This week, Casey McKay is our fearless leader in this conversation. She'll need it reading mine :D. I joked with my friend that "It's coming out pretty hostile." She suggested maybe I should try writing later, but I said, "No, they'll expect I'll be hostile with a topic like this."
Let me say from the outside that "feminism" and I have had a rocky relationship my whole life. In feminism's name, my mother was cold, was non-nurturing; as an adult, I can see it was an excuse- she was a broken person and doesn't even seriously believe in any type of feminism. I lost my virginity to rape at age 13; mother said I was a slut, that I deserved it, that it wasn't really rape. Somewhere in the next year or so, I started doing a variety of drugs and engaging in sex work to support a drug habit that quickly got out of control. Somewhere in that I came out as bisexual and was introduced to BDSM by my first girlfriend. The messages about feminism that I heard didn't quite speak to me- they told me I shouldn't do sex work, that it was bad, that I was bad for doing it, or that I was a poor victim, that it wasn't exactly my fault.
The second wave feminism I learned about did not want me. I learned that very well before I got to college. However I tried hard to be involved in various liberal activist groups at college. After all, I was about as bisexual, I was interested in environmentalism, I was Wiccan. Most important, so I thought, I believed that all people were equal, should be treated equally by the law, even when they chose to live in power imbalance relationships (ie lifestyle BDSM.) But those little girls- for their behavior said "little girl" not woman- told me I was wrong. That I couldn't be a feminist because I wanted to live as the submissive in a power imbalance relationship. That I couldn't be a feminist because I was open to engaging in sex work again. I should know better, they told me. I was setting women back, they told me. I made "the wrong choice."
"Radfem." Andrea Dworkin. Yeah, it might be unfair to name her, but when thinking of sex-negative feminists, those fitting the "hysterical man-hater," she comes to mind. Interestingly, when I skimmed a Wikipedia article on her before starting to write this paragraph, she was quoted as saying that people misunderstood her, that "all heterosexual intercourse is rape" is an oversimplification. So I'd finished a first draft of this article for the roundtable, saying "I'll come back to it before Nano starts." In the intervening time between the first draft and scheduling the post to publish on 11/8, I went from being a participating member to a admin to leaving a sex-positive feminism group. It was a radfem's attack of me for not exactly accepting another woman's perspective that lead me to leaving. As I vented in my Facebook status- how ironic it is that a woman drove me from a "feminist space." Not a man, no, but another woman who couldn't disagree with me in an adult manner. However, it is these radical feminists that I think of when I think of feminists- yes, again unfair, but well, enough people tell you that you've made the wrong choice? That'll happen.
Hearing me vent about feminist theory once, my Master asked me: "Isn't feminism supposed to be about giving women more choices?"
So yes, I haven't directly mentioned spanking or domestic discipline- while I'm in sympathy with those who spank either as a sexual fetish or as part of DD, my story is one of BDSM. Of course, as I've settled into my Master's collar over the 13-ish past years and as I've learned about DD, I can see the places where sometimes our lifestyle is closer to DD than BDSM. But it's all good- do we really need labels? Even "not mainstream?"
To look at the specific act- or in my case, spanking and much more. I wasn't spanked as a child and I didn't spank my son- I think for different reasons though :D. It seems to me that "Were you spanked as a child?" is one of those irritating things that spankos have to deal with from those who don't understand. So yes, we're past that point in the conversation. While in spanking fiction, in BDSM fiction, in practice in any of the sexualities that include spanking, there are certain positions that are more common- yes, I recently wrote about OTK spankings and how they aren't my favorite. And of course, it seems the woman in a dress over a man's knee that so many of seem to enjoy, regardless of our sexual orientation is a "feminist's worst nightmare." Then there's the inability of some feminists- especially radical feminists- to admit that a woman "would chose this." And yes, you've read elsewhere in this post my venting about choice and agency because damn it, I chose lifestyle BDSM. I asked my Master for His collar, for everything that this relationship entails.
Of course when I saw this topic on the Spanking Romances page, I jumped at it. Many pieces of my life, both "job" and simply "life," have me thinking, speaking, reading, writing, and teaching about the "problem of BDSM and feminism" daily. I certainly do more of those activities than my Master- He just wants to live life, enjoy a good meal, some good sex, some good sleep.
One large piece of my life is activism with Leather & Grace UUs for BDSM Awareness. How many times have I heard non-UUs say "If a UU can't accept you..." as if all UUs are the most open-minded people. That's Unitarian Universalist- a faith movement- for those who don't know. And no, all UUs aren't the most open-minded people. We do tend to be more "liberal," although in practice I haven't always found that word so meaningful. Particularly as a polyamorist and a lifestyle BDSM-er, I've found heartache, discrimination among other UUs. And I'm not the only one- hence the organization. Now many UUs pride themselves on being feminists- take a glance back at the beginning of my post for my issues with feminism, if you need :D. In a strategy planning meeting recently, I vented at another steering committee member (yup, I hold office in the organization- 2, I'm also head of educational outreach) "I dare anyone to tell me my submission is an unexamined thing. I dare anyone to tell me my life is like some Middle Eastern woman who only knows that she's a woman so she's less." The vent went on (including the title of this post), but thankfully the other member understood it wasn't directed at him.
While feminism is supposed to support a woman in making the choices that are right for her, I haven't found that true in my life. Sometimes I've thought it was mostly radical feminists, but I'm not sure since long ago, I stopped trying to read feminist philosophy as it invariably left me upset. I am grateful for feminist work that has forced the workforce open for women so that more women can choose to be in the workforce; that positivity has been tainted for me by shrill cries of "you're setting women back." Yes, it may look like I'm living in an old fashioned, even a '50s style relationship; "look" is the operative word and I loudly proclaim as often as I can that the intent of my life is not that. I enjoy being spanked, enjoy all sorts of BDSM activities that could look horrible on the outside to "someone who doesn't understand." That doesn't make my sexual desires wrong; even homosexuality used to be considered a mental disorder. Further, with my writing both as an author and in my work with Leather & Grace UUs for BDSM Awareness, my choice to live in a BDSM, power imbalance relationship is not an un-examined choice perpetuating stereotypes.
I'm not sure if we at L&G have talked to any female dominants to tell theirs stories, but the often made comment to me by male kinksters (top, bottom, or switch) is "Do you think they'd be as angry at you if you were a Domme?" I hate to say it, but I think so; I don't think "they" would be as angry at what "they" consider to be my bad choice.
I don't think it's a bad choice. I think it's one of the best choices I've made- to be true to myself.