Quotable: Domination is Not Inevitable

10 Dec

Audre Lorde, in an interview with Susan Leigh Star:

Sadomasochism is an institutionalized celebration of dominant/subordinate relationships. And, it prepares us either to accept subordination or to enforce dominance. Even in play, to affirm that the exertion of power over powerlessness is erotic, is empowering, is to set the emotional and social stage for the continuation of that relationship, politically, socially, and economically. [. . .]

The s/m concept of “vanilla” sex is sex devoid of passion. They are saying that there can be no passion without unequal power. That feels very sad and lonely to me, and destructive. The linkage of passion to dominance/subordination is the prototype of the heterosexual image of male-female relationships, one which justifies pornography. Women are supposed to love being brutalized. This is also the prototypical justification of all relationships of oppression—that the subordinate one who is “different” enjoys the inferior position. [. . .]

As women, we have been trained to follow. We must look at the s/m phenomenon and educate ourselves, at the same time being aware of intricate manipulations from outside and within.

4 Responses to “Quotable: Domination is Not Inevitable”

  1. Boner Killer December 10, 2010 at 9:58 am #


  2. Rainbow Riot December 12, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Very brilliant. This is exactly why I cringe whenever someone tries to tell me how “hot” BDSM is, or justify it by saying that it’s just play or that it’s “really about trust.”

  3. Aileen Wuornos December 12, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    How did I not know about this interview?!


  1. Glamourising sexualised violence: Why I hate porn part four | anti social butterfly - December 23, 2010

    […] the word vanilla, I turn your attention to Lishra’s posting of Audre Lorde’s interview with Susan Leigh Star: The s/m concept of “vanilla” sex is sex […]

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