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Feb 07 2012

BeeDeeEssEm insiders have unpopular revelation

I hope you’re sitting down, because I am about to reveal the shock of a lifetime.

Abuse is rampant in the BDSM ‘community’.

But don’t take my word for it. Here is BDSM “activist and sex worker” Kitty Stryker:

“When I start to think of the number of times I have been cajoled, pressured, or forced into sex that I did not want when I came into ‘the BDSM community’, I can’t actually count them,” Stryker wrote in Good Vibrations’ magazine. “As I reflected on the number of times I’ve … been pressured into a situation where saying ‘no’ was either not respected or not an option, or said that I did not want a certain kind of toy used on me which was then used, I’m kind of horrified.”

According to Stryker, ignoring safe words, torturing women submissives with “toys,” and raping them is de rigueur around the dungeon, but nobody in the scene will admit it or cop to it. When a member of the ‘community’ does speak out, she is ignored or accused of being a whiner. Or of being drunk. A cloak of secrecy envelops our enlightened fetishists, which fetishists, I might add, are constantly defending their corny lifestyle as liberating, empowerful, and awesome.

You know it always works out super great for women in environments that are enveloped by cloaks of secrecy.

So, as is revealed in the afore-linked article, a couple of BDSM activist ladies are trying to get the word out about the abuse. But uh-oh. Surprise. They are being met with resistance from upholders of the BDSM status quo. One of these grumpy gusses suggests that women who get themselves assaulted are basically asking for it. She avers that the activists’ position has “some of the flavor of the kind of victimhood that we see from some second wave feminists.” And I hate to have to tell you, she doesn’t consider “second wave feminist” a compliment!

The scene is at least tacitly acknowledged by its adherents to be inherently dangerous, spawning a victim-blaming protocol of safeguards reminiscent of those rape-avoidance email forwards. Cautions one avid participant:

A bottom/sub MUST investigate who they are seeking to play with. They MUST insist that their safe words are honored. They should, when playing with someone new or unfamiliar, have someone they trust be present to look out for their safety. A bottom/sub should never play with someone the first time in a private location (someone’s home, hotel, etc.). If public play spaces are not available, try to set an arrangement where there will be someone to look after their best interests.

As in, “Yo, dude, I insist that you not rape me when I say the safe word.” Telling a rapist not to rape me, now why didn’t I think of that? That always works!

Since time began, the argument here on Savage Death Island has been that the fetishization of oppression culture is pretty profoundly antifeminist. Arguments from BDSM fans about its awesomeness have always had the whiff of denial and delusion about them. The notion that the BDSM community is a kinky little oasis of trust and respect in a world that in every other respect is governed by misogynist patriarchal mores has never rung true. Of course men rape women in the BDSM scene, because men rape women, period. You don’t have to be a world-class spinster aunt specializing in No. 1 Science Information to conclude that enactment of abuse scenarios for sexual gratification is unlikely to result in an abuse-free outcome. Or to recognize all the usual trappings of rape culture, from victim-silencing to ineffectual rape-prevention advice to circling the wagons to protect the abusers. Far from “pushing the boundaries” and being “transgressive,” BDSM is nothing but the same tired old status quo in a corny rubber slave mask.

And it’s stupid.

[Note: Using the acronym "BDSM" in your comment will send it straight to moderation; that's just how the spamulator works.]

Thanks Matty

189 comments

2 pings

  1. Soporificat

    This is very serious stuff, so why am I laughing so hard right now? I swear I’m not a sociopath!

    It’s just that BDSM is so obviously what it is (“same tired old status quo in a corny rubber slave mask. And it’s stupid.”), and it’s awfully nice when someone comes right out and says it.

  2. pheeno

    “They should, when playing with someone new or unfamiliar, have someone they trust be present to look out for their safety”

    Those we trust are the one’s most often raping us. It’s sickening how they assume it’s simply a case of submissive women not insisting their safe word be honored (she didn’t say NO loud enough trope) or foolishly “playing” with someone they don’t know.

    It couldn’t possibly be the so called trustworthy men who enjoy this shit because it mimics rape or anything.

    Anti-rape advice is stupid and harmful, BDSM anti-rape advice is about as moronic as it can get.

    How the fuck does one go about insisting a safe word be honored?

  3. hayduke

    My plans for this evening: returning to this post to enjoy the inevitable comment blow up, with popcorn at hand.

  4. Rachel

    Love it. Like most of us, I managed to mature from my now shameful early 20s third wave-y ways. When you don’t yet know what non-oppression looks like, it’s tempting to fall for the same old crap, repackaged. This also strikes me as a possible explanation for the abundance of ex-catholic wiccans I encountered during that same time period.

  5. stacey

    “ex-catholic wiccans…” LOLOLOL (joins Soporificat in the sociopath corner)

  6. L

    Mmm. Being manhandled and humiliated in bed. Then again, I skipped out on the “scene” and got married instead, so what do I know.

  7. Penny Sociology

    Hayduke- Me too!

  8. Lovepug

    I sort of feel bad for these women. Bless their hearts they really do believe, like feminist porn filmmakers, that they are somehow establishing a beachhead into the community, and they’re going to change it from within.

    Seems like now they’re finding out the hard way that’s not where change is going to come from.

    I think a lot of women end up in the “community” out of these cultural falsehoods that insist that in order to be sexual at all, you need to be willing to do anything and everything. Anything short of that means you’re a prude. We’re not allowed to have facets or cherry pick what we like and don’t like and still be considered sexually desirable. So, women who are very sexually expressive indeed think they have to go along with this crap or their sexuality doesn’t count. Or that you’re some sexually repressed being if you’re not willing to do everything.

    Bullshit I say. Again, real sexual freedom is not just freedom to, it’s freedom from.

    It is stupid. It is the same old status quo.

  9. someonered

    Is it way out there to suspect that some (not all) of the people who enjoy this stuff are working through abuse issues? Can’t speak for others of course, but I figure that’s what I was doing when I indulged in certain thoughts. It’s sad to think that women who were victimized as children come to confuse that pain with love, and some end up being victimized all over again as adults.

    Also it always strikes me as funny when people use ‘second wave’ as an insult. Especially brogressives.

  10. Fannie Farmer (Mrs.)

    At last, someone says the obvious out loud. And yes indeed, freedom is both freedom to and freedom from.

  11. Saurs

    The weird rules the P has for whether something “counts” as rape or not. Everything is exactly the same, including the intent to rape, but because somebody has a camera it’s not rape, it’s porn. Like, if the dude dressed like Badtz-Maru and his jolly band of leatherbound gimps rape you in the woods with nobody around to film it, is it still porn? No, you fucking fascist, it’s BDSM. What are you, some kind of prude? Are they or are they not wearing spiky bracelets? Okay, then. The spiky bracelet, like the mason handshake, absolves us of any wrong-doing and explains all.

    While the culture at large will always find a Very Good Reason why a woman isn’t a victim of rape but both a liar and a slut, the normalization of bondage has done a lot to streamline the process. Women can be mutilated, tortured, and gang-raped, this can all be captured on film, and the film itself can definitively show that she didn’t provide the Magic Get-out-jail-free-card Consent to be tortured, but so long as there are people willing to believe that women as natural masochists will go to any lengths to be physically hurt by men, up to and including “feigning” unconsciousness, rapists’ll get off. For once I’d like to see the BDSM explanation mounted as a defense for a woman accused of chopping off some dude’s dick. It was just a bit of fun, and it went too far, but he didn’t say the safeword, so what was I supposed to do?

  12. Twisty

    Judging by the profusion and creepiness of male junk-squishing “CBT” devices available, I’m surprised more peens don’t bite the dust while engaged in this silly pastime.

  13. Saurs

    Apologia for BDSM always assumes it’s women who are masochists rather than men who are sadists, that these practices are not just so much backlash against feminism. It’s touted as the liberation of women’s sexuality, the wonderful and exhilarating freedom we’ve now secured to be slaves. Not like the bad old days, when we had to repress all these masochist, self-hating desires. Sure, we were still beat up, farmed out as housemaids and sex toys through marriage contracts, and forced to bear children and accept lower wages for the same work when we weren’t being excluded from trade guilds altogether, but now that we’ve got access to ball-gags those burdens don’t seem quite so heavy.

  14. RadicalWeasel

    As a young blamer with a BDSM scene friend (I may have to unfriend, in the real world sense, not on Facebook) – is there anything you can say to someone who is completely buying into all this crap to the point of engaging in this gross stuff with dudes almost twice her age? Who just seems thrilled to have discovered the ‘scene’ and is all, ‘Look at me! I enjoy being hurt in such and such a way! I’ve woven my own rope harness!’

    A while ago she gave me the ‘well I’m a feminist and I like being flogged by men’ crap. Since it was clear I wasn’t buying any of it, our friendship has somewhat cooled. Suppose I’ll just have to wait it out, won’t I? She’s a grown adult.

    But it’s so frustrating, so upsetting.

    Is there anything at all I can say? I have tried to communicate the theory that BDSM is just poisonous patriarchy in leather masks, consent doesn’t really exist for women etc etc etc.

  15. Linden

    When we’re all done with a takedown of BDSM, can we move to a takedown of polyamory? In the larger social circles I move in, both are popular and I’m sick of being shamed as “vanilla” for not taking part in either.

  16. Treefinger

    I think my comments are permanently moderated because of my comments on the last thread. If it helps to clarify what I was trying to say then, it was not that the fetish world is free of patriarchy (not at all; in fact it’s a locus for many types of fucked-up shit), but something more akin to what L just said. Marriage and sexuality in general are a locus for the same things.

    I suppose that the closest thing to a “defense” of it that I would ever give is this: at least the fetish world doesn’t see it as unusual for some women (dommes) to not acquiesce to vaginal penetration all the time. Not doing this as a sub or in non-fetishist/vanilla sex is seen as ludicrous. Believe me if there was a way to have sex with dudes without being penetrated that DIDN’T involve using the “fetish” word to describe it, I would be right there. Because obviously, the “community” has more than enough fucked up stuff in it to counteract whatever positives one might be able to find.

  17. pheeno

    I knew a woman, some years back who was heavily into BDSM. As in, it was a lifestyle and not simply regulated to the bedroom. She lived with a man as his 24/7 slave. He beat her and she remained because she believed it was ok. Her family begged her to leave him, but she remained because BDSM tells you that your sole job as a submissive woman is to please your “Master”. He beat her one night so severely she almost died. She had to have facial reconstructive surgery and more blood transfusions than I can count. This was in the 80′s. Now, she is HIV positive because of it. He dumped her (they called it removing her collar) because he could no longer prong an HIV positive person.

    This was my first real introduction to BDSM. Prior to that I thought it was just kinky sex and had no real idea.

    I just don’t understand how anyone can be ok with anything that says a person can be owned by another. Semantics of well, you consent to be owned so it’s YOUR power- to me that’s utter shit.

    And that’s what BDSM says. It says the submissive is actually the one with all the power. That it takes more strength to submit and trust.

    So it fools these women into thinking they have real power, and then victimizes them.

    It’s depressing.

  18. nails

    Thanks for writing about this. I found that link awhile back and planned to write about it, but then my computer broke and I lost all the half-written things and research links I saved up. There aren’t enough critiques of BDSM online. Anyone who has some interest in joining BDSM groups is unlikely to find any information about people who left and why, just a bunch of cliches and slogans about how it is actually more safe than sex with vanilla people.

    I don’t know how rape couldn’t be rampant, members of the community aren’t the same all the time, and anyone going in knows that a rape conviction is even less likely in a BDSM community than within the general population. It attracts sadistic sociopaths, no doubt, and you can’t tell who is one by their looks (or orientation or gender). Doms come and go, and some sub will have to “test” a new dom for the rest of the community. If a dom refrains from rape for awhile it will be one sub against the word of many others.

  19. Strigophilia

    Gotta love the “culture of victimization” bullshit. Nothing like claiming your rape was your fault for EMPOWERFULIZATION, amirite?

    If there is one consistent feature that rapists share, it’s a capacity for self-delusion. It isn’t really rape because X, Y, alpha, gamma, or zed; it might have been forced, it might have been domineering, she might not have liked it, he might have said no, but it wasn’t really rape. How then is it all surprising that BDSM encourages sexual abuse? The entire premise is one of self-delusion (I’m only like this in certain scenes, I really respect women in other contexts, I’m not turned on by rape in other contexts). Most importantly, doms are encouraged to not listen to the person they’re with, and discount everything they say.

    Whoa, that leads to rape? COLOR ME SHOCKED.

  20. Hari

    Oh my Twisty–another one to laugh-while-crying over.

    It seems that somehow, those who play submissive just don’t understand that by submitting to a dominant, you are surrendering your right to have a say! No matter that the general rules of BDSM explicitly say that everyone gets a say. No matter that a sub may want, and certainly deserves, a say in what happens to her body. Fact is, giving yourself to a dom means being dominated, helloooo!

    How does this get so, so, well, MISSED by the subs? Doms get off on, guess what–DOMINATION.

    Not on willingness, not on permission. It’s not domination unless you take it by force via rights of dominators everywhere. It’s not as much fun, not so keen a high, without that thrill of stealing power from the sub.

    someonered: “Is it way out there to suspect that some (not all) of the people who enjoy this stuff are working through abuse issues?”

    No, not way out there. I’ve talked to various BDSMers over time, and I’ve done a bit of pro-BDSM reading. Apparently, partaking of BDSM is purely the *best* therapy for working out the creepy sex-power issues you got while growing up sexually abused and/or battered.

    I once met a fellow who said he was in the mail-order sex toy biz. Showed me his catalogue, which turned out to be 99% BDSM hurt-toys. It was a real feat of self control not to first laugh til I peed, then barf all over him.

  21. Jezebella

    Linden: I KNOW! I loathe being called “vanilla” because I have my own sexual preferences that aren’t “kinky” or “open-minded” or whatever. It’s so fucking insulting to act like a person with an opinion about what she does and does not want to do is oh-so-boring, because, y’know, the most important thing a woman can be is *sexually interesting*. Feh. I also get my knickers in a twist when those Ren Fair people call me “mundane.”

    Enough about me. Sorry.

    RadicalWeasel, perhaps you should share Pheeno’s story with your friend who’s just started in with that scene, so she can see where it’s likely to go.

  22. humanbein

    I admit I’m mystified by the women who are attracted to this sexuality. My best guess is that sex dependence creates needs that can only be met by increasing the amount of degradation you feel. The widespread denial that there are elements of sex that are based on dominance and degradation in small amounts leads naturally to the idea that outright degradation is somehow OK, if it gets you off.

  23. Linden

    Jezebella: Word. Because nothing proves your edgy individuality like adhering to pre-approved scripts, accessories, and jargony in-speak.

  24. someonered

    Hari, thanks. IMO it is very far from being the best therapy. It’s just an unhealthy way of avoiding therapy.

  25. Cyberwulf

    Fucking look at this bullshit:

    “A bottom who refuses to safeword when he or she has actually withdrawn consent has just turned me into a rapist or assailant without my consent, and that is not OK.” [says Janet Hardy]

    WHAT.

  26. Twisty

    I know! Because normally you need your own consent to rape someone, right? Whao!

  27. Hari

    someonered: “it is very far from being the best therapy”

    Yes, very far. And then there’s the quote Cyberwolf gave us from Janet Hardy:

    “A bottom who refuses to safeword when he or she has actually withdrawn consent has just turned me into a rapist or assailant without my consent, and that is not OK.”

    The idea that BDSM is actually therapy, or that a rapist/assailant can be created by a sub in any manner–it’s just evidence from all sides of the extreme rationalizations performed by all the so called sex-pozzies who are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome: embracing the abuse and abuser as if it were really their in their will. IBTP.

  28. damequixote

    It must be my lack of brain cells but I don’t get the ‘safe word’ thing. If the whole world is the patriarchy, and the patriarchy just takes what it wants all the time (rapes with enthusiasm), then why would some sub-culture of the patriarchy be any different? It just seems like if a ‘safe word’ worked we would have them in the whole of the patriarchy; at work, school, walking down the street, et al. When what should be safe words like, “If you don’t stop I will shoot you,” don’t work, how is “orange” going to help you?

    @Rachel
    “This also strikes me as a possible explanation for the abundance of ex-catholic wiccans I encountered during that same time period”

    Many laughs. At one point I was surrounded by those people too. And they were into things that shall remain unsaid and convinced they had found liberation. Run. Away.

  29. nails

    humanbein
    “I admit I’m mystified by the women who are attracted to this sexuality. My best guess is that sex dependence creates needs that can only be met by increasing the amount of degradation you feel. The widespread denial that there are elements of sex that are based on dominance and degradation in small amounts leads naturally to the idea that outright degradation is somehow OK, if it gets you off.”

    People who are sexually abused often repeat the same themes of abuse in their personal lives later on. The mainstream culture would probably interpret it as a secret wish or pleasure in being abused, though it means something entirely different. It is a way for victims to experience a level of control over abuse that they didn’t have during the original abuse (either by volunteering for the same treatment or by becoming an abuser). It can make abuse more palatable. It seems to be highly subconcious, with many people experiencing severe feelings of shame over having an attraction to abuse scenarios after knowing how badly the abuse hurt them to begin with. Denying that there is any harm in activities that involve force, coercion, etc has an obvious advantage to someone not yet ready to deal with the horrifying reality of sexual abuse: it really was terrible and someone else fucked up your life for their own fun. It is easy to logically conclude how terrible sexual abuse is, but to really emotionally know it is devastating and difficult. If rape can be made into something other than sexual terrorism a victim doesn’t have to deal with the devastation of rape, the event doesn’t have to rule their life for years (or permanently). There are BDSM guides about working through rape or sexual abuse via “scenes” (yeah, seriously). Unfortunately the abuse role playing of BDSM hasn’t been shown to help victims, and it hurts when more abuse results from trying to gain control over post abuse feelings. It is a lot like stockholm syndrome. I really wish there was enough free mental health care out there so that vulnerable people are taken care of by professionals instead of some random sadist looking for a fuck toilet.

  30. quixote

    It’s not just “freedom from” or “to.” It’s that you decide.

    Anybody using putdowns about prudery or sluttishness or whatever is trying to take that freedom away. If they were actually trying to be some kind of helpful, they wouldn’t be putting you down, would they?

    I’m trying to think of a good response to the Why-not?-you’re-so-narrowminded gambit. Something like, “Cheer up. I don’t want you, but you can get plastic inflatable dolls mail order these days.”

  31. Jessie

    I must admit I can’t understand why bee dee ess emm is seem as “edgy” or “transgressive.” There is nothing whatsoever unusual about a relationship based on dominance and submission. It is, unfortunately, status quo for typical human relationships and societies.

    I would honestly run from anyone who both wanted to hurt me and would get a sexual thrill out of it. I actually would argue that b-d-ess-em is toxic to the mind. It strongly conditions the sadist to act more and more violent because it pairs sadistic acts with a powerful reinforcer (an orgasm). It, of course, also hurts the victims mentally and physically.

  32. Gayle

    Not in the least bit surprising, but sadly worth posting as so many women actually buy into their propaganda.

  33. Barn Owl

    As an 18-year-old member of a kinky student club at the University of California, Berkeley, Mayhem helped raise money to bring a prominent BeeDeeEssEm educator to campus for a workshop.

    Prongminent expert from the Mystick Krewe of Status Quo is flattered to be invited and paid to “educate” a kinky student club – what could possibly go wrong?

  34. IBlameRonPaul

    We have an open relationship, and while I don’t like the poly community either – or more accurately, don’t find it to be a fit, as most of its participants are into Wicca, Ren-Faire, and excessive sharing of information I don’t need to know – poly doesn’t have to be just for het married people, and it doesn’t have to be oppressive. Sometimes, people just fall for more than one person at a time.

    While I understand the annoyance at being called “vanilla” – I have one friend I’m sort of avoiding because she keeps dropping hints that I should go do burlesque with her every time we hang out – I would say that in the culture at large, it’s much, much more uncomfortable and demoralizing to have an alternate sexuality. My not being straight causes most people to feel I’m “rubbing my lifestyle in their face,” despite the fact that heterosexual people’s lifestyles are de facto rubbed in my face daily, in books, on TV, at the movies, at work, and in all manner of advertising and “women’s media.” The reaction to non-monogamy is similar. I seriously, genuinely don’t care what people do or don’t do in bed, but what I do is apparently so gross and horrific that I pretty much need to keep quiet about it at all times.

    The best is when people say to me, “You never tell us anything about yourself. You’re so formal. Lighten up!” Um, duh. When the culture accepts that people outside of the married-with-kids, monogamous, heterosexual relationship format exist, I’ll be a bit more open. ‘Till then, I’m a vault, and if that offends you, or you feel I “owe” you my personal information, you can biff right off.

    On the other hand, I joined a poly forum, and the people were dicks. The attitude I got was, “I’m better at poly than you.” I asked to have my account deleted and they got all huffy, like, “You put your information out there, so now you have to deal with the consequences.” The constant talk of openness and sharing gets boring, as does the lack of understanding that I may not wish for everyone to know my business, even if polyamory is more important to them than basically any other aspect of life. But despite what you’ve read and heard, non-monogamy doesn’t have to look like that. It’s just that more often than not, it does.

  35. IBlameRonPaul

    Other things:

    –I prefer to use the term “open relationship” or “nonmonogamy” because they don’t conjure up the Ren-Faire/Wicca/sneering thing. Some people call me a polygamist and usually, they’re reich-wing asshats.

    –My partner is a lot closer to a sex-positive feminist than I am, but I was the one who initially brought up this arrangement.

    –The last two women I dated outside my primary didn’t work out. One was cheating on me with 3 different Nigels (and writing about it on the Internet, almost like she hoped I’d find it, the turd), and the other was just too young – 24 years young, in fact. I felt an acute generation gap, or to be more precise, an uncomfortable return to my college years, whereas she just liked spending time around a “cool colder woman.”

    –I’ve grown so picky about who I will and won’t date outside our relationship that I haven’t been looking and have been de-facto monogamous for almost two years.

    Pretty vanilla in the end, eh?

  36. EmilyBites

    Eh, humanbein, I also wonder if maybe it has something to do with resolving the cognitive dissonance that arises from being subjected to ‘normal’ heterosexuality (characterised by disregard for consent, domination and being expected to wear silly outfits) while simultaneously being told that you are imagining the rapey bits.

    Where men treat women like fucktoys anyway, bee dee ess em only differs from ‘regular’ sex in that they wear funny things (although, have you been in Ann Summers lately?), and before the guy hurts you he actually says, ‘Now I am going to hurt you, you whore.’

  37. Killeth Boners

    This was on my google news feed recently, and so i immediately longed for a post from you.

  38. JfC

    One thing I cannot stand is BDSMers who adopt social justice language to frame their lifestyle as oppressed. One charming example I read involved a gay woman challenging a straight man using the term ‘kinkophobia’ and he started shouting her down and insisting that there is no difference between the ‘oppression’ he faces for his relationship (in that people don’t care to hear about his particular practices in the bedroom) and the oppression she faced for hers. Riiiiiiiight.

  39. Linden

    My personal experiences with polyamory have all been with men who started off with me in a explicitly monogamous relationship, then pressured me about changing to an open relationship because they met someone new or had an itch to scratch, a la Newt Gingrich. And of course they can’t be expected to not screw around, because men are biologically compelled to, right? Now I’m a single mom and I have to share custody of my kids with an ex who tries to pick up on teenage girls. And he looks down his nose at me because of my unenlightened backwardness and makes lofty comments about his “community.” Probably calls me “vanilla” behind my back.

    Though our culture is, of course, overwhelmingly disposed to monogamy, like BDSM it’s difficult to find substantive critiques of polyamory online. It’s gotten excellent press lately as the evopsychologically guaranteed, guilt-free solution for divorce and sexual boredom. IBTP for giving my ex, and other men like him I know, a fig leaf in the form of the polyamory philosophy for their sense of entitlement. Perhaps the whole idea works better when it’s kept among women only. But then again, what doesn’t?

    On the larger scope, the other people I know who are into polyamory are Wiccan oversharers whose dating pool has grown so incestuous, they can pass around the same flu bug in two weeks flat. And I can’t help but notice that all of them who have ever been married are divorced, despite the fact that their lifestyle is so much more honest and real than horrible old oppressive monogamy. I guess the real problem with relationships is that they include people.

  40. JfC

    OK, I found the piece (http://afemanistview.blogspot.com/2012/01/on-negotiating-parallels-and.html if you care to subject yourself to a terrible person), and the specific example was a woman objecting to BDSM being referred to as an orientation in the same way lesbian is her orientation. My bad. The overall piece was hostile to gay people who object to the idea that ‘kinkophobia’ and ‘vanilla privilege’ are actual phenomena, instead of appropriation of the GLBT experience.

  41. Comrade PhysioProf

    the dude dressed like Badtz-Maru

    Hey! Leave Badtz-Maru out of this!!

  42. AlienNumber

    The 3.96 GPA super-brilliant graduate from my college who introduced me to radical feminism and Catharine MacKinnon’s work became a masochistic-I-don’t-know-what shortly after we graduated.

    Our formerly amazing friendship completely cooled off after we had this absolutely mind-numbing argument centered around my complete disbelief that she wanted me to think of an argument for why it would be okay for her — no, not just okay, but “hot and sexy” — in an Ideal World, to be “consensually beaten” by Catharine MacKinnon. She wasn’t kidding. It wasn’t a bizarro ‘thought experiment’ of some sort.

    It turns out this ex-friend was probably abused by some uncle when she was growing up and etc. Now she is, according to another friend, looking online for “older dominant women who want to dominate a submissive genderqueer boy,” with little to no success. Luckily, she is too scared to join the local bee dee ess emm scene, I guess it’s too hetero for her or something.

    Gosh. I’m still heartbroken. We had a wonderful friendship, she was/is brilliant. I learned so much from her. She read lots of Dworkin and MacKinnon et al and she obviously gets it, intellectually speaking.
    I really don’t understand what went wrong.

  43. otoc

    How is a widespread misogyny-fetish the ultimate symbol of feminism’s success? That’s the only part I don’t get. I don’t really care if people like to do unhealthy things, in general, but I resent the idea that I’m one of the “real” woman-haters if I don’t support men treating women like shit just because sex is involved. Why should anyone, feminist or not, demand that feminists support misogyny in any context? It’s bizarre. The charge that women who spend so much of their time trying to help women, prevent rape, stop the forced-birthers, get women the same pay as men, fund shelters, speak up about sexism, get women into positions of power, etc. are WORSE THAN FUCKING RAPISTS because they disagree on whether a man beating a woman is OK if genitals come into it is just so disgustingly awful — how did this become the norm?

  44. Lovepug

    VANILLA IS AWESOME!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanilla

    Can we plant some on Savage Death Island?

  45. Framboise

    This blog and thread is like an island of sanity in the sea of my empowerful faux-menist bullshit.

    Pretty hardcore unquestioning acceptance of beedeesem* has so permeated my cohort of spunky young feminists that it is really difficult to talk about critically with anyone I know in the real world. I was trying to explain to a friend why I found the whole concept of “safe words” problematic, saying that it puts to much responsibility for ensuring consent onto the safe word-user (okay, let’s not pretend, the woman), giving some dude a free pass if you temporarily forgot to say “pineapple” but did say no and attempt to knee his junk. Personally I am really skeeved out by the idea that you need a totally unambiguous signal for the other personal to stop because something like “don’t” and “stop” could mean “don’t stop” or “Don’t. Stop.” In cases like that I really think that if the dude really doesn’t want a to be a rapist he could just stop and check for clarification, because if it’s the first meaning, well big deal you resume, but if it’s the second by stopping you have avoided raping your partner. Call me a man-hating lesbo, but not raping someone seems like it’s worth delaying getting off by like five minutes. I think anyone who would continue sexing up someone in the face of ambiguous consent displays so little concern for consent that they should be regarded as, at best, a proto-rapist. My otherwise very intelligent female, allegedly feminist, friend’s response to this was “well, but you could just use a safe word…I mean, why not”. Am I crazy or is avoiding sexing with someone who doesn’t give a shit about your consent a really good answer to “why not”?

    Oh wait, I forgot that if I were really “empowered” I would “own” my sexuality and “take responsibility” for my own consent, rather than expecting men to actually try at all to not rape me. That will totally work in a patriarchal world, right? I mean, spunkiness cancels out the whole rest of our culture?

    *PS: is this spamalator avoidance mechanism reminding anyone else of the BeeGees?

  46. Keri

    BeedeeEssEm or poly or whatever fetish (like the dude I saw on Taboo that built himself a giant high chair where he could sit in his ginormous feetie jammies and be fed by his ‘mama’), all requires that you want to be touched by people. Yuck.

    To me, it is rare to find someone who you can desire even being by, much less let ball gag you and ignore your safety words.

    Empowerful stuff always comes back to be the most toxic it seems.

  47. nomdedomme

    Only got a third of a way through the comments and must note on the peen-destroying/CBT theme: yes, I have been asked multiple times if I’ll do “castration scenes.” Have declined, obviously; us feminists are actually not castrating bitches, even when presented the opportunity. Although things are much less dire for women “tops”, working through childhood abuse is a rampant theme (men and women dealing with their shit) and men are still whiny, entitled and manipulative even as “subs”. Totally agree that the whole b-d-s-m thing is ridickulous and wish I could deprogram myself; experience serious amounts of cognitive dissonance being that I identify as a 2nd waver. Is sexuality too “baked in” to deprogram? IDK, but for being this way, IBTP.

  48. Sige

    Snowdropexplodes of a femanistview recently guest blogged on Womanist’s Musings in response to the Salon article. The comments revealed Snowdropexplodes had published a confessional/redemption narrative (TW) where he came very close to raping and murdering a woman after putting together a rapist’s kit. The reason given is “because of my sexual orientation as a sadist and a Dominant, and the firm belief that my depression gave me, that I could never find a willing partner, gradually my mind turned to rape, and how I might commit a rape and get away with it.” The rest is very difficult to read. His guest post was about safe words and enthusiastic consent. I won’t be subjecting myself to anymore of his views.

  49. iamlegs

    One of her prized possessions was a personal letter from a MtoF prominent theorizer about the beedeesem. She was a close friend of mine and yet I didn’t tell her how uncomfortable I felt when she was going on and on about how great this person was, when it seemed to me the theorizer was using their years of training as a man to bully people in hir new life as a lesbian, where zie lectured women on not being empowerfulled enough.

    I helped this friend through ending an abusive relationship, only to watch her jump straight into another.

    At the same time this friend kept trying to convince me that there was something wrong in my own relationship with my life partner–which I seriously soul searched, both on my own and with my partner. For me, one of the best things about being a lesbian is that there is a real possibility of mutuality, trust and equality in a relationship between two women. The last thing I wanted to do was fuck that up.

    And then one day in the middle of a phone conversation with her I finally woke up and realized that having a loving relationship of mutual support was not what this friend was after. For her, everything was about control: having it, not having it, eroticising it. I realized that when she was complaining about how her girlfriend emotionally abused her, it was just another way to wallow in her world of power and control. I ended the friendship right then.

    And you know what? It’s been so difficult to explain to mutual aquaintances why I quit the friendship. “I don’t want to be friends with people who worship controlling people and being controlled” doesn’t make sense to people, for some reason. IBTP.

  50. amisophe

    First of all, I should mention that this post and the comment thread ended up being rather triggery. I read it anyway. Was the patriarchy responsible for that little bit of masochism? Should you take your own admirable advice and not abuse instead of claiming the victims deserve it?

    Were those questions rhetorical? (No.) (You might want to put a trigger warning in the header.)

    I have absolutely no problem with calling out the SM scene for festering with rape culture and oppression; from what I’ve seen I’m not particularly inclined to defend it. That said, I haven’t seen much; what I’ve heard has been enough to keep me away from a lot of it. And that’s unfortunate. Because what we really need is for the scene, like society as a whole, to undergo some deep questioning about its politics and emerge from it more open and respectful.

    What I do have a problem with is equating the problems of the SM scene with problems that must be inherent to kinky psychology.

    It must be pretty damn convenient to take your outward impressions of experiences you can’t personally imagine wanting, fit them into whatever neat little boxes you have set up for explaining the world, sit on your soapbox and judge. It must be absolutely fucking great to take exactly the sexuality-denying, policing, controlling bigotry you’ve experienced in a patriarchy-influenced society and turn it on the patriarchy itself, right? Because that’s what you’re doing, right?

    Nope. Sorry.

    Your feminism isn’t all that radical here. You’re just reinventing the wheel: instead of men telling women what they can and can’t be, women are.

    Women are telling women that if, at the age of nine (having grown up in a socially liberal family where both mother and father had doctoral degrees and believed that women shouldn’t have to work second-rate jobs in second-rate uniforms for the satisfaction of a society still hung up on masculine power, with classmates where it was far more common to hear a religion-based slur than a gender-based one, with a personality that didn’t care to subscribe to stereotypes of any gender and would rather ace math class and pull off gay marriages in Life without knowing that’s what they were) they found the unusual equalization-of-power-through-expressing-an-imbalance in this exchange in some historical fiction chapter book absolutely fascinating:

    “Korean boy king: I heard you talking to your older brother the other day. The way you spoke – it is not something I’m familiar with. You should teach me to talk like that!

    peasant boy: You mean – you want to talk like a commoner?

    boy king: yes!

    peasant boy: I – don’t know if I can do that, my lord.

    boy king: Oh. Would it help if I made it an order?

    peasant boy: actually, yes, that might work. My lord.”

    then it was because of the fucking patriarchy.

    And hell, not only that! Their enduring fascination with power dynamics expressed in ways not often encountered in daily life, explored and defied and implemented, pain and service and fear and longing and respect and trust, with no gender attached, where it’s more interesting whether one of them is a teacher than whether one of them is a woman – is, well, nothing but the status quo in a corny rubber slave mask. Their desire for an interpretation of intimacy that’s in line with what their mind and heart always came up with, where respect goes hand in hand with expressing that respect in mutually instinctive ways rather than in society’s formulations of intimacy, is nothing but the exact opposite of respect dressed up in stereotypes – because that’s how society sees it.

    You’re making the incredible fallacy of equating “I think it’s cool when my friend/lover tells me what to do, because I know them and s/he’d never do that in real life, so me obeying is this awesomely mixed-up thing where I can deliberately act less powerful because I know this person doesn’t actually see me as so, and holding still while they hurt me allows a temporary state of transcendence akin to religious surrender except we’re people giving that to each other, and how intimate is that?” with “the fetishization of oppression culture,” with “I think it’s cool when [insert male person here] tells [insert female person here] what to do and coerces her if she doesn’t obey.” Which, no. One of those is patriarchal oppression (and if sexual, rape) and one is not. Both occur both inside and out of the formalized SM scene. Only one of them is problematic, in both contexts. Take a guess which is which.

    The intersection of real power in the real world with power in D/s contexts that occurs in the SM scene is a topic that’s both fascinating and necessary for discussion. Because, as you say, there is no way to avoid that intersection in a society so ingrained with patriarchy and male (white, cis, etc.) privilege. Which is why the formalized scene (ideally, simply a place for people with similar ideas of intimacy to get together and have those ideas respected) has so many problems, and that’s why discussion and activism are necessary to equalize it. Just like discussion and activism are necessary to equalize every other aspect of society.

    And instead of thinking about that, you’re too busy waving your “I don’t know what it feels like, but whatever that thing is there with the leather is stupid and they don’t know their own feelings so we’ll tell them what they really are, with the most dismissive language we can think of” flags.

    I don’t actually expect this comment to get posted. (Prove me wrong.) Considering the general tone of this page toward people like me, I read the “guidelines for commenters” first, and it’s pretty clear this may not be a place for opposing opinions, especially from an asexual submissive transguy. (Are you dude-free or trans-positive? Just in case, let me make clear that this isn’t a “Unique Male Perspective” comment; for one, there is no such thing as a “unique” male perspective (and it always ticks me off whenever a group of one gender asks a sole other-gendered person for a “gendered perspective,” because everyone’s is different) and secondly, I was socialized female. I know what it is to be female-assigned in a rape culture, and I still feel it every time I talk to a stranger or go to aikido class or have to unlock a bathroom door. Just in case you needed the street cred.) But there are enough problems with excluding male experiences in the first place; women’s safe-spaces are all well and good until you claim that a philosophy of gender equality can only be supported by one gender.

    But I’m sorry. Apparently this is a “safe space” for bigotry, where intolerance can fester in a feedback loop of ignorance reinforced, and flippant, status quo kink-shaming and sexuality-policing, instead of deep thought and respect for others’ experiences, is the response to anything that challenges your assumptions. So I’ll just follow orders and get my asexual submissive transboy feminism out of your line of fire.

    Actually, no. Because, as I said, you’ve missed that “submissive” in a D/s sense is completely different from “submissive” in a societal sense. So I’m just going to cite a few things from your own “guidelines for commenters” and let you speak for yourself:

    “Post no abusive language. ‘Abusive language’ means racist, sexist, classist, misogynist, ableist, anti-straight, anti-fat, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-mother, anti-kid, or antifeminist language.”

    “One thing I have learned from doing this blog lo these past 6 years is that when a reasonable person tells you you’re oppressin’em, you’re oppressin’em. The only rational course of action is a) to stop being defensive and b) to cop to it, already.”

    Damn, listening to people about their own experiences? Must be some new antifeminist thing.

  51. Cyberwulf

    Linden – I come from the fanfiction end of the internet, which contains a lot of erotica written by women. The vast, vast majority of fanfiction I’ve read which features polyamory presents it as three (sometimes four) people who are all in love with each other – essentially a closed relationship, just with three people instead of two.

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that in the Real World it’s more like ‘I’ll fuck who I want and you’re a prude if you don’t like it’.

  52. Hari

    A question: is ‘kink’ pretty much equated w/BDSM, or are there any appreciable variances in thought/practice? Links would be helpful. I just googled kink and that showed up was porn and BDSM links (none of which I followed). Just trying to get clear on the terms–not having explored any of this since the days that ‘kink’ seemed to mean something quite a bit more bland than it does now.

  53. procrastinatrix

    Mr. FeMANist view, whose blog post JfC links above, has just gotten into a world of shit over at womanist-musings. Renee allowed him a guest post about abuse in the Bee Dee blah blah world, responding in part to the Salon article. Commenters then revealed that he has a secondary blog in which entries detail him supposedly stalking a woman with a “rapist’s kit” with the intention of raping and perhaps killing her. He’s very proud of himself because he didn’t actually rape a woman (so he says), and credits watching violent porn instead as the reason he didn’t.

    Really gross stuff. Renee has said he won’t be a guest blogger anymore, but will be allowed to comment/is not banned. Which makes my head hurt. IBTP.

  54. tinfoil hattie

    Hey, amisophe! Thanks for the mansplanation! We feminists have never, ever thought about your tl;dnr comments before! We’re too stupid to performn nuanced analysis of people dominating other people for sexual pleasure. Thank dog you came by to set us straight, as it were.

  55. Twisty

    amisophe, I regret that I was unable to read your entire comment; it is longer than a horse dick, and appears to include very few jokes, and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Ordinarily I delete comments of such epic magnitude, but in this case I’d like to use yours to clarify for the group that the “post no abusive language” section of the comments guidelines (you quote it at the close of your remarks in an effort to hoist me by my own petard oh snap) does not, I’m afraid, apply to BDSM.

    This is because BDSM is a harmful, antifeminist, patriarchy-replicating practice, not a race, gender, or orientation. By identifying BDSM as stupid I am not oppressing anyone, ya nitwit, just as by identifying cancer as bad I am not oppressing cancer patients.

    As for “listening to people about their own experiences,” you might observe that elsewhere in the guidelines it specifically states that this is precisely what this blog isn’t for. If you are so keen for your personal sexploits to be heard by invisible strangers, I hardly need point out that the entire rest of the Internet is pretty much one big BDSM Is Awesome! website. Enjoy.

  56. Twisty

    Hari, this blog isn’t really a portal for the exploration of the minutiae of patriarchal het-based sex practices. I don’t need a bunch of stupid kinky links leading in and out of here.

  57. Cyberwulf

    Isn’t it just delightful how amisophe pushes to explain that he was socialised female and knows all about rape culture, only to whine about how women-only spaces hurt men? One would presume that being a member of one oppressed class would grant a person a degree of empathy with members of other oppressed classes and their need for safe spaces, but having encountered so many examples to the contrary, at this stage one knows better.

  58. Killeth Boners

    @amisophe

    Oppressive language? Like the shit that the BDSM folks say to each other — the same kind of language found in pornography. BDSM promotes the power struggles we see in society at large and puts them in the bedroom and in personal relationships…if that’s not anti-feminist, i don’t know what is.

  59. Hari

    Point taken, Twisty. Once I posted, I realized I wouldn’t want to risk following any links, even if they’d been given. My question is only whether kink and BDSM are essentially the same– a yes/no answer from people who are more up-to-date on terminology would be plenty. This arises from a situation where the well-being of a young womyn I care about is involved, sparing details.

  60. JfC

    Oh sorry for posting that link then. I didn’t know about all this business with Womanist Musings.

  61. Rachel

    Hari,

    As far as I know (30, large NE city, only minimally hep) kink is a very broad term that covers everything from enjoying having the bottom of your feet tickled with feathers or really being fond of wearing velvet to mind-shreddingly horrific BDSM.

    The Womanist Musings story is terrible – it reminds me of Kyle Paine, and then again of Hugo Schwyzer. A frightening proportion of men who try to involve themselves in feminism seem to be doing it to justify having committed horrible crimes against women.

  62. stacey

    Isn’t there something in the Faq about “if this doesn’t apply to you specifically,” then “it doesn’t apply to you specifically?” I guess amisophe didn’t read that part.

    (Or the part about any D/s paradigm being inherently oppressive. THAT’S WHAT DOMINATION IS ABOUT, Y’ALL.)

  63. procrastinatrix

    JfC, you mean you don’t know the entire content of the Internet? For shame! In case you care, I don’t see any reason for you to apologize. I don’t think Renee needs to apologize either for asking him to guest post when she was unaware of the other blog. I do think it’s odd not to ban him now that she knows of his unsavory blog history, but it’s not my blog, so I don’t get to say.

  64. JfC

    Well I certainly wasn’t endorsing him, but I don’t like giving would-be rapists page hits if I can avoid it.

  65. Ginjoint

    YES. The character known as “SnowdropExplodes”: it was a few years ago that I read that jaw-dropping post of his about raping a woman, and I couldn’t believe how it was so conveniently ignored by the funfem blogs (which shall go nameless). It was one of the first signs to me that the funfem blogs were not where I needed to be. That they weren’t all that, that the writers at those places were not the women I was looking for. (Gah! I just had a flash of Obi Wan-Kenobi: “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Now I’m envisioning Dworkin in an off-white linen robe, nodding and saying “these are not the women, etc.” Now I’m laughing, and I hope you are too.) ANYway, I’m quite glad that precious “Snowdrop” is finally being called out for his misogynistic crapulence.

    Regarding bee dee ess em, I’ve been there, done that (with a female/male couple – though I interacted mostly with the woman). NEVER AGAIN. I grew out of it, thank dog, and then found blogs like this to help me put into words why it didn’t feel edgy and transgressive, just rotten.

  66. Twisty

    “I do think it’s odd not to ban him now that she knows of his unsavory blog history, but it’s not my blog, so I don’t get to say.”

    Don’t be too hard on her. Riding herd on one’s commentariat is an inexact science, and no matter what you do, sooner or later you’re bound to get it wrong and piss off half your readers. Luckily, it’s only a blog. Lives are not at stake.

  67. Hari

    Thanks, Rachel. Sounds like kink has indeed expanded since I first knew of it as the kinds of basically harmless fetishes you first mention, into a much broader ‘everything apart from pure vanilla’ category.

  68. AK

    Rachel wrote
    “A frightening proportion of men who try to involve themselves in feminism seem to be doing it to justify having committed horrible crimes against women.”

    A dreadful thought occurred to me while reading this: perhaps that’s because a frightening proportion of men have committed horrible crimes against women.

  69. Saurs

    Without a smidgen of irony, dude commenting in a blawg populated by women who make it their business never to cater to dudes’ demands commands blawgowner to “prove him wrong.” Oh, okay dude, let me get right on that.

  70. No Sugarcoating

    Why would Womanist’s Musings ask a heterosexual sadist to guest blog in the defense of BDSM? Seriously, I’m confused. I thought Womanist’s Musings was dedicated to exposing the oppression of WOC, how is this relevant?

  71. No Sugarcoating

    Amisophe, you are totally off the mark. Plenty of us HAVE had “kinky” fantasies. It’s not something abstract to theorize about to us. And the women who haven’t understand the appeal of BDSM, I assure you. It’s not rocket science.

  72. Treefinger

    @Hari

    A lot of people who are into “basically harmless” fetishes can sometimes be involved in BDSM too (because some kinky groups have a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” attitude to sexuality when they can’t find a specific person who has the exact same fetishes as them).

    There are also people who say they are into BDSM when they only have one specific fetish (that might be slightly associated with D/s- like having your feet tickled can be seen as sub- but you don’t really care if D/s is involved) because their sexual needs are more likely to be fulfilled there than by a random dude from a bar who is likely to see sex as “insert prong B into sexbot A”. Of course, BDSM culture is rife with douchebags who have a similar view, but since there’s a greater chance of getting your feet tickled in the process, lots of people put up with it.

    It makes you wonder what sexual “scenes” would be like if “everything other than PiV with the occasional blowjob and annual cunnilingus” wasn’t lumped into the same category. Would people who specifically need D/s fuckery to get off be completely separated from other unusual sexual acts?

  73. Treefinger

    Hm, think I mixed up the “tab a slot b” saying there. Makes me wonder what prong A is.

  74. Comrade PhysioProf

    Whatte the fucken fucke is uppe with thatte “Korean peasant boy/king” shitte? Anybody make heads or tails of what it’s even supposed to mean?

  75. procrastinatrix

    I’m not being hard on Renee, I’m just puzzled by her decision. It’s not for me to say. I barely even have the gumption to comment on other people’s blogs, let alone host one.

    Womanist Musings is a place where I’ve learned a lot about intersectionalism, FWIW. It’s friendly and not infected by the cultishness of some blogs and their commentariats I could name (not here–if I could move to Savage Death Island, I’d be there in a heartbeat–with vanilla to plant!)

  76. someonered

    My wildish guess is that reading that exchange was the mansplainer’s first experience of being attracted to bee dee blah blah nonsense.

    By which I inferred that the mansplainer was saying that since it wasn’t gendered or abusive or even sexy, and it’s nothing to do with being sexually (or otherwise) abused as a child, that that means that since said mansplainer has so conveniently provided an example of a(n apparently) baggage-free introduction to bee dee blah blah that nobody should say anything bad about bee dee blah blah ever again or else you’re just being mean and also hypocritical and stuff.

  77. Nolabelfits

    The first half of that post made no damn sense. I can’t believe I read the whole thing. I’ll never get that time back!

  78. Discombobulated

    In answer to some speculation upthread–This is stating the painfully obvious, but I don’t see it already pointed out:

    Women might enjoy bondage or BDSM because it’s been eroticized A WHOLE DANG LOT in popular culture (of course). And in children’s entertainment and children’s literature.

    I can’t count the number of times Nancy Drew was very sexily tied up and gagged in a nice, lavish frontispiece illustration in my children’s books. Oh look! Nancy Drew has been kidnapped by the villains and is now tied up and gagged! Ad again! And again!

    Uh oh! The Joker’s going to kidnap and very sexily tie up and gag Batgirl! Watch out, Batgirl! Oh drat, he got her.

    Again, this is pointing out the obvious, but I think a lot of women enjoy this because it’s sexily portrayed everywhere at an early age, not necessarily because women need to work through childhood abuse issues.

  79. Celeste

    De-lurking to share newly clarified thoughts.

    I’m willing to concede that some folks may have dominance/rape fantasies independent of culture. However, if a person had a sexual fantasy that included torturing an animal, that would be incredibly disturbing. It is even more disturbing when the torturing involves other human beings. In this, the B-D-S-M hobby, wherein it involves torture and dominance, can be considered quite anti-empathy, in the same way that the animal-torturing fantasy is quite reprehensible.

    A person simply having the fantasy ought not be condemned, but this blamer is having a hard time giving any cookies to a person acting out these fantasies in a “consensual” situation rather than actually torturing others.

  80. EmilyBites

    Shorter amisophe: tl; dr

    I gave up pretty quickly – it’s like someone chewing their word salad with their mouth open and dropping bits of it all over the table.

  81. Ellesar

    I hung around the periphery of this scene (lesbian mostly) about 20 years ago and I came to the conclusion that the vast majority of the women had been sexually abused/ exposed to that type of misogyny to an extreme. This was based on direct experience of them telling me or other women I knew. Time and time again women would say it was cathartic, or other ways of explaining this ‘desire’.

    The gay men I knew were less forthcoming so I would not like to comment about them.

    I have never understood the ‘safe’ word bollocks either. It seems pretty obvious that if someone ties or in some other way has you restricted there is no way out of that if they do not ‘respect’ your use of the safe word.

    I even heard of a ‘scene’ gone wrong where a woman was pregnant and things had gone ‘too far’ and she miscarried. The attitude of one involved woman was that ‘she knew what she was getting into’! The reality is that many do not. Fantasy is NOT reality, and living out the fantasy is often a big mistake.

  82. buttercupia

    Well, plainly, we’re not enlightened enough to understand the true beauty in voluntary subjugation. Excuse me while I barf.

  83. JetGirl

    Wow, I have had internet exchanges with this snow individual. That is upsetting. Thanks for the heads up.
    As for the actual topic at hand, thank you for writing this, Twisty. What a fresh cleansing breeze. *Adjusts comfy pillow on her judgy sex-negative soap box*

  84. susanw

    This fetishized domination has my blood boiling. Oppression isn’t enough. The abusers have to add insult to injury by making up self-justifying lies about their victims. Slavery wasn’t quite nasty and cruel enough; the owners had to label their property as lazy, stupid, backward children/ devious, crafty, brutal savages. It’s not enough for the rapacious capitalists to rob the poor; the Newtster, that paragon of blamability, has to castigate them for bad choices, financial irresponsibility, having children, having abortions, using birth control, and not using birth control. The big, red cherry on top is patriarchy, which subjugates, rapes, beats, and kills us, controlling every possible facet of our lives, then has the gall to opine that we like it. All of this woman-as-masochist crap is nothing but a flimsy rationalization for hurting us because they like to do it. One of the brilliant posters here suggested that we develop a hilarious, victim blaming castration defense by claiming that the guy WANTED his wang cut off as part of a sex game. If he denies it after the fact, he must be bitter because I didn’t call, overly sensitive, having second thoughts, or embarrassed to admit he plays these games. I desperately wish this table turning would work, and I’m still tempted to try it out: “No, really, my boyfriend LOVES it when I stab his thingy with hatpins. All men are like that stuff secretly. Most are just too repressed to admit how hot it is.” Unfortunately, it’s those with the power who get to do the labeling.

  85. JR

    At the risk of being kicked off Savage Death Island by the legions of thee who are too feminist to have ever stooped so low as to have let a man tie you up and beat you – yes, I was involved in this hideous underground for years. I am still struggling, deeply, to process it. Things I have come up with so far:
    One: former subs/slaves almost never talk on the internet or indeed, at all, because they are bullied and brainwashed to a degree almost unimaginable outside of “the scene”. You are told no one will believe you, that you will lose your job, you will lose your children, you will be seen as equally culpable – and if you go ahead and talk on your blog anyway, they will watch you for years after you leave and harass and stalk you until you retract or delete your comments. The only acceptable reason to say you left the scene is “I decided it wasn’t right for me.”
    Two: Yes, I was abused as a child. Scenesters LOVE to say this had nothing to do with it. Maybe it even doesn’t – so many women are sexually abused under the Patriarchy trying to link it to anything is almost impossible. What I do know is that I was deliberately groomed for the Scene after running away from home and while still a minor. They spent a lot of time grooming me and then waited to actually make the “will you be my slave it will be cool sexxxyfun times” proposition after I turned 18. I was suffering from PTSD and not exactly playing with a full deck.
    Three: after that, of course, a lot of things like Stockholm Syndrome and trauma bonding start to come into play, and the mark is yours. To segue into a conversation I had with a Vietnam vet one time, it’s a little frustrating talking with outsiders who think they could never fall for something that has been used to hurt you. He talked about how much he hated Vietnam War movies, where there would be stupid torture scenes and the torturer would slap someone in the face and yell “you will talk!” and the brave American soldier of course will always say bravely “No I will not talk!” he then went on into an unnecessarily graphic description of real torture and said yes, you would talk. Anyone would talk. Tactics used to break a person are used because they work. These tactics were used on me and they are used on other subs, and they work. You must always keep in mind that when you are talking to a sub who is in the life, that you are talking to a thoroughly brainwashed person who is not in their right mind. Now, when I say that, people in the scene go absolutely insane angry crazy, but it’s the truth. I speak as someone who used to publish rants about “why don’t they understand I’m a feminist sub?!” while rubbing my bruises (given in love, of course! With my consent!) Therapists are useless for trying to help a sub, since for the most part, sadists have invaded the psychiatric establishment and now kinky sex is something to be tolerated as diversity, not a sign that a woman needs immediate help and deprogramming to recover from.

    There is no help for the sub exiting the lifestyle. Everyone turns from her. Feminists sneer at her. If she speaks, she is attacked. Even if she is believed and pitied, her story is listened to more for the exciting sexxxxy value – people want to know the EXACT details of what he did, please. It is utterly soul-destroying. By the time they are done with you, there is nothing left of you.

    Then they throw you away.

  86. Gayle

    “sadists have invaded the psychiatric establishment and now kinky sex is something to be tolerated as diversity, not a sign that a woman needs immediate help and deprogramming to recover from.”

    True that!

  87. Gayle

    “I’m willing to concede that some folks may have dominance/rape fantasies independent of culture.”

    There’s no way anyone’s having these fantasies “independent” of culture.

    “A person simply having the fantasy ought not be condemned. . .”

    Really? Where do you think actions begin? Why are we cleared, nay encouraged to condemn hateful, degrading, violence-inducing speech(arising from thoughts) when it pertains to every other group but women?

  88. otoc

    JR, I’m curious, do you think they are well-funded, at least on the internet?

  89. JR

    They are not centralized, but a good deal of their sites or enthusiasts are quite wealthy, yes.

  90. JR

    For example, many of the “play parties” (how is that for a euphemism?) are held in the houses of the extremely wealthy, in very nice neighborhoods. And those leather outfits aren’t cheap.

  91. Celeste

    @Gayle
    Let me rephrase that:
    “I’m willing to concede that in a post-patriarchal world, these fantasies may still exist.” It’s more of a concession that, if true, I still think that acting out dominance and submission would be wrong.

  92. AK

    The connection between the scene and pornography sites is so close that it’s literally unavoidable to participate in it or have a conversation with someone without getting propositioned to participate in a shoot. There’s a lot of money there, I mean from the point of view of someone young and poor. And if you need the money and agree, congratulations, they have blackmail on you for the rest of your life.

  93. Owly

    JR, it’s brave of you to talk about your experience and to analyze it the way you did, especially in light of what you said about the repercussions of talking honestly about “the scene”.

  94. Twisty

    “I’m willing to concede that in a post-patriarchal world, these fantasies may still exist.”

    If they do, the world in question is not post-patriarchal. “Post-patriarchal” means post-patriarchal.

  95. Twisty

    JR, holy shit.

  96. gingerest

    CPP, I think the thing with the Korean boy-king and peasant was supposed to represent a fascination with power dynamics at a very early age, and that because that dynamic was between males in a different culture, and the basis of the power relationship was inherited absolute monarchy, it was presented as evidence that the kink is unrelated to patriarchy? (and from the emphasis on age, possibly inborn and independent of sexuality?)

    I just deleted a vast screed about play-acting and class oppression and submission and domination. Suffice it to say that I think the next big step after shaking off gender binaries is resisting exploitative hierarchy, and I just flat think that’s incompatible with intimate or sexual play involving hierarchy. Maybe after exploitative hierarchy isn’t part of real life?

    I Blame the Kyriarchy.

  97. nomdedomme

    @susanw: yes, there are men who are sincerely into the hatpin-in-the-peen thing.
    @everyone: There are also women (myself included) who have been stuck with multiple “hatpins”– and some of these people (myself included) do it, on very rare occasion, for a super-intense endorphin rush. Is it healthy? Probably not. Can it be kind of fun in the “whoa what a rush that was stupid” way? Yes. I will state, as a fact, that a not-insignificant number of younger people get into bee-dee-blah-blah for the look-at-how-edgy-I-am thing plus a non-boring endorphin rush.

    I’ve also seen an interesting dissection of b-d-blah as a way to exert some form of control over PIV/hetero sex, at least as a woman in a dominant role. I certainly do not disagree with this motivation, either.

    HOWEVER, JR’s perspective is ALSO correct. There are certainly creepy creepy domdudes in the “scene” sliming all over much younger women who are there either for kicks (but are naive/potential marks) or have PTSD/abuse issues– and based on observation, this is fairly common, though not universal.

    If you think JR is exaggerating: nope. It is not that like for everyone involved with b-d-blah, but sadly it’s not surprising either. And in some circles, that kind of “breaking down” of someone (usually someone female) is commendable, not condemnable. It’s got that aura of being higher status because it’s more extreme– just as “edge play” (breaking skin) and heavy bruising is higher status than something “light” — and just as being part of p-orn (AK is accurate, at least if you’re an even slightly attractive woman) is higher status than not risking your future career aspirations.

    @JR: yikes! That is some really heavy shite there. Perhaps too sappy and/or virtually useless, but: hugs if you want them.

  98. AK

    @nomdedomme It’s not just ruining your future career aspirations. Having porn as blackmail material means that a woman who was in the scene and left will be reluctant to talk about it too much for fear (among other things) that she’ll be exposed for speaking out. The fear causes silence. The same is no doubt true for any woman who used to work in porn and isn’t happy about how it went but doesn’t want that part of the past to be used against her.

  99. qvaken

    Ugh. If there’s status involved in attracting young recruits and ferociously dominating them, then bee-dee and so on kind of sounds like a caricature of rape culture.

    JR: I don’t know if it’s bad of me, because I can’t fathom the fear and the violence that you endured, but the thing that’s giving me the biggest sinking feeling about your story is how viciously they’re silencing you.

    As Twisty mentioned in her post, the most dangerous societies are those shrouded in secrecy, because the dominant people set their own rights and the rights of others. Having said that, that yucky manthing with the blog, the rapist guy – I’m so, so troubled by all of the entitlement that he felt. Entitlement to meticulously plan such an horrific attack, entitlement to avoid accountability and blame it on mental illness, entitlement to arrogantly and openly share his story with the world rather than keeping it buried in the sick recesses of his mind and deal with it on his own, entitlement to claim that sharing his story served to help others, and entitlement to complain and again argue that he should instead be congratulated when a feminist former supporter, having learned what he had done, withdrew her support out of fear and self-preservation. He faced no consequences all the way along, and when he finally faced the consequence of somebody saying, “I’m not at all okay with what you did and I withdraw my support from you,” he denounced them and openly explained why he’s entitled to each and every one of his entitlements.

    Can’t help but notice the similarities between that whole situation and what I’ve heard so far about bee-dee…

  100. thegu

    JR, of course no one is going to kick you out of here for speaking up about men’s abuse done to you and other women. What you are saying is very important. Thank you.

  101. Swanhilde

    Hi. I’ve been reading this website for a long time; trying to start de-lurking a little.

    I hope that saying this won’t cause me to be written off by some people, but I accept that I may be judged negatively, for perfectly understandable reasons.

    I am a sadomasochist. I have engaged in these behaviors with partners. I stay out of the BeeDeeSEM community because it is corny, pretentious, pretty creepy, and just…embarassing. Like a Star Trek convention where everyone’s wearing assless chaps.

    I have an excellent psychologist and have spent three years in hard therapy trying to understand WHY my sexuality is like this. What I have concluded is that my desires are pathological and that I was imprinted wrong by a hypercritical, judgmental, manipulative father (a really bad guy). I have eroticised that unhealthy power dynamic and act it out in adulthood in order to master it, and because it excites me tremendously (because it is linked to trauma). Repetition compulsion, baby. @Nails has it right in one of her first comments up there.

    If I want a loving, healthy relationship with a decent Nigel, then it is imperative that I give this EssEmm stuff up. I have to change myself. When my shrink told me that, I was so sad, and I wanted to deny it, but after much reflection, I know it is true.

    Suggest that their sexuality might spring from less-than-wholesome events in their past, or from society (hierarchy, aggression, the myths of the P), and most BeeDeeSeeMeh people get VERY defensive, VERY hostile, and tell me that I am “self-hating” and “repressed” for simply acknowledging that my sexual desires are not normal. Ah, deep do the rivers of denial flow!

    Kinky people are not oppressed. Being judged negatively is not the same as being oppressed. I hate that shit. It’s not the same as being gay, either. There is no genetic predisposition of “kinky.” Give me a break.

    A lot of them really think that everyone would be into BeeDeeSEM if only they were “honest with themselves” and not “repressed.” Um, no. I have been with enough decent, healthy guys (for the P’s standards) to know that they were not really thinking, “This PIV + oral stuff is okay and all, but I’d REALLY love to get tied up, smacked around, and get my nads crushed by my mistress’s stilettos!” Uh, no.

    Thank you.

  102. Swanhilde

    P.S. There are exceptions, but for the most part, submissive men have some of the most objectifying, two-dimensional ideas about women you could imagine. The cruel Mistress Whiplash is the avatar of their fantasies, and all Mistresses are interchangeable. It’s not about ‘serving the woman for her pleasure’ at all.

    And trying to find a boyfriend in the “scene” who wants a ‘normal’ relationship and keep the kinky stuff just in the bedroom, as a sort of game? Good luck with that. It is NOT common and the male Tops are not inclined to be monogamous. They have bad entitlement issues. Shocking, I know.

    I refuse to try dating them anymore. I had one particularly bad experience where I was in a compromising situation and tried to call it off. He got pissed and wouldn’t let me go. I was not raped, but I was definitely violated, and it could have been much much worse, and there would have been no legal recourse for me because I ‘put myself in that situation.’ Never again, never again.

  103. Katherine

    Well, personally, I don’t write you off at all Swanhilde, I Blame The Patriarchy. You seem to have a high level of self-awareness about your situation, the reason behind your situation, and how you might get out of your situation. That’s more than most people manage while soaked in patriarchy.

  104. stacey

    Thanks to all for sharing their stories. Knowledge is power.

  105. Fern

    Now, from being inside the community, I would say the better BDSM communities do make a big deal about setting up rules, holding both partners responsible, and promoting or blacklisting certain people by their reputations of how they treat others. Given that, there is an incredible amount of peer pressure to be publicly sexual in these communities, and so I have felt the pressure to do things I didn’t really want to do. I actually withdraw from the community every few months, just to take time to make sure I still wanted the things I was getting while I was there, and I found I did lose a taste for many of them when it wasn’t cool because it was “popular.”

  106. Fern

    Also, Swanhilde, I totally agree with her when she says “the male Tops are not inclined to be monogamous. They have bad entitlement issues. Shocking, I know.” Many “Dominant” men I know even go so far as to state they require their slaves to be monogamous, but they as the boss can have multiple slaves. Openly hypocritical and they are actually proud of it.
    And as for the legal trouble, in Pennsylvania there is no such thing as consensual violence, so even if you put yourself in the situation, and had it in WRITING that it was okay to abuse you, the law should still find the abuser at fault for assault. I think many other states have this law too, it was in NJ when I lived there too.

  107. susanw

    JR, I hear you. I grew up with a mad, abusing mother and great literature. I thought men were Mr. Knightly, Mr. Darcy, and Atticus Finch, just light on the language arts. When I went out to work in the sixties, I learned that a man would ask me out, not because he liked me, but to pull into a parking lot and rape me. He wouldn’t call it rape, and neither did I at the time, but I was frozen in shock, fear and horror. The incorrect lesson I learned was that I was disposable garbage. I cravenly tried to get the man to keep seeing me because I was his now, and being rejected seemed worse than being used. Two more encounters like this, and I plunged into an abyss of self-destruction that almost killed me. My friends from the civil rights movement, those wise black women who saw the eerie similarities between racism and sexism pulled me out, sat me down, and said, “Girl, don’t you know men hate you? They hate us all.” That was over forty years ago. If it weren’t for Feminism (not the fun kind) I’d be dead. It’s not you, JR. Blame the Patriarchy.

  108. Kathleen

    Hey Swanhilde — I didn’t want to distract from the (really important) discussion of men dominating women in the “scene”, but what you said confirms everything I’ve always suspected about the reverse scenarios: it sounds a lot less straight-up abusive, but maybe also a lot more boringly familiar: man wants to woman partner to do all the work of making sex interesting, rewarding, and exciting; also, she must pretend this is not work at all! but a dream come true! It’s actually the one scenario (man as sub, woman as dom) where sex work strikes me as remotely “fair”: at least if the dude is paying for it, he’s acknowledging that yeah, it’s work. But as far as I can tell, the narrative of paid dominatrixes is pretty much entirely: this is my DREAM JOB, I LOVE IT, isn’t it great to get paid, which could be true, of course, but fits pretty entirely the lazy man’s fantasy of “I lay there like a dope, while a woman creatively goes to town on me, and I not only don’t have to reciprocate physically my mental space gets to stay unclouded by thoughts of her because putatively this gets her off magically”.

    I don’t feel *horrified* when I think of male subs, the way I do about male doms, but I do feel EYEROLL EYEROLL EYEROLL. Like, “dominatrixes” seem to me to be doing a ton, a TON, of “women’s work”, intensive care work, and the cover story is that for them, that kind of work is its own reward! yay! Like nursing! Or childcare! Or…

    yeah. IBTP.

  109. Tsipi

    Rape and other forms of abuse are common in the kink community. But guess what? They are common in the vanilla community as well.

    Victim blaming, denial, and other icks are not the sole prerogative of any sexual preference. The men I’ve met in the kink community who are abusive are in no discernible way different than those outside that community, and liking to have sex while handcuffed doesn’t really play into it.

    I don’t think anyone should be shamed for being vanilla or monogamous, or, for that matter, being kinky. If you are experiencing that, I suggest finding new friends.

  110. Kitty Stryker

    Wow. Um. Hm.

    -I was not abused as a child- I was raised very well by second wave parents who later began to struggle with the vast privilege expressed by white middle class feminists and started to explore other feminisms. I did have fantasies about bondage, though, mainly using Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an insertion fantasy. Make of that what you will.

    -Twisty, by saying I’m an “activist and sex worker”, in quotes, you’re discrediting my voice. I’m pretty sure feminism is about giving women a voice, not silencing them, even when you disagree. It is both annoying and pretty patronizing to be told “there there, dear, you’re just brainwashed and don’t know any better”, no matter who’s saying it.

    It reminds me of the Magdalene Asylums, and how THOSE started. Ick ick ick. in the beginning, Magdalene Asylums were constructed by female charity workers to give prostitutes ork training and help them out of prostitution. Then the Church got a hold of them and used them to abuse women pregnant out of wedlock, mentally ill women, rape victims, women who were “too pretty”, etc. They, too, started with one group of women saying “the choices those other women make are not choices i would make and therefore they are stupid/uninformed/in need of ‘saving’”. Problematic.

    And in the comments here, there’s a lot of “well, what did she expect, stupid girl, BDSM is always abusive!” that I feel is EQUALLY victim-blamey. That’s really bothersome. While I don’t believe that sexual acts on film, kinky sex, or sex work are inherently degrading, I do believe that all these things are actively affected by a world that makes women’s sexual choices a complex maze of pressures. Only by reflecting on that and pulling these things apart can we really support women- and telling me that I should’t have been surprised that I got raped because I have kinky sex? That’s not helping. That’s rape culture, too.

    It’s sad to me that I’m getting blamed for my rape and my voice is being blown off, for different reasons, by both radical feminists AND patriarchal BDSMers. No wonder people don’t speak up!

  111. Neira

    I agree with most of your points everyone. I’ll admit that I used to be somewhat interested in domination. Reason? I’m a 55kg, 5’7 young woman, and it would be a way of having power that I never have in real life. In real life, I am prey. I watch how I behave, where I walk, what streets I walk down, so I don’t get preyed on by XYers bigger than me.

    Except it wouldn’t be real power. It would be role play. Role play doesn’t change the fact that I have the whole real world full of entitled Straight White Males to survive in.

    IBTP.

  112. JR

    “Suggest that their sexuality might spring from less-than-wholesome events in their past, or from society (hierarchy, aggression, the myths of the P), and most BeeDeeSeeMeh people get VERY defensive, VERY hostile, and tell me that I am “self-hating” and “repressed” for simply acknowledging that my sexual desires are not normal.”

    God, how true.
    Once on a message board someone became disturbed at witnessing my decline and tried reaching out to me, as it was obvious to anyone with a brain or soul that I was in need of help. The mod – a long time “friend” of mine and a pro-domme – immediately banned them for being “judgmental”. And if they did admit to a link, they encouraged me to believe that in some magical, mysterious way (that was never explained clearly) being sexually tormented in situations where I had no hope of escape as an adult was supposed to mentally and emotionally cure or purge me of the situations I had been in as a child where I had been sexually tormented with no hope of escape.

    nomdedomme – thank you and indeed, the “deeper” in you go, the edgier and more extreme you are, the higher status you enjoy as a pet/sub/plaything. Ms. Stryker means well – she is fairly young and as someone else pointed out just above me here, mistaking her switching from subbe to domme for real power. In the end I predict that she will be shunned from the community for not shutting up on her blog about icky things like rape culture and safewords. That’s just so uncool and non fun. It really brings down the party. Look at Laura Antoniou (if you have a strong stomach). She gives workshops and speeches where she sneers at the idea of SSC. Look at the language on her page – edgeplay, cutting, the more abusive and extreme it gets? Those are “reserved for the serious player” – with the aura of passing an initiation to enter these sacred grounds. Only the cool kids here, none of you kids who are just playing around. Are you cool enough to play with her? Are you macho enough? And that is the running theme – always pushing the boundaries. Always making yourself take more. It can’t just be fun and enjoyable. You have to push someone’s boundaries. You have to see what you can get away with. You have to make someone cry before the evening is over with. Ms. Stryker is swimming against the tide here. You can’t just be in for a little bit of fun times with a few toys and everyone having their hard limits and expecting them, in all seriousness, not to be stomped on. That is not what the scene is about, at least no part of it I’ve been seeing.

  113. deepasducks

    “corny, pretentious, pretty creepy, and just…embarassing. Like a Star Trek convention where everyone’s wearing assless chaps.”

    That is wonderful, Swanhilde. It sums up my own response to beady community so perfectly. (And I say that as someone who is, unfortunately, turned on by an awful lot of of the practices one might expect to find in such a community–but even when I was unconflicted about my own kinks, the local scene just seemed weird).

  114. FunkycoldMedema

    I agree this lovely bunch of smelly brown stuff is due to the patriarchy, though I prefer to call it the competitor culture. I have read one therapist’s view that ti is an excellent way to solve/ work out the trauma inherent in the system, and she gave an excellent argument that sounded like ami said with people floating above or feeling empowered by being removed from it and that true healing then comes from increasing intimacy the role play becoming more positive. I can see that happening, and I think we should be honest about it because I believe the opposite is what happens most of the time. Men get trained by stimulus response with ORGASM to become more SADISTIC and women or masochist get worse. I believe a lot of these people go into this looking for that healing,(whether they know it or not)since research shows the connection to past abuse. WE aren’t going to help anyone or stop this annoying stuff all over the internet from spreading just by saying this is STUPID, the only way to stop this is by being completely honest. The truth is it might help people, but more likely it will make things worse because the “Scene” is apparently full of judgemental hypocrites.

  115. Carpenter

    Never heard of this Antoniou cat, but her website says you can pay her 450$ for a workshop. I never trust anyone who charged admission prices for something proporting to be knowledge.

    Anyway, the blahblahsm subculture, like most subcultures, seems to have the same shit as the uberculture, rape victim blaming, shaming people who speak out. I cant say with any certainty that women are more likely to be raped, afterall shit tons of women get raped who never looked sideways at a whip. It is clear that whatever high falutin’ theory of negotiated consent they got aint’ cuttin through any of the rape culture bullshit that abounds everywhere.

    As to the theory that most women in the scene are into is because they the victims of part sexual trauma, I would guess that is probably not true, or at least not obviously true. Again tons of women are abused, not that many go into kink, and some in kink weren’t .

    I would guess there are many reasons for getting into it. I few that I’ve heard were, the extreme fetishiztion of power roles esp in visual media, shame about whatever(sexual orientation, desire, past trauma) manifesting itself as a submission fantasy to quell feeling of guilt, weird A type controlling personality need to give up control, pain as intense physical sensation, triumph over physical pain as gratifying proof will power(this is also something Catholic penitents talk about, belief that dom (or domme or whatever) is caring in addition to dominating, also something that some people with eating disorders say), etc, etc. Anyway, I don’t think it is reducible to one reason, however looking back at that list I just made many of those things wouldn’t exist in a nonpatriarchal society.

  116. damequixote

    @Swanhilde; “Like a Star Trek convention where everyone’s wearing assless chaps.”

    Having a really hard time getting that visual out of my mind. If I never fall asleep again you should be glad I don’t have your phone number. (jk)

    @JR Glad you’re out of that scene. That was sounding a little “Eyes Wide Shut”.

    As a gay woman, I hate it when people associate sexual preference with things like s/m, kink, etc or for that matter doing drugs. Through the years I don’t know how many nod nod wink winks I’ve gotten from men who assume I’m gay (or find out) and automatically leer and give me the, “It’s ok, I understand and I’m on your side. I smoke wild biker dope and rape nuns,” speech. Yeah man, we’re the same.

    (That’s not directed at anyone here, just a related aside.)

    Life is just one big sex-a-go-go for the doods no matter what side of the whip they’re on. IBTP.

  117. camille

    So. Where does normal sex stop and fucked-up sex begin? Speaking as someone at the age where a sex life is just starting.

    There are some fantasies I have that I’m pretty sure I should never do. Like the fantasy of a girl forcing me to have sex–I know that’s their mainly because I feel ambivalent about my gayness, and I want someone else to blame for it. I want to experience sex without having agency so it’s not a “sin” for me to do it. And I know that’s fucked up.

    But me and my girlfriend bite each other. Isn’t that something people do, as part of sex? We do shit that leaves bruises, more ’cause we use fields more than bedrooms. We hurt each other. Mainly because we don’t know what we’re doing, and it feels more good than bad at the time though it’s very sore-making afterwards.

    My question: how can I distinguish between stuff that’s honestly fucked up, like in my second paragraph, and stuff that’s fine? Like biting is. I’m guessing.

  118. IBlameRonPaul

    @Linden, CyberWulf:

    Let me be clear that my views on sex are pretty much, “Do what makes you happy, as long as you and your partner are in agreement, and everyone is safe, sane, and consensual.” And that’s why our open domestic partnership works, just as, I’m sure why your current sexual boundaries and preferences work for you. It’s definitely not about the sex with us, but about allowing third parties into our partnership IF they fit and IF they add to our relationship rather than taking away from it. We’re not that big into sex. We’re not in “bed death” territory, but it’s definitely not the focus of our partnership, and hasn’t been for years.

    I’ve not read evo-psych critiques of poly as a guilt-free release from dull married (or for us, domestic partnered) sex, but I’d be interested to, mainly to take satisfaction in ripping it to shreds. I hate evo-psych in my guts – it violates two things I’m a very big fan of, which are science and facts. I’d say I don’t read sexual critique generally, because it annoys the shit out of me.

    While I certainly understand your painful experiences with men, Linden, I wouldn’t take it to the bank that poly between women is all fun times. I mentioned upthread my ex, who cheated on me with several het men, including a doofus off a message board who was a dead ringer for Bill Gates. (I am strictly Mac/Linux, so this stung in a special, extra way – being left not only for a man, but a man who looks like my arch-enemy in the computer world, a guy who’s infested offices around the world with the ugliest, most unstable operating system and sets of software known to humankind.) I think poly is best when it’s designed with both parties’ needs and wants accommodated, and my ex had no interest in my needs, wants, or feelings. Similarly, I disliked the Wiccan/Ren-Faire/incest crowd because it seemed inherently NOT amenable to people saying, “No, this isn’t ok,” and “Can we please stop doing this?” And because of the sneering self-righteousness, it wasn’t a community we wanted to be a part of. It’s ok too, if you’re skeptical that I can practice nonmonogamy without being dishonest or screwing someone over. I understand that.

    From my time circling the edges of that community, I did learn that in het marriages, women do the majority of initiating of “opening up,” and that they generally fare much better in finding secondaries than men. I’m sorry that your experiences were so disappointing, Linden. I’ve “heard” they’re not typical, but perhaps that’s all a lie, who can say? My experiences with het men generally have been disappointing – and those were all monogamous, too – so I stopped dating them completely in my very early 20s once I completely came out, took my mother’s verbal blows as par for the course, and began taking pride in who I am.

    I suspect that many people involved in open relationships are in them for the sex, and the emphasis on honesty and oversharing is a ruse to cover up what may be some very jealous or primal or even angry feelings. That’s their business, but it’s not my style. I understand why people would be critical of my lifestyle, too. The only reason it gives me pause is because it reminds me a bit too much of the “slut-shaming” I endured in college when I first began dating women. The ringleader of the shaming, a dude in his mid-late 20s, raped me while I was sleeping alone in bed, wearing baggy clothes – and he did so because he was mad I was becoming the ghey and wasn’t into him. (Sad that I always feel the need to S-P-E-L-L out what I was wearing and the circumstances. IBTP.) I’m not very kinky, but I guess my sexuality isn’t “typical” either. I wish all women could be free to have the type of sex they like, without feeling pressured, coerced, judged, or in danger of rape, and I wish it were ok for us to speak honestly about sexuality without fear of criticism or blowback.

    You know what I blame.

  119. IBlameRonPaul

    My comment’s in moderation, so I’ll just remark that poly advocates complaining about oppression is not the same as GLBT oppression, and when those folks make that equivalency, it annoys me. My non-straightness is a much, much bigger hurdle to social acceptance, employment, avoidance of bullying and harassment, etc. than my occasional non-monogamy, always has been, and always will be.

    I was only bringing the two up together to point out that my sexual orientation and sexual practices are both largely taboo in my professional and casual acquaintance circles, and I accordingly stay mum about them. I apologize for the confusion.

    In my city, domestic partnerships are NOT RECOGNIZED outside of the country, and that’s not cool. I don’t want to be able to marry 4 wives. That’s absurd. I just want – and want the rest of y’all – to have marriages to my/your primary partners that are recognized in all 50 states, make us/you eligible for insurance, etc.

  120. Swanhilde

    HAHAHA, you are welcome, all who liked my description of the BeeDeeSMEH “scene” as being like a Star Trek convention w/people in assless chaps. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of attending, I assure you, it is true. I would look around and just be cringing in embarrassment. And the preposterous titles and honorifics people give to themselves! These older male doms who call themselves “MasterWolfDarthVaderOwnerofSl#ts!” Phu-leeze, how can you even look at yourself in the mirror? And what’s with all the facial hair? Are we at a Grateful Dead concert? If you must wear black, can you also not wear white tube socks with your outfit?

    @Kathleen: you are spot-on about Dominatrix (at least, the professionals) and male subs. The Domme does a tremendous amount of work to realize the male’s fantasy–theatrical, expensive clothing, the staging, the equipment, and of course, the ACTING involved, as if it was something that she really wanted to do for her pleasure. Defunct blogger Bitchy Jones (a dominant female non-pro) complains about this constantly. She says, in effect: “You say you love women and want to serve me and give me pleasure, and then you show up in tacky cross-dressing lingerie with a carrot up your ass and you want me to pee on you. Uhh, what does that have to do with me and my pleasure?”

    I am definitely not saying that pro-domming is feminist, but it is, IMO, much less exploitative than a lot of other sex jobs. The domme doesn’t get undressed, the man usually doesn’t get to touch her, she does not have to flirt with him and rub her body on him for cash like strippers have to do. Like you say, Kathleen: it’s a lot of work, and the woman has to pretend “OF COURSE your freaky fetish is EXACTLY what I’d like to do to gratify my dominant desires!” Bleh.

  121. Twisty

    Hey Camille. I’m from the 70s, and we had a saying back then. “If it feels good do it.” It was a stupid saying, because lots of stuff that feels good now will turn out to be bad later. Last night here at Spinster HQ, for example, it felt good to have another glass of Prosecco. Now, though, my obstreperal lobe is swollen with hangover pus.

    If you really analyze a thing — as in, analyze how that thing really makes you feel in a philosophic way, rather than in a superficial, immediate gratification-y way — you’ll find you already know the answer to such questions as “is it okay to physically damage my loved ones even though it feels good at the time?”

  122. Twisty

    Just a little reminder: feminist revolution would obsoletize BDSM because smashing the domination/submission model means there’d be nothing left to fetishize.

  123. Linden

    IBlameRonPaul — the latest book making the rounds is “Sex at Dawn,” which I haven’t read but which seeks to establish that hunter-gatherer humans aren’t monogamous so we shouldn’t be, either. I don’t deny that humans are always caught between the two opposing forces of wanting the sure thing and wanting the new thing, but the ways in which we deal with that are much more complicated and potentially much more enriching than certain people with an agenda would like everyone to believe. Promiscuity may be natural, but so is empathy and jealousy.

    I did read “The Ethical Slut,” which from my recollection started off as being about love but quickly veered into descriptions of beedeeessem and other sexual “freedoms,” as though that’s really what polyamory is all about. I remember one passage from that book in particular, in which the author’s girlfriend is crying her eyes out because the author has a new girlfriend, and the author is saying to herself, “Why am I doing this?” and I asked myself, “Yes, why are you doing this?” Which actually told me something valuable about myself. I could never take up with a new lover and enjoy myself if it made my other lover miserable. Some people can, and those people I don’t want to be involved with.

    What bothers me the most about the poly scene as I have observed it is how much it’s like the beedeeessem scene in its rationalizations. People careen from relationship to relationship, breaking up their own and other people’s relationships, leaving a trail of wrecked hearts behind them, creating new families of children from prior relationships, then forbidding those children to see each other again after the relationships are over, and this is all about freedom so it can’t be criticized. Even when successful, the relationships I’ve observed seem to have a certain corny blandness about them — constant negotiations over rules, juggling of complicated dating schedules, neverending emotional processing, obligatory cuddle piles, bad New Age music, widespread interest in belly and pole dancing, speaking in jargon or fake British accents. It all gets tiresome to observe or hear about.

  124. procrastinatrix

    Kitty Stryker, if you’re interested, Twisty actually addresses several of your points in her excellent post

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/2012/01/31/a-few-lite-thoughts-on-rape-and-prostitution/

    from just a few days ago. She’s been thinking thinky thoughts about this stuff for many a year, from an analytical as well as anecdotal viewpoint (I think both are necessary to get to the heart of the big questions), and has heard similar arguments to yours before. As have many of us.

  125. Killeth Boners

    Bahaha, just looked on local craiglist only to be bombarded with photos of older dudes with dungeons who “train” “submissive women” and features photos of him whipping and chaining up naked women with their faces smothered in a cloak. Do i laugh or vomit?

    Here’s one of the worst ones I found…

    “I’m a 42 yr old, good looking, dominant male seeking an open-minded, attractive, sub girl to totally use and control.
    No experience necessary, married okay, just a desire to please and be used, controlled, and dominated. I can train you.

    Everyone who knows you thinks you are Plain-Jane and vanilla but you have a yearning to be used by a man as a slut, his personal whore. You would like to meet, if everything works out, someone with whom you can safely submit knowing your limits will be respected and your pleasure will be assured. I will treat you as the classy woman you are in public and as the cock starved whore you desire to be behind closed doors.

    Contact me and lets discuss your desires with no compulsion on either side. I’m attached, so no stalking or harassment from me.
    Give me some insight as to how you would be my perfect perfect slut. ”

    Liberation!!!!

  126. yttik

    “Where does normal sex stop and fucked-up sex begin?”

    Given our current patriarchal environment, I don’t see much difference between the two, not in het relationships anyway. Women are forced to risk blood clots, strokes, BC side effects, unwanted pregnancy, PID, cervical cancer, abortion, STD’s, domestic violence, rape. That’s all done in the quest for safe, sane, and “normal sex.” The other kind simply incorporates props, acting, and exaggerates the violence.

    Naturally sex that does the least amount of harm, psychologically, emotionally, and physically, is preferable to other kinds, but it’s all pretty much on the same continuum.

    I don’t want women who have engaged in BDSM to feel mocked and ridiculed by other feminists, because honestly the vast majority of us have all engaged in some form of patriarchal sex in our lifetimes. It’s practically inevitable given our culture. Given the hierarchical conditions we are forced to live under, all sex, at least with men, is going to be somewhere on a BDSM continuum.

    JR used the phrase, “the legions of thee who are too feminist to have ever stooped so low.” Ha! I actually sarcastically pondered that the last time my feet were up in stainless steel stirrups awaiting a ice cold speculum before going to have my breast mashed in a mammogram machine. Glad I dodged the BDSM bullet! Wait, maybe not.

  127. Saurs

    Ooh, do you all remember Jason Fortuny, dude who posted a personal ad in 2006 on the Seattle craigslist posing as a submissive woman seeking a male sadist for bondage-y fun? He published all the predictably grotesque responses (photographs, full names, phone numbers and all) for shits and giggles, and was summarily condemned by the male half of the interweb for invading these dudes’ precious privacy and ruining their lives. Hyperbole by handwringing misogynists aside, Fortuny backpedaled and folded under the pressure exerted by a thousand whingy dudes crying foul, dumped a lot of the contact information off his website, sought out Tucker Max of all people for help, and ended up being successfully sued for damages by one of the dudes (who remained anonymous in the suit).

    Up until a year ago, Encyclopedia Dramatica archived the ad and responses, but now that website’s been incorporated into another, and I can’t find the full “experiment” anywhere. Women’sspace posted about it at the time, with some quotes and photographs (NB I haven’t read her blawg since it was defunct and then revived, but I think it’s turned into one of those “trans-critical” places.)

    Anyway, I remember talk in fairly feminist friendly places at the time how supposedly shocking it was to see normal-looking men writing shitty, violent, woman-hating things to a virtual stranger in the hopes that disclosing their love of sexual torture with her might help them pull, and even then that reaction seemed silly: of course misogynists look like “normal” men. Misogyny is normalized; it’s the philosophy that bonds together men of diverse and opposing creeds, something they can share a brewski over and speak fondly about. Sadomasochism in the traditional vein (dude dominating and hurting woman) is so banal, predictable, and unimaginative in this culture that the controversy Fortuny helped foster had nothing to do with the contents of the dudes’ fantasy worlds and everything to do with protecting those dudes from the slightest bit of criticism, so that even self-professed feminists like Marcotte felt obliged to defend them as “innocent” and label Fortuny a “sociopathic asshole.”

  128. JR

    Hi Ms. Stryker. I read your blog. I appreciate what you’re doing within your community but I think your effort is futile and I think you’re missing the larger picture of what your community is about. I don’t see anyone here blaming you for your rape – I certainly don’t – and I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m actually a little unsure of how you come to that conclusion reading these comments.

    You’ve been writing extensively yourself about how victims of rape within your community are being ignored and told to shut up. I would like to encourage you to continue with your work, but I reiterate – it is useless. Your community will shun you if you don’t shut up, because it is built on rape. It THRIVES on rape. But don’t take my word for it – figure that out for yourself.

    I want to know if you realize the story you have featured by the sex worker (currently on the front page of your blog) is a story depicting filmed, coercive rape? And it strikes me that if up until that point the author, and you, are attempting to depict someone who has a fun job that she enjoys, being slowly worn down into accepting a sexual act she did not want (rape) while being made to do something that causes one to repeatedly vomit has not done anything to sell me on your position. This is empowerment?

    So yes, I think you have a lot more thinking to do. This life you depict as being carefree and super sexay fun – I know better, and you aren’t even doing a great job as spokesperson for showing that it really is. The only way to pretend that the Scene is sex-positive for women is to lie. You aren’t lying about it and for that I applaud your bravery. If you think we are attacking you, wait until you continue to talk about this and see what the men in your community will do to you. Or is it happening already?

  129. susanw

    Swanhilde, I was almost over the embarassing Star Trek convention with assless chaps when you hit me with
    “MasterWolfDarthVaderOwnerofSl#ts!” and the white tube socks. You’ve made me laugh so hard, I may have displaced a rib! Don’t tell me women aren’t funny.

  130. IBlameRonPaul

    Linden:

    What bothers me the most about the poly scene as I have observed it is how much it’s like the beedeeessem scene in its rationalizations. People careen from relationship to relationship, breaking up their own and other people’s relationships, leaving a trail of wrecked hearts behind them, creating new families of children from prior relationships, then forbidding those children to see each other again after the relationships are over, and this is all about freedom so it can’t be criticized. Even when successful, the relationships I’ve observed seem to have a certain corny blandness about them — constant negotiations over rules, juggling of complicated dating schedules, neverending emotional processing, obligatory cuddle piles, bad New Age music, widespread interest in belly and pole dancing, speaking in jargon or fake British accents. It all gets tiresome to observe or hear about.

    Pardon my bluntness, but the people you know sound like terrible bores. Why continue these friendships if you’re subjected to hearing this drivel and being mocked for not choosing this silly lifestyle 24/7? You might not enjoy my company because I might not have the same interests as you, but hanging out with me would entail listening to lots of alt-rock and jazz from the 60s-90s, as I prattle on about software and IT stuff, science, medicine, world politics, and other topics of interest. (Dudely dues hate this, because how dare a woman like things that are in the Manly Sphere! And so they feel the need to “challenge” me constantly on my knowledge.) New-age music is forbidden to enter my home because it’s a crime against the arts AND humanity, and I find what I do in my bedroom to not be an appropriate topic for casual discussion. It’s hard enough finding tolerable friends let alone secondaries, so I find myself preferring my own company more often than not 99 times out of 100.

    yttik:

    Given our current patriarchal environment, I don’t see much difference between the two, not in het relationships anyway. Women are forced to risk blood clots, strokes, BC side effects, unwanted pregnancy, PID, cervical cancer, abortion, STD’s, domestic violence, rape. That’s all done in the quest for safe, sane, and “normal sex.” The other kind simply incorporates props, acting, and exaggerates the violence.

    Spot on. You said it much better than I did, but this was what I was alluding to re: my experiences with het P-in-V.

  131. Cyberwulf

    It reminds me of the Magdalene Asylums

    Are you serious?

    Did you seriously just compare radical feminists criticising your sexual foibles to the Catholic Church tearing what they considered “fallen women” away from their children and families, forcing them to labour in laundries for their “sins” for no compensation until old age?

    Fuck you for making that comparison.

  132. Linden

    A fair question, IBlameRonPaul. The answer is, when you’re a Wiccan it’s difficult to avoid all people like this, unless you choose to never attend any social events of any kind. My close friends don’t partake of these behaviors.

  133. margin-dwelling mammal

    I can understand why some women feel compelled to subjugate themselves to a “dom” in an erotic context, even without the influence of prior sexual or domestic abuse. I remember getting my hands on my mother’s bodice-ripper “romance” novels at a tender age, and getting swept up in the vivid accounts of hypermasculine heroes aggressively pursuing, and ultimately semi-raping, the needy, moon-eyed heroine. It’s a short leap from what passes for romance in our culture to ball gags and whips.

    At least my generation had to get their S&M intro through Harlequin novels, which had to be pilfered from older readers. Young women today can look no farther than the Twilight series. Stalking, intimidation, sexual assault (being forcibly restrained and kissed by a male protagonist), sexay post-coital bruising, etc. It’s no small wonder that BDSM is accepted as an edgy, cool sexual practice these days.

  134. stacey

    @Swanhilde:

    And what’s with all the facial hair? Are we at a Grateful Dead concert?

    It’s to cover up their weak chins.

    @Kitty Stryker:

    It’s sad to me that I’m getting blamed for my rape and my voice is being blown off, for different reasons, by [...] radical feminists…

    On this blog, no one is ever blamed for her rape. I’m sorry you feel that you’re being shamed. Glancing back over the comments (which may not include things that were held up in the moderation queue) it seems that we’re making fun of the notion that one can feel that her boundaries will be respected in a culture that is all about boundary-busting and absolute dominance. Of course boundaries aren’t going to be respected. This is accepted as fact by radfems; in the patriarchy, and cultures that fetishize dominance, women’s boundaries will never be accepted.

    Biddy Essem, because it is fashioned on the dominance/submissive model, will never be acceptable in radfem philosophy. It isn’t a question of second-wave feminism vs. fun-feminism or what-have-you. It’s about achieving gender equality, and biddyessem is completely at odds with that.

  135. margin-dwelling mammal

    Rape and other forms of abuse are common in the kink community. But guess what? They are common in the vanilla community as well.

    Oh please. Granted all unexamined heteronormative sexual relationships are abusive to some degree, but BDSM takes that unequal power dynamic to a whole new exploitative level. It’s patriarchy on steroids. And regardless of the numerous creative rationalizations submissives come up with, the bottom line is that any person who gets off on hurting you, humiliating you, controlling you, engendering fear in you, is a sick fuck. Full stop. Why would anyone willingly engage in sexual relations with a sick fuck? It’s a question worthy of some serious introspection.

  136. IBlameRonPaul

    A fair question, IBlameRonPaul. The answer is, when you’re a Wiccan it’s difficult to avoid all people like this, unless you choose to never attend any social events of any kind. My close friends don’t partake of these behaviors.

    My experience has been that many of the new-agey, hippie-dippy elements of this lifestyle you despise are as much a part of the Wiccan subculture as they are the poly subculture. I’m surprised you follow Wicca at all, given how much of its associated cultural trappings you despise. But it’s your choice, and I’m not interested in ripping it apart. Just as I find hearing about strangers’ sex lives or offering mine up for critique to be interminably dull, I find discussing people’s personal religions to not be of much interest to me.

    Except when they try to turn them into legislation. Then, it’s personal.

  137. qvaken

    @margin-dwelling mammal:
    “…regardless of the numerous creative rationalizations submissives come up with, the bottom line is that any person who gets off on hurting you, humiliating you, controlling you, engendering fear in you, is a sick fuck. Full stop. Why would anyone willingly engage in sexual relations with a sick fuck? It’s a question worthy of some serious introspection.”

    The overall gist that I get from you is that you blame submissives if they feel that they’ve been raped. If I read only this part:

    “Why would anyone willingly engage in sexual relations with a sick fuck? It’s a question worthy of some serious introspection.”

    then I gather that you’re blaming ANY woman who feels that they’ve been raped.

  138. Swanhilde

    @Cyberwulf
    I read the reference to the Magdalene Asylums too, and I didn’t get what she was suggesting. I knew what the Asylums were, but couldn’t couldn’t connect them to this discourse. Naive of me I guess. TY for your clarification.
    Yes, I agree, the comparison is preposterous and insulting in the extreme.

  139. lizor

    For those who have not lurked the related posts, I’ll repost a section from a post three years ago wherein Twisty (my current saviour and unwitting therapist as I pull myself out of a demeaning relationship with and extremely manipulative dude) quoted a comment regarding biddy-hessm.

    This just made my week:

    “Thanks, LMYC.
    ——————————————–

    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.”:

    Twisty, I hope I have not offended by recycling this way. The quote just fills me with such rare delight.

  140. Twisty

    Yes, LMYC was one of my favorite all-time blamers, and you have excerpted one of her greatest screeds. I don’t know what became of her — probably I pissed her off with some inadvertent slight — but I’d sure like to hear from her again.

  141. JR

    “Why would anyone willingly engage in sexual relations with a sick fuck? It’s a question worthy of some serious introspection.”

    How willing is any woman’s compliance?

    I was poor. He was paying the bills. Guess why I wasn’t able to make as much money as he did? Guess why women make less in general?

    I could go into more details but I’m afraid of my identity being revealed even from random comments on a blog. Suffice it to say I was not able to support myself and my child on my own and was terrified of being abandoned. Guess why women are routinely dependent on the (mostly non-existent) good will of men to survive? IBTP.

  142. yttik

    Speaking of BDSM and women’s economic inequality, my county just released some numbers. The median wage for women where I live is 21,280. The median wage for men is 39,280.

  143. Hari

    JR–Every womyn in patriarchy is making deals with the devil, one way and another, to survive. Some are just in more overtly punitive, awful situations than others. With or without overt abuse, womyn with children have it the worst, I think, because of having to consider our kids getting fed, not just ourselves. Our love for our kids can keep us making bargains with that dominator-devil even once we see it all for what it is. It’s fucking awful, through and through. IBTP. Not you, or me, or all of the mothers I’ve known who had to do what we had to do, to survive along with our kids–sometimes, rationalizing the hate into ‘love’, sometimes just grinning and bearing it because what the hell else are you going to do.

  144. lawbitch

    nomdedomme moved from the bedeesm to self mutiliation. That makes total sense to me. The harm and self-abuse exists on a spectrum. Perhaps one needs to move to self mutilation to gain some sense of control. That’s why many sexual abuse survivors injure themselves. It’s all the same old shitte in different packaging.

  145. Mildred

    You know…
    There was a time when I BOUGHT that whole idea that possibly that community was populated by thoughtful, sensitive, sexual intellectuals because I spent a lot of time on the internet reading these peoples blogs. I thought for some reason that while MY boundaries were not respected with boyfriends that out there in that beedee community they’d have safe words and men that would respect them. I have NO idea why I would think that.
    Only a few years ago I watched a documentary called graphic sexual horror which was about an extreme website from the late 90′s. I saw that basically the guy constantly bullied the women to do more and more extreme things for money, he would frequently do things without asking purely to have them looking terrified and abused. It was the most sick thing I’d ever seen and I couldn’t believe that… I had even… nodded like a cool young-thing when friends of mine had said that they were into this stuff. I was horrified. Its not just spanks on the bum.

  146. qvaken

    @JR: Straight up, it’s not your fault. That’s why I pounced on it right away.

  147. kpants

    Bee-dee-blah-blah is, in part, based on obfuscating the difference between compliance and consent. While attempts to establish or codify clear consent within that scene seem well-meaning (of a sort), the effort is utterly nugatory because that is antithetical to Bee-dee-blah-blah’s raison d’être.

  148. IBlameRonPaul

    @ Lizor (or Izor?)

    Bravo. I agree.

    My partner’s ex has gone on to become a tall, robust, intimidating pro-domme, and her “power” consists of beating businessmen’s butts raw for $200 an hour. That’s nice, and while I won’t be excessively rude about it for my partner’s benefit (not sure why – the dumb-shit hates me, sight unseen, and even though she’s been with a new woman for a while now, still “pops up” in our lives once in a while to be a supreme PITA), I have frequently made comments to the effect of, “I’m not impressed.” But I couldn’t articulate why, as I communicate better with schematics and code than with words. And then you did, in an impressive and exceedingly articulate manner. I swear half the delight in IBTP is the writing. Many artisans of the English language in this joint.

    And seriously, why should I be impressed? She’s beating businessmen’s butts when they say so, under their conditions. I’m trying (and failing) at beating businessmen’s butts in a male-dominated profession where I’m objectified, harassed, bullied, and paid less at every turn. I’m fighting currently to earn an income as I watch men with half my experience and credentials get hired over me. I won’t kid myself that my old bosses handed power over to my partner’s ex. They have all the power that matters.

  149. polarcontrol

    Is there any research as to how the psychology of BDSM works? We already know quite a lot about brain plasticity and changes in brains and arousal patterns, for example in relation to porn:

    “our culture both underestimates the power of erotic cues and misinterprets their significance.”
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cupids-poisoned-arrow/201201/wiring-sexual-tastes-hairless-genitalsoops

    In fact, now that I think about it, BDSM research seems almost unnecessary. Just put together the culture of domination and what we know of conditioning and wiring sexual tastes, and voilà!

  150. JR

    “I thought for some reason that while MY boundaries were not respected with boyfriends that out there in that beedee community they’d have safe words and men that would respect them. I have NO idea why I would think that.”

    Well you would think that because they say that, over and over, drowning out anyone who speaks the clear and obvious truth to the contrary. If you scream something loud and long enough, even if it is a lie, it starts to sink in. If that didn’t work, the multi-billion dollar marketing industry would not exist.

    “Is there any research as to how the psychology of B*D*S*M works?” If there is/were, you can be certain it would be tainted. What little evidence/research there is suggests that, in spite of what virtually everyone in the scene insists, that these paraphilias are created in childhood. But there is resistance from within the psychiatric profession to further research – why?Because there are sufficient numbers of psychiatrists and psychologists who are in the scene and have an agenda to prove that sadism is healthy that already they have moved sadomasochism from a category of objectively disordered alone to one in which it is only a disorder if it is the only way one can enjoy sexual contact for six months straight and/or it is being done without the magical “consent”. So if at least twice a year you have vanilla sex and you can always work a yes out, you can have the most extreme, bloody, torturous “edgeplay” you like, enjoying the screams and injuries of your partner, and psychiatrists think this is just fine.

    (Warning – extreme sarcasm and ugliness ahead.) There is a movement to take it out of the DSM altogether, because you know, being a sadist is just like being gay or lesbian – it’s an orientation. You can’t pick on someone for their sexual orientation now, can you? Oh and if you’re a sub, you need to understand this is your “orientation”. You have always wanted to be beaten, it’s your true, deepest, innermost desire. It is WHO YOU ARE. It’s no use denying it and in fact it’s harmful to you to even go try to sort it out in therapy, to try and find reasons why you might feel you have a need to be punished. It isn’t the patriarchy or society or a history of abuse, you just deeply, inwardly, desire and crave being beaten, so just accept it. It is actually liberating to you to give in and let someone tie you up and beat you, to stop fighting it. And since this is a “hard-wired” sexual orientation, of course then you can’t blame a straight sadistic man for needing to beat women (consensually, of course!) if that’s his orientation. That’s just as bad as outlawing people for being gay! Why do you hate gay people!?

  151. Hari

    IBlameRP: “I won’t kid myself that my old bosses handed power over to my partner’s ex. They have all the power that matters.”

    Exactly.

    Polar Control– thanks for the link, really good stuff there (and surprising, since PT is so largely idiotic anymore). The piece tends to confirm some personal experiences I’ve had along the way–for instance, having my first conscious rape-fantasy. NOT intentional! Suddenly realized that I was having, unplanned and unwanted, a fantasy of being raped. Ghastly. Not coincidentally, it occurred while reading “The Story of O”, extremely disturbing yet illuminating for me. No matter how much I wish I could unread that book, I also credit it for bringing some really creepy shit to light about my mysterious internal workings that led to some pretty terrible choices in my life.

    Later I realized more generally how attracted I was to ‘fear’ situations in intimate relationships. Meaning that I was interpreting a ‘fear response’ as an ‘attraction response’. Yet I was never into BDSM outright–that curdled me totally to think of, in overt form. No, it was all much more subtle than that. That was all a long time ago. And even though I was raised in an alcoholic, angry home, emotionally cold/abusive mom, physically abused by elder sibs on a chronic basis and sexually abused by a bro when I was a preschooler–all stuff that I have uncovered/named over the past 30yrs or so–only recently have I seen how much general anxiety I’ve *always* lived with.

    You said: “…BDSM research seems almost unnecessary. Just put together the culture of domination and what we know of conditioning and wiring sexual tastes, and voilà!”

    Yeah. I’d maybe say, instead “the culture of domination and submission”–because it takes submissives for domination to work. Surely it is implied, but still it seems necessary to name it out loud–for me to affirm my own experience, and for statements like IBPR’s on “the power that matters” to be most clearly stated. I know too well by now, as someone others tend to see as ‘assertive, courageous, empowered’, what lurks beneath–and needs to be brought to light to dismantle the many layered horrors of the P.

  152. Rididill

    ‘That’s just as bad as outlawing people for being gay! Why do you hate gay people!?’

    Oh my GAWD THIS. I’m not gay, but I’m so sick of people jumping on the gay bandwagon to justify any kind of sexual practice. I once had some dumbass Marxist try and mansplain to me how his movement would achieve the liberation of women – his central stragies?

    Abortion on demand and the abolition of the age of consent. Yeah, liberate your dick more like. And he tried to say that age of consent laws were exactly the same as laws against homosexuality.

  153. Cyberwulf

    being a sadist is just like being gay or lesbian

    Do these people even know what a sadist is? It isn’t dressing up in leather and lightly caning your boyfriend, it’s suffocating your child with a plastic bag because you become aroused from watching his face change colour. Fuck Besdem for watering down this shit.

  154. quixote

    polarcontrol, I’ve just returned from the link you posted and, wow!, that is some scary stuff. It sounds like it’s way worse than I thought, and I always figured something had to be happening to people’s heads based on what they see. If it didn’t, advertising would a tiny business consisting of spec sheets and notices of new products.

  155. AG

    Meaning that I was interpreting a ‘fear response’ as an ‘attraction response’.

    I’ve had bedeesem fantasies since childhood and it took me a long time to acknowledge that at root what’s going on is that I convert things I fear (humiliation, dehumanization, various other forms of oppression) into a form that somehow feels safer.

    Difficult to ‘rewire’ after so long, but I would rather work to get rid of what I’m afraid of than get off on it.

  156. margin-dwelling mammal

    qvaken & JR,

    I was addressing a defensive sub, not a rape victim, not a professional beady essemer trying to scrape by, and imploring her to drop the convoluted personal experience-centric justifications for a moment to consider her sexual pastime from a different perspective. Female subs are generally all too quick to defend their attachment to and prediliction for BDSM as therapeutic, or some such twattle, while ignoring the black leather-clad elephant in the room: their dom isn’t working through his issues or empowering himself, he’s feeding his psychopathic tendencies, and using their body as psycho fodder. If your introspective journey begins with the premise “Doms are sick fucks”, you have no choice but to conclude that your edgysexyfuntimes are tainted with pathological yuckiness.

    I’ve reexamined my original post for any implication that a woman should be held responsible for her rape and I’m coming up dry. That’s the last thing I would allude to in any commentary on others’ sex lives. A woman should be able to walk the gauntlet of sick fucks in nothing but her birthday suit and come out unmolested. A person’s mental status is never an excuse for disregarding personal boundaries. Can you imagine the legal implications? “Your Honor, I’ve been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder, and therefore could not help raping that woman.” Yeah, no. I’d rather lock up all the sick fucks as a preventative measure than live in a world where neurochemistry absolves you of responsibility for harming others.

  157. qvaken

    Uh, yeah, margin-dwelling mammal, hi. qvaken here, hi again. *ahem*

    HELLO?!?!?

    BLAME.
    THE.
    DOM.

    And more importantly, blame the community and the society that privileges the dom such that he can do what he’s doing.

    (And don’t think that that second paragraph distracted me from what you said in your first paragraph.)

    That’s all there is to it. Case closed.

  158. Hari

    Does blaming the perp and asking the victim (in chronic situations like beadySM) to do some introspecting have to be mutually exclusive? Only a rapist should be blamed for rape, in any situation–or for battering or any crime. And yes “A woman should be able to walk the gauntlet of sick fucks in nothing but her birthday suit and come out unmolested.” She should be able to–but isn’t able to, in the P. However sick and awful that is, it’s just the reality. Womyn should be asked to reconsider their choices if those choices tend to put them much more than usual in the way of rape and other harm. This is not the same as victim blaming.

  159. qvaken

    Hari: For me it is. It’s like, if you walked down the street late at night, then all you were doing was walking down the street late at night, and that’s not a bad thing to do that deliberately causes somebody to have to do something. So if somebody comes up to you on your walk and mugs you, then it wasn’t you who caused the mugging, it was somebody else choosing to mug. Ergo, it’s not your fault, you can’t control it, and so you’d be perfectly sane to walk late at night again sometime in the future.

    Does that make sense? It’s the same with relationships. I spent a year loving a man and trying everything in my power in a relationship with him while he was abusive toward me. When I’d tried everything that I could and left with peace of mind, I started to go through that thought process of “I’m never going to love or trust anybody again, because they’ll hurt me again.” But then I tweaked and realised that that didn’t make sense at all: he did what he did, and I couldn’t control that, and the fact that I loved and trusted him was totally separate from that. If I went on to love and trust somebody in future, then that’s a nice thing – not something that automatically triggers abusive behaviour.

    Furthermore, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and you’ve got to remember that you made the best possible decision that you could at the time with the resources and knowledge that you had. Further-furthermore, your friends having distance from a situation doesn’t make them experts on it – you’re the only one who’s actually living your own situation, and that makes you the best expert on it.

    And yes, I completely perceived the phrase, “Why would anyone willingly engage in sexual relations with a sick fuck? It’s a question worthy of some serious introspection.” as being a broad, offensive and hurtful victim-blaming statement.

  160. Hari

    The people who reminded me that it is a *good* thing to love and trust–and it was not my fault that I happened to give that good stuff to a sick fuck for awhile before getting out–well, they saved my sanity. So I hear you. As do I hear you about random violence one receives, no matter where you go or what you’re doing when a perp gives you some hurt.

    Which is to say–I’m making a distinction between those kinds of things, and situations where a womyn persists in relationships and endeavors with those that she’s had time to see full well are almost guaranteed to result in her further victimization. NO broad victim blaming!

    Also, for me there’s a difference between blame and responsibility. I don’t care how long a womyn might stay in an abusive relationship or something like beadySM–she is NEVER to blame for the actions of perps. However, that introspection is needed in order for her to claim her ‘ability to respond’ in a self-preserving way. This is another concept that saved my life, and helps me support, for instance, my dear BFF who stayed for 4yrs with an abuser and is going through the long hard haul of healing. It’s not about “I cause/d this”, it’s about “why am I putting up with it” and “what new choices can I make, to stop being hurt”. If that makes sense.

  161. Hari

    Twisty and fella blamers–special thanks for this post/commentary. My daughter just told me she’s exploring beadySM with her BF she met (surprise!) in the polyamory community she’s involved with. Her comments in defense of it have been so fucking (sub) standard. At least I could link her here.

  162. JR

    Not to make a long thread even longer, or (perish the thought) to veer off topic, but as a side note I may add – while I recognize the problems in the polyamory community, I still remain non-monogamous because I’ve yet to see any evidence for the historical basis of monogamy being a safe haven for women. I’m a historian, and I can assure you that the oldest written texts the human race has available encode in their enshrined goodness laws defining women as the sexual property of men once men have purchased (married) them; with a death sentence should they stray. The laws, of course, do not work the other way around. Even for suspected infidelity a wife is supposed to throw herself into the river and hope that the non-existent river gods will save her from drowning to prove her innocence – if she drowns, then she was, of course, guilty. Thousands of years of this crap later and it at least seems to be a step in the right direction to say “yes, both sexes can openly boink whomever they wish without consequence.” It doesn’t often work out that way and I am not really part of the poly community any more because so much of their behavior sickens me, but I’d not ever become a “monogamous” person again, either – it smacks too much of slavery and ownership. Like so many things these days, I feel like I live in a no man’s land. Although men suck, so that’s not so bad.

  163. Hari

    Monogamy is stupid, and it doesn’t work. Polyamory, on the other hand, is misnamed–it’s more about sex with many, than love with many.

  164. margin-dwelling mammal

    Also, for me there’s a difference between blame and responsibility. I don’t care how long a womyn might stay in an abusive relationship or something like beadySM–she is NEVER to blame for the actions of perps. However, that introspection is needed in order for her to claim her ‘ability to respond’ in a self-preserving way. This is another concept that saved my life, and helps me support, for instance, my dear BFF who stayed for 4yrs with an abuser and is going through the long hard haul of healing. It’s not about “I cause/d this”, it’s about “why am I putting up with it” and “what new choices can I make, to stop being hurt”. If that makes sense.

    Thank you, Hari. That’s precisely what I was attemping, very clumsily, to articulate. I’ve been in abusive relationships in the past; I don’t blame myself for falling victim to the standard charm-her-and-disarm her stratagem, nor do I blame myself for staying in those relationships longer than I should have. I did find it necessary to embark on an introspective journey to ferret out my unconscious motivations for – unintentionally – gravitating to these types of relationships. It generally is a pattern for abuse victims: you get out of one unhealthy relationship and, boom, you find yourself in another one. There’s a reason why that happens, and the only way to end the cycle it is to look within, figure out what’s going on inside your cranium that compels you to get into and stay stuck in these relationships, then educate yourself on the warning signs to look out for.

    Beady Essem relationships only appear outwardly abusive to those who have anazlyzed them from a cultural/feminist perspective, and so a submissive who gets involved in this type of relationship – whether she’s looking for catharsis, an adrenaline rush, etc. – is more than likely focused on what she wants out of it and isn’t really considering the dom’s motivations. Let’s be perfectly honest, most people never stop to consider what the other person in any relationship is angling for, or what unsconscious impetuses might be driving them. And telling a person, “Hey, you’re in an abusive relationship!”, often falls on willfully deaf ears because solipsism. Most people assume that if their relationship intentions are benign, the other person’s are, too. Pointing out what’s transparent to an objective source – i.e., the relationship is abusive – isn’t always enough to shake up an abuse victim’s perspective. Which is where the “please consider this: doms are sick fucks” bit comes in. I can only reiterate at this point, which is likely to go nowhere, so I’ll try a different tack.

    If you’re interested in playing a game, but the only people who want to play with you are playing for sinister reasons, that’s a pretty clear indication that there’s something inherently wrong with the game. If I point that out to you (Hey, look at this, every person who volunteers to play this game with you is a sick fuck), wouldn’t it begin to seep in that you need to reevaluate your decision to participate in this game? NOT because you might get hurt, not necessarily, but because any game that can’t be played by two mentally healthy individuals is not a game worth playing.

    qvaken, you’re fixating on the element of danger in these relationships, and what I’m saying is, It’s the principle of the thing. It’s deciding, No, I don’t want to be a sadist’s plaything because people who are aroused by others’ pain and distress are sick fucks and I no longer want anything to do with them.

    Hari, I’m sorry to hear that your daughter has gotten mixed up in “the scene”. I hope the novelty factor wears off quickly and she wises up to the reality of what she’s involved in.

  165. JR

    Anything’s easier than blaming the abusive man or looking at why there’s so many abusive men for naughty, “masochistic” women like me who “just want to be victims” at some sub-conscious level to seek out and get into relationships with, right? Surely there’s some convoluted reason I can find in my subconscious that makes it necessary for men to torture and abuse me, and if I just think long enough, it will never happen again! I will be free forever, and hell will freeze over, and I will also be rich and chocolate will have no calories and won’t make me sick, and this will all take place in some post-patriarchal world because that is like, totally going to happen by next week.

  166. margin-dwelling mammal

    But I never, at any point in my argument, let abusive doms off the hook for transgressing submissives’ boundaries. I can’t say it enough: no one is responsible for their rape, or their abuse, etc.

    Where we seem to diverge in this discussion is on the subject of motivation. I believe in the existence of the unconscious mind and the amalgamation of human experience contributing to every decision a person makes. I’ve seen evidence of this within myself, I’ve seen it in every person I’ve ever come into contact with. Abuse victims don’t end up in abusive relationships by accident. Is that their fault? Absolutely not. Does it mean future encounters with abusers are preventable if a victim gets the appropriate counseling and education? Absolutely.

    Why so fatalistic?

  167. Hari

    margin-dwelling mammal: “Abuse victims don’t end up in abusive relationships by accident. Is that their fault? Absolutely not. Does it mean future encounters with abusers are preventable if a victim gets the appropriate counseling and education? Absolutely. ”

    Yes, this. Things like my realization that I was interpreting fear as attraction–it helped me make different choices. Between some good therapy (tho a good therapist is hard to find), reading some excellent self-help for survivors work, journaling, various ways of interior exploration–all have contributed to healing and better ability to read people, situations, my own reactions, and make healthier choices in my life. No one teaches themselves to be a masochist–but we are able to move out of that mode with work and some faith in self.

  168. redpeachmoon

    Great conversation. Very illuminating, but I am still very disturbed by ‘omegapoint7′s threatening mail to Twisty. I’ve googled him, and found he has recently threatened Pres. Obama, and several posters on the site (TPM) suggested reporting him here; http://www.secretservice.gov/field_offices.shtm. Should this creep be reported here too?
    What’s the protocal? Can the blametariat come together and ‘speak to him’?

  169. qvaken

    JR: “Anything’s easier than blaming the abusive man or looking at why there’s so many abusive men for naughty, “masochistic” women like me who “just want to be victims” at some sub-conscious level to seek out and get into relationships with, right? Surely there’s some convoluted reason I can find in my subconscious that makes it necessary for men to torture and abuse me, and if I just think long enough, it will never happen again! I will be free forever, and hell will freeze over, and I will also be rich and chocolate will have no calories and won’t make me sick, and this will all take place in some post-patriarchal world because that is like, totally going to happen by next week.”

    So I pretty much think that JR is awesome right now.

  170. JR

    Your problem is in presuming that abused women are masochists who have sought out abuse. The very idea is a gross insult.

  171. Hari

    JR– No need to make an assumption about ‘abused womyn’ on the whole. I can speak for myself, as far as discovering that my definitions of loving others involved masochism on my part. No surprise there, since womyn in patriarchy are raised to be self-sacrificing. I’ve also known many an abuse survivor on close enough terms to have talked about this stuff quite a bit. It has been a common thread–the aha-moments of realizing that we were mistaking pain for love, and thinking that the more we suffered for those we loved–especially for Mr Right (or Ms Right, for some lesbians I’ve known) the greater our love.

    We can’t help what we were taught when we were too young to defend ourselves. I feel responsible, or that any womyn is responsible, only in the sense that it’s my life and so, within my power to change. Again–responsibility simply as ‘ability to respond’, on my own behalf so my life doesn’t have to be hellish.

    Maybe the word masochist is hard to take (I know it was for me, for a long time). I don’t say “I am (or have been) a masochist”–that would be blaming myself, owning it too much by far. Yet to own it enough to prompt my willingness to change, I had to get to where I could say “I have acted in a masochistic way in certain relationships” Which means–I accepted being shit on, by people who clearly got off on my pain. And again, this is a conversation I’ve had with so many womyn who’ve survived abuse. The word ‘masochist’ doesn’t even arise each time–just the understanding that they were accepting abuse from people (usually men), that it *hurt* and they didn’t want to hurt anymore. And realized that there was something about themselves which could be changed, to stop entering into hurtful relationships.

    The word masochist is just a shorthand for a long and complex process of being raised in a family and society, that trains womyn to accept general oppression and specific abuse. No one has to use that word–it just works for me as a shorthand reference to a much more complex and detailed understanding. And, as some others have said here and in the thread on psychology, patriarchy is fundamentally an S&M model.

  172. Kali

    I think what margin-dwelling mammal seems to be saying is that for women who say that they are masochists of their own free will, there may be a history that makes them psychologically vulnerable to abuse (not responsible for, not inviting of, but vulnerable to) and it is a good idea to examine this history and psychology to overcome the vulnerability.

  173. Hari

    But hey–if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t. We all have to come to our own conclusions–that is the only way forward!

  174. JR

    And we will still live in a patriarchy, and violence and rape at the hands of men will still exist. It’s like those “how to protect yourself from rape” emails that go around. False senses of empowerment. Blaming women who have something happen to them for seeking it out. You may accept that you somehow asked for what happened to you – I feel sorry for you. I do not accept that I asked for any of the abuse men heaped on me. I know where the blame lies. It isn’t in my damn subconscious.

  175. Triste

    You know, I feel like a lot of dudes think of obtaining consent as one of those un-hot errands you have to get out of the way before sex. Like putting on a condom. It just interrupts the flow of sexy time, to make absolutely fucking sure that the person you are pronging (or, in the case of buhdissimers, handcuffing or whipping or covering in canola oil) is actually interested in said pronging. If you actually stopped for a second to discuss exactly what she is comfortable with, whether she is really comfortable with it or if she feels pressured in any way, boring shit like that – it’d be such a boner kill, man. Way faster to just assume that she’s into whatever. And in BDSM, shit, she’s a masochist, right? She just is going to like whatever you do to her. So it’s cool. Consent obtained, let’s hit it.

    And I mean, if sometimes a couple of bitches have to get raped in order to preserve the almighty boner, what are you gonna do, am I right, ladies?

  176. Hari

    JR: “I do not accept that I asked for any of the abuse men heaped on me. I know where the blame lies.” Yep, so do the rest of us here.

  177. yttik

    Most perps are probably lazy and prefer a pre-primed victim. When I was younger it was kind of spooky how creepy men could find me in a crowded room as if I had “USDA Choice” invisibly stamped on my forehead. I’ve always been strong and independent, but it didn’t matter in the least because they could spot something vulnerable inside of me, something that implied, “this one is an easy target.” It wasn’t my fault, I certainly didn’t have any subconscious desire to meet the dregs of humanity, but they certainly found me. Learning how to defend myself against that made life a lot better.

    But JR is also right, smart, strong, independent women are victimized all the time. Some perps are not lazy. It’s like that frog in a boiling pot of water analogy. They turn the heat on the water up so slowly, you don’t even realize you’re in a boiling pot until it’s too late.

    BDSM today is presented as some kind of consensual lifestyle choice, but a few decades ago we named it for what it is, just the far end of the continuum of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

  178. qvaken

    As I said, I’m totally with JR on this one.

    Part of my issue when it came to abusive situations was wondering and wondering and wondering what I was doing that was making myself wind up in abusive situations. “I must attract the nasty people,” “It’s because my body language is submissive all the time,” “It’s because I don’t stand up for myself enough,” “It’s because I’m timid and that makes it obvious that I’ve been abused before, so people know that they can do it to me and get away with it,” “It’s because I let him off the hook for that small thing that he did, so he knew that he’d get off the hook for the bigger stuff.” That sort of thinking was borne of my low self-esteem, it was self-blaming, and it was counter-productive.

    Then similar thoughts led to me winding up in the same, or similar, situations, again and again: “These situations always feel awful for me -> I’m always winding up in these situations -> I’m obviously not very good at making decisions about myself and my life if this keeps happening -> I’m obviously pretty weak and immature if I don’t manage to stop it once it’s started -> They said or did that thing that hurt me, but my thought processes are underdeveloped/faulty so the problem is most likely to be with me, not them -> I don’t like the direction that this person is telling me to go in, but I’m bad at making decisions, so it’s best that I listen to them…”

    Oh, and worse: “They say that your childhood is telling of your adult behaviour, and I know that I was depressed from when I was seven because of x and y, so I know that I’m automatically messed up and I’ve got a lot of work to do to get me back to normal again (and this makes me worse than other people, because they’re already normal).”

    Then of course, yeah, there are often reasons why we stay in abusive situations. Like trying our damnedest to make it better, or because we don’t trust ourselves (because we think that our mental processes are flawed) so we trust him, or because it seriously is the best option (When my sister yelled at me how “stupid” I was for staying with a man once she’d already advised me that he was abusive, and then called me a “slut” under her breath for the next couple of days, I knew where I’d rather stay, and it wasn’t at her place. At least with the abusive partner, it wasn’t a GUARANTEE that he’d be horrible toward me).

    So for us, it’s about NOT worrying about our own mental processes and whether or not they’re healthy for us. It’s about PRO-ACTIVELY thinking that our mental processes are just fine; it’s about ASSUMING that we’re perfectly good and normal people.

  179. Hari

    It’s an extremely important thing, JR and qvaken, to stand so firm on the point of refusing to take blame for anyone else’s behavior–and assuming we are perfectly good and normal! I really appreciate your reiterations of the point. Some womyn help themselves by looking into their past and learned patterns of thought/behavior that drew them into using/abusing/controlling relationships (with everyone, not just lovers). BUT, one must also understand that *nothing* about me makes *me* to blame for anyone else’s abusive behavior. Further, one must clearly see that patriarchy is an S&M model that plays out in all of our relationships and especially intimate ones. It’s not solely–not even mostly–about individual womyn’s fucked up childhoods and learned patterns. That stuff is just the one piece that is accessible to us personally.

    So– to be more clear on this: NO ONE can improve her life merely by seeing her own learned patterns, and changing herself. Without fierce clarity that *only abusers* are to blame for abuse, and the further clarity that we live in the P as subs in the fundamental, and highly persistent dom/sub relation of the P–any work solely done on self IS ultimately self-blaming, is reiterative abuse.

    The more I think about it (and again, thanks for being so fierce about the point), the more I realize that my ‘self-responsible self-work’ in earlier years was focussed on me, without enough awareness of those other HUGE factors. I did take too much blame, even as I was coming to see how I’d been victimized by family and society both, and I took too much responsibility as well! As if all by me onesies I could change external realities, by being more assertive, self-loving, etc (which for most, men and womyn alike–for usually different reasons–practically amounts to wearing a sign saying “Kick me hard, lest I think I can escape patriarchy without you”). It’s only in recent years that the other parts of the equation have taken on their true significance. And I’m still more inclined than ever before to do the part that is mine to do–insisting on respect, refusing to take shit off anyone. Which means I just don’t talk to men much in general, and spend a lot of time alone; that’s ok by me though, because I’m NORMAL: I find S&M painful, and have an urgent need to avoid it!

  180. Rididill

    ‘we don’t trust ourselves (because we think that our mental processes are flawed) so we trust him’

    This wins hands down for my explanation. And honestly it sounds like a fair description of what some here have described as, if not masochism, but a tendency to keep ending up in abusive relationships.

    After many years of crappy relationships, it dawned upon me that despite how miserable I had been, I had not ended a single one of them. I continued to become miserable, blame myself for it because I ‘knew’ I was ‘mentally screwed up’ so obviously it was all my fault and I just had to try harder, and then I would be such an unpleasant wreck that they would dump me. The thing that made me manage to make this stop, was the realization that there was nothing wrong with me, and I needed to just trust my instincts. Leaving is a big decision. And saying no is hard, something which must be done with conviction. And you can’t make big decisions or have conviction if you don’t even trust you own perception of the world and believe others’ before your own.

    Have been watching TV series ‘upstairs downstairs’ and something one of the characters said really speaks to this. When asked, ‘but does he love you?’ She says, ‘oh well you never know with men do you?’ (the male character in question is an abusive asshole)

    That right there is the heart of it all. The belief that men don’t express love in ways that women would express love, and that women can’t understand it, so in desperate wishful thinking reinterpret abuse as love.

  181. Fictional Queen

    Women shouldn’t be instilled with such a desire and sometimes obsession with being loved by men. They do so much just to gain the love of a man, well even if they do does that precious thing make all your troubles go away or does it require more and more compliance to keep him loving you? With SO MUCH women do all the time to gain men’s affections, you’d think that was a such magical thing but it’s certainly not worth all the trouble. Men aren’t that awesome for us to do so much just for their dubious “love”. We’re awesome. They’re the ones who should put themselves through intense humanizing training to gain OUR love!

  182. JR

    It’s a common theme in porn for men to seek out a particularly strong and empowered woman and systemically break her. I think the point made that most men are lazy and weak, and therefore will seek out easier victims, is a good one, however. This is a better explanation by far for the wretched spectacle of child/young teen abuse – you know, the one dudes love to make up evo-psych justifications for. But the strong woman. broken down, captured, means the man doing the capturing and breaking down is stronger and more powerful himself. Look what I caught! It is truly vomit-inducing.

    I don’t mean to yell at anyone or make them feel bad. I’m stuck in a rough spot right now with a friend going through therapy and is in a deep state of crisis from abuse, and whose therapists are doing the “let’s go through how you keep attracting abuse to yourself” sort of therapy. This fills me with unutterable rage, but she seems so fragile I hardly want to undermine her trust in her therapist, whom she likes, and risk her coming to some harm. So I get stuck listening while gritting my teeth.

  183. Mildred

    This thread has reminded me of something creepy and anecdotal. When I was 16 years old and involved in online goth community message boards, a man (who knew I was 16) started grooming me for about a year to get me to work in his dungeon/brothel type thing as a mistress, he wanted to recruit me for ‘training’. Fucking hell that’s creepy to remember. I can’t remember why I didn’t go for it, at the time I’d gone to several costume parties as a sexy nurse or a sexy dominatrix, I mean regular high school parties, always wearing a matching dog collar even though I was years away from even losing my virginity.
    And I remember at one party, dressed in bondage gear some fellow asking me if I was “kinky” and I was thinking ‘no mang, I barely even held someone’s hand’, all of this supposed to be cool and fun and sexy.
    I remember watching an interview with an 18 year old pornstar, I think, Sasha Grey talking about how her boyfriend was punching her during sex when she was in high school, and that’s how she discovered she loved being ‘submissive’.
    I remember watching that documentary graphic sexual horror and the domme-guy saying that if he hadn’t discovered ess emm he’d have been a serial killer, that he takes inspiration in his ‘scenes’ from real life serial killers and torturers.
    I just needed to get that out.

  184. Hari

    Mildred–it’s weird how these topics bring up the memories of things that were seemingly forgotten. Weird and a little creepy, but it seems needed to get past it finally.

    “I just needed to get that out.”

    Now that it’s out, I hope it stays out for you!

  185. Mildred

    Gosh! Sometimes when I remember how sexualised I was as a teenager I just loose so much fucking hope, Nigel doesn’t get it, he wasn’t subjected to it, he had this huckleberry fin meets Trainspotting thing, I feel so robbed.
    I remember getting a brazilian wax when I getting to the point of sleeping with a guy for the first time just because I didn’t want to be perceived as aberrant, or even, heaven forbid, laughed at afterwards. What would it have been like to just feel excited at the prospect?
    I can hardly imagine what freedom would be like but I can’t help cooking up my own corny pseudo psychological theory on this. I have a middle eastern family with Muslim values, and my first teenage sexual thoughts were of being raped, so that I could experience sex without having to be devalued. Its no coincidence that even in the ess emm world all the females wear the same costumes regardless of whether they’re holding a whip. They’re both submissive to male desires, male approval.
    I dreamed a masochistic scene so that I could have sexuality in some form, even if it was far from what I really desired. And it seems a pretty stupid joke that the emblem of a powerful woman is a dominatrix who is paid by men to pander to their desires and not her own!
    Radical feminism is the only honest philosophy I have read in all my life.

  186. stacey

    Oh, Mildred, your teenhood is the one I have nightmares about. I see the 10-yr-old girls at my kid’s school (the hippie progressive attachment-parented feel-good insular one) and there are a few who are already obsessed with how they dress and looking “sexy”. They have the same clothes the other girls have, a combination of dresses, tights, leggings, jeans, and t-shirts, but they always manage to dress themselves with an eye to what effect it produces, rather than merely clothing themselves. Their mothers are both beautiful and fashionable (and blameless), and neither are comfortable with what their kids are doing, but are loathe to object because of the real possibility of backfire.

  187. dremascreation

    I love this post; it’s so right on. I referenced it it on a blog post I wrote recently about “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I’m eagerly awaiting Twisty’s own thoughts on the book, although talking about it is enough to blow one’s lobe (I can’t imagine reading the damn thing!) Anyway, here’s my post:

    http://doubleteamcj.blogspot.com/2012/07/fifty-shades-of-fucked-upyeah-that.html

  188. IHaveNoticedTickles

    How does the picture change when you consider that many females play as dominants with submissive males? Relationships can be polyandrous, having many males to one female, wherein she may even be the so-called master.

    I have a few friends who are very into the scene and after reading this I asked them about it. My friend is the very type of “master” I just described. I mean to say that is seems unfair to ignore the fact that sometimes a woman can play master. I don’t believe this, I expect, small percentage of the subculture to redeem the entire nasty business, but I wonder if it is still misogynistic for the woman to be master over many men. Please tell me if it is, I honestly wish to be educated.

  189. faabsolutemisery

    I’m sure no one will read this long dead thread but I had to post it. Like most noncompliant females in the p, I have suffered my share of abuse from men beginning at a young age. But as I reached my early twenties, I developed an unusual form of sexuality that has nothing to do with wearing leather spikes and joining a beedy Essem “community”‘ instead, I found I could only get off by imagining pretty young men sickly, vulnerable, and in pain. I don’t do anything sexual in real life, so this is mere fantasy. I refuse to get pronged, am not a violent person and cannot understand women who get off on having men beat and degrade them. But then again being penetrated seems like hell, looking sexxxay is not power, and marriage and pregnancy and pole dancing aerobics classes seem like hell too. I was born too late, shulamith and Andrea are dead and except for this blog I am surrounded by outwardly misogynist people of all genders and sexualities as well as the occasional infuriating fun feminist who feels empowerfulized being the “slave” of some dude thirty years older than her. Ibtp, and while I know my fantasies are wrong, I am too afraid to discuss them with somebody who could help.

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