Sexism and Kink

That’s the weird thing about three-day weekends; they always seem to make you a day late in doing other things. Your Tuesday feels like a Monday, so your Wednesday feels like a Tuesday, so you wind up posting your blog entry a day late. 🙂 My apologies to all my readers.

So today, I’m going to tangent a bit–this blog mostly discusses hypnosis, with an implied understanding that we are actually discussing “erotic hypnosis”. But I’m actually going to focus on the sex part today. Unfortunately, it’s not in one of those “ooh, sexy hot secrets from my personal life” sort of way. I’m going to take the time to rant a bit about sexism and BDSM.

For a lot of people, this rates a sort of automatic, “Well, duh!” Many people (and many feminists) feel like any BDSM relationship in which the man is the dominant and the woman is the submissive is automatically a sexist relationship, just like the sky is blue and the grass is green. It’s not even hard to understand their logic; we’re just now coming out of a seemingly-endless period in history where women heard from every conceivable source that their role was to submit to the male authority in every area of their lives, and it took a lot of time, energy and effort to break free of that indoctrination (which is not the same as hypnosis, a topic I might discuss someday.) And it’s by no means a completed process. (Just ask Phyllis Schlafly.) So when some people see a woman in a subservient relationship to a man, it is natural to think of that as sexist.

But the kink community is all about (and I know some people are going to wince at hearing these words, because they are so overused, but bear with me) power exchanges. BDSM is about voluntarily giving your power to someone else, letting them enjoy the rush of dominance while you enjoy the rush of submission. Those are both enjoyable feelings, and both fun roles to take. There really is nothing wrong with wanting to take either role, because it is a voluntary submission. Any good scene, and any good BDSM relationship, has at its base the knowledge that the bottom can take that power back whenever they want, but are choosing not to. (And the very best scenes come along when the bottom lets that knowledge slide far enough to the back of their head that they only remember it if they absolutely have to, which is part of what makes hypnosis so much fun in BDSM play.)

It’s that word, “voluntary”, that is key here. “Voluntary” means that the submissive only gives up power under the conditions they’ve determined, at the times and in the places they’ve decided. They set the boundaries for their submission. Maybe that’s only submitting when wearing a collar, maybe it’s only in the bedroom, maybe it’s 24/7 lifestyle submission. But it’s their decision and their boundary. They might lose all their power within those boundaries, but they never lose the power to set them.

That’s the difference between submission and sexism in the world of BDSM–when someone else decides that they have the right to set your boundaries, that’s sexist. Saying, “You did that for your last boyfriend, you should do it for me,” or “You did that last week, you should do it again this week,” or “You submitted to me in the bedroom last night, that means I’m in charge and you should let me decide whether or not you keep your job” or even, “You hypnotize some people for free, that means I should get a freebie because I don’t want to pay for it” (to cite a particular pet peeve of many hypnodommes…) All of these are ways of trying to take the power that the submissive has the right to keep for herself. That’s sexist.

Or, to give the example that originally prompted this line of thinking, Valerie D’Orazio posted on her blog a while back about a comic book convention with a “Slave Leia Photoshoot”, where lots of women dressed up as Leia in her metal bikini from “Return of the Jedi”. D’Orazio said, “No matter how many times the girlfriend says that this was completely her own decision and that her man, standing beside her in a Han Solo outfit or trucker’s hat, had absolutely nothing to do with it, I just didn’t buy it.”

Which prompts another question: By refusing to accept that another woman could set her own boundaries, enjoy sexual behavior (in this case exhibitionism rather than actual BDSM) and still be an independent feminist, isn’t D’Orazio trying to set boundaries for them? And is that a form of sexism in and of itself? Saying, “I wouldn’t do that, so you can’t” could be seen as just as sexist as saying, “I want you to do that, you you must.”

(Although, in the interest of fairness and accuracy, I should point out that D’Orazio might very well be right, too. If, in fact, the boyfriend was pressuring his girlfriend to dress like this, he was taking away her right to set her own rules for when she displayed her body, and that’s clearly sexist by my own definition. I’m just pointing out that in any situation involving sexuality, particularly sexual kinks, it’s not ever going to be as simple as “sexy=sexist”, and that in fact, a lot of the people trying to banish women’s sexuality are doing so in order to control it…and nobody but the woman in question has the right to do that. Just to make things clear, in case Valerie D’Orazio should happen to visit the site and worry that I’m slamming on her. 🙂 )

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2 Responses to “Sexism and Kink”

  1. Vez'Roth Says:

    I have to agree with a lot of points on here. Some of the more militant feminists believe that a woman doing something “demeaning” cannot possibly be doing it because they genuinely want to. They cannot possibly relinquish control to another for any reason. I would imagine that there are a lot of people in high-stress situations, or high-stress life styles that get into BDSM as a Submissive just for that purpose… the option to freely choose to give away that stress, that power and that control to another for just a little while; CEO’s, Investment bankers, doctors, nurses, anything overly stressful.

    I’m not in that kind of a situation but I understand where they might be coming from. The power that a sub wields is still pretty great, the power to TRUST someone that much? I’d call that power.

  2. Will Dissolver Says:

    “You hypnotize some people for free, that means I should get a freebie because I don’t want to pay for it” (to cite a particular pet peeve of many hypnodommes…)”

    …Doms, too.

    This phenomenon unfortunately plagues huge swathes of the hypnosis community.

    Just because someone is willing to give away their efforts for a friend, doesn’t mean they’re equally willing to give them away for total strangers, and it’s both presumptuous and rude to assume that they will.

    For myself, all the content on my site is free – largely because as yet I don’t have professional recording equipment, and don’t feel right charging for less than professional quality – but I don’t give the site out to just anybody, and demanding free stuff from me before I feel like giving gifts is a great way to ensure that I never, ever choose to work with that particular subject in any meaningful way.

    On a totally different note: Jukebox, I have always considered you one of the best, if not THE best, writers of short fiction on the EMCSA. I am glad to find your site, and will take some time to look through your blog as time permits… So you may get more comments from me.

    Happy trancing!

    -Will Dissolver

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