I’m going to do something I don’t usually do on this site: I’m going to argue with liberals. This is because I’m a very secular person, even when it comes to politics. If there’s no evidence for what is said, or if what is said conflicts with the observable world, then I’m either not prone to believe it or I’m going to be against it.
And there’s a lot of conflict with the observable world in some recent posts at “I Blame the Patriarchy“.
The two posts in question are about things of a sexual nature, and the reason I’m discussing them is because the assessments provided are inaccurate and untrue, and honestly seem to verge on a kind of paranoia. It’s not that men don’t have an unfair advantage in our society–they do. It’s just that there are limits. The way these posts make it sound, there’s this secret commission of men somehow dictating people’s sexual behavior, and controlling what people are aroused by.
Mostly, it appears to be the result of making value judgments with a limited frame of information.
The first of the posts to which I’ll be offering a rebuttal is called Dad’s Yer Uncle. The subject is a Utah judge having multiple wives, and how polyamory is all a tool of men, and is about ownership of women. This post also makes mention of the subject of the second post I’ll address: BDSM. But I’ll save everything I have to say on that for later.
Here’s where I agree: In many cases, especially those involving so-called Christians, polygamy/polyamory/etc is indeed about the subjugation and ownership of women. In many other cases, it’s all about guys just wanting to have a bunch of women around to fuck.
But the post makes broad, all-encompassing statements and value judgments about the concept of polyamory and those who practice it, and as is often the case, these absolute, broad statements are inaccurate.
Women can also have multiple sex partners or lovers. The idea that it’s all a tool of men seems to imply something rather insulting about the sexual interests and drives of women. That is, that women do not enjoy sex (or would not enjoy it with more than one person), that they have no or little sex drive, and that they–given the assumption provided by the author that it’s all about ownership–cannot themselves muster the energy or drive to have the same dominating effect. It makes an absolute blanket statement about women that simply isn’t true, and serves as a rather insulting stereotype for women’s sexuality.
But this value judgment about polyamory is also inaccurate in that it seems unable to fully grasp the ideals and philosophy of the concept. Again, for many it’s about ownership, or sexual domination. But it’s, I am told, a fairly common realization for “most intelligent people who can think for themselves” that it’s capable to love more than one person without loving any of them in any decreased capacity.
This has actually been the subject of some recent conversations I’ve had. Last summer, Janet and I were discussing the idea. She likes playing devil’s advocate, and she hates it when I don’t have an open mind about things I don’t fully understand. The reason I’d been rejecting the concept is, I’ll admit, somewhat arbitrary: My dad cheated on my mom on one or two occasions, and the idea of affection for anyone outside the relationship left a bad residue on my brainmeats. I’ve been working to better understand the concept, though, and to get over my closed-mindedness. My only real objection now stems from the inevitable unfairness of the situation: One person would predictably end up with more lovers, and this would probably result in jealousy and feelings of exclusion and et cetera.
It is possible, if all parties involved are okay with the concept, for someone to love more than one person without loving any of them any less. It’s not a trade-off, and by loving one, you’re not loving the other less. What I’m talking about isn’t about sex, it’s about general, genuine affection, and it’s certainly in no way a tool of the patriarchy, or about ownership, or some other kind of unhealthy, misogynist attitude. It may only exist within a small fraction of polyamorous relationships, but it exists. (By the way, as clarification: It’s different from cheating (aforementioned) in that all parties involved are consenting to the activity.) I’m naturally a very monogamous person, but I’ve grown to understand the idea, and can see how it would work.
But the biggest problem with this piece is that the author seems to think (or, at least, it’s strongly implied) that a man’s affection and love are only covers for the ulterior motive of wanting to shove his penis into something, and that polyamory is only about wanting an “incubator-cunt”, and that any man who doesn’t have a standard, missionary-position relationship is a misogynist who wants only to subjugate and enslave everything with a uterus. And it implies that any women in such non-traditional relationships are mindless, choiceless drones who can only obey their cruel, penis-wielding masters. It’s almost as appalling a worldview as the one by which the writer seems to be revolted.
The subject of this post, entitled Do It Till You’re Satisfied, is BDSM and fetishism, and is apparently written in reaction to a debate which took place in the comments for the article discussed above.
What the author writes would really only make sense if there were no women at all who got off on BDSM activity. Easily observable evidence indicates such is clearly not the case. I can even provide an anecdotal example: Janet’s mom is a dominatrix, as a hobby. She’s a laser scientist with a PhD, a graduate of MIT, extremely intelligent, very feminist, has a loving relationship with her husband and children, and is perfectly normal and rational and sane. Every so often, she’ll have a male friend over, and she’ll dominate him. She doesn’t charge for it, and she doesn’t do it for the benefit of the guy–she does it because she enjoys it and is aroused by it. (Don’t worry, it’s not a secret and I’m not violating anyone’s privacy or anything.)
BDSM plays on the power structures in sexuality, and exaggerates them often to grotesquery. Sure, it can often be about breaking people down or reducing them to sex toys, but it works both ways. To believe that it’s only a man thing implies a belief that men are inherently the dominant party in any sexual relationship, and women are inherently submissive, and all BDSM does is throw that into relief. This makes an extremely inaccurate generalization about human sexuality.
To claim that BDSM is a wholly male-dominated thing shows a misunderstanding of the fetish, and of human sexuality and fetishism in general. One might as well claim that foot fetishism is a tool of the patriarchy, or balloon-popping fetishes, or messy fetishes, or the millions of others that exist. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an arbitrary judgment, and is obviously made from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with fetishism. It seems like the kind of thing a person would say after seeing nothing but a picture of a girl chained to a bed and getting flogged, and drawing the immediate conclusion–and writing it in pen–that BDSM only involves women in submissive positions being hurt against their will.
It also indicates that the author misunderstands fetishes to be choices. Fetishism is no more a choice than homosexuality. As a person who has one or two, I can assure you that I never made a choice in my life to be aroused in such a way, and I can’t just “turn it off”. I don’t know, maybe there’s some kind of camp I can attend where recovered fetishists can teach me the errors of my ways and get me to see the light.
One key principle the writer misses is that respectable BDSM is consentual. If it isn’t, it’s rape. And, of course, why would women consent to it if there was no enjoyment of any sort in it for them? The logic just doesn’t make sense.
This attitude is counterproductive to feminism, and in fact pretty insulting. It implies that fetishes are choices, and that women choose to be aroused by the things they do, and only do so because theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not strong enough to resist the mighty, mind-controlling forces of men. It implies that women’s sex drives and desires are merely irresistable functions of those of men, and that they aren’t strong enough or intelligent enough to resist them, and that any women who are aroused by BDSM in any way are self-deluding idiots who don’t understand that they’re being tricked into worshipping penis.
Call me crazy, but I’m not seeing how any of this helps women at all, really.
Update: I just received a comment over there:
And Crowley, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m actually going to WASTE MY FUCKING TIME replying to this Ã¢â‚¬Å“itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s innateÃ¢â‚¬? horseshit YET AGAIN, but both lefthandedness [sic] and pedophilia appear to be innate. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all play happy-happy and approve of both!
Fucking HELL, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sock [sic] of this crap. Do you people even think before you open your mouths? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s obvious even to a huge dorkwad that the innateness of something has nothing to do with whether it is a worthy activity or not. Go back to kindergarten and REREAD THE OLD POSTS before you make a complete ass out of yourself bringing something up thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s alreay been conclusively dealt with, okay?
This indicates to me that there’s a fundamental lack of understanding as to what the word “consentual” means among this group. To conflate consentual sexual activity between adults (key words: consentual, adults) is as insane as conflating homosexuality and bestiality. Thank you, Rick Santorum of the feminist movement. P.S. – Ever read A Handmaid’s Tale? Oh, didn’t think so.
I propose the following thought experiment for this “Blame the Patriarchy” crowd: Try looking at the world in terms of harm and benefit. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t apply your own crypto-Christian value judgments, just look at the world in terms of what does harm to people, and what does benefit. A woman who enjoys being spanked by a man, and a man who enjoys spanking herÃ¢â‚¬â€œboth consenting adults. Who is harmed? But there sure is some benefit to be had for both, regardless of whatever neo-Freudian symbolism you try to apply, isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there? TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both enjoying themselves and both consenting.