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Jan 28 2006

In Which The Author Bottoms Out

Man-o-man. Contrary to what you might imagine, moderating a radical feminist blog (or “radfemblo,” as they’re known in the biz) is no tiptoe through the tulips. I read every single comment with my own personal eyes, and I’m here to tell ya, it’s not all lighthearted phluph like “14% of American women and girls live in poverty, which is 40% higher than the poverty rate for men, you ignorant conservative fucks,” or “abortion is a human right, you ignorant godbag fucks,” or “half a million women were raped in 100 days in Rwanda, you ignorant racist fucks.”

Sometimes, in fact, it can get pretty hairy.

Such as the comments on a couple of recent posts that ended up as discussions on BDSM.

OK, unlike the Bush administration and the New York Times and Oprah, I’m not gonna lie to you; I was getting pretty fawken creeped out by the pathologically violent fantasy lives described by some of our kinkier readers on whether flogging and corsets and Risk Aware Consensual Kinkiness represent the last word in women’s liberation.* In fact, I was this close to taking a 3-hour decontamination shower when, lo! I chanced upon a comment by reader LMYC, whose delightful remarks I republish here as an antidote to the seriously grody slime that had begun swirling around unbidden in the Twisty obstreperal lobe as a result of my having slogged through all those “flogging-as-intimate-communication” comments.

Thanks, LMYC.

[Note: this is the last post on this topic, I swear; I don't wanna get nominated for a Koufax in the Most Explicit New Bondage Blog category]

[Another note: to BDSM practioners, nothing personal, kids. Note that the title of the blog is I Blame The Patriarchy, not I Blame Individual Fetishists]

——————————————–

Well. As a loud-ass bitch who is about as dominant as it’s possible to be, I can also tell you that the [BDSM] “scene” was not the bastion of anti-patriarchal transgression that it paints itself as.

I’m dominant. For a time, I thought it might be possible for me to find some sort of niche in BDSM.

Then I realized that it was just another way for ME to have the responsibility dumped on me again to become some goddamned spoiled brat male’s fantasy toy. Or perhaps someone ELSE in this oh-so-like-with-it scene can explain to me why PRECISELY it is that both female submissives AND female dominants are expected to wear EXACTLY THE SAME CLOTHING.

Corset? Let me tell you sumpin, cheeks. Being a dominant woman means that MY COMFORT IS PARAMOUNT. I ain’t pinching my skinny ass in half so some paunchy blobby middle-aged old fart can get off. He wants to be submissive? Then go join a gym and tighten your blobby ass up until YOU look like MY fantasy. How’s that? Oh, and BTW, I’m staying in my sweatpants. Get back to the gym and tighten up those abs baby, you’re starting to sag. And why isn’t my dinner ready?

And while we’re at it, you can fucking well hand over 95% of the Senate, the presidency for the next 223 years, the boards of directors for every fortune 500 company in existence, and make one third less money than I do for doing the same fucking job. You want submission? You got it.

If I’m a dominant woman, I want to be dominant in the way that COUNTS, not in a closed room with the shades pulled where it’s recognized as safely disconnected from reality. I want to make a shitload of money, own the governments of almost every nation on the planet, own nearly every square meter of the Earth. I don’t want some pissass “power” connected to wearing shoes that crumple up my feet and some bustier that shoves my tits up under my chin. Embodying YOUR fantasy isn’t MY idea of power.

That about encapsulates my experience as a REAL dominant woman in the “scene,” not just some airhead who playacts at being in charge when Mr. Sir says it’s okay. It’s just one more arena where women are expected to inhabit male fantasies and run hot and cold like running water for male preferences. FUCK that noise.

BDSM is truly anti-patriarchal like Madonna and Britney Spears swapping spit at the Grammys was truly lesbian. To wit:

If you’re only allowed to be in charge when the man hands you money to say it’s okay, YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE. If being in charge requires that you wear punitive clothing, YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE.

—————————————-
* This argument, I am happy to report, is untenable; nothing as dorky as BDSM could possibly further any cause, except possibly orgasm, which, as I have noted elsewhere, is hardly the pinnacle of human achievement. Furthermore, there are obvious racist overtones in the almost constant use of the phrase “vanilla sex.”

28 comments

2 pings

  1. CafeSiren

    “I want to be dominant in the way that COUNTS, not in a closed room with the shades pulled where it’s recognized as safely disconnected from reality.”

    This sentence (and the whole paragraph it came from) got me cheering. Thanks to both of you for sharing this.

  2. kactus

    Thanks for highlighting that comment, Twisty. I was also struck by her observation, “why PRECISELY it is that both female submissives AND female dominants are expected to wear EXACTLY THE SAME CLOTHING.”

    Sex, drugs, politics, religion and rock & roll–everybody’s got an opinion.

  3. sunny in texas

    HELL YEAH!

    thanks for sharing that! i want to be dominant in that way too!

  4. wordgirl

    Every single word she (LMYC) wrote…was a PERFECTLY. POLISHED. STONE. OF. TRUTH.
    Add nothing and take nothing away. What she said was perfect.

  5. MRain65

    Awesome. That was amazing.

    I agree also about the urge to take decontamination shower.

  6. BitingBeaver

    LMYC has been one of my absolute FAVORITE posters over at my site for some time. Speaking of which, where have ya been? We’ve missed you! *grin*

  7. Dr. Virago

    Oh my god, that was EXCELLENT! Thank you LMYC and thank you Twisty for elevating it to the front page.

  8. LMYC

    BB, I’ve generally just been getting sick of the world and the way it treats women. I’m tired of the crap, I’m tired of thinking about it, I’m basically tired of being reminded that all this garbage exists because, unlike most radical feminists who are so anxious to tell you how much they don’t hate men and are optimistic about society, I’m neither. I’m so sick of the garbage that I DO actually hate men. I’m tired of going “blah blah blah oh but it’s not like I hate men or anything icky or threatening like that” every time the subject comes up. I don’t have a problem with being threatening. The patriarchy and the flesh and blood people who make it up can stand to have their foundations threatened. I really am turning into that shrill man-hater, and I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t like them, I don’t want to interact with them, I don’t care if they get enlightened, and educating them isn’t my fucking job. Mostly because I don’t believe they will. Ever.

    Which brings us to the lack of optimism. It’s been like this for roughly 1,000,000,000,00,000 years, so it’s not gonna change any time soon. Humans can never be anything but what we are. We’re like this. We just are. Anyone who argues otherwise is kidding themselves. Large-scale positive change is not possible and not to be assumed as natural. Over history, humans have gone from accomplished heights to astonishing lows. Slavery and illiteracy and death from disgusting, ancient diseases is still with us. And meanwhile, women keep running in place, making up the same ground and losing it, over and over.

    And every now and then the enraging, cosmically pervese futility of it all just gets to me. So I take a vacation, and think about work and hobbies instead of why this vast world over men uniformly treat us like the worst and most degraded pieces of nonhuman filth, and why women tolerate it and even convince themselves that they can “love” individual males in a milieu like that with anything approaching free choice. and I don’t care about the wailing and whining of individual men who spew about, “Well what can we do, then?” I don’t know. I’m not goddamned Einstein. Go the hell away and figure it out for yourselves, how about? In a world where our president tells us that if we can’t kill the guy who caused 911, we can at least shoot up and bomb a bunch of people who happen to live in the same part of the world, I don’t see why I CAN’T hate all men for what … oh, the VAST MAJORITY of them perpetrate.

    And hate is tiring. So sometimes I take a break from it and just crochet and do my web design and pet my cat.

  9. Hattie

    I have put in my time as a female, too, and now I please myself mostly. The more I give people their due and no more, the less I jump in to help out, the more respect I get. It works.

  10. Les

    “Furthermore, there are obvious racist overtones in the almost constant use of the phrase “vanilla sex.””

    Um, no, I take issue with this. May I direct you to the hacker’s dictionary: http://www.outpost9.com/reference/jargon/jargon_37.html#TAG1891

    vanilla /adj./

    [from the default flavor of ice cream in the U.S.] Ordinary flavor, standard. When used of food, very often does not mean that the food is flavored with vanilla extract! For example, `vanilla wonton soup’ means ordinary wonton soup, as opposed to hot-and-sour wonton soup. Applied to hardware and software, as in “Vanilla Version 7 Unix can’t run on a vanilla 11/34.” Also used to orthogonalize chip nomenclature; for instance, a 74V00 means what TI calls a 7400, as distinct from a 74LS00, etc. This word differs from canonical in that the latter means `default’, whereas vanilla simply means `ordinary’. For example, when hackers go on a great-wall, hot-and-sour soup is the canonical soup to get (because that is what most of them usually order) even though it isn’t the vanilla (wonton) soup.

    Vanilla sex is certainly from the same etymology. From ice cream.

    The BDSM “scene” may be all sorts of things. I can’t say, as I’m not involved. The kinky sex I may or may not be having that I (as a respectable member of society) chose not to share with others, involves getting my rocks off. Nothing more. Nothing less. Are my girlfriend and I furthering the pursuit of feminism or the evil of the patriarchy? Neither. We’re getting or rocks off. Our favorite flavor of ice cream is nobody’s business but our own.

    I’ve head a definition of political: it’s the crossing of otherwise unrelated things, like nuclear family dynamics and labor practices. Yes, the personal is political. But I try to keep some unrelated crossings out of parts of my life. This doesn’t make me less of a feminist and it makes me a happier person.

  11. Twisty

    Come, come, Les. It was a joke. Riffing, as it were, on Ray Nagin’s vision of a chocolate New Orleans.

    Lighten up, all y’all! Patriarchy-blaming is supposed to be FUN!

  12. Les

    Sorry, I’m one of those humorless feminists. Also, I’m on the LJ feminist community and so I’ve gotten used to seeing the most crazy !@$@!#$ in discussions.

  13. burrow

    HALLELUJAH!!!

    Sing it!
    (Exactly what I think)

  14. Arwen

    Interesting observation (to me, at least) – No better way to get a bazillion comments than to talk about sex. Whether Bitch’s arrangement, or BDSM, or sex talk at Pandagon or Alas, or burlesque talk, do people ever like to talk ’bout what happens ‘tween the sheets. For themselves and for others.

    It’s interesting but I find it somewhat disheartening. We’re all dealing with sex, but we’re all also dealing with 76 cents on the dollar. I’m not saying it’s not valid to deconstruct sexual behaviour. And it affects us all intimately. Maybe it’s just that we can agree we all want equal pay… so there’s less to say?

    To my mind, sex and relationships have to be sussed out on a case by case basis. All my partners and my sexual relationships with them have been different. I’m sure women show similar variations (I’m het, so no personal experience pleasuring or being pleasured by my own.) I imagine that regardless of who we are sexually, we want to have our personal quirks respected – whether those quirks be that we are hetero, like food on our bodies, or like sex blindfolded. Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn’t have better discussions on sex if we all approached each other like lovers; a little bit open to other expressions, and clear on what’s good for us individually.

    Here are voices of women who’ve been hurt by BDSM, and women who say they’ve enjoyed the scene. I empathize with the hurt, and it should not, ever, be diminished: there is so much in society that emphasises that hurt. But the women who say they’ve enjoyed it also have sexual agency, and I celebrate any woman finding sexual expression that she enjoys and has control of and agency in, because there is so much in society that minimizes her choices.

  15. Syllopsium

    Corsets aren’t mandatory. Wear a comfy uniform instead. Heck, you *could* wear sweatpants and still be dominant with the right attitude.

    Unfortunately the matter of desire comes into play. Both parties want to play the D/s game, and want a little desire. Sweatpants aren’t exactly the sexiest option – especially if you want to play in a club straight away, rather than gradually introducing it to a relationship.

    Of course, this works both ways. Don’t want a ‘paunchy blobby middle-aged old fart’? Then say no to them, and find a young buff man you can put into a corset.

    As to fantasies – it should be mutual. Both of you have to come to a compromise as to your needs. BDSM is supposed to be a loving relationship, even if it involves administering pain and control to each other. There’s a word for someone that wants their fantasy without consideration for the other person, and that word is ‘unsafe’.

    As to being dominant in a way that counts – BDSM isn’t the real world. It’s a game. Don’t blame it for not being something it was never designed to be.

  16. LMYC

    Heck, you *could* wear sweatpants and still be dominant with the right attitude.

    Gosh wollickers, thanks so much. Lemme take some notes here on what sort of “attitude” I need.

    I’ve got the “attitude” to tell you to take a fucking hike. I think I’ve got it down fine, thanks so much.

    As to being dominant in a way that counts – BDSM isn’t the real world. It’s a game. Don’t blame it for not being something it was never designed to be.

    Well then how about it’s practitioners stop mouthing at me me how feminist and inherently transgressive and wonderful and earth-improving it is because “half of it is non-patriarchal?”

    Stop moving the goddamned goalposts. When the conversation starts, it’s this arcane, secret big ol’ alteration in the fabric of the universe that the mere unwashed uninitiated cannot possibly fathom, and now when it’s called on the carpet, suddenly you back off and say I’m taking it too seriously. Horseshit. I’m taking it precisely as seriously as it’s practitioners demand that I take it, right up to when they get the rhetorical rug taken out from under them, upon which point they suddenly back off, whine about how “it’s just a game,” and then take their toys and go home.

  17. Syllopsium

    I’m not shifting the goalposts. Some practitioners may be deluded enough to believe it’s earth improving, or have a hidden agenda to gain advantage by proposing that viewpoint but it doesn’t mean everyone else sees it in the same way.

    Is half of BDSM anti patriarchy? Clearly not – there are always people who play games with relationships and sex to gain what they want. That, however, shouldn’t invalidate the experiences of many women and men who do enjoy BDSM and those who do manage to work outside common gender stereotypes.

  18. laughingmuse

    “BDSM is supposed to be a loving relationship, even if it involves administering pain and control to each other.”

    How fucking creepy is that?

    Too fucking creepy for me, thanks.

  19. tisha

    I’m having Twisty withdrawals out here in LA-LA land and HAD to remotely check in and – - – DAMN – - – this is GREAT – - – must must must archive this post so all of us can access it, forever forever forever!

  20. Burrow

    Well then how about it’s practitioners stop mouthing at me me how feminist and inherently transgressive and wonderful and earth-improving it is because “half of it is non-patriarchal?”

    YAY!!! Your posts have filled me with happiness. You go with that attitude! Kick ass.

  21. Elinor

    Unfortunately the matter of desire comes into play. Both parties want to play the D/s game, and want a little desire. Sweatpants aren’t exactly the sexiest option – especially if you want to play in a club straight away, rather than gradually introducing it to a relationship.

    But isn’t this basically the same dynamic we see elsewhere? “You can look like that if you want, but men won’t want you that way”? Men are “more visual” than women, etc., etc., etc. And somehow making ourselves “sexy” and visually appealing to men almost inevitably involves some degree of discomfort and restriction of OUR mobility, even when we are supposed to be “dominating.”

    It doesn’t bother me if some people enjoy acting out the corseted femme fatale shtick. It does irritate me when it’s talked up as “transgressive” and “revolutionary” and a dramatic role reversal and all that.

  22. kathy a

    i’m not saying this case is usual. but if the submissive person dies, and you understandably don’t want him around anymore, and you get your boyfriend to cut the dude up and get rid of his body — well, that doesn’t seem to advance the cause much. any cause, as a matter of fact.
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2006/01/30/national/a090948S05.DTL

  23. Kim

    Oh my goodness, I do believe I am in love with that woman. SHE knows what true power really is – or should be.

    Then again, I would wear a corset for a little while if it meant I could flog Cheney and Bush for a little while, especially if their only response could be, “Thank you, may I have another, and oh, by the way, we’re about to outlaw all the right-wing godbags and send them to their own island out in the middle of nowhere, us included.”

  24. Lorenzo

    LMYC,

    Which brings us to the lack of optimism. It’s been like this for roughly 1,000,000,000,00,000
    years, so it’s not gonna change any time soon.

    Well…there are some pretty good arguments that it is more like 10,000 years w.r.t gender and class, though that still makes your lack of optimism pretty understandable…

  25. M

    Fuck Yeah!

    (sorry for lack of insightful comment, but hey, think ‘Fuck Yeah!’ is all that’s needed)

  26. Crys T

    Elinor, you got that exactly right. The basic dynamic is exactly the same as mainstream society–it’s just more explicitly presented and ritualised.

    I suppose one could argue that if BDSM is more explicit, it’s therefore more honest. I can see that point, but if what it’s being honest about is the same old shit, that’s nothing to be proud of.

  27. Dim Undercellar

    I’m just still amused and creeped out by the whole attitude that wearing a leather mask suddenly turns “I tied her down and beat her until she was in tears, because she asked for it” from domestic abuse into feminist empowerment.

  28. Queerevolution

    “I want to be dominant in the way that COUNTS, not in a closed room with the shades pulled where it’s recognized as safely disconnected from reality.”

    Domination in the real world, in a way that count, is the PROBLEM not the ANSWER : to want to be dominant is once again mimicking patriarchy ideology. I don’t want a wolrd where women dominate men, or an “equality” world where there is the same proportion of dominating women and dominating men, the same chance for women and men of being on top : I want domination to end, period.

  1. ThinkNaughty » Bottoming from the Top, or: Do FemDoms Dream of Electric Toasters?

    [...] Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy offers the flipside of my recent discussion of BDSM in two posts about the patriarchy-affirming nature of even the safest, sanest, and consensualist BDSM sexplay. While my argument wasn’t necessarily a defense of BDSM (I admit my difficulty in grasping the appeal of what is, to me, decidedly non-sexy; furthermore, I very much doubt those in the scene need much in the way of “defense” from the likes of me) I did highlight how BDSM power roles are intertwined and call into question notions of dominance and submission even as they enact them: While to outsiders (like myself, I must admit), BDSM… seems centered around degradation and humiliation, for its practitioners there’s something rather more complex at work. BDSM participants, both “tops” (dominant partners, “doms”) and “bottoms” (submissive partners, “subs”), get off on playing with power roles, in a way that is often strikingly subversive. The power that a “dom” enjoys over their “sub” comes with great responsibility for the emotional and erotic satisfaction of the “sub”, as well as for their physical and psychological health…. [...]

  2. Bottoming from the Top, or: Do FemDoms Dream of Electric Toasters? : Dustin M. Wax

    [...] = [];}Twisty of I Blame the Patriarchy offers the flipside of my recent discussion of BDSM in two posts about the patriarchy-affirming nature of even the safest, sanest, and consensualist BDSM [...]

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