Feminism, BDSM, and Me

#sex #BDSM #NSFW

The debate over feminism, BDSM, and whether or not the two are “compatible” has a cyclical nature: every once in a while, it explodes, and people discuss it passionately, and come to some sort of resolution; but a few months or years later, all is forgotten and the debate explodes again.

Here is how I feel about it.

Yes, the feminists who oppose BDSM, or who call themselves “kink-critical,” have one very good point: our desires do not develop in isolation from sociocultural influences. What is sexy to you is not some intrinsic property of The True You that is formed from some idiosyncratic combination of genetics and the uterine environment. It is formed through interactions with the world, from childhood onward (yes, children can very much have a sexuality, and many kinky people say their kinks developed prior to adolescence).

It is facile to claim that your sexuality has nothing to do with your environment, nothing at all.

But then the kink-critical feminists lose me, because they seem to think that the solution to this is to…not do the thing? Think about how Bad it is every time you do it? Somehow force your desires to change? (Is that even possible?)

And why don’t they seem to have a problem with dominant women or submissive men, or with people doing BDSM in queer/transgender contexts? Or with people who get off with water sports or certain foods or crossdressing? Or do they assume that male Doms and female subs is the only way it’s ever done?

Refusing to fuck the way I want to fuck isn’t going to bring down the patriarchy. It’s going to make me and my partners miserable while distracting me from doing the work that might actually help demolish stereotypes about women as passive and weak.

I also think that some of these critics haven’t spent that much time talking to people who enjoy kink and BDSM, because I don’t think they understand the headspace that we’re in.

Here are some reasons I like being submissive during sex:

I like not having to worry about ok what are we doing next what do you want to do what have you been fantasizing about lately do you like doing it this way do you like doing it that way what do you want to do now?

I like indulging in that feeling of completely trusting someone, of knowing that I’m okay with anything they could do to/with me. (By the way, this is only fun because we’ve set limits beforehand and agreed on safe words, which is what most ethical kinksters do.)

I like feeling that my partner finds me so desirable that they “can’t help” but to hold me down and force me to submit to them. (This, too, is only hot because it’s an illusion.)

I like giving someone I’m very fond of everything they want.

I like the physical sensation of having my movement restricted, of being held down forcefully, or being spanked (hard), of having my hair pulled, of being bitten, of being scratched, of my muscles straining, of having my limbs held in awkward positions to make me capitulate. Those things hurt, but they also feel good. I also like how they make me feel mentally.

I like not having to think or worry about when I’m going to have an orgasm or how to accomplish it. (As much as I love the fact that feminist men are generally concerned with their female partners’ pleasure, I really wish this would stop manifesting itself as so are you going to come I really want to make you come I’m just worried that you’re not having a good time what could I do that would be more likely to make you come. For the most part, I don’t care about coming. I don’t have partnered sex for the purpose of having an orgasm.)

I like having this one part of my life where I don’t have to make any decisions or take any initiative.

Yes, I’m quite sure that part of the reason I like all these things is because they have been presented to me from infancy as “sexy.”

But for what it’s worth, I also enjoy domming, and I like plenty of other things that women aren’t “supposed” to: lifting weights and building muscle, messing around with computers, playing video games, having sex with women.

So clearly my interests and desires aren’t just about gender roles, and I don’t think sex is either.

The personal is political in the sense that “personal issues” can reflect political ones, and in the sense that sometimes, personal choices influence other people and that can build a political movement.

But the personal is not political in the sense that I have the obligation to view every single act as political, or to reshape my personal life to be more in line with my political beliefs.

I’m especially uncomfortable with telling people how to fuck. Yes, how you fuck reflects society, and if you want to be a more politically and socially conscious person, it’s probably a good idea to at least spend some time thinking about where your desires might come from, especially as they concern race, gender presentation, body types, things like that.

But no, there’s nothing empowering about forcing yourself to ignore sexual desires that can be expressed safely and consensually.