Monday, 7 May 2007

Back to black

I decided to keep my head down for a week. I think I just needed to get my head out of the feminist blogosphere for a bit. And instead I ended up defending myself on the BDSM forums. Why do I fear this is likely to be a trend? Hussle and tussle from one side or the other? I started wondering whether feminism is really compatible with SM activism. And then I thought: hang on, acceptance of our sexual practices relies a lot on society allowing women the right to make informed choices it doesn't like without portraying us as victims, saying we can't consent, etcetera. It's important to have feminist activists in there; it's just tricky for us to get on with people who do dislike women, or talk down to us because we are women, or, especially, talk down to us because we are submissive-identified women. But unless you alienate the feminists, what can you do? I suggested a while back that 'other solutions' in response to the extreme porn censorship legislation might be an important part of our campaign. But was told I was smearing wider collective efforts with my own agenda. Well, whatever. Personally, I still can't help but feel an MRA-centric campaign is not likely to be effective when the reasons originally cited in the Longhurst petition were to prevent violence against women. Not that this could be helped.

But anyway.

Given the quoting out of context taster this blog already had, it's time to set out a few rules and guidelines for reading burn the witches, especially for the kinky folks who've taken time out to read (thanks). In the words of a namesake:

"Now let's get things nice and sparkling clear..."

1. This is a feminist blog. Despite my involvement with the BDSM community, and the fact that you may have found this post through a BDSM community, this is a feminist blog. You may have a problem with all feminists. If so, we're probably not going to get along.

2. If you have found this blog through the BDSM community, it's likely I'll write some things you won't agree with. I may write some things you thoroughly dislike. I am not anti-BDSM. I am not anti any behaviour between consenting adults. I am, however, against sexism and against misogyny. Unfortunately, I have come across some sexists and some woman-haters in my BDSM travels. Even some abusers. If you are none of these things, you have no reason to think I am talking about you. I do, however, take issue with many of the perceptions of women, particularly, in the BDSM community from the world outside it. If this blog in any way changes someone's perception of female subs, or female dommes, or informs someone that we aren't victims, abusers, brainwashed or have Stockholm Syndrome, that what we do is an informed choice, well, it's a good use of my time.

3. Don't quote me out of context. If you have an issue with something I've said on this blog, I'd really prefer you take the issue up with me here, in context, or in private. I don't want to censor comments, even the anonymous ones.

4. This blog is not solely about BDSM, honest!

5. Respectful dissent is always welcome. Personal attacks on me or other commentators are not.

That's it!

Time to get on and set up SM-feminist properly...


Anonymous said...

"I started wondering whether feminism is really compatible with SM activism."

No they are not compatible. Scratch the BDSM community just a tiny bit and the misogyny comes oozing out. Trust me, I've been there. I thought I was pioneering a new kind of BDSM, yes to pain, no to stereotypes, yes to women's power and strength, no to the word no.

But in the end it gradually dawned on me that I wasn't liberating myself at all. In letting myself be hurt by people, I was encouraging something evil in them - the urge to hurt other people. I was helping that urge grow, making it sexy, providing the visuals to people who didn't give a crap about safe words, they just wanted to hurt women.

So no, I don't think the two are compatible at all. I hope you get out of the hurt game. It's a spiral downward to nowhere.

Good luck.

verte said...

My experience of the BDSM community in the UK is that the majority of people aren't misogynist arseholes, that most people don't do BDSM because they hate women or want us, as a gender, to be subservient. Yes, there's the odd one, but generally they're put through their paces pretty swiftly. There's also a reasonable sized bunch of feminists involved in UK BDSM activism. I guess some of these feminists are 'evil', then, given that they are dommes and that many of them actually enjoy specifically hurting men, but there it is. Having sadistic urges is not gender specific. That seems to be something radical feminists have a tendency to forget, and it's as bad as the male doms who don't believe women can be sexually dominant.

The majority of men I know who are sadists or dominant went through a period of self-hatred, self-questioning, etc, wondering why the hell they wanted to do this to women. My partner is STILL dealing with this, especially with me, as I like quite heavy SM play and with him my pain thresholds are pretty high, but personally I want him to let that anxiety go. I don't feel it's healthy to feel that way about your sexuality.

I know what your argument is. I have read a great deal of anti-BDSM feminist criticism, and though I'm pleased that at least BDSM opposition CAN come from some kind of ideological standpoint rather than just random interjections of 'you sick fucks' I don't feel they are accurate or respectful to women who have given INFORMED consent, who are not just 'letting ourselves be hurt by people'.

I agree that there are people involved in the BDSM world who are abusive, and there are women involved in it who are pretty damaged. But that's why publicising and promoting the community, and having the community in the first place, is so important. People will always have sadistic and masochistic urges and learning to exercise these safely, on a 'leash', if you like, seems positive to me. You can tell me to get out of the 'hurt game' and start fantasising about dull, missionary position sex instead, but it's not going to turn me on. Some women are more visceral than others.

The best thing we can do as a community is promote safety, negotiation and gain some visibility. That way, HOPEFULLY, women who have submissive or masochistic urges will have support, can get some guidance and advice from other subs and avoid people we know to have been abusive. And what's more, they won't be told they're 'sick fucks' or 'mentalists', etc. Well, unless they're abusive. And then they're shoved out the scene so fast they don't know what's hit them. Literally.

And I think it's worth remembering, in all this stereotyping, that male subs make up a greater proportion of the community than female subs, male doms, female dommes or anyone else.

Thanks for your comment and respectful approach. I hope anyone who decides to reply to your comment will be similarly respectful.

belledame222 said...

speaking of, i just activated my co-host status on the other blog (thanks!) i'll try to get some content up soon.

do you care who or how edits the blogroll and design and so forth?

belledame222 said...

...anyway, well, I'm coming from a more queer standpoint, so the sort of misogyny i suspect people who are involved with maledom/femsub (and sometimes het femdom/malesub, never mind leathermen i suppose) just doesn't register as much with me.

i know trin's mentioned the sexism in BDSM communities, and that she thought it was a subject that was underdiscussed--matter of fact that was probably about when we met, when we both came off a really stupid and offensive anti-BDSM IBTP thread, and were saying that y'know there might be some points buried in there--yes abuse DOES happen in kinky relationships, and garden-variety sexism abounds in various Scenes, just like the whole damn world-- but the 101 level of ignorance is so frigging staggering that of -course- no one's going to want to do anything except go to the battlestations and repeat the very basics: safe, sane, consensual, BDSM is not abuse, yadda yadda.

Renegade Evolution said...

I really do wish you luck. I just got real sick of some feminists telling us all what we can or cannot do when it comes to sex...


belledame222 said...

I think a firm mod policy right from the start may help things there.

speaking of: verte, i don't think i have your email address. can you drop all usn's hosts a note, maybe? or me, anyway, i wanted to check in about a couple of things per the other blog. lilith_sincere AT yahoo DOT com.

Trinity said...

"but the 101 level of ignorance is so frigging staggering that of -course- no one's going to want to do anything except go to the battlestations and repeat the very basics: safe, sane, consensual, BDSM is not abuse, yadda yadda."

yeh. and the people like anony above who found the sexist shit and deemed it all a buncha trash don't even talk to us and that's a problem too, because it becomes a yelling match about who's *lying* about the Scene

rather than, y'know:

places to go.
places to avoid.
how to make sure there are presentations and workshops about ferreting OUT abusers.

Trinity said...

and the thing I find:

deeper you get into the organized Scene the less you find the abusers trolling for chicks. because as you get into the real community you see respect for diversity you don't see in other places.

go to the small "we're just a buncha male dom fem sub" groups or websites and my impression from what I know of them is: lots of heterocentrism and sexism and assumption of natural roles.

go to the big groups and you're sitting right next to some leathermen or leatherdykes and the presenter is a femdom and... you really can't talk like that even if you want.

it's a whole bunch of DIFFERENT & DISPARATE communities. & the drive by ex-BDSMers never seem to say

"yeah, I was on the board of TES for six years, & here's the coverup"

it's never that THAT I SEE. It's always a little insular clique that sanctions DV.

which, y'know, arguing with long-standing members of BR or TES or... whatever, how does that fix anything?

how are *we* gonna get in *there*?

which is not meant sarcastically. i mean literally: how can we? how will we? because no one wants this shit going on, whether it's in the center or the fringes.

verte said...

go to the small "we're just a buncha male dom fem sub" groups or websites and my impression from what I know of them is: lots of heterocentrism and sexism and assumption of natural roles.

I'd agree with that. I think that's why TiH pisses me off a bit, even though it's writing by women. It's the heterocentricity. And I've seen feminist critics slag off the entire BDSM subculture based on similar sites. And, you know, fair enough to those women - that's their fetish and their choice - but it means a whole load of female subs and dominants are going to be unfairly portrayed. The whole Surrendered Wives movement getting more mainstream is slightly worrying to me.

Recently, I posted some ramblings about penetrative sex and D/s and normativity, and queer hetero, and couldn't help but notice that three male posters, all of whom I like and respect, all of whom are a million miles from misogynists, were still trying to work out what needed to be 'fixed' for me to enjoy normative hetero sex with a BDSM relationship.

I think my problem is with the heterocentric, normative family values you find in some M/f D/s circles, which don't ring true for me at all and that I have difficulty associating with the way I've always understood BDSM. For me, at least, BDSM in itself is not heteronormative.

And on the SM note... I'm so sorry I've been so slack. Bout of disastrous anxiety and I've stalled... This weekend SM-feminist is my primary mission. Let's make a decision on moderation, at least. Can't wait to read what you and BD come up with!