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Wow, I haven’t been here in a while, and for that, I apologize. It’s been a bit of a crazy time around these here parts.

I’m going to be back to answering advice questions shortly – I’ve got one in the can about sugar daddies that I’m still mulling over. But today I just want to put something out there: I’d like to know who you guys are.

So if you’re reading, speak up! Who are you, and what are you into? If you have a blog that I should be reading, tell me about it!

And I’ll write something substantial soon, I promise.

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I just know I’m going to get it for this, but here goes.

The ever-erudite and thought-provoking Orlando has got me thinking again. In an ongoing series of posts, he is examining privilege, entitlement, and the concept of slumming in the context of sexual power dynamics.

I recommend reading the series (though he charmingly and inaccurately calls them “tedious”), but the short version goes something like this. “Susie,” a traditional housewife profiled in the 1970’s conservative Baptist psychology book Sexual Sanity, is having a libido mismatch with her husband that is distracting her to the point of neglecting her duties in the home. The prescription is, of course, giving up the romance novels, soap operas, and masturbation, focusing on her marital duties, reading the Bible, oh, and maybe incidentally the husband should think about paying more attention to her.

Orlando points out that while these are people whose options were limited by their culture, lifestyle, beliefs, economics, and so on, he and Murre enact a kind of reversal of that traditional dynamic deliberately – in essence, slumming in a traditional provider/housewife arrangement. One of the going critiques of BDSM is, in essence, that we are performing a parody of relationships and power dynamics in which people have no choice: Orlando is at the laundromat writing his post while doing the household laundry because it is part of an elaborately negotiated D/s agreement; his neighbor, Rosa, is doing the laundry because that’s what’s expected of her by her husband, and what is simply done.

While these musings were interesting to me, it was really his last post that got me going. In it, he brings up the above point and adds commentary that he has collected from some radical feminist blogs: to wit, Nine Deuce’s tongue in cheek but extreme comment that males into BDSM dominance should kill themselves, and FactCheckMe’s analysis of MtF transexuals as merely men slumming as women.
(Don’t read that post, by the way, unless you want your head to explode. You have been warned.)

Orlando quite rightly points out that the telling people to renounce their privilege is pointless at best, dangerous at worst, if you give them no other options:

Radicals in general (I am not just speaking of radfems)…have focused on creating an elaborate critical literature to uncover the ways that privileged classes abuse their power in concealed ways, including the “inverted” abuse of slumming. Sheila Jeffries, to take a local example, is not simply critical of male dominance and male submission, she is critical of all male sexuality. Usually these sets of critiques are deployed to make people who deny that they are privileged realize that they are. But once someone acknowledges this privilege, the analyses remain underfoot, blocking any sort of coherent suggestion for further behavior.

At least, that’s the best version. In a darker version of things, the condemnation of all options becomes the suggestion. When 9/2 suggests that kinky men should kill themselves, she is sort of joking. When FCM tells MtF transexuals to “ke[ep] your dick and STFU,” she is not joking at all. But both authors arrive at their conclusion by systematically invalidating everything that the target class might do, either as entitlement or slumming or both. Behind 9/2’s suicide hyperbole is a genuine void left by her critiques: there is no course of action left for those men that she considers acceptable, and yet it is clearly important to her that they take her advice.

And this is where my frustration really sets in with the entire discussion – not with Orlando’s continued analysis, which you should totally read. But with what we talk about when we talk about privilege.

I am a white, Western, middle class bisexual cis-female. As such, I benefit from white privilege, cis privilege and class privilege, but not from male or heterosexual privilege. Honestly, I don’t think about that lack very much – not because it’s not important, but because I largely don’t feel my lack of that privilege in my day to day life.

I do frequently feel my own privilege, though: the ways I’m able to spend my days, the people I spend them with, the things I spend money on, hell, the money I even have. My education, my freedom, my ability, in short, to make choices.

In the endless and horrific comments to that made-of-fail post by FactCheckMe, she points out that what makes privilege privilege is the ability make choices.

I want to know exactly what’s wrong with that.

Hear me out. It seems to me that the radical movements that seek the destruction of the patriarchy and the liberation of women, minorities, and other oppressed people are missing the goddamn point, which is this: privilege is good. Power, for that matter, is good. Orlando writes, “We absolutely do not want the most privileged classes of humanity to exercise their power to its full, raw, extent.” And that is where he and I part ways.

You know what I want? I want everyone to be able to exercise their power to its full, raw extent. I don’t think that the way to empower some people is to take power away from others. I agree that pointing out privilege and making people aware of it such that they gain a greater understanding of the positions of oppressed people is an essential step for breaking down the monstrous inequalities that exist.

However. There is, as Orlando points out, nothing you can do once you’ve been made aware of your privilege. All you can do is understand that you can never understand.

So what next? Am I to go through life feeling constantly guilty that I can enjoy power dynamics and physical violence in a consensual way when there are so many people in the world who are abused? Am I, like some radical feminists, to give up penetrative sex entirely, even if I love it, because some women are raped? If part of male privilege, as FactCheckMe says, is being raised to believe that whatever you want or desire, however trivial, you can have it – does that mean I must never follow my own desires, especially not the frivolous ones?

People, this is backwards. The path to addressing privilege and ending oppression is not to remove even more choice from oppressed people. It’s to work to ensure choice for everybody.

Now, it’s facile and privilege-soaked to say such a thing, I know. But seriously? The only way to make sure that the subsistence farmer really wants to be there is to give him the opportunity to go to college and do something else. The only way to know that a woman is truly choosing stay-at-home-mom-hood is to open other possibilities through education and at-work childcare.

Which brings me to my next point, which is about the values we place on various types of life work.

Looking at, say, the subsistence farmer above and saying, oh, look how much better his life would be if he could go to college – that’s class privilege talking. But turning around and telling that college-educated person that he’s not allowed to become a subsistence farmer himself because that’s slumming – that’s ridiculous.

The problem here is partly one of choice, yes: in order for equality to truly exist, the presence of choice is paramount. But it’s also partly a problem of values: as a society, we automatically place a college education, a career in business, law or medicine, and the “earning” of vast amounts of money above learning a trade, raising children, keeping house, telling stories and growing food.

Which is to say: it is deeply problematic to pity a farmer because she never got a college education and became a doctor – even if that person had every opportunity to do so. Seeing someone’s lack of choice in the world and seeking to help correct it is a good thing. Seeing someone’s deliberate choice and deciding it’s wrong because of some misguided idea of wasted potential or perceived insult to those who do not have that choice available – that’s insanity.

Of course, if everyone had privilege, we couldn’t call it “privilege” anymore, as the word implies privilege above someone else. But “power”? There’s an entire philosophy around that. To borrow a phrase from Starhawk, what is desirable in this world is to increase everyone’s power-with rather than power-over. To help others, as best we can, to come into their own power – and express it in the ways that make the most sense to them.

The way to do this is not to take power away from others – power is not a zero-sum game, any more than love is. I submit to you that it is impossible to smash the patriarchy, to destroy white power, or to crush heterosexism. These are systems that are so entrenched, and belong so much to the majority, that they cannot be destroyed using force. But they can be phased out, little by little, if we fight to increase the power and agency of all people. The more people know, the more people are aware of and have access to all the opportunities and possibilities available in the human experience – the fewer people can be recruited to the dark side, brainwashed, or swept under by the tide.

I’m not saying that people won’t make bad choices, or be manipulated, or even – dare we say it – not be smart enough or strong enough to do the right thing. But that’s not the point. If we don’t allow people to choose – if we don’t even give them the benefit of the doubt that they have agency – then we’re totally screwed. If the patriarchy or whatever cultural force that’s like the water the fish are swimming in is so pervasive that we can’t trust human beings to have free will, then it’s going to just be one paternalistic ruling class after another telling us what’s right.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the world I want to live in, however imperfect my current world is. Here’s what I’m working on: being the change I want to see in the world. I’ll skip the post-patriarchy and take a world where a poor man can choose to be a doctor, an orphan girl can grow up to be president, a university-educated person can choose to become a dairy farmer without ridicule or judgment, people across the gender spectrum can choose to play with power dynamics in intimate relationship to another person if that’s what turns them on, and in short – anyone can pursue their kind of happiness in peace, so long as it harms no one. (And by “harm” I mean “non-consensual harm,” not some goddamn cane marks.)

Maybe I’m just an idealist. Or soaking in privilege. I don’t know. Have at.

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These past couple of weeks have been intense. Yesterday I took some time to visit my toppish sweetie, where, most times, we would spend most of the day in bed, with occasional stops to eat, nap, or take a walk. This day, though, he was tired like I was. We sexed around a little, but finally, after a nice lunch, cuddled up on the couch together and watched TV. Really. That’s about what we were up to.

The show we watched was Dexter, a Showtime thing I hadn’t heard of (I don’t have broadcast TV or cable). It’s a show about a sociopath: a serial killer who had the luck to have a foster father who could see what he was and direct his energies to do the least harm. The result? Dexter is a killer all right – there’s nothing else in life that gives him such satisfaction, makes him feel. But he only kills – you guessed it – uncaught serial killers.

I know that something continues to be very wrong with me, but I can’t help but find his character impossibly sexy. His meticulousness and precision. The way he moves. Even the way he kills: always quick and merciful, first tying the sedated victim down to a table using Saran Wrap, then getting them to confess (he is always sure of their crimes before he makes his move), then making a small cut in their faces to collect a sample of their blood on a slide (every serial killer needs a trophy collection), then delivering the fatal blow quickly before butchering them and disposing of their bodies.

Besides this, he works in forensics as a blood spatter analyst, and the wall behind his desk at work looks like Jackson Pollack ran out of everything but red paint. Blood is, as his voice over says, not just his job, but his life. And, it seems, his art, his passion, his sex.

What is it that makes sociopaths such compelling characters? People who are essentially psychotic by behavior, completely disconnected from human emotion and social codes – but who can fake it, make people think that they are human, even lovable. It’s fascinating, terrifying. And sexy. After all, what’s hotter than Hannibal Lechter?

Well. Christian Bale, maybe.

christian-bale

Sigh. My boy is certainly unique. Even sitting around watching TV with him is kinky.

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Trying to add those damn buttons to the bottom of my posts…

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People email me all the time with strange requests. One guy wants me to hit him with a huge leather purse. Another wants to be diapered and force-fed yogurt. Some things I say yes to; I say no to as many; I judge none.

But the manner of some of the requests…that’s another story. I spent some time over the last couple of days scouring my email for all the ways in which potential clients – or targeted spammers – vied for my attention in unfortunate ways. No names have been, or ever will be, revealed here. All comments in bold or italics are mine; spelling and grammar has been left in its pristine native state.

1. From someone who claims to be “basically gay”:
Fantasy is for women to dominate me. However, want her to set up 1-6 skinny smooth guys 18-22 who would gang bang me while you discipline and torture me to beg for kink. Will do extreme bottom fantasy if I like all their pics.

Because of course, I’m just rolling in hot young gay boys who want to do gangbang scenes with a strange guy while a dominant woman controls the whole scenario. And the time to round them up and send you pictures for your approval. How much money do you have, exactly?

2. From Craigslist, of course:
m/33 will give you 40 just to jerk off on your stocking feet,very serious,ill cum real fast

Really? Oh thank goodness. I’d hate to be paid less than ten minutes worth of my time if it were going to take you longer than that to ruin a $40 pair of stockings.

3. From the bizarre typos department:
Would you have a problem with making me temporally homeless?

No problem at all. If you’d just step into my flux capacitor…

4. Also from the goldmine that is Craigslist:
can i lick your dirty butthole…..$$$$

Wow, for FOUR WHOLE DOLLAR SIGNS?! Maybe! Oh wait, I just remembered, I have to go dip my genitals in molten lava.

5. From the wtf department:
not into the BD/Sm although i was a dom for a bout 3 years. i make a lot of money , married and live in [swanky town]. Are you always role playing? do you have another side?

So…you were a dom for three years but you’re not into “the BDSM.” You’re rich and married…and what, you want to *date* me or something? Perhaps you’re into “the clueless?”

6. From the charm department:
i’m from Greece and as a greek i know how to distinguish a true Goddess.

As opposed to all those knock-off goddesses you see them selling all the time down in the Plaka…

7. From the online translation program department:
Please when this I ugly am left on the side as a slave of the servant in the under of beautiful Domme Delilah, cannot you get it? When the cock is usually erected by about 8cm, I will enhance it to about 13cm. It wants to be seeing a beautiful woman single-mindedly subordinate, and masochist’s mentally and physically man who keeps wishing sincerely to devote oneself the life.

Um, what?

8. A second response after being told I would not shit on him:
hi hun ok how about just ass smothering not nude or any sex just in like tight black spandex or panties or dildo play spankings and would you watch me go to the bathroom let me know which ones you would do so i know and whats your rates i am a hot looking w m did you get my pic and can you send one to looking foward take care bye thanks

You know what I would do? Hun? Breathe. Then put *down* the meth pipe. Kay? Kay.

9. Random, yet somehow amusing:
I’m a licensed plumber in Massachusetts should you ever find the need to use me.

Oh, cool. Could you help me get some of these guys’ heads out of their asses?

10. Moar unfortunate typos:
i found you the web, are you available?

Oh DUDE I’ve been looking all over for that! Yeah, just come over and drop teh internets off anytime.

11. Uhhh…
I like to smell lady’s feet, when they smell like corn chips. Is this possible with you?

Absolutely. Come over and bathe my feet in Fritos.

12. Just…what?
Explain please what is a crotch rope and how install?

Wait, lemme ask the plumber…

13. Adorable emails from foreigners…
Hello I am a 33 years old man from Norway who has a “secret” fantasy! This fantasy is to be examinated by a dominant female doctor.

The latest in European fetish porn…The EXAMINATOR!

14. Ah, Craigslist, thy bounty is ever-flowing…
do you have long toes? how bout putting them in my face?

How bout not?

15. From the department of internet paranoia:
HELLO ! Before I type you an email letter , I wanted to know if you are out there?

No, but I can assure you that you *definitely* are.

16. From a much longer message, believe it or not…
One of my fantasies is to be roped by a cannibal Mistress riding bareback in red-chaps,oo…She drags me crost a meadow tied to where a dom(also wearing chaps accompanied by a see-throo jock)male of hers waits to rape me repeatedly in front of her) She talks of roasting & devouring me at a din-din with other Mistress friends… if this sounds too extreme for Your tastes, i understand completely in which case we could perhaps only simulate parts of the above?

Yes, perhaps we should only simulate the part where I ROAST AND EAT YOU. The see-through jock may have to be left to the imagination, too. Way too tacky.

17. From the all caps, no brains department:
I HAVE THE FANTASY ABOUT BEING USED WITH A STRAPON IN MY PRIVATE AREA BY A HOT CHIC..

Okay. How about you take me to your bathroom (that’s your private area, right?), I’ll strap a dildo to the top of your head, and use you to unclog your toilet? (I hear that’s very chic this year. Ask the plumber, he knows.)

18. Someone didn’t do his market research:
If you are interested in having updated aerial photographs of your business or organization, please visit our website for more information.

Sure. I’d love to have pictures of you getting fucked up the ass shot from 3,000 feet.

19. One of the I-want-to-be-your-personal-slave-forever-though-I’ve-never-even-seen-you types:
can i be your fartinhaling, pee drinking, asslicking, sucking, pussy eating 24/7 livein realtime bitch plz?regards a genuine bitch

A billion kinds of no. Even if you were one of those knock-off bitches they sell down in the Plaka.

20. And finally, the department of unselfaware irony::
Although I have engaged in these acivities, the problem is, they were all at my request. My NEED is to be ordered to perform these acts. …I will call, but before I do, I’d like to make sure you will fulfil 100% of my fantasy.

*facepalm*

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