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Posts Tagged ‘facepalm’

Hey, Delilah,

So, just wanted to follow up and say that I’ve moved, and now I’m in my new place unpacking and it’s just so much more awesome than packing was.

So what can you tell me about the process?

Yours,
Sees Evidence of Light, Finally

Dear SELF,

Nice to hear from you again. Here’s the story of my last few weeks, in a top 10 list.

The Top Ten Things You Hoped You’d Never Have to Do When You Were Already Undergoing the Stress of Moving

10. Having your friends come over with circular saws and cut your good bedroom furniture into bits so that nobody would take it from the curb and spread bedbugs.

9. Spraying the component parts of a Violet Wand with 91% isopropyl alcohol.

8. Driving an hour each way to rent a vapor steamer.

7. Cooking your leather corset and most of your shoe collection in a 200 degree oven for half an hour per item. Again.

6. Finally tossing out your old vinyl ballgown, which you ruined anyway during the first wave of the infestation by spraying it with Steri-Fab.

5. Spending at least $100 in quarters to put your entire wardrobe through the dryer in your basement.

4. Ruining your perfectly good Merrell sandals by baking them in your new oven (which is too hot) after wearing them at the old place.

3. Worrying absently that any of the hundreds of books, which were not in the infested room but You Never Know, might be infested, not to mention that they’re all standing in cardboard boxes in the living room, where one bug or egg might have gotten, and and and…

2. Putting your Bose alarm clock/radio/CD player in the oven.

1. Invoking Kali in a pagan ritual in an attempt to get her to eat some of her beloved children and send them back to potentiality.

So, the worst is over. The new place is awesome. And Monday Advice will be back next Monday, 9/14. Comment here or email me with your kinky questions!

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Dear Delilah,

So say you’re going along just fine in your life and you’re getting ready to pack up your house and move to a new one, when you discover a bedbug crawling on your husband’s sock. Right there on his sock, while he’s wearing it, bold as brass! You thought your bedbug infestation was over months and months ago! You guess that those aren’t mosquito bites after all! And now you have to do the whole deep-cleaning fiasco all over again, right before you move, and take extra special care not to bring the little fuckers to your new place!

What then?
Yours,
Stomp Every Little Fucker

Well, SELF, my guess is if this happened to you, that you might consider taking a little August hiatus from the advice column and everything else until you were well and truly moved. There’s an awful lot of packing to do still, not to mention that you need to wash every piece of fabric in the house in hot water and run it through the dryer for two hours. A bunch of shit needs to be thrown away, and you need to buy more of those huge contractor garbage bags and gigantic mutant Ziplocs. You might consider setting your current apartment on fire. I hear that kills bedbugs good.

Yes, if I were in that position, I might tell my readers to expect a little less from me over the next little while. On the other hand, I might come back and post some hot little tale now and then in the next few weeks just because if I don’t I’ll go crazy.

I’ll try and keep the column going, folks. But in case I can’t right now, see you in September.

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In reading Orlando’s blog yesterday, I came across not one but two sexual terms that I had to look up. I mean, seriously, I thought I’d heard it all. Now, to be fair, I’d heard of the concepts of these words, but the words themselves were new to me. Here they are, fresh for you. (Are they new to you? Inquiring minds want to know.)

1. Algolagnia is the name of the phenomenon by which a person’s brain transmits what would ordinarily be painful sensations into pleasure. It is (supposedly) distinct from masochism in that it is purely physiological; that is, rather than seeking pain as a psychological part of sex play in the context of sex play, a person with this neurological condition experiences painful sensations in general as pleasurable, and may channel that into a masochistic sexuality.

There’s an old line about how a masochist doesn’t enjoy stubbing his toe any more than anyone else does. Someone with algolagnia, though, might.

2. Algamatophilia is a sexual attraction to statues, mannequins, or dolls, or the desire to be transformed into one for sexual purposes.

So now you know.

But before this post is over, I simply must clear up another small piece of sexual terminology that’s been bouncing around all over the place.

Bukkake is a specific term, from the Japanese, referring to the act of several men at a time jerking off and coming all over a woman’s body, so that she’s covered in it. Not my thing, but whatever.

The act that the radfems always love to bring up as OMG-degrading-patriarchy-supporting-you-are-going-to-feminist-hell – that is, the cumshot onto a woman’s face – is called a facial.

I mean, jeez. If you’re gonna throw a fit over patriarchal jizz-splattering, get it right, please.

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I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to talk about it anymore. If it’s any consolation, I haven’t been over to the radfem blogs lately, though I’m sure I’ll keep on reading Trinity and then it’ll be all over.

But I just finished reading two essays from the old standby that I’m ashamed not to have read yet, Coming to Power, edited by Pat Califia. The first, by Gayle Rubin, is entitled “The Leather Menace: Comments on Politics and SM,” and was completed in the very early 1980s.

It begins with the wonderful line, “It is difficult to discuss the politics of sadomasochism when the politics of sex in general are so depressingly muddled.” As I read on through the article, as well as Califia’s article on the founding and first few years of the lesbian leather association Samois, I was struck by what my leather ancestors, as it were, went through. Raids; attacks by not just the mainstream media but by NOW and other feminist organizations, including lesbian organizations; exclusion from the gay rights movement; silencing by the feminist movement; demonization by nearly everyone; arrests, child custody contests, and so on.

But the thing that killed me was the rhetoric from feminists of the day, like this gem from Diane Russell:

I see sadomasochism as resulting in part from the internalization of heterosexual dominant-submissive role playing. I see sadomasochism among lesbians as involving in addition an internalization of the homophobic heterosexual view of lesbians. Defending such behavior as healthy and compatible with feminism, even proselytizing in favor of it is about the most contra-feminist anti-political and bourgeois stance that I can imagine.

Not to mention Susan Griffin, whose essay “Hunger as Ideology” I have taught to freshman writing classes, who had this incredibly insulting thing to say about it:

The fact is, the whole culture is S/M, we’re all sadomasochists. The people in SAMOIS, or gay people who wear leather, have a more severe form of the disease.

Nice. Sound familiar to anyone here? Has this rhetoric changed in thirty years, like, at all?

I guess it’s nice that we’re now living in an age where S/M is a fact of life, suffuses the fashion industry and music videos, and will not generally get you arrested. Getting tongue-lashed by feminists is not the worst thing that can happen. But I just find myself really sad that this segment of feminism, which tends to claim to speak for all feminists, hasn’t gotten its collective head on straight yet about this issue.

For those following along at home, Pat Califia said it best, back in 1981 or so: “Until women own their own bodies and have the right to seek erotic pleasure completely, with no restrictions, women will not be free.”

As the kids were only too recently saying, period-dot.

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Thanks in large part to Trinity, but also to a good friend of mine from grad school, I’ve been spending a lot of time over in some of the radical feminist blogs, particularly in the discussions about BDSM. My friend was hungry to find the intersection of radfem and BDSM online, in intelligent, academic discussions, but couldn’t find much. I have to say that even after some searching and much reading, I have to agree.

Even Trinity is tired, and I can’t blame her. Like so many of us, I get sucked into comment threads that infuriate me for hours, mainly because I can’t stand the idea that there are people out there who are supposed to believe in the total liberation of women, but not in a woman’s capacity to make choices about her own sexuality. I can sympathize with Trinity: I just have to go over there and prove them wrong, right?

But it’s exhausting. It’s draining, reading the same arguments over and over and trying to refute them with logic over and over. It’s like arguing with Objectivists: their theory of rationalism is completely airtight, and so if you disagree with any part of it, you’re just being irrational. All a certain kind of radical feminist has to do is drop the word “patriarchy” into the conversation, and automatically your arguments are moot because you’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy. It’s circular, and completely unproductive.

But my friend – who by the way is a pro-porn, pro-sex-worker, pro-BDSM radical feminist – raised this question to me, and I felt the need to answer it.

A lot of pro-submissive blogs say, “True feminism would never judge a woman’s sexual choices or desires.” True. Unnegotiably true.

But does anybody have a real choice when awash in a culture that equates feminity with submission? That defines female identity via female sexuality? That objectifies all women, regardless of what they want? It makes me think of one of the cases we studied in my psychology class in college – a fifth grade teacher had one black student in her all white class. He was smart, played well with the other students, appeared to be comfortable and socialized just fine. But from day one in her class, he wore gloves. After a few weeks, she asked him about the gloves, and over a period of gentle questioning, she learned that he wore them not because he had a health problem, but so he couldn’t see his hands. During the day, when he was in the mirror-free environment of the school, the only reminder he had of his black skin was when he looked at his hands.

This is, of course, a horrifying parallel: what might we be doing, unconsciously, out of an internalization of misogyny? This is the radfems-against-BDSM’s main point, most of the time: how can we be sure that female submission – particularly to men – is a real choice with informed consent, when that woman is operating in a society that consistently reinforces the idea that women should in fact be subordinate to men?

I really want to address this right now, in a non-sarcastic way, not coming from a place of anger and disbelief. Because however wrong-headed I think some arguments are, I can’t ignore the seriousness of the question that engenders them.

My answer? We can’t be sure. We can’t be sure of anything. We hope that women who are choosing to be sexually submissive are doing it out of a combination of healthy self-aware sexuality, earnest desire, and personal power. We try and educate people about BDSM so that they can distinguish it from physical and emotional abuse. We examine our own desires when and if we find them disturbing to us, and try to ascertain – not necessarily where they are arising from, which in a patriarchy may indeed be a dead end – but where they are leading. How does our expression of our sexuality affect us, both in the moment and in the rest of our lives? Are we loving to our partners? Our children? Our friends? Are we happy and productive in our work? Does our sex leave us feeling fulfilled, joyful and relaxed?

These questions, of course, all have to do with the personal sphere: how do you experience your own sex life? If we agree that the personal is political, then we must look outward as well. But this, to me, is where radical feminist arguments get really problematic.

In the comment thread above, for example, Nine Deuce asks her readership whether a private sex act can be anti-feminist, as opposed to feminist or simply neutral. This led into a discussion of “degrading” acts, the most oft-referenced one being the “facial.” One commenter defined “degrading” as follows: “If you engage in a sex act that a reasonable person would agree is degrading or humilating, whether or not you do (this one is tricky, I know, and relates to the abovementioned brainwashing), then it’s anti-feminist.”

To which I say: okay, what? So you’re engaging in the act, you don’t find it degrading, but if some mythical “reasonable person” would, then it’s anti-feminist and you must have been brainwashed? Oh great, we’re back to Ayn Rand.

Sorry. I know, I said I wasn’t going to be sarcastic.

Another commenter responded rather brilliantly: “if we start off with the idea that men find certain sex acts degrading (and perpetrate them on women in order to express misogyny), and we then state that any reasonable person would also find these sex acts degrading, then are we not granting that men have established the standard of reasonability?”

This, exactly. And this is where this questioning of female agency – which is what this kind of thing most certainly is – really burns my ass. Not only are they saying that in a patriarchy, a woman’s ability to make choices for herself is compromised by the messages she receives from society. They’re also responding to this supposed state of reality by letting the patriarchy define the discourse of what women should rightfully choose for themselves! I.e.: if it’s a standard heteronormative sex act, or if it’s portrayed in mainstream media, or worse, if it’s been popularized in pornography – it must be wrong to desire it, and you can’t trust yourself as a woman if you do.

Which brings me to my firm and unshakeable belief about sexuality, BDSM, and the whole enchilada: however a woman chooses to express her sexuality, when it is her choice, is okay inasmuch as it causes her no harm either in the act itself or in the remainder of her life. And because the alternative – self- and other-policing, self-denial, shame and closeting – is so much more dire, the only choice we have is choice itself. We must be permitted to express ourselves in loving relationship in the way that makes the most sense to us, feels best to us, is hottest to us. Trying to cure someone of his or her kinky desires is not only futile, it’s monstrous. If we start questioning our ability to make choices for ourselves because we don’t live in a perfect society…I’ll let the reader speculate for a while, hopefully in abject horror, as to where that leads.

The other thing that I think a lot of radfems miss is the following: when two consenting, self-aware adults take an act that is supposed to be degrading and do it together in a loving context, this is a subversion of the dominant paradigm and thus has the potential for healing on a personal and on a political level.

I already talked a bunch about how BDSM can potentially be healing. On a personal level, I’ll add to it the concept of shame, since the subject of degradation is on the table. In my own experience as a submissive, I have had a lot of my shame stripped from me by what some might call “humiliation play.” While embarrassing, even mortifying at times, the further I go in this direction with my dominant – who incidentally, insists that this is not “humiliation,” as he is more interested in helping me break through unnecessary taboos than in making me feel bad – the result is that in my everyday life, I am more relaxed, less uptight, less worried about what people think, and prouder of who I am.

When BDSM play strips you down to your bare humanity, without all of the social constructs that cause neurosis – that’s subversive. That’s healing. That’s radical.

When people like us go out into the world and show how the patriarchy is broken – not by parrotting it, as we’re accused of, but by exaggerating it, fetishizing it, entering into its incredible power in a deliberate way and releasing that energy in ecstatic union – that’s radical.

Suppressing pornography doesn’t make it go away. Never has. Adding to the body of work pornography that you find more accurately expresses your truth – that’s a healing act.

Patriarchy exists. It is systematic, and deeply entrenched. But we cannot stop it by setting up a utopic alternative where freedom of choice in sexuality is even further suppressed because it frightens us to look at it. Another commenter on the same thread finished a comment by saying, “It might be difficult to imagine what a politically progressive sexuality would entail but I’d think it’s worth the effort anyway.” I don’t know. Sounds pretty boring to me. Not to mention terrifying. It may be true that certain kinds of kink arise out of patriarchy. I don’t know, and I don’t really care. I don’t think it’s so; if it is, then where does gay leather come from? Where does femdom come from? Why are there people who like to pop balloons? I think that kink arises from how everything in our lives affects us and can get kinked in our heads, usually at a young age. And I think erotic powerplay is so pervasive because power dynamics are an inescapable part of the human condition. The struggle for dominance is age-old and comes down to biology. And no, this is not going to be an evolutionary defense for Gor. I just think that feminists are fooling themselves if they think that in Teh Future of Post-Patriarchy, there will be no BDSM because everything will be all egalitarian and shit.

Oh crap, there’s the sarcasm again. Just a little speech impediment.

Patriarchy is the current reality. Power dynamics are an overarching reality – human beings organize themselves into hierarchies, no matter what utopian formula you try. The best thing we can do to reality is to embrace it if it works, and deliberately subvert it if it doesn’t. The more I do kink in my own life, the more I learn about my own assumptions, my own struggles with power, my own relationship to others. It makes me stronger, by showing me what I can take, by showing me what I’m capable of, by dancing me close to the edge and pulling me back. Playing with power is like taming fire. You have to take care not to get burned, but the benefits and the opportunity for growth are near-endless. You don’t want to let it get out of control and burn your house down. But the answer to that should never be to relinquish fire.

I’m sure I’ll be spending more time over at the radfem blogs, pissing myself off; it’s hard to stop. But I realized that I get a lot more joy out of reading beautiful things like this explication of the uses of the bizarre in kink. A blog I stumbled across by clicking off of the radfem blog comments when someone said something reasonable. I guess it wasn’t a total loss after all.

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I’ve recently stumbled across Trinity’s blog, in particular this post entitled ‘On Not Asking Why.’ The main gist of it is this: Whenever people go about asking women things like “why do you suppose you enjoy getting tied up and beaten,” what they really mean, generally, is “What’s wrong with you anyway,” and at times specifically, “How dare you perform a sexuality that contributes to the patriarchy, you bad bad feminist?”

The overall message of the post is that asking why someone is kinky in the first place is probably intellectual wankery at best anyway, and so my first response to it was to question her logic, and whether it wasn’t still valuable at times to question some of the things that get our rocks off when they’re politically problematic in some way (rape fantasies, for example).

Then I took a gander at the comment thread at a blog called Rage Against the Man-chine that engendered the post and quickly decided that this type of question very likely never leads to good places. Certainly not to fun happy wet ones.

Click the above link at your own risk. My own days of blissful naivete are over. There are radical feminists out there hating on BDSM. Many of them believe that all women who would ever be submissive to a man must have been abused and damaged in their childhoods, and due to past trauma have been groomed and won over to accepting abuse from their male tops “consensually,” scare quotes intentional. Also, male dominants are always actually closet abusers. Also OMG Teh Patriarchy. Also, did you know that in ‘the post patriarchy,’ nobody will be into BDSM? Bet you didn’t know that.

Now don’t get me wrong: I know that we still live very much in a racist, homophobic, patriarchal, broken capitalist system. But seriously: you’re going to tell me that my sexuality is RONG AND BAD because patriarchy exists and I’m perpetuating it by getting my rocks off when men hit me with stuff (because I ask them to)? And you’re going to solve this horrible injustice (occurring chiefly in my pants) by deciding for me that my sexuality is politically incorrect?

Wow, fuck you sideways.

I’m very grateful that Trinity is out there, fighting the good fight and getting into those kinds of spaces, getting her hands dirty and taking a hell of a lot of shit for the sake of trying to set these people, who should be our allies, straight. I for one have no such patience, and will go on observing the melee from a safe distance.

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WTF of the day

So, I’m looking for places to post news of my clips going up (like ya do), and my videographer points me to Mistress Destiny’s Femdom forums.

I’m reading along in the rules of the forum, which all seem relatively reasonable, until I come across this little gem:

Do not dispute the sex of another member on an open Forum. If you are transgendered you are expected to ensure that the membership knows this [emphasis mine]. If you believe a member is misrepresenting his or her sex then bring it to the attention of a moderator in a private message or e-mail.

Wait, what? So, we all know that 47-year-old guys who live in their mother’s basements along with a stockpile of weapons go around on the Internet all the time pretending to be nubile 18-year-old girls. I can understand where this might be a problem if folks on the forums are trying to get together with members of their preferred gender group, and I admire the moderator for suggesting that such disputes be handled privately outside of the boards. I’m sure there’s some great story for why this rule became necessary, though it still irks me in some weird way.

But did I just read that right that transgendered people are expected to disclose their transgenderedness to the members of the forums? What kind of damnfool asshattery is that supposed to be? So, your gender identity is protected from public discussion/dispute so long as you are a cisgendered male or female, but if not you’re expected to tell everyone about it up front?

Um. Okay, this is supposed to be a community about alternative sexuality, yes? Specifically femdom? Right. So…maybe you could be just a tad bit more open-minded than that? And maybe, oh, I don’t know, stop discriminating against people who are a vital part of your community?? You of all people should know that gender is a sticky subject at best, and while I understand your desire to keep the subject of the boards mainly in a femdom context (i.e., no posting male dom videos or whathaveyou), what reason do you have for “expecting” that any of your membership reveal his, her, zir or hir gender to anyone?

I don’t think I’ll be spending much time over there. Or at the least, I’ll be writing an angry letter to the moderator.

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