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another long rant

i found this very distracting website yesterday. one link to another led me to some articles on radical feminism. i just had a class on women in politics, though much of it centered more around feminism than politics. when it took the class, i thought we may discuss the strides women have made in the political arena. maybe toss around some theories. instead the class was more feminist theories in general. i've always considered myself to be a feminist, albeit not a radical one. i think more inline with marxist socialist feminism and liberal feminism. see, i have a problem with radical feminists because i think some of their own causes oppress women. i take great offense when they tell women what and how they should feel. porn and sex work degrades women and they couldn't possibly, on their own, choose such professions. and being a submissive woman? bah....no way. societal conditioning must have made me this way and i most likely need help (from the radical women's movement, of course) to be stronger than all that.

NOW, until recently, had an official policy against sadomasochism:
"Sadomasochists seek to legitimize and provide a premeditated structure for violence. NOW opposes any repressive legislation concerning private consensual sexual activity between adults. Nevertheless, NOW opposes institutionalized violence as well as social structures which encourage or advocate the use of physical and psychological violence or domination among individuals. This opposition to violence precludes support or advocacy of sadomasochism as a feminist issue" .

this, to me, says what i am - how i feel - goes against the very grain of feminism, objectifying women and promoting violence toward them. who cares if it is consensual? surely, a strong, confident woman wouldn’t submit to a man. that is the nature of the woman’s power movement. my tastes, and other women like me, are personally responsible for undoing feminism. if feminism seeks to empower women, how dare they tell me that my choices are not valid or meaningful?

BDSM is, in itself, a gender/social paradox that finds fault and deviance with every role. see, our kind are weak women because they like to be dominated by men, women with anger issues because they like to dominate men, sissy men because they submit to women and men who surely must be misogynistic rapists because they dominate women (you know, it is like all gays are pedophiles.....give me a fucking break). submissive women fit into the ideal of femininity (if they are heterosexual), it is that femininity that causes us to want male dominance, which is, by society’s definition, “not in our best interest”. further, “while the connection between manhood and aggression is sexualized”, men who display aggression sexually are fundamentally abusers. (according to martha mccaughey) we are labeled, generalized, judged and must be saved from ourselves.

attraction and sexual desires are fueled by raw chemical reactions. acceptance, or denial, of that attraction is a social reaction. crossing gender borders in the gay community is an obvious social stigma. however, crossing gender borders in consensual power dynamics is a subtler, but equally judged, problem. everyone I know in this lifestyle, male or female, has spent considerable amount of time, often years, questioning their preferences because of the social constructs that have built their lives. every role in the BDSM lifestyle (and gay lifestyle) is against societal norms and gendered sexual scripts. our sexual orientation and sexual desires are in line with the paradox of human nature as a manifestation of cultural meanings, social relationships, and power politics. screw that.... you want to make a movement? make one that actually helps people who need it and doesn't judge what we choose to be!

i came across steven siedman’s two perspectives on sexuality: the sexual romantic and the libertarian. libertarians “believe sex to be benign whether as an expression of love or of pleasure, romanticists tie sex to affection, intimacy, and love." alternative, “perverted”, sexual activity falls under the framework of libertarianism. because libertarians do not see the meaning of sex as fixed, it is up to the individual, and not society, to determine what is right for him or her. siedman states, “a libertarian notion of consent’ thus replaces a romanticist notion of ‘responsibility’ as the ultimate measure of the ethics of any sexual activity”. “consent” is the most common word tossed about in the BDSM community. BDSM is different and unusual, the practice carries with it psychological and physical risk, therefore, open and preemptive discussion and negotiation are paramount. interestingly, vanilla relationships carry with them some of the same risks, but are often without negotiation, especially in relation to sex. the very concept of consensuality is often difficult to grasp in the face of society. we may believe what we are doing is consensual, but society (cough...radical..cough...feminists) assumes that we cannot possibly be in a decent frame of mind to believe so. therefore, we are non-consensually consensual and intervention is necessary. it must be good for us if intervention is led by feminists such as andrea dworkin, who seem to think I am not capable of consent because of my cultural programming to be submissive. thank goodness we have pat califia and camille paglia!

social constructs of gender are the enemy of individuality and the result of closed minds that inhibit sexuality, equality and freedom. as long as society, feminists included, persists in peering into our bedrooms and labeling our behaviors, according to perceived gender scripts, we will continue to question the validity and meaning of our own desires, often denying and replacing who we are in favor of conformity.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 3rd, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
one of the problems with some of the more vocal corners of the feminist movement is that many of the leaders are victims of sexual abuse or highly sympathetic to victims of sexual abuse. In many cases, there's just no talking to this sort of person about BDSM. They can't see beyond their personal experiences and label people accordingly. it's like the kenner police department, who would arrest a male in a BDSM play session without hesitation, because they have a zero-tolerance policy on spousal abuse.
Jun. 4th, 2007 07:37 am (UTC)
i just want to clarify that i am talking of the radical feminist school, particularly the cultural radical feminists. other schools don't condemn alternative sexual lifestyles. and i probably should add that a branch of radical feminists, the liberals, don't either. it just pisses me off when women want to tell me how i should act and feel!
Jun. 3rd, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: That's not funny!

Yes, I do agree that there are gendered power imbalances in society that we'd do better to correct. But I find that hardcore feminists are often their own worst enemies on that score...

I think there's a bit of an artificial separation going on between "sexual romantic" and "libertarian," though.

Recent investigation would indicate that physiologically, there's no separating sex from affection, intimacy, and love. It might be more precise to say the "libertarian" view is more flexible about the appropriate manifestations of that affection, intimacy, and love, and their implications for how those kinds of relationships are normalized in society.
Jun. 4th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)
i am not sure i understand. by physiologically do you mean the same release of chemicals for all four?
i keep coming back to kundra's line in the unbearable lightness of being: Attaching love to sex is one of the most bizarre ideas the Creator ever had.
i have a real problem with things that are "appropriate" and normalized in society.....damn social constructions. ;)
Jun. 5th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC)
Well, one thing is, I think affection, intimacy, and love are closely intertwined concepts. I know they can exist separately in some cases, but in many ways they're just different parts of the same proverbial elephant.

And yes, I'm talking about basic, involuntary hardwired biological reactions. When you have sex with someone, or even just make eye contact with a certain range of facial expression and body language, it alters the potent neurological cocktail of oxytocin, vasopressin, flubber, etc... To some extent, your conscious mind can influence things after the fact. But hormones & neurotransmitters unavoidably move you toward love, affection, and intimacy. So there's basically no avoiding a connection between the physical and the emotional.

That doesn't mean that unless sex leads to love, marriage, and a baby carriage, you are against god. Just sayin', we're more emotionally hardwired than we'd like to admit.

Also, I think I used the word "normalize" in an unusual way. "Accepted" may be a better word.
Jun. 6th, 2007 08:05 am (UTC)
the whole chemistry thing has always interested me.... i wrote about it some time ago. i like to blame everything on it... love, lust, attraction, sex. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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