September 25th, 2008
I've lj-friends only'ed several of my recent posts on porn, because I've been linked to on pro-porn blogs lately. The will remain such for a while, but probably not permanently. Just waiting for the storm to end. The main reason for this is they are not only focusing on me, but on my friends and other supportive comments. And they are saying complete anthro poop about us. If you want to read those entries, and aren't on my flist, and you're an awesome feminist, I'll friend ya back. Or I can email it to you.
I'm sure others have things to say about the way our words have been misheard and twisted, so either comment on this open entry, or on the newly friends-only recent entries.
I won't be able to respond to comments, or unscreen future ones until Monday. I'm going to a Journalists for Human Rights Conference in Toronto this weekend, and I need to leave this evening for it. But I'll be getting the 10pm bus from K-Town--the last one of the night--because I've a Medical Ethics night class. So if you're near the Toronto Greyhound station/around Spadina/around U of T/at the conference, maybe I'll see ya around ;)
But, I will be missing tomorrow's Critical Mass in KW, which is gonna be freakin' massive and awesome. I hope to live this one vicariously through videos, photos, and stories about it. This will be the only one I've missed since the first one of this year (in April, I believe). It's always awesome tho, even when for August's one, we only had about thirty people. This one will have over 200, easily. And I heard it'll be pirates vs ninjas! hahaha...come hell or high water, I definitely want to go to the Hallowe'en CM. Shit--it'll be ace.
Oh, also, my essay "I'd slice her: Feminism, Pornography, and Sex" was published at the other university in Waterloo's Women's Centre publication, Voices. Yays! It was slightly edited, revised and shortened before I sent it in.
So for a little bragging to help brighten my day :P, this is what the editor said in response to my submission:
"Wow! That is brilliant. Thank you so much for writing this. I was really hoping that someone would submit something on the ejaculation industry (much better term) and this is perfect. I've only read over it for content. Everything flows really well, the arguments are set up naturally, and it made me very angry/frustrated with the ejaculation industry all over again as I read it. Fantastic.
"No worries about taking your time. It is a very well-written and edited article. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this together and doing it with such care.
"Thank you again for this submission. I really do appreciate it."
Here are some more fantastic songs:
Sarah Slean - Sweet Ones
Public Enemy - Fight the Power
PJ Harvey - Sheela Na Gig
Ani DiFranco - Letter to a John
Manic Street Preachers w/Traci Lords - Little Baby Nothing
Blue October - Angel
* I have audio of the Slean and Manics songs, and can make upload them if requested.
Current Music: Sarah Slean/Blue October/PJ/etc
I've read here that people into BDSM (as tops) or aggressive sex should kill themselves or seek theraphy
The really interesting thing to me there is that the therapist I'm currently seeing, who I went to precisely because she specifically focuses on trauma/PTSD issues, is actually part of a collective that is focused on women's mental health. The lobby is all full of feminist books and this that and the other. So yeah, not only do I *get* therapy, but I'd assume it's the approved kind. And yet either I should lock myself away, or I was pressured into topping. Huh.
The hilarious thing to me is that way back when I first found BDSM, I found a group of people who very clearly thought that D/s was about male dominance and female submission (a Christian headship sort of a thing.) When I told these people that I had no experience yet, but so far as I could tell from my fantasies and imagination, I was a top, I got told that I'd been deluded by "feminism" and "feminists," who try to subvert the M/f social order. If I was unhappy and on edge because I wasn't sure how to find a partner, that just proved "the feminists" who thought it was "okay" for me to be a top were wrong.
Kind of funny to go and find "the feminists," and see that they think guys put me up to it. So I've got guys on this side telling me "feminists" put me up to this topping silliness and feminists on this side telling me "guys" put me up to it.
Everyone seems to want to think I've been pressured, and not care by whom. Not listening to me seems to be the common feature...
|Date:||September 30th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
I think you are misunderstanding what feminists are saying about BDSM, that's all.
I can't really respond to you until you let me know what you think I've misunderstood, but:
As I understand what anti-BDSM feminists say, the idea is usually that BDSM fantasies arise from the culture and are not genetic, personal, or otherwise inborn. Rather, we live in a culture where male dominance and female submission is glorified. Because of this, images of it are everywhere in the culture, from ads to children's stories to pornography. Girls and boys see these images and internalize the idea that domination (by men) and submission (by women) is exciting and passionate. The message that love involves pain is also present in a lot of these messages, and this is taken to explain masochism.
So a woman who likes BDSM, whatever she might think about where she got her preferences, is actually (or most likely, anyway) someone who has internalized messages about gender and gender role without knowing it. Even if she thinks society is hostile
to her sexuality, she's incorrect -- it's actually exactly what society wants of women, albeit in more pronounced relief than usual.
If you see any mistakes in my understanding of the anti-SM feminist position, please feel free to correct me.
Now, my issues with it:
First, I don't really understand how female tops like me can result. On the one hand, a woman who accepts SM desires is particularly ill-suited to resist social messages -- yet on the other, if she is a top, somehow she manages to get them upside down and backwards! I've seen hand-waving suggesting that the dynamics are basically the same because someone dominates and someone submits, but I've never seen any convincing explanation for why some women like me get it backwards (even if we buy the idea that submissive MEN are slumming because being powerless like a woman is seductive somehow. Which I also don't buy.)
Second, the commonality I see between the attitude of the fans of male headship and the anti-SM feminists is that both argue that some social factor or dynamic created the sexual preference. Anti-SM feminists say that it was patriarchy; headship fans say it was the new social expectations of feminism, which *they see* as claiming that women are supposed to compete with men and be powerful.
It is of course entirely possible for one of these two positions to be right and the other to be wrong. However, I myself think that the fact that one of them is clearly so wrong as to be laughable indicates that the whole idea that sexualities are products of socialization is a bad premise to begin with.
I don't doubt that some small aspects of sexuality, like say preferences for shaven pubic areas, have something to do with culture. I just don't think that wide orientational preferences do, and I see SM as one of those.
If you're interested, there's an anti-SM feminist essay that actually sees things fairly similarly: Sandra Bartky's essay "Feminine Masochism and the Politics of Personal Transformation", in her excellent book Femininity and Domination
. While I disagree with her conclusions, the essay is thoughtful and well-argued.
|Date:||September 30th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
No dominant form of social organisation--in this case, male domination and female submission--is foolproof. For example, if it was, feminism would not exist. There would be no antiracist activism. No person of colour, female, nonheterosexual person, trans person etc would reject patriarchy. So of course there can be both rejection and reversal of this patriarchal dynamic. BUT, this is still the dominant form, and even pervades reversals of the dynamic, eg calling submissive men bitches and cunts, women demonstrating power and domination not through our vulvas, but through strap ons, the fact that prostitution is so prevalent amongst the female top-male bottom dynamic (ie men are paying women to get what they want, when and how they want it), the common complaint by women have top that men don't actually give it up, when they and other women are out of control when they bottom, etc.
|Date:||October 1st, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
"No dominant form of social organisation--in this case, male domination and female submission--is foolproof. [...]"
I agree with this part of your post...
"BUT, this is still the dominant form [...]"
... and with this part too, actually.
But what I don't get is what is special in BDSM. I mean, I don't pretend to know much about it, but I suppose it doesn't magically protect people from sexism so most of people doing BDSM must be a bit sexist and your examples indeed show that. But I think it is true for sex in general, I don't see why BDSM is worse. (I don't know if it is what you think? I interpreted your post like that but I may be wrong)
The only difference I see in BDSM is that there is much more appearance and visibility of domination, but I'm not certain that in reality there is more. As I said, I don't know much about BDSM, but I know quite some standard heterosexual couples, and, well, there is quite a number of them where there is a lot of domination, except it is not stated explicitly and there is no safeword.
|Date:||October 1st, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
thank you for the respectful comment; i appreciate it!
I think bdsm and normal heterosexual experience is that both place up false walls between each other. eg, many aspects of so-called "vanilla" men's sexuality are sadistic and dominant, and many aspect's of women's sexuality are submissive, nondemanding, and/or masochistic. I recommend reading Shere Hite's Report on Male Sexuality. Esp in regards to vaginal and anal intercourse, men see heterosexual sex as being about conquering, hurting, "fucking," women, of "breaking" them and "marking" their bodies with their semen. It's absolutely terrifying to read how so many men connect sex with these things. Nonconsent, unwanted sex, and outright rape are all common experiences with heterosexuality.
Much heterosexuality IS BDSM in disguise, and vice versa. In one, there are less props, and less threatrics, but they have remarkably similar scripts. Even female tops, and gay men, do not disprove this theory--they reflect it. I recommend these posts: http://amananta.wordpress.com/2008/08/24/random-morning-thoughts/
really puts the radfem vs bdsm debates into perspective and http://amananta.wordpress.com/2008/05/13/in-which-i-fail-my-roll-against-snark/
discusses links between porn, prostitution, bdsm, and child abuse and http://amananta.wordpress.com/2006/09/18/in-which-a-troll-actually-does-something-useful/
discusses the ABSOLUTE TERRIFYING NORMALCY of sadistic and dominating men, as well as practices of bdsmers that are regarded as extreme that really aren't. Another useful link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgeplay
I'll stop linking now!
I'm distressed to see that post of Amananta's where she tells the story of a woman who questioned what she was seeing and doing and wanted to leave, and people told her that she was being silly and HAD to stay, because "being a sub is what you are." I don't think it makes ANY sense to pressure a woman who is uncomfortable and rethinking what she wants and needs (or even who is realizing that the people around her are violent and creepy) to stick around just to make everyone else feel better.
And I don't doubt the story is a true one. But the thing is that I've never seen that sort of thing myself. I've had times where I felt like leaving, and friends said "wait, as I understand who you are this is really important, and you'll regret leaving if you do." But in my own experience, this has never been what's talked about there -- oh you silly thing, stay, forget it, nothing's wrong. I honestly can't imagine people acting like that, really.
So the thing that concerns me is... well, y'know how Ren says over and over on her blog, "sex work is not a monolith?" Well, BDSM and/or the SM community aren't either. And that sort of behavior is not behavior I've seen. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but I've been around long enough to be REALLY leery that it's what most SM scenes around the US, Canada, and the UK (at least) look like. I don't know everyone, but I know a lot of people, and I don't see that kind of thing happening regularly.
|Date:||October 2nd, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
I rapidly got through the pages you linked, but I'm not very convinced. I don't have a very decided opinion, but some thoughts on this:
- I agree that people have the right to express their opinion and I am not fond of saying "yes but it's just personal between them, you have nothing to say". But I didn't have the impression that criticism of BDSM was impossible to do. Maybe it depends on the "milieu".
- I think it is unfair to say that BDSM is bad or sexist because how the porn industry portrays it. Because, well, porn industry hasn't exactly an unbiased portrayal of e.g. heterosexual sex, lesbians, trans women either.
- I have a problem with what is sometimes done by some feminists (or other groups), deciding that some sexuality or identity is in itself "subversive" or "reactionnary" (I am not saying this is what is done here, I'm talking of global impression, not specially BDSM, but also concerning "transgenderism", heterosexual sex, dildos, butch/femme pairings and such). For example there was a comment on one of the posts you linked that emitted the hypothesis that there is a difference between "straight BDSM" and "queer BDSM". I don't know if that is the case, but it would seem logical to me that different "communities" and different people have different approaches of BDSM (and I think BDSM regroups very different things, too). Even when something looks indeed as some "extreme" version of normed sex, for me it's hard to say whether it's "reactionnary" and bad because it denotes some extreme adhesion to the system, or at the contrary "subversive" because it is a way to mock it and show in an extreme way what is supposed to be hidden.
|Date:||October 1st, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
Honestly, I'd have to write an essay to explain everything I take issue with in your post, and everything I disagree with about it. I still think you are missing a lot, but maybe it's just because I disagree with the way you see things.
I'm not going to get in an argument about it, because I'm sure you've heard it all before.
That's totally fair. I just didn't like the implication that I must be pro-BDSM, or must have the opinions I do of it, because I must not KNOW what the critique says. While it's certainly possible I have missed something, it sounded like you were saying I was just unaware or just saying "Those MEEN feminists said they wanted to take my whips away!" or something... and no, that's not why I disagree. I disagree because I just don't think social influences work in the way a lot of radical feminist theory says they do. (And, actually, I think that even if they did, that's not really useful information until we understand exactly what we should do about it -- and I think much of radical feminist theory is thick on what's wrong, and thin on how to go about creating social change.)
|Date:||October 1st, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
Yeah, it did sound like the old "don't take away my whips!" to me. That's cool if that's not what you were saying. I just, disagree with you on the rest of it. I mean, you can read a theory or whatever, and "know" it, but it doesn't mean you actually "get" it. I find that for myself ALL THE TIME.
Thing is, I do think I understand it -- I get that you think I don't, though, which is totally fine with me but I can't engage with that much unless we want to discuss, and that'll likely take an eon anyway.
I actually agreed with a fair amount of it a few years ago, and really *was* beginning to think BDSM was bad, even though at the same time I was being loudmouthed about always having thought everything was fine. I got really worried, I totally shut down sexually, and my partners couldn't tell what was wrong with me. Because I couldn't respond to non-BDSM but I was thinking "wait, this is bad, this can't be me, if I do something else maybe I'll find me, what's going on?" and I just... it was like I had no erotic life at all. I know that some people try to construct egalitarian sexualities for themselves, and I don't want to say it never works for anyone. But it didn't work for me, and the thing was that the more I tried, the more I felt that the theory I was reading and trying to live was like squinting at the Emperor trying to see his new clothes. I'd interact with my friends and lovers and their life stories just didn't fit any of it, and it just got harder and harder to make any of it make any sense.
And the thing was that I saw things happening everywhere that I wasn't OK with... I saw so many people being rejected and tossed out of feminist communities and social groups because "the theory says this is patriarchal..." it just... everyone just wound up gone. Or silenced, or quiet. And I went, "you know, I'm not happy, and I really don't think those women who 'weren't radical enough' did anything wrong. I don't like the person I'm becoming in these communities and these places." And so I left, and picked up my life pretty much where I'd left it.
|Date:||October 1st, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: part 2
And can I ask- does this mean that you believe that biologically, you are like, predestined to be a "top?" That it's somewhere in your genetic makeup that you like whipping men? (Or whatever you like in BDSM). Just clarifying here. I disagree with that about 1000%, but I just want to be clear that that is your belief/opinion. You believe that social influences, culture, patriarchy, etc, doesn't have anything to do with what we get off on?
I do believe that there are inborn tendencies to eroticizing power or pain, yes. I believe this because I've known LOTS of people (a few of whom comment in the thread I linked there) who have had these feelings all their lives despite having been discouraged from having them. Like in my own life -- my parents were very big on egalitarianism, on ambition being dark, sinister, and bad. T
I do believe that there are inborn tendencies to eroticizing power or pain, yes. I believe this because I've known LOTS of people (a few of whom comment in the thread I linked there) who have had these feelings all their lives despite having been discouraged from having them. Like in my own life -- my parents were very big on egalitarianism, on ambition being dark, sinister, and bad. To want any kind of control over anything was to be insufficiently peaceful, a "bad Christian," etc. I honestly thought I was sick and a freak for my feelings... so the idea in the theory that girls are rewarded for them... well, while I do understand the theory I really don't think my life looked that way.
I don't know how radical a social constructionist you are or aren't, but let me ask you one thing: Do you believe that there is such a thing as inborn homosexuality? People who just know they're gay or lesbian despite society doing all it can to stop them from desiring and loving members of the same gender? I do, and one thing you notice about these people if you look at history is that for some of them, no matter how much social pressure was put onto them, they couldn't change their sexuality. To me, that indicates that it's somehow fixed. Whether there is a gene or set of them, or whether early socialization fixes orientation by an early age, or whether early hormones are part of it, I neither know nor care... but I do think there have throughout history been people with fixed sexualities.
I think that a sexual fetish for, or interest in, or fixation on, or whatever you want to call it, for BDSM is similar in some people but not all. I say this because I've known countless people who've spent the lion's share of their lives resisting BDSM sexual interests because they feel these interests are bad, sick, wrong, shameful, insufficiently feminist (I'm not just throwing that in as a dig; I know a lot of submissive women who really do worry about whether they can reconcile what excites them sexually with what they believe politically), whatever. A lot of these people have spent decades buying into the idea that they've just gotten these interests from someplace outside themselves and can change if they try hard enough.
And the thing is, I've watched that *wreck lives*. I know scads of people who left sham marriages in middle age because they just couldn't not be themselves any more.
I do think that radical feminism has done good. Dworkin and MacKinnon were pioneers, and I've never denied it. But I really don't think that they or other radical feminists were right about pornography or social pressure to eroticize domination and submission. I just don't think they're talking about things in a way that actually matches up with real people's experiences. I've been in the SM scene for many years now, and I honestly do think I know enough to believe those theories just don't a[pply in the ways they're supposed to.
As far as society having "nothing to do" with what we get off on... no, I don't believe that. What I do believe is that our sexuality is in part personal to us, a part of us, like basic features of our personality are part of us. Just like I can be calm or energetic as a matter of temperament, I can be prone to eroticizing power or not.
Now exactly what I'll DO with that capacity, I think is mediated through culture. In the current culture, I'll probably go looking for people like me and find the BDSM scene, in which certain social roles exist that map how to "do" erotic power exchange (I hate that term, but it'll do for now.) So I discover myself as "a top" where there are a lot of specific things tops are said to do -- ways they often dress, talk, ways scenes are often structured, etc. I still have a lot of latitude -- I can reject or embrace particular activities and signifiers within that. But because that's what I find when I look, I'm likely to adopt the mannerisms I'm told are "the right way" to do it -- some of them unreflectively.
And there's plenty of room THERE for me to adopt behaviors and attitudes that are sexist and creepy, particularly if I'm (say) a heterosexual male with an inclination toward dominance. And I believe THAT can and should be critiqued by feminists. Where I part ways with anti-SM radical feminist analysis is that I don't think that the interest itself is purely socially constructed.
|Date:||October 3rd, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: response pt 2
Ya know trinity, I actually considered responding to all of your many, many questions here. But then I went over to your blog, and saw that you are already posting about this thread, mocking it and insulting radical feminists. So, no thanks.
I have to say that I was very glad to see that you were willing to engage with me, and I'm sorry you've changed your mind. If you're talking about the post I made to SM-F about your original comment, I posted that before I saw your lengthier comments here. I interpreted the one-line "I think you are misunderstanding what feminists are saying about BDSM, that's all." above as snarky, whether you meant it so or not -- very often people who are opposed to BDSM will assume that those of us who defend it must never have read the theory, when many of us have. (You bring up the possibility that we've missed something important to understanding it, which is different. So I made a mistake about what you said.)
I understand why you'd change your mind, though.
|Date:||October 3rd, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC)|| |
Re: response pt 2
And I also really wonder why you feel you need to spend so much time and energy convincing feminists that you REALLY REALLY TRULY CHOSE BDSM ALL BY YOURSELF AND THERE WERE NO SOCIAL PRESSURES NO WAY NO HOW!!!!!!!
I mean, you say you disagree with us, so fine. Why are you spending all this time getting all upset over us disagreeing with you? Why do you need to convince us? Why do you care what some random feminists think of you and your choices?
I'm not entirely sure why you're suddenly angry here. Possibly the tone of my SM-F posts, possibly something else. But I will say that I think you've misunderstood my comments to you if you think I said there are "no social pressures, no way no how." I think there are A LOT of social pressures that exist and matter, and many of those impact people who do go into BDSM. I just don't think that basic sexual interests are socially constructed. You disagree with that, which we've already established. So yeah, while I'm totally fine with having a conversation with you about that, it's not likely minds will change.
As far as why I post on SM-F at all, I do so because there are still arguments going on within feminism about this stuff, and some of the ways people make those arguments strike me as very bad (case in point, the recent post I made on Amananta's post to me. I think, as I said there, that she's omitting specifics and then asking people to deny their own experiences because hers were bad. I can't say "yes, this is a widespread problem" or "no, this isn't" until I know *where it's supposed to have been occuring.*) When I see those bad arguments, I challenge them.
I don't think that's all that different from many radical feminists, actually. If radical feminists are justified in posting angry posts about how sex-positive feminists, pro-BDSM feminists, or "pro-porn" feminists misunderstand their views and dismiss their experiences, why am I not justified in posting why I feel that some anti-BDSM or anti-porn feminists have misunderstood my views or my friends' views, or dismissed my or my friends' experiences?