Right, so I’m taking this as an opportunity to clear things up about my very controversial meme My BDSM will be feminist or it will be bullshit. Please note that, while I am willing to clear this up, I will not be following up on the backlash (if any). My spoons are extremely low right now as I am dealing with many things, including mental illness, chronic illness, sexual trauma and a fucking massacre in Gaza (I live in Israel). Take heed.
I’m also a survivor.
I’m sorry to disappoint you, but no. I don’t think BDSM is inherently oppressive and abusive. What I changed my mind about was BDSM being an axis of oppression. I don’t think that cishet people who are into BDSM exprience oppression. Repression, perhaps, but that is a whole other discussion.
[Some elaboration below, containing some general, but explicit discussion on BDSM as a practice]
BDSM is not inherently abusive and oppressive, but it can be, when done wrong (oh so very wrong). BDSM practitioners and communities need to put constant energy and work into making BDSM truly safe for everyone.
BDSM is not inherently feminist, intersectional or empowering - but it can be, when done right (OMG so right!). BDSM practitioners and communities need to put constant energy and work into making BDSM into the wonderful, fabulous and empowering experience that it can be - especially for women, queer/trans people, and poc.
I have seen and heard of some pretty fucked up shit going on in cishet BDSM communities. My own pet peeve is the fetishization of bisexual women such that “all women” must be bisexual for the cishet gaze of all men. Women are pressured to do that and this generates a fair amount of objectification and sexual violence against bi (and other) women. There’s also a lot of fucked up sexism, abuse of female subs by male doms and abuse of female dommes by male subs. Another pet peeve of mine in that last category happens when a male sub comes up to a female domme, claiming to want to do everything she tells him, but then dumping all his fantasies and wishes on her expecting her to pretend that he’s doing what *she* wants (No. So very no). Also a lot of BDSM communities are terribly LGBT-phobic, white and racist such that these things play an inseparable part in people’s desires and practices (some gender play, race play, etc.).
I don’t think this is inherent to BDSM. I think this is inherent to patriarchy and heteropatriarchy, and that BDSM only emphasizes problems which already exist everywhere else. And because it “looks like” violence, some people do use this visual similarity in order to blur the boundaries and use BDSM to manipulate and abuse others.
Alongside and notwithstanding, it’s worth remembering that BDSM has an entire culture of consent and safety, the likes of which I have never seen in any other cishet community that I have known. Once you link into a BDSM community, you will have access to responsible and reliable information about abuse, safety and consent. It doesn’t prevent all the bullshit, obviously, and can never fix the immense damage caused by horrors such as 50 Shades of Gray, for example. But that notwithstanding, I have learned so much from BDSM consent and safety culture it’s no even funny. BDSM consent practices (such as explicit negotiation, creating lists, ranking your interest level for specific practices as well as your willingness to push boundaries for each, safewords, and more…) have taught me how to do consent right. BDSM safety practices (such as skill sharing and professional knowledge on how to play enjoyably without hurting your partners’ health or creating any long-lasting physical damage) have taught me a lot about responsibility for my partners’ physical wellbeing. Both have deeply informed all types of sexual interaction that I engage in, including vanilla.
I’m not saying that BDSM is all fabulousness, safety and consent. I think BDSM, as a practice, is entirely too vulnerable to misuse. Which is precisely why it’s so important that the existing safety and consent practices are already there. BDSM communities need to put constant work into deconstructing the way various types oppression work inside the community and inside people’s private BDSM practices and desires. However, unlike pretty much any other cishet communities and subcultures that I know of, the basis and the tools are already there.
As a feminist, genderqueer, bisexual, disabled and vegan woman of color and as a survivor, I have found that when done right, BDSM can be fabulous, liberating and empowering in so many wonderful ways. The BDSM that I do is deeply informed by feminism and intersectionality. I do my BDSM with people like me - genderqueer bi/pan/queer poc survivors committed to each others’ wellbeing and to one another’s liberation.
Specifically as a survivor, BDSM (inasmuch as it was available to me) has helped me regain access to my body and to my sexuality. As a chronically ill person, BDSM has helped me deal with chronic pain. As a woman, BDSM has helped me recognize, respect and communicate my own desires and wishes (a constant battle). It had contributed to my self esteem and self confidence - always an issue for woc, and even more so for woc with social anxiety and childhood trauma such as myself.
For me, BDSM is about giving and receiving care and attention. It’s about giving each other what we need, being vulnerable together and creating deep trust. Personally for me it’s a lot about receiving what *I* need and having *my* needs attended to (both in the role of domme and in the role of sub) - and in that, it is the very opposite of abuse. It’s the ability to give trust and receive care.
I made that controversial meme after a very delightful evening with someone who was my partner (including BDSM partner) at the time. We had a wonderful interaction where I felt safe, respected, cared for and empowered in the deepest way. I had regained some access to my body through sexual trauma, chronic illness and gender dysphoria (all of which have made me largely dissociated from my body for a very long time now). My partner was (and is) one of the most wonderful and shiny people in my life, someone I love completely. Someone who’s politically shiny and inspiring to me, who is exactly on the same page as me as far as using BDSM as a tool in our liberation as people who are marginalized on multiple axes. I felt I had received so much from her that night that I wanted to give something back, express my joy and appreciation. That is how the meme came to be.
And that is my opinion about BDSM, feminism and intersectionality.
all these recent dystopian novels are basically the same story with a different twist it’s like
- 16/17 yr old girl
- long hair
- there is BOY
- maybe even TWO
- something bad happen
- many bad
- become symbol for REBELLION
- CHOSEN ONE
- FALL LOVE WIT BOY
- SAVE WLROD
- 2 more books w/ audibly similar titles
and I feel like I should hate them for this but I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THESE FUCKIN BOOKS
P.S. Please send this letter to other publisher if you would like to help me.
I see my reputation as the lone altruist in an industry of heartless curmudgeons precedes me.
I’m going to start a blog and call it freelance hell.
Write 10k words and copyedit another 9k words in 24 hours for $50.
People really don;t think the work we do has any value
Reject the myth that monsters are simply the stuff of legends.
Ode to Spot
OMFG this is amazing
I am feeling an emotion.
This is the real ‘pocahontas’.
She was only 12 when she saved the life of John Smith, who was an English captive.
She was captured in 1613, converted to christianity (probably under some duress) and married John Rolfe when she was 19. She had his son a year later.
She died in England, in 1617, aged 22.