Article about BDSM scene not being any more egalitarian than anywhere else.

(112 Posts)
FastidiaBlueberry Sat 26-Jan-13 19:58:46

I suppose I'm not surprised by this. I don't have anything against BDSM sex per se, but I do think it's absurd to pretend that it's somehow less likely to involve abuse and coercion than any other kind of sex.

article here

Charlizee Sat 26-Jan-13 20:19:38

There's a big difference between BDSM and abuse.

In BDSM roleplay there is consent.

In abuse there is never consent.

FastidiaBlueberry Sat 26-Jan-13 20:33:53

Have you read the article Charlizee

MooncupGoddess Sat 26-Jan-13 22:51:43

How very depressing. Have you seen this case, Fastidia?

metro.co.uk/2013/01/22/50-shades-of-grey-fan-who-lashed-lover-is-cleared-of-assault-3362342/

When I was younger the stereotype of BDSM was of a dominatrix clad in black leather whipping an over-excited man... now it seems to be of, er, men being violent towards women.

[disclaimer: I have no experience of the scene myself.]

StewieGriffinsMom Sat 26-Jan-13 23:15:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Sun 27-Jan-13 15:23:06

That is horrific MooncupGoddess. Shows how people have swallowed this shit. <no pun intended>.

Fastidia, good article, thank you. Not surprising though.

Charlizee Sun 27-Jan-13 15:56:21

ok I read the article. They agreed on a safe word but she never used it. She could have said the safe word (and withdrew) consent at any time but she didn't. If she had said the safe word and he continued it would be abuse and assault.

BDSM certainly isn't for everyone, that's for sure.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 27-Jan-13 16:45:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Branleuse Sun 27-Jan-13 16:54:57

Of course its still got arseholes in it as much as any other scene. I think its totally open to abuse. I have been involved in the scene here and there and have found that there are many instances where it is great fun and involves deep wonderful communication and playfulness and pushing boundaries. I have also seen stuff that quite frankly terrifies me. Still, if its consensual, its consensual and just because its not my kink, doesnt mean its not ok.
Im glad that guy got off in that metro article. Wow, I cant believe she would have reported it. She wanted it.

AbigailAdams Sun 27-Jan-13 16:59:36

It isn't just about consent though. It is about the context of consent.

AbigailAdams Sun 27-Jan-13 17:01:18

And you have to question what kind of man wants to do that to a woman.

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 27-Jan-13 17:23:57

"Consent" as a term is extremely problematic.

Men have traditionally been the people who got to define consent. And surprise surprise, they defined it in such a way as to enable them to rape women and get away with it not being recognised as consent. Rapey men managed to get their definition of what constitutes consent, written into law.

People who talk about consent without recognising that, are glossing over the issues.

I can understand wanting to do that: the issues are uncomfortable. That's why so many people want to gloss over them.

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 27-Jan-13 17:29:43

"She wanted it"

Branleues I can't believe you've actually written that.

It makes you sound as though you feel you are more qualified to state what the woman's needs and desires were at that time, than she is.

Do you understand how that makes you sound as if you've bought into patriarchal bullshit?

I genuinely don't see what the man in the metro article could have done further to ensure consent. They signed a contract, agreed a safe word and she had 'property of Stephen Lock' tattooed on her genitals - which implies that she was a fairly heavy player in the scene.

To the people who think he was wrong - what more do you think he could have done to ensure consent?

JustAHolyFool Sun 27-Jan-13 17:44:27

BDSM is problematic, but I have always felt safer and more respected in BDSM clubs than "normal" clubs.

Last time I went to one, a guy felt me up uninvited and wouldn't leave me alone. He was chucked out immediately and barred and loads of people asked if I was ok. Same thing happens in a normal club, the bouncers/other clubbers couldn't give a fuck.

AbigailAdams Sun 27-Jan-13 17:48:37

He could have, perhaps as a wild thought, chosen not to hurt a woman.

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 27-Jan-13 17:49:49

AKiss - without knowing really much more about the case, I couldn't say.

I can't pretend to be an expert on how couples who get their kicks from inflicting pain on each other, ensure consent. Or whether they are honest enough to recognise that even the existence of a safe word may not be a talisman against abuse.

Signing a contract sounds to me like an incredibly dodgy, abusive thing though. Signing away your right to withdraw consent is just not a valid "thing" IMO. In the same way as in English Law, you cannot consent to your own murder. I don't know why that originally was written into statute: I suspect it's something to do with the fact that even the patriarchs who wrote our laws, recognised that most people would never consent to their own murder unless there was a high degree of coercion or vulnerability going on and so they put that in as a protection. I'm very uneasy about the concept of people signing away their right to bodily integrity.

JustAHolyFool Sun 27-Jan-13 17:50:19

Abigail what if the woman WANTED to be hurt?

I enjoy BDSM. I wouldn't want my partner to not engage with me on that level because he's worried about hurting me.

JustAHolyFool Sun 27-Jan-13 17:51:16

I think if you have no experience of BDSM it is very hard to comment on this, to be honest.

She didn't sign away her right to withdraw consent, she had a safe word which she didn't use.

BertieBotts Sun 27-Jan-13 18:14:24

I thought the article was very interesting and it made sense to me. Of course there is as much potential for abuse and coercion in the BDSM scene as there is within "normal" relationships/sexual encounters. You get abusers in all walks of life - it makes sense that they would exist here too.

The main problem seems to be - as seen here! - that most people seem to think that if you engage in BDSM (as a submissive) then you "probably wanted it anyway", and what did you expect? ie, denying that any abuse can ever take place within BDSM. Which, if you think about it, is as ludicrous as saying that there is no such thing as rape within a marriage. Just because someone is "submissive" that doesn't mean they consent to everything at all times. It is my understanding that the intention of the "contract" is to outline the boundaries and make them clear before the "scene" starts, so that the sub doesn't have to come out of character halfway through and say, actually, I really don't want you do to THAT. From the article, it would seem that in practice it's quite common for contracts to be broken, which to me shows that they're not working in the intended manner. Also, it sounded (again going from the article as I don't have personal experience of the "scene") as though once one is in the moment, as it were, it's very difficult to protest anything - I'd imagine that's a heavy psychological effect rather than anything physical although of course it might be difficult to protest if you've been bound and gagged, or something.

Of course there's the view as well that all BDSM is abusive and I can see the point of that, but I wonder if it's a bit simplistic.

Branleuse Sun 27-Jan-13 18:15:39

Its a shame if she felt she couldnt use her safe word, but whole play scenes are based on being clear with each other and being able to PLAY at being hurt but never going further than you want to and to make sure the other person had a way of saying no, fuck off, no more now. You cant look at it in the context of normal relations. People REALLY get off on this, and this in my opinion is prety scary that someone would have all the proper precautions and protocol in place and someone would then be taken to court. I guess its the risk you take if youre playing with someone you dont know well, but she had his name tattooed on her genitals, shed signed a contract, they had agreed a safeword and he would have stopped at any time she used it.
If you dont have any masochistic tendencies, I can see how it could be very hard to understand how anyone could want this, and there are a lot of men and women who get off on power dynamics, but.... It only works when there is consent, otherwise its abuse.
She was playing with fire and went further than she wanted to, but the dominating partner in this instance was not a mind reader and was relying on her safe word. Maybe he wasnt experienced enough either. Maybe they were both stupid? Maybe theyd read too much 50 shades of grey and got carried away without realising that BDSM isnt actually all about handsome millionaires buying you cars and a bit of light spanking. Idiots.

Branleuse Sun 27-Jan-13 18:18:07

i dont think this has got anything to do with womens rights or feminism.

In my experience there are a lot more men that want to be whipped and dominated than women.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 27-Jan-13 18:33:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Sun 27-Jan-13 18:53:25

Really JustaHolyFool, even though she said she thought she wouldn't enjoy it, you don't want to question the motives of a man who wants to or thinks it is OK to whip a woman? Especially given the context that we live in a patriarchy?

JustAHolyFool Sun 27-Jan-13 19:09:40

Abigail I think questioning everything is valid.

I don't understand why she didn't use the safe word and that is concerning to me, because it seems like she has low self-esteem or didn't actually have any trust in him or the relationship.

I do think, however, that it is ok for a man to whip a woman with her consent.

Branleuse Sun 27-Jan-13 19:38:14

ill have a proper look. I only read the metro one

Branleuse Sun 27-Jan-13 19:48:08

sad

I dont know what to think now

Charlizee Sun 27-Jan-13 20:27:14

"StewieGriffinsMom Sun 27-Jan-13 16:45:47
Fastidia These are the links yes means yes blog "

In the article in the OP, the women said yes.

"And you have to question what kind of man wants to do that to a woman."

BDSM goes both ways. Either gender can be the dom and either gender can be the sub. Do you think BDSM is ok if it is a female whipping a male?

Charlizee Sun 27-Jan-13 20:30:42

""Consent" as a term is extremely problematic."

Is it? Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought yes means yes and no means no? Please tell me what's so problematic about that.

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 27-Jan-13 20:50:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Charlizee Sun 27-Jan-13 20:55:35

Bruises can be painful, but do they justify calling an ambulance?

FastidiaBlueberry Sun 27-Jan-13 22:43:13

Did you not read the comment I wrote about consent being defined by men charlizee?

I can't argue this properly atm as am on phone, will try and return tomorrow.

GothAnneGeddes Sun 27-Jan-13 23:42:51

Charlizee is yet another one of our "visitors", I wouldn't necessarily waste much time engaging with them.

On topic - I think a real problem is that the stigma/taboo around BDSM can lead to participants being very defensive of the scene and this is when issues can get swept under the carpet.
I have to add here, I was really concerned to read a recent woman's mag sex tips which featured "mild" stuff inspired by 50 shades, all of which featured a man in the dominant role and no mention of consent or safewords whatsoever. Very worrying.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 07:48:34

I dont think consent is problematic, nor is it defined by men. If its defined by anyone other than the person giving the consent, then its not actually consent at all.
I hated the whole 50SOG thing and it was dangerous IMO precicesly because it wasnt about consent. The woman in it was pressurised, groomed and coerced and it made me feel sick. Nothing erotic about that IMO. If people are using that as their guidebook for kinky fun, then theyre going to be in for a big shock AND are going to run into assault charges pretty quickly

AbigailAdams Mon 28-Jan-13 09:17:30

No they won't Branleuse. That is one of the problems. Men don't get prosecuted or convicted for sexual assault in anything like the numbers of sexual assaults women are subjected to. As illustrated by the metro article.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 11:17:18

do you think women cant consent to stuff then. Kind of like children?

Maybe its the extra X chromosome that makes them unable to consent?

I know women who specifically seek this stuff out and who have rejected men who they didnt think were dominant enough, or didnt have enough of a sadistic streak for their liking.
It takes all sorts

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 12:02:20

Yes 50 Shades is really problematic. I really hope people are not using it as a guidebook. I think you have to be very sure in a relationship and yourself to do BDSM and very confident that you and your partners understand the importance of safe words. Basically, I think you have to be an adult about things and that a lot of people don't have the emotional maturity to deal with it (particularly if they are entertained by shite like 50 Shades.)

Abigail, there is a big difference between BDSM in the context of a trusting relationship and sexual assault.

I don't know what to think about that Metro article. I don't know what injuries like a "mistimed football tackle" might be because that could be anything from a bruise to a broken leg. It's very vague and quite sloppy reporting.

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 13:12:12

I don't think it is that women can't consent to stuff, like children, it is that men may abuse that consent, or that consent is negotiated in an unequal context, or that, in the context of a controlling and otherwise manipulative relationship, the boundaries of what constitutes consent may be blurred.

AbigailAdams Mon 28-Jan-13 14:09:57

Don't be ridiculous Branleuse.

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 14:14:55

Of course consent is a highly problematic concept when you live in a patriarchy.

We had a long thread on it a while back.

AbigailAdams Mon 28-Jan-13 14:19:55

My reply was to Branleuse JustaHolyFool who was basically saying that if you follow 50 Shades you would be done for assault. I haven't likened BDSM to sexual assault, unless it is of course.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 14:23:52

snowshapes - when BDSM is done right, the ultimate control is with the submissive. There can be no domination if the sub has not chosen to give their submission. Consent is clear, unforced and can be withdrawn at any time - the only difference is in the word(s) used to withdraw that consent. Failure to adhere to the agreed safeword is abuse, just as failing to stop when your partners asks you to (within a none BDSM relationship) is abuse. An abusive, manipulative relationship is an abusive manipulative relationship...whether or not whips and handcuffs are involved!
Unfortunately, there are as many bullies in the BDSM world (male and female) as in the 'vanilla' world.

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 15:07:23

Andro, I think the key is in the first part of the sentence 'when BDSM is done right' - replace the 'when' with 'if', and that is a big 'if'. If BDSM is done right.

There is massive potential for it not to be done right, and at its heart, it seems to me to be about violence and pain, about humiliation and domination of another person. I don't get the bit about the submissive having all the power, because you can't divorce the encounter from wider power structures in society, and I'd be really curious to know the gender breakdown of encounters.

I guess I am just questioning what makes a person gets their kicks out of inflicting pain on someone else, in the name of sexual gratification. I can't for the life of me see how that is about equality.

Maybe I'm struggling to separate BDSM 'done right' from the wider degradation and objectification of women in mainstream porn/erotic writing, of which I only have a fleeting acquaintance (which was more than enough).

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 15:08:56

>>Of course consent is a highly problematic concept when you live in a patriarchy.

We had a long thread on it a while back. <<

I'm not sure I see a problem with it being revisited. Some of us weren't here a while back.

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 16:29:43

oops, sorry - didn't meant that to say that it can't be revisited. I meant that it isn't a simple and unproblematic concept to the point that when discussed it lead to a long thread with lots of analysis and thought provoking stuff.

Absolutely don't mean it shouldn't be discussed again - quite the contrary!

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 16:43:54

snowshapes I don't really know how you separate it. In fact, I don't think you can. Everything is shaped by our surroundings.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 16:57:24

snowshapes - you raise a lot of the points that many people outside the BDSM scene raise, I'll try and explain some of them for you.

Consent/the power being with the sub:
This is very much analogous to sex in a 'traditional' relationship where no means no, except it is more likely to be red/trainspotter/almond for example that means stop. The bottom line is that a Dom(me) who doesn't stop at this point is assaulting their partner just as much as a person who ignores no/stop etc in a none BDSM relationship and is considered by their peers to be just as reprehensible.

BDSM seems to be about violence and pain, about humiliation and domination of another person:
Domination yes, the rest? Not necessarily. A popular misconception about BDSM is that it's about pain/always involves pain, this is far from true. Some practitioners are very much into the bondage side, be that handing control of their body to their Dom(me) or taking that control. For many, being bound gives them a release - a sense of freedom if you like - they trust their partner not to hurt them. Others are into pain - giving or receiving - and enjoy the sensations. The key is safe, sane and consensual. For a lot of Dom(me)s it's not about getting off on causing pain, it's about being able to control with absolute precision what their sub is experiencing. A good Dom(me) is generally incredibly protective of their sub, extremely considerate of their welfare and keen to encourage their sub to develop as a person. A healthy D/s relationship brings the best out of both parties. Where the major problems come is when you have a pure sadist pretending to be (or who has convinced him/herself that they are) a Dom(me)...that never ends well.

Gender breakdown of encounters:
I have no idea what the stats are, I do know that I've seen every combination possible...many times. I'd say I've probably seen more male/male pairings than any other, but it would be close.

Equality:
Some people are naturally dominant, some are naturally submissive. A common mistake is to think that submissive automatically equals weak, it doesn't. Everyone is different, people have different needs and desires and that should be accepted. There are many BDSM practitioners who are in high powered roles professionally, but seek an escape from decisions at home. Not everyone WANTS a 50:50 relationship, surely they should be able to seek the relationship they want/need as long as their partner is freely consenting? What there does need to be - especially where cases come to court - is a greater understanding of the BDSM world. Unfortunately, much like rape within marriage/a long standing relationship or dv, you're often in the realm of he said/she said.

Maybe I'm struggling to separate BDSM 'done right' from the wider degradation and objectification of women in mainstream porn/erotic writing,

You wouldn't be the first (or the last).

I hope my ramble has helped a bit.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 16:57:32

so women in this society cant consent because we live in a patriarchy??

Therefore we dont know what we like??

Im going to bow out of the discussion because I can totally see why the idea of BDSM is problematic for people who are not into it, but am offended by the idea that I and/or other women couldnt possibly consent to things like that, because the consent didnt happen in a void.
If I enjoy having something done to me and have sought out a partner who is totally up for doing those things to me and we play, and we love each other and respect each others limits, then its no business of anyone elses. Theres nothing problematic about my consent, and im really not thinking too much about the patriarchy at those times thankfully.
As long as people arent thinking that they SHOULD be doing those things (which is the main problem i see with the ahem mainstreamification ;) of it all, then I dont seeee a big problem.
I DO see a big problem with abusive bastards who treat women like this without consent and objectify them and abuse them, but I dont think there is any real connection with BDSM

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 17:07:07

Andro really helpful, articulate post, thanks.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Mon 28-Jan-13 17:09:59

Branleuse, briefly, the trouble with consent as a concept in vanilla sex is that "she didn't say no" (which is what no means no translates to) is such a low baseline. Enthusiastic participation is often seen as a better baseline. If you have gone through lots of details of your scene beforehand, then your participation may well be more likely to be enthusiastic.

(swap he for she above if you so choose)

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 17:39:27

Branleuse, I think the entire concept of consent is problematic - I don't just think it is problematic in the context of BDSM.

It is about framing. And socialization.

BDSM is presented as operating outwith that framing and socialization, when all it really does is fetishize it.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 17:42:11

Andro that was a great post

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 17:46:06

Is BDSM presented like that, Beachcomber ? I really don't feel it is. I have had a lot of interesting discussions with others into BDSM about the problematic nature of it.

I've also met a lot of people who are not bothered about analysing it at all. And that is also fine. Sometimes I don't want to analyse every single aspect of my life, especially when it comes to sex.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 17:46:43

Yes it does fetishise it, and I think thats ok. It is still just down to individual relationships. Its not a rule book.

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 18:00:21

Well BDSMers present it like that.

The fetishization of concepts such as consent, submission, dominance, boundaries, violence, abuse, torture, control, humiliation, power, obedience, etc. is very patriarchal. It is a fetishization of the power dynamic of male supremacy and of male supremacist framing.

And yet it is presented as being something unconventional and edgy. BDSM is like patriarchal conservatism taken to an extreme.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Mon 28-Jan-13 18:04:01

Even when it's a man dominating another man?

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 18:15:45

Yes of course.

The concepts are still the same - just it is a man role-playing the oppressed class.

BDSM is a sexual fetishization of female oppression/male supremacy. Having a man play the female role does not change the wider socio-polito-cultural context. It just makes him be playing at and sexually fetishizing female oppression.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 18:18:29

we are all a product of our society, this is true

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 18:21:07

The fetishization of concepts such as consent, submission, dominance, boundaries, violence, abuse, torture, control, humiliation, power, obedience, etc. is very patriarchal.

How on earth is it patriarchal when you can be just as easily discussing a Domme and her sub (or two females in a D/s relationship) as a Dom/female sub pairing?

Let me also be very clear on one important point, D/s done right is not about abuse. Abuse starts where a safe word is ignored or where a person has been convinced that they have no right to stop what is happening, at that point the only difference between the abuser who uses BDSM and the abuser in a none BDSM relationship is the mechanism of the abuse.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 18:23:42

X-post...and I really don't agree.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 18:24:10

^^That was aimed at Beachcomber

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 18:26:37

I said BDSM is the fetishization of abuse.

Although it is very often just plain abuse - as outlined in the article in the OP.

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 18:29:20

Andro - it doesn't matter who is sub or who is dom.

It could be two women.

It is still a (very conformist) fetishization of patriarchal paradigms.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 18:32:10

some of it is fetishiing matriarchy

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 18:32:32

they just love a bit of something or another-archy

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 18:37:55

What is matriarchy Branleuse?

Where does it exist and how does it manifest in terms of human society, culture and politics? What is its power dynamic, what are its power structures?

What would you say is being sexually fetishized when 'matriarchy' is being fetishized?

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Mon 28-Jan-13 18:49:01

Can we get a banner at the top of FWRC saying "One swallows doesn't make a summer and two women don't make a matriarchy"?

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 18:56:48

When you look at the Mosuo people, the application of true matriarchy is a questionable as a patriarchy is. Female authority is absolute, no male can match it on any issue - it's the direct opposite of the more common patriarchal society.

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 19:05:40

"Well BDSMers present it like that."

Where's your evidence for that massive sweeping generalisation?

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 19:05:53

Right. So which aspect of Mosuo culture is routinely sexually fetishized in BDSM?

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 19:11:01

"I said BDSM is the fetishization of abuse."

I don't think that's true. It's a very emotive way of putting it.

I see what you're saying about power structures and yes, perhaps it is true. For many, BDSM has really deep roots, even pre-sexual. I enjoyed being tied up from a very young age (as in 5 or 6). And very often, for me, BDSM just feels like messing about, being silly, playing a character, in a way that we don't generally as adults.

It feels like a very sexualised version of the play we took part in as children. Really, most human relationships/dynamics are about power - I'm not sure why sexual practices get the most attention from some in the feminist community.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 19:22:38

Right. So which aspect of Mosuo culture is routinely sexually fetishized in BDSM?

The same ones you define as being examples of a fetishist version of patriarchal culture...if you choose to look at BDSM as the fetishization of patriarchy.

The roles in society are just reversed, the female is the power figure and the males have to behave in a certain way to achieve favour. Sexual relations are entirely at the female's discretion with the male having little control. Take that into the BDSM arena and it could be argued that the submissive role is a fetishization of male subservience, with the Dominant taking the role of the authority female - irrespective of gender.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Mon 28-Jan-13 19:28:17

Sexual practices get feminist attention because (a) sex has been/is a way of expressing male power over female and (b) it's a very important part of our lives where typically men and women interact regularly (so the gender pay gap gets more notice than Morris dancing because it affects a wider population of women)

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 19:40:33

Hrm, not sure I'm buying that Doctrine . Yes, men express power over women with sex, that's true. But I think that sexual practices get undue attention really - and I think it's primarily because they are more interesting. For me, it's really the least interesting aspect of feminism, because it is way too emotionally complex for me to look at in a political way. Anyway, sort of off the point of the thread.

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 19:40:35

Andro. Are you being serious?

Do the women in this culture rape and impregnate the men?
Have they defined the men as chattel, as belonging to the women, to be sold off for sexual gratification and heir producing?
Do they have a rape culture? Do the women keep the men in line with violence, sexualised violence? Do the women sexually mutilate the men or place restrictions on their movements, education and actions? Do they have a porn culture, a prostitution culture?

Who does the housework? (no, I'm not joking.)

Beachcomber Mon 28-Jan-13 19:47:21

Sexual practices get attention (from feminists anyway) because we live in a culture where women are sexually oppressed by men as a consequence of our sex, through the means of sexuality, reproduction rights and sexualised violence. Female oppression is a sex based (in the biological sense) oppression. Hence the interest in matters of a sexual nature. Pregnancy, abortion, rape, DV, sexual abuse, VAW, PIV, contraception - these are all big issues for feminism because they are direct consequences or reasons for our oppression.

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 20:17:36

you can't argue with it. you either get it or you don't. sex that isn't for procreation is for fun, and i think there are more worrying parts to the patriarchy than what consenting adults like to get up to in the sack. concentrate on abuse and keep your opinion on other peoples consensual pleasures to yourself maybe? Any relationship can be abusive.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Mon 28-Jan-13 21:01:42

JustA, I can understand someone personally finding it difficult to analyse sexuality politically because of the emotion involved but that doesn't mean it shouldn't and cannot be done.

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 21:02:44

I don't think I said that it shouldn't, Doctrine confused

vesuvia Mon 28-Jan-13 21:48:54

Andro wrote - "When you look at the Mosuo people, the application of true matriarchy is a questionable as a patriarchy is. Female authority is absolute, no male can match it on any issue - it's the direct opposite of the more common patriarchal society."

The Mosuo culture is not the direct opposite of patriarchal society. The men have the political power and the women do the housework. It's more matrilineal, in which women are often the head of the household, inheritance is through the female line, and women make business decisions (perhaps similar to how the family of a single mother might operate elsewhere).

Anyway, any female authority in the Mosuo people is now subservient to the patriarchal Communist Party of China.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 28-Jan-13 21:51:26
FastidiaBlueberry Mon 28-Jan-13 21:54:59

Have we got to feminist bingo yet?

We should be concentrating on other stuff?

If you don't think there's any value to discussing how "consenting" adults whose sexual mores, attitudes, tastes and expectations were formed within the strait-jacket of a male-supremacist society, then I wonder what you're doing on this thread.

This is discussing how this so called egalitarian, consensual world we're all told is so much more equal and respectful and less rapey than the "vanilla" one, is just as saturated with patriarchal abuse as any other sexual arena.

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 21:58:30

Er, I don't really think that's fair Fastidia.

I said that personally I don't particularly enjoy analysing sexual practices, mainly because I think it's too emotive for people to discuss without offending/getting offended. I also think that there is a lot of emphasis placed on sexuality that could be placed elsewhere.

I think that you could go and find a million articles about BDSM gone wrong...it doesn't mean that BDSM is inherently abusive.

FastidiaBlueberry Mon 28-Jan-13 22:00:55

I wasn't specifically referring to your post Justa. More the "i think there are more worrying parts to the patriarchy than what consenting adults like to get up to in the sack. concentrate on abuse and keep your opinion on other peoples consensual pleasures to yourself maybe?" one.

It is valid to analyse practically anything from a feminist angle.

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 22:05:40

Yes I agree with you.

Going to leave this thread now, having some problems in my personal life at the moment and I feel like I'll end up getting too involved and upset.

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 22:17:02

This thread has moved on slightly since I started writing my post, hopefully it is okay still to post it.

Andro, thank you for taking the time to write such an informative and full response to my post. You put me outside the BDSM scene, which suggests a clear line between those in the scene and those outside it. Not being flippant, but how is that line drawn?

Secondly, you stress that BDSM is not always about pain (point taken), but then state that it may be about control. To quote ‘For a lot of Dom(me)s it's not about getting off on causing pain, it's about being able to control with absolute precision what their sub is experiencing’. This bothers me. The need/desire to be able to control what someone else is experiencing. I am trying to see how that can be a healthy relationship, because to me controlling someone has many negative connotations.

However, I don’t wish to pursue the second point, really, because it sounds like I am judging people’s choices, which I am not, I am trying to understand my own reaction to something. I certainly don't intend to upset anyone.

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 22:18:04

JustAHolyFool, I hope you are okay.

JustAHolyFool Mon 28-Jan-13 22:22:17

thank you snow

Branleuse Mon 28-Jan-13 22:26:57

over and out. silenced.
i dont need to defend what Im into anymore than you do about what you like.
noones business.

Andro Mon 28-Jan-13 22:45:50

which suggests a clear line between those in the scene and those outside it. Not being flippant, but how is that line drawn?

There isn't a clear line in practice; many people explore the fringes of BDSM a think nothing of it (a couple of silk scarves or a blindfold on naughty weekend away for example), yet few would want to explore the D/s lifestyle or heavy bondage.

I would suggest that the line is where there has been no study/appreciation of a good D/s relationship - but that's arbitrary at best.

I take your point about the control aspect and will only say this; for you it has negative connotations and that's fine, you know yourself and your own needs. Others find a strong positive in handing over that control...and many of them would no more be able to understand your perspective than you do theirs.

snowshapes Mon 28-Jan-13 23:08:55

Thanks, Andro, helpful comments.

>the line is where there has been no study/appreciation of a good D/s relationship <

I think that makes sense. I actually think that is a fairly important point.

To your last paragraph, I do get what you are saying. The problem is really what it has taken for me to recognise my own needs, not everyone has a clear sense of self to start with for various reasons, so I wouldn't see it as that black and white.

But yes, I totally understand that people have different perspectives. I'm just trying to understand the ways in which a healthy D/s relationship might work, and why under other conditions, it could be damaging, or an expression of damage.

Beachcomber Tue 29-Jan-13 13:13:04

See this is why BDSM is so patriarchal and serves to prop up patriarchal thinking. Because as soon as you analyse it (I'll analyse what I like thanks Branleuse) people start saying 'but I like it so I don't want you discussing it'. And then the discussion gets shut down because people want sex to be off limits for political discussion - despite the fact that we live in a sex hierarchy.

BDSM is not practised in a social vacuum on another planet by people who have not been socialized by patriarchy.

And lots of feminists think that BDSM should be discussed because it erotisizes violence against women and a lot of it is violence against women. There are plenty of stories of women being abused, raped, safe words ignored, pressured to not use safe words, passed around other men, etc. And of course 'the scene' attracts nasty bastards who get off on abusing women and are provided with the perfect cover for their activities because it is consensual.

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 16:14:27

Beachcomber
See this is why BDSM is so patriarchal and serves to prop up patriarchal thinking...And lots of feminists think that BDSM should be discussed because it erotisizes violence against women and a lot of it is violence against women.

Surely it also eroticses violence against men and a lot of it is violence against men.

My reading's way out of date on this, but if nothing else isn't there a thriving gay BDSM culture? Certainly used to be in San Francisco in the 70s/80s and while you can view that from a feminist perspective, it's hard to say it's intrinsically anti-woman

Beachcomber Tue 29-Jan-13 16:32:37

OK - so it eroticizes male violence.

And it eroticizes the submission/domination power dynamic upon which male supremacy is founded.

In other words it eroticizes female oppression - and lots of feminists find that pretty offensive and anti-woman.

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 16:37:25

Unsure how the male gay bathhouses in SF in the 70 erotcized female oppression per se; like the phrase "the submission/domination power dynamic upon which male supremacy is founded", and as I said "you can view that from a feminist perspective".

Most scene players I've met would disagree with that reading.
[Disclaimer: I have no interest in that sort of play, I can see no reason why anyone would enjoy pain, and couldn't smack a woman even if she wanted me to...]

Beachcomber Tue 29-Jan-13 16:43:09

I don't understand what you mean. Gay men having sex in bathhouses is not BDSM.

OneMoreChap Tue 29-Jan-13 16:49:06

There were a range of bathouses, and in some there was quite a BDSM scene. ISTR an accidental fire where a couple of men were killed, whilst restrained.

As I say my reading is quite out of date, and I don't know what - if any - the scene is like there now.

Andro Tue 29-Jan-13 17:14:36

OneMoreChap-the BDSM scene is still thriving around the world...with all gender combinations.

snowshapes Tue 29-Jan-13 22:50:45

>>And it eroticizes the submission/domination power dynamic upon which male supremacy is founded<<

I guess that is what I am struggling with - that it eroticises a power dynamic which has profound consequences for every day life, beyond the scene - I mean, in general and not (only?) for the couples taking part.

I'm thinking of things like that terrible flogging of the girl in Swat a few years back, or of whipping of slaves on plantations. It might seem far removed, but is it really?

I guess if you step out of the scene as a submissive woman, and look around you at the advantages and privilege your male dominant partner has, I find it hard to see how you can let yourself be physically beaten and controlled, when social structures do it metaphorically. If that makes sense. Metaphorically is not the right word, I mean, not literally, but in terms of keeping women down.

It kind of makes more sense that a man, used to power, might give up his socially dominant position for sexual kicks, but exercising it? I do find that problematic.

Just musing on this some more. I will leave it now, though, I'm too tired.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Wed 30-Jan-13 00:11:04

Interesting musings snowshapes.

Beachcomber Wed 30-Jan-13 09:42:19

I agree with you snowshapes. I find the use of 'slave' situations or torture or anything military/nazi absolutely horrifying . Do these people have no respect?

And it is all so rapey. (When it isn't actually rape)

Nine Deuce wrote some good articles on the subject of BDSM a while back.

rageagainstthemanchine.com/?s=BDSM&submit=Search

What she writes about the men who wanted to do BDSM with her is very revelatory of the mind-set.

Beachcomber Wed 30-Jan-13 09:44:45

I mean BDSM is presented as subversive when there is nothing subversive about it at all. It is horribly conformist.

OneMoreChap Wed 30-Jan-13 10:04:29

* snowshapes*
It kind of makes more sense that a man, used to power, might give up his socially dominant position for sexual kicks, but exercising it? I do find that problematic.

I read that there fewer women are keen to be dominant IRL, which is why there's such a pay to play thing for submissive men.

However, there are dominant women - and do you have a problem with that because they are ... what, imitating a M/F power dynamic and supporting it as valid?

Is this a bit about what is a truly valid choice for women, and do they have agency to make that choice?

Beachcomber Wed 30-Jan-13 23:17:29

I'm quoting someone else here but this says it for me;

BDSM is the fetishisation of the power differential that exists between men and women. It is a patriarchal practice and as such, deserves scrutiny from a feminist perspective.

No one is saying you can’t engage in it if you want to, and no one is saying you don’t really really enjoy it. But feminist it is not. It’s getting off on your own disenfranchised position in society, and don’t expect feminists to not say so.

snowshapes Thu 31-Jan-13 04:45:10

Have read, will come back and comment at a sensible hour

snowshapes Sat 02-Feb-13 14:04:16

hi, I realise there have been many other things going on on this board, but I have been thinking about this, and said I would come back to your comments.

Beachcomer, I read the blog, thank you. I tend to agree with the analysis, but the sample were self-selecting in so far as it is people who were involved enough or interested enough to seek out an ad and respond. I'm wondering about the many people who get involved in their own homes and relationships and don't need to seek out a partner.

One More Chap, my initial response, which I didn't get around to posting, to your question ' do you have a problem with that [F/m, M/m, I presume] because they are ... what, imitating a M/F power dynamic and supporting it as valid?' - was no, I have a problem with it because it is violence. But then when Beachcomer mentioned BDSM being 'rapey', it clicked that this is my main issue with M/f.

To the question of agency, I always find this a difficult one. Everyone can exercise agency, even in the most degraded and poor circumstances. The point is about the circumstances and context in which agency is exercised and what it means on various levels.

And questioning whether it is a valid choice turns the debate around, because if you say, no, I don't think so, it sounds like you are denying women a choice or doing down the choices they do make. I would question what that choice actually means, how much of an informed, self-aware choice it really is at an individual level, but far more, my issue would be with a man (because it is mainly men) who makes the choice to hit and sexually degrade a woman for pleasure, however that pleasure is defined.

So, yes, late back to this, but something I have been thinking about for various reasons.

Yes, there are some abusive people to be found on the BDSM scene. But I would really struggle to name any kind of social group or hobby group that could be absolutely guaranteed free from predators, bullies, manipulators and people with harmful-to-others personality disorders. (I have direct experience of individual radical feminists being thoroughly unpleasant...)

BDSM is something that some people are very interested in and others not interested in at all (except, in some cases, being very interested in condeming and preventing it). It's something I've been involved in for 20 years; I'm a dominant, not a submissive and my understanding of the submissive(male or female) mindset is not from direct experience. However, some people I have talk to like the escapism aspect, others like the challenge aspect, others still are into the physical sensations. (Why do some people like extreme sports or rollercoaasters or horror films, for example?).

Mind you, FWIW and this is only a personal assessment: over about the last 10-12 years the number of male dickheads appearing on the scene and appearing to use 'Oh it's BDSM' as a justification of abuse seems to have increased. However, conversely, the growth of the scene via websites and chatrooms and discussion forums has also led to people being able to reach out to one another so that a woman being abused by a nasty 'male dom' can be advised by other people that he is a dickhead and she can LTB, without a whole load of additonal judgmental scaremongering that percieves BDSM itself as the problem.

TeiTetua Sat 02-Feb-13 18:06:05

"Yes, there are some abusive people to be found on the BDSM scene. But I would really struggle to name any kind of social group or hobby group that could be absolutely guaranteed free from predators, bullies, manipulators and people with harmful-to-others personality disorders."

Indeed. But then your last paragraph pretty much explains what's special about BDSM--that the whole setup lets some people dominate over others, and so a man who genuinely hates women might join in, thinking he has free rein (Hah!) to put his ideas into action. "We're not like that really" may be true, but it's not a game I'd want to play. Too many reminders of people's worst side.

FloraFox Sat 02-Feb-13 18:18:17

Sgb but other social groups don't involve acting out the abusive behaviour. Anyway surely the scene is a magnet for abusers?

Not particularly. Over my 20 years or so of involvement, I have found most people to be non-abusive and decent human beings. I've heard it said (though have no data handy) that the percentage of abusers on the scene is about the same as off the scene. After all, plenty of abusers have no interest in BDSM whatsoever.

It's also worth bearing in mind that a lot of us reasonable human beings on the scene deplore abuse as much as non-BDSM people do, and that we act to help people who are being abused. As someone said upthread, if you are pestered or assaulted against your wishes in a BDSM club, it's usually easy to get your attacker reprimanded and evicted from the premises, whereas in a 'straight' nightclub the bouncers tend not to want to know.

Stropzilla Sat 02-Feb-13 19:17:57

AFAIK if someone doesn't stop at the first sign of the sub using a safeword, that person will very quickly lose any potential partners as ignoring safewords is not tolerated.

Having said that you shouldn't put yourself in a situation with someone you don't trust. Just like with anything else. And why the assumption we're all into pain? I may be a sub but pain really doesn't enter into it for me and God help anyone who doesn't respect that. I'm not there to be abused.

Sometimes I think I have more power as a sub. After all, you have to be willing to give up power and can just as easily take it back if I choose!

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