Archive for the ‘D/s’ Category

Cruelty and Catharsis

In my bed I had been warm, but on the floor, I was shivering even with a blanket over me. I curled up, wanting to play but not wanting to leave the confines of the blanket, not wanting to suffer the coldness of the room or the discomfort of the floor. I was tired and cranky. And as he pulled the blanket off of me and stood over me, I realized that the only way I was going to be able to play would be if my discomfort were a part of the scene, and if it were to be constant, unrelenting discomfort, unrelenting pain. I needed to be able to be cranky and to squirm and shake and cry, and for that to be okay, for it not to stop the scene.

“Can we not stop unless I safeword?” I asked him. “Of course,” he said.

(NOTE: This post contains explicit sexual imagery and descriptions of BDSM play.)

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Rape Play / Forced Submission

(This is something I wrote months and months ago, and forgot about…)

I’ve never really been a fan of the term “rape play.” To me, it’s a self-contradicting term; “rape” describes a non-consensual sexual encounter, while “play” describes a consensual one. In the past, I was also averse to the term because I didn’t feel that it really described the sort of play that my partner and I have talked about and engaged in. As he’s described them to me, my partner’s fantasies of “rape” have always included the knowledge that the other person actually wants it and is really turned on by it, or rather that he’s making the person want it. It’s the “no…no….YES!” fantasy.

In a sense, yes, this is quite similar to a lot of real-life rape scenarios. The rapist’s idea that “aw, c’mon, she really wanted it, even if she said ‘no'” is a cliché at this point, and quite a lot of rape starts out looking like seduction, especially when the person being raped is confused about what she wants and what she SHOULD want. But in a “rape play” scene, of course, the person being “raped” knows what she wants beforehand, and knows, on some level, what’s going to happen in the scene. Is it really appropriate to use a word like “rape,” then, to describe something that’s negotiated, consensual, and (hopefully) mutually enjoyable?

I usually prefer the term “forced submission” to describe the sort of rough sex that usually takes place between me and my partner, a submission that he has to win from me. It’s a fight, a struggle, and a defiant attitude throughout; I swear and bite and curse him. Or, alternately, it’s “seduced submission,” a shyness, with him teasing me and slowly forcing himself upon me, my protests growing weaker as he shows me that I’m really enjoying myself.

On the other hand, some of my experiences with this kind of play has really pushed my boundaries of consent, because such scenes can drop me into a headspace in which I really don’t know what I want. In those times, the play can sometimes seem very real. I start to struggle in earnest, as if I really didn’t want to be touched. It’s when I reach that space, that just-a-little-too-real space, that I get the most turned on. But it’s also when I come dangerously close to breaking down, to getting hurt. I have reached the point, a few times, when I’ve felt for a second like I was actually being forced against my will, like I actually had no choice. Those are the times when I think that “rape play” might actually be a very accurate term. When I think about it, it’s probably more “edge” than anything else we do.

…yet I’m still not comfortable with the term. There’s a nagging feeling I have that using it somehow lessens the meaning of the word; that it belittles the experiences of those who have been raped to say that what I do for pleasure is somehow similar enough to someone else’s traumatic experience to use the same word for it. It creeps me out, a little.

Leave the Analysis to Us, Thank You

I happened upon this thread on an anarchist message board,

It always makes me a little irritated when I see BDSM misrepresented in the mainstream media. It makes me sad to see feminists critiquing other women for their kinky sexual orientations/practices. But it breaks my fucking heart when I see anarchists doing it. Why? I suppose because “anarchist” is probably the closest I come to really embracing a label to define myself, and when I see people using that label as a justification to trash my sexuality, it hits pretty hard.

Granted: the thread starts out with a single uninformed dumbass making some inane comments that are very quickly shut down. But then we have this:

To be sure, the issue of BDSM is not without its problems for anarchism. For one, there is a definite strain of anti-feminist thinking in many parts of the subculture…. Consider, for example, the whole philosophy of Gor or the notion of Taken in Hand relationships. Consensual or not they certainly reflect the mindset and ideals of patriarchy rather well. [….] In addition, I’m not so sure I like the notion of dominance and submission, even if voluntary, being cast as normal and healthy ways of life. It lends them a kind of legitimacy that IMO runs counter to the spirit of anarchism. Of course I don’t think trying to outlaw BDSM as the poster of the thread suggests is necessarily the answer, or that it would be particularly practical.

Someone else responded:

….I think if they lose the taboo then they are no longer as exciting or enjoyable. Think of it this way. Do you think that an anarchist society that respects ones ability to be a drug user would result in everyone becoming drug addicts? Nah, we’d have in place mechanisms to deter it. People, friends, family, comrades, they would dissuade you from overly negative behaviors on the fact that come revolution there’d really be nothing else to do. No work means lots of play, and lots of involvement in the social environment. If you had a friend that was a drug addict I’m sure you’d try to help them out and get them off of their addiction, likewise if you had a friend who was in to sexual domination you might introduce them to more egalitarian forms of sexual partnerships.

The same person also writes:

From my perspective the greatest purveyors of sexual domination such as BSDM or prostitution are from the monetarily minded economic persuasion. That is, ancaps, mutualists, or others in this vein. There’s a reason for this, of course. That money creates “voluntarily” (coercive) relationships that otherwise wouldn’t exist. A beautiful woman isn’t going to slap a fat ugly guys celluite ass unless society gives her recompense for it. Destroy society, destroy monetarism, and I bet that situation would be very fucking rare.

And finally, a bunch of posts that expressed this sentiment:

…. Personally, I don’t have much of an opinion on the matter, and approach it as an intellectual curiosity… It might be really fun for all I know.

I thought about signing up on the message board in question in order to respond to some of this bullshit, but decided against it for now. Here are some of the things I’d address, were I to bite the bullet and get involved in the argument:

  1. Gor and Taken in Hand relationships are not uncontroversial in the kink world. Yes: these communities are decidedly patriarchal, and lots of people are critical of their gender essentialism. If you spent five minutes to see whether or not there were kinky people critical of and outspoken against sexism and patriarchy, you’d find a wealth of information on the subject. There is nothing that says a BDSM relationship, even a 24/7 relationship, has to be based on the notion that one gender is naturally superior to another. Yes, this notion does exist within the BDSM world, but please just recognize that this doesn’t mean all people playing with BDSM in their sex lives think this way, or are not similarly disturbed by such tendencies.
  2. Giving legitimacy to BDSM as a sexual practice is not the same as giving legitimacy to the idea of domination/submission as a model for human relationships. Period. Kinky people play with power and hierarchy. It’s like saying none of us should play Monopoly, because it imitates and thus legitimizes a capitalist economic system.
  3. The idea that in a perfect anarchist society, people would be better able to dissuade kinky people from engaging in such “negative” behaviors begs the question of BDSM being inherently “negative.” It isn’t.
  4. BDSM is not “attractive” to kinky people simply because it is taboo. Quite a lot of kinky people are drawn to it as strongly as they are drawn to the same or another sex; that is, it isn’t just a choice but a sexual identity. For many of us, it is something that we cannot fully experience sexual pleasure without.
  5. Playing with domination in a sexual relationship is not the same thing as an inegalitarian or hierarchical relationship. It is not inherently harmful or “addictive.”
  6. BDSM is not only performed as a paid service, nor is it necessarily linked to pornography or any other kind of sex work. The vast majority of people who practice BDSM are not sex workers.
  7. Finally: it’s not okay to treat another person’s sexuality or subculture as merely an “intellectual curiosity,” something to entertain you. If you’re curious about it, educate yourself, don’t simply start making ignorant comments on a message board.

Over at SM-Feminist, Trinity mentioned a thread on a the feminist Livejournal community, and excerpted the following quote:

Desire and arousal are complicated and very, very unconscious. It can all be deconstructed until the cows come home, but I think the people who need to deconstruct it are those who engage in it.

Yes. That. What always makes me feel the most uncomfortable about reading threads like this, or overhearing similar discussions, is this sensation of being talked about behind my back. It’s always just a lot of theorizing and postulating about “those people” and what they do, and whether or not any of it is cause for concern.

So how about this, folks: if you’re not a part of a particular community/group, and if you don’t at least have a good understanding of that group and the debates that already take place inside of it, then shut the fuck up and see what they have to say first. Instead of making broad, uninformed statements about that group, their relationships with each other, what they do and don’t do, what they like and don’t like, why don’t you ask them about it?