Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Rape Play (Part Two)

Some fantastic comments on one of my last posts have led me to think about the topic of fantasy rape for a lot longer than I’d originally intended, and specifically about the issue of terminology.

To summarize my last post: the term “rape play” has always troubled me, mostly because of what I perceive as an internal contradiction in the phrase. That is, rape is inherently nonconsensual, and BDSM play is inherenly consensual; even if rape play might look like rape to an uninformed observer, the very fact that the scene is consensual means that it actually has nothing to do with real rape, and using the word “rape” to describe it is just inaccurate. The problem that I saw in the term “play rape” was that when we wrap something in qualifiers instead of calling it something different entirely, we make the error of inherently associating what we do with that other activity—and we don’t want to associate consensual sex with rape, because that gives fuel to the idea that women who are raped actually want it, etc.

But Dev made a great point in her comment on my last post: “The truth is that we do things, consensually and in love or play, that are negative in other contexts [and] that humans have done to each other abusively. [….] But that is just endemic to the things we do, and it’s part of their power. Rape play doesn’t just happen to resemble rape – it feeds off of our ideas of rape all the way.”

That is: it isn’t an error to associate rape play with real rape, even if we would never want to actually rape or be raped. They’re not the same, which is why we do need a qualifier, but they are certainly related—and calling it something other than what it is is simply an attempt to shield ourselves from the negativity and fear generated by the idea of actual rape. As Ranat said in her comment: “The abstraction [can] go on and on, divorcing me more and more from the ‘bad word.’ For me, with the abstraction comes an unspoken apology that I’m still trying to convince myself I don’t need to make.”

I think one of the big problems I’ve had with this (and with the concept of BDSM “play” in general) comes from the dilemma of how to argue with anti-BDSM folks without resorting to “but it’s *nothing like* real rape/abuse/etc.” It’s an easy comeback—but it’s just not true. If it were true, if all we were doing was dress-up and play-pretend games, it wouldn’t be all that erotic…

Overdue Update

….and another 3 weeks without a post. Where does the time go?

All of my writing energy is being eaten up by work (as in employment). Perhaps I just need to start staying late at the office once a week to write for myself, because I sure as hell am not motivated to turn on my laptop at home after a 9-hour day of writing and editing.

Anyway, here’s a brief update.

  1. The Anarchist BDSM group–which we’re now calling “Anarkink”–is going really well. We’re having an informal potluck next week and are planning a flogger-making and -using skillshare on January 22. Most exciting, to me, is that we’re starting to talk about a fundraiser party to be held after the SF Anarchist Bookfair (March 14), to feature a spanking booth, shibari demos, and more. The money will then be used to secure a regular meeting space for us, so that we won’t have to worry about asking people to pay to attend meetings or workshops.
  2. I joined FetLife and have totally been sucked in. If you’re on there, feel free to add me as a friend; my profile is here. Also, if you’re of the anarchist or anti-authoritarian persuasion, why not join the FetLife Anarchist BDSM group?
  3. I just read about an interesting event being organized in New York called KinkForAll.

    KinkForAll is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people of the kink, queer, sex-positive and related communities to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, presentations, and interaction from all participants. [….] Attendees must give a talk or a presentation, help with one, or otherwise volunteer/contribute in some way to support the event. The people present at the event will select the demos or presentations they want to see.

    Doesn’t that sound intriguing? If you’re on the East Coast, you should check it out.

Hopefully, next week I’ll be back with a more thoughtful post…