if someone was arguing against vegan sandwiches vs. animal-based sandwiches, that would seem like an interesting topic because it presents a way of responding to the fact that our society is pervaded by contempt of and hatred for animals.

    (I know a lot of this is stuff that’s going to be dealt with in coming posts, so sorry to rush you.)

    Now I’m wondering if I’m taking this whole thing the wrong way. If your goal is simply to deny the claim that BDSM is, on its own or in common with mainstream sexuality, immune from and unaffected by patriarchy, then fine, no disagreement here. But the impression I’ve got both from your posts and from other commenters is that BDSM is being critiqued specifically, as more extremely or more severely patriarchal. Maybe that’s just me not catching the nuances of the contrast between ‘ice’ and ‘meth’. Maybe that’s just me being a bit defensive and quick to read too much into hyperbole. But that impression seems to have been had by others – who are possibly also a bit defensive. I don’t really know where I’m going now so I’ll stop typing.

  116. Trinity December 10, 2008 at 6:00 PM #

    “My assertion, and I’ve not yet seen it refuted, is that BDSM explicitly decouples the states “female” and “submissive,” explicitly decouples the states “male” and “dominant.””

    Dan,

    To be totally fair, I think we do need to note that not all BDSM does this. I’ve already mentioned the Christian D/s groups I’ve encountered, and I’ve encountered a bit more subtle sexisms that suggest that everything and everyone is (or “is really”) M/f, because “that’s how things work.” I’ve had people stare at me in bewilderment, convinced I’m not really dominant. I’ve had people assume I was dominant in the dungeon and a pillow princess who wanted to be masterfully taken once we got into bed.

    What I do agree with is that much of the BDSM community does decouple role from gender (or from race, disability status (hi, crip top here), etc.) and that it’s a mistake to try and pack that reality away by bringing out a convenient theory that suggests that all frameworks are secretly variations on M/f in neat little disguises.

  117. Trinity December 10, 2008 at 6:01 PM #

    “Now I’m wondering if I’m taking this whole thing the wrong way. If your goal is simply to deny the claim that BDSM is, on its own or in common with mainstream sexuality, immune from and unaffected by patriarchy, then fine, no disagreement here.”

    Nor here. There’s sexism in the Scene, just as there’s sexism anywhere. What I disagree with, and disagree with vehemently, is that that sexism is a part of the nature of BDSM.

  118. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 10, 2008 at 7:04 PM #

    @Trinity: “To be totally fair, I think we do need to note that not all BDSM does this. I’ve already mentioned the Christian D/s groups I’ve encountered”

    Actually, I think the Christian D/s group you encountered — as well as the various Goreans, Gynarchists, etc. out there support my position. They have to make an affirmative effort to re-couple gender to dominance roles rather than rely on a societal norm (or even a subcultural norm) to do it for them. And in so doing, they marginalize themselves within larger BDSM circles.

    I certainly agree that there is sexism (and every other ism) within the BDSM community — as you describe. However, I assert that the the attitudes you describe are artifacts of vanilla society constitute a failure on the part of their holders to grasp BDSM theory.

    If our host, or any other participants here want to have a discussion about how to address those isms within BDSM, I’m all for it and think that could be a very good discussion. But the disagreement seems more fundamental at this point.

  119. Gorgias December 10, 2008 at 7:52 PM #

    Seeing all of BDSM as merely continuing to play out scenes from the patriarchy because some people get off on the gender dynamics going on is like saying that everyone in the community is secretly dealing with racial themes because a few white guys get off on being “enslaved” by a black woman specifically because she’s a black woman. The way we play with power will be conditioned by the patriarchy, and a lot of other things going on in the society, but BDSM qua BDSM is not a manifestation of the patriarchy or of any of those other modes of power dynamics within our society.

  120. Trinity December 10, 2008 at 10:10 PM #

    “They have to make an affirmative effort to re-couple gender to dominance roles rather than rely on a societal norm (or even a subcultural norm) to do it for them. And in so doing, they marginalize themselves within larger BDSM circles.”

    MMm… yes and no. I mean, there are definitely more metropolitan communities where people look down on that, and there are definitely people who are into gender-kink who make it clear they don’t think everyone has to be, even if they don’t understand it themselves.

    But I also did a fair amount of BDSM out in the boonies, and out there I did find a minority of people who were clearly M/f in an unreflective and sort of… “that’s the way it is” way.

    What I will say for those people is that a lot of them weren’t so much wedded to patriarchy as ignorant. Once someone like me made friends with them, they caught on pretty quickly that not everyone’s the same. Which is something I think is getting really… missed… here.

  121. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 10, 2008 at 11:12 PM #

    @Trinity,

    What you describe is exactly what I mean by “artifacts of vanilla society [that] constitute a failure on the part of their holders to grasp BDSM theory.” I think the people you describe would have had a harder time making the adjustment to understanding everyone’s not the same if they didn’t have a BDSM framework providing the feminist notion that biology isn’t destiny.

    “Which is something I think is getting really… missed… here.”

    Yup.

  122. Trinity December 11, 2008 at 3:56 AM #

    I’m not really a big fan of “theory” any more, Dan, whether it’s “radical feminist theory” or “BDSM theory.” I enjoy sexual encounters with Monkey because I do, not because they express a theory. I think the idea that saying “It is what it is” is somehow unreflective is an intellectual mistake.

  123. Luke December 11, 2008 at 6:35 PM #

    “BDSM explicitly decouples the states “female” and “submissive,” explicitly decouples the states “male” and “dominant.”

    See, I think this is perhaps true, but I see it as indicating the roots of BDSM in patriarchy – i.e. the mental equipment it takes, whatever it does with it, is drawn from, as 9-2 said, the fusing of sex and power, the idea of love being expressed through turning someone into a hated object (and I do think hatred is the right word, even love is also the right word).

    I think also we shouldn’t focus on whether a given individual is kinky because of patriarchy or not – rather, it makes sense to me to suppose that at the various margins (people who might end up kinky and might not) socialisation will play a role, so that social structure affects how many people end up in a certain category, without actively ‘putting’ any of them into it.

  124. Dan Holzman-Tweed December 11, 2008 at 9:27 PM #

    @Luke:

    I don’t know if BDSM has it’s roots in patriarchy; or predates it but has had to interact with it just like everything else in the last few thousand years. Nor is it clear to me that patriarchy invented the idea of intertwining sex and power. Either way, I think that where a thing comes from is far less important than what someone does with it.

  125. Trinity December 12, 2008 at 1:43 AM #

    Luke,

    I don’t think SM is playing with hate. I do think some of it is playing with aggression, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as hate at all. Hate is a bitter, simmery emotion. Hate is something that has to be cultivated. Hate is… mmm. It’s something that gets nursed, over time, with ever-curdling resentments.

    If I had to hate someone to top them, I doubt I’d have the energy, or the time, for SM.

  126. devastatingyet December 12, 2008 at 3:56 AM #

    I think “bottom as despised object” is one of the ways that some people do bdsm. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t feel hatred or anything like it when I top my boyfriend. What I feel is closer to cherishing, adoration, or care. Or cruel sadism, but still, nothing like hate at all.

  127. Trinity December 12, 2008 at 4:54 AM #

    “I think “bottom as despised object” is one of the ways that some people do bdsm.”

    DY,

    I’m sure there are people who do. There’s a lot of porn, for example, that seems to be about those themes. And I can think of one person I know who seems to like that sort of thing, as a kind of role-play.

    That said, I haven’t run into it in the community at all, really. Even the people who pride themselves on being the harshest don’t seem to be playing with hatred, to me.

    I don’t want to say it never happens, because I’m sure it does. For any given emotion, activity, object, etc. there’s someone who gets off on it.

    But I think that assuming that’s what most BDSMers are doing is a big mistake.

  128. hexy December 12, 2008 at 5:20 AM #

    Do we see people lining up around the block to co-opt radical feminist views? Nope.

    I’m fairly certain that if you did, you wouldn’t be happy about it. It’s not actually a nice thing to have people co-opt your sexuality while missing all the bits that make it special to you. I’ve felt the same way about faux BDSM trendiness as I did about the trend for bisexual women to be presented as hot sexxxy shows for men and nothing else. My sexuality is not a spectacle.

    And for what it’s worth, I’ve been popping in and out of this thread because I followed a link and found an interesting discussion. No further agenda. That’s how I get into most blog discussions I participate in.

  129. Rosa December 12, 2008 at 11:45 AM #

    “There’s sexism in the Scene, just as there’s sexism anywhere. What I disagree with, and disagree with vehemently, is that that sexism is a part of the nature of BDSM.”

    Or more to the point that BDSM is a particularly, viciously, irredeemably sexist, woman-hating form of sexuality. I dispute that. And a question really, those who are anti-BDSM, what would you have those of us who are “wired like that” do about it? Do you think that a woman like me (I’m a masochistic bottom) should fight against her own sexual desires and fantasies to do, well what exactly? It sounds a lot like what some of the anti-gay Christians advise gay people – you know, love the sinner, hate the sin, it’s ok to be attracted to the same sex but don’t do anything about it.

    Would life be better for me if I didn’t express my sexuality? (Answer – no, I spent years repressing it and it didn’t make me feel good at all.) Would the world be a better place if I didn’t let my (male) partner whip me? If I didn’t enjoy it? What would you do if you were me?

    Also – and especially as someone who is in a M/f relationship – playing with those dynamics in a sexual context doesn’t make me submissive in other situations. It also doesn’t make me a “do anything to me” doormat – what we do is explicitly negotiated and I consent to it, I can withdraw consent at any time by use of a safeword.

    Most people who know me outside of BDSM, if they are aware that I am kinky they assume I am Domme as they can’t conceive of me being less dominant in my personal life than I am in other circumstances (such as work). I have fought hard against sexism in my workplace (which is a very male-dominated and “traditionally male” place to work, I am still one of very few women in my job). Being sexually submissive doesn’t change any of that.

  130. Luke December 12, 2008 at 1:14 PM #

    Ok, so the word ‘hatred’ is being disputed a lot. It may well be that what I meant by it isn’t really close enough to the commonly-understood meaning of ‘hatred’.

    I used the word largely because I wanted to bring out the connection with misogyny, i.e. “hatred of women”. Someone can be a misogynist while feeling very positive emotions towards women – perhaps this is a reason to change how the term is translated.

    The sense of ‘hatred’ I’m using is something like this: whatever the opposite of hatred is (let’s call it ‘solidarity’) consists in feeling good about things that are good for the other person, and bad for things that are bad. They get promoted: I’m pleased. They hurt themselves: I’m sad. ‘Hatred’ is the opposite: when they are harmed, I am pleased, and when they are strengthened or made better off, I am displeased – especially if the harm is inflicted by me or with reference to me. Now if the object of my hatred is frequently being harmed, and indeed is eagerly accepting that harm, they’re going to make me feel good, and I’ll probably come to ‘like’ them. I will then feel happy and relaxed whenever I think of or meet them, but it will still be true that I ‘hate’ them. And I think it’s clear that sadistic sexuality is, almost by definition, a case of this kind of ‘hatred’.

    I’ll admit, there’s a different sort of feeling that probably has a better claim to being called ‘hatred’ – “a bitter, simmery emotion”. Just like there’s a meaning of ‘fear’ that doesn’t fit at all with the idea of homophobia as ‘fear of homosexuals’ – and a meaning of ‘love’ that doesn’t fit with the idea of philosophy as ‘love of wisdom’.

    If someone has a better way of translating ‘misogyny’, I’d be interested to hear it, because I think it’s clear that most misogyny is not bitter or simmery but is in fact exultant and even affectionate – conditionally on women’s self-abasement. I’m inclined to retain this sense of ‘hatred’ for the sake of punchy lines like ‘men hate you’.

  131. Trinity December 12, 2008 at 3:13 PM #

    “I’m fairly certain that if you did, you wouldn’t be happy about it.”

    Exactly. I used to call myself a “radical feminist”, on the theory that yes, at the time I agreed that patriarchy and other large-scale social inequalities were the problem, and “liberal” social solutions wouldn’t work to end those social inequalities.

    I was never anti-SM, though, or even anti-porn.

    Somehow I doubt that many in this crowd would have thought it was awesome that I was using their label, despite disagreeing with a lot of the conclusions they believe follows from the basic point.

  132. Dev December 12, 2008 at 10:04 PM #

    Wow, Luke. I still totally disagree with your use of the word “hate” in describing bdsm acts, at least mine. I don’t feel good when harm comes to my submissive boyfriend, even “from my own hands” as it were. (I strive not to harm him.) And I most certainly feel wonderful when good is done to him.

    • Nine Deuce December 13, 2008 at 1:32 AM #

      New rule – no using the word “cock” on RATM. I not only find that word trashy as fuck, but I think it may be the most aesthetically unpleasant word in the English language. I may hate it worse than “cunt.” Sorry, I’m the boss.

  133. Trinity December 13, 2008 at 1:47 AM #

    Luke,

    I think a comment I made to you earlier didn’t make it through mod. Not surprising if it didn’t, as I was using a specific example that was probably deemed too graphic for the discussion. (I’m not saying this to be accusatory of ND, though. Her living room, her rules.)

    I think perhaps you should email me, as it seems to me that you’ve got a very specific idea of what SM is like and about that strikes me as very off, and I think it would probably take direct discussion. My addy is trinityva at yaho]o dot com, if you care to.

    I’ll say that, well, I have problems with the term “misogyny” really, because I no longer feel I quite understand what “hatred” is supposed to mean in the sentence. I see it used for everything from “think men deserve higher social status” to “have personal ill will toward all women” to “like it when women are harmed” to… all kinds of things. I prefer not to use the word, because I think it’s a slippery one to pin down.

    The best guess I can get wrt what you mean by “hatred” as you see it apply to SM, though, seems to be this:

    “Now if the object of my hatred is frequently being harmed, and indeed is eagerly accepting that harm, they’re going to make me feel good, and I’ll probably come to ‘like’ them.”

    This is tough for me to parse. I can see wishing harm on an enemy, and even taking pleasure in that harm (though, personally, I don’t think this is a big motivator in my case — I don’t tend to like people’s ill fortune very much at all.) What I can’t see is being happy that an enemy comes to me for harm.

    First, I don’t see why anyone would, given that we’re enemies. But even if she did, I would much prefer that an enemy who seems to want to lose to me (given that she wants to be harmed by me!) stop what she’s doing that made us enemies.

    Suppose, say, that someone who had maligned friends of mine in a blogwar turned personal later felt bad, and asked me to punish her. That might amuse me for a moment, but I’d far prefer she make amends to my friends than continue to behave as she is and come to me for some sort of expiation. I despise hypocrisy, and it would only serve to make me like her — and therefore, want her around — even LESS.

    Now, let’s look at my partner. First, he’s not going to be my enemy. Why would I date my enemy? I suppose some folks do that, but they’re drama queens and I much prefer not to have such drama in my life, thanks, so I’m dating a friend instead.

    Now there’s the question of why I’d wish him harm — and I’ve no idea why this would be, as I don’t.

    Nor do I have any idea why I’d only value him for his submission, as he’s been a good friend to me for a very long time. I see no reason why he wouldn’t, as others have, remain a beloved friend if we broke up.

  134. Trinity December 13, 2008 at 3:25 AM #

    Point taken, ND. I won’t use the offending term again here. :)

    For Luke, to sum up and rephrase (this is a tad graphic, so people may want to skip):

    Consider something I did last weekend, with my partner. I had a cane in one hand and was using that on his nipple and chest. With my other hand, I was teasing his penis, which he was responding to quite positively.

    (end graphic bit)

    Now the question: Which of those things — the gentle stimulation or the pain — reveals, in your mind, how I really feel about him?

    To my mind the whole thing together was the experience, which had to do with giving pleasure to someone who enjoyed pain.

    If you see hatred, is it hatred of him, or is it misandry, or is it misogyny by some transmutation like “he was feminized” (I don’t buy this. I have played with feminization, and quite enjoyed it. This was not something I experienced in the same way)?

    If I do something analogous to a woman (and I have done SM with women), is that misogyny?

  135. Konservo December 13, 2008 at 7:01 PM #

    Which of those things — the gentle stimulation or the pain — reveals, in your mind, how I really feel about him?

    Oh, oh… I know this one, even though you were addressing someone else…

    ehem…

    What you’ve described is a situation in which two independent entities (which we have to assume are subjects, i.e. individual persons) can only be comprehended as objects, that is, we can only observe their behavior and actions, or in this case, we can only read your description of their behavior and actions. This is so because we ourselves are independent subjects and therefore only have access to our own first-person experiences as subject. You, Trinity, are also a subject, but you have a deeper understanding of the situation you have described since you had first-person (subjective) experience of that situation. Your partner, also, had independent first-person experience. This means that the action and behavior in which you both participated was understood (and when I refer to “understanding” I mean just about all forms of consciousness including emotional perceptions and even false beliefs, because these too shape our worlds) distinctly and separately by both of you, as it is for each one of us. I’m not saying that any perceived shared moments or feelings of togetherness with your partner were fictions or “imaginary” (in the common sense of the word, which is basically synonymous with “false”), I’m saying that due to the nature of human understanding (each of us being an individual person with unique subjective points of view), if it is at all possible to determine the nature of the experience, those involved are in the only position (that of the subject) to make that assessment, and that does not mean that the persons involved in the actions can not be mistaken. In short: I dunno.

  136. Trinity December 13, 2008 at 9:25 PM #

    “This means that the action and behavior in which you both participated was understood (and when I refer to “understanding” I mean just about all forms of consciousness including emotional perceptions and even false beliefs, because these too shape our worlds) distinctly and separately by both of you, as it is for each one of us.”

    I would agree with this, though the way you word it is careening into a kind of solipsism I really don’t share.

  137. angryscientist December 27, 2008 at 10:20 AM #

    Some of the BDSM defenders here have been also taking me to task on my entry about the Craigslist experiment, Sadism Unmasked. I drew certain conclusions at the end, which I’m reposting here, if you don’t mind, Nine Deuce.

    I declared this discussion at an impasse because I raised several issues which were not resolved to my satisfaction. This isn’t to say anybody is obligated to resolve my issues, but I felt I was wasting my time trying to get answers to issues such as these:

    The twisting of consent in the S/M scene is a huge can of worms.

    I was told the problem is my misuse of language, that BDSM is all about consent.

    The principle (of sadism) is… the common phenomenon of men being dominant over women. I say, that principle is in itself destructive to women and unhealthy for men. A woman who enjoys that is getting off on her own degradation. This is analogous to the Stockholm Syndrome, to my way of thinking.

    This was found very offensive, and reflects my conflation of consensual and nonconsensual sadomasochism, I was told. I’m aware there is a difference, but remain skeptical of attempts to deny any link.

    I didn’t imply there’s nothing wrong with female masochism, merely that I don’t blame women for it. It’s far more than a fetish, which is why I compared it to the Stockholm Syndrome. Women have written books about female masochism. These were serious books, not porn. Social conditioning convincing women pain is their lot is far from harmless; it’s a major part of how men have gotten away with dominating the world for so long.

    …if it’s all playacting and no actual cruelty is involved, why call it sadism? What does that have to do with the definition? Surely you realize there are lots of men who really do get off on hurting women. Isn’t that why gonzo porn is so popular?

    Those were from comments I made to respondents before the wave brought in by Gorgias a month ago, determined to defend BDSM on an entry prompted by the notorious Craigslist exposure of ardent sadists eager to torture the advertiser, over two years ago.

    There’s nothing good about mastery of one human being over another.

    Again, supposedly if people like playing those roles, I’m supposed to believe there’s no problem.

    Subjective experiences might be equally valid, but the interpretations aren’t.

    This in response to being told I have to believe in the testimony of the subjective experience.

    What’s out of the ordinary about dominance and submission? BDSM is just the extreme expression of hierarchy for its own sake, which is the bedrock of most civilizations, to their great detriment. That kind of power is almost impossible to avoid abusing.

    I was told I was missing the point and misusing my terms.

    …the idea of one person being the master of another is anathema to me. That’s called slavery, generally, though you turn it into a spiritual quest. Another variety is called marriage, generally, at least in the traditional variety, where the wife is supposed to obey the husband.

    …There’s a huge difference between being aware of one’s mental condition and perceiving it clearly. Human knowledge of objective reality is really quite limited. Perception and interpretation have a nasty habit of getting in the way. Virtually everything people learn to believe clouds their perception. You learned to believe pain is sublime. There’s nothing objective about that; your belief creates your perception.

    The pain reaction has a survival purpose, to alert the organism to do something about what’s causing the pain. Pain can teach great lessons, but making pain sexual is a huge can of worms. You may think it’s part of your nature, but you may not realize how sexuality used to be viewed when women were property. Women weren’t supposed to enjoy sex. Those who enjoyed it too much got their clitoris chopped off. In some cultures women are still property, and in some cultures women are still mutilated to ensure sex is a painful duty, not something they’d seek out for pleasure. Humiliating and hurting women is extremely popular in pornography. You may not like being linked to this association, but these sick artifacts of male-dominated civilization define what sadism means to most people. You may not like the term, but your crowd isn’t so squeamish about it. Why is that?

    Apparently that, combined with allegations from Jen based on her own experiences with a sadist, brought in the rest of the crowd, determined to explode the associations I was making, and explain why these issues are to be taken as made irrelevant by negotiated consent and safewords.

    It begs the question, why should people believe BDSM has nothing to do with abuse when its practitioners embrace the terminology of abuse? Is the distinction real, or sophistry? Is the distinction between being submissive and subordinated real, or sophistry? The slaveowners of this country believed slavery was best for their subjects, whom they valued highly, but that was all in the eye of the beholder. The slaves knew better. What’s the point of using the terminology of such a horrendous institution to denote consensual kinky sexuality? What’s in it for you to use these terms, if their conventional meanings are so far from applicable?

    There were attempts to answer this, but none alleviated my concerns.

    Consent will never be a simple matter as long as rapists claim the woman consented, so her accusation was a lie, it wasn’t rape. It will never be a simple matter as long as men buy sex from desperate women who need the money and call it consensual. As long as men have power over women, consent to sex will be a huge can of worms.

    I was told this is inapplicable to BDSM, because it’s all about consent.

    I’m investigating the matter of people excusing inflicting pain on people. You can’t take this out of the context of the culture, which glorifies cruelty as macho, patriotic, kicking ass, showing that woman who’s boss, whatever. It’s been mainstreamed. I think the truth shreds you, you have no real answers to me or Jen. I think you’re a bunch of experts in sophistry, twisting language to make your theories work. I’m a hard scientist. I don’t respect much of what requires faith or twisting language to believe. At least there’s some recognition there’s a problem with the language. Some words aren’t worth reclaiming.

    This got roundly denied and turned back on me, as if I’m the one twisting language.

    You judge your consent, but I get to judge the implications. Isn’t the life of most prostitutes torture? Isn’t that relevant to this question of consent, twisting of which makes it seem so legit for the johns?

    This was to respond to an aggrieved Renegade Evolution, miffed that I questioned her consent.

    For a great many women, the life you’re describing here is no fantasy. It’s a trap which they’ve learned to accept as normal. In some cases, that’s part of the culture, and in others, it’s called battered women’s syndrome. Yeah, people with uncompromised agency can turn it into a game, but talk about playing with fire. It’s just hard for me to believe people can play with such concepts, with such pernicious hooks into our subconscious minds, without getting burned. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but I’m skeptical.

    That was in response to a rosy description of submissive fantasies.

    I’m suspicious of these attempts to reclaim sadism and cruelty. I can sort of understand turning them into a game, but I think those who play with fire may not even realize when they’re getting burned.

    The idea that I’m trying to force women to conform to my beliefs is laughable. I’m observing how expectations of female masochism have been used against women from time immemorial. This makes me suspicious of the idea that a woman allowing a man to dominate or inflict pain on her, even as a game, is doing anything to empower herself. It might be fun, or a means of defiance of traditional expectations by turning them into a game, but it’s a dangerous game, and I wonder if these women should be so trusting. If a man gets mad and out of control, suddenly it’s no longer a game.

    I think the entire culture is pathological, especially in these United States. Some of that is the pervasive sexism, some is the reckless arrogance of science for hire, and some is the mentality of empire. This is the context in which I see sadism and cruelty. As I said, they’ve been mainstreamed. Many people may not notice their influence unless it’s in their face, as when confronted with BDSM or Abu Ghraib; then they act shocked. Sexism is in itself sadistic and cruel. There’s no escaping these facets of the culture. I could see how my scorn could be called cruel. It isn’t meant that way, but it could come across that way. I see nothing but trouble coming from the mainstreaming of sadism and cruelty. Playing with that kind of fire can be fun, sure, but the stuff of hell on earth shouldn’t be underestimated or taken lightly. Fun isn’t always innocuous or without consequences, which can be extremely subtle and easily missed or denied. Traditionally, there’s nothing fun, subversive, or empowering for women in female masochism, but it has been a convenient means of training women to accept male dominance.

    I was told my fire metaphor is stretched and inappropriate.

    I’m still not getting the point of making the word sadism socially respectable. Do you not see potential hazards in that? In an ideal world, it should be possible to educate people not to confuse these forms of sadism, but this isn’t an ideal world. The people you’re trying to shun aren’t going to give up the word to you. In other words, your efforts to educate people can easily backfire by giving cover to the traitorous sadists, even though that isn’t the intention. You know the saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    It’s all a problem of education, I’m told.

    My point in referencing sadistic pornography is that it is a huge problem pouring gasoline on a epidemic of screwed up men abusing women. Why would you want to be associated with that, stuck with the task of disabusing people of the notion that sadism hurts people?

    Not their problem, I’m told; people need to learn to use the language properly.

    I think we’re at an impasse. When it gets to the point that people are throwing around wildly stretched analogies and can’t see why they’re stretched after I attempt to explain my problems with them, I start to feel the discussion is pointless. I don’t live in your world, and you seem indifferent to what your vocabulary usage evokes in me, basically saying that’s my problem, since I’m misusing the vocabulary. It’s as though you’re saying if I’m bothered by the language, I should find another word for nonconsensual sadism. Maybe you can understand why that makes me feel you people do have something to hide.

    No, it’s my problem if I persist in misusing the language. I gave up. I made my case. I feel my concerns were evaded if not dismissed outright. This is their right, but it’s my right to note my impressions of how my concerns were not answered.

  138. Polly Styrene February 1, 2009 at 5:32 PM #

    Many of the responses to your fake post were thinly veiled sexual predators hiding behind BDSM for social acceptance.

    Quod erat demonstrandum

  139. Jon February 25, 2009 at 8:44 AM #

    I just got done with this one, and I just spent the better part of an hour reading through ALL the comments, and I hate to be the last person to this party.
    Pretty much anything I want to say has been picked apart and done to death. I am one sure what there even is Left to say. As such, I am not going to address the post. 9-2 Has said there is more to come and to hold off judgments until I have read it all, and in deference to her I will.
    Instead I am going to address my fellow Posters. I am going to talk to you people.
    I would like to say that the Internet in general has lead to a huge amount of dehumanization on all fronts. The people posting above obviously aren’t human beings anymore right? Or maybe you all frequently go into broad daylight and accuse every day people of being Nazis and Torturers.
    As a Dom, what I do is not Torture. You may perceive it as such, but to be perfectly honest, I haven’t done anything to anyone that they didn’t enjoy immensely.
    Since I am a human being, with feelings and everything, I am pretty pissed and hurt by a lot of things said, especially about the misconceptions bandied about.
    I am not a thief in the night. I do not kidnap women off the street and have my way with them. I NEVER would. My fantasies, may involve a riding crop and rope, but that in no way means that I have forgotten that my play partners are PEOPLE. I respect them as such. I even Love them, and I sure as hell treat them with a lot more respect then some of you would treat me apparently.
    Most of you have probably never attending a munch. Never gone to a group meeting. Never even met a real dom. (Actually all of you probably have and chances are you will NEVER know.)
    We are normal every day people who just enjoy things a little differently.
    You can check over my previous posts if you want, let me know what you think. I want to know what you all think, and I promise I will treat you all with respect. It’s a main precept of my life and always will be.
    I like to think I speak for the whole community when I say a lot of you are confused on this topic. A lot of you have never had a real face to face conversation with people in the lifestyle. And if you have, I hope you were more cordial then than you are now.

  140. Liselotte April 18, 2009 at 11:31 PM #

    I wonder why even in the worst patriarchies in which female subservience is the norm, BDSM sex still ain’t?
    And how comes so many otherwise self-assures, strong and independent men and women like being submissive during sex?

    Saying the role somebody takes in sex have to mirror, in any way, real life is like saying a child playing mirrors his real life. Or like an adult enjoying non-sexual role plays (in which he might be a demon lord, a fairy or a wizard) mirrors his real life.
    Only when it comes to sexual role plays, it has to be different and politically correct?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Just thoughts. . . on blogging and stuff. . . « Maggie - Supporter of Women’s Liberation - April 18, 2009

    [...] casually, as in the ‘fun’ of a videogame, or as in the language of their BDSM ‘games’, or as in sexist jokes or fantasies, hardly anybody notices, let alone call them out on their [...]

  2. Breaking the Chains of Patriarchy: A Short Story on Resistance to Masochism « Maggie - Supporter of Women’s Liberation - April 18, 2009

    [...] man. In a patriarchal culture, female subservience (to men) and self-destruction were celebrated. Male sadists, with their pretense of aiming to please, actually got off on a woman who was (supposedly) enjoying [...]

  3. Twisting the Meaning of “Sex Class” « Kittywampus - May 23, 2009

    [...] often they end up blaming women’s choices, especially when it comes to sex. (See for instance the feminist BDSM blow-up of last winter.) This is an ironic corollary of portraying patriarchy as a monolith: Since you [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 484 other followers