Why Do I Write on BDSM?

Many feminists object when I say that the sexualization of dominance is anti-liberation. While I analyze BDSM practices through a feminist lens, they see me as stomping into their bedrooms and wagging my finger.

But none of my writing or conversing on the topic is done with the goal of “shaming” people who practice BDSM, though I am frequently infuriated by men who use BDSM culture to push women beyond their stated limits.

Rather, I am compelled to analyze the sexualization of dominance and submission through a feminist lens because radical analysis is as I see it central to dismantling oppressive systems of power.

The truth is, this analysis is not about your personal practice of BDSM.

I am not asking you to abstain from BDSM because I think it is “bad”. You chosing to practice BDSM or not is not revolutionary in and of itself. Furthermore, that type of thinking is a symptom of a liberal individualist perspective.

I’ve previously addressed whether ethical BDSM practice is possible. In my opinion, consent does not mitigate the harms of abuse, and those who engage in BDSM practice are participating in abuse.

But leaving that aside for now, I’d like to talk about resistance. Resistance means standing up against power and fighting back against our oppressors. It isn’t about making the best personal deal we can for ourselves within the profoundly exploitative and unjust patriarchal system. It means working together to overthrow/change the bullsh*t system and making conditions better for women as a class.

With that in mind, I will return to the question “Why do I write about BDSM?”

The practice of BDSM is about conforming to and learning to enjoy systems of oppression. It is about taking the unjust system of disenfranchisement, humiliation, and pain, and celebrating it in an intimate way. It is about objectifying and dehumanizing one another for the sake of orgasm in the context of a profoundly racist, misogynistic, and classist world.

In other words, BDSM is actively opposed to revolution. After all, if humiliation and degradation is sexy, why would we work towards ending it?

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3 comments
  1. I agree with you. I wish this was a topic more discussed, but it seems we are always silenced when talking about this problem. Some practitioners of BDSM even act like they are a minority group being oppressed if we critique BDSM. But I want to know how they could be a true minority when in all actuality their hierarchal view of sex is actually the default view in our culture. I wish there were as many forums and communities for those critical of BDSM as there are of those who support it.

  2. Lisa said:

    They created vision of an emerging group with all needed attributes such as behaviour, clothing, gadgets trying to convince others democracy is the main guarantor of their right to exist as a minority and right to support. BDSM is like re-emerging market or lifestyle product we all are pressured to support in the name of freedom and equality. Pressure on accepting this ‘novelty’ is so big that nobody dares discussing aftermath when people actually conform to this lifestyle demands. Conform and not consent, consent is of no importance here, it’s yet another meaningless catch world. BDSM is a demand to abuse others solely because specific group/minority can’t do otherwise. Violence and sexual activity seem to be last legally unregulated bastion in many civilized countries. Unfortunately power of advertising is far too big.

  3. I think the reason BDSM is pushed is so that when a woman really is being abused the public (and she herself) can be convinced that it is just a BDSM encounter she wasn’t ready for.

    Even if she accepts or liked being dominated, what type of person does the dominator have to be to want to or to enjoy dominating another? And since it just so coincidentally happens to be a woman a man enjoys dominating, how can that not be caused by misogyny?

    Even when women dominate men it is usually for the mans pleasure and he may order her what to do from “on bottom.” He is dominant in that case because he is the one whose fantasies and wishes and desires are being satisfied, not hers.

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