The “Bondage Awards”

Through Bitchy Jones, I stumbled onto the Bondage Awards website, and good god, is this a perfect example of the sort of sexist & heterosexist crap that makes it so fucking hard to defend BDSM when arguing with non-kinky feminists. I mean, to take the words of a certain radfem blogger, they’re making it too easy.

Take a look at that page. Does it give you any indication that not all bondage models are female, not all riggers and photographers are male, not all women are submissive, and OH YEAH not everyone is fucking straight? Nope.

Now, you’ll notice that on the home page there’s a post indicating that there have been a number of people writing in to him about the sexism/heterosexism issue. Here’s the response, summarized:

I didn’t intentionally make it sexist. I just looked through my photo collection and picked out some pictures I liked. Also, last year the awards got great feedback, and not one person suggested that gender neutrality was important. So let’s not talk about it any more and just have fun, because that’s what this is all about, right?

Sigh.

As Bitchy points out, probably next year they’ll just include a couple of busty women with whips and absurdly high-heeled boots and call that “gender equality.”

The thing is, after getting really upset about this last night, I came to the realization that this person’s website is actually just sort of sad. It’s an egotistic attempt to place himself (I’m guessing this is a single dude running the site) at the center of the bondage porn industry by working this annual “bondage award” thing up to be a well-recognized event. The stuff that makes me angry about the website is really no better or worse than pretty much any other fetish website out there. And that, really, is what I should be upset about.

Sex in our culture is so, so broken.

7 comments so far

  1. Meer on

    Broken?
    Meh. Sex in any culture works just well enough.
    Pageantry, rituals, roles, and normative rules? Those will always be in play.
    I agree, however, it’s good to have villains.

  2. subversive_sub on

    I really don’t know what you mean with this comment. What does it mean for sex to “work just well enough”?

    Different roles might always be in play when it comes to human sexuality, but the particular gender and sexual stereotypes that we currently deal with don’t necessarily have to be.

  3. Meer on

    A squat, pudgy guy wearing nothing but pants rages down the stoop of his building, flowing down like magma, and pours out into the cobblestone street. He erupts into a tantrum, spitting and cursing at the sky, a bilious plume of Italian invective directed at the heavens. A few heads spy cautiously out of neighbors’ apartment windows, yet no one tells the little man to shut up. Indeed, more women and men join him down on the street. They roll into his molten agitation. Twenty-four hours later, the Vatican is a smoldering ruin and there’s not a drop of wine, nor any spirit for that matter, left in Rome.

    Let’s conceive a possible world in which there’s a culture with broken sex. On the night that sex broke, no one got anything out of the deal. From emotional intimacy to raw’n’durty, the whole range of what folks seek in sex just didn’t happen. Hells’ bells, even conception was a no go. Sex was just broken.

    Most, with what they thought were normative attitudes towards sex, didn’t understand. Had they done something different than their parents thereby breaking this ages-old source of pleasure? Then, having thought about their parents having sex, immediately repented their questioning to bend to humble prayer asking forgiveness for transgression and begging God to fix the sex.

    The progressives who proscribed and prescribed sexual practices to fix sex and keep it roadworthy were confident that the dumbasses who hadn’t listened to them had finally broken sex. Like wise mechanics whose advice had gone unheeded, thereby resulting in a terrible auto accident, they shook their worldweary heads and wagged scolding fingers.

    Perhaps it was something in the drinking water? Obviously, the Eternal City would have to be forsaken. Overnight, Rome became a Holy Ghost town.

    When I write that sex works just well enough, then that’s it. People still do it. In all cultures. Perhaps excepting austere religious communities. The deal’s good enough. Sex isn’t broken.

    Whether or not folks are having sex the way ya want’em to might be another story, but with a few years of re-education in a San Francisco dungeon maybe you can beat some sense into’em…

    This is heavy-handed comedy.
    BDSM awards? Didn’t that get a laugh on its face before raising your ire? I get that your project is to broaden how BDSM is practiced and perceived, but some of these clowns that play to stereotype are funny. Do they hand out golden floggers for awards? Is there a beats per minute scoring criteria? A slave girl toss event? If you’re looking for a constructive retort, then make your own BDSM awards. “Most sexist and predictable scene,””Most pathetically repressed male homoeroticism,””Girl, get thee to a feminist bookstore,” and “Jack Off of All, Master of None,” could be catagories. Pairing humor with your critique would cut much deeper, and it’d create more opportunity to introduce your project to others. No need to get upset at all…

    What farcical BDSM award catagories have y’all got?

  4. subversive_sub on

    Okay, obviously I’m not getting my point across.

    When I say “sex is broken,” I don’t mean that people are having bad sex or wrong sex or that sex just doesn’t work. I mean that the ways that we deal with sex in our relationships, and the assumptions that people make about others based on perceived gender/sex and sexual orientation, are very, very flawed and harmful.

    And I think it’s pretty legit that I get so upset when I see evidence of this in the world around me, even when the source of such bigotry is ridiculous and pathetic (which, as I do point out in my post, these “bondage awards” most definitely are). I’m just fucking tired of having to deal with it. I’m tired of seeing people I care about marginalized, ignored, or threatened because their gender identity or sexuality doesn’t fit in with dominant views of what men and women are, how we are expected to behave, and what we are expected to enjoy. I’m tired of having absurd expectations placed upon me because of my gender.

    So yeah, sometimes the things I write in this blog aren’t “constructive,” and they don’t always further the project of broadening people’s perceptions of how BDSM is practiced. (Which I’d never actually thought about before; I mostly see this blog as a simple creative outlet and a way to talk to like-minded folks.) I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I don’t think my blog has to entertain or educate everyone who reads it.

    I do like your fake awards suggestion though, that could be hilarious if pulled off correctly…

  5. Meer on

    Crud. If this is a creative outlet, then I’ve misread ya mostly and stand corrected. Hyperbole fits, er… literally.

    As far as political and analytic modes go, I’m pretty well geared. These modes are reductive: break down problems, then find solutions to address them.

    Emotional rhythm and harmony, or having a detail-oriented sense of what the world feels like, eh… I’m pretty dumb about these things (and not in the machismo way, but in the oblivious way.) Which is why I probably didn’t get that your focus is on the bondage awards and its perpetuation of BDSM stereotypes as hurtful in terms of personal community, personal relationships, and personal experience. In these terms, if you write that sex is broken, then sex is broken.

    Instead, I read this as political targeting (there’s even a big fat target mentioned explicitly on the title line.) If the project is to undo these harmful stereotypes, then engage one who perpetuates the stereotypes just so…

    Farcical bondage awards could be hilarious, although their inspiration will be hard to top for absurdity.

  6. devastatingyet on

    From a feminist perspective, it’s angrifying. I feel that if I were currently living/fucking as a submissive woman that would bring its own additional layer of disturbing to the mix (I mean, to be represented in such a way, to seem initially to fit the stereotype, etc.)

  7. Ranat on

    “Sex in our culture is so, so broken.”

    Yes.


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