“Feminist” Backlash Against BDSM: A FemDom defends the eroticization of male domination

October 22, 2013

National Leather Association–International
Cynthia Slater Non-fiction Article Award Finalist
This post originally appeared October 15, 2013 on Female First.

While I do not believe 50 Shades of Grey has any redeeming qualities, I frequently find myself defending some of its concepts against the so-called “feminist” backlash.

Self-identified “feminists” (SIFs) object to statements such as “freedom is slavery,” “submissiveness is empowering,” and “BDSM erotica is feminist,” claiming they are “lies that patriarchal culture has served up for women.”

Since they shut down any comments defending those statements — but continue to promote them — I find it necessary to take the conversation to a forum that is more open to both sides of the discussion.

The first flaw in the SIFs argument is that BDSM is only about male domination and female submission. I am a FemDom (female dominant). I own a male submissive and have owned a male slave. I have never submitted (and never will) to any male.

I’m not unique. BDSM offers alternatives to women who refuse to accept patriarchal hierarchy in their lives or their relationships. In reality, BDSM relationships span the gender combinations, including (but hardly limited to) Male/male; Male/female; Female/male; and Female/female.

For some, slavery is freedom. It’s freedom from decision making, freedom from responsibility. Submissiveness can be empowering for those who choose to submit and who submit to a dominant who respects and honours their submission.

BDSM and BDSM erotica absolutely are feminist. Feminism is the fight for equality — to not allow gender to limit one’s opportunities. BDSM (and the erotica written by those who actually understand it) is about choice — about selecting your role based on your desire not your genitals.

Some women prefer to submit only in the bedroom. Some choose to submit for all aspects of their relationships. Some women submit to other women. And some women accept the submission of men (or women) and assume the dominant role in their relationships.

Feminism means not being forced to accept a role because of your gender. BDSM is about not being forced to accept a role (or even a gender) based on what’s between your legs.

50 Shades of Grey is not about BDSM. Christian Grey is not a dominant. He is, like Twilight’s Edward on whom he’s modelled, an abusive stalker. According to the Chicago Tribune, “psychologists at Michigan State University and Ohio State University concluded that its characters’ behaviours are consistent with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s official definition of intimate partner violence — and that the book perpetuates dangerous abuse patterns.”

In the series, BDSM is portrayed as what’s wrong with Grey. It’s written by someone who has never participated in BDSM, never done any research, has absolutely no knowledge of BDSM beyond her own personal fantasies.

There are myriad books — fiction and non — that get BDSM right, some written by practitioners, some by those who take the time to do thorough research. But, the media — and the SIFs — focus on the material that feeds their prejudices and stereotypes.

For many, male domination can be extremely erotic, even if they only choose to explore that eroticism between the pages of a book. However, many prefer female domination. I write about both, but, my stories — and those of other responsible authors — always make it clear that consent is required; that abuse is not BDSM.

In fact, BDSM practices do not, as SIFs would have you believe, “actively oppress women.” Mainstream media’s reporting of BDSM actively oppresses women. Ninety-nine percent of the time an article about BDSM is illustrated by a photograph of a scantily clad woman in bondage. But probably as many men enjoy bondage as women. And, many men prefer to submit in the bedroom and in their relationships.

More than anything else, BDSM is about consent, a term missing from patriarchy. Those who submit, consent to their submission at whatever level they choose to submit and can walk away anytime the relationship is not meeting their needs. Anything else is abuse (including, and especially, the relationship in the 50 Shades series).

As the Tribune article states: “In consensual BDSM relationships, partners take negotiations seriously and respect each others’ boundaries.”

Every description of BDSM relationships that delineates the options we have includes the word consensual. (SSC: Safe, Sane Consensual; RACK: Risk Aware Consensual Kink; or even PRICK: Personal Responsibility, Informed Consensual Kink.) However you define us, you cannot deny that we take responsibility for obtaining consent.

BDSM provides more relationship dynamic options than anything you’ll find in the “vanilla world.” And, because BDSM requires much more communication about sex, sexuality, consent, etc., BDSM relationships are more intimate, more intense, and more openly honest than any other form of relationship.

Are there abusers who use BDSM to mask their abuse (àla Christian Grey)? Yes. But they are abusers. They need to be prosecuted for their abuse. For those of us who practice responsible, consensual BDSM, abuse is not part of the picture.

Exploring rather than repressing sexuality, allowing people to have choices that are not dependent on their genitals, giving people the freedom to make their own decisions about how their relationships are structured rather than dictating — whether from a feminist or patriarchal perspective — what their relationship dynamics look like, is transgressive. And it is feminist.


What Some Women Tops and Bottoms Have in Common

October 14, 2013

National Leather Association–International
Cynthia Slater Non-fiction Article Award

This post originally appeared October 12, 2013 on BDSM Book Reviews.

Included in Chapter Four of Connecting to Kink

Power dynamics have interesting implications. What some Doms do to control; others require their submissive to perform as a service.

When I had a convertible, I always drove my own car. I enjoyed the turbo charged engine and its ability to take curves at high speeds. I never let anyone else behind the wheel of that car, and my submissive rode with me as a passenger. But, when I traded my sports car in on a sedate sedan, the dynamic changed. Driving became boring, so now my submissive chauffeurs me. It’s another way he serves me.

This implication can often be seen in D/s sexual interactions. When it comes to sex, women tops and bottoms often have something in common, besides the obvious. Although the context differs depending on their position in the D/s dynamic, many women abdicate the responsibility for their pleasure to their partners.

In some M/f relationships I’ve observed, the male puts a fair amount of effort into his submissive’s orgasms, whether it’s devising diabolical rape scenes or training her to come on voice command.

At the other end of the dynamic, some FemDoms expect their submissives to serve them by providing them with sexual pleasure — whether it’s fetish-related such as foot worship or actual intercourse, often of the oral variety.

In either dynamic, the genitalia of the submissive may be considered owned by the Dominant. But, attitudes toward their possessions differ greatly.

In both cases, Dominants might enjoy tormenting their toys’ sexual equipment. But, the male Dom may take pleasure in forcing his girl to come over and over again until she can’t breathe while the FemDom asserts control by prohibiting her boy from having an orgasm.

This dichotomy is especially observable in chastity devices. The male apparatus prevents him from having an erection and therefore, in most cases, an orgasm. The female restraint only obstructs penetration.

Now both top and bottom females may be very explicit about what they want, what arouses them, and what they find distasteful. And, of course the turn ons and offs are likely to be diametric opposites. But, even if they’re very explicit about their likes and dislikes, many women prefer giving their partner control over whether or not, and how often, they come.

Personally, I can’t comprehend why any woman would surrender her sexual pleasure to another, even if it’s someone who works hard to satisfy her. I wonder if women do so because society considers female sexuality subservient to male’s. Or are women hesitant to take control of their sexual pleasure because society dictates negative connotations for women who enjoy sex?

Who takes responsibility for female orgasms in your relationship and how does that impact your D/s dynamic?