BDSM (the sexual equivalent of being into Renaissance faires) Part 5: Nine Deuce, you’re a homophobe!

27 Feb

I’ve been catching a lot of grief lately from pro-BDSM bloggers and commenters for my posts on BDSM, and one of the most commonly recurring refrains happens to be that I sound just like one of those God Hates Fags assholes. Reader Gorgias was originally the most vociferous in his claims that questioning BDSM is akin to homophobia, and he posted several comments claiming that a large number of people in the scene report having lost their jobs and/or kids when their proclivities were discovered. I responded that I think people who are running around at work talking about their sex lives, whether their sex lives include weapons or not, are behaving inappropriately, as are people who expose children to their sexual activities. I don’t think it’s cool for people to be fired from their jobs or blackmailed because of what they do in their private lives, but I figured anyone who is being honest with themselves and who is engaging in this argument in good faith would know better than to pretend I think otherwise. Emotions are running high, everyone feels victimized, insults abound, so I suppose I can understand why things have gotten a little out of hand. But let me clarify a few things:

  1. I don’t think anyone ought to be fired from a job for what they do outside of work, as long as they’re not hurting anyone or wearing Crocs. 
  2. I don’t think anyone’s kids ought to be taken away from them unless abuse is occurring. However, I think that it is inappropriate for parents to engage in a full-time M/f relationship that is obvious to their children. Raising kids in that environment, regardless of whatever consent does or doesn’t exist between the parents (I’m going to leave that argument to others), removes consent and discussions of feminism from the equation. There’s no way a kid can grow up in that environment and not assume that a gender hierarchy is natural and normal. Adults might be able to thoughtfully make the decision to engage in such behavior and balance that with their ideas about equality and/or liberation  (again, I’ll leave that argument aside), but a kid can’t.  A parent has every right to seek custody of their child and to deny it to the other parent if they do not want the child to be raised in such an environment. 
  3. I don’t think BDSM ought to be criminalized. I’m a liberal when it comes to laws; I think the only way to combat a behavior is through changing people’s attitudes, not by banning things. I do think that serious physical damage ought to be prosecutable, whether the person suffering the damage wishes to press charges or not, because life and limb ought not to be in danger. 

There’s my position. 

As to this comparison between myself and religious fundamentalists who hate gay people, need I really explain the differences? Fine, here goes.

Let’s think first about what motivates homophobes. Men and women who are threatened by homosexuality are threatened by it because it carries the potential to disrupt their entire system of beliefs, to defy what they’ve come to see as the Natural Order of  Things (NOT).

“Nature” is a very slippery and very powerful mental construct that has been used to justify and to condemn any number of human activities. When we decide something is “natural,” it becomes fundamentally unassailable, which is why the term is thrown around so much. The problem is, there is no such thing as “nature.” Nature itself is a human psychological construct. I mean, yeah, the world is still there and the things in it exist no matter what we call them, but exactly which items and processes will be included under the term “nature” depends on who the one defining the term is. 

For western individuals who bumble around under the weight of the legacy of hundreds of years of Judeo-Christian ideas about sex and gender, the Enlightenment-era medicalization and biological essentialization of gender difference and female inferiority, and the general patriarchal tradition, the gender hierarchy is “natural.”  That is especially true of religious fruitcakes who believe what people like James Dobson have to say about what Christianity is about (sex is dirty, women ought to submit to men, everyone who disagrees will burn in hell, etc.). For these people, “natural” means “designed and sanctioned by the Big Guy,” and everything the Big Guy says goes. The problem is, the Big Guy probably doesn’t exist, and so the people in charge get to repackage their methods of protecting their place at the top of the hierarchy as what the Big Guy wants. When men get to put words into the mouth of gods, gods tend to reflect the desires of men. And thus, god wants patriarchy.

Patriarchy cannot exist without two agreed-upon sex roles arranged in a rigid hierarchy: men over women. Patriarchy, being approved by god as it is, is thus seen as the NOT. When anyone resists performing their role as assigned, they are therefore Going Against Nature. When someone defies Nature and the world doesn’t spontaneously combust, the people who are heavily invested in the maintenance of the dominant conception of the NOT freak out like Japanese girls over a Paris Hilton sighting. 

There are several ways to defy the NOT, but the most common one is to fuck the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Women who get down with other women lie on one end of the continuum; as long as they are doing it to titillate men, and as long as they remember that the party isn’t complete without a wiener, they’re tolerable. Women who get busy with other women and have no need for men aren’t. They threaten the NOT to an extent that makes men really uncomfortable, so men use what tools they have at their disposal to try to shove these women back into line, including violence, rape, and murder. But most men are content to just give lesbians the old sour-grapes routine and deny their worth as female human beings by accusing them of being unfuckable. If that doesn’t work, they may escalate. But men’s biggest fear is the male apostate. A man who fucks another man gives up the benefits of membership in the oppressor class and chooses to become, in the eyes of the average patriarchy beneficiary, just like a woman. There is no greater threat to the NOT than men who, in full cognizance of the benefits that come with being born male (that is, the privilege of using and abusing women), are content to shun those benefits in order to assume a “feminine” role. When men feel that the entire rationale behind their supremacy is in danger, they are forced to bring up Nature. “What you’re doing is against nature,” they say, and when one defies nature, the people who get to define the NOT, following another facet of “nature,” often react with violence (whether of the physical or emotional sort). 

So how do I differ from a patriarchy beneficiary or an appeaser when I question M/f BDSM? I don’t see M/f BDSM as throwing a wrench into the NOT, but rather as a pronounced and exaggerated display of the sexual hierarchy that the NOT rests upon. F/m or F/f or M/m BDSM might (MIGHT) do so, but I’m not sure that switching between the two roles does much to dismantle the roles themselves, and it’s the roles that I think cause the damage. I think male supremacy is a Bad Thing, and maybe even the Worst Thing, as so many other Bad Things seem to flow either directly or indirectly from it. Eroticizing male supremacy won’t get us any closer to destroying patriarchy or the phony, restrictive, oppressive sex roles that allow it to exist. And make no mistake, my goal numero uno in life is to do as much damage as I can to both before having my ashes scattered on Pulau Perhentian Besar. 

I think it would do us some good to look at BDSM encounters separately from D/s and/or M/s relationships. I’ve said a kajillion times that I don’t think people would be into BDSM in a post-patriarchal world, but we aren’t there yet. People might, in that world, still get excited by extreme sensations, but I don’t think that the accompanying power differential rituals would exist. So, I suppose we can leave BDSM in the context of the sexual encounter there (and open for argument).  As for relationship BDSM, I’m much more dubious. I doubt very seriously that there’d be a psychological need for power exchange in a world in which human relationships weren’t based on patriarchal hierarchies. What I’m struggling with, and have been all along, is figuring out how we can get to that place from the one we’re currently in. It’s easy for one group to say, “Hey, if you will all just stop doing what you’re doing, we’ll all get where we want to go.” But where we want to go has been defined, at least in part, by where we’re coming from, and the place we’re coming from is one in which sex and power (as it manifests in the two sex roles) are nearly inextricable.

For some people, the trouble involved in untangling the two is more than one should be asked to deal with. It might be that it’s easier to find happiness in being where the individual is than in pushing toward the place where the group wants to go. Sometimes meshing individual desires and the good of womankind (and humankind, though most men don’t know it yet) as a whole just can’t be done. Sometimes I eat chicken, sometimes I shave my legs, sometimes it’s easier to do what the NOT tells me to than to be constantly giving everyone the metaphorical finger.

The appeal to nature is a powerful one, and our ideas of what is and is not natural are deeply ingrained. When someone does something that strikes us as unnatural, we recoil with horror and want to protect ourselves, our worldviews, and (if they exist) our children from what we perceive as a foundational threat. That may not be noble or laudable, but it is nonetheless a common human trait. It takes a lot of work and critical thinking to question the received wisdom on the NOT, so it’s no surprise that not many people do. I avoid discussions of nature for just the reasons I’ve outlined above. It’s dangerous and it’s generally bullshit (ask me what I think  of patriarchiology — I mean evolutionary biology/psychology — some time), and I try to avoid it. But maybe I’m guilty of having my own NOT, one in which our current gender hierarchy is warped and out of touch with reality, one in which humanity is a given and in which sex roles don’t exist. But is that so threatening? My NOT might not be orderly or stable, but it carries a lot less potential for misery and violence than the one we’re currently rolling with. 

It may seem on the surface, when I say that I don’t think that children ought to be exposed to BDSM, or that I’m concerned about the ambiguities and potential for abuse that exist within BDSM, that I’m just like some asshole who perceives a threat to the NOT and who is lashing out at something they see as “unnatural,” but that’s a fairly shallow way of looking at what I’m saying, and I think it’s a way of avoiding the central point of contention by claiming victimhood. I’ll admit right here that I’m guilty of using inflammatory language in some of these posts (OK, in all of my posts), but my previous BDSM posts were aimed at people outside of the radfem and BDSM communities. This one isn’t, so I’ve done my best to avoid it. Now, am I still a God Hates Fags asshole? 

Here’s to civility.

I’m going to go act like a capitalist pig and conform to social expectations by drinking a bunch of beer to celebrate my impending capitulation to the patriarchy (getting married).

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456 Responses to “BDSM (the sexual equivalent of being into Renaissance faires) Part 5: Nine Deuce, you’re a homophobe!”

  1. HouseWench February 28, 2009 at 12:39 AM #

    Nine Deuce, I have been reading this…..saga? Episode? While I do not agree, as a whole, on your opinion, I think the points you have clarified make a big difference.

    With the three points you’ve listed, it helps put everything into a much clearer context, and I agree wholeheartedly with them.

    Also, Crocs are FAR worse than any fetish I have heard of, including the fetish of lopping off limbs.

  2. Gayle February 28, 2009 at 1:06 AM #

    Comparing BDSM to the oppression of homosexuals ? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all week. More than that, it’s offensive.

    So the usual suspects are twisting your words again. Who cares? Everyone who’s been on these internets longer than 5 minutes already knows their games.

    Go out and have fun, you sell out!

  3. isme February 28, 2009 at 4:18 AM #

    “There is no greater threat to the NOT than men who, in full cognizance of the benefits that come with being born male (that is, the privilege of using and abusing women), are content to shun those benefits in order to assume a “feminine” role. ”

    Hmmm…I don’t know about that. Or rather, if the reason people hated homosexual men was because they saw them as betraying the patriarchy in favour of a feminine role, wouldn’t feminist men be hated as much, if not more?

    • Nine Deuce February 28, 2009 at 9:31 PM #

      They are.

      • isme March 1, 2009 at 4:04 AM #

        Well, I personally, haven’t seen that. I haven’t seen anywhere near the amount of oppression and hatred faced by homosexuals being used against feminist men.

        • Jenn March 1, 2009 at 9:00 PM #

          I don’t think it’s useful to qualitatively try to place the oppression on a continuum. While I’m not going to argue that choosing to opt out of the oppression of women is as damaging socially as choosing to openly defy the male gender role, they are similar enough that the types of attacks leveled against the homosexual male and the feminist man are very similar. I know some feminist men who are very closeted; afraid to express a hatred of gendered oppression in normal situations for fear of social consequences like parental disapproval, being called a fag, alienation from peers, etc. I gather that many of the social forces that oppress the gay man function in the same way, although slightly different or lessened, for the feminist man.

          And it honestly depends. If you live in a very liberal town, you’ll be more accepted as a gay man with misogynist views (and trust me, many, many homosexuals are just as misogynist as straight men and women) than as a straight man without misogynist views.

  4. Alexandra Erin February 28, 2009 at 5:11 AM #

    When I hear people talking about what will or won’t exist post-Patriarchy, I get a little confused.

    If people are capable of being turned on by non-power-based relationships and scenarios in a power-driven world, why assume it’s likely that nobody would be turned on by power in a non-power-driven world?

    If male dominated BDSM were the only form of paraphilia in the world, I’d think you were on to something… but as it is, this is Jesus on a pancake. There are enough pancakes in the world that some of them are gonna look like Jesus.

    I understand why might find the idea of male dominated BDSM distasteful and even dangerous. To change the pancake metaphor, if a pancake randomly has a hurtful message on it, the fact that it’s random doesn’t make the pancake any more palatable or appropriate for public viewing.

    So we’re left with the question of what to do with it. That’s an easy question for pancakes; not so easy with human beings. And that’s why we get into “U R A HOMERPHOBE, NINE DOOOSE!!!11111″ territory, when we get to this question.

    You don’t want to criminalize us. You don’t want to control us. You don’t want us to go kill ourselves. You don’t think we should all have our children taken away.

    You say all this after unloading how you really feel, of course.

    What do you do with an offensive pancake when the pancake is human? That’s the kind of question that makes people nervous and defensive.

    At this point, you seem to be resigned to the fact that BDSM will be around until we get of Patriarchy so all you really can do is wag your finger.

    But what do you do when Patriarchy’s two generations gone and there are still women who want to have their faces rubbed in the dirt by a big strong man, because of a random quirk of wiring, or because of a chance mental association that was made when they were too young to understand the egalitarian, respect-based society into which they were born, or because the proverbial butterfly flapped its wings in Peru?

    I predict that your great-great-granddaughters are going to have some very tired waggin’-fingers.

    • Trinity February 28, 2009 at 10:15 PM #

      “If people are capable of being turned on by non-power-based relationships and scenarios in a power-driven world, why assume it’s likely that nobody would be turned on by power in a non-power-driven world?”

      Stop making sense.

  5. Peridot February 28, 2009 at 7:16 AM #

    I can’t believe you actually addressed this. Seriously, when people make comments demonstrating their lack of comprehension skills, you should just delete them. I’m still waiting to read more of your thoughts on BDSM and am disappointed to see this series punctuated with long Explanations to a few people with low critical thinking ability. Don’t be afraid to just press on with your thoughts and hit that DELETE button for nonsense comments. And if anybody starts calling me a BDSM-a-phobe and a “hater” based on this comment, they can just take a look at my blog. I’m a pro-domme and have found some aspects of BDSM that I enjoy, but I must admit there are a lot of sexist and mentally twisted aspects to it, not to mention all the silliness that revolves around The Scene. I love how you liken it to being into Renaissance fairs.

  6. Natalia Antonova February 28, 2009 at 11:05 AM #

    It’s good that you clarified your position, ND – but, like I said over at my place, this entire Saga has not merely been about sex & power. You deliberately and, I would say, gleefully poked people with sticks, and now you’re surprised and hurt when they called you on it.

    Civility ought to go both ways, no?

    Like Belle said – homophobia isn’t just about “God Hates Fags,” just like racism isn’t just about hate crimes – but I’m not about to argue any more as to why I see the parallels I see.

    Also, this point you’re fond of repeating:

    I’ve said a kajillion times that I don’t think people would be into BDSM in a post-patriarchal world

    I think it’s wrong. And I’d debate you on it, but I’m put off by the way this conversation has gone. I haven’t got the energy. Maybe I’ll write something about it in the near future – because I still think this is an important topic, for feminism and beyond.

    Congratulations on your impeding marriage.

    Never apologize for having a beer (well, unless it’s Natty Lite, but I don’t peg you as the type to drink that).

    • Nine Deuce February 28, 2009 at 9:32 PM #

      I prefer Keystone.

    • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 7:55 PM #

      I think the fact that we’re wondering whether BDSM would exist in a post-patriarchal world is indicative of the fact that we’re asking the wrong question.

      For my part, my only goal is the happiness of as many people as possible. This should be obvious, but it’s my contention that power imbalances are often bad because they hurt people and prevent them from being happy. It follows pretty easily from this that power imbalances that serve to make people happy and are also freely chosen (this itself being a pretty good, though not infallible indicator that it will lead to happiness, since people tend to seek their own happiness) are good things, not bad things.

      ND, on the other hand, seems to adhere to the notion that any fruit that comes of the corrupted tree can’t be good. Now, I’m not of the opinion that BDSM flows from patriarchy itself, but the question is moot. A thing’s source has nothing to do with what effect it has on us. We have to consider the thing in itself to know what effect it will have on us.

      In short, the only valid criteria in this situation is, in my opinion, a consequentialist perspective that ultimately seeks as much happiness for as many people as possible. Whether the modes of attaining this happiness were influenced by the nearly but not entirely uniformly negative patriarchy is irrelevant.

      • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 2:44 PM #

        I’m not a consequentialist by any stretch of the imagination — I think it often leads, in practice, to things like widespread ableism.

        But then, I’m one of those people who thinks Mill was talking out both sides of his mouth and you can’t have BOTH consequentialist morality AND full respect for liberty.

        However, I totally agree with you about the “corrupted root” thing. I think examining some practice’s moral contours has to do with what it’s actually like, not where we think it came from.

        A lot of things we think of as very innocent now have very, very creepy roots. And probably vice versa.

  7. RenegadeEvolution February 28, 2009 at 5:32 PM #

    ND: I don’t think you are a homophobe. Kink-phobe? Possibly. I can even get that, some kinky stuff can seem creepy, and some people doing it are creepy. Just like some people doing anything can be creepy.

    Spoken like a true creepy person, I suppose.

    I guess I just do not see M/f BDSM much different than countless other things. Hell, I think BDSM is a pretty convoluted and complex “to taste” sort of thing itself. But maybe more thoughts on that later….I have to get ready for a Ren Faire…or something like that anyway.

  8. Charlie February 28, 2009 at 6:09 PM #

    If we’re going to be discussing critical thinking around this, there’s something I want to point out. In this comment, 92 says this:

    “Why are people getting fired for being into BDSM? Ever heard of sexual harassment? Talking about sex at work isn’t cool, whether you’re straight, gay, into BDSM, or celibate. It’s just not appropriate. And to be honest, if I were a parent, I’d be concerned if my child’s other parent were into BDSM because I wouldn’t want my child exposed to it. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think you ought to have the right to normalize that kind of behavior in front of children who haven’t got the critical thinking abilities to understand what’s going on.”

    Granted, in a clarifying comment, she explains that she’s had an experience of having a boss tell her about his BDSM and that he told her that she should get into it. That is, however, simply one experience. As has been pointed out, many BDSM folks who lose their jobs or have other negative consequences over their sexual practices have it happen because, despite their efforts to be in the closet, someone finds out.

    To make a sweeping statement that implies (or outright says) that the reason that kinky people lose their jobs is because they can’t contain their sexuality and spill it all over the people around them is not an example of critical thinking. It’s an example of taking one sample and generalizing to an entire population. It’s an example of pre-judging people. What kept you (or anyone else) from asking something like “what are the typical scenarios in which BDSM folks lose their jobs over their sexualities?” A little curiosity with judgment set aside is one of the pieces of critical thinking. I don’t see a lot of that in this example.

    92- while I get that you’re not homophobic, a lot of the language that you use to describe your judgments around BDSM is quite similar to the language that many people use to judge queers. The above example of generalizing from a single instance is one sample.

    Another example is the way in which you talk about all kinky people as if they are all doing the same things that bothers you. I’m willing to bet any amount of money that you’ve met and perhaps even liked a number of kinky people without even knowing because they were able to keep their sexualities private. Similarly, a lot of homophobic people lump all queers together, without any recognition of the fact that they’ve most likely met queers and didn’t know it because they didn’t fit their stereotype. Again, being kinky and being queer are not the same thing. However, seeing only the stereotype and not seeing the counter-examples is another example of how your attitudes are, in some ways, parallel to homophobia, racism, classism, sexism, and other systemic oppressions.

    Note- I’m not saying that prejudice around BDSM is the same as other forms of oppression, simply that there are significant parallels.

    You write that “It may seem on the surface, when I say that I don’t think that children ought to be exposed to BDSM, or that I’m concerned about the ambiguities and potential for abuse that exist within BDSM, that I’m just like some asshole who perceives a threat to the NOT and who is lashing out at something they see as “unnatural,” but that’s a fairly shallow way of looking at what I’m saying…”

    How are we supposed to see past the surface of what you’re saying when your writing doesn’t make that possible? Are we supposed to read your mind and know that when you talk about kinky people losing their jobs because they talk about their sexual practices, that you don’t mean that all kinky people have bad boundaries? When you write that if a parent is into BDSM, they will automatically expose their children to it, are we supposed to assume that you know that most parents of all sexualities are pretty careful about not exposing their kids to their sexual practices? Or do we have to take you at your word (literally) and respond as if you mean exactly what you say?

    You seem to want to blame your readers for misunderstanding you. Perhaps one thing to consider is whether you could use language that would help us do that. You might not allow me to link to my blog, but I’ve written about how we can use more accurate language to discuss sex here. You may find it useful, although you might not.

    I get that you “… figured anyone who is being honest with themselves and who is engaging in this argument in good faith would know better than to pretend [you] think otherwise.” I try to do that. I really do. I work to look past your sweeping statements and overgeneralizations to look for the thought-provoking, insightful, and interesting kernel beneath. I find that it often takes a lot of work to do that, which I (usually) find worth it. But you don’t make it easy, especially when you then turn around and make it sound like those times that I don’t manage it, it’s because I’m not honest with myself or I’m not engaging in good faith.

    The reason I find it challenging is that you use (as you’ve said repeatedly on your blog) inflammatory language. I don’t think it’s fair to do so and then blame people for reacting to it. If you want to use inflammatory language, it’s your blog and you can certainly do that. But I wouldn’t expect everyone to be able to read it without reacting, unless you only want to write for people who already agree with you.

  9. Trinity February 28, 2009 at 8:19 PM #

    “To make a sweeping statement that implies (or outright says) that the reason that kinky people lose their jobs is because they can’t contain their sexuality and spill it all over the people around them is not an example of critical thinking.”

    And it’s where some of us are getting the “you sound like a homophobe” too. Ever heard “They can do that if they want, but so many of ‘em FLAUNT IT?!”

    Well now, who is that usually said about, and in what contexts?

    • Nine Deuce February 28, 2009 at 9:34 PM #

      People were accusing me of that shit before I ever wrote that comment, so let’s focus.

      • Trinity February 28, 2009 at 9:37 PM #

        Wait, what are you saying you want here? A chart of how similar your rhetoric is, leaving out that one comment because you actually happen to be embarrassed you said it?

  10. Jenn February 28, 2009 at 10:35 PM #

    As this fag can attest, I’ve never once thought of you as a homophobe. Quite to the contrary, comparing my sexuality to all sorts of hipster nihilist shit that people might engage in whilst fucking—like foot fetishes, fursuits, BDSM, or golden showers—just offends the ever living fuck out of me. And I detest people that try to take the legitimacy of the gay rights movement and twist it for their own use.

    This entire culture is structured upon the oppression of gender roles and the model of a patriarchal two gender family. Tying someone up and fucking them or licking their feet is odd, but it’s hardly challenging the status quo in a fundamental way. Loving someone of my own sex, displaying approperiate affection in public, and wanting to marry her or raise children together makes even the most liberal of straight folks a little uncomfortable. That’s because these actions directly oppose the heteronormative patriarchal roots of present society. They reverberate throughout my entire life, and affect so much more than what I do between the sheets. The reduction of homosexuality to just another kink is delusional as fuck. Refusal to adhere to the standard gender binary is not just something that you take out of the closet for sexy time, it’s a badge of shame in a world who classifies non-heterosexuals as the “other”.

    If your BDSM is to the point that you feel that you should have the ability to walk your sub through the mall naked on a leash, and then call the inability to do so “oppression” on par with the dirty looks I earn while doing something as innocent as holding a partner’s hand, then you are a delusional fuck without a shred of rationality or perspective. Honestly, I don’t give a shit about the ability to have sex with someone of the same gender in public or engage in heavy petting. Straight couples can’t do that either, and I’m certainly not against that.

    Sexual and gender identity is just that, an identity. It’s not an expression of sex in a place where sexuality is inappropriate. Walking a naked chick with nipple clamps into Macy’s is a blatant and inappropriate display of sexuality on par with straight couples fondling each other’s genitalia in public. Holding hands with another woman while I pursue the racks at Dillard’s is not obscene.

    Seriously, if you cannot separate distaste for the blatant display of another’s sex life from genuine bigotry and hatred of someone’s identity, grow the fuck up. You’re like those PETA assholes who think that wearing KKK robes in public is an approperiate way to protest the abuse of animals. If you can’t defend your own movement without undermining another, just shut the hell up and go back to your dungeon.

    • Trinity February 28, 2009 at 11:09 PM #

      “If your BDSM is to the point that you feel that you should have the ability to walk your sub through the mall naked on a leash, and then call the inability to do so “oppression” on par with the dirty looks I earn while doing something as innocent as holding a partner’s hand, then you are a delusional fuck without a shred of rationality or perspective”

      Jenn,

      Have you *actually been reading* what we’re saying the similarities are? Because your talk of public displays of affection is totally off-point.

      • Jenn March 1, 2009 at 12:34 AM #

        Have you actually been reading my point as to the difference between an identity and simple oddity, or do you not care? Better yet, have you read the point of 9-2’s post, about the NOT? Really, I think it’s hilarious how much some people want to think that their choices are subversive and fundamentally opposed by the status-quo to lend their perceived “suffering” and “alienation” legitimacy whilst undermining another cause. Trust me, you don’t want to have the kind of alienation and oppression that homosexuals have.

        • Tess March 1, 2009 at 2:55 PM #

          What makes you exclude dominance or submission from being a sexual identity?

          It’s not just a choice, any more than being homosexual is a choice. (But remember the days when people thought it was, though? Oh. Remember how some people still think it is?)

          “Trust me, you don’t want to have the kind of alienation and oppression that homosexuals have.”

          Um. We already have it, thanks.

          • Jenn March 1, 2009 at 9:15 PM #

            Being homosexual is not a identity only relevant within the confines of sex. BDSM is, unless you are seriously suggesting that slave/master relationships should be openly displayed in public. Honestly, I object to heavy petting of heterosexuals in public. I think it’s inappropriate. Keep your sex life in the bedroom, regardless of content, thanks.

            It does strike me as hilariously absurd that you really do think that BDSM is a sort of identity that pervades your entire identity to the point that it is readily apparent to outsiders. Since orientation is a vital part of gender identity, which is in part a vital part of identity period, deviations thereof are usually quite obvious regardless of the non-sexual actions of the homosexual. Simply acting in a way outside of the gender binary (i.e. not wearing makeup if you are a woman) is enough to suggest to most that you fall outside the required gender norms, and thus oppression and alienation follows.

            Since open displays of sexuality are not relevant in public, the only way that someone would know about kink is if you display it or if they pry into your life; the second being an obvious, and wrongful, invasion of privacy. Since I’m not too hot about the display of heavy petting in public between heterosexuals, homosexuals, or anyone else, I fail to see how people would even become aware of someone’s BDSM proclivities unless they were being inappropriate in public or the other party was being nosy.

            Obviously, something that is only relevant in one’s sex life is not enough to form the locus of oppression, especially since the activities simply exist on a more extreme end of the current notions of what sex is rather than wholly defying it.

            So, no, you aren’t oppressed. Knock that crap off. Homosexuals are not asking people to accept anal sex as an identity. BDSM is a sexual practice, not an identity. If you choose to orient your identity around the specific acts and power roles you do and assume in bed, that’s your own choice, which I frankly do not care about, and would not like to hear about in public, thanks. I sense that the comparison of BDSM to homosexuality only rests on the assumption that homosexuality can be reduced to simple things you do in bed or that BDSM is conflated to a vertible identity. The first is homophobia in and of itself, and a complete ignorance of how the gender binary functions to oppress. The second strikes me as an insertion of specific sexual practices into identity that seems obscene and wholly inappropriate in a public setting.

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 4:35 AM #

              “Since orientation is a vital part of gender identity, which is in part a vital part of identity period, deviations thereof are usually quite obvious regardless of the non-sexual actions of the homosexual. ”

              Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing. I agree that they’re both identity issues, but who you’re attracted to and what your own sense of your gender is are two different things.

              And why are you saying something has to be readily apparent to outsiders to be a part of your identity? That makes no sense at all.

            • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 7:50 AM #

              So straight acting men who have sex with men aren’t actually gay, and can’t be oppressed?

              • Nine Deuce March 2, 2009 at 4:34 PM #

                Don’t put words into my mouth. And no, I didn’t say that. What I said is that men who have sex with men, in the eyes of homophobes, have taken on the role of a woman. It doesn’t matter whether they “act straight.”

                • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 7:10 PM #

                  Wasn’t trying to impute that view to you =) I’m not sure what your definition of sexual orientation is at this point, but at least so far you haven’t made the odd claim that the shibboleth for SEXUAL orientation is identifiers that are nonsexual and appear outside the bedroom, like Jenn has.

                  • Nine Deuce March 2, 2009 at 7:20 PM #

                    Sorry, this thread feature doesn’t show up in the moderation queue where I respond to comments, so I thought it was addressed to me. I’ll get my shit together with this new format at some point.

            • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 8:17 AM #

              Thinking about it more…I’m bisexual. My friends are also usually very surprised to learn this when I tell them. While I’ve no love for the gender binary, I also don’t tend to act effeminately. My natural inclinations tend toward acting like a mostly normal male, albeit a bookish and slightly timid one that would prefer Aristotle to the NFL. I also happen to love receptive anal sex.

              So what, am I not queer enough to join the club? Do we have to flaunt gender roles all the time to get the label of twoo oppression and be able to bitch about the shit we take for how our relationships are structured and what we do in the bedroom?

              I have a friend who’s the most androgynous person I’ve ever met. She’ll do her damndest to flaunt whatever gender expectation she can in any given situation, and detests the gender binary. She also likes boys, not girls. No sexual interest in women at all. What does your theory do with her?

              There’s a reason why genderqueer and homosexual are two separate categories. There’s a lot of overlap, much as there’s a lot of overlap between kinkiness and homosexuality, but they aren’t the same. It’s completely disngenuous to try to link the two when it’s clear that not everyone who has sex with people of their own gender also transgress gender roles in other areas of their lives. Homosexuality has always been an identity that is about sexual acts in the bedroom and a certain type of relationship outside it. I’m not seeing much different with a BDSM identity.

              In short, claiming that identifiers outside the bedroom of sexuality is necessary to be a sexual orientation is obviously fallacious. There are many who have sex with people of their own gender who do not act in ways that conform to society’s prejudices and stereotypes about homosexuals outside the bedroom, and to claim that you must have such outside identification to join the club is both stereotyping typical of our opponents and is also one of the most repugnant forms of ostracism within an oppressed community I’ve witnessed, and that’s coming from a gay male submissive.

              • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 8:03 PM #

                Gorgias,

                I totally agree with you. At the same time, though, I do think there are some people to whom sex isn’t all that important, who see their orientation as about “more than sex.”

                I personally think this is kind of weird — I’m not sure why sex needs to be downplayed like this — but there are people who do think it, and I think our account of what orientation is needs to allow for both.

                Though I’m honestly not a huge fan of the “political lesbians” who never act on desire for other women, I don’t think I should define them as non-lesbians.

            • Alexandra Erin March 2, 2009 at 8:48 PM #

              Homosexuals are not asking people to accept anal sex as an identity. BDSM is a sexual practice, not an identity.

              More arguments identical to the ones the Bill O’Reilly crowd uses against gays. They don’t recognize homosexuality as anything other than homo sex. You can stand up and talk until you’re blue in the face about your loving stable relationships and how your identity is more than sex acts, but they’re just not going to listen.

              Frustrating.

              You’re asserting the right to dictate to other people what is the core of their identity and what is just a kinky sex practice.

              As a trans fag who is also kinky, let me tell you that first of all there is no confusion in my mind about what parts of my engender actual oppression and not.

              That doesn’t make me feel any better when somebody decides to spout off the same brand of hate with Mad-Lib style word substitutions about the other aspects of my life.

              And by doing so? You’re legitimizing the tactics. You’re saying “BUT IF WE DON’T TELL THEM HOW AWFUL THEY ARE THEY’LL DO IT IN PUBLIC!” is a legitimate argument.

              You can’t tell me that doesn’t hurt the struggle for gay rights.

              • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:16 PM #

                “More arguments identical to the ones the Bill O’Reilly crowd uses against gays. They don’t recognize homosexuality as anything other than homo sex. You can stand up and talk until you’re blue in the face about your loving stable relationships and how your identity is more than sex acts, but they’re just not going to listen.”

                Exactly. “It’s not an identity because I said it’s not and by the way you’re fucking” is not an argument.

                “You’re legitimizing the tactics. You’re saying “BUT IF WE DON’T TELL THEM HOW AWFUL THEY ARE THEY’LL DO IT IN PUBLIC!” is a legitimate argument.”

                This.

            • Bean March 2, 2009 at 10:35 PM #

              Uh, and if your queerness isn’t apparent to outside observers? Pretty sure people don’t say, “LOOK, A QUEER!” when I walk down the street, but then…I do wear headphones everywhere, so who knows.

              I mean, kinky people could use some identifiable bit of clothing or behaviour to mark themselves publicly. But I think we’ve established that you think that’s icky, so…

              But I will agree that you’re right that BDSM is a sexual practice that only effects what you do in the bedroom. It doesn’t involve things that I’d also personally associate with the scope of queer identity, such as: where you choose to live (liberal areas); who you choose as friends (people who won’t freak out when/if you reveal your sexuality, at the very least); who you choose to support politically (people who don’t want to criminalize you); and who you choose as a partner (compatible sexualities, obviously).

              Kinky people don’t need to worry about any of that. They just have sex. Really icky sex.

              • firefey March 4, 2009 at 6:51 PM #

                “where you choose to live (liberal areas); who you choose as friends (people who won’t freak out when/if you reveal your sexuality, at the very least); who you choose to support politically (people who don’t want to criminalize you); and who you choose as a partner (compatible sexualities, obviously).”

                actually, many people involved in BDSM do all of these things. look for places to live that have a thriving community of people to get to know and form friendships with, because those are the kinds of friends not likely to freak out on you over your sexuality or want to criminalize you, and it opens up a potential dating pool of compatable people.

                • Bean March 5, 2009 at 12:21 AM #

                  Aw. My sarcasm, it did not come through! :( Sorry.

                  I don’t disagree. That was my point, actually.

                  • firefey March 6, 2009 at 6:51 PM #

                    i’ll have to readjust my monitor to be more sensitive to sarcasm then. gosh, i do hope this doesn’t give me any false reads…

        • Trinity March 1, 2009 at 3:37 PM #

          Jenn,

          I’m bi. I don’t see why you’re telling me I don’t understand how you’re oppressed — unless you’re asserting I’m not queer enough to be oppressed.

          In your comment above, you talk quite a lot about public displays of affection, saying that BDSM folk are upset because we don’t have the right to be obscene in public.

          But where is this idea even coming from? I’m at a loss to think of any BDSM-related thing I think would be appropriate as a public display of affection.

          The odd fixation on how disgusting the things we do are sounds an awful lot to me like “well, if we let two men hold hands, they’ll rut in the streets like swine in front of decent folks!”

          Except that, you know, we’re not actually asking to be able to do BDSM in public… it’s your mind that’s going there, much as the horrified fundie’s mind goes to the explicit specifics of gay sex.

          Being asked to be respected is not the same as asking everyone to watch you fuck. I’d think a lesbian would understand that, to be honest.

        • Trinity March 1, 2009 at 3:42 PM #

          Can you explain how you determine what an identity is versus a “simple oddity?” Because “you’re just an oddity” is EXACTLY THE THINKING that leads people to oppress gays and lesbians. It goes, as I’m sure you already know, like this:

          “You’re just making a choice! You say it’s who you are, but that’s just because you’re bewitched by an oversexed and overhyped lifestyle!”

          Then they go on with really lurid descriptions, almost lovingly hateful descriptions of exactly what they fancy every gay person does, and how sick it is.

          Much like you and your bizarre fantasy that we all want to lead each other down Main Street naked.

          • Jenn March 1, 2009 at 8:49 PM #

            Because the only way that a like of BDSM in the bedroom would be apparent in ordinary circumstances is if it was being displayed inappropriately or if someone was wrongly prying into your sex life. The second, of course, is a sort of wrong. Whereas someone into BDSM could reference their significant other without carefully excluding gender, a homosexual cannot. I cannot see how BDSM translates into real life oppression unless it is manifested in the display of BDSM in inappropriate circumstances or it is wrongly pried out of someone by an invasion of privacy.

            So what kind of “oppression” here are we referencing with BDSM people? Because short of invasions of privacy or inappropriate displays of BDSM in a public place, I cannot fathom that the sort of “oppression” people who practice BDSM love to reference feels anything like the agony of being homosexual and falling outside the gender binary. This isn’t the 1600s. Nobody is going to refuse to hire you from a job if you liked to be tied up during sex unless you tell them, which is weird, or they invade your privacy, which is wrong and could be considered sexual harassment. People absolutely refuse to hire or associate with homosexuals all the time, and this sort of discrimination is protected by law and rulings of the supreme court.

            So I totally fail to see how BDSM falls into the continuum known as “oppression” in the same way that gender, orientation, race, class, or ability do unless someone is obviously invading your privacy or you are conducting sexual interactions in public. In order for something to be an oppression, it has to be a vital part of one’s identity that is relevant outside of one context. BDSM is not relevant outside of a sexual context.

            But, this would have been apparent if you had read and comprehended 9-2’s post.

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 3:36 AM #

              “Because the only way that a like of BDSM in the bedroom would be apparent in ordinary circumstances is if it was being displayed inappropriately or if someone was wrongly prying into your sex life.”

              Okay, that’s fair, but as I commented to ND’s original “If they’re fired, it must be because they are inappropriate in public,” that’s not what happens, and not what we’re saying happen. We’re talking about things like blackmail and outing.

              We’re talking about things like having two identities. I don’t sign posts like these “Trinity” because it’s cooler than my real name, I do it because I’m in the closet — oh wait, that’s appropriation, er, the armoire?

              You could say that I could choose never to talk about this stuff online. But in that case, why should YOU get to without repercussion talk about people like ME, and spread misinformation and weirdness like “nipples on Main Street?”

              Yes, I would like to be able to blog under my real name, even in the Sex Wars. I suppose that makes me terribly prurient.

              “Nobody is going to refuse to hire you from a job if you liked to be tied up during sex unless you tell them, which is weird,”

              True, it is weird, but that doesn’t mean people don’t find out. We live in a society utterly obsessed with gossip and dirt — and a society in which privacy, in general, is eroding.

              “or they invade your privacy, which is wrong and could be considered sexual harassment.”

              Does that really help when you’ve just been handed the pink slip, though?

              As far as this odd supposition that we’re saying the situation of gay folks and BDSMers are the same, I for one am not. I don’t think there’s anything like the same degree of systemic discrimination against kinky people.

              What I am saying is that the rhetoric being used in this discussion, from ND’s comment that lumped us all in with a sexual harasser to your “nipples on Main Street” comment, is *similar* to the rhetoric of homophobes who love phrases like “lifestyle,” “choice,” “oddity,” etc. and absolutely love to dream up lurid nonsense about what THOSE SEXUAL DEVIANTS would do in public if we didn’t all shame them.

              I’ve got no interest in doing things with my partner in public that I can’t already do.

            • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 8:41 PM #

              Just out of curiosity, what do you make of the Jack McGeorge flap?

              So far as I can tell, he was someone who was prominent in the BDSM community, ran a few workshops, and didn’t bother registering under a pseudonym. He never revealed it to his co-workers, but a quick google search of his name by a reporter turned up his work with some BDSM organizations, and the reporter printed it as an incidental aside to a story he was printing (Jack McGeorge worked in a fairly politically sensitive office, being one of the weapons inspectors sent to Iraq).

              This seems to neither be an example of inappropriate revelation to co-workers to me, nor of inappropriate snooping by other people. I would say that blogging under a real name instead of a psuedonym, wearing a collar around, or acting deferential and using clearly BDSM tinged terms of affection would fall under the same categories. Where do you tihnk the line should be?

              • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:18 PM #

                “He never revealed it to his co-workers, but a quick google search of his name by a reporter turned up his work with some BDSM organizations, and the reporter printed it as an incidental aside to a story he was printing (Jack McGeorge worked in a fairly politically sensitive office, being one of the weapons inspectors sent to Iraq).”

                I don’t remember it being an incidental aside, but maybe I’m misremembering. I remember it as the reporter trying to make a story questioning whether he was qualified for the job, and mentioning BDSM in an article questioning his fitness for his job.

  11. hellonhairylegs February 28, 2009 at 11:45 PM #

    GLBT people are an oppressed class. BDSM people are not (though they may of course, overlap). Seems pretty straight forward to me.

    • Trinity March 1, 2009 at 3:44 PM #

      True, but when you *are* oppressed in a certain way, wouldn’t it stand to reason you’re particularly good at noticing when the same rhetoric is being repurposed and used again?

      Especially when it’s a heterosexual person telling you over and over that you’re incorrect and need to shut up?

      • Jenn March 1, 2009 at 8:54 PM #

        Rhetoric is useless without context. The similarity of the content means nothing unless the context is similar in relevant ways. Since BDSM is not an oppressed identity the way that orientation is, there’s a huge obvious relevant difference that makes your argument void.

        If we’re really going to argue that it’s the content that makes something “oppressive” rather than the context, then we’re going to lend legitimacy to that “reverse racism” bullshit in which calling someone a honky is considered equally as oppressive as calling someone a n****r because the content seems the same to the untrained eye.

        • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 3:41 AM #

          Jenn,

          I’m not saying it’s oppressive. I’m saying a lesbian (you) should know better than to use the same logic — or rather, lack of it — to condemn BDSM, which we’re telling you for many of us is not a choice, as homophobes do to condemn her.

          Is that really so difficult to parse?

          You’re not oppressing me. You’re just displaying a stunning willingness to talk exactly like those who want you and I out of their nifty little het society.

          • Jenn March 2, 2009 at 4:36 PM #

            Wow, that was a stunning display of egotism. How dare you insinuate that you know the character of my oppression better than I do?

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 4:57 PM #

              You and I are both oppressed for being queer. Or do you think lesbians have it different from bi women such that bi women don’t count as being oppressed?

        • Alexandra Erin March 2, 2009 at 8:52 PM #

          So, you’re saying that Bill O’Reilly telling men they need to stop holding hands in public because otherwise he’ll have to tell his daughter what anal fisting and golden showers are would be a perfectly valid argument, absent the context that he’s referring to an oppressed class?

          I thought it was both odious and illogical on the face of things, but I await education on the subject.

  12. crankosaur March 1, 2009 at 4:53 PM #

    What tortured sense of logic does one have to be following in order to come to these conclusions? It reminds me of the people who call everyone they don’t agree with Nazis.

    • Bean March 1, 2009 at 6:28 PM #

      This comment is particularly ironic in that I’m pretty sure the only ones who’ve been compared to Nazis in the comments to this series have been the kinksters.

      I think that was back on the same page that someone said that she wasn’t able to read the comments after, “the torturers” started commenting.

  13. virago March 1, 2009 at 5:27 PM #

    Okay. I feel the need to state the obvious.

    Why is getting fired/otherwise discriminated against because of your BDSM lifestyle different from getting fired/otherwise discriminated against due to your homosexuality? Well, let’s take a normal, vanilla homosexual couple. The relationship is based on conventional love and sex, which is something almost everyone can related to. If some one in a conventional homosexual relationship is fired for it, it’s literally due to the employer’s prejudice against homosexuals.

    Now, let’s take a lifestyle BDSM (and for the sake of the argument, M/f) couple. This relationship is based on dominance and submission and may involve very painful (albeit pleasurable) activities. This is not something most people can relate to. When your employer finds out you enjoy beating or tying up/being beaten or tied up by your partner, your humanity may be called into question. Here, it’s your ability to empathize with other people, or your strength as a person, or how you really feel about the opposite sex and yourself.

    So, same outcome (you’re fired and shamed), but a very different system of thought. It’s not exactly comparable.

    For the record, I’m a very kinky F/m, and I fully understand the frustrations awkwardness of kink meeting reality.

    • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 3:45 AM #

      “Now, let’s take a lifestyle BDSM (and for the sake of the argument, M/f) couple. This relationship is based on dominance and submission and may involve very painful (albeit pleasurable) activities.”

      My relationship is based on love and friendship and sex. Is your whole relationship really based on nothing but kink?

      I tried that once, and it was a disaster. I think this idea that kinky people’s relationships are wildly different from everyone else’s is just bizarre.

      There are D/s elements to our relationship, some of which have to do directly with sex and play and some of which don’t, but this idea that vanilla people have relationships and I have misshapen thingy really bothers me.

      • virago March 2, 2009 at 4:37 AM #

        You completely missed the point. And I’m not currently in a relationship, but I, as an individual, don’t have much to do with this, an overarching societal issue.

        How you feel about your relationship has absolutely nothing to do with how other people perceive it, as this whole series should illustrate. Take a look at any recent headlines and you’ll see something about torture. If your boss finds out about your private life and says to him/herself, “These people get off on torture!” (whether you see it that way or not is *not the point*), given the world we live in and given that s/he doesn’t understand all the nuances of you and your SO, is it so much of a stretch for him/her then to conclude, “These people have no humanity”? I’d love more awareness and acceptance from the rest of world, but so far, we’ve all handled ourselves abysmally.

        I would think you’d get that.

        • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 4:21 PM #

          You seem to be saying that because BDSM is difficult for people to understand, I should be OK with people judging me as less than human. I’m not OK with that. I don’t see where the leap from “Yeah, sure, I get that this bothers you” to “and therefore I should be OK with my basic rights being violated” comes in.

          “I would think you’d get that.”

          • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 4:40 PM #

            Particularly when I go out of my way to *not* wave my relationship in people’s face. Like I said upthread, the reason I sign my posts with “Trinity”, submit certain of my writings with a pen name, etc, is that doing so enables me NOT to sign them with my real name.

          • virago March 2, 2009 at 5:56 PM #

            It’s not about you being ok with others’ perceptions because the issue is not about you. The perception is that your basic rights are being violated by being in a BDSM relationship… again, as this whole series (and particularly the responses from one “delphyne”) should illustrate. Like I said, whether you feel that way or not has nothing to do with it, as it’s not about *you*.

            By the way, this is me being devil’s advocate. I don’t support this perception, but I do understand its assumptions, and therefore try to offer anecdotes or discussion when I encounter it.

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 6:06 PM #

              “The perception is that your basic rights are being violated by being in a BDSM relationship… ”

              Wouldn’t that be his? I have heard all kinds of weird stereotypes about tops, but never that our submissives make us…

              …oh, wait, yeah I have heard that, from Stoltenberg.

              You really think someone’s gonna fire my partner because they think I violated his rights? I’m now totally confused about what you’re asserting in the first place…

              • virago March 2, 2009 at 8:19 PM #

                Wow. Just, wow.

                Like I said several times, this isn’t about *you*, but I did assume you were a sub when I made that statement. Here it is, revised: “The perception is that your basic human rights are being violated by being in a BDSM relationship OR you are violating some one else’s basic human rights for your own pleasure.” Happy? Let’s see if I can show you my assertion through an analogy.

                I personally hate patriarchy. I hate what it does to me, to women, to men, to everything around us. I personally reject it. All of that doesn’t mean I can opt-out and live without patriarchy’s influence. Similarly, you can’t opt-out of the assumption that BDSM is bad, whether you feel that way or not. As such, maybe you could be fired or publicly shamed for your private life.

                Back to the original point, I don’t believe all of this is comparable to homosexuality because a regular, vanilla homosexual relationship is something most people can relate to in all ways *except* that it’s between two people of the same gender. A BDSM relationship could be loving and trusting and all that, but the core of any BDSM relationship is that there is D/s (and you can talk all day and night about how much you love your SO; you still wouldn’t be with him/her if s/he didn’t help you satisfy that need). Being that D/s often *looks* like something sinister, many people who see it from the outside reject it and see practioners as flawed or wrong or in need of fixing. Sad but true.

                • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 8:47 PM #

                  And I don’t agree with you. I don’t think I have to give a fuck whether people could or could not relate to my last relationship, which was with a woman. It would be their problem if they could not.

                  It’s not “people have learned to RELATE to queers!” that makes us (queers) deserving of basic rights.

                  • virago March 2, 2009 at 11:13 PM #

                    I see that you want to get on a moral high horse about human rights. What basic rights are practitioners of BDSM being denied? Oh, that’s right, none.

                    What basic rights are queers denied? Marriage, (often) physical safety, etc.

                    The fact that you personally experienced overlap of the two is fine, dandy and irrelevant. But hey, you don’t see any of this as not about you, so whatever.

                    • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 11:54 PM #

                      “I see that you want to get on a moral high horse about human rights. What basic rights are practitioners of BDSM being denied? Oh, that’s right, none.”

                      I’m not sure why you keep confusing what I’m saying about queers with what I’m saying about BDSMers. Let me try to rephrase my comment.

                      You assert that the reason BDSM people are treated badly is because non-BDSM people are squicked by BDSM activities.

                      This is fair and understandable. I’ve said elsewhere multiple times that I understand why BDSM activities squick people.

                      You then assert that because BDSM squick people, this somehow justifies BDSMers getting fired.

                      You say this by appealing to the very odd idea that gay and lesbian sex don’t squick people, and therefore firing gay and lesbian people isn’t justified.

                      I respond: Suppose that I’m in a relationship with a woman, and my employer fires me. Now, we know I’ve been fired based on my personal life. Now, suppose we discover that my employer really was honestly and deeply squicked by lesbian sex.

                      Now that we know it bothers her, supposedly we know there’s adequate reason for me to have been fired. (Because whether or not I deserve to remain employed hinges on whether or not she “can relate” to me.)

                      But of course, if someone “cannot relate” to bisexual women, it is not the bisexual woman’s problem. It is the homophobe’s problem.

                      I totally understand people “not being able to relate” to BDSM.

                      I do not think whether someone deserves to remain employed hinges on whether someone can “relate” to someone else or not.

                      That is what I meant. Somehow you seem to have understood me as saying “EVeryone has to like BDSM” or to be making some odd claim about human rights violations. I’m not. I’m claiming that “relating” or “not relating” isn’t grounds for a dismissal, in my opinion.

                      Do people use it as one? Yes. Can I change that, sitting here? Probably not. (That’s what the NCSF and the like are for.)

                      Is it just? No.

                    • virago March 3, 2009 at 12:23 AM #

                      I don’t see a reply button under your comment, so I’m replying to myself.

                      We completely agree. I didn’t mean to imply that people wouldn’t be squicked by gay/lesbian relationships; what I meant was that the triggers (for lack of a better term) are different. What bothers people about BDSM is completely different from what bothers people about LGBTQ, and in a lot of ways, I find it understandable that people *are* that bothered by BDSM.

                      Should this ever be justification for firing some one or socially ostracizing him/her? No. But given the environment we live in (Abu Graib, Gitmo, and waterboarding, anyone?), it seems very understandable to me that the character of high profile people would be called into question for their private proclivities, if BDSM were among them.

                    • Nik March 3, 2009 at 3:10 AM #

                      Err, sorry for jumping in…

                      But it depends on what you want to define as “basic rights”. Not quite sure why right to marriage is a “basic right”, but right to a job/your own children isn’t…

                      Also the reason why queers are denied rights like physical safety are, in part, because you can tell they are queer when they walk in public because its accepted that they are allowed to show their sexuality in public. BDSM practitioners can’t even do that, so its a bit odd to say that we have more basic rights because of our inability to show our sexual proclivities in public.

                    • Nik March 3, 2009 at 3:13 AM #

                      “Should this ever be justification for firing some one or socially ostracizing him/her? No. But given the environment we live in (Abu Graib, Gitmo, and waterboarding, anyone?), it seems very understandable to me that the character of high profile people would be called into question for their private proclivities, if BDSM were among them.”

                      Umm, wow. Please don’t equate what I do as a dominant to physical torture. They are NOT the same, not even close.

                    • virago March 3, 2009 at 3:35 AM #

                      Nik,

                      What would you show off in public about your relationship that you can’t currently? How would you show it off?

                      You can jump in all you want, but here’s the gist: I’m a domme. I don’t see what I do as a domme as torture. I put it that way to illustrate how non-BDSMers might see things as a means of playing devil’s advocate. It’s been my experience that many of the people who don’t understand BDSM feel very strongly that it has nothing but negative consequences for the practitioners’ character, children, community, etc. While I’m sure we both strongly disagree with this sentiment and feel there are many incompetent non-BDSM parents, we still have to deal with that perception.

                    • Nik March 3, 2009 at 6:12 AM #

                      “What would you show off in public about your relationship that you can’t currently? How would you show it off?”

                      I might call my girl slave, or feel comfortable talking about BDSM dynamic in public, or not have her family go from loving me to despising me because they found out about BDSM. Or maybe I’d let my girl tell more than one or two people about what shes into, or tell more myself. Or maybe I’d let my girl put her name on her blog, or not be so goddamned paranoid about keeping it secret.

                      “You can jump in all you want, but here’s the gist: I’m a domme. I don’t see what I do as a domme as torture. I put it that way to illustrate how non-BDSMers might see things as a means of playing devil’s advocate.”

                      Not sure I see the point in this, and not sure I would call that playing a devils advocate. You can, of course, legitimately criticize BDSM and there are some things that can be problematic about it, but someone saying that BDSM is like Abu Ghraib is so past the pale its hard to respond too.

                      “It’s been my experience that many of the people who don’t understand BDSM feel very strongly that it has nothing but negative consequences for the practitioners’ character, children, community, etc. ”

                      Sure, and that seems to me to be a general infringement upon BDSM practitioners rights when those feelings are used to justify governmental action against people.

                      “While I’m sure we both strongly disagree with this sentiment and feel there are many incompetent non-BDSM parents, we still have to deal with that perception.”

                      Yes, we do, but I’m not sure how stating that kinksters aren’t denied basic rights, and comparing BDSM to torture helps to deal with those perceptions.

                    • virago March 3, 2009 at 12:50 PM #

                      “Or maybe I’d let my girl tell more than one or two people about what shes into, or tell more myself. Or maybe I’d let my girl put her name on her blog, or not be so goddamned paranoid about keeping it secret.”

                      Welcome to non-mainstream *anything*, Nik. People are not accepting of most deviations from the norm; BDSM is not unique and often isn’t even the most offensive.

                      I’m not having the argument again. I’m on your side and I’m trying to state what the people who aren’t are feeling. Did you read the comments from the previous posts in this series? Yeah.

                      We’re not denied basic rights. At all. Ever. Our character might come into question (see above point on non-mainstream anything), some of us may be fired or it (that doesn’t mean you can’t sue for sexual harassment or find another job), and during a divorce, one spouse could use BDSM against the other; none of this equates to oppression.

                    • Nik March 3, 2009 at 1:46 PM #

                      Welcome to non-mainstream *anything*, Nik. People are not accepting of most deviations from the norm; BDSM is not unique and often isn’t even the most offensive.”

                      Incorrect. Most deviations from the mainstream are fine, its just the ones the mainstream finds “icky” which aren’t ok.

                      “I’m not having the argument again. I’m on your side and I’m trying to state what the people who aren’t are feeling. Did you read the comments from the previous posts in this series? Yeah.”

                      Some of them, yes. I was involved in some of them. I don’t see the correlation between what you were saying, and what they have said. Well, except maybe both were fairly vile and illogical, but again I don’t see the point in repeating shit like that.

                      “We’re not denied basic rights. At all. Ever. Our character might come into question (see above point on non-mainstream anything), some of us may be fired or it (that doesn’t mean you can’t sue for sexual harassment or find another job), and during a divorce, one spouse could use BDSM against the other; none of this equates to oppression.”

                      Sorry, but this is just flat out wrong. Unless you can point to me of a case of a BDSM individual getting fired successfully suing for sexual harassment, I’m calling bullshit. Getting fired for your outside non-work related sexual practices doesn’t fall under sexual harassment. It is completely legal to discriminate on the basis of whether someone practices BDSM or not. Dunno about you, but I’d consider non-discrimination a pretty basic right. I would also consider the right to your offspring a basic right. Define your terms if you are going to talk about basic rights.

                      And I agree with what Georgias said before about oppression. This fine line distinction between the oppressed and the other is nonsense.

                    • virago March 3, 2009 at 5:39 PM #

                      Nik, all I see is a lot of entitlement. If you want to bring up your home dynamic, be around like-minded people. If you’re looking for total acceptance, you can get in line behind atheists, gays, pagans, sex workers, fundamentalists, furries, vampires, anime fans, gamers, and a million others.

                      What basic rights are you being denied, if you’re so discriminated against? Are you losing your kids? Your job? Your home? Getting kicked out of communities? Also, point out where I said any of that should happen.

                      I pointed out the justification used for say, firing some one, that is that society says BDSM = torture, torture = unacceptable, and consent to BDSM = Stockholm syndrome. Therefore, if you’re involved in BDSM, your humanity is called into question. I don’t think that’s right, but I do think it’s understandable.

    • isme March 2, 2009 at 10:10 AM #

      “Why is getting fired/otherwise discriminated against because of your BDSM lifestyle different from getting fired/otherwise discriminated against due to your homosexuality?”

      Well, if you believe that BDSM is socially harmful, and homosexuality merely offends the magic sky fairy or whatever.

      Additionally…you get fired for BDSM, but you are unlikely to get actually murdered over it. I don’t think the church has ever got round to condemning BDSM as a threat to humanity either. Though, that’s simply a matter of scale.

      • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 5:02 PM #

        “Additionally…you get fired for BDSM, but you are unlikely to get actually murdered over it. I don’t think the church has ever got round to condemning BDSM as a threat to humanity either. Though, that’s simply a matter of scale.”

        Oh, yeah, I agree. I don’t think anti-SM sentiment has congealed into oppression. I do think it’s still wrong and bigotry runs rampant, though.

        I’m not a big fan of the idea that one is either TRULY OPPRESSED or JUST WHINING. It’s not a binary.

      • virago March 2, 2009 at 6:10 PM #

        The church could never have condemned BDSM; that would have ruined their fun during the Inquisition! :P

        That is the long and the short of it, though. The church condemned homosexuality so people went to the extreme to enforce it. BDSM makes people who don’t understand it uncomfortable, but it doesn’t incite that kind of reaction.

        Does that make for an oppressed class? Maybe at one point it did, but with the popularity of Betty Page and a little tie-up play in most mainstream media, BDSM is not exactly hidden away or shunned anymore.

        • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 6:33 PM #

          I agree with you that kinky people aren’t oppressed, Virago, but I don’t think this:

          “Maybe at one point it did, but with the popularity of Betty Page and a little tie-up play in most mainstream media, BDSM is not exactly hidden away or shunned anymore.”

          makes the point you want it to.

          After all, someone could say

          “Maybe at one point lesbians were oppressed, but with the popularity of ‘lesbian’ porn and the fact that Ellen Degeneres has a TV show, lesbianism is not exactly shunned or hidden away any more”

          and it wouldn’t be a counterexample because television shows don’t make it the case that women don’t get beaten up for being lesbians.

          I don’t think BDSMers are oppressed because I don’t think the people who are bigoted with respect to us have the social power to oppress us in the systemic way they do queerfolk.

          But that’s got nothing to do with how widespread bullshit representations are or whether one finds gag gifts at Spencer’s or the like.

          • virago March 2, 2009 at 8:23 PM #

            Point taken, but I’m still uncomfortable with the way you so easily say “this is just like what gay people go through.” It’s not. It feels like you’re comparing an anti-religious sentiment with racism, and the two aren’t on par.

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 8:40 PM #

              Can you point me to where I’ve said that? I really don’t get why people take me to be saying that, simply because I say that the “I know this is a choicey choicey choicey choice and therefore I can condemn it! CHOICEY CHOICEY CHOICE! NOT AN IDENTITY! SEE, IF I YELL LOUD ENOUGH YOU’LL BE ABLE TO CHANGE!” sounds an awful lot like other people out there in the world who have a profound investment in asserting, from on high, what is a choice and what isn’t.

              • virago March 2, 2009 at 11:04 PM #

                You’re the one that countered the Betty Page comment with something about lesbianism, so you steered the conversation in that direction. You don’t want people to think you’re putting homophobia in the same category as anti-BDSM? Then don’t bring it up.

                By the way, you’re the one with the capslock rage and the inability to see beyond your own thoughts and anecdotes, and you’re lecturing a kinky woman about this being a “choice” (which I actually never said). So let me grab my violin and play you a sad song, ’cause I’m feelin’ your pain.

                • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 11:45 PM #

                  Betty Page comment? You mean yours?

                  I’m not sure exactly what you’re talking about.

                  I did mean to say that anti-BDSM people talk about “choice” in an ignorant way, and so do homophobes. If you really can’t see why someone who is orientationally kinky would be bothered by the choice model — which is what began this whole brouhaha in the first place — I’m not sure what to say to you.

                  If you have issues with cavalier invocations of the choice model as well, then you and I don’t actually disagree on anything.

                  • virago March 3, 2009 at 12:10 AM #

                    You countered my Betty Page comment with a comment about lesbianism, thereby steering the conversation toward homophobia and anti-BDSM. I personally feel that these aren’t on the same level. As you no doubt experienced, if you just want to go on a date with your lesbian partner and do things everyone else does, you get stares and comments. There isn’t really a “closet” when you’re outside, nor should there be. But BDSM is usually practiced behind closed doors; in that way, it is a choice to bring it out to the public sphere where people can and will judge you for it. Because of that, I find it offensive to say they’re the same.

                    I don’t think all of this is a choice like the kind where I choose what color shirt to wear. I don’t think either of us would feel fulfilled in our relationships without BDSM elements. So, I guess that’s my answer regarding BDSM and “choice.”

                    I personally never talked about choice vs. orientation. That’s being discussed elsewhere. My entire argument is that if it were possible to turn all of BDSM into a Rorschach inkblot test, the majority of non-BDSM practitioners would *probably* say “Torture! Violence! Hate!” This has nothing to do with how we actually feel.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 4:12 AM #

                      “As you no doubt experienced, if you just want to go on a date with your lesbian partner and do things everyone else does, you get stares and comments. There isn’t really a “closet” when you’re outside, nor should there be.”

                      Yeah, the stares and comments happen, but the thing is, being closeted enough would mean not going on the date. Or acting plausibly deniable when headed to dinner, allowing the easily spooked hets to think of us as buddies, not girlfriends.

                      The idea that there isn’t really a closet is silly to me. How is there not a closet, when people still stammer to family “Oh, I met someone… sh… er, he’s really nice… and er…”

                      What I think you’re saying is that sex is generally considered a private matter, and that the most obvious way of finding out that someone is kinky would be hearing them detail the events of the last night.

                      Which would, yes, be obnoxious.

                      The thing is, though, that for many people, being into BDSM is not just fucking. It’s being a part of a community. It’s volunteering at events. It’s writing in when our sexuality is misdepicted on Law and Order for the umpteenth time. It’s writing in support of removing SM as mental illness from the DSM-V or the… was it ICD-10? Non-USians, help me out here.

                      And those are things that many of us might want to do under our real names. But we have to choose: visibility, because putting a “regular” name and face to this stuff will help destigmatize it, or not doing the activism at all?

                      That’s the thing I think you’re missing. That BDSM isn’t just something people do on their off time, not in a society where kinky people find one another and stick together because there is no safer SM sex ed out there, etc.

                      Maybe for you it was always just a hobby, but what about people in the community?

                    • virago March 3, 2009 at 1:02 PM #

                      Well, I think that most people who don’t follow mainstream ideals go through the same thing with their subcultures.

                      We’re on the same side, man. Either way, I have to work.

        • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 2:05 AM #

          Right, because torture in the inquisition (or Gitmo or Abu Ghraib or whatever) bears sooo much resemblance to BDSM. I know this one was tongue in cheek, but you’ve mentioned it seriously in earlier comments.

          I’m a volunteer with the ACLU trying to get Gitmo shut down. It’s been my ambition to get enough people together to march under the banner “sadomasochists against torture,” though it won’t be possible any time soon with everyone having to worry about who finds out about their kinkiness. Still, I find it offensive that you would consider them similar. Consent changes the entire ontology of an act. Saying that the two practices are similar, or encourage one another, is like saying that enjoying consensual sex makes one more likely to accept rape.

          • virago March 3, 2009 at 1:21 PM #

            Here it is in context:

            “But given the environment we live in (Abu Graib, Gitmo, and waterboarding, anyone?), it seems very understandable to me that the character of high profile people would be called into question for their private proclivities, if BDSM were among them.”

            I brought it up in the first place to highlight influences around the negative perception of BDSM.

            PS, we’re on the same side. Try reading the comments from other parts of this series and then tell me that people outside of BDSM don’t see it as torture. That’s all I’m saying.

  14. Charlie March 1, 2009 at 6:18 PM #

    Personally, I don’t care why some people are gay, kinky, straight, vanilla, whatever. What I care about is how we treat each other. I believe that how we treat each other should be based on how people act, rather than where the reasons for those actions come from.

    As I said, I don’t think that being into BDSM is the same as being queer. However, there are observable similarities in the ways that queer folks and kinky folks are treated and talked about by people who are straight/vanilla respectively. Being called unnatural/sick/dirty, being accused of not being able to maintain appropriate boundaries (often because of the actions of a few very visible people), being told that it’s due to being abused, being shamed into silence or compliance with the majority, risking your children, jobs, or social network if you come out of the closet (or are outed). These are things that are consistently similar between the two groups.

    Further, the emotional reactions, the language that is used, the idea that there is a slippery slope that will result in disaster if we take even the smallest step towards treating people in sexual minorities fairly- these are also similar when we’re looking kinky or queer people.

    Of course there are differences. Important ones that need to be incorporated into any analysis of sexuality. Those clear differences don’t invalidate the similarities, any more than the similarities invalidate the differences.

    Nevertheless, I think that it’s important to recognize that many (and not all) of the mechanisms that are used to maintain heterosexual privilege are also used against BDSM folks. And perhaps that suggests that we can examine how we interact with people in sexual minority groups that we’re not part of.

  15. Bean March 1, 2009 at 7:10 PM #

    Nine Deuce,

    Okay, I can understand where some people’s distaste with regard to BDSM is coming from. I don’t like it, and there are very few people here who I think are actually willing to listen to what kinky people actually have to say – but I can understand why.

    I’ve been clicking around your blog though, and discovered that this doesn’t just seem to be a blind spot of yours. Actually, you seem to be pretty talented at the, “just do some half-assed research on the internet and proceed to yell loudly,” thing.

    For example? Take this, from an old entry of yours (linked as one of your “hits,” har):

    “Enter Flomax, the latest drug in a long line of elixirs designed to treat disorders that didn’t exist before the drug designed to treat them got patented. You know, drugs like Requip, for that terrible disease known as Restless Legs Syndrome.”

    Um, okay. Experts disagree about what causes Restless Leg Syndrome (and if it’s really one disorder, or several things), but they don’t generally disagree some people have this collection of symptoms. Just because someone actually started to LISTEN to those Silly Old People who are most likely to have it, doesn’t mean the pharma companies invented it.

    (Funny, I thought it was an oppressive tactic to dismiss the medical complaints of anyone who isn’t a relatively young, straight white man! Hmm.)

    My grandparents have been married more than 40 years now, and they still adore each other. But they haven’t been able to sleep in the same room together in nearly 10 because my grandmother has RSL and she paces at night and wakes him up. Imagine YOU suddenly couldn’t sleep with the person you loved at night because you couldn’t hold still.

    It runs in my family. When it first hit me as a teen, I was so sleep-deprived, I nearly committed suicide out of exhaustion and despair. Pretty sure here that I wasn’t just imagining things. Unless that memory poofed into existence with Requip.

    Do try to think, before you go to hit post, “Maybe I should do some research to find out what people’s actual lived experiences are before I sound off about their relationships, their healthcare, and other critical details of their lives.”

    “Research,” by the way, would not include posting something Craigslist asking people if they have drugs for Restless Legs Syndrome.

    Asking questions without begging them. It’s a good thing.

  16. Erstwhile lurker March 1, 2009 at 10:26 PM #

    Sign me on to the list of people who are glad that you’ve now said we shouldn’t lose our jobs, homes, and kids, but who think that your previous writings suggested otherwise. For what little it’s worth, I’m good enough at logic to teach it, but that doesn’t make me a mind reader who can see past what you say to discern what you secretly mean.

    By the way, how are these two things compatible?

    There is no greater threat to the NOT than men who, in full cognizance of the benefits that come with being born male (that is, the privilege of using and abusing women), are content to shun those benefits in order to assume a “feminine” role.

    F/m or F/f or M/m BDSM might (MIGHT) do so [i.e., throw a wrench into the NOT], but I’m not sure that switching between the two roles does much to dismantle the roles themselves, and it’s the roles that I think cause the damage.

    Is a man assuming a feminine role a threat to the NOT, or not?

    • Nine Deuce March 2, 2009 at 5:33 AM #

      Are you saying that “submissive” and “feminine” are synonymous?

      • Erstwhile lurker March 2, 2009 at 8:12 AM #

        In my mind, no. In the minds of people who are thoroughly invested in the NOT, I think they are.

        In my mind, “having sex with a man” is not synonymous with “feminine” either. But for people who are freaked out by gay men due to their own masculinity issues, I imagine those two things are synonymous.

        I would like all three of those concepts to be completely decoupled from each other (and I’d like biological sex to be decoupled from all of them too). The heterosexists that I’m familiar with like to run all their binary distinctions together, and get freaked out when you pull any one of them apart from the others.

      • firefey March 4, 2009 at 7:18 PM #

        my beloved, being a submissive man, would attest to the very real fact that in the eyes of the NOT he is unworthy of the title “masculine.”

  17. Jenn March 2, 2009 at 2:41 AM #

    This thread looks like it’s going to be full of the same thinly veiled hijacking of the legitimacy of the gay rights movement to argue that a sexual practice usually expressed on the same gender binary is “oppressed”.

    Until someone can tell me how a sexual practice, as weird or deviate as it is presumed to be, can be as “oppressed” as deviations from legitimate power structures and sources of oppression, I’ll listen. Until then, I rest with the assumption that we’re just talking out of our asses and trying to divorce the contents of oppressive speech from the context. I can argue that people being grossed out by a watersports (i.e. pissing on people) kink is “oppression”, but that doesn’t lend me legitimacy, it just makes me sound like a fucking idiot.

    • Nik March 2, 2009 at 5:00 PM #

      Individuals have lost their children AND their jobs because of their BDSM practices in the bedroom. Are you claiming that losing your job/children because of your sexual proclivities is not a form of oppression?

      • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 6:06 PM #

        I think that the logic is stated as “LG people are oppressed because of their sexual orientation. BDSM people are co-opting the oppression of LG people by saying that people who are criticizing the BDSM ‘lifestyle’ are using the same language as homophobic decryers of the lesbian and gay community.” I don’t believe anyone has said that taking away kinksters’ children or jobs is right, just that it would be okay if it were on account of said kinksters’ doing their bedroom practices in public.

        Where I do get hazy on this is where bisexual people are unable to understand LG oppression. And why BDSM practitioners and LG people are consistently seen as two mutually exclusive groups. And please, don’t say that that has not happened, as it has happened on this very thread.

        • Nine Deuce March 2, 2009 at 6:14 PM #

          I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. I’d have to be a bit dense, right?

          • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 6:21 PM #

            Well, perhaps not you, but there are people chastising LGBT people on this thread for speaking as if they know anything about the oppression of LGBT people.

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 6:47 PM #

              This, exactly. How many times do I have to mention I’m bi before someone figures out that… I’m bi?

              • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 8:09 PM #

                I think the point is that “Bisexual oppression” is not like “LG oppression” to some people. We await a reasoning for why this is so, I suppose.

                • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 8:41 PM #

                  Yeah, that’s the impression I’ve gotten, too, but I’m waiting to see people actually say that before I accuse them of biphobia, here.

        • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 7:31 PM #

          Nobody has said that kinksters should lose their jobs or kids over their sexuality, but that doesn’t mean such discourse isn’t part of the problem.

          If someone said, “now, look, I’m fine with whatever people want to get up to in the privacy of their own bedroom. No one should be fired from their job, lose their kids, or be beat up or killed for homosexuality. However… <insert rant about the NOT and bible passages, etc.)”

          Damn straight he’d be part of the problem.

        • Jenn March 2, 2009 at 7:50 PM #

          There’s a difference between oppression and injustice. Firing someone because they like to tie people up is an injustice. Firing someone because they are gay is an oppression and an injustice.

          • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 8:06 PM #

            Absolutely wrong. Injustice is a method of oppression. They are not inseparable.

            • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 8:14 PM #

              Oops, jeebus, I can’t type correctly today.

              Should read: “They are non separable”

              Sorry!

            • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 8:45 PM #

              Actually, JGoff, I don’t think kinky people are oppressed as kinky people. I don’t think there’s the same kind of systemic social stunting/limitation as there is of members of oppressed groups.

              That doesn’t mean I think there’s no sense in talking about commonalities, though.

              • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 8:57 PM #

                I think calling “injustice” something different altogether from “oppression” is a dangerous thing to do, though, I will say that perhaps I am more speaking to “systematic injustice” than “injustice against one or two people”. There is a line there, but it’s pretty hard for me to see where.

                • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 9:15 PM #

                  Yeah, I’m not sure where the line is either. I ask that question myself in a couple of posts at SM-F:

                  http://sm-feminist.blogspot.com/2009/03/reading-comprehension.html

                  http://sm-feminist.blogspot.com/2007/10/oppression.html

                  The one thing I am sure of is that I don’t really buy that all oppression has to be based on something that’s not a choice. I mean, people have historically been (and are still, in some places) oppressed based on their religion. Believing in these gods rather than those is a choice, though. Some people believe as they do because of how they’re raised, so it won’t be a choice for them, sure… but others do things like convert, sometimes even in the face of horrific oppression from their society.

                  Though I still maintain that “It’s A CHOICE!” is a smokescreen when talking about BDSM. First of all, it’s *not* a choice for many of us, and second, what would it have to do with anything if it were?

                  It’s a tactic, just as it is when homophobes say it about gays. If people can CHOOSE to stop wanting that gross thing over there, it’s only selfishness or degeneracy that stops them from seeing the light.

                • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 9:47 PM #

                  Arguing about the ontology of oppression is only about drawing arbitrary lines that serve to discredit the suffering of individuals in the marginalized classes.

                  I don’t give a shit what your definition of oppression is. I know that I’m at risk of losing my job and disownment of my family for what I do in the bedroom. That’s a shitty situation, and one I think we can all agree that we need to fight against, whether or not it fits your definition of oppression or not.

                  • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 11:41 PM #

                    “I don’t give a shit what your definition of oppression is. I know that I’m at risk of losing my job and disownment of my family for what I do in the bedroom. That’s a shitty situation, and one I think we can all agree that we need to fight against, whether or not it fits your definition of oppression or not.”

                    This. Yes.

              • Nik March 3, 2009 at 3:01 AM #

                I agree with Georgias when he says this entire argument is merely intended to discredit the suffering of BDSM practitioners, but I was curious about this Trinity. Why do you think that there is no systematic limiting of BDSM individuals?

                • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:48 AM #

                  Nik,

                  It’s not so much that I think there’s none as that I don’t think it rises to the level that it rises for, say, gay folks.

                  People who find out I’m kinky may fire me… that’s unjust, wrong, evil, etc. But people who see me holding hands with a girlfriend might attack and assault me.

                  And those who would hate me for loving a woman have a kind of social control and effect on social discourse that people who hate kink don’t really. I mean, there’s no Exodus International for kinksters, no widespread movement to keep us from marrying, etc.

                  Also, I don’t think that whatever social forces there are out there that DO oppose BDSM oppose it specifically. The social opprobrium tends to be aimed at sexual deviants of all kinds. (Although there is a certain strain within feminism that “critiques BDSM” and tends to get ugly, this subset of “radical feminists” aren’t a group with serious social power, currently.)

                  So if there is anything, I’d call it the usual social opprobrium brought to bear on those seen as sexually deviant, not oppression of BDSMers specifically. And I don’t think it’s quite oppression.

                  But I think that’s a difference in degree, rather than kind.

                  • Nik March 3, 2009 at 2:06 PM #

                    “People who find out I’m kinky may fire me… that’s unjust, wrong, evil, etc. But people who see me holding hands with a girlfriend might attack and assault me.”

                    The difference, to me, is that its significantly more common to be discriminated against as a BDSM practitioner, than as a lesbian/gay. Someone posted an article before that 25% of BDSM practitioners had said they were fired at least once because of BDSM. 3% had lost their children. Find me numbers about those for gays/lesbians, the numbers will be significantly lower. Why? Because gays and lesbians are MUCH more accepted in our society today than are kinksters. GLBT groups have a fair amount of power nowadays. BDSM groups…well, not so much. Hell, are there even any BDSM advocacy groups pressuring the government? I haven’t heard of them, if there are.

                    When I am walking down the street with my slave, I don’t get attacked, nor am I in fear from getting attacked. In part this is because I don’t even feel comfortable enough showing my BDSM colors in society at all. I don’t quite get how it is somehow less oppressive to be so discriminated against that I won’t show my kink in public at all, as opposed to gays and lesbians who have gotten to the point where they are comfortable showing off their sexuality in public, and are sometimes attacked for it.

                    “And those who would hate me for loving a woman have a kind of social control and effect on social discourse that people who hate kink don’t really. I mean, there’s no Exodus International for kinksters, no widespread movement to keep us from marrying, etc.”

                    There is no Exodus International for kinksters, because the movement is so well hidden underground. Know when conservatives to gays acting really over the top, inappropriately, grossly, etc, etc? Thats in gay pride parades, which often have a bit of a leather component to them as well. They don’t need an exodus international, because the large majority of society is against kinksters, which is not true of gays.

                    “Also, I don’t think that whatever social forces there are out there that DO oppose BDSM oppose it specifically. The social opprobrium tends to be aimed at sexual deviants of all kinds. (Although there is a certain strain within feminism that “critiques BDSM” and tends to get ugly, this subset of “radical feminists” aren’t a group with serious social power, currently.)”

                    I can’t agree with this either. Sure, there are large subsets of the population that will go “eww, icky, you suck” to any sort of deviation, but most people can understand sexual deviation, to an extent. If I had a foot fetish, or something else and somehow my girls parents found out, I don’t think I would be so reviled right now. The connection between abuse and BDSM is a fine line, and many highly intellectual, intelligent people may have trouble finding that line, which means they may not speak out in support of it.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 4:19 PM #

                      “The difference, to me, is that its significantly more common to be discriminated against as a BDSM practitioner, than as a lesbian/gay. Someone posted an article before that 25% of BDSM practitioners had said they were fired at least once because of BDSM. 3% had lost their children. Find me numbers about those for gays/lesbians, the numbers will be significantly lower”

                      Nik,

                      I’m on your side on this, but this is just unbelievable.

                      I live in a big city, so the likelihood of me getting more than gawked at for holding hands with a girl is low, yeah… but that doesn’t mean this is true across the board. I really think you’re not making sense here.

                      “GLBT groups have a fair amount of power nowadays. BDSM groups…well, not so much.”

                      This I do think is true. We don’t have a powerful lobby, and I think part of this is because we don’t have quite the history of organized activism. I mean, yeah, there have always been leather contingents in gay pride parades, but there’s not really anything as known and accepted as the HRC for us.

                      There IS the NCSF, but they’re fairly small.

                      And small local activist orgs.

                  • Nik March 3, 2009 at 3:17 PM #

                    One more thing…discrimination against BDSM strikes me as more pernicious than discrimination against homosexuality. Its easy to dismiss discrimination against homosexuality as “those homophobes”. Gay marriage is legal in several states, and will be in California once they re-vote on prop 8. If you are gay you can move to a number of gay-friendly sanctuaries around the United States. New York, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Seattle, Atlanta. Yes, I am aware that none of these places are perfect and discrimination and violence likely still happen in all of them. But there are real communities who are out, proud, and fighting for their rights.

                    Where do you go if you are a BDSM’er who wants to be out, proud, and fight for your rights? The only two places I can think of only exist because gays created a larger space for themselves, and the leather community has a subset there. The Castro and the West Village.

                    Further, I’m not sure who you hang out with, but the people I associate with tend to be well-off, intellectual, highly educated, and left-leaning. These people aren’t stupid, and there is no outright discrimination in my field against gays and lesbians. People here would never discriminate against gays or lesbians. That would be wrong, immoral, etc. But discrimination against kinksters? A-ok!

                    Trin, if I got fired from my job for being a kinkster, who would stand up for me? I don’t know any BDSM organizations that would/could. Honestly, the only organization who I think might would be the ACLU.

                    If I got fired from my job for being gay, who would stand up for me? The ACLU, AI, GSA, Lamda, IGLHRC, GLAD, and probably more. So, yes, while the actual abuses are worse against gays and lesbians, they are more widespread against kinksters, and kinksters have less resources and defenders when they do fall into trouble.

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 3:30 PM #

                      One more thing…discrimination against BDSM strikes me as more pernicious than discrimination against homosexuality.

                      Unbelievable.

                    • Nik March 3, 2009 at 3:47 PM #

                      “Unbelievable.”

                      Care to name an academic who has told homosexuals to “kill themselves”, as you did to kinksters? Gays can at least count on tolerance from the left. Kinksters can’t count on tolerance from anyone but other kinksters.

                      And really? As someone who has actively trashed, insulted, and generally been offensive to kinksters, your opinions on my statements about how pernicious BDSM discrimination is mean next to nothing.

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 3:58 PM #

                      Nik – I didn’t tell kinksters to kill themselves, I used the phrase as hyperbole in a discussion of men who get off on torture porn (their term, not mine). You can feel free to let that go and address the argument any time you want. I know it worked well for you guys as a way to sidestep the issue for a few days, but it’s pretty weak at this point.

                      As soon as gangs of cretinous frat boys start driving around at night looking for dudes who are into putting nipple clamps on their girlfriends’ nipples to beat the shit out of, I’ll get out my violin for you. Oh, wait, that will never happen because those frat boys probably watch porn that includes some element of that. Whoops.

                      And if my opinions “mean next to nothing” to you, then why are you on my blog? I’ve honestly been more than tolerant of your insulting bullshit, but I think I’ve had enough. Piss off back to someplace where people are stupid enough to feel sorry for a guy who uses gendered insults against women he disagrees with and who thinks he’s oppressed because he isn’t allowed to call his girlfriend his slave in public.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 4:26 PM #

                      ND,

                      Yeah, it was hyperbole, but that doesn’t make it appropriate in any way. Words have consequences.

                    • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:07 PM #

                      Come on, ND, saying that you’ll break out the violin when kinksters are physically assaulted for being kinky is like saying that you’ll break out the violin for gays when they’ve been enslaved for centuries and had the right to vote denied to them like blacks have. Injustices will manifest differently depending upon who the injustice is being done to. For my part, living in a progressive are and having a progressive family and circle of friends, I’m far more concerned about being fired from my job, ostracized or what have you for being kinky than I am about being fired/physically assaulted/ostracized for being queer. The gay rights movement has done a bang up job, at least in my neck of the woods.

                      And since telling male doms to kill themselves has been brought up, I am a bit miffed that you’re acting all hurt and claiming that we’re not entering into the conversation with good faith if we don’t assume that you oppose the firing or ostracism of kinky people. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to think that someone who would suggest that male doms kill themselves, even as a rhetorical point, and someone who reacted to the suicidal thoughts of Jay Wiseman with scorn would think that the same sick fucks deserve to be fired from their jobs and ostracized from their communities.

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 7:14 PM #

                      No one is acting all hurt. I wrote this post to clarify things. I’m not going to agree that people ought to lose their jobs or kids, provided they’re behaving appropriately, but I am also not going to agree that I have to be cool with people wandering around on leashes at the grocery store. There IS a qualitative difference between the oppression that homosexuals suffer (even in fairly liberal areas there are a lot of cretinous homophobes; I live in New York and I’m more worried about the Upper West Side ex-frat boys than most rednecks when it comes to certain things) and the fact that people don’t need or want to be exposed to BDSM activity in public. Someone saying they don’t want to see gay men holding hands? Unacceptable. Someone saying they don’t want to see people re-enacting slavery or oppression and mixing it with public displays of overt sexuality? A-OK, especially if it’s being done in front of kids.

                      Announcement – The “kill yourself” comment has been beaten to death and I’m tired of it. You all know you’re being weasely bringing it up every goddamned minute, so this is the last one I’ll allow. If I thought of it the way you guys are pretending I do, I’d have deleted it. I don’t, the end. I AM NOT KIDDING. Not ONE MORE instance.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 4:20 PM #

                      “One more thing…discrimination against BDSM strikes me as more pernicious than discrimination against homosexuality.”

                      More accepted? Yeah.

                      More pernicious? No way.

                    • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:27 PM #

                      Yeah, I will say that one of the more heartbreaking things about the discrimination we often face is that it very often comes from otherwise intelligent and tolerant people who respect individual autonomy and have a measure of respect for alternate sexualities. Which is why I tend to spend more time here than I do on various conservative anti-sex bloggers, because from my perspective you guys are something of an apostate. Like, people who see the women’s rights and civil rights movements as valid, but just can’t see enough past their homophobia to see another oppressed class in their midst.

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 7:38 PM #

                      Apostate?

                    • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:49 PM #

                      Yeah, apostate from the one true creed of liberal tolerance and happiness =)

                      I get that that’s not actually what’s going on, but my gut reaction here is similar to my gut reaction upon hearing that 70% of blacks voted in favor of prop 8. I mean, dude, we’re facing similar injustices here. Can’t gays sympathize with the fact that we have to be paranoid about who discovers our sexuality, that many look upon our method of loving with loathing, that we are othered by many? Can’t liberals see that their emphasis on personal autonomy conflicts with interventions to save us from ourselves?

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 7:59 PM #

                      I get that, but I think there’s a difference. Black people who voted for Prop. 8 are assholes and homophobes. Gay people who think BDSMers ought not to claim the same measure of oppression they’ve faced are offended because the oppression is qualitatively different, and because there are a lot of gay people who are opposed to gender hierarchies and sexual violence and see BDSM as supporting/encouraging them (gay people who don’t have a problem with BDSM being a different case). Also, when everyone who has had something shitty done to them gets to claim oppressed status, people who are really oppressed lose one of their most important rhetorical tools. I don’t want anyone to be treated poorly, but I also don’t want the people in the weakest relative power positions in our society to lose what tools they have to name what they go through. I think it’s a lot easier for you to say gay people don’t have it that rough compared to BDSMers in New York or whatever, but try saying that in Toad Suck, Arkansas.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 8:12 PM #

                      “I think it’s a lot easier for you to say gay people don’t have it that rough compared to BDSMers in New York or whatever, but try saying that in Toad Suck, Arkansas.”

                      THIS. YES. THIS.

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 8:14 PM #

                      You know what, though? I’m surprised by how homophobic a lot of the dudes still are here. Not that I think they’re all going out gay-bashing tonight, but the sports bar types weird me out.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 8:24 PM #

                      And the thing is, homophobia is something people are raised to feel, in a very real way. I don’t think people are raised to hatre SMers. It’s not “oh, and those people over there with whips are a threat. No kid of mine is growin’ up to be no dom!”

                      That doesn’t happen. Yes, I think we have it shitty. Yes, I think people are assholes. Yes, I think encouraging “examination” in the way people often do is a blind alley at best and bigotry at worst. And yes, I think activism of the sort the NCSF does is good.

                      But… yeah, there’s no “I’ll teach my kid to be a man/woman by teaching him/her not to act like them KINKSTERS.”

                    • Jenn March 3, 2009 at 9:50 PM #

                      But… yeah, there’s no “I’ll teach my kid to be a man/woman by teaching him/her not to act like them KINKSTERS.”

                      As an aside, my parents cried when they found I was gay. I really highly doubt they would have done the same if they found out that I was into collars and leashes and ball gags as long as I wasn’t a fag.

                      Also, I know that 9-2 isn’t into sharing personal information, but I’m a little less tight-lipped on that. I used to be addicted to pornography, and I can say without any reservation that the mainstreaming of submission and pain into pornography is not considered a kinky anomaly anymore, it’s practically the norm. Some of the highest selling porn videos are the ones where they specifically gag women on cocks until they throw up or at least cry.

                      Perhaps from someone who hasn’t watched any porn in their life and has led a very sheltered existence, BDSM is weird and “what the fuck?” But in the mainstream of porn, I gather a very strong subtext of domination and submission as well as pain in the majority of cases. I don’t doubt that more and more misogynists seeped in patriarchal bullshit are trying to get their partner to “consent” to painful and demeaning sexual practices because that’s what they watch when they wank. At least, that is exactly what I gather from conversations with friends who have shitty taste in partners.

                      Perhaps I wasn’t being clear earlier, but my objection to submission/domination and that area of sexual practices is mostly rooted in its pervasiveness and how those themes have become the norm rather than the exception. I don’t assume that “common” sex looks identical to BDSM lifestyles, but I gather than it’s a heck of a lot closer than it has been before. Since this trend is happening in the common sphere without the necessary emphasis on enthusiastic consent and taking place in a society with highly oppressed gendered socialization, I am really not all that hot with rape scenarios and the subjugation of women becoming even more pervasive than it already is. I don’t think it’s healthy for people to be socialized on a heady diet of gendered submission bullshit, and for that reason I think that sexual practices that tend to mirror the norms might have to be more openly and understandingly critiqued and deconstructed.

                      But I sense that you assume that others are insinuating that you are into BDSM because of gendered socialization. I don’t think that is the case in all BDSM practitioners—and if the lifestyle is as rooted in enthusiastic consent as you say it is, probably has less of the downfalls of the common rape culture. Regardless of my thoughts on the actual sexual practices, I gather than both myself and 9-2 base critiques off of non-ideal situations rooted in what we know the common thoughts of sex in this society are based off of. Does that insinuate that all people that practice things that look like the norm do them without freely choosing? I don’t know, but it is rational to wonder if portions of those people who act according to the norms are not doing it freely. Besides, I could take your word for it that you do it because you like it, and I don’t have any problems with accepting that. But I can’t with a clear conscience extend that to the entirety of those that do related sexual practices. I really don’t think that anyone else can either.

                      You have expressed that you think that we think your sex life “gross”. Perhaps. I happen to also think anal sex is mega nasty too, regardless of who’s doing it, but it’s not like I’m out to ban people from it. I just have no desire to partake myself, thanks. Why you like it and choose to do it is your thing, and I’m not so stupid to insinuate that you have been “raped” and that’s why you’re so “fucked up” (recall that was said to 9-2 in a post before, which was incredibly fucked up).

                      But it’s like the same thing with the hookers and the prostitutes and the sex workers and the porn actresses and the stay-at-home moms and how radical feminism stands in position to them. It’s not that I think that they are bad women and undermine the cause and shit, but I know from statistical analysis that good portions of those groups are highly vulnerable to abuse (past or present), dependency, and other forms of oppression. Perhaps some rad fems hate them, although I haven’t come across those that do. My position, at least, is that I know that society is structured in such a way that sometimes those things are not freely chosen, and even if they are, the law (yes, I’m a law student too, oh noes) honestly doesn’t give a shit about them either explicitly or in shitty enforcement.

                      So, pardon me, but BDSM and the lifestyle might just attract sick fucks and people that need therapy and to rebuild their self-esteem more than they need a “master”. And it’s honestly really cool that that’s not the case with you, and I’m be a fucking bigot not to take your word for it, even if I think the things you get up to in bed are strange. But I can’t just sweep aside the critique because it doesn’t apply in one place. That’s really damn close to saying that blacks aren’t oppressed because Bill Cosby is rich.

                    • Nine Deuce March 3, 2009 at 9:56 PM #

                      What Jenn said.

                    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 10:31 PM #

                      “As an aside, my parents cried when they found I was gay. I really highly doubt they would have done the same if they found out that I was into collars and leashes and ball gags as long as I wasn’t a fag.”

                      Mine did.

                      My having a girlfriend? Not so huge a deal to liberal them, though they thought it was a phase, and exhorted me to find a guy partner next when that relationship went bad, because my breaking up with her “proved” I was really straight.

                      But the tears and the “Are you going where WE THINK YOU’RE GOING?”, the pink rims of tears, the sitting me down and telling me (for years afterward) that:

                      * my friends must have put me up to it
                      * it must be because of what my doctors did to me
                      * I remained “obsessed with suffering”
                      * I would never “be OK again”
                      * why oh why was I hanging out with those friends, again?
                      * I must not have really loved the person I was dating
                      * by the way, my friends are evil

                      All that happened not when I came out to them as bi (that was much more “Oh everybody’s curious, but we know you can’t be gay. We’d still love you if you were, of course. But you’re not. Bisexuality isn’t real, ya know.”), but when they found out which club I’d been attending the weekend before.

                      Every few months, the scene plays out again. There’s never any reference to porn, or to porn “teaching me things.”

                      Honestly, when I started using porn I was annoyed to see that the standard in the industry, at least at the time, was that SM and penetration could not be shown in the same movies. I would have liked to have seen both.

                      I knew very well that not everyone I interacted with, whether male or female, would be interested in taking pain from me. I have no interest in assuming everyone is like me. I’m odd. It doesn’t bother me, since there’s plenty of folks out there who do gleefully consent.

                      What does bother me is people grandstanding all over the place bringing porn and patriarchy into discussions that aren’t about them.

                    • Bean March 5, 2009 at 11:39 PM #

                      Yeah… My parents are quite liberal types as well. I barely ever see my dad (and well, I’ve stumbled over his porn stash, and let’s just say…I’m not worried about anything but his hypocrisy), but I’m concerned about my mother’s reaction if/when she finds out.

                      My parents don’t care that I’m queer. I never actually even had to tell them I’m transsexual – I was one of those really obvious “primary” transsexual kids, and they pretty much already knew. (They just had hoped it would be something I’d grow out of.)

                      But my mother has reacted with visceral horror to everything that even hints at kink. Hell, she took the news that I’m polyamorous worse than the news that I was in a same-gender relationship. Gay is okay, but poly is “weird,” and probably wrong. Not even reassuring herself with Heinlein (she checks all strange ideas against sci-fi – my mom’s secretly such a geek) really convinced her in the end. “Everyone’s consented and we’re all happy, Mom,” sure didn’t.

                      If she ever finds out I’m kinky, I fully anticipate tears. As such, I’ve been as careful as I can to keep that under wraps; and it’s not something I anticipate ever telling her unless I’m outed.

                    • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 11:42 PM #

                      I’m not saying this to be weird or rude, but why is it necessary for one’s parents to know one is kinky? I honestly see a difference there, in that I’d feel it was imperative that my parents know I was gay or trans, but I don’t need them to know a thing about what my sex life involves. I mean, even a “vanilla” sex life isn’t something one normally discusses with one’s parents. Telling one’s parents one is into kink is more akin to telling one’s parents what positions one likes than it is to telling one’s parents about one’s orientation, no? I think my mom would be weirded out by my discussing my sexual preferences with her at all, kink or no.

                    • Trinity March 6, 2009 at 12:01 AM #

                      You’re assuming they find out because we tell them.

                    • Nine Deuce March 6, 2009 at 12:03 AM #

                      No, I’m not. I know it’d be the result of being outed for a lot of people. I was just saying it’s a different sitch.

                    • Trinity March 6, 2009 at 12:43 AM #

                      Okay. I do know people who thought that it is the same sitch, and I don’t agree with that (though I did think that made sense years ago). I think the reason some people feel that way is that they think of BDSM as orientational, see that being out is healthy and wise for queer folk, and decide that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander without thinking about the relevant differences between how much society needs to know to accord you basic rights.

                      I do think BDSM is orientational for some people, but I don’t think one needs to be out about it. I do wish society were less weird about it, because I think experiences like my being outed would be a lot less drama-ful in general. And I do think there is value in people not being closeted in general, because the more “regular seeming” people act like it’s no big deal, the less likely things like Spanner are to happen again.

                      But telling your parents? Yeah, that’s… not really sensible.

                      I do understand people getting tired of leading double lives, though. That’s… really annoying.

                    • Charlie March 6, 2009 at 4:53 AM #

                      What if you simply wanted to tell them that you’re going to Folsom St. Fair (or another BDSM community event) instead of lying about it or covering it up? What if you want to be able to talk about your relationships with your parents, and be able to be honest about it? You don’t need to talk about the details of your sexual practices to be able to talk about your relationship. It’s not an either/or.

                    • Tess March 6, 2009 at 12:36 PM #

                      “You don’t need to talk about the details of your sexual practices to be able to talk about your relationship. It’s not an either/or.”

                      Exactly. I think we’d all agree that relationships of any orientation involve more than sex. If you can’t pull your mind away from that, then I’m not sure there is any hope of enlightening you to anything more.

                      It’s just flawed logic to think that we’re asking for the right to parade down Main Street in nipple clamps. You’re throwing up ridiculous scenarios to cloud the issue.

                      Being in a D/s relationship is very much like living dual roles. We’re hypersensitive to how people perceive us. We’re careful about how we word things, we hide things, we tell lies to other people in our efforts to remain true to ourselves.

                      There are intricacies to a D/s relationship, things that *make* it a D/s one as opposed to an equal one, that are far beyond how we have sex with each other. It’s not what we’re wearing (we don’t even do the collar/leash thing) – it’s every single bit of how we interact with each other.

                      It’s incredibly ironic to come here and read about how I’m, apparently, in a “normal, patriarchal relationship”, the type that you’re struggling so hard to erase, when I’m struggling so hard to have it be accepted.

                      I’m coming to the conclusion that you and I must live on two different planets because what you see as mainstream is what I have to disguise to be accepted by my peers.

                    • Trinity March 7, 2009 at 3:59 AM #

                      “What if you simply wanted to tell them that you’re going to Folsom St. Fair (or another BDSM community event) instead of lying about it or covering it up? What if you want to be able to talk about your relationships with your parents, and be able to be honest about it? You don’t need to talk about the details of your sexual practices to be able to talk about your relationship. It’s not an either/or.”

                      Yeah, this.

                      “So how’d you meet your boyfriend?” gets awkward silence from me.

                      And that’s kind of annoying, though I don’t really feel everyone has to know that we met at a BDSM group.

                      It’s just kinda… people do ask things like “where are you going” and “how’d you meet” and the like, and answering them is complicated in ways it’s not for people who aren’t in closets.

                    • firefey March 6, 2009 at 7:27 PM #

                      i really don’t feel it needful for my parents to know what i like or how i do… but there are whole swaths of my life, my friendships, and my various goings on that i haven’t been able to mention or talk about because of the implications. and i certainly couldn’t tell them about the extreamly meaningful comitment my beloved and i made to eachother that is symbolized by the “necklace” he wears. i am not allowed to talk about more thn just the way in which i enjoy sex between myself and my lover. i am not able to talk about certian ways in which we interact.

                    • Gorgias March 6, 2009 at 7:48 PM #

                      “I’m not saying this to be weird or rude, but why is it necessary for one’s parents to know one is kinky?”

                      It’s certainly not the same way for everyone, but for me, it is a sexual orientation, and is as much a part of my identity as my queerness. I tell them because I want them to know who I am, because not telling them is admitting that I have something to hide and be ashamed of, and because the closet is horrible. I mean, just like I wouldn’t tell them “hey, I like snowballing and prefer handjobs to blowjobs…” I wouldn’t say like “ooh, pulling hair rocks, but screw impact play!” The line between orientation and sex act applies as much in the case of BDSM as it does to homosexuality, in my opinion.

                      “I’d be rather anxious for everyone concerned if “your parents will be informed re: your kinkiness” carried any sort of real or imagined threat. I mean, how old is everyone on here, haven’t they severed the old proverbial apron strings yet?”

                      I may not rely on them for material support anymore, but I still love my parents and would be distressed if they thought less of me for what happens in my bedroom.

                    • Trinity March 7, 2009 at 4:01 AM #

                      “I may not rely on them for material support anymore, but I still love my parents and would be distressed if they thought less of me for what happens in my bedroom.”

                      This. And not every college student has completely “severed the apron strings.” I went back to their home on break.

                      Though perhaps this shows me up as insufficiently mature, or something.

                    • Gorgias March 11, 2009 at 5:45 AM #

                      Not to mention that it’s pretty myopic to assume that all BDSMers are even old enough to be in college.

                      I know for damn sure I can’t be the only one who spent most of his or her adolescence being confused as hell about BDSM desires.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 1:56 AM #

                      “As an aside, my parents cried when they found I was gay. I really highly doubt they would have done the same if they found out that I was into collars and leashes and ball gags as long as I wasn’t a fag.”

                      This is true for many people, but I suspect that there is a certain type of progressive family for which the opposite is true. This series of blog posts has a good example:

                      http://bloodylaughter.com/label/attacked/

                      As for the rest of your post, I agree pretty much completely. I think it’s troubling that such themes are emerging in a context where enthusiastic and informed consent are not part of the background context in which the pornography is offered, as I think is the case for most BDSM practioners watching BDSM pornography (one of the reasons why I think kink.com is a lot less pernicious than it looks on its face).

                      I think this article sums it up pretty well:

                      “While consensual, informed BDSM is contrary to rape culture, more mainstream (or nonfetish) pornography that even vaguely simulates rape (of the “take it, bitch” and “you know you like it” variety) is quite the opposite. When those desires specific to BDSM are appropriated, watered down and corrupted, the complex rules that the counterculture is founded on are completely disposed of.

                      Herein lies the problem — with the advent and proliferation of Internet pornography, the fantasy of rape, torture and bondage becomes an issue of access. No longer reserved for an informed, invested viewer who carefully sought it out after a trip to a fetish bookstore, BDSM is represented in every porn portal on the Internet. The average computer user can have instant access to a full catalog of BDSM practices, ranging from light, soft-core spanking to hard-core torture, in a matter of seconds. This kind of constant, unrestrained availability trains viewers who don’t have a BDSM cultural awareness, investment or education to believe that what women want is to be coerced and, in some cases, forced into acts they don’t consent to. Over the years, various interpretations of the genre have made it into straight porn, without any suggestion of artifice — women on leashes, in handcuffs, gagged, tied up and told to “like it” are all commonplace imagery in contemporary pornography.”

                      http://www.alternet.org/story/113745/the_fantasy_of_acceptable_%27non-consent%27%3A_why_the_female_sexual_submissive_scares_us_(and_why_she_shouldn%27t)/?page=2

                      I dislike the “you have to be in the BDSM community for this to be acceptable;” it’s certainly possible for a lone pervert to perfectly realize that certain people like it and certain people don’t and consent is critical. But I think it makes the general point pretty well.

                      And I’m certainly not going to contend that BDSM is immune to abusive situations. I would wholeheartedly welcome a discussion on how sexism and patriarchal influence leads to harmful practices in the BDSM community. If you want one of our own taking the culture to task for that, look no further than Bitchy Jones. The only point that I’m trying to make is that BDSM qua BDSM is an evil- that it is impossible for two rational adults to come to the conclusion that this is fun and not injurious to their health. You’ll forgive me for getting the impression from ND’s earlier posts that she thought that all subs involved in the lifestyle are poor souls brainwashed by the heirarchy who are no long competent to make their own decisions, and all doms involved in the lifestyle are sick fucks that should shoot themselves or be locked up. Hyperbole aside, I’m still not convinced that ND thinks that it’s possible for BDSM to be practiced safely and sanely.

                    • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 2:02 AM #

                      Safely maybe, but I’m probably not ever going to think alloying sex and power is sane.

                    • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 3:44 AM #

                      You don’t see any problem with setting yourself up as an arbiter of sanity, especially when your research to back up your claims is Craigslist?!

                    • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 4:07 AM #

                      I did more than just post an ad on Craigslist and you know it. Besides, that would make me stupid, not crazy. And my thoughts about the subject span a much wider array of phenomena, which you also know, so save it.

                    • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 3:43 AM #

                      “And I’m certainly not going to contend that BDSM is immune to abusive situations. I would wholeheartedly welcome a discussion on how sexism and patriarchal influence leads to harmful practices in the BDSM community. If you want one of our own taking the culture to task for that, look no further than Bitchy Jones. The only point that I’m trying to make is that BDSM qua BDSM is an evil- that it is impossible for two rational adults to come to the conclusion that this is fun and not injurious to their health. You’ll forgive me for getting the impression from ND’s earlier posts that she thought that all subs involved in the lifestyle are poor souls brainwashed by the heirarchy who are no long competent to make their own decisions, and all doms involved in the lifestyle are sick fucks that should shoot themselves or be locked up.”

                      This, yes.

                    • Jenn March 4, 2009 at 5:12 AM #

                      The only point that I’m trying to make is that BDSM qua BDSM is an evil- that it is impossible for two rational adults to come to the conclusion that this is fun and not injurious to their health.

                      Look, my exposure to the BDSM crowd is extremely minimal. I’ve been to some fetish festivals, but they were more geared towards the body modification crowd than the BDSM crowd, although they did take things from it. And to draw a parallel, I could see why people did seemingly bizarre things like stretch their ear lobes, hang themselves from hooks, and ask someone to cut them up so that it scars in pretty shapes. It doesn’t strike me as my cup of tea, but it was kind of fascinating in a beautifully destructive way. But there was a limit to that tolerance, and that is when I encountered people that amputated their own limbs for fun. I don’t think that that can ever be construed as “sane”.

                      Such is what I feel a bit about BDSM. I mean, to be a bit more specific, whipping and tying up and wax play… okay, I get it. Not my thing, but sounds like it could be fun for some people. But owning another human being? Submitting to another’s will in almost all shapes and form? Risking persistent pain and/or death for a sexual high? Letting what you do in bed become the entirety of your identity or the most important part of it? I can buy that someone can make that safe, make that consensual, and practice it in such a fashion that the law and other “powers that be” (like social alienation) have no say. But I can’t conceive of a way in which those things can be sane in such a way that does not compromise some of my deeply-held and carefully and consciously formulated morals. Which is also why the insinuation that I’m working off a gut feeling of disgust and “OMG ban it and kill it with fire!” really pisses me off. Believe me, I don’t pull my morality out of my ass. I really wouldn’t get very far in Ethical Philsophy—my actual “real life” area of specialization—if I did.

                      Much of what should be subject to the realm of discussion are those things that seem manifestly unsafe and insane, partly to relate them to my feelings on a larger patriarchal culture (if the analogy works) but also to unpack my own feelings on this matter to see if they’re rational.

                      So as to whether I think BDSM is “evil”, no, I don’t. I think some evil people can use it though to inflict suffering upon others and then hide behind the rhetoric of “right to privacy” that does not stretch as far as they think it does legally, morally, philosophically, or culturally even for the most liberal of people that have really sat down and thought this stuff out (as an aside: I’ve read thousands upon thousands of pages of ethical “philosophy” and Philosophy, and all non-ideal contemporary and internally consistent ethical theories do not have an “anything goes in private” clause).

                      As to whether or not I think it’s safe, well, I gather that most of it can be. Sane? Depends on the people, depends on the acts, and depends on the society in which they are practiced. It’s a continuum, and I can’t point to a specific place and say “there, that’s where I separate weird from ape-shit”. All I can say though is that the line where I draw “sane” is further back then I draw the line “should be banned”. Just because I think shit is insane, like football and Ugg boots, doesn’t mean I think it should be criminalized.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 9:14 PM #

                      Everything in moderation, yeah?

                      I think what’s often getting missed here is that there’s a whole spectrum of levels of power exchange. I may exercise at the behest of my Master, but he couldn’t just order me to drop out of college to spend time with him 24/7. I may not be able to masturbate without his permission, but he made it abundantly clear to me that, although he would encourage me to do it because he liked the way they looked, the decision to get a nipple piercing or not rested with me. It’s not either “we only do kinky things in the bedroom” or ” I call all the shots, period.”

                      As I’ve said, there are some things that some of my friends get into that I won’t for safety reasons- nothing involving knives or breath control, thanks. But ultimately, whether I think it’s right for myself or not, I don’t tend to devote much mental space to judging their decisions. Their life, their body, their call as to whether the risk is worth the payoff. Whether it’s taking more physical risk than I would deem prudent, or going deeper into power exchange territory than I would be comfortable doing, it’s ultimately their business.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 1:45 AM #

                      I’m not sure why occupying the mental bandiwith of the people that are delivering injustices to us should be a criteria for oppression.

                      To my mind, of course oppressions will differ. This criteria seems to be constructed specifically so that we can exclude the kinksters from the Truly Oppressed. Gay oppression will differ from black oppression because gays don’t have the support of their families while blacks can’t hide their minority status. Women’s oppression will differ from both because they are inculcated from birth to serve the dominant class in a very intimate way. And kinky oppression will be different because we’ve flown enough under the radar that people don’t tend to devote much mental space to how shitty people we are.

                      In the end, I think we still get to the problem you posed in a comment on your blog, Trin: clearly it’s more socially inculcated and widespread an injustice than one that involves one kid stealing a candy bar from another, or (to take an insipid example) a Red Sox fan refusing to hire a Yankees fan. An injustice that is directed at a specific group of people with broad social backing seems a whole lot like oppression to me.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 2:18 AM #

                      Of course people have reasons for their discrimination. I’m sure many blacks feel that the oppression gays face is qualitatively different from the oppression that they face (and FWIW, I’d agree: oppressions are different), and many are opposed to the encroaching sexual permissiveness that homosexuality is both a cause and symptom of. That doesn’t make it smart any less when an oppressed(/having injustices done to them in a systematic way that does not rise to oppression) group starts ganging up on another one.

                    • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:28 PM #

                      But yeah, while I can see what your saying, the opening sentence of your post is in no way justified.

                  • hexy March 4, 2009 at 2:38 AM #

                    I’ve received genuinely scary threats of physical violence for being a femme domme. And actual physical violence for being queer.

            • Bean March 2, 2009 at 9:01 PM #

              I’m going to have to disagree with you here. Because, well, you’ve made quite the error of logic.

              Injustice is a symptom of oppression. This doesn’t work in reverse. One kid steals another kid’s candy – unjust? Yes. Oppression? Er, no. Not all rectangles are squares, etc.

              Oppression = a system of prejudice. Without the context of that system, injustice is not oppression.

              That said, I think both that BDSM can be misogynistic and [often] homophobic, AND that hatred and distrust of alternate sexualities (including kinky ones) is both misogynistic and [often] homophobic.

              Saying there is a “wrong” or a “right” way to have a consensual sexual relationship is all about saying there are wrong or right ways to be gendered and sexual beings.

              I’m thinking in particular here of criticisms made earlier in comments somewhere about submissive men taking on “feminine” roles and therefore somehow mirroring the patriarchy. Talk about no way to win!

              • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 9:18 PM #

                “I’m going to have to disagree with you here. Because, well, you’ve made quite the error of logic.

                Injustice is a symptom of oppression. This doesn’t work in reverse. One kid steals another kid’s candy – unjust? Yes. Oppression? Er, no. Not all rectangles are squares, etc.

                Oppression = a system of prejudice. Without the context of that system, injustice is not oppression.”

                Exactly.

                The question at hand is whether the prejudice against BDSM folk counts as systemic. I’m not convinced it does, but at the same time, I think there’s a degree of social cohesion in it that makes it relevantly different from “mean kid steals random kid’s candy bar.” It’s not just a random dislike that crops up in people and makes them have the prejudices they do. It’s a whole way of looking at and understanding sexual deviance.

                I just don’t know that I think it’s cohesive enough to be an axis of oppression. And even if it is, it’s not specifically aimed at BDSMers, but rather at deviants of any kind.

                • Bean March 2, 2009 at 10:43 PM #

                  Oh, I don’t disagree. I was just trying to find an example of something which was both obviously unjust and obviously not oppressive. :)

                  • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:42 AM #

                    *nodsnods* Yeah.

                    One of the reasons I’m steadily more crotchety about e-feminism is this whole “either it IS OPPRESSION or IT AIN’T” thang, where any kind of bigotry has to be held up against these huge historical precedents for it to be worth giving a fuck about.

                    I don’t get that. I mean, I get that “you’re not oppressed, fuckface” is a response to the troll MRA who shows up saying child support is a violation of his civil rights. But I don’t get how “hey wait, I could lose my job and that concerns me” yields “but you’re NOT OPPRESSED. Therefore you are an integral part of the system, and the Pat is giving you gold stars! When it’s not, um, firing your ass.”

              • J.Goff March 2, 2009 at 9:19 PM #

                I’m thinking in particular here of criticisms made earlier in comments somewhere about submissive men taking on “feminine” roles and therefore somehow mirroring the patriarchy. Talk about no way to win!

                As a man who identifies as a submissive at times in my own sexual relationships, yes.

                Injustice is a symptom of oppression. This doesn’t work in reverse. One kid steals another kid’s candy – unjust? Yes. Oppression? Er, no. Not all rectangles are squares, etc.

                Which I think was my own problematic way of stating what I meant. People losing their jobs because of how they have consensual sex is a systematic injustice, which I think is a part of a system of oppression. People may disagree with me, and I am not saying it is on par with what happens with LGBT people. There is, however, a large amount of intersectionality that some are refusing to see in this conversation.

  18. hexy March 2, 2009 at 11:42 AM #

    Your description of homophobia doesn’t encompass all the different kinds of homophobia that I have experienced as a queer woman.

    Also, the different aspects of my sexual orientation aren’t separate, as some on this thread seem to think they should be. To make a loose comparison, as an Indigenous woman, I do not experience “racism” and “sexism” as entirely distinct forms of oppression, because oppression doesn’t work that way. Similarly, I do not experience the prejudice people direct at me because I’m queer-in-the-sense-of-liking-the-wimmins and queer-in-the-sense-of-having-other-alternative-sexualities as different kinds of prejudice… it all comes out as prejudice aimed at my sexual orientation, and at my audacity to exist as a sexual being with alternative sexuality.

    I’ve mostly been reading rather than commenting, but the bit that’s been pissing me off about this whole thing has been all the people who are not part of the demographic being discussed making statements about how that demographic experiences the world and their own urges and feelings. Really, the number of non-hetero women who have made comments about other people’s kinks not being like their sexual gender preferences? How on earth would you know?

    • Jenn March 2, 2009 at 4:33 PM #

      A-tothefucking-men. Shit, I thought the entire point of calling yourself progressive is that you’re not allowed to pretend you understand someone else’s oppression better than they do.

      • Tess March 2, 2009 at 5:35 PM #

        Which is what you have been doing in this whole thread.

    • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 4:54 PM #

      “Also, the different aspects of my sexual orientation aren’t separate, as some on this thread seem to think they should be.”

      Exactly, Hexy. I’m not “bi” and that’s “identity” like it “should be” and then “kinky” by “choice.”

      I’m… a person with a sexual orientation, and all of it together is a matter of identity. Someone shaking her fist at me and saying I’m deviant for being kinked and someone doing the same to me for being bisexual aren’t different because they don’t come apart for me. They’re linked to one another.

      For me, being kinky is also inseparable from having a disability as well. I think there’s a lot of ableism in the judgment that relating to pain in only one way is proper. I really would love for all the people commenting here to watch Sick, for example, and think about how their discussion of pain play has ignored the disabled body.

      I also think there’s some ableism in the D/s discussion as well, though I don’t feel as sure about that because my experience is with physical disability. I will say, though, that a sizable minority of the submissives in strict D/s relationships I’ve run into have had Asperger’s. A lot of them have said not that they need a *swoonswoon* maaaaan’s controooool! but that they find themselves craving routine and structure in a bewildering world structured by and for neurotypical people.

      I think there’s some -isms, or at least some -ism-based blinders, in theorizing about gender and sexism and not theorizing about that.

      It’s funny to me that Jenn cheered you on for saying this, but got angry with me for saying the exact same thing, though. I wonder what’s up with that.

  19. Charlie March 2, 2009 at 8:04 PM #

    As I’ve said, I don’t think that being queer or being kinky are the same. I also recognize that most kinky folks don’t experience all of the same things that many queers do. However, many people in both groups (as well as the overlap of kinky queers) do experience some of the same things, such as:

    Being closeted out of concern for serious negative repercussions, which leads to the potential for blackmail

    Being told that they are not adequate parents or having their children taken away from them

    Being reduced to their sexualities, rather than being seen as whole people with all of the strengths and frailties that people have

    Being shamed for their sexual practices, especially when other people find them triggering

    Being accused of being the first step down the slippery slope that leads to disaster

    Having people who know little or nothing about their (personal and community) histories make statements about HOW THINGS ARE

    Having few or no positive role models to help those discovering their sexualities explore them in ways that support their (and their partners’) well-being

    Have I mentioned the part about being shamed for their sexualities? I think it’s worth mentioning again, given how much I see that happening in the world and in the discussions on this blog. Given how shame is inextricably woven into every type of oppression that I can think of, it doesn’t surprise me that some people mistake it with actual oppression.

    Arguing about whether prejudice about sexual practices is an oppression consistently leads to further divisions between us/them that I see at the root of patriarchy in the first place. Not all prejudice is codified into oppression. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t prejudice, with all of the negative consequences that come with it.

    • Trinity March 2, 2009 at 8:43 PM #

      “Having people who know little or nothing about their (personal and community) histories make statements about HOW THINGS ARE”

      Including whether they are kinky by choice or not, which is the one that always gets me. How the hell do they decide what’s an identity and what isn’t? If you’re not kinky, how the fuck would you know whether it’s a choice or not?

      • Gorgias March 2, 2009 at 10:05 PM #

        You’d know by introspection. Did I choose to be vanilla? Could I choose, right now, to enjoy pain in a sexual context?

        Pretty much the same thing as heterosexuals realizing that their sexual proclivities were just as unchosen as homosexuals. And anyone being completely honest with themselves would have to say, “no, I didn’t choose it.”

        • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 2:03 AM #

          Sorry to rain on your oppression parade, but I am a former BDSM practitioner turned “vanilla sex” practitioner, and the decision to overhaul my sexual practices was not even remotely a traumatic and personality-altering experience. After devoting some time to critical reflection and objective introspection (filtered through newly acquired information about the ubiqutious male/female power imbalance), I realized that my attraction to BDSM was firmly rooted in philosophical idealism and 100% changeable.

          Sexual orientation (heterosexuality/bisexuality/homosexuality) is biologically programmed and unchangeable (via external influences). If you think you can pinpoint the BDSM gene, go for it, but until it’s scientifically proven that BDSM is a biological imperative, I’m not buying that BS.

          This isn’t the first time, and certainly won’t be the last, that people have confused biology with conditioning, and I’m not casting blame. It can be extraordinarily difficult, even for professionals, to parse the two.

          • J.Goff March 3, 2009 at 2:37 AM #

            Nanella, there isn’t one specific “gay gene,” either. There are multiple genes that feed into human sexuality, making the pinpointing of one for sexual orientation difficult. Are you qualified to say that people who are BDSM practitioners do so without any basis in their genetic makeup?

            • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 3:05 AM #

              Oh, come on. Look, you knew I wasn’t literally referring to gene C24-11679 or something, right? There exists some compelling scientific evidence that sexual orientation is innate, even if we haven’t (yet) isolated a responsible gene.

              “Are you qualified to say that people who are BDSM practitioners do so without any basis in their genetic makeup?”

              Absolutely not. What I said is that I reserve the right to call it BS until you can hand me the proof. Just as I reserve the right to call theistic religion a sham until you can hand me concrete evidence that a deity/deities exist.

              • J.Goff March 3, 2009 at 3:21 AM #

                Just as my father, grandmother, and cousins continually assert that my cousin is a “fag” of his own volition. Hey, they aren’t experts either, but they know that people aren’t supposed to have sex that way. They just reserve the right to call him a fag. And me a fag, since I’m bisexual.

              • hexy March 4, 2009 at 2:43 AM #

                Just so you know… from what I’ve observed, the entire debate about the “gay gene” is a very US-centric concept. Nature/nurture comes up in other countries, but you lot have really made your own controversy about that one.

                Point being: unless I’m engaging with Americans, I rarely encounter the assumption that “innate” MUST BE synonymous with “genetic”.

          • Nik March 3, 2009 at 2:51 AM #

            Actually the “sexual orientation” (straight/bi/gay) gene hasn’t been pinpointed either. And there are numerous cases of gays “changing orientations”.

            There are numerous arguments, and its bullshit on both sides. Whether its a choice or not, I am into BDSM and I enjoy it. Any free society should not put limits on that, just as it should not put limits on homosexuals, regardless of what the majority find gross.

            • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 2:58 AM #

              Is it illegal to practice BDSM? Not the last time I checked, so how, pray, is society “putting limits” on BDSM?

              • Bean March 3, 2009 at 3:43 AM #

                Actual, legality varies by region. In some places, it is considered assault. Consent notwithstanding.

                • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:55 AM #

                  Exactly. Ever hear of Operation Spanner, Nanella?

                  • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:48 AM #

                    Besides which, legal consequences are but one axis of injustice here. Losing your job or your children are quite as dangerous. As John Stuart Mill said in On Liberty:

                    “In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread.”

                • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 4:38 AM #

                  Where? Where in the U.S. is BDSM illegal? What is the specific law that would have you incarcerated for practicing BDSM if the authorities were enlightened to your sexual activities? Are you talking about those BDSM practitioners prosecuted for manslaughter when their victim is accidentally murdered during the course of events? Because, yes, the law does require you to assume responsibility for even “accidentally” murdering someone. That’s not the same thing as the police showing up at your doorstep at 3 AM and arresting you for tying up and flogging your spouse.

                  • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:34 PM #

                    I have personally been subject to police raids on private property for kinky activity going on inside, actually, somewhere around 3 AM.

                    Thankfully, you’re right that they’ve got nothing to charge us with right now, though the law as concerns consent as a defense for assault is pretty hazy. Had things gone differently, my friends and I could’ve been a test case, like Spanner (the thing that still gets me the most about that case is that even the subs were prosecuted- as accessories to the assault! I think that pretty much removes any pretense of trying to protect anyone from the precedings).

                    In any case, focusing only on the US is pretty myopic. It’s outright illegal in the UK (as is possessing pornography of the same), and the European court of human rights didn’t overturn the decision.

                    • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 3:29 AM #

                      “Thankfully, you’re right that they’ve got nothing to charge us with right now, though the law as concerns consent as a defense for assault is pretty hazy.”

                      If BDSM were illegal, you would be in jail right now. I’m sorry, but this is all getting very silly. Misunderstandings occur, and isn’t it nice when the law is on your side and, therefore, you don’t have to fear prosecution for your sexual practices. The faux martyrdom really has got to stop. I’m not going to respond to any more of these trumped-up PERSECUTION! stories.

                  • Bean March 3, 2009 at 10:10 PM #

                    I’m not talking about people being killed, accidentally or otherwise.

                    And I didn’t specify region for a reason. I’m in Canada, and Canadian courts have had cases similar to Spanner in the past, although not so high-profile or involving so many people.

                    Don’t be deliberately obtuse.

                    • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 3:56 AM #

                      “Don’t be deliberately obtuse.”

                      But it’s become so very trendy in this thread and I’ve always had a weakness for peer pressure.

                      “And I didn’t specify region for a reason. I’m in Canada, and Canadian courts have had cases similar to Spanner in the past, although not so high-profile or involving so many people.”

                      I’m sorry, my education on the subject of “Operation Spanner” is limited to Wikipedia, so please bear that in mind. It seems like a very unfortunate incident, it’s terrible that this occurred, but people in the UK are, at this very moment I’m sure, practicing BDSM without fear of legal reprisal. In fact, I’ve “met” British BDSM practitioners (on the internet) who are rather outspoken about their lifestyle and aren’t living in fear, aren’t having to keep their special toys locked up in a safe hidden beneath the floorboards in case the police show up unannounced to inspect their residence for suspicious goings-ons.

                      Miscarriages of justice do occur, it is sad, but BDSM as a sexual practice has not been outlawed in England.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 4:31 AM #

                      I’m not sure that the haphazardness of enforcement makes it much different.

                      There were sodomy laws on the books of most states before Lawrence v. Texas that were seldom enforced, but such laws being on the books is still evidence of discrimination.

              • Nik March 3, 2009 at 6:33 AM #

                In the text of most statutes including, IIRC, the Model Penal Code, there is no mention of consent in the charges of assault or battery. Fortunately, consent is often a defense in common law, but it differs from state to state. It is unlikely, although possible, that one would get prosecuted for BDSM. It is similar in many ways to the sodomy statutes that were recently struck down in Lawrence v. Texas in that they are frightening and the possibility for prosecution is there, but it is unlikely that one would actually go to jail for practicing BDSM.

                That and the whole people losing their jobs/children because of their BDSM activities, which have been mentioned countless times before here.

                • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 4:23 PM #

                  “That and the whole people losing their jobs/children because of their BDSM activities, which have been mentioned countless times before here.”

                  Yeah. I can’t figure out why people are consistently ignoring that.

                • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 4:02 AM #

                  No one here is advocating discrimination against BDSM practitioners. Again, you all are shouting into the wind because the people here are just as aggrieved at these scenarios as you are (so long as the families in question weren’t exposing children to sexual situations, which IS a problem).

                  • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 6:03 PM #

                    You are, however, contributing to a discourse that legitimizes such discrimination.

                    A person that said, “now, look, I don’t support killing homosexuals or firing them from their jobs. People can do what they want in their bedrooms. That said, the bible says that homosexuality is an abomination. These people are sick and forsaken by God, and we should do our utmost to convince them to resume the straight and narrow” is part of the problem, even if he or she isn’t as much of a jackass as Phelps.

          • Bean March 3, 2009 at 3:26 AM #

            Please provide the scientific proof that homosexuality is biologically programmed.

            …I’d wait right here, except that I know there is no proof. There is a fair amount of evidence (which is somewhat contradictory and poorly understood as of yet), but there is no proof. So, you know, my poor cats would starve if I just sat here waiting.

            So I find it a bit odd that you state as fact that homosexuality/heterosexuality/bisexuality is biologically innate, in order to compare it to interest in BDSM.

            True, there’s not even any evidence right now to suggest that BDSM orientations are, in fact, orientational. But then, I don’t think anyone’s actually ever studied that. For all we know, there could be evidence of kinkiness being biologically innate to some degree; we can hardly know if no research has gone into it.

            Evidence is not proof of anything. Lack of evidence is also not proof of anything.

            And you may personally feel that kink was a choice for you. Others feel very strongly that they did not choose it – sometimes, these people have been in vanilla marriages for years, and have tried very hard to change their interest in BDSM and failed.

            Interestingly enough, there are also many people who feel very strongly that they DID choose to be queer. What do you make of them?

            Is everyone who doesn’t have similar experiences to you simply wrong? If so… How can you say that? How do you know? Why do you think you can simply pronounce what is biologically innate and what is not?

            • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 4:13 AM #

              Brain scans don’t really impress me all that much. My assertion is based on empirical evidence. The reason I feel confident making such a statement is that homosexuality has been observed in the animal kingdom, and since reproductive behavior is purely instinctual among non-humans, it’s hard to believe that two animals of the same gender would choose to pair bond or engage in sexual activities — it completely flies in the face of the biological imperative to pass on genes to a succeeding generation. I must logically deduce that sexual orientation operates on an instinctual (innate) level.

              “Others feel very strongly that they did not choose it – sometimes, these people have been in vanilla marriages for years, and have tried very hard to change their interest in BDSM and failed.”

              Leaving out the remote possibility that this is due to biological inclination, I would like to point out that habits really are hard to break. Take non-chemical addiction, e.g. A person suffering from gambling addiction or shopping addiction can’t just snap their fingers and become spontaneously liberated from the psychological forces compelling them to engage in compulsive activities. It can require years of intensive therapy to overcome their compulsions. Any behavior can become compulsive under the right circumstances. Just because you struggle, and it may cause intense psychic pain, to stop doing something, it does not mean you can’t stop. But first you have to address the underlying psychological motivations, and I fully believe this is the case with BDSM.

              “Interestingly enough, there are also many people who feel very strongly that they DID choose to be queer. What do you make of them?”

              Quantify “many”. The only cases of denial of sexual orientation I’m familiar with are those poor unfortunate souls who have been brainwashed by the church into believing they chose to be gay. BDSM is brainwashing by the prevalent culture into believing that the dom/sub paradigm is natural and attractive, which then becomes fetishized.

              • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:36 PM #

                Actually, sadomasochism has been observed in nature as well, biting/scratching during mating, etc. In fact, there are quite a few psychologists who view it as regression to an animalistic form.

                Which I love. Things that happen in the animal kingdom that we like are natural, while things that happen in the animal kingdom that we don’t like are bestial.

                • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 9:11 PM #

                  “Which I love. Things that happen in the animal kingdom that we like are natural, while things that happen in the animal kingdom that we don’t like are bestial.”

                  Exactly. “Animals are gay too.” ………….. “Hey! Just because animals have rough sex with one another doesn’t mean WE SHOULD!”

                • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 4:29 AM #

                  Biting and scratching are spontaneous emotional responses that occur as a result of sexual stimulation, they are not examples of ritualized abuse. Sadism is, by definition, enjoying the process of inflicting pain (you’re going to tell me that animals have that level of reasoning ability?).

                  Even if it were possible to prove that Mr. Leopard bites Mrs. Leopard because he gets off on her pain, would that make it acceptable in a human context? Animals have been known to commit rape; can we use the “nature” argument to absolve rapists of responsibility for their actions? If someone could prove that domination/subjugation is instinctual in human beings, that still wouldn’t make it right. One of the primary benefits of being human is the ability to analyze destructive impulses and adjust behavior accordingly. We aren’t slaves to instinct, unlike animals. Animals have no concept of “respect”. What they do have a comprehensive understanding of is selfishness.

                  • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 4:38 AM #

                    I’ve seen this so many times I’m getting pretty sick of it. To wit:

                    “Which I love. Things that happen in the animal kingdom that we like are natural, while things that happen in the animal kingdom that we don’t like are bestial.”

                    I never claimed that something happening in nature made them morally right. You claimed that because homosexuality is observed in the animal kingdom, an orientational or inborn model makes sense for them. I retorted that biting and scratching during mating is common in the animal kingdom. Which, if you follow the logic through, if homosexuality is proven to be orientational because it is present in the animal community, so is sadism and masochism. (I think this is poor logic, truth be told, but it’s the argument you advanced).

                    • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 5:28 AM #

                      We (well, mostly) assign positive value judgments to instincts that have a positive effect on society, negative value judgments to instincts that ultimately have a negative impact on society, and so on. Why does that disgust you so? Because people are capable of cultivating morality, we have the ability to suss out and categorize behavior that hurts and behavior that helps, and I don’t see what’s “sickening” about that. What I do see is that a behavior that has been condemned (and rightly so) by some as having a negative effect on society is something you happen to enjoy and, therefore, it makes you uncomfortable to have it criticized. Well, tough noogies. You don’t get to have others’ acceptance just because you want it and, waaaah, it’s so unfair that you have to put up with people not liking what you do. Learn to either be secure in your lifestyle choices or adopt a lifestyle you *do* feel secure with.

                      And, by the way, you completely mangled my previous argument. I explained why there is technically no evidence of “sadism” in the animal kingdom. If you can’t prove that Mr. Lion bites Mrs. Lion for the sheer joy of inflicting pain, and that has *not* been proven, then you can’t argue that sadism/masochism is natural.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 5:25 PM #

                      What I’m sick of is this:

                      Person A: “X is wrong because it’s unnatural.

                      Person B: “But X occurs in nature as well…”

                      Person A: “That’s a stupid argument! Animals rape and kill each other! That doesn’t make it right!”

                      Which is more or less how the above discussion went (admittedly, first claim was related something Z is natural and therefore orientational, but it’s close enough). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this in regard to homosexuality.

                      Of course we can use morality to determine what we should be doing, and that’s not sickening at all. You are objectively wrong when you condemn a practice that has enriched the relationships and sex lives of millions. I’ve never claimed any relativism, and I don’t intend to. Things which lead to human happiness are good, even if they squick other people. People who would attempt to prevent people from doing what makes them happy, or contribute to a discourse which legitimizes treating them with injustice, are evil.

                      And you’re right, I’m such a horrible person for wanting to be treated with respect and dignity and trying to convince others that my position is the correct one.

                    • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 5:30 PM #

                      Sorry, Gorgias, but no one is “objectively wrong” here when what they see is immoral just because you disagree.

                    • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 5:57 PM #

                      So what, you don’t think that I’m objectively wrong?

                      The point is that both sides are approaching this from a framework outside of moral relativism, that there is an objective moral right and wrong. I think you’re wrong, and since I don’t subscribe to moral relativism, that would make you objectively wrong, so far as I can tell. I’m sure you disagree, but the point is to establish a scaffolding of moral realism upon which to base the rest of the argument.

              • Bean March 3, 2009 at 11:13 PM #

                Look. I’m a biological sciences major. “We have bunches of evidence that this is biologically innate, so even though we don’t actually understand how any of it works, it is therefore a fact that it is totally innate,” will not impress me. Nor will, “Well, there’s not a lot research done on this, but it looks like something totally different to me. So it must be a choice.”

                Do we all have our own personal observations and opinions with regards to this stuff? Yes. Personally, I do believe homosexuality will turn out to be biologically innate.

                But we don’t understand the puzzle pieces we have, and to reiterate, they aren’t proof. We just have pieces. Not an actual puzzle. We don’t know how those pieces fit togther, and we can’t make a consistently workable model for how someone becomes hetero/homo/bisexual.

                Not sure where the brain scans comment came from.

                Leaving out the remote possibility that this is due to biological inclination, I would like to point out that habits really are hard to break.

                HAH. “Your sexuality isn’t natural. It’s just an addiction.” Where have I heard that before, I wonder? It sounds familiar.

                I have to ask, how does this addiction model fit people who realise they’re kinky later in life?

                And you didn’t really address the people who spend years in vanilla marriages. I suppose you could argue that they’re feeding their compulsion with kinky porn, but if they aren’t? (I definitely know a few people who didn’t start viewing kinky porn until after they had accepted that their fantasies weren’t going to go away.) How do you have a behavioural compulsion without engaging in the compulsive behaviour?

                In my own personal experience (only fully realising that I’m kinky about 5 months ago – I knew the signs were there, but I dismissed them, possibly because my first introduction to BDSM was so exaggerated that I didn’t think I had enough in common with it), my relationship to the kinky aspect of my sexuality is much more directly comparable to my queerness than it is to a compulsion.

                In fact, all my time spent wondering why I couldn’t seem to react “normally” to depictions of vanilla sex is almost exactly like the time I spent wondering why I couldn’t seem to react “normally” to the idea of having straight sex as a female.

                The only cases of denial of sexual orientation I’m familiar with are those poor unfortunate souls who have been brainwashed by the church into believing they chose to be gay.

                Queer By Choice. They aren’t “ex-gays,” for the record.

                Anecdotally, I’ve run into any number of people in the queer community who are bothered or offended by the, “born that way,” argument, whether or not they actually identify as “queer by choice.”

                Could it be that sexuality in general is not either 100% innate or 100% a choice? Could it be that sexuality is more mutable for some people than it is for others?

                • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 6:16 AM #

                  “Look. I’m a biological sciences major.”

                  Oh, good, an EXPERT. Just what we needed. I majored in psychology for two years in college and, therefore, when I tell you that BDSM is effed up, you must believe me.

                  “I have to ask, how does this addiction model fit people who realise they’re kinky later in life?”

                  Underlying all compulsive behaviors are psychological impetuses. When the behavior is not present, the impetuses are still there, they are always there and always will be until they are addressed and dealt with appropriately. My argument is that BDSM is attractive to a segment of the population that shares a certain psychological make-up — couple that with a social framework that encourages people to adhere to the domination/submission model of relationships, and you’ve got BDSM.

                  “And you didn’t really address the people who spend years in vanilla marriages.”

                  I had seriously self-destructive impulses that were (largely) dormant for a good several years while participating in a “normal”, functional marriage. Some impulses are like ticking time bombs just waiting for the right circumstances to set them off.

                  “I suppose you could argue that they’re feeding their compulsion with kinky porn, but if they aren’t? (I definitely know a few people who didn’t start viewing kinky porn until after they had accepted that their fantasies weren’t going to go away.)”

                  My attraction to BDSM began with dom/sub fantasies, as well. It’s not uncommon for the psyche to invent ways to sublimate psychological trauma.

                  “How do you have a behavioural compulsion without engaging in the compulsive behaviour?”

                  Addressed above.

                  “In fact, all my time spent wondering why I couldn’t seem to react “normally” to depictions of vanilla sex is almost exactly like the time I spent wondering why I couldn’t seem to react “normally” to the idea of having straight sex as a female.”

                  Psychological conditioning explains this phenomenon so much more logically than all the hypotheses about hard-wired proclivities for violent sex. Inclinations can result from events, they are not always inborn. Fetishes, e.g., have been linked to childhood experiences. A man with a shoe fetish was probably fascinated by women’s footwear as a baby (since they spend so much time on the floor where they can observe shoes up close).

                  “Could it be that sexuality in general is not either 100% innate or 100% a choice?”

                  Anything’s possible, but the burden of proof lies with those who contend that something exists.

                  “Could it be that sexuality is more mutable for some people than it is for others?”

                  Sexual orientation is mutable, according to Kinsey (and some other scientist dudes with a very intense interest in sex whose names I can’t recall at the moment). I don’t know if you’re familiar with the continuum of sexual orientation, but it’s been posited that very few people are 100% heterosexual/homosexual and that people will find themselves pushed in different directions on that continuum over the course of their lives (whether that’s due to hormones or what, I don’t believe anyone’s figured it out yet). I’ve been very much hetero, hetero with bisexual leanings, and now I’m back to being overwhelmingly hetero. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point I find myself attracted to women again. It’s just a part of being human.

                  • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 5:28 PM #

                    I’m not seeing why proving that nurture is the fundamental component in forming a BDSM sexual orientation proves that it’s actually a mental disease.

                  • Bean March 5, 2009 at 12:59 AM #

                    No, sorry, my point wasn’t that I’m an expert (far from it); it was more that your argument up there was too illogical and soft for me to accept. I personally believe homosexuality is innate; as a scientist/student of science, I simply CANNOT state that as a fact. Nor can you.

                    Likewise, with no research done on BDSM, I can offer only speculation, my own observations, and my personal feelings. But I can’t state anything as fact. Nor can you.

                    That’s all.

                    Your points here are interesting and well made, even if I don’t agree they fit my experiences, so I think we’ve reached an impasse. We’ll simply have to wait for someone to do actual research on this.

                    Although I am curious about the example you give of a baby being fascinated by shoes developing a shoe fetish. I don’t doubt that paraphilias must generally have some early trigger; but given that pretty much all babies spend time at floor level, how would you explain how one baby develops a shoe fetish while another does not?

                • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 6:04 PM #

                  “(I definitely know a few people who didn’t start viewing kinky porn until after they had accepted that their fantasies weren’t going to go away.)”

                  *waves hand*

                  Though I was in a relationship. With a man. Maybe it was patriarchy that made me do it? ;)

            • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 6:13 AM #

              “And you may personally feel that kink was a choice for you. Others feel very strongly that they did not choose it – sometimes, these people have been in vanilla marriages for years, and have tried very hard to change their interest in BDSM and failed.”

              This.

              Some people try to change, can’t, and become suicidally depressed over it, as well.

              And I think that should be talked about in a serious and real way, especially as it concerns kinky youth who are worried they’re crazy. Because such youth, oppressed or not (and again, I’m saying not) have even less of a support system than many gay youth do.

            • Nik March 3, 2009 at 6:35 AM #

              Hoorah. Someone who understands logic. Thanks Bean.

          • Erstwhile lurker March 3, 2009 at 3:57 AM #

            I realized that my attraction to BDSM was firmly rooted in philosophical idealism and 100% changeable.

            I’m curious to hear more about this. What did you find attractive about BDSM, and how was it rooted in philosophical idealism? And did the overhaul of your sex practices consist in leaving a group of people, or not engaging in certain activities, or suppressing certain fantasies, or some combination of the three?

            I experience most aspects of my sexual orientation as fluid and changeable (maybe not by willing them to change directly, but in more subtle ways). However, fluidity seems really rare, and I believe other people when they say they don’t experience things the way I do. Is there a reason to think that you know more about Trinity or Gorgias than they know about themselves? I mean, they’ve known themselves a lot longer than you’ve known them, and on a more intimate basis.

            • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 6:50 AM #

              “I’m curious to hear more about this. What did you find attractive about BDSM, and how was it rooted in philosophical idealism? And did the overhaul of your sex practices consist in leaving a group of people, or not engaging in certain activities, or suppressing certain fantasies, or some combination of the three?”

              I don’t think I can qualify my attraction to BDSM…it just was. I didn’t understand it at the time, I didn’t know about the connection between the relevant psychological conditioning and impulses to engage in certain activities and so forth — it *seemed* entirely instinctual to me at the time. Anything taken at face value will have a simplistic explanation.

              It’s like, e.g., someone who sees a homeless man pan-handling might take the scenario at face value and think, “What a lazy bum! Why doesn’t he pick himself up by the bootstraps and get a damn job.” That’s the simplistic explanation. The real explanation is more likely that the man has a history of mental illness that has gone undiagnosed and untreated and would, in actuality, enjoy the opportunity to be a productive citizen if equipped with the proper tools (medication, counseling, vocational training, etc.).

              The philosophical idealism bit is a reference to the prevailing culture in which I was raised, a culture that actively encourages women to be submissive and men to be controlling/domineering. I absorbed this message my entire life, of course it helped shape my sexuality.

              Thanks to overhauling my values, I’ve had to disengage from certain relationships, absolutely. It’s like a recovering alcoholic having to say “adios” to her drinking pals. Change requires sacrifice, it’s not a very pleasant process. It’s an investment in a happier, healthier future.

              I don’t suppress violent sexual fantasies, but I find that I experience them less the healthier and more centered I feel. It’s a gradual deprogramming process. Slow and steady progress is the goal, with the expected regressions here and there. It’s the same process I’ve followed in (successfully) quitting porn.

              Interesting that no one wants to hear about my motivation for giving up BDSM! Anyway, I have a very sage Buddhist monk to thank for that. He explained in no uncertain terms that respect for life and BDSM were mutually exclusive, regardless of the “pleasure” derived from engaging in it. It really got me to thinking about things…and, long story short, here I am.

              • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 6:07 PM #

                Nanella — who didn’t want to hear it, exactly? You mentioned it and someone asked you what you meant.

                I’m glad that you’re doing what’s healthy for you, but I hope you understand why many of *us* are leery of people saying “you just don’t know yourself, look harder” when… we’ve subscribed to that model, and where it brought you freedom, it only brought us self-loathing and self-destructive behavior.

              • Erstwhile lurker March 4, 2009 at 9:27 PM #

                Thank you for your answer. I understand about wanting to deprogram oneself from harmful sexist conditioning, and I’ve done that in other areas of my life. (People-pleasing is one of my worst demons.) I believe that could cut myself off from the kinky part of my sexuality, but I also believe it would make me a smaller and less fulfilled person. Note: I am not saying what you should or shouldn’t do here, I’m just telling you what works best for me. I don’t think everyone’s sexuality should be the same.

                I hear other people saying that trying to change their kink was ineffective and psychologically bad for them, and that thinking of their kink as an orientation helped them understand themselves much better than thinking of it as a disease. (I’m cribbing heavily from the post Trinity linked to.) This looks like evidence that at least for some people, kink is an orientation. Not in the sense of being totally unaffected by society (who knows where anybody’s sexual orientation comes from? and what in the world is totally unaffected by society?) but in the sense of not being some kind of aberration that has to be fixed.

                Interesting that no one wants to hear about my motivation for giving up BDSM!

                I don’t? I’d be happy to.

                • Trinity March 9, 2009 at 12:53 AM #

                  Exactly. I’d rather be “broken” than some of the people on this thread’s version of “fixed”, honestly. It’s not a process of self-transformation that sounds at all positive to me from the way people are describing it, even if I agreed it were possible in my case.

          • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:45 AM #

            Good for you.

            Now where did I put that file of ex-gay testimonies?

        • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:54 AM #

          Gorgias:

          The thing is I’m not sure people would know by introspection. I do think some people are kinked by nature and others get into it just from being interested. I’ve dated people who tried it because they met people who were interested in it (or who were orientationally kinky) and discovered they like it.

          So I don’t object to the idea that there exist people who are kinky by choice. (I actually don’t object to the idea that some people are queer by choice, either. I can’t relate to that, but whatever.)

          What I object to is the way “it’s nurture! it’s nurture!” is trotted out to claim either that you’ve been warped horribly by some awful trauma that makes you a freak or that you’re just not trying hard enough to be normal. Both of which I see in this thread, and both of which are favorite lines of anti-gay bigots. Whence: commonalities.

  20. Nanella March 3, 2009 at 2:36 AM #

    A-MEN, sistah 92! My word, that was beautifully and incisively said. Except for the part about Crocs. I mean, aw, come on! They’re the quintessential feminist shoe! Egregiously comfy and unfuckable as hell, is the Croc. How many shoes are the symbolic representation of giving patriarchy the middle finger, eh?

    I really think the pro-BDSM crowd would be far better served saving their vitriol for their *true* oppressors, and it’s almost sad to see so much misdirected resentment getting thrown around in the wrong venue. As much as I dislike BDSM, I would be right there on the front lines defending the rights of any BDSM practitioner who faces legal discrimination because of her/his sexual proclivities. Tolerance means choosing to not actively discriminate against a group regardless of how much you dislike their beliefs, etc. That does not. Mean. You must. ACCEPT. Someone else’s beliefs, etc. Tolerance is dislike/hate without that loathesome dynamic component like vandalizing someone’s property or preventing them from earning a living, or bullying their children. Tolerance is not mentally rearranging your values to accomodate someone else’s lifestyle as “acceptable”. Some people need to get that through their heads.

    “But where we want to go has been defined, at least in part, by where we’re coming from, and the place we’re coming from is one in which sex and power (as it manifests in the two sex roles) are nearly inextricable.

    For some people, the trouble involved in untangling the two is more than one should be asked to deal with. It might be that it’s easier to find happiness in being where the individual is than in pushing toward the place where the group wants to go.”

    Very well put and very true. Feminism is the undesirable red pill. Most people get a taste of reality and start knocking back blue pills before their precious rose-colored faux reality threatens to evaporate before their eyes (you know, that place where men and women are equal and we all hold hands and sing Kumbaya and pretend that Nature has dictated that misogynistic sexual practices are perfectly harmless and merely imitations of the Natural Order of Things and so they’re perfectly harmless, and so on) .

    • Bean March 3, 2009 at 3:37 AM #

      I just wanted to add that this is the grossest definition of tolerance I’ve ever seen.

      “It’s basically like we hate you, but we just won’t kill you!” – Yeah. I threw up in my mouth a little.

      For the record, from :

      tol-er-ance – 1. The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.

      “I hate you, but I’ll leave your stuff alone and let you live,” is an attitude which has absolutely NOTHING to do with respect.

      • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 4:30 AM #

        “Respecting” does NOT mean “accepting”. It means, yes, I respect that you have the right to do whatever the damn hell you please, so I’m not going to try to stop you from doing it. Nor do I want to see anyone else try to stop you from doing whatever the damn hell you please in the privacy of your own home. That doesn’t mean I must LIKE it.

        Stop trying to impose your beliefs on me, ‘kay? I’m not out there on the internet seeking out BDSM forums and blogs and telling you all how fucked up you are and how you should cease and desist and start acting more like ME. Why is that, do you suppose? I’ll tell you why: it’s because I respect your right to live your life according to your own personal standards. Sheesh, give some credit where it’s due already. No, forget I asked for your respect. I’ve given you mine by not invading your personal spaces, by defending your right to lead a lifestyle I find morally reprehensible, but if the subject is broached, I’m going to damn well express my opinion. If you had it your way, you would silence all opposition, which is pretty damn oppressive, I shouldn’t have to point out.

        • Bean March 4, 2009 at 12:28 AM #

          Stop trying to impose your beliefs on me, ‘kay? […] If you had it your way, you would silence all opposition, which is pretty damn oppressive, I shouldn’t have to point out.

          WTF? If arguing my side is, “imposing [my] beliefs,” on you, then what the hell is this whole series of posts?! Playing tiddly-winks?! I’m not trying to impose or silence anything; I’m trying to explain why I think some of the conclusions that ND and her ilk have drawn are wrong.

          And if, “I just won’t kill you,” is truly what people believe tolerance to be, then I’m going to have to find a replacement concept.

          Because I don’t want to kill anyone – that’s disgusting – and I wouldn’t want to suggest that I do.

          • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 3:43 AM #

            Who said anyone here was harboring homicidal fantasies? (OK, I must admit, it’s a fantasy that’s rapidly becoming more appealing the longer this thread goes on.) (That was a JOKE.)

            *ahem* I don’t inflict violence on anyone, at any time, for any reason, and still would choose not to if given the opportunity and “consent” of a willing victim.

            “I’m trying to explain why I think some of the conclusions that ND and her ilk have drawn are wrong.”

            Well, who are you to tell others that their opinions/beliefs are wrong? We’re entitled to think what we want, aren’t we? Or aren’t we? Besides that, I have yet to see a convincing argument for accepting BDSM as an innocuous sexual practice. That’s probably because one doesn’t exist.

            • Bean March 5, 2009 at 1:27 AM #

              Who is ND to tell people who practice BDSM that they are sick? Her posts are public, are they not? What makes her posts okay (including the ones specifically addressed to/designed to get a response from kinky people), and our responding comments “oppressive”?

              She’s expressing her opinions; we’re expressing ours. If she really didn’t want these comments in her space, she could moderate them all, couldn’t she?

              It’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that ND is being “silenced” or “oppressed” by discourse she specifically sought out (even if her private goal was just to point up that we’re all morons), and has largely not suppressed (even though she has that option).

          • Trinity March 5, 2009 at 5:16 PM #

            “WTF? If arguing my side is, “imposing [my] beliefs,” on you, then what the hell is this whole series of posts?! Playing tiddly-winks?!”

            Exactly. How precisely is saying “Hey, hold up, I think your conclusions are wrong, and I keep trying to point out that we have NO evidence that thoughtful BDSM people are the exception rather than the rule, so… you’re wrong” *imposing*?

            I mean, if ND telling us we’re all uncool, creepy, in denial, and not being very good feminists isn’t imposing, how is “Uh, no, we think she’s wrong on that, and here’s why” imposing?

      • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 6:17 AM #

        I’m not sure I agree, Bean… as I understood some of the original writings, like Locke’s (okay it’s been a long time), the idea was basically “People! People! You can think members of that religion over there are totally misguided and creepy, but stop trying to kill them!”

        I think it was much more a “live and let live”/”if you can’t abide it, at least ignore it” concept than a “respect that person” concept.

        I’m for “respect that person” myself, but sometimes “just look away and count to ten” is more realistic. Especially when there’s histories of feuding.

        Which there sort of are in a way, between certain types of radical feminist and BDSMers.

      • isme March 3, 2009 at 12:03 PM #

        No, that’s what tolerance is…when you find something to be unpleasant, but not unbearable.

        “I’m tolerant of people of different races” means I’m going to put up with their existence.

        It’s got nothing much to do with acceptance or understanding…saying you are tolerant of something means there is something wrong with it, but you are going to let it slide.

        It’s awful that we speak of being “tolerant” of others as such a great thing, rather than understanding or accepting them.

        • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 3:14 AM #

          “It’s awful that we speak of being “tolerant” of others as such a great thing, rather than understanding or accepting them.”

          It is, isn’t it? I mean, if only we hadn’t been so darned critical of those poor maligned Nazis. They were just doing what they believed was right and just and who were were to say it was wrong? We should have been more understanding, invited them to tea or something. Why, oh why, did we have to persecute those we disagreed with? What a tragedy that we can’t just live and let live.

          • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 12:18 AM #

            Aaaand there’s the Nazi reference. Godwin strikes again, clearly.

            I’m not sure it’s worth saying, but I’ll try anyway – One can be accepting and understanding while still identifying that there is evil in the world. Further, one can certainly accept and understand people in the world without accepting Nazis. “All” and “Nothing” are not the only two tolerable options here!

          • isme March 5, 2009 at 11:28 AM #

            Oh, look, you know your history enough to realise that Nazis were Bad People.

            Now, if you concentrate really hard, you might even be able to use that piece of information in some way, such as in an argument where it’s relevant.

            Don’t be discouraged, you’ll get there one day.

  21. J.Goff March 3, 2009 at 3:02 AM #

    I would be right there on the front lines defending the rights of any BDSM practitioner who faces legal discrimination because of her/his sexual proclivities.

    Why do I feel not the least bit comforted, as per your previous screed? Some of us are not so stupid as you believe. Should my bosses find out I like being choked at times during sex, I find your assertions to help me out when I get fired truly insipid. Will you truly do so? I think not.

    Tolerance means choosing to not actively discriminate against a group regardless of how much you dislike their beliefs, etc. That does not. Mean. You must. ACCEPT. Someone else’s beliefs, etc.

    Also: Understanding tolerance FAIL! Given how little you and Nine Deuce understand BDSM, I wouldn’t act like what you do, namely actively post about how obviously stupid BDSM people are and how many blue pills we obviously down on a daily basis, is, in any way tolerant. One might say that, in this vain, Town Hall is tolerant of liberals, feminism, and LGBT people.

    • Nanella March 3, 2009 at 3:40 AM #

      “Why do I feel not the least bit comforted, as per your previous screed? Some of us are not so stupid as you believe.”

      Whoa, I never intimated that anyone was suffering deficiency in the IQ department. One of the most intelligent people I know (and greatly admire) is a fundamentalist Christian. Creativity and intelligence are intextricably linked. The more creativity you possess, the more plausible your rationalizations can get, so it’s actually *easier* for a very intelligent person to believe in illogical concepts. Intelligence can be a tremendous obstacle to reason.

      “Should my bosses find out I like being choked at times during sex, I find your assertions to help me out when I get fired truly insipid. Will you truly do so? I think not.”

      Really? Why do you find it so hard to believe that a biased person can also be empathetic, that they can believe in concepts like personal freedom and justice? Why the mutual exclusivity? To me, this is reductionist black-and-white thinking.

      Have you never heard the motto, “Hate the idea, not the people”? (I’m sure I’ve mangled that badly, but you get the gist.)

      “One might say that, in this vain, Town Hall is tolerant of liberals, feminism, and LGBT people.”

      Prejudiced against, certainly, but intolerance is believing liberals/feminists/gays/lesbians don’t deserve to enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as the majority. Or, e.g., it’s verbally harrassing someone who doesn’t share your beliefs — and expressing one’s opinions on their blog (or in the accompanying comment thread) is not even close to seeking out the company of those you disagree with, armed with pointy sticks. Feminism is an ideology inherently oppossed to practices like BDSM, so posting to a feminist blog (especially a radical fem blog) while representing the pro-BDSM POV is kind of like slicing up your arms and legs and jumping into a shark tank, then getting all offended when the sharks attack.

      • J.Goff March 3, 2009 at 4:29 AM #

        Have you never heard the motto, “Hate the idea, not the people”? (I’m sure I’ve mangled that badly, but you get the gist.)

        Oh yeah. “Hate the sin, not the sinner”. Many “Christians” are geniuses in this vein. You do a terrible job removing yourself from Christian fundamentalism.

        • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 2:47 AM #

          Nope, sorry. I am not going to help alleviate your guilt for adopting a lifestyle that ritually replicates physically/verbally abusive behavior by rubber-stamping said lifestyle. I know this ploy all too well because it is the *exact* same ploy beaten to death by zealots of every flavor. “If I can convince you that my beliefs are A-OK, it will make me feel a little less idiotic/masochistic/gullible/abusive/effed-up/etc.” Hey, you’ll even resort to verbal bullying in an attempt to “convert” the “non-believers”.

          92 has a right to her own mind, she has a right to take issue with any lifestyle that rubs her the wrong way, but you all had to come here and attack her for expressing her opinion, which ostensibly shows exactly what you think of people who don’t believe in the same things you do. Which is more oppressive, expressing an opinion using your own personal platform (there’s the whole pesky “freedom of speech” thing coming into play), or invading someone’s personal space to tell them that they don’t have the right to criticize your lifestyle, hell, they don’t even have the right to find fault with what you do BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE. I guess dominating/controlling people, bossing them around and forcing them to submit to your whims, gets to be a habit after a while.

          • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 4:41 AM #

            If ND is right to try to convince us that we’re wrong, why can’t we try to convince her that she’s wrong?

            • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 5:14 AM #

              This is HER blog, this is HER little home on the internet. You came HERE, to HER blog, to tell her how wrong she is for thinking the things she does. She expounded (with verbal grace and aplomb) on her rationale for finding BDSM distasteful, which is her wont (there’s that crazy “freedom of speech” thing again). She did not print up pamphlets on the evils of BDSM and distribute them on a street corner.

              Did she post to a BDSM forum attempting to “convert” you to her way of thinking? No. What I see is a smart and outspoken woman expressing her opinion in her own personal space and getting ganged up on by a group of people who find that opinion intolerable.

              • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 5:37 PM #

                If she wanted an ideological echo chamber, she should have made the posts only available to her friends that she knew were radical feminists. If anyone can type in the URL and view the information, you’ll excuse me for doubting that it’s ND’s “personal space.” If I posted my real name on my blog and got pissy because some people who I didn’t want to know that I was kinky found out that I was kinky, I would be a moron. Barring password protected areas, nothing on the internet is “personal space.”

                I am deeply sorry that you hold so little respect for the principle of honest discourse and “sunlight is the best disinfectant” that you think that radical feminist views should be immune from critical examination from their opponents. Freedom of speech has never meant that you may express your own views without being challenged; it has in fact been the opposite.

                (Plus, while I like the principle, it’s not exactly relevant here, is it? It’s not like ND is bound by the US constitution. She’s perfectly free to moderate all of our comments away and keep her echo chamber, and the fact that she hasn’t indicates to me that she places considerably more value on open and honest discourse than you do.)

                • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 6:10 PM #

                  “If she wanted an ideological echo chamber, she should have made the posts only available to her friends that she knew were radical feminists. If anyone can type in the URL and view the information, you’ll excuse me for doubting that it’s ND’s “personal space.””

                  Thank you. “My blog is my personal space” is bullshit.

                  If you really see your blog as your back patio, guess what you do? You make your posts “friends only”/”password locked”/whatever your blog software does to restrict access.

          • Laurelin March 8, 2009 at 10:10 PM #

            Nanella, you rock.
            Just had to say it.

      • Nik March 3, 2009 at 6:42 AM #

        “Feminism is an ideology inherently oppossed to practices like BDSM”

        Of course…because feminism doesn’t have anything to do with promoting equality, choice, and freedom.

        “so posting to a feminist blog (especially a radical fem blog) while representing the pro-BDSM POV is kind of like slicing up your arms and legs and jumping into a shark tank, then getting all offended when the sharks attack.”

        It bothers some of us when we get slandered. I, and I assume others, didn’t come here looking to post about BDSM. We were drawn in, and NineDeuce posted about BDSM is an extremely unflattering way. I don’t feel the need to back down from a fight, but its not as if we all came here just to stir up trouble.

        • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 5:52 PM #

          “I, and I assume others, didn’t come here looking to post about BDSM. We were drawn in, and NineDeuce posted about BDSM is an extremely unflattering way.”

          Yeah. I came over originally because people at SM-F told me ND had posted and asked me to defend us. So I did.

          I too will admit to getting drawn in, but this idea that we just go around looking to find fights is really bizarre and a little creepy.

          People post things we find inappropriate and we respond. I found “kill yourself” to be so, given that I almost *did* when I was younger, and I’m not the only one I know who’s felt that way, so I said so.

      • J.Goff March 3, 2009 at 11:34 AM #

        Feminism is an ideology inherently oppossed to practices like BDSM

        Honestly, I don’t understand this one bit, as I considered myself a feminist long before I realized that I liked being a sexual submissive, and I never saw any inherent flaws in my being such as per my own philosophy that women are human beings, should be given the same rights as all human beings, and should not be treated as anything less than complete human beings.

        • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 3:02 AM #

          The role of submissive = women as second class citizens. BDSM kind of makes a mockery of the whole feminist movement while glofifying the dom/sub paradigm that is the very foundation of patriarchy. If you remove the dom/sub paradigm from patriachy, it ceases to exist. This is why feminists are so vociferiously opposed to one group of people keeping another group down, whether it’s for real or play-acting — it is still reinforcing the idea that a culturally destructive framework is “normal” and desirable. Until we rip these harmful ideas/attitudes out of society by the root, they will continue to plague us all. Playing at being an oppressor (dom), or an oppressed person (sub), is not helping matters, it’s hindering progress and contributing to the backlash *against* the feminist movement.

      • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:24 PM #

        “Feminism is an ideology inherently oppossed to practices like BDSM, so posting to a feminist blog (especially a radical fem blog) while representing the pro-BDSM POV is kind of like slicing up your arms and legs and jumping into a shark tank, then getting all offended when the sharks attack.”

        So we’ve already had “It’s a choice, not an identity” and now we’ve got “She was asking for it.”

        Let’s see how many other disgusting ideas we can borrow from the oppressor, shall we? Awesome.

        • Nanella March 4, 2009 at 2:53 AM #

          I’m sorry, Trinity, but I find your responses to my comments 100% inflammatory in content with nothing of intellectual value to respond to, and so I am ignoring them.

          I thought the kind thing was to inform you as to why I was overlooking your responses.

          • Bean March 5, 2009 at 1:29 AM #

            B.S.

            If you truly thought she wasn’t worth your time, you wouldn’t have posted this, either.

            This is passive-aggressive nonsense, designed to give you the triumph of a “free win,” by annoying Trinity without engaging her.

            • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 1:37 AM #

              Bean, really, Trinity does post some inflammatory shit that she knows is melodramatic.

              • Bean March 5, 2009 at 5:08 AM #

                Whether or not that’s true changes nothing about my previous comment. Insincere “kindness” coupled with, “but you’re not providing arguments worthy of my time,” is just a [coded female] move for hierarchical dominance in the discussion.

                Unlike silence, it’s not disengaging at all.

                • Trinity March 5, 2009 at 5:13 PM #

                  “Insincere “kindness” coupled with, “but you’re not providing arguments worthy of my time,” is just a [coded female] move for hierarchical dominance in the discussion.”

                  Precisely.

            • Trinity March 5, 2009 at 3:47 AM #

              Bean,

              Eh, I really don’t care much. I mean, the comment I was responding to *really does* strike me as “she was asking for it” repurposed.

              I mean, “slicing up your arms and legs and jumping into a shark tank?” It’s ridiculous — presenting an alternative viewpoint for those on the fence to think about isn’t telling predators to come get ya… and “telling predators to come get ya” is exactly what rapists say women do

              Which basically means the comment *only warrants* a snarky response, IMO. If Nanella wants to storm off instead of take responsibility, that doesn’t reflect on *me*.

  22. crowdedsky March 3, 2009 at 3:31 AM #

    Nine Deuce,

    These posts of yours regarding porn, BDSM, etc. are the most important things happening on the internet to me. They help to address my own questions I’m dealing with in my life. And you manage to put coherent words to my vague issues in a very validating and clarifying way. Though I do feel that often the comments overly digress from your actual point. I am certain that the world is a big enough place that there are plenty of people who manage to practice things like BDSM in a transcendent loving context which can subvert the patriarchy, and I have been interested to read all the comments. I do not have any problem with individuals expressing their sexuality however they consensually choose to. But I would love to someday, somewhere see a critical discussion of a general cultural trend take place in the feminist world without people having to take offense in such a personal way. Like maybe we can look at the forest without having to protect our own little tree.

    My general observations, A) male supremacy is the status quo in the mainstream world and is often sexually fetishized as such, B) according to the writings of BDSM practitioners, there tends to generally be a greater number of male dominants than female in that world, and often the traditionally seen attributes of females are fetishized as belonging to the submissive partner (though yes, I can understand that the reversal of F/m happens too and can be subversive, and also that sometimes it is not about gender, and also there exist many LGBT combinations that don’t fit into my assumption here) and C) in the wide spectrum of sexual experience there is not any clear line that divides the “vanilla” world from the BDSM (there exist shades of grey).

    In the view from my personal tree I actually think that the greatest problem with male supremacy occurs in the shades of grey and in the mainstream world. It sounds like many of the BDSMers are being conscious of what they are doing. But I have issues still. I look at my own desires, and the truth is that what makes me aroused is not the same as what makes me happy. Being submissive is physically attractive to me, but I know it is not what I want in my life. Not because I feel guilty or ashamed, I have concluded that that would be a total waste of time, but I want sexual fulfillment and also personal fulfillment and for me, submission only fills one of those needs and blocks the fulfillment of the other. I know I am not alone among submissive women who feel this way.

    One of the things that you, Nine Deuce, have helped to clarify for me is the phenomenon in which women experience sex in the third person. You are truly a sex “object” as you see yourself in an indirect way, only through the eyes of your partner, being turned on by knowing that he is turned on by you and what you are doing, or by knowing how much he wants to do the things he is doing to you, but somehow never getting to the place of “I want this, I like this”. Yes, yes, yes I have done variations of this my whole life, but I couldn’t put words to it, and didn’t know that other women do this too. In the beginning I was naturally more assertive, but came to experience that as not being what was usually desired by men (in spite of what they may say). So of course for the best third person sex I became the woman my partner wanted me to be, and in the way of good third person sex was rewarded with orgasm for being what my partner wanted, the orgasm reinforcing the behavior pattern. So, in a world where even mainstream sexual norms assume that male dominance is sexy, and where women are accepting and even welcoming sex on male terms, isn’t it possible that some women become “trained” by their own orgasms to believe that they are sexual submissives? This is what I am wondering now.

    As for my partner, he is not into BDSM, but has a dominant streak a mile wide. He does not identify as a dominant, just as a guy. He also feels that he would be happier practicing a more egalitarian form of sex, but when put in the position of not controlling all the goings on, he has a very hard time letting go and letting it happen. So we are exploring some changes to our sex life together, but it hasn’t been easy.

    I know this is long, but I have been reading and reading and never posting here. Whether BDSM is an OK thing or not, what does it mean in the heterosexual BDSM world that there are more men who are dominant and more women who are submissive? Either that women are intrinsically more submissive than men? Or that overarching male dominance is a part of that world as it is in the rest of the world? If it is the latter then wouldn’t that mean that somewhere some submissive women were consciously agreeing to be dominated humiliated and/or hurt for more complicated reasons than simply being into it? If BDSM is an orientation rather than a choice, would that mean that women tend to intrinsically be more submissive as people? I hope not. Why is there a well known term to identify a dominant female, Dominatrix, but no equivalent word for men? (Dominant men are just regular men?) Why do I come across the many blogs of women carefully justifying their submissive tendencies, making sure for themselves that it is OK, but don’t find male submissives, or dominants, male or female, who worry too much about it?

    So thanks Nine Deuce. And the rest of you, I hope, realize that I am not judging you or trying to control how you live your lives. I’m questioning for my own reasons.

    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 4:01 AM #

      Crowdedsky:

      “Why is there a well known term to identify a dominant female, Dominatrix, but no equivalent word for men? (Dominant men are just regular men?)”

      Actually, among most people I know, “dominatrix” refers to a woman who dominates people for pay. A dominatrix is a sex worker.

      Though there is the public perception that those two are the same, yes.

      And what you’re saying is true: there do seem to tend to be more male dominants than female. I’d argue that this doesn’t indicate that BDSM is sexist though, only that the world is, and that the world influences how everyone acts and has sex. I’m not sure why BDSM has to be special and somehow inherently structured by patriarchy, when vanilla sex is just affected by it.

      That’s what I just don’t agree with in posts like this… this “you’re not just *affected* by the patriarchy, you *are* it” assertion.

      I’m not saying you have to agree with me. Just that, well, that’s where I get confused (and angry and annoyed, I admit it) about all this.

    • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 3:04 AM #

      Thanks for that comment!

  23. J.Goff March 3, 2009 at 4:31 AM #

    Prejudiced against, certainly, but intolerance is believing liberals/feminists/gays/lesbians don’t deserve to enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as the majority.

    These are not mutually exclusive.

  24. B March 3, 2009 at 5:23 AM #

    I think it’s interesting that the original defense of BDSM (which so strongly emphasized CONSENT and CHOICE as being reasons why it should be an okay practice) has morphed into (some people) arguing that it is an unchosen orientation.

    The “orientation” theory seems pretty dangerous to me, because it seems to make domination intrinsic to (at least some) relationships. It implies that some people are just dominant by nature, some people are just submissive by nature, and that the roles people fill on the dominant/submissive scale are determined by who they intrinsically are.

    There are a couple of problems with that, and one of them is that it completely ignores the cultural and experiential reasons why people identify with labels like “dominant” and “submissive.” It means all the previous productive discussion we had about how patriarchy distorts sexuality is definitionally excluded, and it means it’s really actually natural and unchangeable for women to make up the majority of submissives.

    It also precludes ever reaching a point where our relationships are equitable. Even if comments on previous pages were correct that the focus on consent makes BDSM preferable to traditional patriarchal relationships, this new idea that it’s intrinsic to people’s identities explicitly forecloses a world where we don’t fetishize power and relate to each other as truly equal human beings.

    Maybe that’s okay to some of you, because you think fetishizing power is okay, or because you think domination doesn’t have to involve inequity. I’m not so convinced.

    • Tess March 3, 2009 at 2:56 PM #

      The orientation is not chosen. Choice and consent factor into the actions.

      I didn’t choose to be submissive or a masochist any more than my daughter chose to be a lesbian. But I choose and consent to the relationship I have, just as she will choose her own relationship’s dynamic and activities.

      You didn’t choose to be straight (if you are, I don’ t know what your orientation is) but you will choose and consent to your relationship.

      “The “orientation” theory seems pretty dangerous to me, because it seems to make domination intrinsic to (at least some) relationships.”

      Yes.

      “It implies that some people are just dominant by nature, some people are just submissive by nature, and that the roles people fill on the dominant/submissive scale are determined by who they intrinsically are.”

      Yep.

      “It means all the previous productive discussion we had about how patriarchy distorts sexuality is definitionally excluded”

      It should be, yes.

      “this new idea that it’s intrinsic to people’s identities explicitly forecloses a world where we don’t fetishize power and relate to each other as truly equal human beings.”

      Why? It’s not like we’re contagious. We’re not going to corrupt and infect the rest of the population.

      This is why these conversations keep going back to comparing homosexuality with bdsm. These are the exact same “fears” that people had about homosexuality.

      • B March 3, 2009 at 11:39 PM #

        “The orientation is not chosen. Choice and consent factor into the actions.”

        This is a fair distinction and it’s the one I expected to hear. However, I think there’s still a lot of tension between the idea of BDSM being an orientation and it being an equitable relationship between two consenting adults. If a woman is naturally wired to get off on subordination to men, that means it’s natural for her to submit to a relationship where she gets dominated. Patriarchy becomes (again) the natural expression of women’s natural place as being lower than men.

        If you’re contending that some women are literally built to submit, how much choice do they truly have about anything that happens in their relationship? Submission often means obedience, and I can’t see how a woman being biologically structured to obey could possibly be anything but another justification for patriarchy, another way to justify the way patriarchy co-opts our decisionmaking, another way equality is undermined.

        The fact that you say “yes” to pretty much everything I already said kinda proves my point.

        ““It means all the previous productive discussion we had about how patriarchy distorts sexuality is definitionally excluded”
        It should be, yes.”

        Oh, come on. Are you saying that the patriarchal culture we live in NEVER warps our sexuality? That it is NEVER productive to analyze the way our sexual relationships might be influenced by the cultural beliefs about men and women that we grow up with?

        That’s ridiculous. Every relationship has to deal with, in some way, the influence of patriarchy. That doesn’t mean all relationships are bad, it’s just sort of characteristic of living in a hierarchical society, but if your defense of BDSM literally does not allow us space to question, it means we leave every default we’re taught in place.

        ““this new idea that it’s intrinsic to people’s identities explicitly forecloses a world where we don’t fetishize power and relate to each other as truly equal human beings.”
        Why? It’s not like we’re contagious. We’re not going to corrupt and infect the rest of the population.”

        You are so quick to compare everything to reactionary discourse you fail to see my point.

        I made a series of arguments about why your conception of sexuality excludes the ability to analyze patriarchy, not just an assertion that you’re dangerous and gross.

        If the fetishization of power is inbred, there will never be a society where we don’t relate sexually in terms of power. I think that’s bad because I think equitable relationships are good because I think you can’t relate authentically to someone you consider your inferior or your superior, and if all relationships are based on power and that’s all biologically determined, we’re stuck with patriarchy forever.

        “This is why these conversations keep going back to comparing homosexuality with bdsm. These are the exact same “fears” that people had about homosexuality.”

        Um, no. I’m pretty sure the Religious Right doesn’t argue against homosexuality on the grounds that it reinforces patriarchal domination of men over women, or that it precludes structural analysis of how oppression affects our interpersonal relationships.

        • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 1:16 AM #

          “I think that’s bad because I think equitable relationships are good because I think you can’t relate authentically to someone you consider your inferior or your superior”

          In the sense that a submissive partner is “inferior” to the dominant partner in a BDSM relationship, you’re wrong. Most likely because the way I’ve always seen these relationships progress is similar to the mutually complementary roles paradigm than anything else. At the very least all of the relationships I’ve been a part of or witnessed in the BDSM community ave operated at the very least on an assumption of equal worth for each person in the relationship, which is I think what really impedes relating authentically to another person.

          I know we bring this up a lot, and I’ll admit it’s not always relevant, but in this case I do think it’s important: you’re discounting submissive males, dominant females, and queers. If we’re saying anything, it has nothing to do with gender essentialist bullshit. If we’re making any claims about nature (again, I don’t think the orientational model necessitates belief in something inborn, just something either impossible or very difficult to change that manifests early in life), we’re not saying women are by nature submissive, we’re saying that some women are by nature submissive, some women are by nature dominant, some men are by nature submissive, some men are by nature dominant.

          “Oh, come on. Are you saying that the patriarchal culture we live in NEVER warps our sexuality? That it is NEVER productive to analyze the way our sexual relationships might be influenced by the cultural beliefs about men and women that we grow up with?”

          I’m not saying that patriarchy never has effected sexuality, or that it never has for the worse, but I think analyzing it specifically as patriarchy has influenced our actions can lead us down a counterproductive path. Our goal becomes divorced from the aim of making our relationships more healthy and happier for everyone involved, and instead becomes about a purification and getting away from patriarchal effects that may be neutral to an individual’s happiness.

          • B March 4, 2009 at 2:35 AM #

            “In the sense that a submissive partner is “inferior” to the dominant partner in a BDSM relationship, you’re wrong. Most likely because the way I’ve always seen these relationships progress is similar to the mutually complementary roles paradigm than anything else. At the very least all of the relationships I’ve been a part of or witnessed in the BDSM community ave operated at the very least on an assumption of equal worth for each person in the relationship, which is I think what really impedes relating authentically to another person.”

            “Equal worth” doesn’t mean a whole lot when one person is calling all the shots, because while the bottom may be considered a fully worthy human being, they don’t exercise their independent will, and thus are still subordinate to someone else. The entire point of one person being “dominant” is that they make the decisions. People argue that the sub is really in control because it’s all about them, but being the focus of the activities is different than being in charge. There wouldn’t be any meaning to D/s without a meaningful amount of power resting in the hands of the dom(me).

            Also, maybe it’s not your scope of experience, but Nine Deuce has also highlighted a number of counter-examples to the “nice” sort of BDSM you describe.

            “I know we bring this up a lot, and I’ll admit it’s not always relevant, but in this case I do think it’s important: you’re discounting submissive males, dominant females, and queers. If we’re saying anything, it has nothing to do with gender essentialist bullshit.”

            I’m not discounting them, I’m simply analyzing the majority. If the majority of BDSM’ers are M/f and being submissive/dominant is innate, then there’s something natural and innate about women’s submission. And that’s uh, probably kinda patriarchal…

            Also…you need to keep in mind that the comment you’re replying to was *not directed at you.* YOU may not be claiming essentialist bullshit, but TESS is (and so are others on this thread).

            “I’m not saying that patriarchy never has effected sexuality, or that it never has for the worse but I think analyzing it specifically as patriarchy has influenced our actions can lead us down a counterproductive path. Our goal becomes divorced from the aim of making our relationships more healthy and happier for everyone involved, and instead becomes about a purification and getting away from patriarchal effects that may be neutral to an individual’s happiness.”

            Two concerns.

            First, this approach guarantees the continuation of patriarchy. If we never analyze the patriarchal influences threaded throughout culture, they just stick around. You’re basically asking feminism to cease being feminism – you want us to just stop caring about patriarchy, even when it pervades and distorts our relationships.

            Second, it’s weird that you assume that patriarchal distortions of relationships can be good or neutral. Patriarchy is a hierarchical cultural structure that sets men over women and enforces traditional gender roles. How can you figure out what really makes you happy if you’re giving in to an oppressive structure that’s dictating your desires to you?

            • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 4:56 AM #

              ““Equal worth” doesn’t mean a whole lot when one person is calling all the shots, because while the bottom may be considered a fully worthy human being, they don’t exercise their independent will, and thus are still subordinate to someone else.”

              Well, firstly, I think it’s important to realize that not everyone who likes tying each other up and hitting each other with blunt objects also practices power exchange outside the bedroom.

              That said, D/s is certainly a part of BDSM and something that I would also like to defend. And frankly, you still have yet to convince me or offer any evidence that two people cannot “authentically relate” to each other if there is a power dynamic involved. I have both first hand and anecdotal evidence from others that suggests the opposite, to put it mildly.

              I mean, you’ve been very civil about it, for which I thank you, but you’re essentially saying that my relationship with my Master, Trin’s with her sub, or any other BDSM relationship is not authentically relating to each other. I think you’d need to know a helluva lot more about me, Trinity, and the rest of the BDSMers in this discussion to make such a sweeping statement.

              “If we never analyze the patriarchal influences threaded throughout culture, they just stick around.”

              My problem isn’t with getting rid of patriarchal things. We should all strive to make our relationships happier and healthier. Where there is a patriarchal thing that is also prejudicial to the happiness of those involved, expunge it. Since this applies to the vast majority of patriarchal things, you’ll do a good job of getting rid of most of it.

              “Second, it’s weird that you assume that patriarchal distortions of relationships can be good or neutral. Patriarchy is a hierarchical cultural structure that sets men over women and enforces traditional gender roles. How can you figure out what really makes you happy if you’re giving in to an oppressive structure that’s dictating your desires to you?”

              My contention is that patriarchy is bad because it hurts people. This should be obvious, but apparently it’s also something that needs to be stated.

              Patriarchy probably induces many women to like wearing high heels or make up or what have you over a lot of other clothing options. We shouldn’t excoriate women who like wearing such clothing because they’re upholding the patriarchy.

            • Tess March 4, 2009 at 1:46 PM #

              “we’re not saying women are by nature submissive, we’re saying that some women are by nature submissive, some women are by nature dominant, some men are by nature submissive, some men are by nature dominant.”

              This.

              What frustrates me so much about the belief that submissiveness must be a by-product of a patriarchal society is that it feels an awful lot like those people who tell lesbian women that the only reason they are lesbians is because they “haven’t been fucked good enough yet!”

              You *are* discounting my orientation by telling me that somehow, somewhere, I was not aware that I was being indoctrined into a lifestyle “choice”, and that if I would just involve myself in a relationship with a man on an equal partnership(or “be fucked right”), I could be “fixed”.

              “If the majority of BDSM’ers are M/f and being submissive/dominant is innate, then there’s something natural and innate about women’s submission.”

              Except that the majority of *women* are not submissive. Us BDSM’ers do *not*make up the majority of the population. Nor am I convinced that submissive women make up the majority of BDSM’ers. Are there studies? Statistics? Or is that an assumption? If so, based on what data?

              If this all goes back to societal conditioning, how do you explain why submissive women are a minority among women? How is it that that woman over there missed this conditioning and I didn’t? Am I ignorant? I know a few submissive women and I can promise you we are not stupid. We are not clueless. We’re educated, professional, *normal* women.

              “I’m not discounting them, I’m simply analyzing the majority”

              Except, you’re not. We aren’t the majority.

              “Are you saying that the patriarchal culture we live in NEVER warps our sexuality?”

              No. I’m not saying that at all. Lots of things affect our sexuality. I would imagine there probably are women who are submissive and/or masochist for the wrong, and very unhealthy, reasons. I’m a big supporter for encouraging personal examination to ensure, within oneself, that what is being done to you is NOT a perpetuation of past abuse or unhealthy influence.

              However. The conclusion that person comes to about it? Deserves to be respected, honored and taken at face value.

              Y’all don’t do that here. You don’t allow us that.

              If a woman “turns to” homosexuality because she was raped or abused and can no longer comfortably be sexual or close to a man, should she be seen as being damaged or flawed, not only by the homosexual community, but by society in general? Should we be trying to “fix” her? Should we assume that she’s simply not dealt well enough with that “conditioning” and therefore, cannot be healthy enough to make that choice?

              Is it even possible that, in spite of her reasons for choosing homosexuality, she is just as healthy and functional as you are? She would be, essentially, proving the theory that people choose to be homosexual, that it is not an orientation.

              Similarly, if a woman did choose to be submissive based on patriarchal conditioning (or for whatever reason that deviates from orientation), does that mean that we ALL chose it for that same reason?

              “How can you figure out what really makes you happy if you’re giving in to an oppressive structure that’s dictating your desires to you?”

              This makes an assumption that we’ve all moved from mommy and daddy’s house into these relationships, with nothing in between. *Most* of us, most everyone I know, spent years searching for what it was that makes us happy. We didn’t just drink the kool-aid without a struggle.

              There’s a reason why we have failed relationships under our belts. There’s a reason why we fell victim to depressions and anxieties and angst. It truly baffles me to be told that I’m just blindly following the societal norm when, for most of my life, my struggle was in accepting that try as I might, I did NOT fit in with society.

              And it’s painful, honestly painful, to have it be insinuated that my introspection and my conclusions about myself aren’t respected. That I’m still seen as damaged or ignorant, sick or twisted.

              • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 5:55 PM #

                “You *are* discounting my orientation by telling me that somehow, somewhere, I was not aware that I was being indoctrined into a lifestyle “choice”, and that if I would just involve myself in a relationship with a man on an equal partnership(or “be fucked right”), I could be “fixed”.”

                Yeah, this, exactly.

                And I think the thing a lot of people don’t realize is that there actually IS a lot of “fix yourself” out there.

                I’ve linked my own post from SM-F on models about ten times now, so I won’t do it again, but… very often it’s not just feminists who think this stuff is a result of trauma. Yeah, the actual diagnosis of mental illness in the DSM-IV is so restrictive that few people *do* get diagnosed with the illness “sadomasochism,” but there are plenty of professionals who think this is a bad thing and fudge it. They did with me.

                And everything I ever heard was this litany of: well, you must still not be OK with what the doctors did to you, when you HEAL FROM THE TRAUMA your fantasies will change, etc. As I mentioned in the post, it became a signpost by which I measured my growth as a survivor:

                Oh, well, I’m not suicidal any more, I don’t self-harm, but… damn, still a sadomasochist. What’s wrong with me?

                Many anti-SM feminists like to say “well, I’m not the one with the power,” but … the ones with the power say the same stuff. The ones with the power say survivors are eternally sexually damaged, TOO…

                …and don’t listen if you’ve thought for years and decided “Hey, this actually isn’t the result of what happened to me. I was thinking about it before then” EITHER.

                “This makes an assumption that we’ve all moved from mommy and daddy’s house into these relationships, with nothing in between. *Most* of us, most everyone I know, spent years searching for what it was that makes us happy. We didn’t just drink the kool-aid without a struggle.

                There’s a reason why we have failed relationships under our belts. There’s a reason why we fell victim to depressions and anxieties and angst. It truly baffles me to be told that I’m just blindly following the societal norm when, for most of my life, my struggle was in accepting that try as I might, I did NOT fit in with society. ”

                Yeah, this. That’s the really painful thing about these discussions for me too. Anti-SM feminists often talk as if we fit the norm and never find ourselves ostracized or castigated. We Are The Norm.

                When that wasn’t my experience (mine was, “No, honey, the men rule the world and don’t LIKE IT when you want power”) and it sounds like it wasn’t yours either.

                “And it’s painful, honestly painful, to have it be insinuated that my introspection and my conclusions about myself aren’t respected. That I’m still seen as damaged or ignorant, sick or twisted.”

                Yeah, this. And it’s an odd kind of “you’re deformed precisely because you’re too normal,” too.

            • Bean March 5, 2009 at 3:51 AM #

              I realise the anti-BDSM side here is really sick of hearing about choice and consent, but I think you’re genuinely (though not intentionally) disregarding it in this thread.

              “Submission is a gift,” is considered a cliche phrase, but I can’t imagine a healthy D/s relationship where this wasn’t considered to be true. (An unhealthy relationship would be a different story; but obviously, I’m not trying to defend unhealthy relationships.)

              I don’t want to speak for anyone submissive, but I’ve generally understood submission to be about giving up control/power to someone you consider worthy OF giving that power to. There is negotiation and compromise in a D/s relationship as there is in any relationship. Consent and submission can be withdrawn by the sub at any time.

              The way you’ve described subs in this thread makes submissives sound as though they’re mindless rag dolls with no wills of their own. That’s totally untrue. Every submissive has ideas of their own about how they would like to submit, and to who; and if someone is in a D/s relationship which is not personally fulfilling to them, they can renegotiate or end the relationship.

              I can draw a parallel with sexual attraction, actually: dominants do not want to dominate every person they see. Likewise, submissives do not want to submit to every person they see. (Or even any dominant.)

              Suggesting that a sub is incapable of doing anything but submitting to a dom is similar to saying people are incapable of relating to each other in non-sexual ways, or incapable of not acting on sexual attraction.

              “Equal worth” doesn’t mean a whole lot when one person is calling all the shots, because while the bottom may be considered a fully worthy human being, they don’t exercise their independent will, and thus are still subordinate to someone else.

              Except that a submissive IS exercising their independent will each and every time they choose to submit. Choosing to follow the will of someone else IS an expression of your own will. (“You guys pick the movie; I’ll watch what you want to watch,” is still an expression of your own will.)

              If that choice was not possible, then it would make sense to say that submissives are not exercising their will. But they are – actively and consciously – in every scene.

              I also want to add here that personally, I could never consider my partner to be my inferior. I want a submissive partner to have something meaningful to submit to me.

              If I genuinely consider my partner to be my inferior, then what does that say about me? I believe myself to be worthy enough to deserve an equal partner. A partner who does not consider themselves to be diminished by their own submission. If they do consider themselves diminished by their own submission, does it not diminish me to dominate someone so unworthy? Why would I want that?

              I don’t.

              In fact, I hurt for submissives to see them referred to as “inferior,” even by someone criticizing the idea that they are.

              There are a great many people in our society who choose to be, in some [non-sexual] sense, submissive to the needs and wills of other people. Doctors. Emergency personnel. Priests. Etc.

              And by and large, these people are our heros.

              But not when that giving of yourself is sexual. Then it’s wrong!

              No, I don’t believe that.

              I’m not discounting them, I’m simply analyzing the majority. If the majority of BDSM’ers are M/f and being submissive/dominant is innate, then there’s something natural and innate about women’s submission. And that’s uh, probably kinda patriarchal…

              If it’s true that the majority of BDSM is M/f, then I would have to agree with you. But I’m not sure we can say that.

              I wish we had studies of the numbers or something. Someone earlier mentioned a study earlier that found the numbers of submissives of each gender to be roughly split in half, but I’m not sure what thread that was on. Also, I don’t think they linked to the research, so I don’t know how helpful that would be.

              My personal (and rather casual) observations are that there are:

              -plenty of male dominants
              -plenty of male submissives
              -plenty of female submissives
              -…a distinct lack of female dominants

              Now, yes, female doms exist. But the numbers are seriously skewed. Or seem to be.

              Why would that one group be missing numbers? This is, yes, where I see the influence of the patriarchy. Not so much that the patriarchy creates interest in BDSM – au contraire, I believe it dissuades people from engaging in it – especially dominant women, who suffer the double whammy of being told that a) they shouldn’t be sexual (as all women are told), and that b) the way in which they want to be sexual is particularly wrong.

              Also, the fact that the porn industry is male-dominated, and that male-authored fantasy of BDSM rules all media representations of it, and you have a situation in which women who are sexually dominant are not going to see representations of their sexuality that they can relate to or recognise.

              M/f relationships may very well be the rule; but I’m not sure that means that BDSM would vanish in a less patriarchical world. Potentially, we would just see other dynamics flourish.

              • Trinity March 5, 2009 at 5:24 PM #

                “Why would that one group be missing numbers? This is, yes, where I see the influence of the patriarchy. Not so much that the patriarchy creates interest in BDSM – au contraire, I believe it dissuades people from engaging in it – especially dominant women, who suffer the double whammy of being told that a) they shouldn’t be sexual (as all women are told), and that b) the way in which they want to be sexual is particularly wrong.”

                This.

                I remember a party where everyone was doing things to this sub guy for his birthday (with his enthusiastic consent), and we were egging the female submissives on to take their turn, and they were very “oh, oh I COULDN’T!”

                After a while of silly playful fun, most of them decided to take turns. I remember them discovering to their great surprise that it was fun, really enjoying themselves, etc.

                Of course I don’t know for sure, but I really think a lot of that wasn’t just chosen role, but having grown up to believe that women should not dominate.

                For me personally, I felt for a long time in my youth that I was “broken” as a woman, because everything I saw around me said women found the highest fulfillment from submission to men. If my life had been a little different, I might well have repressed my feelings because they’re encoded, culturally, as Bad Woman.

            • firefey March 6, 2009 at 6:15 PM #

              “If the majority of BDSM’ers are M/f and being submissive/dominant is innate, then there’s something natural and innate about women’s submission”

              although there do seem to be a larger number of dominant males visable/active in local communitites, and the image of a dominant female as a pro domme tends to be the norm from the outside, the numbers are fairly evenly split between male and female submissives. given these numbers it is increasingly difficult to have a conversation about power exchange relationships, S/M and other pracitices that only ever talk about one form. as if it were the end all be all of the BDSM spectrum. it skews the view of what it is that we do, and makes it impossible to find any kind of common ground on which to discuss because it totally focuses on one kind of relationship. one that is not over 50% of the BDSM population and therefore cannot be stated to be most. full stop.

              as for the idea of nature v nurture… this is something many people do discuss within BDSM communities. yes, there is a general feeling that this is an intrinsic part of a person’s make-up. many people, of all orientations and sides of D/s, talk about having these kinds of emotional attachments to aspects of BDSM from very young ages. independant of emotional or physical trauma. some people just really wanted to be the princ/ess trapped in the tower and beset by the evil queen/sorceror/whatever. just like some people talk about always having same sex fantasies, or always knowing they were wrongly sexed. some people didn’t have this experience.

              does this mean for some it’s nature and some it’s nurture? maybe. but i’m more inclined to believe in those philosophies of human sexuality that name it as a complex beast that is various parts nature and nurture and that we should explore those parts should we be so inclined. that it is well and good to do so, but that there will be no one universal mixture and not everyone will be able to point at an event or person and say “this is why i am as i am.”

              and in those discussions of nature v nurture, i do think it’s well and truly good to disect what part the partiarchy has to play in the formation of our desires. and yes, i think for some people these desires can be harmful and unfulfilling. but i know too many people who, when they finally come to a point where they can embrace their desires, function 100% better within their relationships. and this is regardless of sex, gender, or sex/gender prefference.

          • B March 4, 2009 at 5:54 AM #

            Also, with regards to the whole “ignoring non-M/f relationships”:

            I don’t think non-M/f BDSM relationships are really any more liberatory. Take F/m as an example. That’s not breaking down gender roles, it’s just switching them. The roles are the same, it’s just that the woman is taking on the traditionally “masculine” role. Same with M/m and F/f. One partner is taking on the masculine role while the other takes on the feminine role.

            It just doesn’t seem all that revolutionary to keep all the old staid patriarchal identities around, even if you trade which ones you get to be. Why can’t we forge NEW identities, that don’t rely on the same old power dynamics in drag?

            It reminds me a lot of French feminist Luce Irigaray (who I have some problems with but who I find sometimes enlightening) says. She says that women are always seen as the opposite, complement, or same as men, and that the division into those three roles prevents us from seeking a new feminine identity which is independent from masculinity. Comparing femininity as relating to masculinity in one of those three ways necessarily means using the male role as a reference point for a female role.

            It seems like “unconventional” BDSM identities like F/m fall into the same trap. F/m is not some new relationship to gender roles; it’s just the opposite. And to be the opposite of something is to be a copy of it, albeit a flip-flopped one.

            • firefey March 6, 2009 at 6:59 PM #

              while i don’t agree with you whole heartedly, this is the best reasoning i’ve seen for discounting all forms of D/s in this thread. not sure how not to make that sound backhanded…. but there it is. i’ll get back to you in the ideas.

        • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 4:12 PM #

          “This is a fair distinction and it’s the one I expected to hear. However, I think there’s still a lot of tension between the idea of BDSM being an orientation and it being an equitable relationship between two consenting adults. If a woman is naturally wired to get off on subordination to men, that means it’s natural for her to submit to a relationship where she gets dominated. Patriarchy becomes (again) the natural expression of women’s natural place as being lower than men.

          If you’re contending that some women are literally built to submit, how much choice do they truly have about anything that happens in their relationship? Submission often means obedience, and I can’t see how a woman being biologically structured to obey could possibly be anything but another justification for patriarchy, another way to justify the way patriarchy co-opts our decisionmaking, another way equality is undermined.”

          This is odd to me, B — we’re saying that people are wired to be attracted to a role in a relationship, and you seem to be taking that to mean that we’re arguing that some people are only happy if they’re rigidly controlled all the time.

          In my experience, it’s not like that. Take my partner, for example. It’s not that he can’t or doesn’t want to make decisions, it’s that he finds doing things for me very fulfilling. It’s about service, not obedience. He’s happy when I give him small things to do that he knows will make me feel good, because that’s the kind of person he is.

          He also, and I think these things are related, really likes to be sexually controlled. I don’t know exactly why this is — I’m a lot more interested in being his partner than psychoanalyzing his mind — but I suspect from watching how he reacts that part of it is that if he’s not worried about controlling the encounter, he can relax and experience the pleasure of it, whether that’s knowing he’s doing things to me that bring me pleasure and enjoying that, or allowing himself to fully immerse himself in the experience of me doing things to him.

          None of that is about him not making decisions, and honestly I don’t see how it teaches him something bad about relating to people either.

          I do think it is possible for M/f BDSM to reify patriarchy, as there are enclaves where it’s upheld and discussed as particularly “natural.” But I don’t see why the fact that patriarchy exists makes it somehow illegitimate for people who do enjoy service to others to do so.

    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:29 PM #

      I don’t think domination does have to involve inequity. I think there’s a very screwy thing in a lot of feminist theory on power, and that is that I find dynamics of power-over analyzed in the same way all the time. They’re always oppressive or at least limiting, they’re never chosen, etc.

      Which is really bizarre. When I sign up for a class — hell, even a women’s studies class! — I’m making myself a subordinate for a purpose.

      When someone becomes a parent, she can work very hard to minimize the hierarchical elements of her relationship with her child, but eliminating them would be a disaster. The child does not and should not, for example, get to decide whether it plays with the hairdryer in the bath.

      Power dynamics like these will be a part of our lives even in Utopia. They’ll be something we remember and think about, and anything in our lives can fuel sexual fantasy.

      So where’s the problem?

      • B March 3, 2009 at 11:57 PM #

        “I don’t think domination does have to involve inequity. I think there’s a very screwy thing in a lot of feminist theory on power, and that is that I find dynamics of power-over analyzed in the same way all the time. They’re always oppressive or at least limiting, they’re never chosen, etc.”

        I probably won’t go so far as to say all power relations are bad or even that we can avoid them. But I think basing personal relationships on power is probably bad, because having a genuine personal relationship requires that you have respect for the other person involved. I think it’s really hard to have respect for someone when you’re making their decisions for them, because they’re not asserting their right to be a free and independent human being.

        For me, your parenting analogy is really good on this point. You’re right, when you’re a parent, you love your kids and want to look out for them, so you make rules and make them obey you. That’s justified because little kids can’t look out for themselves. However, you don’t keep that tight rein on your kids forever. You eventually have to loosen the reins, because they grow up and become independent adults and you can’t boss them around anymore if you want to have a full and authentic relationship with them. You have to treat your kids as grown-ups and respect them as an independent persons making their own decisions before you can be friends with them. That’s why almost everyone has a better relationship when they’re in college than when they’re in high school.

        To ress your student-teacher example…

        The best relationships I’ve had with teachers were ones where the teacher treated me as an intellectual adult capable of independent learning and self-guidance. I was not the “subordinate” whose head was being filled with knowledge, but rather a partner in learning who could be trusted to be part of a research group.

        Also, I don’t think that sitting in on a lecture means making yourself a subordinate – you sit there, listen, and absorb as much as you want or need.

        But to me, a romantic relationship is much more similar to a friendship than a parent-child or teacher-student relationship. Your friends are your equals, not your subordinates or masters. Why should your romantic partner be any different?

        “Power dynamics like these will be a part of our lives even in Utopia. They’ll be something we remember and think about, and anything in our lives can fuel sexual fantasy.”

        Yeah, we probably can’t get rid of power dynamics or domination. But if they’re harmful, we should probably try to minimize their influence on us.

        • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 4:25 PM #

          “I probably won’t go so far as to say all power relations are bad or even that we can avoid them. But I think basing personal relationships on power is probably bad, because having a genuine personal relationship requires that you have respect for the other person involved. I think it’s really hard to have respect for someone when you’re making their decisions for them, because they’re not asserting their right to be a free and independent human being.”

          But that’s the thing that doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see why having power necessarily equals not respecting.

          I’ve been a teacher. It’s entirely possible that I didn’t realize when I was tempted by the power to disrespect my students; I’m not unbiased here. But what I remember most is how challenging it was to try and create a curriculum and an environment that would help them to grow and to carefully self-examine. It was one of the most fulfilling things in the world to see them grow, to read their papers and learn from them as they thought of things I never would have.

          Teaching them things is guiding them; it’s providing a framework that helps THEM become better versions of themselves. More knowledgable yes, but hopefully also more thoughtful, with greater self-knowledge.

          That I be the one to do this — that I be granted that power — is arbitrary in the sense that, hey, I’m not any kind of More Superior Human. I’m simply an equal in a different role, one that I hopefully will use wisely and well. (And of course, if I don’t, that can do harm.)

          I see dominating my partner in exactly the same way. Forgive me for digressing into F/mland here because it’s what I have the most experience with, but the point (aside from mutual pleasure because it excites us both, of course) is not to disrespect him, it’s to help him access his emotions and fully experience his passion…

          …PARTICULARLY in a patriarchal world where too much emotion from a man is seen as unmasculine or “faggy” or whatever. If I’m refusing to allow him to retreat back into the stoic veneer, I’m allowing him a place where he can experience passion that would otherwise be censured or mistrusted.

          I understand that there’s a theoretical framework of discussion under which this comes out, like Play-Doh out the other end of a toy extruder, as “disrespect”, but I don’t understand *why*.

          Of course power dynamics carry *risk*, but so does a whole lot of life in general. I don’t see why the conclusion that dominant people *all* disrespect our partners gets accepted. I just… don’t.

          Helping someone grow is really fulfilling for me. Is it any wonder that a sexual version of that would be something I really like in my personal life?

          • firefey March 6, 2009 at 6:29 PM #

            “…PARTICULARLY in a patriarchal world where too much emotion from a man is seen as unmasculine or “faggy” or whatever. If I’m refusing to allow him to retreat back into the stoic veneer, I’m allowing him a place where he can experience passion that would otherwise be censured or mistrusted.”

            as another person in a F/m relationship, i just wanted to second this statement. my bloved is cheeky, spirited, independant and joyful in the thinking of thinky thoughts. and the greatest gift he has ever given me was the ability to hold him in his grief. that he trusted me to not judge, not tell him to man up, not belittle…

            do some D/s relationships function in a dictatorial style? yes. but in my experience they don’t tend to last very long. more common is a dynamic of mutual love and honor and respect with defined rolls and hierarchies. i know it is the hierarchy aspect that’s being argued againt, and yes i do think some relationships have more of it than i would feel comfortable with. but let’s not lose sight of the other stuff.

        • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 4:33 PM #

          also, thing #2 about teaching: It’s really tough to do well.

          Which is part of what’s so rewarding about getting it right and seeing someone fly.

    • Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 7:41 PM #

      Again, an orientational model is not mutually exclusive with a model that comes down heavily on the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate.

      Moreover, an orientational model does not preclude the choice defense from having effect. To claim such would be to claim that because people contend that homosexuality is orientational and not a choice, any homosexual encounter is necessarily not chosen and is therefore rape.

      • B March 4, 2009 at 12:04 AM #

        “an orientational model is not mutually exclusive with a model that comes down heavily on the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate.”

        Okay. If you think this, and we still get to talk about how nuture’s involved, you’re largely not the person my original comment was directed at.

        However, people are using the claim of “orientation” to shield themselves from having to deal with the influences on their choices and the ramifications of those choices. That’s probably not productive.

        “Moreover, an orientational model does not preclude the choice defense from having effect. To claim such would be to claim that because people contend that homosexuality is orientational and not a choice, any homosexual encounter is necessarily not chosen and is therefore rape.”

        I think your analogy misses the mark because I don’t think that BDSM relationships are rape – just that they’re a bad way to choose to structure your relationship.

        I also think BDSM and homosexuality are relevantly different in that homosexuality doesn’t intrinsically hurt anyone (not even the people involved), and it does not intrinsically remove agency from any of the participants in any way. BDSM involves some level of physical harm and/or emotional domination, literally by definition. Since those two things are the basis of my criticism of BDSM, I don’t think the homosexuality analogies apply to any of the arguments I’ve made.

        • Gorgias March 4, 2009 at 1:25 AM #

          BDSM doesn’t intrinsically harm anyone, either.

          Hurt/harm dichotomy. No action in the physical sense is intrinsically harmful. Getting cut with a knife is harmful in most circumstances, but the physical action of having your skin pierced with a blade is not intrinsically harmful, since a doctor will do so and will benefit, not harm you.

          Likewise, pain is different from harm. I’m in pain every time I exercise, but exercise is to the benefit, not harm, of my body. Being in a BDSM scene may hurt, but most of the time I’ve only got a few welts that will heal pretty quickly afterwards. I’m not saying that there isn’t risk, but to me it seems tame compared to the physical risk many other activities assume.

          If you’re worried about intrinsically harmful practices, I’d suggest worrying about sporting events. I’m far more likely to be hurt physically playing football than I am spending a night with my Master.

          • B March 4, 2009 at 2:45 AM #

            All the examples you give are about engaging in activities which are done to make the body healthier. I’m pretty sure whipping welts don’t make you any healthier. Fuck, I’ll even concede that surgery is bad – it’s just that the alternative is usually worse.

            At any rate, I could care less about a little bit of low-level pain play in people’s private bedrooms. If you want to slap each other asses I really don’t care.

            But when physical hurt is serious or when it’s combined with D/s dynamics, it starts to become something a lot more insidious. I mean, you’ve presumably been reading this series – some of the harm people are inflicting in the name of eroticism are a lot worse than sore muscles from exercising. It changes from a person exercising to make their body more fit or a doctor cutting open a patient to remove a cancerous growth into one person inflicting physical hurt on another because they get off on it. It becomes about reinforcing the M/s power dynamic through physical discipline, which I’m objecting to above.

            • firefey March 9, 2009 at 4:44 PM #

              actually… russian scientists found that whippings were an effective method of elevating the mood of depressed men. thus far there doesn’t seem to be any push to incorporate this kind of treatment, but it is worth noting. i’m sure the basis for the finding has something to do with the endorphins that are released durring pain play. the same kinds of endorphins that certain types of depression medication seek to stimulate the release of or mimic the effects of. and while i have no evidence i can point to, i can also offer acnecdatal (intentional misspelling) evidence that pain play is both effective as a mood elevator with certain kinds of drepression, as well as with certain people who might otherwise be taking anti-psychotics for ptsd.

              the endorphin rush, and the following hightened state, is very much like the ecstatic state many native peoples seek out in their religious and spiritual practices. sometimes through similar methods. piercing, branding, flagelation and cutting all have very deep and long standing traditions outside of my own personal kinks. i realize it is my own personal kinks and the power exchanges aspects of my relationship, and to a larger extent those kinks/relationships of the BDSM community in general, that are the issue. but i think it bares saying and repeating, that this isn’t some new fangled way of reaching hightened states.

              • Laurelin March 9, 2009 at 6:38 PM #

                “actually… russian scientists found that whippings were an effective method of elevating the mood of depressed men.”
                If someone was whipping me coz I was depressed, I’d be pretty sure to fake happiness sharpish so they’d stop.

                More often than whipping being used as some ‘cure’ for depression, it is used to torture. Throughout the world. Daily.

                • firefey March 9, 2009 at 9:28 PM #

                  you are absolutly correct. but stating that there is no possible beneficial outcome from engaging in pain play is false. which is what i was responding to. should have included the quote for verification.

                  • Trinity March 9, 2009 at 10:15 PM #

                    *nods* Endorphin highs aren’t fake.

                    Whether it’s ethical to induce them in consensual contexts… well, that’s the topic at hand. :-P

                    • firefey March 10, 2009 at 3:36 PM #

                      it’s true. i just think it needs to be stated that, though we are discussing ethics which is more cerebral, there are physical reactions to pain play which are not quantifiable as “bad.” especially since the notion that all pain is bad and has no historical basis that is not bad feeds into the question of ethical applications in conscenting relationships.

                    • RenegadeEvolution March 10, 2009 at 7:49 PM #

                      all this talk on if pain can be good reminds me of something.

                      When I got burned, it did not hurt. At all. The actual incident itself? No pain whatsoever. Why? Shock and nerve damage. However, healing? That fucking hurt. More than anything I have yet to experience. Hell, the damn things still hurt as they continue to heal.

                      So yeah, pain, that pain anyway? A sign that I am getting BETTER. Becoming more healthy, so on. This pain is a GOOD thing. And why yes, medical doctors WOULD agree.

                      So anyone spouting the whole “all pain is bad, no matter what” crap? They are wrong.

                      Pain is also very subjective, but some folk never want to hear that.

                  • Laurelin March 10, 2009 at 3:36 PM #

                    Well firstly, the words ‘pain’ and ‘play’ are antithetical as far as I’m concerned. Pain is the body’s response to something being wrong with it, not a fucking game. Endorphins are besides the point.

                    I question the veracity of such an ‘experiment’ such as that you mention; *that* was the point of my comment. What were they trying to prove? Who were the subjects? What happened during the ‘experiment’? Who the hell thinks it is a good idea to harm others in the name of ‘experimenting’?

                    What you describe sounds like (and obviously I have only your words to infer from) a bullshit experiment fucking with depressed people. Call me cynical. And the ‘consent’ of the experimentees will not convince me that it is okay, so don’t try that line with me.

                    yes, I am angry (about the very idea of such an experiment, not with you personally), and yes for very personal reasons, which I will not go into.

                    Nothing like abusing mentally distressed people to get my ire up on even a good day. And today ain’t a good day!

                    • firefey March 10, 2009 at 6:09 PM #

                      “play” is what most folks in BDSM say when refferencing their various activitites. something i find the be an apt description given the way i, and most BDSM folks i know, aproach a scene. we’re about to have sex, in the way best suited to us… but, personal anecdata and terms asside, the endorphina are kinda the point in some respects. there is a stament made by many on the anti side, that all pain is bad pain and nothing good can come from it. which is false.

                      heavy excercise, a really deep tissue massage, stretching over worked muscles, and things in this vein can and are practiced and enjoyed by folks of all kinds of strokes. body modification, hook suspension, cutting, branding and flagelation all have long histories, in widly varried cultures, as tools with which the reach hightened states.

                      given these are non-sexual practices with benefits to the body and/or mind, the statemnt that all pain is bad and never has any good come from it is false. and thus, imo, should cease to be part of the discussion. i’m happy to discuss the ethics of pain and power in sexual relationships, provided sexual relationships doesn’t just mean PIV M/f sex ’cause that’s rather limiting.

                      as for the study. i don’t know the methodology, since most of the scientific pages seem to be in russian. and i do see where the ethics of this are an issue. i’m not wholly confortable with it myself. the main argument made by the scientist who conducted the experiment was that the expereince was useful to help those suffering from addiction and depression regain a sense of “will to live.” and while i’m sure this instance could be a topic all it’s own, i think we might be wandering off into OT territory with it. happy to cease that tract should ND call i out as such.

                    • Laurelin March 10, 2009 at 6:28 PM #

                      Those are false analogies, Firefey. It is not the pain from exercise that is good for you- that’s just your muscles complaining that they’ve been worked out. Now it may be a good sign for your health, but the pain is *not* what is good for you, the exercise is. BDSM fetishes pain itself, says pain is good, can be good. Pain is not good for you, even if it is a sign of having exercised well, it in itself does you no good. It is the body’s warning. And it goes without saying (or should!) that exercise pain is itself a different feeling to pain from injury.

                      I know BDSMers use the term ‘pain play’. That doesn’t mean I accept the phrase as valid. I don’t. Pain is not play.

                    • firefey March 10, 2009 at 10:24 PM #

                      the analogy i’m drawing is one that says not all pain is intrisnsicly bad for you. there is such a think as “good hurt.” in other words, there are sensations that, while painful, have an aspect of non-sexual pleasure and cary with them an increase in endorphins. these include the “good hurt” of muscles post exercise or the feeling of a really good deep tissue massage. agree with my descision to utilise and play with the application of pain or don’t. i understand that you don’t see the ways in which i relate to pain as “good” or “healthy” but the biology is there none the less. yes, pain as a sensation can indicate a wrongness of function. CAN being the opperative word there. but pain can also signal healing as ren pointed out, or that the itch on your foot has been scratched sufficiently.*

                      *to clarify, an itch is a biofeedback loop of irritation. scratching it stimulates pain receptors in the skin (heat, cold, pressure and pain are the sum total of what your skin feels) thus breaking the loop.

                • Gorgias March 11, 2009 at 5:29 AM #

                  I’m not so sure about that. Well, I doubt that whippings are used to cure pain very much- but there are enough kinky people in the world, and the world has moved away from corporal punishment largely, so it wouldn’t surprise me if more whippings are consensual than not =)

                  In any case, the majority use of a practice doesn’t matter in the slightest as to its morality. If rape all of a sudden became more prevalent than consensual sex, it wouldn’t make consensual sex immoral. Both whipping and sex are mere mechanical phenomena divorced, at least in themselves, from ethical implications. Context determines whether they’re moral or not.

              • Konservo March 10, 2009 at 2:15 PM #

                I believe that Russian “scientists” also found that those suffering from the disease of “Having Anti-Communist Tendencies” needed to be institutionalized for the sake of society and for themselves.

          • Laurelin March 10, 2009 at 3:39 PM #

            “Getting cut with a knife is harmful in most circumstances, but the physical action of having your skin pierced with a blade is not intrinsically harmful, since a doctor will do so and will benefit, not harm you.”
            Getting cut with a knife *is* intrinsically harmful. The skin is severed and must heal itself. When this is done for medical reasons this is because the benefit conveyed by the doctor’s actions having cut your skin outweighs the damage done to your skin. It is a matter of necessity.

  25. Gorgias March 3, 2009 at 8:14 AM #

    “I look at my own desires, and the truth is that what makes me aroused is not the same as what makes me happy. Being submissive is physically attractive to me, but I know it is not what I want in my life. Not because I feel guilty or ashamed, I have concluded that that would be a total waste of time, but I want sexual fulfillment and also personal fulfillment and for me, submission only fills one of those needs and blocks the fulfillment of the other. I know I am not alone among submissive women who feel this way.”

    This somewhat reminds me of CJ’s assertions that “I may never be comfortable practicing BDSM, but….” and a poster’s earlier belief that we were trying to wear down her resistance to accept and abusive relationship. So I’ll say it here on behalf of the kinky people in this discussion:

    Good for you. I’m not trying to convince anyone that BDSM is the one true way. You know yourself and such introspection is to be applauded, though it is unfortunate that your sexuality is in conflict with the rest of yourself.

    “what does it mean in the heterosexual BDSM world that there are more men who are dominant and more women who are submissive?”

    That patriarchy blows ropy goat chunks. The sooner you fine feminists dismantle the patriarchy, the sooner there will be more dominant women to date, and the happier I’ll be!

    “If BDSM is an orientation rather than a choice, would that mean that women tend to intrinsically be more submissive as people? ”

    I think you’re posing a false dilemma here. I personally subscribe to an orientational model for both BDSM and homosexuality that places nearly everything on nurture and almost nothing on nature. I do think that some people are naturally inclined to play with power, but the roles we take on are likely to be influenced by the culture around us.

    In other words, it’s possible for BDSM to be orientational and for patriarchy and our culture having an effect on the relative number of female and male dominants and submissives.

    “Why do I come across the many blogs of women carefully justifying their submissive tendencies, making sure for themselves that it is OK, but don’t find male submissives, or dominants, male or female, who worry too much about it?”

    Hah! Just go ahead and check my blog if you want a whiny angsty male submissive =)

    • Trinity March 3, 2009 at 3:25 PM #

      “That patriarchy blows ropy goat chunks. The sooner you fine feminists dismantle the patriarchy, the sooner there will be more dominant women to date, and the happier I’ll be!”

      Win.

      And true, too.

  26. Charlie March 3, 2009 at 10:15 PM #

    “But I can’t just sweep aside the critique because it doesn’t apply in one place. That’s really damn close to saying that blacks aren’t oppressed because Bill Cosby is rich.”

    Totally. And of course, we see a lot of examples of people claiming that a group isn’t oppressed because a small number of member of that group are wealthy/can make relatively empowered choices.

    At the same time, this is why I think that language that reflects the diversity of experience is useful. It’s one thing to say “Black people are poorer than white people” and another thing to say “Most black people are poorer than most white people” or “On average, black people…” or similar statements. Once again, it’s about “some/many/most”.

    While some people think that this language reduces the strength of their arguments and that an all/nothing approach makes a better statement, I find that some/many/most actually makes my arguments stronger because they add a little flexibility. It takes away the possibility that someone will stop listening because they know of a few counter-examples. It reflects what people observe in the world around them, which gives the argument an extra validity. And it makes room for the people who are the counter-examples to join the conversation.

    Similarly, a building with a little well-designed flexibility can withstand an earthquake better than one that’s too rigid or one that’s too flexible.

  27. Trinity March 4, 2009 at 4:14 AM #

    ND — Fair enough, but if you’re going to call me on snark, I *really* don’t think you should be calling people “not sane” in a one-line comment. I mean, sexuality-as-mental-illness is very old meme.

    And yes, I do understand that “safe, sane, consensual” is problematic as this magic soundbite that supposedly makes everything OK without people needing to explain *how* or *why* these things are safe or sane.

    But there’s a history to “sexual deviance as mental ill-health,” so I think that we should either allow for one-liney snark like “not sane!” or mine, or… you know, *not*.

  28. Trinity March 4, 2009 at 4:27 AM #

    Also, I didn’t call you crazy, I said you were *setting yourself up as an arbiter of sanity*. I was questioning whether you can claim that people who do something you don’t think is politically wise are behaving *insanely*.

    But then, it was a snark reading too much into another snark, so it’s not worth much anyway. :)

  29. Alexandra Erin March 4, 2009 at 8:18 AM #

    When the backs are up against the wall, the anti-kinksters like to repeat that they don’t want to see anybody criminalized or their kids taken away or have anybody tarred and feathered in the public square (AS LONG AS THEY RESTRAIN THEIR UNHOLY LUSTS LONG ENOUGH NOT TO DO IT IN PUBLIC!!!!!!!)… but these protests are just increasingly striking me as disingenuous.

    I mean, this is a multi-part series of blog posts entitled “BDSM: The sexual equivalent of being into Renaissance faires.” Nothing about this “examination” is predicated on the idea that kinky folks… even us legitimately oppressed women and queer folk who happen to be kinky… are deserving of compassion or respect.

    What is the goal of this little exercise, if it isn’t just to identify a group of people who are Other Than You? I haven’t seen any reaching out to BDSM folk. I don’t see any attempt at understanding. I don’t even see anything that could pass as an attempt to “educate” us, since your blog posts are addressed to the choir and your interaction in comments is not very engaging.

    There has been some very ugly speculation about motives lately, so I don’t really want to put my own answer forward… but I have a hard time identifying anything you’ve written on the subject that seems like it’s going to do anything other than garner approval from those who already agree with you on the subject and controversy from those of us who don’t.

    This does what for feminism?

  30. Trinity March 4, 2009 at 7:51 PM #

    Jenn: For whatever it’s worth, your viewpoint as you’ve laid it out in the last couple comments makes a LOT more sense to me than what I thought you were saying before.

    I still don’t *agree* — I don’t really see pornography and BDSM or mainstream culture and BDSM as connected. Gonzo porn and BDSM, maybe, and I get why people are concerned about gonzo porn, but… I’ve never known anyone who used it or even displayed the slightest interest, other than Ren who’s in it. I’ve seen kinky people collect kinky porn (and good kinky porn is about as hard to find as good porn of any other kind, IMO) but I’ve not really run into people who weren’t kinky themselves who had a bunch of it because they felt they were supposed to.

    I’m sure there do exist people who use porn in damaging ways, including the paradigmatic “addiction” thing where people look for progressively “heavier” content.

    But I’m equally sure — because I’m one of them, and so have those of my lovers who used porn been — that some people look for things that match their fantasies, rather than having their fantasies dictated by content.

    • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 7:55 PM #

      Dude, over time everyone’s fantasies are dictated by porn. They may seek their own fantasies out at first, but porn use tends to escalate in nearly everyone.

      • Trinity March 4, 2009 at 7:58 PM #

        Can you provide some support for this claim? Because I’ve always found it pretty bizarre, myself, almost like “Don’t read books! In time you’ll be reading de Sade!”

        So I’d like to see some more firm evidence than “over time, everyone’s fantasies are dictated by it” coming from you. You’re very smart and consistently thoughtful in your writing, but you’re not telling me how you know this.

        • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 8:09 PM #

          That’s a ridiculous analogy. There have been so many studies about people’s porn use “escalating” that I’m sure you could Google a few thousand. Porn is more like drugs or booze than books; it’s a taboo, it’s tied to pleasure, etc. That means escalation is very, very likely. And I can tell you that every dude I know who is willing to discuss his porn use will admit to escalation.

          • RenegadeEvolution March 4, 2009 at 9:49 PM #

            And there have been tons of studies that say the exact opposite…and every person (dude and not dude) who willingly discuss their porn use say they were interested in what turned them on anyway, and that is what they watch.

            The truth, I expect, somewhere in the middle. Once again, no univerals and all.

            • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 11:32 PM #

              So, the vast majority of people only escalate so far? How far is that? ATM? Choking? Shoving heads in toilets? Double penetration? Sorry, but that’s more than far enough, and I’ve got a problem with porn from the start, not from some arbitrary shock point. Straight porn objectifies women, and the vast majority of it degrades and humiliates them. Addiction, escalation, whatever aren’t the point, they’re just more extreme manifestations of the original, nearly universal problem. Like that qualification, “nearly”?

              • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 1:19 AM #

                “So, the vast majority of people only escalate so far? How far is that?”

                Actually, from my informal discussions with my male friends, the furthest they tend to get up the fetish tree is threesomes and lesbians. Certainly not ATM or choking, or anything overtly violent. Double-penetration seems to be present in the list, but certainly not endemic.

                • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 1:28 AM #

                  Still not cool.

                  • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 1:34 AM #

                    Not cool, but not a downward spiral.

                    • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 1:38 AM #

                      The egregiousness of the specific bit of porn isn’t the point of contention, the fact that women’s bodies and sexuality are being commodified is.

              • RenegadeEvolution March 5, 2009 at 8:30 AM #

                Do you honestly think no women are into that? So what, I like being choked, I do the same in return. The porn you so hate, I make, because it is what I like doing. You think no woman EVER thinks about doing 2 men at once?

                I would have thought by now everyone had figured out I am no meek little shrinking violet submissive thing…apparently, I do and film your nightmare…

                Do you honestly think I put up with shit, from anyone?

                i defend, with every fiber of my being, a womans right to enjoy what she enjoys sexually…NO matter what it is. Even if other people do not like it.

                • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 1:15 PM #

                  Which is your right. I think it’s bad for womankind, which is my right.

                  • buggle March 5, 2009 at 1:34 PM #

                    YES! Exactly!!!!!!! Making rape porn is bad for women. End of story.

      • Anonymous March 4, 2009 at 11:06 PM #

        Errm…

        Okay, here’s something, just to throw out. I did go through the escalation process. It happened. I started looking at soft-core porn at about 13, and got progressively more extreme in my tastes until I got help at about 22. I’m a textbook case of the downward-spiral, addict-type pornography consumer.

        However.

        I’ve taken notes with a lot of other friends of mine who are also porn users, and it’s interesting to look at their usage compared to mine. While I got progressively worse in my tastes, friends of mine who started viewing porn at pretty much exactly the same time had almost no progression themselves – when they watched porn, they were content with just plain ol’ vanilla porn. Sometimes their tastes got slightly more focused (say, they preferred blondes rather than any other hair colour), but this focusing never progressed down the extreme road that mine went down. Clearly, their tastes are quite stable.

        At the very least, all I have to do really is look at my Dad’s tastes compared to mine (and yes, I looked through his collection). He began consuming porn during his teenage years, and began with mostly vanilla porn, and by the time I was raiding his porn collection in his 40s, his entire collection was… vanilla porn. In fact, I would bet money that if I raided his collection now (which I wouldn’t for obvious reasons), this would still hold.

        There is clearly a difference between me, who went from soft-core to downright violent porn in less than a decade, and my father, who has not noticeably changed his porn consumption habits in the past three decades. If my father is on a downward spiral, then it’s running on a glacial pace, and is slow enough to not even be worth considering as an influence in his pornography consumption habits.

        And I will tell you what the difference between us was – I, an addict, was not watching porn to get off. I was watching porn to get a fix, to ditch my bad feelings, to escape a world that I didn’t feel I had control over. The getting off, the fantasies, were a means by which I could escape the negative feelings in my life. My father, not being an addict, watched porn only to get off, no more. The downward spiral of porn is a consequence of unhealthy consumption, not of the porn itself.

        • Nine Deuce March 4, 2009 at 11:14 PM #

          I think the difference is the availability, and the aggressive race to the bottom among porn producers. Capitalism, blah blah.

          • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 1:11 AM #

            Perhaps, but my father is not immune to the internet, not at all. He uses it on a reasonable rate, and I have previously looked through his folder and found his online stash – he knows how to find porn on the internet. But his digital stash is of the same stuff as his offline stash – He’s still looking for the same things, and the availability of alternatives is clearly not affecting his choices as a consumer.

            Further, I was a bright kid, but I made the mistake of thinking my parents were stupid, and my dad discovered my digital stash many a times, several times well into my downward spiral. So even without necessarily looking for it, the act of finding my stash would have exposed him to heavier stuff. Yet, none of it found it’s way into his stash.

            The escalation argument doesn’t seem to work on my dad, and it’s not like he’s a bleeding-heart liberal or anything either – he’s a 50+ white upper-middle class man with a fairly centre-right attitude towards the world. He understands that there is difference in the world and that that difference is okay, but he’s in no way read up on feminist theory. He’s not ignoring the heavier stuff due to ideological desires, but simply because it doesn’t interest him at all.

            And I see this pattern among quite a few of my male friends that are around my age as well. Even with the massive amounts of available porn on the internet, those men I have asked about this stuff who do watch porn (many of them don’t) have often said that while they enjoy porn of a particular stripe, they’ve accessed porn of more violent nature and rejected it for their much “safer” porn. They may have seen stuff, but without the arousal in their heads, they moved back to porn they knew would arouse them.

            Hell, an old housemate of mine indicated that he’d tried to watch porn many times, and just couldn’t “get” it. Even the softest stuff just didn’t get him aroused at all, so the idea of exposure to porn altering sexual desire doesn’t seem to be a universal at all.

            My downward spiral actually seems to be something of an anomaly among my group of friends. Most, after some exposure to the wilds of the internet, identify the porn subjects that arouse them the most and don’t deviate greatly from those subjects for most of their consuming lives. If they spiral, it’s like my dad – at a glacial pace.

            • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 1:19 AM #

              I don’t really find this to be the important part of the porn discussion, to be honest. See my comment to Ren.

              • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 1:52 AM #

                I disagree – for the anti-pornography feminist it’s an essential part of the discussion. The position of porn consumption as some kind of degenerative disease means a whole bunch of different approaches to the problem as the view of porn consumption as something that, for most individuals, is more of a stable expression of their internal sexuality.

                The degenerative-disease model implies that it’s mostly external forces that are at play, and thus these points are where pressure is best exerted. Further, the degenerative-model also implies a level of contagion – that those who have already degenerated have the ability to bring down others. This implies that efforts are best concentrated in building “immunity” in other men, and using a epidemiological approach to wipe out the offending porn – to contain the degeneration before it can affect other men/women, and to take down distributors of the offending material, so as to reduce the level of new converts.

                The stable-expression model implies a mostly internal force, that these sorts of porn consumption are reasonably unaffected by others. This implies that the best approach is to target the thought-processes of those specific individuals who engage in porn consumption. Also, because the stable-expression model doesn’t deal with the idea of contagious thought, it means that there’s no need to shut down distributors – because their market cannot be expanded much past those individuals who get off on the stuff, they’re not really the threat. One can concentrate on stifling the demand, and once the demand is stifled, there’s nothing the pornographers can do, thus they’re likely to go bankrupt.

                And since the anti-porn movement has limited resources, they need to be utilised most effectively. Thus, the truth behind porn cosumption behaviour is of the utmost importance to how to reduce porn’s impact, and how to do it with the greatest chance of success.

                Of course, I’m *not* anti-porn, I’m a happy sex-positive man. But know thy enemy and all…

                • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 2:01 AM #

                  Sorry, try again. The solution to the problem is for people to realize that women are human beings and that using porn is ethically fucked. It’s not my responsibility to hold every asshole porn fan’s hand and tell him what ought to be completely obvious to anyone with a shred of empathy. And you don’t get to call yourself “sex-positive” if your version of it is being a proud porn addict. Porn and sex are not the same thing, brah. Sex is what two people who are into each other do. Porn is something (mostly) women get paid to let others do to them, and then some third party uses it to wank to. There’s no sex, but rather prostitution on tape followed by masturbation.

                  • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 2:28 AM #

                    “And you don’t get to call yourself “sex-positive” if your version of it is being a proud porn addict.”

                    I’m not a *proud* porn addict. I’m not proud of it at all. My porn addiction is an internal problem, and means I cannot have a safe relationship with porn, but this no effect on pornography as a general rule, or on the sexuality of others. It is an issue that *I*, personally, deal with. I have no problems with pornography for everyone else, so long as they are aware of their desires and are aware that pornography is a fantasy not to be taken as advice on the real world, and that the people in porn are real people with real lives. But my status as a porn addict means that it’s dangerous for me. Thus, I consider myself a sex-positive porn addict. I don’t see these perspective as counter to each other.

                    “The solution to the problem is for people to realize that women are human beings and that using porn is ethically fucked.”

                    I agree to the first part, but not the second. Once people realise that women are people too, and that the sex industry rids itself of those who would exploit those who have no desire to enter porn but have no other acceptable choices, using porn may no longer *be* ethically fucked.

                    And if the people watching porn are aware that the people in them are, you know, people as opposed to objectifying them, I wonder, what does the moral fucked-upedness of using pornography then become?

                    • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 2:36 AM #

                      When people realize the women in porn are human beings, demand dries up.

                    • Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 2:43 AM #

                      I dunno about that – my boyfriend is quite aware of the humanity of the people in porn – he even engages in porn himself, and enjoys it immensely. He still watches it, knowing what he knows. The demand is liable to change, but I doubt it will dry up completely. You don’t have to objectify someone to get aroused by them.

                    • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 3:04 AM #

                      No, but I think it’s a necessary component of the vast majority of porn (including every single bit of it that I’ve ever seen).

              • RenegadeEvolution March 5, 2009 at 8:32 AM #

                what about your comment to me? We’re into different things. And?

        • Trinity March 5, 2009 at 3:35 AM #

          Anony: Thank you.

          I used to doubt people like you existed, because my own experience and that of the people I know is like what you describe your dad’s being. So I always figured the “addiction” thing was something made up by a certain subset of religious folks (and occasionally latched onto by certain feminists).

          That was naive of me, I realized a while ago. But the whole thing still puzzles me.

          Would you mind my asking why you watched porn, if not to get off? It’s difficult for me to imagine someone wanting sexual media for something other than arousal, so I don’t think I really understand the need that becomes obsessive in some people.

          I’m also, for the record, not all *that* concerned about extreme porn of whatever kind, because so much of what I know has been people finding what they like. I don’t look at pictures of SM acts because other acts bore me and I’m an intensity junkie; I look at those because SM acts always have been what I enjoy most.

          I look at vanilla porn relatively frequently I’d guess, though, because a) it’s most of what’s out there and b) since I’m not vanilla, I’m not quite as annoyed/taken out of the experience when I see it misrepresented, whereas people depicting SM badly just makes me roll my eyes rather than have orgasms. :)

          • firefey March 6, 2009 at 6:46 PM #

            annon sounds a lot like many of the alcoholic/adicts in recovery i have met. their friends can have a drink or two, a recreational line, they cannot. at all. under any circumstances. i would assume gambling addiction, sexual addiction, shopping addiction and the like follow similar compulsions. i do think it’s noteworthy that those few things i have read about porn addiction do not always follow the more and more violent path. more fetishized is usual, but not always more violent.

      • Tess March 5, 2009 at 12:56 AM #

        Prior to the internet, I didn’t even know bdsm porn existed. Hell, I didn’t know what bdsm was, nor did I know what “kinky” meant – beyond some vague idea of maybe having threesomes or something.

        I had no exposure to porn of any kind. None.

        Yet I *still* craved pain and humiliation and bondage and submission. For years and years and years. From childhood on.

        You’ve no idea of the angst I went through thinking I was some sort of reject. I knew *nobody* who liked the things I fantasized about. It wasn’t talked about. It was my hidden shame.

        I was late coming to the internet. I was online for several months before I found anything bdsm related. That simply started the process for me of self-awareness, self-acceptance, relief, hunger, fellowship, friendship… and on and on.

        For a little while after discovering the wide world of porn on the net, I had a strange fascination for watching male cbt porn. It didn’t turn me on so much as I was mesmerized by how much they could take compared to how I’d been raised to believe that if you so much as breathed on their scrotum too hard, they’d die! ;-)

        But that was a passing phase.

        Now, I have zero interest in bdsm porn. I have zero interest in any porn. I’d much rather *do* than *watch*. I find porn boring and fake mostly.

        So. My fantasies were not dictated by porn and neither has my porn use escalated.

        I just wonder if it matters that you will get exceptions to disprove your porn theory. I suspect not, huh?

        • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 1:08 AM #

          Of course there are exceptions. There are exceptions to everything, but exceptions don’t disprove general tendencies.

  31. Trinity March 5, 2009 at 3:26 AM #

    “It’s not either “we only do kinky things in the bedroom” or ” I call all the shots, period.””

    Exactly. I mean, I understand that a discussion of trends is going to involve less discussion than I think it should of actual people’s actual practice, but the sheer degree to which it’s all made black and white in so much of this discussion involves *such* an oversimplification that I don’t see how it’s useful to anybody.

  32. Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 4:09 AM #

    ND, We may have to disagree on that particular opinion. I agree it’s pervasive, I just disagree that it’s an essential part of porn to objectify those within it.

  33. isme March 5, 2009 at 11:22 AM #

    I don’t see much of an agreement on whether comparing BDSM to homosexuality in terms of oppression is valid.

    If you are por-BDSM, then it’s a valid analogy, because both are unfairly persecuted as sick deviants threatening society.

    If you are anti-BDSM, then BDSMers really are (so to speak) sick deviants threatening society, and thus discrimination (of some form) is the correct response, whilst homosexuals are unfairly picked on because someone said the sky fairy doesn’t like them.

  34. buggle March 5, 2009 at 1:36 PM #

    The constant level of denial by non-feminists on this website is amazing to me. Horrifying, but amazing. You all work REALLY, REALLY hard to maintain your denial, and you hurt other women with it. Really frightening.

  35. Charlie March 5, 2009 at 7:12 PM #

    I get that many people use porn to learn about sex. In a world that offers little accurate information about how sex works, porn is one of the few “resources” people have. And unfortunately, things in real life don’t work the way things in porn do. Similarly, in movies and TV, people cook food without having to clean up and drive without getting caught in traffic, unless those “real life” experiences are integral to the plot.

    The difference is that in real life, we have lots of examples of cooking and driving to counteract the fantasy. Most people don’t have that when it comes to sex, which is why sex education is so important. And that’s a lot of why the BDSM community offers workshops and such- they give people more accurate information and portrayals of how real world BDSM works so that they don’t have to rely on unrealistic images.

    If the problem is that some people are modeling their sex lives on what they see in porn (and I definitely know that that’s true), then perhaps a way to deal with it is offer alternative sources of information.

    • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 7:14 PM #

      I agree 100%, but is that possible in our sex-negative (that’s right, I said it) culture? I see “sex” everywhere, but sex nowhere. I wouldn’t mind hearing people talk about sex openly, using proper terminology, without giggling, without turning “sex” into “pornish bullshit designed to give guys who like ESPN boners.” And I get that BDSM people do that for people in their community. That can’t be a bad thing as it only promotes safety (that doesn’t mean I think everyone in the BSDM community is doing it safely, nor does it make BDSM “better” in some way than other kinds of sex). But where are the sources of info on sex for non-BDSMers that aren’t saturated with porn bullshit? I’ve yet to hear of one. If I have to hear about one more ex-porn star making a how-to video for men, I’ll puke.

      • Charlie March 5, 2009 at 9:40 PM #

        “But where are the sources of info on sex for non-BDSMers that aren’t saturated with porn bullshit? I’ve yet to hear of one.”

        Well, that’s why I run a sex ed workshop program, and there are others hosted by various (mostly sex-positive) stores and companies. There are also lots of websites with pretty good how-to information that isn’t “saturated with porn bullshit.” And I can direct anyone to plenty of books that talk about the everyday kind of sex that happens pretty much everywhere other than on porn sets. (The how-to DVDs tend to be influenced by the porn industry, for a number of reasons that I’m happy to talk about if you’re interested.)

        Have you really never seen any of that sex education information, or are you speaking hyperbolically again? Because if you’ve really never come across any of it, I have to wonder how up to date you are about sexuality or sex ed. I mean, you live in New York, right? Babeland has two stores with plenty of books, helpful staff, and workshops. There’s a lot out there- all you need to do is look for it.

        • Nine Deuce March 5, 2009 at 11:11 PM #

          I’ve seen it, but I’m not comfortable with the fact that there’s virtually no way to escape the porn industry, and that includes Good Vibrations, though they’re by far the least egregious. I’d like women to have places that they can feel comfortable with their sexuality and not feel frowned upon for being skeezed out by the influence of the porn industry. Look at your average “how to” sex book, for example. Is it really impossible to avoid using “cock” and “cunt”? Can we figure out better advice for people who are having sex issues than to tell them to “spice things up” with a bunch of embarrassing bullshit? I have a lot of female readers who’ve told me they’ve got sexual self-esteem problems, and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that even the most well-intentioned sex educators tend to make women feel guilty for the fact that they aren’t having awesome sex, when the reality might be that they’re turned off by what sex has come to mean. I suppose I’m looking for a little bit of revolution in sex education, and I’m not seeing a lot of it.

          • Charlie March 6, 2009 at 4:47 AM #

            I’d love to know more about what you envision for sex education. I’ve been working on some different approaches to it and I’m always looking for other ideas & suggestions. Feel free to email me off-list, if you prefer (and have time).

            I find that there’s a big difference between what one finds in DVDs than what one finds in books and workshops. I’ve seen PLENTY of books and classes that manage to talk about sex in a positive way without using words like cunt and cock. It’s out there and it’s not all that hard to find. The DVDs are more challenging, though.

            Part of the problem is that it’s MUCH easier to give tips on how to give a blow job or sex positions than it is to delve into the underlying issues that many people face. It’s kind of similar to how it’s easier to tell people how to cook food than it is to get into issues of eating disorders. And actually, there are a lot of books and workshops designed to help people explore those deeper topics, but they’re in the self-help section, not the sex ed section.

      • Erstwhile lurker March 5, 2009 at 10:00 PM #

        But where are the sources of info on sex for non-BDSMers that aren’t saturated with porn bullshit?

        I highly recommend Scarleteen. I know there ought to be more resources like Scarleteen, and less bullshit, but it’s a start.

  36. Trinity March 6, 2009 at 12:03 AM #

    And having your parent suddenly confront you crying about something you didn’t expect them to know… is a very weird experience.

  37. Bean March 6, 2009 at 12:14 AM #

    Jenn,

    As an OT aside here, I’d be very, very surprised to learn that anyone is really amputating their own limbs “for fun.”

    It’s long been my understanding that these people have generally experienced anguish all their lives because they feel that a limb of theirs – or part of a limb – does not really “belong” on their bodies. Many of these people spend years struggling with these feelings, spend time binding their arms to their bodies or tying their legs up, etc. to try to achieve some peace of mind in relation to that “extra” limb.

    When they do finally seek amputation, I understand it’s actually traditionally been very difficult for them to get. Most surgeons have moral and ethical objections to removing healthy, functional limbs, and most of these people have had to resort to dangerous, illegal solutions.

    So yes. I’d consider this a medical condition, and the leading theory (as far as I know) is that these people have somehow had their body maps damaged early in life; perhaps prenatally. No ideas as to why or how.

    It’s basically the reverse of how many amputees experience “phantom” limbs that their body maps tell them should still be there, and similar to how transsexuals apparently have opposite-sex body maps. (I had links to back up that last at one point, but I seem to have lost them.)

    If anyone’s told you that they wanted to remove a limb, “for fun,” then I’m simply at a loss for words.

    • Nine Deuce March 6, 2009 at 12:16 AM #

      What about that guy in LA who had a philia that involved having a limb amputated and paid that quack who was doing illegal sex change operations to do it, then died of gangrene in a hotel? I read the story so long ago that I’d have no clue how to find it, but I think it was in LA Weekly. It was definitely a sexual thing, though.

      And I’m sorry, but wanting one’s limbs removed means one needs help, not amputation. Let’s not get carried away with this choice business.

  38. Bean March 6, 2009 at 12:22 AM #

    I’m not saying this to be weird or rude, but why is it necessary for one’s parents to know one is kinky?

    I wouldn’t consider it appropriate to discuss with them at all unless I absolutely had to, and then only the bare minimum of whatever I’d have to say to get through the conversation. I’d agree, actually, that’s more like telling them what position you prefer. Er…no.

    But, well, if you like vanilla sex…and your parents accidentally stumble across something related to your sex life, it’s bound to be incredibly awkward for everyone; but that’s about it.

    Also, if you like vanilla sex, it’s highly unlikely that someone nosy and interfering is going to contact your parents and let them know, “for your sake.”

  39. AliceRubberFeet. March 6, 2009 at 12:22 AM #

    I’d be rather anxious for everyone concerned if “your parents will be informed re: your kinkiness” carried any sort of real or imagined threat. I mean, how old is everyone on here, haven’t they severed the old proverbial apron strings yet?

  40. Trinity March 7, 2009 at 3:51 AM #

    “There are intricacies to a D/s relationship, things that *make* it a D/s one as opposed to an equal one, that are far beyond how we have sex with each other.”

    I’m not so sure I see “D/s as opposed to equal” as anything but a false dichotomy.

  41. James March 7, 2009 at 3:51 AM #

    When we decide something is “natural,” it becomes fundamentally unassailable, which is why the term is thrown around so much. The problem is, there is no such thing as “nature.” Nature itself is a human psychological construct.

    It’s hugely depressing that more people don’t point this out, although really good to see you doing it.

    There being something “natural” divided from humanity is a hangover from when we thought we were in some way supernatural, courtesy of our connection to some Skygod or other.

  42. Saskia Davies March 7, 2009 at 9:44 AM #

    You’ve got a very heterosexist view of what kink is and how kink happens and who participates in kink.

    I’m still waiting to hear what makes female-on-female kink a tool of the patriarchy. Women don’t choose to participate in kink as a way of pleasing men, and not all kink is about power exchange.

    Sometimes kink is just about sensation. Sensation is not political; it’s biochemical.

  43. Jenn March 8, 2009 at 10:11 PM #

    And not every college student has completely “severed the apron strings.” I went back to their home on break. Though perhaps this shows me up as insufficiently mature, or something.

    Totally a non-issue. I, for one, live with my mother.

  44. Konservo March 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM #

    his claims that questioning BDSM is akin to homophobia, and he posted several comments claiming that a large number of people in the scene report having lost their jobs and/or kids when their proclivities were discovered.

    Whoa! This dude’s totally right… I mean, like, all this stuff that’s like totally benign… you know, like, stuff that like people, um… do, or something… if, like, you question it, then you’re totally brethren or sistren of homophobes and racists. ‘Cause, like… I’ve heard of totally chill people getting fired from their jobs solely because they’d talked about stuff they did in their private lives. It’s like, if you commit murder, rape, kidnapping, torture, malicious wounding, child abuse, negligent manslaughter, or other things that are nobody’s business but your own, and then someone from work finds out and you get fired, then like, that’s totally the same as if you got fired for being gay, ipso facto, no matter what, your former boss was a bigot of some sort.

    On the other hand, if you’re a sloppy worker, or you’re rude, or you can’t perform your job efficiently and, therefore, you get canned for a deficiency in your own ability to do the job, that too, is totally the same as if you had been fired for being gay.

    But maybe I’m guilty of having my own NOT

    We all are. If not for the NOT we could not function as organisms, for, at the most basic level we must have faith in some preexisting order according to which we govern our lives. That rumble in my tummy means I should eat, that yellow sign with a black arrow means I should turn my steering wheel at such a time as not to drive into that ditch, that ringing means someone or something is calling me phone, etc. provided that I am experiencing these phenomena under normal conditions. From our first experiences as infants we begin to construct our NOT, and as we experience more phenomena we (consciously or subconsciously) adapt our NOT (or worldview, or conception of the world, etc.) to explain, causally, what we have observed. When a good system or set of causal rules or tendencies as been established, we feel confident that we have knowledge, i.e. that our NOT corresponds to “reality.” Thus, we are not hesitant to proclaim that the sun will rise and fall tomorrow just as it did yesterday and the day before.

    But wouldn’t it be great if we could be disinterested? ;)

    Unfortunately, those areas of our experience that seem to promote the survival and flourishing of our organism (and usually this is indicated to our intellect with a sensation of pleasure) are emphasized, we like to eat our favorite foods, hear our favorite music, or do our favorite activities for the pleasure (even if it be only a slight sensation which I would call “piece of mind”) which we expect to derive from these various actions. Using our conception of the NOT we mold our environment in such a way as to bring us the most pleasure, when this pleasure coincides with the promotion of our survival, it is incorporated into the NOT. We have, therefore, a conception of which fruits and vegetables are both scrumptious and nutritious, thereby providing a pleasurable sensation of taste and promoting our survival.

    It just so happens that we’re not so fundamentally different from each other (“we” being “homo sapiens sapiens”). When we congregate there is much agreement on things like “eat food, or starve” or “if you sleep, you won’t be tired.” But there is also disagreement over such matters as whom should rule and whom should be ruled. In such cases of disagreement, originally, the NOT is of no use and the matter can be settled in a variety of ways, the most common of which, if we look to history, is violence.

    Well then, once that matter is settled, the NOT of the ruler(s) is quite frequently imposed upon the ruled. The ruler acts in such a way, as I’ve explained above, as to experience the most pleasure and to promote survival. This, it seems, requires the company of others, such as, friends and family, people with whom the ruler(s) can enjoy life to the fullest. The ruler(s) provide an excellent resource from which the sycophants can fulfill their own needs and promote their own survival. By now there is certainly a collective of individuals with conceptions of the NOT sufficiently similar and who combine their resources to promote survival of a way of life, guided by the NOT. Any threat to this way of living is seen as a threat to the NOT and a threat to deprive those who live in accordance with the NOT of the pleasure they derive from the various activities which the NOT has provided (e.g. some other group of people is threatening to sabotage our irrigation system (which we constructed according to our conception of the NOT), therefore, they are threatening to deprive us of a means of survival and pleasure which we derive from our strawberries). Sometimes the threat is sound, other times, perhaps not, for example, “some other group is threatening to travel beyond the river which our god as told us to guard on penalty of facing drought and famine, thus, if we allow this crossing of the river, according to the NOT, we will surely suffer at the hands of an angry god.”

    Unfortunately (again), shit is so complicated these days that it’s hard to distinguish what could really be a danger from superstition. Therefore, I’ll let people like GW Bush, Al Gore and Barack Obama call the shots.

    Wait, what were we talking about again?

  45. Peter Tupper March 11, 2009 at 12:17 AM #

    To quote Laurelin: “BDSM fetishes pain itself, says pain is good, can be good. Pain is not good for you, even if it is a sign of having exercised well, it in itself does you no good. It is the body’s warning. And it goes without saying (or should!) that exercise pain is itself a different feeling to pain from injury.

    I know BDSMers use the term ‘pain play’. That doesn’t mean I accept the phrase as valid. I don’t. Pain is not play.”

    Pain has a place in life. There are numerous examples of pain used in religious rituals: Christian and Islamic flagellants, Hindus in thaipusam, Native Americans in the sun dance. The pain is integral to the ritual, and a practitioner wouldn’t dream of doing the ritual under anesthetic.

    Our attitude to pain, that it is an unmitigated evil, is a relatively recent idea. When early anesthetics like ether and morphine were first used, some people and physicians were horrified that a person would be dead to the sensations of their injuries. (See Ariel Gluckich’s “Sacred Pain.”)

    Yes, some people have pain they don’t want, that has no place in their life, whether from illness or mistreatment by others. Other people seek it out and integrate it into their lives as meaningful, whether the burn from exercise or the glow from a spanking.

    • Trinity March 11, 2009 at 3:53 AM #

      “Our attitude to pain, that it is an unmitigated evil, is a relatively recent idea.”

      And a stupid one.

      IMO, anyway.

      I never understood it. That whole concept actually made it *harder* to heal after serious trauma. People kept telling me “not to dwell” on the pain; I found it unavoidable.

      • Laurelin March 12, 2009 at 11:52 PM #

        “Our attitude to pain, that it is an unmitigated evil, is a relatively recent idea.”

        Thing is my dear, I never said it was an ‘unmitigated evil’, nor that it has no part in life. Read my comments properly or not at all.

    • hexy March 11, 2009 at 4:38 AM #

      Yes, this.

      I admit I’ve found this thread in the conversation bothersome not only as a kinkster, but as a person with more than a passing understanding of the role pain has played and can play in religious and tribal ritual.

  46. Laurelin March 11, 2009 at 6:25 AM #

    Peter- do me a favour? *don’t* bring in the Native Americans to justify your inflicting of harm upon others. I know at least one who would find that incredibly insulting to his heritage.

    If you want to justify *your* actions in inflicting harm on women, do it on your own terms- don’t think that referencing some superficial knowledge about other groups, especially if they are oppressed minorities, as are the Native Americans. (Obviously I don’t know your background, and I am not asking as it is none of my business. I make no assumptions, but I stick to what I have just said).

    Justify yourself. Tell yourself (and others) why it is okay to inflict pain on others. Tell yourself (and others) why it is okay to harm women. By going on about other cultures than your BDSM ‘culture’ you abdicate responsibility. That doesn’t fly with me.

    We aren’t going to agree on this, because for that to happen I would have to outrage my conscience and I won’t. Yes, those are big pompous words. But that is what it comes down to for me. Big words describing something very simple, as they so often do.

    And nothing you have said to me just now has countered my points. You have not proven that pain is ‘good’. And again, the more we talk biology (which I invited, I admit) the more we get away from what BDSM actually is- the harming of another person.

    • hexy March 12, 2009 at 4:06 AM #

      Laurelin: I certainly can’t speak for Peter, but my echoing of his concerns reflects my understanding of the sheer number of tribal cultures that incorporate pain as part of ritual. It is something that has spontaneously arisen in a huge array of vastly different cultures and religions globally, and something that has repeatedly re-appeared in a number of religions well after they appear to evolve away from such traditions.

      Now, there’s no “… and that’s why BDSM is completely unproblematic” tacked onto the end of that paragraph. I’m simply expressing why I feel slightly uncomfortable, particularly as a member of an ethnicity whose traditional behaviours and practices do include the aforementioned pain elements, with predominantly white Westerners insisting that pain has no positive purpose, does no good, and should not be seen in a productive context.

      • Laurelin March 12, 2009 at 6:24 PM #

        Hexy- I’m not arguing about what tribal cultures do or don’t do. I’m arguing against it being hijacked in conversation by a man who wants to defend harming women. That’s all.

        • hexy March 13, 2009 at 10:06 AM #

          I certainly don’t condone actual harm of women, and if I’m going to be honest I have my own issues with maledoms. But I do see the relevance of the comparison made.

  47. Trinity March 11, 2009 at 3:56 PM #

    “I know for damn sure I can’t be the only one who spent most of his or her adolescence being confused as hell about BDSM desires.”

    Oh, I did too. I just didn’t do anything about it aside from, y’know, join fundamentalist religious groups in the hope God would take it away (yes, I’m serious) until I was in college.

  48. Jon March 26, 2009 at 4:01 AM #

    Well, the crux of this all is that you are trying to apply feminist ideals to a consensual sex act. If you are going to apply it to one consensual sex act though, you need to apply it to all consensual sex acts. Sex has to be absolutely equal in all ways or one of you has power of the other.
    Given this fact, we can rule out the missionary position, seeing as how that means he is forcing his patriarchal rule upon you. Also, you can’t be on top of him, because then you are forcing your feminist agenda upon him. Sex “doggy” style is right out because that outright implies the woman is nothing but an animal there to please the man. We have more or less ruled out conventional positions for sex. So you can have sex laying down and facing one another (because if the woman is facing away from the man she becomes a faceless object for his pleasure), but the woman can’t wrap her legs around the man because that could be seen as caging him with your femininity, and likewise he can’t wrap his arms around her for the same reason.
    Next, you aren’t allowed to look at one another, because if he sees her body and becomes aroused it’s because he is enjoying her physical form and not the intelligent being she is. And she isn’t allowed to look at him for the same reason.
    Next, you aren’t allowed to touch one another’s genitals, because that implies that one is forcing the other to become aroused against their will. It has to happen completely naturally or not at all.
    And then the biggest problem, neither one of you is allowed to enjoy sex more then the other! Because if one enjoys it more then the other then that person is benefiting more from the sexual activity and that too is unequal. Your best bet is to have neither of you enjoy sex to be on the safe side, so you should paralyze yourselves. (Or you should be asleep, it would probably be more honest and equal this way.)
    So essentially, the best way to have perfectly Equal Sex is to lock each other in a box, with your arms, legs, and head tied in place so you can’t touch one another, while wearing blindfolds so you can’t see one another, drugged so you can’t enjoy one another, and breathing from separate tubes to ensure neither of you of unfairly breathing the other’s air.
    And in the end, this seems an awful lot kinkier then anything I would ever enjoy…
    The fact of the matter is you can’t apply feminist ideals to consensual sex acts. To Non consensual sex acts? Hell yes!
    But the fact of the matter is just because I beat her in the bedroom and she likes it, doesn’t mean that transfers in any way to our lives Outside of the bedroom.
    This is sex we are talking about and how people enjoy it is their business. Whether or not it enforces a patriarchal ideal is moot. Because it’s behind closed doors and so rarely out in the open for all the world to see (and therefore backup the ideals of..) that it may as well be nonexistent.
    Now you will say porn certainly is, and I am not going to defend porn. Either all porn is anti fem, or none of it is regardless of the material. This isn’t what I am arguing about.
    I am arguing for sexual freedom. I am arguing that we are this way not because of societal pressures but because of the way our minds work. I didn’t become a dominant in the bedroom because of the way I was raised. My girlfriend didn’t become sexually submissive because of the way she was raised either. It’s just in our nature.
    You people have your preconceived notions and will stick to them with religious zeal because quite frankly, you are on the outside. It’s like christians and muslims arguing when the christians haven’t bothered to read the Koran. In fairness maybe some of you have looked deep into it and kept your opinion, power to you, you are as welcome to your opinion as I am to mine.
    But the plain and simple fact is, ANY decision a woman makes is a feminist one. Whether is be to run a fortune 500 company, or to stay at home and raise her children because she disagrees with latch key parenting. And if she wants to work and have her husband stay home for the same reason, that should be acceptable too.
    I am all for the freedom of Choice! Any Choice! That is more or less my closing statement for the site. I might come back and comment of this subject more because it’s near and dear to my heart. So very much so, that I have decided to write a book about it from the Dom’s perspective. Because you people are right, there isn’t a whole lot out there from our point of view, and I think it’s about time. I will aim to have it published within a year and if I can’t get it published, I will post it online.
    Honestly, I would like to be able to sit down and talk face to face with all of you on the subject, and if it were possible, I would take the time to do it. But since it really isn’t this is the next best thing.

  49. Jovana March 31, 2009 at 5:28 AM #

    After reading a number of your BDSM posts, I have one overarching reaction.

    It seems that your objection to BSM [and I believe you state this at points.] is not feminist, but humanist; you believe BDSM hurts people because there it is impossible for a person to “consent” to submissive [and/or painful, humiliating] sex acts.

    At one point, you attribute this lack of free will to the society we live in, saturated with misogynist messages and structured under the patriarchy. Then I believe you conclude that submissives therefor are not consenting to BDSM sex but are forced into it by powers they are not aware of, therefor such practices should be disallowed as to protect those who are interested [or anyone] from being forced, so to speak, into making decisions harmful to themselves by society at large.

    [please correct me if my summary is flawed]

    Your reaction is completely understandable and rational, but I disagree with your central conceit– that the submissive is forced into his/her consent. I do not disagree that we live in a misogynistic, paternal society. I do not disagree that this can and does inform our lives, experiences and choices. However, I do not believe that society means we cannot make choices of our own, and I doubt you believe this either [otherwise feminism, humanism, and any other ‘rights’ movement would be a completely lost cause]. All of our decisions are influenced by external factors, but I do not believe the existence of such factors negates our ability to make decisions, give consent etc. Given your apparent belief that you have the free will to make the decision to abstain from BDSM sex, and as an extension rejecting misogyny and the patriarchy, I ask, do you believe “true” acts of autonomy [decisions, etc] can be only made if they oppose the social norms of the culture in which they are made? Or is there some middle ground I’m missing.

    While I wouldn’t dare argue that a certain disturbing percentage of BDSM, or any other kind of pornography, involves participants who are coerced into their performances, in one way or another, I don’t believe that these cases outweigh the rights of others who consent to and enjoy BDSM to participate in these practices.

    Also, out of curiosity, what about smoking? Smoking is, in the long term, more dangerous than BDSM sex [or at least more likely to result in death and health problems], consensual, and also heavily influenced by societal presences. The media and society can certainly be heavily involved in an individual’s choice to smoke, and the addiction factor even further draw into question the “consensual” aspect of the behavior. Do you believe smoking should be outlawed?

    What about unhealthy foods?

    What about alcohol and other drugs?

    Essentially, where do you believe the government or any other individual has the prerogative to force a behavior [in these cases, abstinence] upon an individual, if it is for “their own good”?

    This appears to be a kind of submission without a safe-word.

    • Nine Deuce March 31, 2009 at 5:43 AM #

      Your summary is flawed in that you are reading something into my analysis that I never said. I don’t believe there’s no such thing as consent, nor do I believe that BDSM should be disallowed. I would like people to change their attitudes so that sex and power are not coterminous. I’m pretty tired of the accusation that I’m for banning anything, to be honest. I’ve never advocated banning anything, because it doesn’t work. I want the demand to go away, not the supply.

      • James April 1, 2009 at 4:05 PM #

        “I’m pretty tired of the accusation that I’m for banning anything, to be honest. ”

        Why don’t you ban it?

  50. OC May 6, 2009 at 5:05 PM #

    I have been reading through these archives for awhile, and I’m a little sad. Not that this conversation is happening, with so many participants. That’s great. But 9/2, it’s a shame that you, who are obviously capable of creating and sheparding a really interesting and insightful discussion, have decided to hide your thoughts behind provocations and overgeneralizations, and therefore given everyone else leave to do the same. I don’t think it’s neccesary—I realize that it’s a *fun* way to write, but I would encourage you to reconsider.

    I’m a male submissive; I’ve been submissive for as long as I can remember, and it’s always felt very much as if that was my sexual “identity,” the core pattern my other desires arranged themselves around. It never felt like a choice. Submission is a much stronger alignment of my desires than gender preference: my lover today is a woman, but I still feel far more submissive than heterosexual.

    I am not interested in appropriating for kink the struggles that gays, women, and people of color have been through—struggles that I and the people I love have tried to share in. In a cynical way, I think it is a sign of a social movement’s “arrival” that its advocates suddenly start distancing themselves from the next group that wants to be accepted by society. But I’m not that interested in having BDSM be socially accepted. Certainly I am not interested in defending the rights of the fictitious guy walking his sub through Macy’s in nipple clamps. Not that I think that’s immoral, it just seems that there are far more pressing issues to work on.

    But when I see anti-BDSM arguments of the sort being thrown around here, including by you, 9/2, I get worried. Not for me, or for other kinksters, but bad arguments do not glue themselves to one target and stay there. For example, the history of US anti-immigrant racism is perhaps ten chapters worth of the same specious arguments, each time with a different group in its cross-hairs, and each time with a pat explanation for why, although we’ve come around on the Irish, all that shit we talked about the Irish is actually applicable to the Italians. And so forth.

    And so it is depressing, of course, to hear a complete recycle of anti-gay arguments as anti-BDSM arguments. Please, please, note…. I’m not saying that queer oppression and the oppression of BDSM are equivalent. I am saying that it is dangerous to run back to our old friends: “I have an identity but you only have a lifestyle” or “it is self-evident that what you’re doing is gross and questionable” or “I’m not criticizing you personally, I’m just saying that you’re a subhuman pervert” or, most generally “the details your private sex life should be a matter of public concern by internet pundits.”

    Because, 9/2, that train always has another station. Christian Dominionists are sitting right there in the wings waiting to use all those arguments on gays and women, again. Cultural Conservatives are only too happy to lay that shit on Mexicans and other immigrants whose cultures they want to assimilate/erase. And who knows who’s up next? Ten years from now, when we as a culture decide to really start cracking down on fat people, we’ll still have this whole stupid arsenal: “I just don’t undersand how anyone can actually ENJOY eating Cheetos, unless they were traumatized in some way….”

    So, no, I don’t think BDSM is pro-feminist. But I think anti-BDSM, unless it is done with much more care and much more reference to serious studies than you seem willing to devote to it so far, can too easily be anti-feminist.

  51. Immir March 20, 2010 at 5:10 AM #

    Great post. You adressed that all so well…

  52. Imaginary April 23, 2010 at 1:31 PM #

    I really liked your post, and while I found most of the comments too triggering to read, what little I picked up is that some folks are ignoring your stance of “intertwining sex and power has never led to any good” for “stop trying to tell me what to do in my sexy timess!”

    Doesn’t the harm of sexual abuse come from tightly knitting together power and sex to the point where the victim can’t even tell if they are consenting or if they are enjoying what’s happening? A sexual practice that seems built on pinning power to sex just reeks of abuse. I’m not an expert by any means, but I don’t think that normalizing bondage, sadism, and or masochism helps anyone. I guess it must be addicting though, like self harm.

  53. wiggles April 24, 2010 at 1:05 AM #

    harmony
    May 9, 2009 at 6:39 AM

    after actually reading this blogger’s entry, i have yet another change of opinion… it seems s/he is a conservative (perhaps not on all issues, but enough of them). damn. too bad.

    Because M/f sexual relations are ever-so progressive, and anybody who criticizes or opposes them is a Puritan.

  54. joy April 24, 2010 at 1:37 PM #

    It’s that whole black-and-white dichotomy again.

    Like all those people who thought old Barry O was the furthest Left any politician could go, and thus everyone who disagreed with him was a regressive fundie by default.

  55. polly April 24, 2010 at 2:00 PM #

    But the plain and simple fact is, ANY decision a woman makes is a feminist one. Whether is be to run a fortune 500 company, or to stay at home and raise her children because she disagrees with latch key parenting. And if she wants to work and have her husband stay home for the same reason, that should be acceptable too.

    Dear sweet Jesus in heaven how did I ever miss that?

    Time for this.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/women-now-empowered-by-everything-a-woman-does,1398/

  56. lizor April 25, 2010 at 2:09 PM #

    Polly – Ha! Good catch and good link.

    Yes, shopping, etc. is “empowering” like going to a salon and dropping $100 to have someone rip out your pubes is “pampering”.

  57. Z November 26, 2010 at 3:11 PM #

    Ha. I’m late to all of this, but: what Imaginary said, a few posts up.

    This post rambles.

    I enjoyed the series. The comments are exhausting though.

    ONE

    I landed here because I Googled sadism — I’m teaching a novel with torture in it – I mean real torture in prisons under a dictatorship – and I am trying to figure out how the psychology of this all works.

    Elaine Scarry’s book _The Body in Pain_ studies pain and torture and how they work psychologically. I’m not finished reading it yet but it is smart. If you look at the blogs of some of the s/m people who have commented here, you can see that they actually *are* trying to get the effects Scarry talks about. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad, or that it’s not compelling, or that it might not be, for some people, a way to cope / learn some things / heal some things.

    But. I teach in a state where corporal punishment is a norm and I can tell you it stunts people. And I don’t think s/m b/d are minority practices in the current age. Not when most people support beating children, not in a country that tortures, etc. etc.

    TWO

    I hadn’t heard of the phenomenon “sub drop” before reading this series. I’m familiar with what it is like to be an abuse victim though and there’s an aftermath that looks a lot like sub drop, especially if, while the abuse is taking place, you try to tell yourself it’s not as bad as it is. The recommendations for how to take care of sub drop — get the dominant to reassure you, go and get your hair done, etc. — are exactly what I’d do when I had abusive situations. My parents, who are abusive to each other, do this, and I do it after dealing with them; I did it when I was in an abusive relationship myself. Even now I notice it: I am somewhat unkind to myself still, and then I’ll go and cure myself with manicures and whatnot. Consumption of feminine things.

    THREE

    I think one big attraction of s/m is you can see your oppressor. Also, the oppressor isn’t you, and your complicity is made explicit and has limits. So you can experience something in controlled circumstances and have a chance to understand it.

    FOUR

    My mother self injures so she can be taken care of. My ex, the abusive one, did the same thing. It’s an outright compulsion, they know they’re creating havoc (all the 911 calls, the nursing, etc.) and they are not happy about imposing in this way, but they just can’t resist.

    I don’t know whether my parents are in a BDSM relationship or not but their dynamic is that way, and it might be freeing for them to relax into some definite rules and protocols and consciousness about it, instead of flail around with the dynamic as they do.

    It wasn’t good to be raised by someone as masochistic as my mother, though, or as sadistic, because I learned that submission through self annihilation was the only path to (a) survival, (b) love, and (c) salary. This isn’t how the real world works, you have to take care of yourself and have an identity if you are going to support yourself.

    FIVE

    My compulsion, similar to my mother’s and my ex’s, is to let people get away with just a little more than I’m comfortable with, and then to stop them. I have this from having dealt with my mother all those years, when I wasn’t allowed to set limits or, if I did, they weren’t respected and I didn’t have the power to stop her.

    I know I shouldn’t let people get as far as I sometimes let them, I could perfectly well stop them sooner, but I think I seek the exhilarating experience of stopping them when they HAVE started to go to far, as my mother did. I want to stop them at just that point. I get an endorphin rush from it, too, and then, exhausted, I get depressed.

    Being aware of these things it’s hard for me to see BDSM as liberating, although I guess it can be reassuring and there’s plenty of abuse outside of it.

    I have a submissive streak but I don’t like pain, and I don’t want to “learn to like” it. I don’t know whether the submissive streak is inborn, it could be, but the intellectual interest I take in pain isn’t; I have been aware of it since childhood but I already knew it was an attempt to understand my environment.

  58. Z November 29, 2010 at 1:56 AM #

    OK, more: it seems Gilles Deleuze wrote a theoretical book on masochism, here: http://www.amazon.com/Masochism-Coldness-Cruelty-Venus-Furs/dp/0942299558 and then one could go further, into Kristeva (Powers of Horror); this plus Scarry would give one a lot of ideas on what is happening when one delves into these questions of power and pain.

    I still vote for this comment, above: “This entire culture is structured upon the oppression of gender roles and the model of a patriarchal two gender family. Tying someone up and fucking them or licking their feet is odd, but it’s hardly challenging the status quo in a fundamental way.”

    I’m not trying to suggest people shouldn’t do what they want to and so on.

  59. Rachel October 27, 2011 at 9:17 PM #

    I’m very late on this, but I feel compelled to answer because I think a lot of what is argued about here is not actually integral to BDSM’s morality. I don’t think how a kink develops (nurture vs. nature), or whether it’s inherent vs. chosen, or whether it’s a byproduct of our society, is relevant to that issue.

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with consensual (and safe and sane!) BDSM practices.

    To begin, I think that BDSM relationships consist, firstly, of the usual things necessary for a healthy relationship – love, trust, respect. Neither position is inferior or superior. Both positions can withdraw consent at any time, and are not obligated to do anything more than they are comfortable with. Both people participating have given consent, enjoy the activity, and find that it makes them happier. It’s also very common to hear people say that BDSM activities have elevated their sense of intimacy with one another, not diminished or cheapened it. As in healthy relationships this interaction only adds to the relationship, to the participants’ sense of self and worth, and to their general happiness, I can’t understand the compulsion to condemn except of a series of misunderstandings – for example, the idea that the submissive person must be inferior, or that they assert no independent will. The submissive person is choosing to participate in the practice, because they want to, because they enjoy it and because they find it beneficial.

    There are a few other relevant ideas put forth here that I disagree with. There is, of course, the idea that consent to submission is invalid because it is a result of the patriarchy, as the current system enforces the idea of submissive females and dominant males. Firstly, this idea is degrading in that it characterizes humanity as weak-willed and easily manipulated, and invalidates a variety of personal choice. That is, frankly, unfair. Secondly, this again assumes M/f relationships as a norm within BDSM and blatantly ignores the relevance of any other BDSM relationships types. As for the notion that a man’s submission reinforces the patriarchy as much as female submission because it is merely a way to feminize the man and masculinize the woman (thereby displaying the same power dynamic), I actually find that idea itself sexist; it assumes that the expression of submission is in itself feminine and that a man cannot be simultaneously masculine and submissive.

    To state that any BDSM play is detrimental and degrading to the submissive participant is, in my opinion (and a tad ironically), impeding on the that submissive person’s right to decide what they want, and what benefits them. To negate their experiences and emotions concerning these desires, when you have no personal knowledge of either, strikes me as completely unfair to them and, bluntly put, arrogant.

    I also don’t see BDSM as anti-feminist. On the contrary, I think it’s harmful to feminism to tell women that their sexual desires and personal choices are inherently wrong, despite the fact that no consent is violated and everyone involved benefits. Obviously, I have no interest in supporting the patriarchy; I disagree with inequality, but I don’t think BDSM is in fact inequality. Additionally, I think that devaluing and discrediting genuine desires in attempt to divert the patriarchy (or for fear they may indirectly support the patriarchy) is counterproductive. I don’t think my desires ought to be restricted or considered invalid because of the potential implications that could be wrangled out of them. In a way, this is practically allowing the patriarchy to be further overbearing; if my desires don’t coordinate with it, society ostracizes me, but if they do, I’m clearly not thinking for myself and am just a puppet in the system’s hands! I don’t want my desires – and my decisions – to be about or be restricted by the patriarchy. I want them to be my own, and I think that’s a lot more important to feminism than the way my choices are construed in relation to the patriarchy.

    I’m almost certainly missing arguments here that I should have discussed, but I did just read this entire thread top-to-bottom (with, I will admit, moments of simmering indignation), so I don’t really think I could possibly cover it all.

    Not that it particularly matters but, for the record, I am a dominant woman and both a sadist and a masochist, although not in any way submissive. I’m almost entirely comfortable with and confident about my sexual preferences and what they mean to me personally. I’m also seventeen and incredibly glad that there were the resources available that helped me understand these desires (which I’ve had for as long as I can remember). To any spouting anti-BDSM rhetoric, please consider that those practicing this are doing so based on genuine and strongly experienced desires which are not, despite superficial appearances, malicious and which are often enough important parts of their sexual identity. It is hurtful, regardless of how you regard BDSM, to devalue these desires or to tell someone that their identity is invalid. Beyond that it is incredibly unfair and presumptuous, as you cannot know their experiences within this framework. You’re obviously entitled to your opinion, but we’re entitled to our own lifestyles, and to a degree of reasonable respect. It would be appreciated right about now, I think.

    Thanks to any that bothered to read this veritable essay. I hope I managed to give some more perspective on all this.

  60. Sugarpuss October 29, 2011 at 5:12 AM #

    Rachel said

    I don’t think my desires ought to be restricted or considered invalid because of the potential implications that could be wrangled out of them.

    Oh gawd. Look Rachel, if you’re itching to get your ass beat by a hairy-backed, knuckle-dragging misogynist, by all means, go for it. It’s pretty idiotic how you choicy-choice LibFems keep getting your underwear in a bind over 92’s criticism of BSDM. I mean, you do realize that it would take a hell of a lot more than a blog on the internet to prevent you from getting your self-hating rocks off, right? 92 doesn’t have the power to restrict your “desires”, but The Patriarchy does…and it also has the power to shape, twist & distort female sexuality so that it is in compliance with what men want women to want. You’re a prime example of such programming.

  61. Sugarpuss October 29, 2011 at 5:29 AM #

    I’m also seventeen

    Well, that explains a few things. One day you’ll learn how the world really works. When I was your age, I thought I knew everything, too. Guess what? I didn’t. And I especially didn’t know anything about BSDM. Sad to see an underage girl who has already been lured into this crap. The pornification of our youth is becoming a very big problem, thanks to the internet.

  62. lizor October 29, 2011 at 10:05 AM #

    LOVING your posts Sugarpuss.

    @ Rachel

    “I don’t want my desires – and my decisions – to be about or be restricted by the patriarchy. I want them to be my own, and I think that’s a lot more important to feminism than the way my choices are construed in relation to the patriarchy.”

    Well guess what? Your desires ARE informed by the patriarchy. What you say is akin to a fish saying “I don’t want the water conditions to inform my swimming style”.

    The fact that your “intensely felt desires” (compulsions?) reenact patriarchal power relations (yeah I know you are masochist, NOT submissive. It’s still about inflicting pain and playing power) suggests you may want to have a look at that.

    If you are attempting to identify the sources of your oppression, this blog is not the place to look.

  63. Rachel October 29, 2011 at 1:56 PM #

    “Oh gawd. Look Rachel, if you’re itching to get your ass beat by a hairy-backed, knuckle-dragging misogynist, by all means, go for it. It’s pretty idiotic how you choicy-choice LibFems keep getting your underwear in a bind over 92′s criticism of BSDM. I mean, you do realize that it would take a hell of a lot more than a blog on the internet to prevent you from getting your self-hating rocks off, right? 92 doesn’t have the power to restrict your “desires”, but The Patriarchy does…and it also has the power to shape, twist & distort female sexuality so that it is in compliance with what men want women to want. You’re a prime example of such programming.”

    It’s evident you didn’t read my entire post (or, if you did, you chose to ignore parts of it). If you had, you would know that I’m dominant, not submissive, which I suppose contradicts your assertion that I’m a “prime example of such programing”.

    However, that’s irrelevant to my point. I was trying to say that it doesn’t matter if my desires are a result of patriarchy, or if ones like them will be around after it’s dismantled. What matters to me is that any current expression of them is not immoral. As for the harmlessness of this blog, I did not at any time state that ND’s comments had the power to restrict my desires. I stated that I would prefer if she, and others on this blog, expressed their opinions in a less insulting way and tried to understand our point of view because reacting in this way is hurtful. Your comment is actually a pretty good example of this; calling all dominant men “misogynist” and defining all submissive people as “self-hating”, are both inaccurate and fairly insulting assumptions, not to mention blatant stereotyping.

    As for my age, I also never said that I know everything, and I don’t think I do. I’m speaking from my own emotions and experiences, limited as they may be, about why I disagree with the language used here and the assertion that BDSM is immoral. I don’t think my age ought to invalidate my opinion, or immediately cast me as “an underage girl lured into this crap”. That’s both condescending and another example of stereotyping. You’re assuming to know things about me based on my demographic rather my individual traits, and once again I do not appreciate it.

    “Well guess what? Your desires ARE informed by the patriarchy. What you say is akin to a fish saying “I don’t want the water conditions to inform my swimming style”.

    The fact that your “intensely felt desires” (compulsions?) reenact patriarchal power relations (yeah I know you are masochist, NOT submissive. It’s still about inflicting pain and playing power) suggests you may want to have a look at that.

    If you are attempting to identify the sources of your oppression, this blog is not the place to look.”

    Again, I didn’t say that my desires are in no way affected by the patriarchy. I stated that I didn’t want to suppress desires that I feel strongly based solely on how they might be construed in the relation to the patriarchy. To stretch your fish metaphor, I wouldn’t try to swim a different way than the water conditions made easiest for me unless I had a good reason – like the immorality of those actions – to do otherwise.

    I wouldn’t collapse ‘intensely felt desires’ with ‘compulsions’. ‘Compulsions’ implies a lack of control; I don’t have that. I have a strong emotion with no rational reason to suppress it.

    I don’t think my desires reenact patriarchal power structures; I’m dominant, and my masochism is quite detached from my interest in power dynamics. However, even if they did reenact these structures (as they do in M/f relationships), I still wouldn’t say that makes them inherently wrong. Just because the interaction superficially resembles this patriarchal structure doesn’t make them equivalent, considering the consensual and mutually beneficial nature of the relationship. If you think otherwise, I would appreciate rational elaboration on why, preferably without insults or inflammatory language.

    I also didn’t say I was oppressed; I said I found the language used insulting. Essentially, I’m asking the anti-BDSM propagators to be more polite about it because acting in the way they have been is potentially hurtful and unnecessary.

  64. Sugarpuss October 29, 2011 at 8:04 PM #

    Rachel:

    It’s evident you didn’t read my entire post (or, if you did, you chose to ignore parts of it). If you had, you would know that I’m dominant, not submissive […]

    Yes, I read that part…and laughed heartily. Females are not allowed to be truly dominant in our society. It is only permissible to practice a watered-down kitten-with-a-whip brand of faux dominance, as that is what pleases men. When was the last time you saw a dominatrix wearing comfortable clothing? It’s always some leather or PVC bodysuit that is tight & binding, paired with 12 inch platform heels or some such. Quite the contrast from male doms; they just wear whatever the hell they want. Tight clothing is indicative of submission, so why do female doms still dress like subs even when they are play-acting the fantasy of being dominant? Answer: Because the whole idea behind BSDM is man-pleasing. BSDM is a product of the male mind, it’s not designed for women’s pleasure or comfort. You’re only fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Besides, at your age, who in the world could you possibly whip-up on? Justin Bieber? LOL

    What matters to me is that any current expression of them is not immoral.

    What exactly is your definition of “immoral”? As far as I’m concerned, it is immoral for half of the earth’s population to be held in slavery by the other half. And make no mistake about it…YOU ARE A SLAVE. Especially on the psychological level.

    As for the harmlessness of this blog, I did not at any time state that ND’s comments had the power to restrict my desires.

    It was implied. You stated that you didn’t like having your desires restricted. Were you or were you not speaking in reference to this particular article? Don’t try to backpedal, I’ll catch you every time. ;)

    I stated that I would prefer if she, and others on this blog, expressed their opinions in a less insulting way and tried to understand our point of view because reacting in this way is hurtful.

    If you’re offended by 92’s prose, then you must have the skin of an onion (some dommie you are). Go read an MRA blog; that is something to be insulted by. But to be quite honest, I find it offensive (and rude) to tell someone how to run their own blog. Nobody is forcing you to read any of this Don’t like it? Leave. 92 isn’t responsible for your butthurt.

    […] calling all dominant men “misogynist” […]

    Oopsie-daisy. Allow me to rephrase that: ALL men are misogynists, regardless of how they choose to get off. Also, all men are dominant; so-called “submissive” men are just passive-agressive assholes. Same shit, different toilet.

    I don’t think my age ought to invalidate my opinion, or immediately cast me as “an underage girl lured into this crap”. That’s both condescending and another example of stereotyping. You’re assuming to know things about me based on my demographic rather my individual traits, and once again I do not appreciate it.

    I’m not “casting” you as an underage girl; you are an underage girl. And don’t try to tell me that somebody (most likely a male who is much older than you) didn’t introduce you to the dark world of BSDM. A young girl doesn’t just wake up one day, and say to herself “Gee, I’d like to dress up like Barbarella and spank some dirty old man’s ass till he creams all over himself”. Somebody put this in your head. The question is, who?

    Oh, and yes, your age is pertinent to this conversation. Your lack of experience is what men prey upon. They will tell you that other women (especially older women) are crazy and/or jealous, and that you should just ignore us. You have to understand that everything that comes out of a man’s mouth, when he’s talking to girls/women, is said with the explicit purpose of stacking the deck in his favor. If he is required to lie, he will do so…with no remorse. At this stage in your life, you’re being groomed to comply with the Fuckability Mandate. A substantial portion of this involves the subtle insertion of certain sexual kinks into your psyche, with the intention of making you think it was your idea all along. Now, in other portions of your post(s), you have stated that you simply don’t care if your sexual interests/practices are a result of patriarchal programming…I find that quite disturbing. That tells me that you are either very out of touch with your womanhood, or you’re really a man posing as a girl; a troll.

  65. Rachel October 29, 2011 at 10:38 PM #

    “Yes, I read that part…and laughed heartily. Females are not allowed to be truly dominant in our society. It is only permissible to practice a watered-down kitten-with-a-whip brand of faux dominance, as that is what pleases men. When was the last time you saw a dominatrix wearing comfortable clothing? It’s always some leather or PVC bodysuit that is tight & binding, paired with 12 inch platform heels or some such. Quite the contrast from male doms; they just wear whatever the hell they want. Tight clothing is indicative of submission, so why do female doms still dress like subs even when they are play-acting the fantasy of being dominant? Answer: Because the whole idea behind BSDM is man-pleasing. BSDM is a product of the male mind, it’s not designed for women’s pleasure or comfort. You’re only fooling yourself if you think otherwise. Besides, at your age, who in the world could you possibly whip-up on? Justin Bieber? LOL”

    It’s absurd for you to assume that female dominance is always expressed as it is it in porn or mainstream media; of course that’s going to be an unrealistic portrayal. Do you really think all dominant women at home are dressing up in uncomfortable clothing and heels any time they want to have sex? I certainly don’t plan on it. I don’t even own a pair of heels. And from what I’ve heard and read from others involved, that approach isn’t at all uncommon. Furthermore, BDSM pleases me and many other women. I’ve already mentioned that I don’t think it’s important whether or not that pleasure is a result of our society, unless it has a negative impact on us. I’m yet to see or hear of one. As for the jab at my age, it’s totally irrelevant to the argument and again an irritating generalization (and seemingly an attempt at an insult).

    “What exactly is your definition of “immoral”? As far as I’m concerned, it is immoral for half of the earth’s population to be held in slavery by the other half. And make no mistake about it…YOU ARE A SLAVE. Especially on the psychological level.”

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re attempting to state here. If you mean that I am automatically in slavery because I am female and the world is male-led, then BDSM is irrelevant; it doesn’t increase or decrease that status. Also, I clearly consider slavery to be immoral, but as I stated, BDSM is not slavery; it’s not even more or less equal than any other interaction within any other relationship. Both people involved have given consent, and both can withdraw consent at any time. Neither has to do anything they are uncomfortable with. It isn’t slavery; it’s a mutual agreement, and is mutually benefiting. As for whether I’m a slave on a psychological level, that is firstly a little hyperbolic in any situation, and secondly impossible for you to determine. You don’t know me, so you’d have to be willing to assume that any woman interested in BDSM is a slave on a psychological level. For the record, that is yet another blatant and extremely unfair generalization, with no rational basis, and also restricts any meaningful conversation on the topic, as you can discount anyone with a view opposing your own as brainwashed without actually having to consider or reasonably critique their argument. If you believe BDSM to be immoral, please give me a concrete and rational argument rather than stating that my views are invalid because I disagree with you and therefore must be subconsciously in league with the patriarchy. Frankly, that’s a bit silly.

    “It was implied. You stated that you didn’t like having your desires restricted. Were you or were you not speaking in reference to this particular article? Don’t try to backpedal, I’ll catch you every time. ;)”

    Implications are subjective. I was not attempting to imply that, and I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. I was speaking about anti-BDFSM sentiment in general, as sadomasochistic practices have been restricted in certain countries, and as anti-BDSM discourse inevitably encourages anti-BDSM action.

    “If you’re offended by 92′s prose, then you must have the skin of an onion (some dommie you are). Go read an MRA blog; that is something to be insulted by. But to be quite honest, I find it offensive (and rude) to tell someone how to run their own blog. Nobody is forcing you to read any of this Don’t like it? Leave. 92 isn’t responsible for your butthurt.”

    She posted an opinion –a potentially offensive opinion – in a public space. I disagreed and expressed this, also in that same public space. I am aware that nobody is forcing me to read this, but I feel compelled to defend myself and others like me when they are insulted. That isn’t unreasonable, and I attempted to do it in a constructive way to show my viewpoint with hopes that I could help ND and others comprehend the opposing view, even if they continue to disagree with it. I don’t understand why people have argued against opposing feedback so frequently in this thread. If ND didn’t want any debate on her blog, she could simply not approve or delete my comments. Besides that, I view debate as beneficial so long as it doesn’t degrade into mere name-calling. It allows people to see other viewpoints and to consider them against their own. Even if they don’t change their minds during the debate, I don’t see that as ever being detrimental. Concerning my request for politeness, I think being reasonable and polite is a more constructive way to discuss an issue, and that insulting people is a poor and ineffective way to make an argument. I don’t think it is rude or demanding to ask someone to be polite.

    “Oopsie-daisy. Allow me to rephrase that: ALL men are misogynists, regardless of how they choose to get off. Also, all men are dominant; so-called “submissive” men are just passive-aggressive assholes. Same shit, different toilet.”

    Have I mentioned how I dislike generalizations yet? No? I don’t see how else to comment on this. Yes, the current society is misogynist. Yes, this means that a disturbing number of men will become misogynist. It also means a disturbing number of women will internalize misogynist beliefs. That doesn’t make it a rule applicable to every person; otherwise, discussions like this wouldn’t even happen. Furthermore, it was implied in your comment that dominant men and BDSM relationships are somehow more misogynistic than other men and other relationships. If that wasn’t your intent, then are you saying that you oppose any relationship between a male and female on the basis that it will be in inherently misogynistic? If that was your intent, then I’d like to know why you believe that, considering what I have stated about consent and mutual benefits. Regardless, please elaborate.

    “I’m not “casting” you as an underage girl; you are an underage girl. And don’t try to tell me that somebody (most likely a male who is much older than you) didn’t introduce you to the dark world of BSDM. A young girl doesn’t just wake up one day, and say to herself “Gee, I’d like to dress up like Barbarella and spank some dirty old man’s ass till he creams all over himself”. Somebody put this in your head. The question is, who?”

    The wording you used to state this implied to me that I am not just underage, but naive and somehow ‘tricked’ into being interested in BDSM. Your recent elaboration supports this. As it happens, no one – not even some creepy misogynist old men, god forbid – introduced me to BDSM. I’ve had fantasies involving dominance since I was very young, prior to knowing anything about sex, much less what BDSM is. The statement that “somebody put this in [my] head” is yet again an inaccurate assumption based on a stereotype.

    “Oh, and yes, your age is pertinent to this conversation. Your lack of experience is what men prey upon. They will tell you that other women (especially older women) are crazy and/or jealous, and that you should just ignore us. You have to understand that everything that comes out of a man’s mouth, when he’s talking to girls/women, is said with the explicit purpose of stacking the deck in his favor. If he is required to lie, he will do so…with no remorse. At this stage in your life, you’re being groomed to comply with the Fuckability Mandate. A substantial portion of this involves the subtle insertion of certain sexual kinks into your psyche, with the intention of making you think it was your idea all along. Now, in other portions of your post(s), you have stated that you simply don’t care if your sexual interests/practices are a result of patriarchal programming…I find that quite disturbing. That tells me that you are either very out of touch with your womanhood, or you’re really a man posing as a girl; a troll.”

    More generalizations about my age, and my automatic naivety and over all uselessness because of it. I don’t think someone’s demographic is ever relevant to the rationality of their argument. It might help explain the motives of his or her argument, but it isn’t a criticism of the logic involved.

    I don’t think other women are crazy or jealous, and have no intention of ignoring you. I wouldn’t be attempting to have a debate with you if that were the case. I do disagree with you, not because I am brainwashed but because I am yet to come across a rational reason for why BDSM is immoral – which, interestingly, has not been addressed unless to state that it is a result of the patriarchy (in my opinion, irrelevant, which I’ll explain the reasoning behind below). I also don’t believe that all men are sly, remorseless predators, seeking only sex from women. I’m sure some are. I’m sure plenty are. But again, I don’t like generalizations. The kind of language you use makes a lot of assumptions and broad, unsupported statements, as well as demonizing a large portion of the population and suggesting an absurd, exaggerated and dichotomous world which is not, in my opinion, an accurate reflection of reality, and which only serves to breed irrational fear.

    Then there’s whole bit about the plot to make me fuckable. How exactly is this dominant kink intentionally inserted into my psyche (prior to turning ten, at that), and how does it further your so-called Fuckability Mandate? This is a kink that involves me dictating the frequency and style of sex. Considering that many people involved in female dominance and male submission are actually interested in the denial of sex (and orgasms), the idea that female dominance is a way for men to garner more sexual activity in accordance with their carnal desires seems contradictory. Yes, some men desire the denial of sex and orgasms – the other side of coin, necessary to the interaction. But are you suggesting that submissive men exist naturally and that female dominance was inserted into my sexual psyche to benefit them?

    You’ve also questioned why I don’t think it’s incredibly important whether or not my desires stem from our current society (with the suggested explanations of me being either delusional or a liar). I don’t think it’s important because, even if it is true, it doesn’t make BDSM detrimental. It still makes both participants happy. The practices are still consensual, even if the psychology behind the consent has to do with social conditioning, and they are still enjoyed. I don’t particularly like the idea that BDSM stems from the patriarchy, but regardless it doesn’t affect the benefits of acting on my desires. So long as both participants are genuinely enjoying and consenting to the practice, does the source of those desires affect their morality? I don’t think so. If you do, please explain why.

  66. No Sugarcoating October 29, 2011 at 10:54 PM #

    Sugarpuss, I think you’re being too harsh on her, honestly. She obviously has a good head on her shoulders, BDSM disagreements aside, and most 20 somethings would not be able to speak with the maturity she has displayed. It takes a lot of reading and thinking before one’s able to go beyond the usual arguments, and she seems to be at least trying to understand our point of view, which is more than can be said for most.

    I don’t think politeness should be the top priority when critiquing something you see as very harmful to women, Rachel, but that comment seems to be more of a result of a difference in personality than an act of condescension as Sugarpuss took it. I’m 18. If you want to talk, email me at othersideofporn@gmail.com. I’ll answer any questions you have, but I’d prefer to do it privately.

  67. lizor October 30, 2011 at 10:55 AM #

    @Rachel,

    I did not insult or name-call you. I simply pointed out that participating in P. Compliant sexual games or acts was worth a bit more examination than your original assertion that the ideas expressed on this blog were restricting your sexuality.

    I should have worded “If you are attempting to identify the sources of your oppression, this blog is not the place to look” a little better. There is lots of great information here regarding women’s oppression under patriarchy, but asserting that ND and the people who post here are oppressing you is bullshit.

  68. sneeky bunny October 30, 2011 at 1:19 PM #

    Rachel and No Sugarcoating, can I just say that the two of you make me very happy. Too often the views of younger people are discounted, and to do so to either of you, considering how obviously thoughtful and intelligent you both are, is misguided and insulting. I hope that Rachel takes you up on your offer No Sugarcoating, and that you can have a productive and spirited conversation on your differing views regarding the topic.

  69. Rachel October 30, 2011 at 3:38 PM #

    To Lizor:

    “I did not insult or name-call you. I simply pointed out that participating in P. Compliant sexual games or acts was worth a bit more examination than your original assertion that the ideas expressed on this blog were restricting your sexuality.”

    I was speaking about ND’s posts and this entire thread when I referred to name-calling, as people who practice BDSM have earlier been called idiotic, in need of psychological help, etc. I don’t actually think you insulted me or anyone else. I thought your comment was pretty polite about all this. Of course, when I asked for elaboration from you, I did say “preferably without insults or inflammatory language”, which was uncalled for in application to you personally. Sorry about that; I was just reacting in a general way, which is usually a bad idea.

    That aside, I agree that examination can never hurt, and I’d certainly like to hear your views on BDSM and its morality. I did already say that I don’t think this blog is restricting my sexuality, but I guess I should have clearer about all that. I do think that some of the ideas expressed on this blog have insulted it, and that in other circumstances sexualities like my own have been restricted, but I meant to distinguish between the two situations, which I apparently did not do so well.

    “I should have worded “If you are attempting to identify the sources of your oppression, this blog is not the place to look” a little better. There is lots of great information here regarding women’s oppression under patriarchy, but asserting that ND and the people who post here are oppressing you is bullshit.””

    Again, I didn’t say they were oppressing me; I said that some of them insulted me. Much more mild, and mostly concerning because I think it’s detrimental to constructive debate and can cause people to react with hurt, alienation or anger instead of rationality.

    I haven’t read a lot of ND’s other posts, so I’ll reserve judgement, but even if we disagree on this issue, based on her values (namely the propagation of equal rights), I imagine we’d agree on a least a few points. That we disagree on BDSM’s effect on equal rights doesn’t mean that I’m going to discount any other viewpoints she expresses. Actually, I’d quite like to hear from her or anyone else about why they disagree with BDSM.

    To No Sugarcoating:

    I may very well do that! Thank you for the offer.

    To Sneeky Bunny:

    Thanks! (That’s awfully brief, but I’m not sure what else to say, haha).

  70. Sugarpuss October 30, 2011 at 6:01 PM #

    I’m not going to bother replying to “Rachel’s” wall of text. It is obvious that his/her agenda is to defend men and/or give them the benefit of the doubt; a dire mistake.

    I now believe that “Rachel” is really a man; I don’t care who disagrees with me.

  71. Sugarpuss October 30, 2011 at 6:28 PM #

    I have only one more comment to add to this topic, and then I’m done with it.

    In a world where women are being denied their most basic freedoms, I am saddened & disgusted to see that the only thing most LibFems seem to care about is their right to spank or be spanked. “Objectification by choice! Teehheeheehee!!!” is their tagline.

    Pathetic.

  72. Rachel October 30, 2011 at 7:25 PM #

    “I’m not going to bother replying to “Rachel’s” wall of text. It is obvious that his/her agenda is to defend men and/or give them the benefit of the doubt; a dire mistake.

    I now believe that “Rachel” is really a man; I don’t care who disagrees with me.”

    My agenda is to state my opinion, defend my desires and beliefs, and hopefully help others understand my viewpoint. If you want to refuse to listen or to deny that I am expressing these ideas genuinely, that’s your own choice, but I see no benefit in closing yourself off from honest debate.

    “I have only one more comment to add to this topic, and then I’m done with it.

    In a world where women are being denied their most basic freedoms, I am saddened & disgusted to see that the only thing most LibFems seem to care about is their right to spank or be spanked. “Objectification by choice! Teehheeheehee!!!” is their tagline.

    Pathetic.”

    The fact that more important issues exist does not mean that these issues should be ignored, which is evident from the fact that they are being discussed on this blog at all (something you didn’t seem to have a problem with until someone disagreed with you). Also, you cannot possibly know what I do or do not care about outside of this one context – except, of course, by making more generalizations and assumptions. However, as you’ve reverted back to insults rather than offering me a rational argument, as I asked, I don’t see how I can give you any feedback that is constructive or even relevant to the issue. You also claim to be done with this topic, so I don’t suppose I ever am going to get a rational argument from you. That’s unfortunate; I really would have liked to hear why you think BDSM is immoral. But again, it’s your own choice whether to continue the discussion or not.

    • Nine Deuce October 30, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

      I believe she’s already explained why she thinks it’s immoral, but I’ll leave it to her to decide if she feels like doing so again.

  73. Rachel October 30, 2011 at 7:56 PM #

    She’s stated that it stems from the patriarchy, which I refuted as not making it inherently wrong. She could obviously disagree with that point, but she hasn’t as of yet argued it. She’s also made a vague statement about half the world’s population being in slavery in reference to its immorality, but I don’t understand what she was trying to imply by that.

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being dense and missing her point, but regardless I’d like clarification.

    • Nine Deuce October 30, 2011 at 8:30 PM #

      How is it possible for something that derives from patriarchy to not be immoral? Can you give me another example of something that derives from patriarchy that is not necessarily immoral? Can you provide an example of something that derives from racial hierarchy that isn’t inherently bad? Or is the hierarchical-but-not-necessarily-immoral exemption limited to things that lead to orgasm?

  74. sneeky bunny October 30, 2011 at 8:01 PM #

    Yes, yes Sugarpuss any one who disagrees with you (and civilly no less) is obviously a man. That certainly is some lazy thinking on your part. And I don’t believe Rachel said anything even remotely like “Objectification by choice! Teehheeheehee!!!” or that BDSM is the only thing she cares about with in the context of feminism.
    Perhaps you might take the time to actually read what she has written rather than insulting her and putting words in her mouth. You might take as your example No Sugarcoating.

    That is of course, if her youth doesn’t cause you to dismiss her opinions out of hand as well.

  75. Rachel October 30, 2011 at 8:40 PM #

    “How is it possible for something that derives from patriarchy to not be immoral? Can you give me another example of something that derives from patriarchy that is not necessarily immoral? Can you provide an example of something that derives from racial hierarchy that isn’t inherently bad? Or is the hierarchical-but-not-necessarily-immoral exemption limited to things that lead to orgasm?”

    I think the morality of things should be judged on their consequences, not their source. For example, a woman may want to have children – perhaps because of social conditioning, as that is encouraged by the patriarchy, but maybe not. Regardless, she wants to have children, and it has made her happy to do so. Even if this want is a result of the patriarchy, is it immoral so long as it is making her happy and not hurting anyone? I can agree that the original social conditioning is likely unethical, but acting on how you’ve been conditioning when it has no negative consequences doesn’t seem immoral to me.

    • Nine Deuce October 30, 2011 at 9:10 PM #

      Bad analogy. Having children is not a behavior that derives its essence from a social hierarchy.

  76. Rachel October 30, 2011 at 8:42 PM #

    “I can agree that the original social conditioning is likely unethical, but acting on how you’ve been conditioning when it has no negative consequences doesn’t seem immoral to me.”

    I meant ‘”on how you’ve been conditioned”, not ‘conditioning’.

  77. Sugarpuss October 30, 2011 at 8:56 PM #

    sneaky bunny said:

    And I don’t believe Rachel said anything even remotely like “Objectification by choice! Teehheeheehee!!!” or that BDSM is the only thing she cares about with in the context of feminism.

    Oh, that entire post was directed at you, as your rabid defense of Kink.com is permanently etched in to my memory. Cheers!

  78. Sugarpuss October 30, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

    For a good while now, I’ve been trying to figure out how & when the pursuit of creative orgasms became a Feminist issue. LOL What a mess.

  79. Rachel October 30, 2011 at 9:24 PM #

    “Bad analogy. Having children is not a behavior that derives its essence from a social hierarchy.”

    It’s a want that could potentially stem from our society. I don’t really believe BDSM is necessarily traceable back to our society either, but I don’t think it’s relevant whether or not it is, especially since both sides are entirely impossible to prove, and may very well differ from one person to the next.

    My main point was that the consequences, not the source, of something are what it makes it moral vs. immoral. Our current society encourages a variety of things that are not necessarily unethical – marriage, children, a steady job. If your explanation for BDSM’s apparent immorality is that it is encouraged or engendered by our patriarchal society, then we may just have a different idea of what defines something as immoral. I don’t think stating the source as immoral is ever a valid argument as to why the spawn is, as the source does not determine the spawn’s impact. I think something must have consequences that mark it as unethical in order to be defined as such.

  80. sneeky bunny October 30, 2011 at 9:41 PM #

    Oh Sugarpuss. Using quotation marks implies that the words contained within their bounds are words that can be reliably assumed to have been said and/or written by the person being quoted. I invite you to link to any comment, which I have ever written, containing the words “Objectification by choice! Teehheeheehee!!!” since that seems to be the gist of your last remark. While you’re at it, since your memory seems to be so faulty, you might try finding an example in which I defended Kink.com. I have never visited the site, nor do I ever intend to. I have only ever defended kinky people against the sweeping assumptions sometimes exhibited by posters here that they (and myself of course) are either liars or delusional.

    As far as orgasm being a feminist issue I fail to see how being a sexually fulfilled human being could be anything but a feminist issue. Being shamed for our desires has long been a tool of control used by society over women, and I for one am not having it. I have no quarrel that you and I differ in what we may find sexually fulfilling however. I have never, and will never, by word or deed, attempt to tell you your business in the bedroom.

    And just to be clear, I am neither under age nor am I a man.

  81. Hecate October 30, 2011 at 10:12 PM #

    Love your posts, Sugarpuss and ND ;) The thing that strikes me is that the BDSM set seem to think that those not involved in that scene must be oh-so-fascinated and dying to know what goes on. Well I for one, am not. If I’m into anything others might regard as ‘alternative,’ I don’t really care what they think. I do what I like (sexually or otherwise), however I hardly get evangelical about it or proselytize to others.

    As far as I know, no one gives a rat’s arse what a sub or domme does in the bedroom or anywhere else, for that matter. Maybe that’s what makes that community so angry – lack of interest from most folk. But hey, if you’re attention whores, I dunno, maybe get a webcam or something? Yawn. I mean come on, I live in San Francisco. You don’t think I’ve seen every damn thing under the sun already? There are more pressing topics to discuss, and this is a tremendous waste of a great blogspace.

    • Nine Deuce October 30, 2011 at 10:44 PM #

      Hecate, you just don’t hang out at the Power Exchange enough.

  82. Hecate October 30, 2011 at 11:25 PM #

    Lol ND! I know, to think that I could have some old lech leering at me in one of those joints right now. Yes, I must be uptight and not ‘game’ enough. That’s my problem. Or maybe I just have an actual life :D

  83. Sugarpuss October 31, 2011 at 12:52 AM #

    sneaky bunny:

    Oh Sugarpuss. Using quotation marks implies that the words contained within their bounds are words that can be reliably assumed to have been said and/or written by the person being quoted. I invite you to link to any comment, which I have ever written, containing the words “Objectification by choice! Teehheeheehee!!!” since that seems to be the gist of your last remark.

    Oh sneaky bunny. Have you never experienced sarcasm? How unkinky of you! Pretty bloody obvious I wasn’t being literal. Geeesh.

    I have only ever defended kinky people against the sweeping assumptions sometimes exhibited by posters here that they (and myself of course) are either liars or delusional.>/blockquote>

    What exactly is a “kinky” person? As I understand it, that word simply means unusual or different. Well, that could describe just about anybody, as everyone is different in some way. Of course, the word seems to have been sullied by porn producers; twisted into a label used to describe some type of sexual act that almost always involves the objectification & abuse of women, children and/or animals. Are you pro-porn?

    As far as orgasm being a feminist issue I fail to see how being a sexually fulfilled human being could be anything but a feminist issue.

    And I fail to see how it’s a major concern at all, considering the current state of affairs. I mean, I dunno…maybe it’s just me, but when I’m afraid to walk down the street at night or I’m refused employment based on my genitalia, the very last thought on my mind is “I wanna come!!!”. It seems to me that your priorities are a bit screwed up (pun intended). You haven’t posted here in a while, but it took a topic about sex (surprise surprise. NOT) to bring you back. What does that say about your commitment to the movement? Do you even care about the bigger issues, or are you just too consumed by your crotch to give a damn? I’ve given this lecture to many men, so don’t even start with the whole “inhibiting female sexuality” bit, because that’s a crock of crap.

    Being shamed for our desires has long been a tool of control used by society over women, and I for one am not having it.

    Last time I checked, being used as a fuckhole is the current form of oppression that women face. Certainly, slut-shaming is still wildly popular…but I believe it will eventually fall out of favor, due to the fact that it doesn’t serve men’s best interest (ie. acquiring pussy). All of the pro-sex stuff is just a clever trick to get men laid; it’s not about female empowerment, you silly goose. These days, a woman’s entire worth falls upon her “fuckability” factor; this is the lowly state that sex-pozzies have reduced us to. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be viewed as a giant cunt on legs. I’m a whole human.

    I have never, and will never, by word or deed, attempt to tell you your business in the bedroom.

    My business in the bedroom consists of sleeping; that’s what they were designed for. In a world abnormally obsessed with sex, I’ve chosen to opt out of putting myself in harm’s way for a pathetic little orgasm that lasts, what, 5 seconds, at the most? Hardly worth the time investment of a lengthy beautification process,.. or the risk of contracting an STD, being beaten, killed, stalked, etc. Yeah, I’m not gonna allow my vagina to run my life. Or Men.

    And just to be clear, I am neither under age nor am I a man.

    I’m quite aware of what you are; a woman who disproves my theory regarding age = wisdom.

  84. Sugarpuss October 31, 2011 at 12:55 AM #

    Oh great. I screwed up the tag. Being the nitpicker that I am, it drives me insane.

  85. Rachel October 31, 2011 at 7:50 PM #

    “As far as I know, no one gives a rat’s arse what a sub or domme does in the bedroom or anywhere else, for that matter. Maybe that’s what makes that community so angry – lack of interest from most folk. But hey, if you’re attention whores, I dunno, maybe get a webcam or something? Yawn. I mean come on, I live in San Francisco. You don’t think I’ve seen every damn thing under the sun already? There are more pressing topics to discuss, and this is a tremendous waste of a great blogspace.”

    When discourse about a controversial issue is begun in a public space, people from both sides are invariably going to debate and try to prove their points. That isn’t a bad thing – on the contrary, it’s often productive – and the fact that this is not necessarily an incredibly important issue doesn’t mean that it should be ignored or that discussing it is a waste. I mean, did you consider the whole series of blog posts a waste? A lot of people have interest in this topic. What’s the harm in discussing it?

    Anyway, I’d still very much like to know why an immoral source automatically defines the spawn as immoral (regardless of actual consequences), if anyone cares to explain the reasoning behind that. I understand that the conversation seems to be moving in a different direction, but I think it’s an important point that should be addressed.

  86. sneeky bunny October 31, 2011 at 11:20 PM #

    Sarcasm you say? Well you’re not very good at it, but I will accept your explanation.
    My position on porn is complicated and evolving, and one of the reasons I read this blog.
    And since you obviously were unable to find an example of my defense of Kink.com, I await your retraction of that statement as well.

    I find it ironic that you use the same rhetorical trick against me as was so recently used against 92 herself. The attempt to diminish the importance of an area of concern (in my case sexual politics, in 92’s case pop culture) by comparing them to some other injustice, is a favorite argument often used against feminists. Richard Dawkins’ attack on Rebecca Watson during Elevatorgate comes to mind as a recent example. It is a false choice. It is not either this or that. It isn’t Home Alive or Slut Walk. It isn’t Pepsi 10 or female genital mutilation in Africa. One is capable of caring about a vast array of things that impact us as women and maintaining one’s commitment to the movement. Because as you may have noticed, the movement is not monolith.

    But you’re right. I don’t post here often do I? I will attempt rectify that in the future since you seem to feel my absence so keenly.

    Sleep well.

  87. Hecate November 1, 2011 at 12:30 PM #

    Well Rachel, as Sugarpuss said, “I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be viewed as a giant cunt on legs. I’m a whole human.” I feel the same way. If you want to go on and on ad nauseum about your BDSM antics, go right on ahead. But you might be better off going to an actual BDSM forum if you really, genuinely want positive attention and interest in your personal sex life. I’m an adult, so I don’t need to be spewing the details of mine all over the interwebs. And yes, I do feel, as many of the womyn here, that there is no sexual practice that can be considered ‘liberating’ within the prison of patriarchy. So for my part, I’d rather discuss more realistic paths to freedom, than being ‘sex pozzies.’ Sounds like a pretty dizzy little movement, frankly. A ditzy bunny tied up and wearing stilettos… yeah, that’ll help! Time to get real, kid. If all you’re concerned about is the acceptance of your teen peers, and sharing stories about your sexual adventures, I don’t see you affecting any real change for yourself or other womyn. And if this thread is too long, it is clearly not because anyone finds BDSM practice so damn interesting, but, at least from what I can see on this board, BDSMers have a tendency to be rambling, waffling gasbags. Is it that hard to make a point? Maybe it’s from living in goofy fantasy worlds for too long… Make a point, or go play somewhere else, stupid, irrelevant bunnies. Run off to the master now! That’s a good little brainwashed slave :)

  88. Rachel November 1, 2011 at 7:53 PM #

    To Hecate:

    This may come as a shock to you, but I actually don’t consider myself a giant cunt on legs or an incomplete human. I just happen to consider my sexuality part of my humanity.

    The other thing is, very few people have actually talked about their personal sex lives here. Yes, the topic relates to some of ours, but we haven’t been discussing any explicit details about that. For the most part, the conversation I’ve had so far has dealt more with a rational evaluation of BDSM and the moral implications of it than my personal ‘BDSM antics’, as you put it. Also, that rational discussion is the whole point of the discussion – not generating interest in my personal sex life, which I would expect none of you to care about in the least, but expressing my beliefs on the topic while trying to understand the opposing view.

    If you aren’t interested in discussing this, then why are you commenting here at all? As I said, it doesn’t hurt anything for others or myself to discuss it. Concerning whether this is an appropriate place to do so – well, the issue itself was raised on this blog, and ND hasn’t seemed opposed to conversation here. So what’s the problem?

    I do really wish you wouldn’t assume that my interest in this topic guarantees my complete lack of interest in all other topics. This issue isn’t “all I’m concerned about”, but it is one of many things. I also wish that you and others would stop assuming that my opinion automatically makes me a ‘brainwashed slave’, simply because it differs from your own, and despite being based on logical reasoning. However, it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen any time soon.

    If you are interested in discussing this, then please actually read my posts and give me a rational rebuttal to the arguments I’ve made (I’m only assuming you haven’t read my posts because of the insult at the end; it implies that I am a submissive person, which I’ve already stated a few times not to be the case). I’d also prefer if you dropped the insults and inflammatory language, since being civil makes discussing this reasonably a lot easier and a lot more constructive.

    If that bit about how I should ‘make a point’ is aimed at the length of my posts, then I think we disagree on how exactly one makes a point. I did draw conclusions within my posts. I just also attempted to clarify and support them. I may be over-explaining at times, but only because I don’t want my point to be misunderstood or misrepresented. I think too much explanation is better than too little, personally.

    On another note, I’m still waiting for a rational argument about why an immoral source invariably defines the spawn as immoral, regardless of the spawn’s actual impact. Any takers?

  89. sneeky bunny November 1, 2011 at 11:33 PM #

    Rachel you are, of course, correct that you, (and for the matter, I) have never given any more information about the nuts and bolts of our “BDSM antics” than our respective orientations. Any spewing of details, for example the image of the “ditzy bunny tied up and wearing stilettos” exist only in the lurid imaginations of some of the other posters here, particularly regarding you, since you are a top. It is telling, that despite your repeated declaration of that fact, that it is has been ignored. I have observed that often radfems discount lesbians, domme women and sub men when considering sexuality and the patriarchy. It would be much more tidy if we didn’t exist, but we do, and some here find it irritating to have their assumptions challenged. Others find it an opportunity for growth and discussion or debate, and I urge you to hang in there (or rather, here)for their sake and the insight you might gain from pitting your position against theirs. Minds may be changed on either side. Who knows?
    Oh and Hecate? As far as ”rambling, waffling gasbags” I can think of a radfem poster here, overly fond of whimsical capitalization, and wall o’ text, that would more closely fit that description than Rachel.
    Just sayin’

  90. Sugarpuss November 2, 2011 at 1:46 AM #

    sneeky bunny:

    I don’t think you fully comprehend my stance. I believe that sexual politics are very important, in regard to rape & the constant objectification of women. OTOH, I do not feel that getting laid is a Feminist concern. One of the things I despise about men is their lack of control over their sexuality. They will pursue an orgasm at any cost to women or even themselves, and many LibFems are now sipping their Kool-Aid.

    92’s articles about pop culture & the media are actually relevant to Feminism, unlike man-pleasing sexual hijinks. Sex is a recreational activity, best enjoyed when you’re not depressed & stressed over your status as a societal inferior. There was a survey I read somewhere, and it stated that about 97% of men have used pornography at some point in their lifetime. 97%, sneeky. Knowing what I know about how the women in that industry are abused & defiled, How can I lay with someone who has probably been a consumer of said filth? How could I look myself in the mirror, the morning after?

    The fact of the matter is, sex is not a basic necessity of life. It does not fall within the same category as food, water, shelter, clothing, personal safety, etc. Guess what? I haven’t been sexually active in over 7 years. Yet I am alive & well, and doing much better than my LibFem mother who has suffered, over the years, with various STD’s; a direct result of her quest for “sexual freedom” (I used to think that was what Feminism was all about. Boy was I wrong). Even when she attempted an LTR (another worthless pursuit), the dude always cheated. That’s what men do. They will never be fully honest with a woman. Anyhow, I’m proud to say I have learned, not necessarily from my own mistakes, but from the mistakes of other women. I did make one mistake, but never repeated it. :) I’m 36 years old, and constantly being told that I’m “wasting my life” (translation: not getting fucked by some shithead man before I reach my expiration date), but this is coming from subordinate sandwich-makers, FunFems & scuzzy liberal dudes.

    Lastly, I’d like to apologize for my harsh language. I’m not angry at you personally; I am angry at the situation. As far as Kink.com is concerned, you said you were only defending “kinky” people (whatever that may be), but if the men who run Kink.com qualify as “kinky”, then it follows that you were in fact defending them. I don’t feel men are worthy of being defended; especially not those kinds of lowlife scum-suckers. They sell flesh.

  91. Hecate November 2, 2011 at 2:00 PM #

    Oh you are so in service to the big P! Nothing like a woman who can be ‘calm’ and ‘rational’ about oppressive and restraining practices… You sound like my sister’s female co-workers, who scolded her over lunch because she related a story about standing up for herself when the guy she was dating did something unacceptable to her. Mmm, yeah ‘relax into your oppression, womyn of the world!’ You know you love it.

    No small wonder that I saw an interview with ND somewhere online, in which she says she has more male friends. Not surprising at all, given how womyn generally tend to silence each other on the really important issues. And when they do talk, it’s about Barbies or this stupid BDSM shit. BDSM Barbie, anyone? :D You get a bimbo and a sub all-in-one! Or maybe there’s a domme version too. Two sides of the same coin.

  92. Hecate November 2, 2011 at 2:44 PM #

    “The fact of the matter is, sex is not a basic necessity of life.”

    Precisely, Sugarpuss. The ‘hierarchy of needs’ is a more important topic than how my mother, or BDSM people or what have you, get their rocks off. And I’ll wager it’s a much more pressing issue now that fewer people are even able to meet those most basic of creature comforts.

    Most concerning to me, is that it really is womyn who are suffering more in this down economy than men. Inequality will never be sexy, much as the BDSM folks would like us to believe. I had the misfortune of seeing some BDSM porn a while back, similar to the Kink.com stuff. It was a link from another feminist blogger. Far from being enlightening, it was just sickening and wrong and celebrated female subordination in the most brutal ways imaginable. I’m still not sure what the BDSMers are trying to convince us of here, but I’m really bored and annoyed with it, already.

  93. Rachel November 2, 2011 at 2:59 PM #

    “Oh you are so in service to the big P! Nothing like a woman who can be ‘calm’ and ‘rational’ about oppressive and restraining practices… You sound like my sister’s female co-workers, who scolded her over lunch because she related a story about standing up for herself when the guy she was dating did something unacceptable to her. Mmm, yeah ‘relax into your oppression, womyn of the world!’ You know you love it.”

    I never said not to talk about these issues, or any other issues, for that matter. Actually, I said the opposite – that I want discussion. If you’re criticizing me for wanting that discussion to be rational, I can’t even begin to understand your line of thought. How in the world can you consider logic detrimental? As for implying that I think people should ‘relax into their oppression’, I have again not said anything even remotely similar to that, nor do I believe anything remotely similar to that. I don’t view BDSM as oppressing or immoral. If you do view it as so, tell me why rationally. Otherwise, what reason do I have to accept that assertion?

    “No small wonder that I saw an interview with ND somewhere online, in which she says she has more male friends. Not surprising at all, given how womyn generally tend to silence each other on the really important issues. And when they do talk, it’s about Barbies or this stupid BDSM shit. BDSM Barbie, anyone? :D You get a bimbo and a sub all-in-one! Or maybe there’s a domme version too. Two sides of the same coin.”

    Again, I didn’t try to ‘silence’ anyone. I asked for rationality and civility. Also, I apparently need to state again that my concern for this issue does not mean my complete lack of concern for all other issues.

    I find it a little disconcerting that I have three times now raised a rational point concerning the morality of BDSM and each time had it ignored, the responses consisting of insults, assumptions and accusations rather than a rebuttal, or even a reference to the point I made. That suggests to me that you either don’t have a rebuttal or, worse, that you don’t even care to provide one, that you are more interested in insulting me than proving your own argument.

    So, for the fourth time, why do you consider BDSM immoral? If it is because it may stem from the patriarchy psychologically (the only reason I’ve been given so far), why does that make it automatically unethical, regardless of its actual impact and/or consequences?

  94. Hecate November 2, 2011 at 3:59 PM #

    So a radfem now has to be a good girl, ‘civil,’ ‘rational,’ and know her place, eh? I don’t see a lot of the womyn here putting up with such condescending and unreasonable demands. They get enough of such unreasonable demands from men, to be sure. If the patriarchy is something we find unacceptable and dangerous and if we see BDSM as an offshoot of said mentality, we reserve the right to a little ‘irrational’ anger regarding these topics.

    As far as your foolish insistence on the rather trivial debate as to whether BDSM is immoral, I would say that there are many characters, past and present who I may not look upon as necessarily of questionable character, but definitely irrelevant to anything like social progress. If I am to give an example that is very similar to a BDSM type person, I might give Aleister Crowley as an example. I would say, from reading about him, that he was more than a goofy trust fund clown and chauvinist than ‘immoral.’ He had fun upsetting the Victorians for a second, I guess. But he contributed zero, zilch, nada to society overall. He, however, in a mindset typical of someone like a BDSM-type character, thought he was doing something incredible to change the ‘consciousness’ of humanity in general, which is so much piffle and buffoonery.

    ND is doing more to help the status of womyn than the BDSM justifiers, in my opinion. And I do think BDSM completely irrelevant to the concerns of radical feminists.

  95. Sugarpuss November 2, 2011 at 5:04 PM #

    @ Hecate: No need to waste your time on “Rachel”; it’s so obviously a man. Have you even seen a teen girl express themselves in that fashion? I haven’t. Also, notice all of the talk about “logic” and “rationality”? Classic dude-speak, with the under-handed attempt at painting Feminists as emotionally unbalanced women lacking common sense. I would not be surprised to learn that Rachel = Jesse, as they showed up around the same time and have very similar writing styles. However, I’m not basing my opinion solely on what I see; I can sense male energy coming from “Rachel”.

  96. Hecate November 2, 2011 at 7:29 PM #

    Good point Sugarpuss! I think you may just be right about that :D

  97. Rachel November 2, 2011 at 9:31 PM #

    To Hecate:

    I don’t see a connection between the degrading implied superiority of telling someone to know their place (which I never did), and asking someone not to insult you. Those seem like pretty different statements to me. As for whether civility and rationality are unreasonable requests, that’s subjective, but I obviously think not. Regardless, there’s nothing forcing you to comply with them.

    If you want to be angry about BDSM, go right ahead. But please don’t tell me not to question your anger, or to ask for an explanation for it. Asserting an opinion publicly opens the possibility of that opinion being challenged publicly. That’s what I did in regard to this thread, and what you and Sugerpuss did in regard to my posts. Again, not a bad thing. Often constructive.

    I don’t actually think BDSM furthers social progress or benefits feminism, never mind changing human consciousness. I just think it’s a personal preference that is not specifically unethical or ethical in itself, and that people shouldn’t be insulted or treated differently due to that preference. That’s all. As it has been directly stated many times here that BDSM is immoral, I expressed my disagreement. If you think that it’s a trivial debate that isn’t worth your time, don’t spend your time on it. I don’t see why it bothers you for other people to do so.

    As for this bit about how I must be a man:

    God forbid – a teenage girl who values logic and rationality; that’s impossible! Fuck, I’m sick of this. Please stop making assumptions about age, gender, sexual preferences, and demographics on the whole. I don’t even know what ‘classic dude-speak’ is supposed to mean, and I have no interest in ‘painting feminists as emotionally unbalanced women lacking common sense’. I consider myself a feminist. I am not trying to undermine anything; I’m trying to express to you why I don’t think BDSM is immoral. That’s it, the whole agenda. I don’t know who Jesse is, nor what ‘male energy’ is (or how one senses it), and frankly I don’t really care. If you think I’m a troll, then leave me alone and let me try to accomplish an actual conversation. Why even talk to me if you think I’m lying about everything? What’s the point if you’re just going to discount everything I say?

  98. Sugarpuss November 3, 2011 at 1:08 AM #

    Why even talk to me if you think I’m lying about everything?

    Excuse you? I was speaking to Hecate, not you, fool. I haven’t acknowledged your presence for a couple of days until your reading comprehension failure forced me to respond with this. I will not respond to you again, and hopefully, neither will Hecate. Then you’ll have to jack-off by yourself. Awwww.

  99. Hecate November 3, 2011 at 9:28 AM #

    Yep, it’s a man, baby.

  100. Rachel November 3, 2011 at 2:03 PM #

    I had been speaking to Hecate; you suggested this idea that I’m a secretly man to her, and she agreed. That you jumped back in to throw an accusation out and deter Hecate from conversing with me seemed to warrant some self-defense. I probably should have worded that question better, and asked why you were getting involved at all. In any case, we can at least agree that you’ve done a superb job of ignoring me for a while now.

    Based on Hecate’s recent comment, it seems you’ll be getting your wish. I’m not really sure how to respond to the assertion that I must be a liar, as obviously I can’t prove otherwise online, and as you can use it against me even without any evidence to support the theory. Regardless, if both of you are set on disregarding everything I say, I don’t suppose there’s going to be much of a chance for debating BDSM’s morality with me, which was my main reason for being here.

    If you change your mind – or if anyone else is interested in talking about it – let me know. Otherwise, there’s very little left to say.

  101. sneeky bunny November 3, 2011 at 10:25 PM #

    Rachel it pains me to see you dismissed in this manner. I think you should take No Sugarcoating up on her offer to discuss this off line. As an equally young woman with an equally calm and rational approach to debate, you may find interacting with her more fruitful than with some of the older ladies here.

    As for you two, Sugarpuss, Hecate, WTF? When did being a Radfem become indistinguishable from Mean Girls in Jr. High? Rachel has been polite, and on topic, and has expressed an interest in your philosophical position regarding BDSM. If, as a 17 year old girl, she is as naive and malleable as you accuse her if being, wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity for you to state your case and perhaps bring her into your fold, rather than drive her deeper into what you perceive to be the Dark Side, by being abusive to her?. Surely you have thought long and hard on why you feel BDSM to be immoral. Surely you could provide coherent and concrete arguments to support your position. Surely as feminists you would want to guide this young woman.

    But no. The two of you have chosen to call Rachel names, accuse her of being a man, (And again, seriously? A man? Any one who disagrees with you must be a man?) link arms, and sashay to the other side of the play ground where you can pointedly ignore her while talking smack about her.

    Rachel is 17 and she makes the two of you look like brats.

  102. Rachel November 4, 2011 at 4:09 PM #

    To Sneeky Bunny:

    I did end up contacting No Sugarcoating in order to discuss this (and I’m glad I did because, even if we have only exchanged a couple emails as of yet, I’ve already had some points addressed that had been previously ignored, and in general am enjoying the conversation).

    That aside, thanks for the defense, though I don’t suppose it’ll result in much. They unfortunately seem a bit set on this secretly-a-man idea.

  103. No Sugarcoating November 4, 2011 at 5:16 PM #

    “If, as a 17 year old girl, she is as naive and malleable as you accuse her if being, wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity for you to state your case and perhaps bring her into your fold, rather than drive her deeper into what you perceive to be the Dark Side, by being abusive to her?. Surely you have thought long and hard on why you feel BDSM to be immoral. Surely you could provide coherent and concrete arguments to support your position. Surely as feminists you would want to guide this young woman.”

    Precisely why I’m so surprised. If you think a girl has been groomed into an abusive relationship, you should be reaching out, not telling her to leave. I’m really disappointed by this conversation. It’s not like this is some established sex-pozzy that has consistently belittled the feminist point of view. She hasn’t called anyone a prude. She hasn’t told anyone there are more important things to worry about. She even considers the morality/immorality of one’s sex life to be worth questioning. The hostility is totally out of left-field. Remember that some of the feminist radicals didn’t start out that way. Some of them even used to be sex-positives. Some of the BDSM critics here used to be deeply entrenched in the lifestyle, and they didn’t do a 180 overnight. Why dismiss Rachel so easily?? I get that there are a lot of men posing as women to have their opinions legitimized – I’m almost positive I ran into one a few days ago – but Rachel doesn’t strike me as the dudely type.

  104. Sugarpuss November 5, 2011 at 1:35 AM #

    @ No Sugarcoating: All I have to say to you is…be careful. Giving your email to somebody who just popped up out of nowhere, speaks so strangely & is pro-BSDM is not a good idea. Just because “Rachel” claims to be a 17 year-old girl, that doesn’t make it true. You can call me crazy if you want, but my instincts rarely fail me. I say it’s a man…I know it’s a man.

    @ sneeky bunny: Oh, go spank yourself. You’re the very last person who should be giving ‘How To Be A Better Feminist’ lessons. At least I’m 100% opposed to pornography. Can’t say the same for you, now can we?

  105. No Sugarcoating November 5, 2011 at 1:09 PM #

    Thanks for your concern, Sugarpuss. I know the ropes. It’s actually my blog e-mail that Rachel and I communicate through, as I do with other feminists.

  106. sneeky bunny November 6, 2011 at 12:26 AM #

    At the tender age of 48 I can hold my own, as I’m sure the younger women here can as well, however I have never, and will never stand idly by when some one is being bullied. And, as you have so exquisitely demonstrated Sugarpuss, being a feminist and a bully are not mutually exclusive.

  107. gracemargaret November 6, 2011 at 6:32 PM #

    SneekyBunny,
    OMG, yes it’s totally “bullying” to disagree with someone and have opinions that are contrary to liberal feminist masochist/sadists. “I won’t stand idly by!” Shit, how heroic of you…

    “Surely you could provide coherent and concrete arguments to support your position”

    It’s been done over and over by women here who are much more articulate than me, but how about this: Sadism, bondage, submission, masochism….this is the religion of patriarchy. This is what it wants from women (except for the sadism part, unless it’s towards the right target, i.e. women). Bondage, submission, humilation, sadistic abuse: this is what it does to women and children without their consent, EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY. Getting you to choose to do it to yourself isn’t “freedom”, it’s beyond pathetic. Men laugh at women like you, probably to your face. But you just get up in arms at an easy target, the awful, “mean” feminists who don’t get off on abuse and won’t be convinced that Slavery Is Freedom. The ones who have something women aren’t supposed to have, the instinct for self-preservation.

    Sorry, was that too “mean” for you?

  108. Hecate November 6, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

    Exactly gracemargaret. It’s a bit like what Andrea Dworkin said of the story of O,’ as can be read here:

    http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WomanHating.html

    “To sum up, Story of O is a story of psychic cannibalism, demonic possession, a story which posits men and women as being at opposite poles of the universe–the survival of one dependent on the absolute destruction of the other. It asks, like many stories, who is the most powerful, and it answers: men are, literally over women’s dead bodies.”

    – Andrea Dworkin

    And you articulated it perfectly. Non-feminist women have a problem with me, because I have the nerve to protect myself. Very few females are enlightened enough to understand their conditioning. They simply internalize it, and then lash out against womyn who somehow have managed not to. That is something to be admired, not spat upon. And women who enforce the status quo should just go hang out with other masochists. It’s clear they’d be more comfortable doing so, so why not?

  109. Rachel November 6, 2011 at 9:08 PM #

    To GraceMargaret:

    I’m not sure what you mean by saying that it is the ‘religion of the patriarchy’. If you mean that the patriarchy does these things to women and children without consent (as you later state), you’d be correct, but not in a way that I think it is relevant to BDSM. Consent and context are, in my opinion, key to defining its morality. BDSM doesn’t support any of these practices unless they are with consent, a wholly different scenario than the non-consensual abuses you refer to. If you mean that BDSM desires stem from the patriarchy and therefore must be immoral, I would like to know why something with an immoral source must invariably be as immoral as its source. If you meant something else altogether that I somehow missed, please elaborate.

    Since you seem to be referring to masochism and submission in women as being a result of the patriarchy “getting [them] to choose to do it”, and since you say earlier that the patriarchy only approves of sadism if it is “towards the right target i.e. women”, I’m also curious if you only condemn BDSM relationships that involve a dominant male and submissive female, or you’re opposed to any BDSM practices, even in other pairings.

    As to whether BDSM is ‘freedom’, I don’t think it’s particularly any less or more free than any other consensual sexual practice. If you are choosing to participate in something, as well as both enjoying and benefiting from it, I don’t think it in any way constitutes as slavery, which doesn’t mean that there aren’t any social forces at work, but just that it is a choice and therefore not an impediment on freedom.

    I’m not really opposed to feminists who disagree with me so much as feminists who call people ‘pathetic’ based on their sexual preferences.

    • Nine Deuce November 6, 2011 at 10:07 PM #

      BDSM doesn’t support any of these practices unless they are with consent.

      Who is BDSM and how do we know what he supports? Can you be sure that every dude who practices BDSM has a thorough understanding of and respect for true, enthusiastic consent? Consent is an extremely difficult concept in BDSM, despite what people like to pretend with the “Safe, Sane, Consensual” party line. Read part four of this series if you want elaboration on that.

  110. Hecate November 6, 2011 at 10:35 PM #

    I agree, ND. And I think it’s a bit naive to assume that anything/ anyone in life can be controlled so easily or be reduced to that level of simplicity. I sure wish, when I was laid off from Crapple, that I could have said, “Wait! You have to do it in a ‘Safe, Sane and Consensual!’ manner!” :D It was just a rapey corporate culture, period. Nothing I could have done about it, much as I wanted to fight it. That might not be the best example, but you get the gist of it. I wish I had never participated, that much is certain.

  111. sneeky bunny November 6, 2011 at 11:51 PM #

    Grace Margaret,
    You are correct that to disagree with someone and have contrary opinions is not bullying. One need only look at the interactions that No Sugarcoating and 92 have had with Rachel as examples.
    Rachel has been po