Wicked Wednesday: Juniper’s Adventures 52

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t jealous of Lucy. But what she had from him wouldn’t take anything from me. They’d both have a wonderful time, and I liked both of them – maybe I loved Sir a little, or a lot – and I wanted them both to be happy. Somehow I was sure that I’d still be Sir’s Number One. And maybe he’d let me play with Lucy too.

 

But I’m going to have to cut here, though. This has been published and my publishers don’t want free competition from me. You can read it here

 

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Wicked Wednesday: Juniper’s Adventures 51

Then the cane landed, hard and fiery, slashing a new line of pain across my bottom. I cried out while the pain built, and I knew there must be a welt rising there. Did Sir love my marks? I know I would if I were in his position. Perhaps he’d let me cane Lucy, one day, and I could find out. Sir’s hand touched my bottom, gently, where the stroke had landed. “That’s lovely, Maddie. You’ll have that to look at for the next few days.”

 

But I’m going to have to cut here, though. This has been published and my publishers don’t want free competition from me. You can read it here

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm: Consenting inequality

Much of the puritan feminist case against bdsm involves contempt for consent. People from that faction may recognise through gritted teeth that women may consent to taking part in bdsm, but that consent isn’t really either genuine or important. These women are doing something that that feminist faction disapproves of, and that is what counts. 

But there’s something extremely dangerous about any kind of politics or “analysis” that ignores or disparages consent.

Caring about consent, rigorously enforcing it in law, and so on, is something that keeps people, especially women, safe in sex.

That includes consent to inequality. To take a non-bdsm example, when a man and woman are sitting side-by-side, maybe looking at a park, or the sea, or whatever, the man might put an arm over a woman’s shoulder and draw her to him. They sit a little closer as lovers, side-by-side.

His action emphasised their physical inequality. Being larger (probably), he can put an arm over her shoulder without discomfort, which she may not be able to do with him.

He can pull her mass towards him with relatively little effort, while she might need to haul quite hard to get him to move closer.

But assuming they’re both feeling loving and affectionate, that action will make them both feel loved, loving and comfortable, although it is founded in sexual inequality.

Consenting inequality is common, and it’s a different thing from inequality that reduces people’s choices and is imposed on them without their consent.

To conflate the two kinds of inequality, ignoring agreement, pleasure and affection, shows little concern for human emotions or human rights.

It’s also true that inequality in bdsm is different from most forms of inequality, but that will be for future posts.

(I’ve got my girl with me, and I’m not doing much writing at the moment. Sorry.) 

 

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm 3: the “bdsm is patriarchy” argument

Some anti-bdsm critics argue that bdsm is essentially a cover for male on female domestic violence. There is something that looks like evidence for this perspective in the mainly US Christian sects that endorse female subservience and in which girls and women are property, passed from their father to their husband, whose orders they are supposed to obey. 

There’s a knowing tone to a lot of “domestic discipline literature. For some of the women, at least, it’s about the sex

Many of those sects explicitly endorse non-consenting, or at best semi-consenting (where the woman consents to the relationship and its terms, but has little choice if she wishes to remain in the culture she was brought up in), physical violence under the name “domestic discipline”. 

“Domestic discipline” is a movement, again mainly in the US, in which women, again mostly Christian, accept their male partner’s right to spank them, or use harsher discipline methods involving belts or paddles. It’s a more complex movement than it may seem. 

The movement includes relationships in which the woman really is consenting, and enjoying being a submissive woman under her partner’s discipline. Women writing about their disciplinary experiences (which may include some pure fantasy), make it clear that they take their “discipline” as sexual and both partners enjoy it on those terms. 

In other cases it’s clear that the men in these sects have used the Bible verses that insist on the subservience of women to men, and are working out their own desires on non-consenting women, who are beaten and are largely unable to escape. Those men may be driven by the desires that drive on bullies, and not necessarily by any sexual enjoyment of the beatings they hand out.

But bdsm as a culture insists on clearly stated consent, without which nothing can happen. The rhetoric of “domestic discipline” may happen to suit a couple in which the man is dominant and the woman submissive, and they have no other vocabulary to set out the desired terms of their relationship. But bdsm is a very different beast. 

In theory and in practice bdsm is not about “men dominating women”. It may involve women dominating men, or men dominating women, or women and men taking turns, or it may involve only men, or only women. Moreover, most men and women in bdsm change their role according to their mood or their partner’s.

People may have complex preferences: a bisexual woman may take either a dominant or submissive role when she is with a woman but take only the dominant role when she is with a man. A man may switch with women but prefer to be submissive when with men. There is a kaleidoscopic array of possible combinations, in which the individual figures refuse to keep still to be counted. 

It’s also argued that bdsm perpetuates a male style of thinking and acting that oppresses women regardless of the gender of the participants. It “eroticises power differences”. Patriarchy, the argument goes, requires domination and submission to exist, so it preserves itself by conditioning people to be aroused by dominance and submission.

Bdsm therefore reinforces patriarchy even when the woman is dominant and the man is submissive, or no women are involved, or no men are involved. Inequality in sexual activity – of any kind – is “unnatural” and a betrayal of women. In a post-patriarchal world, with genuine and thoroughgoing sexual equality, people would only ever have gentle sex and only be sexually excited by equality.

The argument demonises a lot of human interaction that the people involved enjoy, and casts women as perpetual and permanent victims regardless of how they perceive their own relationships. It allows no improvement, except by the replacement of the human species by another, gentler, and perhaps duller species that does not currently seem to exist.

(To be continued.)

Wicked Wednesday: Juniper’s Adventures 50

The cane landed low across my bottom, and I yelped. I tried to keep still, but of course I didn’t completely manage, and Lucy had to press hard on my shoulders. She opened her thighs a little, to push my head further down. It was the strangest sensation, with my face between Lucy’s lovely, softly plump thighs, and my bum out and arched up so Sir could hurt me. Lucy stroked my shoulder blades lightly with her fingertips, then resumed the pressure, holding me down. 

 

But I’m going to have to cut here, though. This has been published and my publishers don’t want free competition from me. You can read it here

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm 2: The false consciousness argument

There is a more complex case against bdsm than conservative authoritarians have ever argued, promoted by the feminist faction that allied itself with conservative authoritarians on erotic words and images, and bdsm.

Anti-bdsm feminists often speak as if there is a feminist position on bdsm and theirs is it, but this has never been the case. There are feminists on both sides of the debate.

This anti-bdsm case rests on the assumption is that bdsm is inherently an expression of patriarchy, of male dominance, so woman only have bdsm desires if their sexuality is distorted by patriarchy. Women who engage in bdsm have simply internalised patriarchal values, even if they delude themselves by thinking they are feminist.

By this theory they may think that they consent to bdsm activity, but this consent is not “real”.

This is because the power imbalance between men and women in our culture is so great and pervasive that women who consent to bdsm have been coerced into doing so by cultural factors beyond their control. This argument is also made of all women who consent to heterosexual intercourse, but that version of the argument is less often made within the hearing of allies on the religious right.

This readiness to diminish and dismiss the moral and political significance of women’s choices and consents is commonly justified by the claim that women who have and (what’s worse) act on bdsm desires are victims of “false consciousness”.

False consciousness is a term derived from Marxist theory, to mean the tendency of oppressed people to accept the ideology of their oppressors and therefore to fail to perceive that they are oppressed. The term was used to explain the awkward fact that in developed countries working people on low incomes tend not to support Marxist political parties or campaigns.

False consciousness can refer to something real. It may be useful to use the term in relation to African American slaves who had accepted the idea that slavery was a just institution. But the term is best used humbly and tentatively.

For example, the reluctance of working people to support Marxism might be a sign of false consciousness, but it might derive from realistic evaluation of what happened in the countries where Marxists got into power. In practice “false consciousness” is a rhetorical device for dismissing the views of the people on whose behalf one claims to speak, because if those people were allowed to speak or vote or act on their own behalf they would say and choose the wrong things.

In this perspective only some choices arise from false consciousness. Consenting to heterosexual intercourse, taking part in the writing or filming of pornography, or engaging in bdsm: these things can be ascribed to false consciousness. Engaging in non-penetrative lesbian sex, going to an anti-pornography rally, or taking part in hours of doctrinal discussion may not.

Moreover only some women are subject to false consciousness. Others are immune. Anti-bdsm feminists are confident enough in the authenticity of their own consciousnesses to make their own sexual decisions and to feel qualified to force sexual decisions (for example on the availability and therefore use of pornography) onto other women.

Feminist women who suffer from bdsm’s false consciousness are, surely, fortunate that other feminist women know better and are prepared to edit their sexual desires for them.

Or they may wish to tell them to take a running jump.

(To be continued)

Sexual authoritarians and bdsm 1

When people discriminate against people who take part in bdsm, or support the harassment of bdsm clubs, publications and so on, by police and other authorities, they usually believe that they are reasonable people acting virtuously. People ply themselves with reasons when they treat other people badly.

If you enjoy bdsm, Robin Morgan, feminist-except-for-women-who-make-choices-she-disapproves-of, says you’re a traitor to all women.

Harassment and discrimination happen because of political, religious, ideological and other frameworks that define certain people as outsiders, generate dislike for them and provide reasons for messing with them as individuals and suppressing their meeting places, books, videos and so on. Discrimination is hardly ever mindless, though it can appear so. Nor is it “natural”.

People make up reasons for hatred, and those reasons are generally rationalisations, intellectualized and argued, to keep the emotional dislike behind them out of sight.

But discrimination against and harassment of bdsm people comes from other, more emotional partskinds of thinking.

Conservative authoritarianism

One framework that drives legal and other activities directed against bdsm people can be called conservative authoritarianism, which is often religious in inspiration. The conservative authoritarian case against bdsm consists essentially of the premises that deviant sex is evil and that bdsm is deviant sex.

Bdsm is therefore, syllogistically, evil. If more arguments were needed, then there are the considerations that bdsm looks strange, often involves non-procreative sex, may involve people who are not married to each other, or are people of the same gender, and so on.

What’s more, bdsm is part of a category that includes oral sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, bdsm, fetishism, paedophilia, window-peeping and flashing, Satanism, group sex, polygamy and many other things. Tolerating any one of them will only encourage the others.

The Reverend James Dobson strongly supports the beating and whipping of terrified, non-consenting children, but if an adult spanks another adult for pleasure, that is, of course, the devil’s work

The distaste felt by conservative authoritarians for bdsm isn’t so different from their distaste for homosexuality, oral sex, and so on.

The impulse that drove a Massachusetts police officer to force his way into a private party in 2000 and arrest a woman who was spanking another woman with a wooden spoon is the same as the impulse that in 2004 led a Virginia policeman to arrest a 21-year old woman for getting oral sex from her boyfriend (the penalty for oral sex in Virginia is up to five years’ imprisonment), and in 2006 led Republican Ralph Davenport to put up a bill to prohibit the sale of vibrators in South Carolina.

No-one who promotes such laws, and no police officer who selectively upholds them, can possibly believe that these laws prevent any harm or protect any person. The laws simply reflect the reality that other people’s sexual expression can rouse emotions in some other people that can range from discomfort to terror, from dislike to hate.