Janet Mock is a transwoman author who has strong opinions on gender and the sex industry shared in this memoir. Mock discusses many topics, but this review will cover five: essentialism, the term “cis”, the term “fish”, hormone blockers for children, and the sex industry.
Author Archives: smash
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. Read More
Lesbian BDSM, part 3: BDSM and the Prevention of Revolution
Guest re-post by Maggie H.
This post is the final part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.
Definition: As this is the final part here, I would like to make it clear by what I mean by BDSM for the purpose of this series. BDSM is ‘Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism (formerly known as ‘sadomasochism’); a form of patriarchal sexuality involving the eroticisation of the symbols of slavery, misogyny, captivity, rape and torture. It is a sexuality that involves the most egregious dynamics of domination and subordination (a.k.a. ‘dom/sub’) and the sexualisation of pain and/or danger.’
So what happened to the woman-identified woman nowadays? Let me first go back to the origins and causes of the mainstreaming of BDSM within contemporary lesbian culture and communities. I will then elaborate more on how BDSM prevents revolution.
Back in the 1970’s, Radicalesbians released a statement saying that “a lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion” as a feminist call for woman-loving lesbianism. During the 1990’s, the lesbian pornographic magazine On Our Backs gave this statement an odd twist with proclaiming that “a lesbian is the lust of all women condensed to the point of explosion.” This was the beginning of lesbianism being socially defined solely on sexual terms. This was the end of woman-loving lesbian feminism.
Lesbian BDSM, part 2: Contemporary Lesbian Culture
Guest post by Maggie H.
This post is the second part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.
Warning: This post contains some graphic depictions of pornified lesbian culture. I believe it is important to know what some lesbians are watching, making, writing & reading ‘for fun’ these days. The examples taken from lesbian media are not ‘isolated cases.’ Many lesbians I spoke to actually say that they ‘love’ websites like Autostraddle or magazines such as Diva UK. These things are part of mainstream lesbian culture today.
As pointed out at the end of the first part (on lesbian BDSM fanfiction, a cultural phenomenon within lesbian culture), the fandoms of Xena, Buffy, Stargate SG-1, Rizzoli & Isles (or whatever show lesbians want to read BDSM fan fiction from) are not the only lesbian cultures that have been affected by patriarchy. No, unfortunately, there are many more aspects of contemporary lesbian culture that have been poisoned by patriarchal ideology and male-centred sexuality too.
So let me take you through contemporary lesbian culture now.
Lesbian BDSM, part 1: Lesbian BDSM in Fan Fiction
Guest re-post by Maggie H.
This post is the first part of a series of posts based on some of the RadFem Reboot 2012 presentation talk that I gave in Oregon recently on the patriarchal takeover of women’s sexuality.
Warning: This post contains some descriptions of what happens in written pornography. Skip those parts if you feel queasy; read them if you really want to know what some lesbians are writing & reading ‘for fun’ these days.
Disclaimers: By writing this post I would like to make very clear that I am not criticising individual women for having particular sorts of fantasy. I am a former BDSMer myself. I am actually being critical of the pornographic works being published online, and of the patriarchal context within which such stories get written and read in the first place. I believe it is important to challenge the everyday political poisoning of our lesbian communities by BDSM culture. If you read or write those kinds of stories, I am not ‘attacking’ you personally; I am just trying to make a point concerning what you read or write.
I feel the need to talk about fan fiction, as it has become an important part of lesbian culture nowadays in some circles. This includes stories based on the characters of Willow & Tara (from Buffy: Vampire Slayer) and Xena & Gabrielle (from Xena: Warrior Princess) –and there are also lesbian fan fiction stories based on the characters of Stargate SG-1, Rizzoli & Isles or other shows lesbians happen to be fans of. Not all lesbian fan fiction stories are bad or misogynistic (some can actually be really good and female-centred), but BDSM sexuality is often glamorised in some popular lesbian fan fiction tales. Those stories are written and read by lesbian fans of those TV shows, everyday women: women like you or me. Any lesbian can become an anonymous fan fiction writer nowadays, and get easily published on the Internet for free via specific fan fiction websites.
BDSM is Violence Against Women
This post contains graphic descriptions.
Radical feminists often argue that BDSM practice is about degrading, humiliating, violating and torturing women. It is patriarchal violence against women—whether it occurs in your bedroom, on your computer screen, or is simulated during your lunchtime book reading.
We do not blame women who participate in it, but we will analyze it through a feminist lens.
BDSM is the legitimization of domestic violence against women. Case in point: The Feminist and the Cowboy. Author Alisa Valdes wrote an erotic semi-autobiographical book about a dominant lover who violently f’ked her under the guise of consensual “play”. After her book was released, Vales wrote a blog post detailing the real life abuse that the “cowboy” inflicted on her. Though the abuse was framed as consensual in her book, her real life experience with the cowboy involved being raped, verbally abused, threatened, and abandoned once he discovered her pregnancy.
Similarly, during a recent BDSM
play abuse session, abuser Steven Lock strangled a woman he had recently met on a dating site with a rope, chained her to his bed, lashed her 14 times, f’kd her, and then left her chained. She had to call a friend to help her escape, but Lock was cleared of all abuse charges once he claimed the assault had been “consensual”.
BDSM occurs in the context of patriarchal rape culture, where women always “deserve” the rape, violence, abuse and death that men dish out to them, and women who object to this treatment are called names, and dismissed out-of-hand.
“Religious Freedom” is Code for the Sanctioned Removal of Women’s Rights
US residents may have noticed the recent War on Women being perpetrated in this country using the excuse of “religious freedom” to justify this rollback of women’s rights.
For the most recent installment of this assault on our rights, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently signed House Bill 2625, which authorizes employers with religious affiliations to refuse to cover contraception on their employees’ health insurance plans.
States Brewer about the bill:
In its final form, this bill is about nothing more than preserving the religious freedom to which we are all Constitutionally-entitled. Mandating that a religious institution provide a service in direct contradiction with its faith would represent an obvious encroachment upon the 1st Amendment.
On 50 Shades of Grey and the Erotization of Male Domination
Submissiveness is empowering.
The above are just a few of the lies that patriarchal culture has served up for women in the best selling BDSM novel 50 Shades of Grey.
First-time female novelist E L James began the piece as short fan fiction based off of the Twilight series whose main relationship between a 104 year old vampire and a teenage girl meets all the criteria for domestic violence.
Given its source material, it’s not surprising that 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels tells the story of a billionaire who convinces a young woman to agree to be his full time sex slave. E L James’ story is not new.
Are Women Human? Hefner, Angelwish, and the Patriarchy Say No
Angelwish is a charity whose mission is to provide gifts to children living with HIV/AIDS, asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, and other chronic illnesses.
On Feb 12th, Angelwish gave Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine and worldwide misogyny promoter, its Humanitarian of the Year award “for all his charitable efforts over the years.”
Angelwish, a charity dedicated to an uncontroversial cause, provides strong approbation and endorsement of Hefner by giving this award. It has not seen his lifelong commitment to hate speech against women as inconsistent with the descriptor “Humanitarian”.
But why exactly are Hefner’s actions and lifestyle inconsistent with the term “humanitarian”?
Why Did Sasha Grey Exit Pornography?
Sasha Grey is an exited pornography victim who was known for participating in nearly all the degrading types of acts available in pornography. Before her retirement, she was the best-known woman in the industry besides Jenna Jameson (source Pornland by Gail Dines, p. 41). At her first shoot shortly after her 18th birthday, she asked her costar/paid rapist to punch her in the stomach. She also claims to have invented licking a toilet seat as part of a scene in pornography.
After only being in the porn industry for about three years, Ms. Grey has retired from the filmed exploitation business. But why, if the industry was so lucrative and she loved sex so much, did she retire?
Who are the Perpetrators?
In the US earlier this week, it came to light that in the 1990s, two different women accused Republican presidential candidate and current front-runner Herman Cain of sexual harassment when he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in 1999.
Herman Cain denies sexually harassing anyone.
Of course, denial is tactic men in power frequently use when accused of using, buying, harassing, and abusing women. Consider the DSK case, the Anthony Wiener case, Silvio Berlusconi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, (he’s got two!), Justice Thomas, and more. The list of male leaders involved in and denying sex scandals is exceptionally long. In all of these cases, we have examples of men who believe that they should, as a condition of their status as powerful males, be believed- even when they are lying. All of the above men denied their abusive behavior.
Do women also make public denials?