Ten Things I Hate about Discussions of BDSM on Non-Kinky Feminist Blogs

…in no particular order:

1. The assumption that all women in BDSM are submissive, all men are dominant, and everyone is both straight and cisgender.

2. The assumption that kinky people haven’t examined their desires.

3. …and that non-kinky people have a better idea about where those desires come from and what they mean than kinky people do.

4. The assumption that BDSM is synonymous with (or the gateway to) partner abuse.

5. The suggestion that kinky fantasies are linked to past trauma, especially rape or molestation, and that kinky folks are in need of therapy.

6. The outrageous assertion that non-kinky people have it worse, because in our sex-positive culture (uh, since when?) they’re considered boring prudes.

7. Comments from “recovered masochists” who tell horror stories about some seriously fucked up relationship they had, extrapolating from their experience to speak for all people who have ever played with BDSM.

8. The bizarre notion that BDSM always involves rape play, degradation / humiliation play, anal sex, and/or a man ejaculating on a woman’s face/body.

9. The assumption that women in BDSM were introduced to it by a (male) partner who either forced or coerced them into one of the above activities.

10. The assumption that kinky women who are not ashamed of being kinky think their desires are liberating and somehow inherently more feminist/powerful than those of non-kinky women.

Here’s the source of the above rant, though the thread in question is actually pretty civil and mild compared to most others I’ve read in the past. Other bloggers have said some very insightful things on this topic lately, so I’ll just direct you here, here, and here.

I also would like to quote one of Trinity’s comments on that original thread, because it really speaks to a few of my biggest pet peeves on the list:

[….] We’re not saying we’re superior. We’re saying that there is this meme in feminist circles that says “Think about what you want,” which implies that we have not done so. We’re pointing out that anyone who is sexually deviant (or socially deviant in any way) is generally aware of hir difference from others (or MADE aware of it, through bullying and other violence.) Being aware that you’re different tends to induce introspection: Why am I this way? Why are others not this way? Am I wrong? Are they? Are we just neutrally different? What do different people, groups, and ideologies think of being this way?

Many people think about those questions for years. So what we’re pointing out…is only that asking us “to examine” is actually rather odd — chances are we’ve done so more than most. Chances are we’re *more* aware, not *less*, that society can and does have sexual expectations of people — including differing expectations of men than of women, and expectations that are often (to understate it tremendously) deeply disrespectful of women’s actual interests.

What all this means, some of us think, is that when we’re being asked to “examine”, what others want is not for us to think more (as we’ve already done that) but to agree with their conclusions.

6 comments so far

  1. Holly on

    I think most of the bloggers on Feministe are actually more on the kinky side, ironically.

  2. subversive_sub on

    That must have been really a frustrating thread for y’all to follow, then. FWIW, by “non-kinky feminist blog” I meant “feminist blogs that aren’t explicitly about kink.” (Just contrasting Feministe with, for example, Let Them Eat Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces.) I certainly don’t mean to make assumptions about the writers at Feministe — it’s just that feminist blogs that aren’t only about kink are inevitably going to get a thread or two that gets hijacked by the anti-kink faction. It’s the sort of stuff I see on Feministe or Feministing, but never on SM-Feminist, because those sort of people, well, just don’t visit sites about kinky sex.

    Again, I definitely want to stress that this isn’t something just about the recent thread at Feministe, but is a composite of a LOT of similar threads I’ve read over the years, both on blogs and on listserves.

  3. d on

    I think the “debate” around BDSM ended with Califia’s story ‘The Hustler’.

    Anti-kink/anti-porn “radical” feminists have been complicit with state & religious repression since their beginning. They have a history of violence and intimidation against kinky women, and everytime they enter debates it’s just to push their line and agenda. Not worth talking to.

  4. d on

    Oh…

    I examine my desires all the time – when I close my eyes and masturbate!

  5. Biscuit on

    Gee…here I thought I did it because I LIKED it.

  6. Wanderer on

    I understand it if people don’t understand other people’s kinks. There are kinks that I find it really hard to respect, and in many cases, it’s something I am actively working on.

    But seriously, there is SO MUCH intelligent, productive, sex-positive discussion of kink on the internet that you would REALLY think that the people who are criticizing it would find the time to read some of it, and actually respond productively.


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