Create the Problem, then Offer the Solution [BDSM Part I]

by cherryblossomlife

**This is Part I of a three-part post.

The measure of a group’s oppression is not how well their oppressors can convince them to accept their lot, or how completely they give up hope of rebellion; nor is it the extent to which their sense of self becomes so thoroughly annihilated that they lose awareness of the very fact they’re oppressed.

No.

The measure of it, is how well you can convince them to enjoy their oppression. To revel in it. To seek it out. To regard subordination and pain as a path to freedom. The measure of it, is how many women you can get to embrace the belief they are being subversive when they are permitted to glorify their degradation.

Following a recent real life incident I have thrown myself into researching the world of sadomasochism. I’ve been looking at websites and blogs of BDSMers for over a week and, let me tell you, journeying the black tunnel into the minds of men has been a rough ride.

BDSM is inextricably linked to porn, so researching the “lifestyle” without being bombarded with pornography is impossible. Try conjuring up the worst scenario your brain will allow, multiply the sadism by five hundred, then picture that image magnified, displayed in a luxurious setting, photographed with clever lighting, and judged as “art”. But we’re still not even getting close  to what men do to women, because the image must then be replicated in a thousand original ways with thousands of different women, each placed in a situation more humiliating, degrading and painful than the next.

Imagine the oppressor group–men– boasting about their hatred of women without a hint of shame, bragging about the fact that they are disturbed, half-built, brittle, psycho-sexually defunct people, who must destroy women in order to stave off the feelings of impotence, which arise–I’m guessing– through being forced by fate to inhabit male bodies…

The patriarchal set-up

For certain women, why is BDSM the most intense sex they have ever experienced?

I believe this is the most important question we can ask about women’s sexuality.

Female sexuality is distorted and stunted by patriarchal societies. It is possible that today’s young woman experiences her first sexual encounter with a boy who has already watched porn, and has certain expectations of her. He may expect her to be “well-groomed” and have a repertoire of male-pleasing tricks up her sleeve.

To me, this is a mind-boggling state of affairs. When I was a teen, boys were GRATEFUL to get into your knickers. There were no PIV expectations placed upon you until about seventeen when they turned into men, by which time you had gained enough experience of your sexuality to gather a sense of what you liked.

My friends and I generally liked night-long sessions of sensual PIV-free love with an adoring partner. I thank my cultural background for allowing me the freedom to experiment alongside my close female friends, with boys of the same age whose sexuality had not yet been fully influenced by the phallic-worship of their patriarchal elders (mostly it took place at house parties when our parents were away or camping trips in the nearby forest).

When boys become men it all changes. PIV is the focus, and newly-minted men regard it as their dues.  They forget their early experiences (if they were lucky enough to have any), and begin dehumanizing women by projecting their narrow, circumscribed version of sexuality onto them. Women try to adapt. They may decide to have intercourse out of peer pressure, or curiosity about the Big Secret, having swallowed the line that there is a causal link between PIV, pleasure and womanhood.

Afterwards,  they are shocked by the anti-climax, and at just how rubbish PIV sex is vis-a-vis how dangerous it is to their female body . They think there must be something wrong with them. True, it gets better the more you practice. But perhaps the risk is only worth it for women who cannot imagine sexuality existing in any other form.

If a woman can somehow hang onto her early girlhood experiences she may remember that there is another way, and that there is something lacking about adult male sexuality, an expectation gap which cannot be filled.

But what if she forgets? Or what if her first sexual experience was intercourse? The scene is set for a lifetime of disappointments and almost-orgasms at best, and at worst, unexpected pregnancies for not much pleasure in return.

What we’re all supposed to forget that female sexuality was not originally defined by men. Patriarchal rule deploys all the weapons it can to prevent us from recollecting the fact that:

“Woman has sex organs just about everywhere. She experiences pleasure almost everywhere” [Luce Irigaray, in Greer, 1999]

“A woman is like a sponge. You pour pleasure in the top and she keeps sucking it up until it drips out the bottom, but she still absorbs more. They can never get enough. I’m very jealous of women’s ability to do that” [Joel Ryan, in Greer, 1999]

“I have come to believe…that female biology–the diffuse intense sensuality radiating out from the clitoris, breasts, uterus, vagina; the lunar cycles of menstruation; the gestation and friction of life which can take place in the female body–has far more radical implications than we have yet come to appreciate. ” Adrienne Rich, in Greer, 1999]”

The potency of female sexuality is ignored, chopped down to size, and realigned to serve men’s needs. I believe that the radical feminists of the seventies were right, when they said that the revolution will take place when this particular Pandora’s box is prized open.

Once a woman understands her body’s potential, and what sex actually is, how can she can ever again be satisfied with the half-a-glass offerings of patriarchy? It’s spells patriarchal doom. As well men know. Which is why throughout the ages they have kept strict control over female sexual expression through a reign of terror.  Severe punishments (usually death) for sexual crimes such as adultery have been meted out to women, with no corresponding punishment for men. More methodical means, such as clitoridectomies have also been very popular. This practice has  existed all over the world, including Europe and America ( in the UK, women who wanted a divorce were subjected to this procedure, which was deemed as “very successful” by the medical establishment). Women freeing themselves of patriarchal-defined sexuality is a frightening thought to men. Marriage, as we are seeing, does not survive when you can no longer convince women that sex  must be confined to its stalls. And  what on earth would happen to heterosexual women, if they came to understand that a penis was not necessary for sex?

What women claim to get out of the BDSM experience is the euphoria of transcendence. They talk of a sense of stillness and peace, of sharpened mental faculties in the days after being involved in a “scene”, an ability to think more clearly, of being better able to focus on the mundane tasks allocated to them, and of finding it easier to meet their obligations.

So what exactly are they transcending? The answer has to be daily life and “vanilla” sex. Vanilla sex is a derogative term used by BDSMers to describe the once-a-week-with-the-light-out sex that long term heterosexual couples are said to engage in. It is boring, goes the argument.

I’ve no doubt that it is.

Having coerced, obligatory PIV once a week with one Nigel is indeed very boring. This practice is not connected in any way to innate female sexuality, however, but is one of the demands patriarchy places upon women i.e. to sexually serve one man. And let’s not forget that men–as a group– are notoriously incompetent in the bedroom, which is another reason why women are prone to feigning headaches, or lying back and thinking of England.

Compared to this, BDSM does seem like an exciting alternative.

BDSM, then, is the solution patriarchy offers to women in place of the joyless, mundane, sexuality-less intercourse-posing-as-sex that women have to be “up for”  unless they want to be labelled frigid.

And what is daily life to women, except patriarchal oppression? If an endorphin high frees women up in some way to enjoy their lives….. then what does this tell us about women’s lives?

Could it be, that women’s lives are unbearable and that the outer-body experience offered by being a sub is a short-term escape? Sub women talk of the sense of being unable to move when restrained and how this feeling frees them from having to think…

It. frees. women. from. having. to. think.

Women are the busy-bees of the human race, doing all the work that makes life worth living. They’re the ones with the shopping lists in their heads, the itinery of household stock to account for, the kids’ birthday parties to organize. They are the office tea-ladies, the carers, the till staff at the supermarket check-out, the toilet cleaners, the P.As to Big Men…Women daren’t stop running on the hamster’s wheel because they’re not quite sure where they will land if they fall, but they’ve got a sneaking suspicion it will be someplace worse than they are right now. Women’s lives are constructed to be empty.

BDSM is the final solution offered by the very people who have caused the problem in the first place. Like shopping, it is a legitimized outlet for female frustration and rage.

There are even some women who participate in a slave lifestyle, which means that their male partner, often a husband, dictates every decision in their lives, including what they wear– which sounds so similar to your average conservative patriarchal marriage over the ages and across geographical space that it’s hard to tell it’s a “kinky” BDSM relationship at all! I know married women whose identities are defined by their love of cooking and cleaning. I want to tell them that it’s lucky they do love it because the shit would hit the fan if they just stopped–and that it’s only when we try to move that we begin to feel our chains.

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57 Responses to “Create the Problem, then Offer the Solution [BDSM Part I]”

  1. Wow, thanks for this post! I’m looking forward to read the next ones. There is a greatly needed resistance against BDSM. I really appreciated your reflexions on “pre-PIV girlhood sex”:

    It is possible that today’s young woman experiences her first sexual encounter with a boy who has already watched porn, and has certain expectations of her. He may expect her to be “well-groomed” and have a repertoire of male-pleasing tricks up her sleeve.

    Yup. As a younger women, or as a women born in the “porn generation” as I call it, my first sexual encounter was a painful porn-imbued PIV, and at 13. An encounter I didn’t even choose nor desire – so yes, it was rape, but I realised that only later. From then on, my entire heterosexual experience (which I have now put an end to) felt like prostitution. When I talk about these sexual -I mean, colonisation- experiences to female friends, their experiences are pretty similar, with variances of course. And they’ve all had problems, on top of all the usual patriarchy and PIV-related problems, with their “boyfriends” blackmailing them into submitting to the porn torture and humilaition practices they just masturbated on.

    As to taking pleasure in pain, enjoying humiliation and finding bondage liberating, I understand this illusion, for having felt it myself. It’s what I call PTSD sex (otherwise all forms of patriarchal sex), because it’s not real pleasure but a mechanical release of stress generated by disjunction:
    in order to release an extremely high level of anxiety/stress, the brain injects morphine and ketamine “like” which functions just like a drug that numbs the pain or even gives a sensation of pleasure – or in some cases, generates dissociation, the feeling of being outside de the body. This disjunction, while being an effective short-term survival strategy to escape immediate harm or trauma-induced stress (by unwanted PIV for instance – is PIV ever truly wanted?) has disastrous effects on the long-term, which is PTSD. Unless cured, the destructive low -> stress -> disjunction -> high circle continues. One of the many PTSD symptoms are: incapacity to think, numbness of the mind. Convenient ey?

    What I meant about PTSD sex, is that PTSD related disjunction can be induced by mechanical, even externally-imposed genital stimulation – which is basically why many women who are raped or submitted to *unwanted* PIV can still have an impression of pleasure, despite hating what happened to them. But it’s not real pleasure, as the sense of violation, disgust, humiliation, invasion, colonisation, still permeate and destroy the mind/soul/body. However, as the disjunction functions like a drug, it can then become addictive, both for the victims and the perpetrators (although the destruction of course is aimed at the victims and responsibility is entirely held by the perpetrator). BDSM and Porn, because of their high level of violence and trauma-induced stress, both rely on this stress-related genital stimulation, disjunction and PTSD. The higher the level of violence, the stronger the disjunction. This why, compared to the dreary boring once-a-week thinking of England sexual corvée, BDSM gives the impression of being exciting. It’s actually at the summit of colonisation.

    Apparently, non PTSD sex, rather than feeling like a sudden urge or discharge (of stress) in the genital area, feels like a constant diffuse feeling all around which is then very slow to go down, and can only exist in a context of mutual affection/respect/love. I wish, anyway, it’s something I’ve never experienced so far.

    I’m really sorry for such a long comment, I wish I could have said it more shortly.

  2. Ah, by the way, there’s also these articles that criticise BDSM which are really interesting (sorry if you already know them):

    Ten lies about sadomasochism, by Melissa Farley
    Sadomasochism: Not about condemnation. An interview with Audre Lorde
    Sadomasochism and the social construction of desire, by Karen Rian
    Sadomasochism and the liberal tradition, by Hilde Hein
    Women as victims, The story of O, by Andrea Dworkin

  3. “One of the many PTSD symptoms are: incapacity to think, numbness of the mind. Convenient ey?”

    OMG, yes. Very convenient indeed. INstant lobotomy!

    No, I hadn’t heard of those articles. Will check them out, thanks.

    *ETA, thanks very much for injecting some brain science into the comments, witchwind. Very interesting.

  4. the part about women being able to focus their minds afterwards and “fulfill their obligations” was chilling. and yes, anything besides coercive, mandatory PIV would seem grand by comparison, but its a very low bar isnt it? tellingly, we dont exactly see PIV as an institution going anywhere anytime soon, so theres that as well. in fact, if PIV as institution (which includes rape) were to go away completely, i might even support het-BSDM taking its place….with women beating the crap out of men obvs. no more trauma-bonding for women, no way. i dont care what they call it or how they get there, trauma-bonding women to men is not subversive.

  5. Excellent deconsruction and analysis, cherryblossomlife. I look forward to the next part.

  6. So wonderfully written, Cherry. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, besides BDSM, the most “intense” sexual act a woman is likely to experience is rape. ‘PTSD sex’ is a great term for it, witchwind.

    “BDSM, then, is the solution patriarchy offers to women in place of the joyless, mundane, sexuality-less intercourse-posing-as-sex that women have to be “up for”  unless they want to be labelled frigid.”

    Yes! That is an excellent observation. Patriarchy knows very well how to evolve to suit new conditions. It’s just a superficial reworking of a practice that ends up having the same effects.

    On one of my first blog posts on BDSM, I got a long comment from a woman who is in the ‘slave lifestyle’, as the slave of course. Her husband is her ‘master’ 24/7. The way she talked about him… it still terrifies me how much it sounded precisely like a woman in denial about needing to leave her abusive husband. Even with the stuff about how it’s how he shows her he loves her. It’s sick.

  7. Cherryblossom, let me know if you don’t find the articles, I have them in word docs

  8. Excellent analysis, Cherry, and I’m looking forward to parts 2 and 3. It’s horrible to think though that the inspiration for it had to be what it was 😦 That was a terrible thing to have happen and I hope that your writing about it is helping you to work through it. ❤

    And, yes "PTSD sex" is quite descriptive. Thanks for that witchwind.

  9. I think the book Justine, should be enough to convince any sane womon that BDSM is just another form of male oppression sold to womon as an exciting alternative to PIV…they are both the same crap as far as I am concerned….
    In truth womon have not even as a community begun to define their’own’ sexuality…to do this womon have to seperate from the male species and de-programme themselves from all the sexist/gender biased junk they have been fed all their lives from day one, before they can even begin the work of finding out, what does it mean to be me’..the damage done to girls and womon from their inception is like having had a vast sunami come crashing over us in which ourselves are totally washed away before we have even begun to ‘know who we are’ ….and to escape this process we need to revolt , escape and regroup and change the masculine patriarchal dynamic that asserts it has the authority to define us to ourselves……

  10. Sorry, forgot to mention big thank you Cherry wicked post

  11. womon have to seperate from the male species and de-programme themselves from all the sexist/gender biased junk they have been fed all their lives from day one, before they can even begin the work of finding out, what does it mean to be me’..the damage done to girls and womon from their inception is like having had a vast sunami come crashing over us in which ourselves are totally washed away before we have even begun to ‘know who we are’

    yes! well said ybawife. i have heard others say that this de-progamming is possible, but so far i have yet to accomplish it. when you get off the PIV pony you do realize that there is nothing left, where you used to have sexuality (from girlhood) there is literally nothing. in my experience, theres not even a smoking crater where it used to be, at least that would be something! i was lucky to have had pre-PIV experiences as well, so i can remember what it used to be like, and what is (was?) possible. early-onset PIV (including rape) is the ultimate colonization, the ultimate male-identifying of women so that we see and experience life form their perspective and not ours. its very effective grooming of women into PIV-centrism and a patriarchal existence, where we exist to validate mens experience of life, including their experiences of us as something to ejaculate into. this is not “sex.”

  12. Good article.

    This really resonated with me, “It. frees. women. from. having. to. think.” Oh yes, I am chronically mentally fatigued from having to do 90% of the thinking about mundane things. Who wouldn’t dream of having somebody else take charge??

    LOL, never mind sex, just somebody else to decide what’s for dinner and if the power bill got paid and if people are going to have clean socks next week and how somebody is going to get to soccer practice and if there is toilet paper on the roll…..

  13. I’m someone who actually has PTSD, and it isn’t anything like “an instant lobotomy.” It doesn’t make one slow, or stupid, or cattle-like, or in any ways deficient. In my experience at least, it heightened my mental and physical reactions until it burnt me out like a lightbulb.

    It’s like having a panic attack 24/7/365. Your body adjusts to the constant panic attack and accepts its static hum as background noise; worn down from this ceaseless background noise, your brain moves into slow motion, but the animal parts of you are still hyper-aware. You may feel as though thinking is ten times harder, but it’s because your system is devoting itself to being on guard all the time.
    No, I don’t know the science behind it, but it probably has to do with adrenaline, and the effects of one’s system undergoing a constant adrenaline bath.

    And yes, I got my PTSD from rape and familial abuse.

  14. ” it heightened my mental and physical reactions until it burnt me out like a lightbulb.”

    This is my experience of it right now too. Hyper-awareness, of men, in general. Feeling like prey. As I mentioned on my Cherryblossom thread, I was sitting in a coffee shop the other day and just felt all these men were looking at me, whereas I’d never had that feeling before. And I was looking around and they just seemed like alien creatures to me: their skin, their hair, their mannerisms all seemed so out of place and random, compared to the women in the viscinity who just looked like normal human beings.

  15. “Women’s lives are constructed to be empty.”

    Empty of each other! We are told sex is going to be a big moment in our lives, some kind of ultimate fulfilment! When we will be loved, have power through our desirability, share the intimacy patriarchy denies us with our mothers, our children and each other. It is like being told you have a million pounds in the bank; for years you will be making the wrong decisions based on the idea your birthright money is waiting to be released to you, on some unspecified but very special day. When you find this reward never existed; but the fiction of it has been used to manipulate you into servitude, you enter a kind of grief. You can’t let go, and culture does everything it can to persuade you not to give up the hope that there is a million quid waiting for you in some other account, out there somewhere!

    I don’t think sex is of huge importance, except as an expression of affection and mating choice. But it is very dangerous! Not just from a pregnancy and disease point of view; if you ad BDSM into the picture, it literally damages your nervous system, sometimes beyond repair.

    We go toward that which we most fear, because fear is chemical and the chemicals released for fight or flight, whilst very useful for getting us out of temporary scrapes, are corrosive to our neurones, if maintained for any length of time. This is why denial is so useful, it switches off fear, even while the cause for fear remains, thus helping to preserve our brain mechanisms from being chemically damaged and saving, at least parts of our sanity. In the end the sting of the whip is easier to endure, in damaged systems, than the fear of the whip.

    BDSM is moronic, repetitious, automated, socially sanctioned sex. It would be very tedious, if it were not so cruel, that is why the cruelty aspect continually requires amplification.

    I would never willingly have sex with men again, but if it could not be avoided, give me the vanilla, roll on roll of sex, with plenty of contraception, any day. Damage limitation people!

    Thanks Cherry for an excellent post.

  16. I know married women whose identities are defined by their love of cooking and cleaning.

    Yep, compared to the misogynist sex you are describing, it is the pinacle of joy in het married life 😉 Plus there’s another bonus feature: “Sorry honey, I’m too tired. I spent the day cooking and cleaning. For you.”

    Seriously, this is a great post. I do think that sex with another woman (especially for those women in the pre-porn-infected era) can be very different, a way of communicating love, bonding in a non-driven way, intimacy, and especially a reverence for female physical being, which often serves to heal some of the damage done by misogyny. I think that there was a reason that some previous feminists advocated claiming the lesbian identity. I have known women who claim lesbian identity and live with partners, yet do not engage in genital sex. They may do a lot of physical love-making in other ways. Humans need touch, but in a misogynist culture, that touch is trauma-inducing, even with that “exceptional man” all women search for.

    Lesbian identity. With or without genital sex. That was a previous generation’s idea of subversive sex. Yet, even saying this, a lesbian feminist will be accused of “recruiting for a lifestyle.”

    It was, in fact, subversive. Not subservient, like BDSM.

  17. Oops, I meant “that ‘exceptional man’ all het women search for.” At the beginning, anyway. Big difference.

  18. Thanks, Cherry, this goes deep to the roots of the reality.

    It’s all a con. It’s a con, and we can go a long way by stopping being gullible and romanticizing it. It isn’t fun, edgy, hip, and it won’t finally cause the Vulcan mind-meld we are taught to want — it’s a con.

  19. In 2006 I published an article about the torture of lesbians. Some of the writing of this article focuses on BDSM and the justification of it. You can find it here: Ancient Hatred and Its Contemporary Manifestations: The Torture of Lesbians. The Journal of Hate Studies. Vol. 4. 33-58. Online at http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/againsthate/Journal4/04AncientHatred.pdf

    I’ve recently added to that article in the piece I wrote for Big Porn Inc (just published this week in Australia) in which I also discuss the crossover between lynching and porn, rape and torture. BDSM comes into this is a big way because so much of what counts for porn these days comes from the BDSM scene.

    Part of the reason for writing about BDSM is the academic reification within queer studies – and other places as well – of BDSM as justifiable and cool practices. BDSM has acted as a grooming mechanism for gonzo porn. It helps to get (especially) young women thinking that this is the way to go.

    De Clarke also has a great essay in Not for Sale edited by Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant.

    Thanks for this insightful piece. I look forward to reading all three of your articles.

  20. This was just the post I needed to read, Cherry! I get so triggered and upset sometimes, thinking I deserve to experience the very worst. After all, if other women have been through so much worse than me, why not me as well? But reading this post helped me put things into perspective, at least for the moment.

    “It is possible that today’s young woman experiences her first sexual encounter with a boy who has already watched porn, and has certain expectations of her.”

    Uhh, Yeah!!! If a girl/woman today has a sexual encounter with virtually any man, he is likely consumed massive amounts of porn–especially if he is relatively young. It’s what guys do for “fun”; sit around and talk about those “bitches” in porn.

    I can also relate to being hyper-aware around men. I see women who are so relaxed around men, and I want to ask them how they can be that way. Not because I’m jealous, but because they’re so naive. It’s fucking obvious that the men you’re with have no respect for you, I want to shout, but of course, they don’t want to hear.

    Women are the only group that’s supposed to love, and hell, ENTERTAIN our oppressors.

  21. Love, entertain and GIVE BIRTH to them!

    ETA* I’m glad you’re all liking this post. By the time I’D finished writing it I wasn’T sure if it was just rambling solipcism, but it looks like people here are getting something out of it, so I’m really pleased.

  22. I have met some women who dress like Artemis – leather vests, straps, neat, athletic, aware. They are not available yet beautiful. They are het or maybe not – it isn’t important. I was dreading a meeting with a male art dealer tomorrow. I dread his predation but I have to get my pictures back. Then I thought, it’s all right, just be yourself. What a concept! Just show up with zero response to the predatory behavior. Let him be dumbfounded and decide I’m too weird to mess with. Or…tell him. I respect your wife, you prick. Fuck off. Give me my stuff and have a good life pushing your semi-naked paintings of women by New York juvenile asses. That’s kulchah. Another area of life that needs a nuclear bomb to clean up the crap. The art scene was covered by Solanis. It hasn’t changed. The BDSM paintings/photos are just a sick machine that rolls along in the background. Let’s laugh it out of existence.

  23. The problem is, these men catch women unawares. Then what happens is the woman replays the scene differently in her memory. In her *memory*, she wanted it. At least, that is what happened to me, when I was wondering why I was obsessively re-enacting what took place in my head. Never crossed my mind for a minute that the man had wilfully harmed me. I thought I was obsessed with him because I was in love!! Can you imagine! I contacted a radfem friend who replied to me saying that, no, what I described was not normal at all. As far from normal as it ever could be. Then the penny dropped.

    The essay of a woman named “Polly” is apparently well-known among BDSM bloggers. It’s quite lengthy and she’s gushing about BDSM. FEminsim is mentioned quite a lot. It’s only when you get near the end that if you read between the lines, it sounds like she’s recreating a scene differently in her memory.

    Here’s the extract that had alarm bells ringing for me:

    “I did nothing more about my fantasies till six years later, when, at the age of 23, I tried to spice up a five-year relationship by telling my boyfriend incidents from Story of O while straddling him during our lovemaking. He became so turned on by my stories that, to my great delight, he surprised me one day by tying my arms to a hook in our dorm-room ceiling. He then beat the living daylights out of me with a switch he had cut outdoors, degraded me, and attempted anal sex with me. This first genuine experience with forced submission thrilled me to my core, but the next morning, when my boyfriend saw the bruises on my hips and buttocks, he was absolutely appalled. His guilt at having caused these marks to appear on his lover’s flesh prevented him from ever doing anything that “sick” with me again, despite my assertions that I had loved it.”

    http://www.takeninhand.com/node/604

  24. great post CBL

  25. cherryblossomlife …

    I read the extract you posted and even between the lines, I couldn’t discern anything to set any alarm bells ringing.

    Maybe you’re projecting?

  26. Yes it could be that I’m projecting.

    Or

    it could have been the bit about him taking her by surprise and “beating the living daylights” out of her in a pre-medidated way (and we know he pre-planned it from his preparation of the “switch” , but that he hadn’t actually discussed it with her beforehand at all)

  27. linda, your comments are going into spam for some reason! sorry bout that.

  28. For anyone here who hasn’t read this yet, I highly recommend it:

    http://archiveofthebitingbeaver.wordpress.com/2008/04/20/sm-story/

    ***
    And, Daisy 24, try reading it in it’s entirety at the link provided. I’d be interested to hear what you think about the excerpt then.

  29. thanks Sar, will have a read of it.

    the most shocking thing about that other article is that she refers to radfems as “mainstream feminists” 😯

    I wish we *could* get an enormous public and academic platform like the “third-wave” pro BDSM, sex positivist feminists have manged to, complete with lots of support from men.

    ETA: not that we would *accept* any support from men 🙂

  30. “if you ad BDSM into the picture, it literally damages your nervous system, sometimes beyond repair.
    We go toward that which we most fear, because fear is chemical and the chemicals released for fight or flight, whilst very useful for getting us out of temporary scrapes, are corrosive to our neurones, if maintained for any length of time. This is why denial is so useful, it switches off fear, even while the cause for fear remains, thus helping to preserve our brain mechanisms from being chemically damaged and saving, at least parts of our sanity. In the end the sting of the whip is easier to endure, in damaged systems, than the fear of the whip.”

    Thanks for adding that Zeph!

    BDSM is the constant reenactment of the total and complete surrender of women to men. It is used by men to crush any remaining insubordination, resistance and life in women. It’s plainly institutionalised torture against women. All the techniques used are inspired by the tortures from the Nazi camps, and the types of tortures used in Algeria war (which then served as model for the wars/dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Iraq & Afghanistan) = torture around genital areas, rape /and or sexualised humiliation, deprivation of sleap, forced to avow, electrocution (in BDSM they do that around the nipples and genital areas especially), etc etc. Incidentally, those are also the techniques Pavlov used to “tame” his dog. Anyway, I wonder what sort of oppression and torture is NOT included in BDSM. Every reference to slavery, genocide, war, genital mutilation, bondage, torture of animals, witch hunt & inquisition is included.

    By the way Cherryblossom, I was hesitating about mentioning it but I thought i might: I’d be very careful about quoting luce Irigaray. Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Marcela Iacub, all three often known as embodying “French Feminism” (this is a dirty Lie) are in fact post-modern/poststructuralist Lacanian misogynists and violence against women negationists. They are poison to the feminist movement in France. For instance, regarding the latest DSK rape case, they all defended DSk on the grounds of sexual freedom and female masochism. When Irigaray says that women have vaginas all over the body, in the context of her writing she is actually reinforcing the patriarchal eroticisation/objectification of women’s entire body, and the trope that women are giant vaginas and orgasm machines. She is part of those who worked to spread “orgasm politics” at the expense of feminism (See Jeffreys: how orgasm politics hijacked the women’s movement).

    French feminism is more correctly represented by Colette Guillaumin, Michèle Causse, Christine Delphy, Paola Tabet (she’s italian but participated in the MLF and wrote in French), Monique Wittig, Claire Michard, and a few others.

  31. no don’t hesitate to write your thoughts witchwind!
    I lifted those quotes from Greer’s The Whole Woman, so I read them in a radical feminist context, but it’s always good to learn more about the background.

  32. Sar, that was a very moving article from a brave, insightful woman:(

    Susan, that PDF was also very moving. very hard to get through. There is clearly no line dividing BDSM, porn and torture is there

    Witchwind, I’m reading Andrea’s article now

  33. Just read the pingback at scumorama; about women in BDSM feeling they can negotiate more, this is their indoctrination at work, I think; because women negotiate the hell out of vanilla sex too, why wouldn’t they? Plus you have no hope of negotiating the degradation out of BDSM because that is what it is made of!

    Plenty of wives/girlfriends who do BDSM end up murdered, as of course do women who only put up with vanilla. Two women are murdered every week in the UK by their partners; in fact their partners are the people most likely to kill them! Women, think about that as you say I do. Safe words and negotiations don’t work!

  34. So what about lesbians who engage in BDSM play? Are they simply re-enacting the patriarchal power structure? I know some very women-loving women (and I don’t mean that in a sexual way) who are into BDSM, and it really makes me uncomfortable. After I learn that, I feel like I have to compartmentalize THAT from THEM. (Sorry if this is just rehashing the sex wars, but…I wasn’t around for that!)

  35. Hi Amynomene, as far as I understand it, the Radfem critique of BDSM extends to lesbians. BUt–and this is just my personal opinion from the limited amount I’ve read on the subject–lesbian BDSM is not quite as dangerous and damaging because 1) it doesn’t bond you to the oppressor class and 2) because they are both women, lesbians are not re-enacting the power dynamic that exists in society,

  36. Lesbians engaging in BDSM is the same thing as lesbians going transexual, or lesbians doing prostitution or pornography – reproduction and internalisation of the dominant patriarchal model, belief that nothing exists outside, etc. It’s patriarchy pure and simple, and should be condemned in the same way we condemn female infaticide, female genital mutilation (etc) which are mostly enacted by women, but coerced and socially organised by men and at the sole benefit of men (for economic, political, fraternal and reproductive purposes). Women torturing themselves? Who does that benefit? Men & Patriarchy!

    I have no experience of lesbian sexual violence but rather than saying that it’s less damaging (I dont know, but I would imagine it could be offensive to those who suffer from it) is that violence between women does not structurally benefit the women who’s doing the violence – it still benefits all men, whichever sex does the violence. I don’t see any difference between women ostracising each other, re-enacting the women-hatred on each other, whether lesbian or not (in all forms – from insults to torture & mutilation or death) and lesbians engaging in bdsm. How is doing BDSM, the essence of patriarchal torture, not re-enacting the power dynamic that exists in society?

  37. “violence between women does not structurally benefit the women who’s doing the violence – it still benefits all men”

    I think this is what I was trying to say, albeit not very articulately.
    Yes I agree with everything you’ve said witchwind.
    I am new to learning about BDSM, so for me, it’s good to get the conversation going, and to learn.

    Where I grew up het teenage girls used to beat up other het teens who stepped onto their “turf”. Ridiculous behaviour. And it absolutely benefited men because the girls’ actions were dictated by their sense of needing to compete with other women. It perpetuated patriarchy. Where girls should have been bonding (and beating up men!) they were fighting. Same dynamic at play I suppose.

    ETA** I just have trouble imagining women carrying out evil, misogynistic, sadistic acts equal to men’s, which I suppose is another reason why I made the above comment of lesbian BDSM being “not as damaging”.

  38. Thanks for the replies. Yeah, I’d have to disagree that lesbians aren’t re-enacting the power structure… I mean, growing up in patriarchy, how can we even HAVE any other power structure models to re-enact? (It’s like when women say they wear high heels because THEY think they’re sexy. It’s like, well, you’ve never had anyone model or even SUGGEST anything different to you, so of course that’s what you think.) It’s pretty easy to see why BDSM lesbians would try to “reclaim” it for themselves – it must *seem* rebellious and subversive from the inside. A large part of what makes me so uncomfortable when I hear about lesbians engaging in the practice is the knowledge that such an insanely high percentage of lesbians have sex trauma in their past. Even if they say it’s not because of that….how could it not be? Just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    I’m not out to condemn anyone – but I do not have to swallow the line that “it’s just sex” either.

  39. CBL and Amynomene, you might be interested in Against Sadomasochism, which is one of the few books out there critiquing lesbian sadomasochism specifically. It came out in the eighties; iirc, Diana Russell is one of the editors. Some of the references are dated, of course; in other ways, however, it might be even more relevant now than when it was published, as an entire generation of lesbians has now grown up with sadomasochism being considered mainstream.

    There’s one essay in particular that seems particularly relevant to this thread; unfortunately, I can’t remember the author’s name off the top of my head. At any rate, she makes the excellent point — one that does not get made often enough — that significant power differences exist between lesbians, too. Economic differences, class differences, age differences, differences in education, power differences based on race. All of these have the potential to make the psychological harm done in a sadomasochistic relationship exponentially worse.

    Lesbian sadomasochistic relationships may not bond women to men as a class, but they bond one woman to another woman who needs her to accept pain and degradation for her amusement — and at a deeper level, as a scapegoat. The sadist gets to forget for a while the role the world has assigned to her as a woman — she can be the one inflicting the abuse instead of taking it. In some cases, those relationships also bond one woman to another woman who holds her in contempt because of her socioeconomic status, race, disability, or some other stigmatized involuntary characteristic.

    That didn’t get talked about much when that book was published, and I don’t think it gets talked about much today, either, outside these blogs. Hip, queer, sex-positive types — especially the more sheltered ones — want to believe that sadomasochistic sex acts are, like, a totally transgressive way of dismantling kyriarchal power structures by dis-reifying them (okay, I made dis-reifying up, but they really say things like this.) Lesbians in general tend to engage in a certain amount of wishful thinking about the absence of classism, racism, and yes, misogyny in the lesbian world. Among the sadomasochist crowd, the denial gets particularly intense, because they think that as long as they display the approved progressive virtues, they can scream bloody blue murder the second anyone tries to suggest that their sexual practices might just be…immoral. “But the women’s leather community is totally non-racist, non-ablist, non-classist, non-anythingist and besides, we raise a lot of funds for breast cancer research. How dare you judge me for carving my astrological sign on my girlfriend’s ass while calling her a dirty little cumrag, she totally consented to that!” Try and suggest that consent isn’t always as meaningful as it’s cracked up to be, or that consent might not even be the benchmark for what’s okay, and count the seconds until someone compares you to Hitler.

  40. Thanks for that recommendation Loup-Loup

  41. “Hip, queer, sex-positive types — especially the more sheltered ones — want to believe that sadomasochistic sex acts are, like, a totally transgressive way of dismantling kyriarchal power structures by dis-reifying them”
    Someone’s been hanging around Feministing too much…. 😉

    “Try and suggest that consent isn’t always as meaningful as it’s cracked up to be, or that consent might not even be the benchmark for what’s okay, and count the seconds until someone compares you to Hitler.”
    Yes, yet another leg on the face-sucking octopus that is “I choose my choice!” feminism.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Loup-Loup and looking forward to parts 2 and 3, CBL

  42. I enjoyed all the points made and want to add, perhaps somewhat redundantly, that seeking out abuse after you’ve had an abusive experience is kind of compulsive and in my opinion totally a part of PTSD. Maybe sex shouldn’t be intense. Maybe it should be fucking tranquil.

  43. LOL Sonia! Maybe you’re right.
    ACtually, seeking out abuse after experiencing abuse is the next topic.

  44. Excellent post, Cherry. Well-written too. Your analysis is spot on regarding hetero womyn involved in BDSM. It provides them with a ‘release’ that is NOT the real thing. The real thing would be PIV-free, female-centred sexuality…

    There are women who have left the BDSM “lifestyle”. I wrote a short story about it once. As I’ve said before: All around the world, society protects men. Men have created a bullshit world that gives them power over all females, to some extent, sometimes through abuse, other times through brainwashing. BDSM, for instance, is not a “biological” thing as its defenders would believe. It is merely a symptom of a male-supremacist society in which almost only male values of sexuality have been made accessible.

    It becomes most troubling when lesbians perform BDSM on each other. However, all that lesbian BDSMers do (according to them) is “playfully” re-enacting the torture that goes on in society. Many of them think it can make them feel better, i.e. it’s a very destructive psychology because they see it as dealing with torture and abuse “safely” through symbols of torture and abuse. In fact, they’re being kept brainwashed and asleep is what happens. They will never truly be lesbian revolutionaries as long as they’re into BDSM… But what lesbian BDSMers do is also reflecting structures of abuse that are already present in society.

    I agree with the concept of @PTSD sex’. Kudos to Witchwind.

    Against Sadomasochism is a great book. Another excellent book against lesbian BDSM is Unleashing Feminism: Critiquing Lesbian Sadomasochism in the Gay Nineties. Those books are still compelling today. Other anti-BDSM articles can be found here:

    http://www.feminist-reprise.org/index.html#sm

  45. Thanks Cherry. I’m just working out some stuff that happened to me and being able to make the link to BDSM stuff is really helpful. He was a porn using arse who liked to push me further and further down the BDSM road. Only I didn’t know that, I was too young FFS. And 15 years on I still find I re-enact it. Until the other day I didn’t realise it was anything part of something wider, rather than just something from me to deal with personally. So this this has really helped. Looking forward to your next installment.

  46. I’m so glad some of this has helped, workingStuffout

    and yes, one of the tricks of the patriarchal trade is to get women to believe their experiences are isolated incidences. A bit off topic, but all the married women out there, for example, believe that *other* married women have a great guy, but they themselves, through some fault of their own, didn’t manage to snare one of the “good” ones. When in fact, most marriages are shit (for the women) and nobody is talking about it.

  47. I used to be involved in evangelical christianity, and one of the things that strikes me reading those master/slave blogs (I mean the blogs of them women) is that the relationship to their master is SO like the relationship Xtians describe to god.
    Ie god gives and god takes away. God will never test you beyond what you can endure, and he puts you through painful situations because he knows what’s best for you. You have to ask god for the most basic necessities and you have to express gratitude when he provides. Anything that goes wrong is your failing, anything that goes right, god gets all the glory. If god seems to have abandoned you or seems to be treating you cruelly, it’s not really abandonment, it’s a test of faith, at the end of which you will come out stronger. God loves you. You must always believe in god’s love even if he appears to have abandoned you or appears to be treating you cruelly, because you have to show faith.
    (Dworkin makes a similar connection all the way through the book Mercy.)
    But it seems to me that for christians this is simply a way of conducting a relationship with an absence, with a being that is not really there. It’s how to survive a relationship in which you are in submission to a being more powerful than you. And it’s how to keep believing in a loving relationship which doesn’t really exist. It seems like it’s the same thing for the slave in BDSM. A way to keep believing in a loving relationship that does not in fact exist.

  48. Hi rudegirl, That was a brilliant point, thanks.
    Also, funnily enough, there seem to be a lot of Xtians on that Taken in Hand website.
    Brrr.

  49. Cherry, yes, the hyperawareness around men. I try not to give the bastards any of my energy, but I can’t seem to help but notice each and every one of them that walks past me or is near me. I don’t look at their faces, because I don’t want to, but I am always entirely aware of where I am in relation to any given male person at all times.
    It makes sense, because we have to know where they are in case one of them says something or tries something. At least in my experience, it’s about 100% likely that at least one of them will do something: from suddenly trying to touch me (or worse), to making a comment/shouting out of a car window/etc., to just plain looking at me up and down with that disgusting sneer in order to remind me that I’m meat. I’m sure my experience is not unique.

    Also, I often have a problem wording my comments, and I didn’t mean to imply that nobody else here has PTSD. In fact, I think all women do, at least to some degree!
    There is, however, a huge stigma surrounding it, even among radical feminists. A lot of women can describe PTSD symptoms as if from a book, and then talk about it, but they seem to have misconceptions about it: such that, it means one is “crazy”, unstable, dangerous, irrational, etc. (Often these women exhibit symptoms of it themselves, and seem not to notice.) This only serves to further alienate us from ourselves and other women — our potential allies. I blame the psycho-medical industry.

  50. whoa, what a completely fantastic and much needed series! Thank you so much, Cherry! Been thinking around and around other issues pertaining to women’s enslavement to men, ranging from the now-obvious issues of p-i-v as FCM has analyzed so well, to het feminists inappropriate amounts of patience with perpetually sexist men — and again and again the fundamental factor comes back to sado-masochism.

    But perhaps the risk is only worth it for women who cannot imagine sexuality existing in any other form.

    You are describing a cult mentality. And please notice how most cults exist in isolation from an “outside” world, and in that outside world live people who have nothing to do with the cult. So those on the inside have an awareness that there is an “inside the cult” space and also an “outside the cult” space — which thus results in the mind-expanding knowledge that both of those spaces subscribe to very different philosophical beliefs. But on our planet, there is nothing “outside” the cult of sado-masochism which could offer an alternative perspective because the cult comprises absolutely everything.

    Which is why the only difference, when contemplating the sado-masochistic tendencies between het feminists and funfems and bondage queers, is a matter of DEGREE. Their filter through which they view the world (and how they justify what men do to them) is all on the same spectrum. yes it is. All that male centric crap which het women think is so CUTE!! and FAIR!! and BALANCED!! All those dumb excuses for their asshole of a boyfriend’s behavior, all that patience for an abusing class who never stops abusing — it’s all just sado-masochism lite.

    FCM@2:41 Yes, to everything you said! 🙂 Except, somehow, magically, a few of us do manage to step outside the cult from time to time, and from this perspective we can see that a cult exists. And to see that a cult exists is really the first step to freedom.

  51. thanks mAndrea 🙂 I’m glad this “series” panned out well.

  52. This needs a link to Part II. 🙂

  53. check the trackbacks at the end of the comments, or search by author on the front page for now. thanks

  54. your “points” have been debunked in the posts.
    Next time please read/

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