Tag Archives: bdsm

Video: Gail Dines, “Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism”

7 Oct

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Bondage: Now 100% More in Cemeteries

21 Sep

You know when you’re reading a news story and you feel like there’s no hope for the world and everything is awful and fuck it I’m just going to sit on my couch and watch a video of cats playing with a treadmill on a loop for an hour? This seems to happen fairly often for me, including this week.

Recently in Seattle, a pornographer thought it’d be a supersexihot idea to go to a veterans cemetery and hang (yes, hang) women on ropes from cannons and memorial statues. The bondage porn photoshoot has led police to investigate possible trespassing violations [note: link contains blurred versions of some of the photos.]

The outrage this has provoked very clearly is at the “disrespect” of the act. That is, the specific location where the porn was made makes it disrespectful. What – you thought people give a damn about the production of images featuring women bound and hung by rope? C’mon, this isn’t the year 2390, y’all! (2390 is when the radfem revolution will be complete; mark your calendars!) Even so, there is something to that. Not so much the whole “desecrating Our War Heros™” thing as the “female humiliation is everywhere” thing. It’s not awful enough to produce this in private; nope, you’ve gotta go where people’s dead relatives are and do it there.

But wait! He has an explanation for why he had to do it there and it’s totally nuanced and artistic and stuff:

The photographer, in a statement, said his intent was for the photos to make people think.

“The title of this series is Spoils of War,” wrote Patrick Andraste in a statement emailed to KOMO 4 News. “The model is Japanese American, and some of her family was interned in the relocation camps during WWII. Her grandfather was a combat vet during WWII and a long time peace activist. (She) wanted to show that the truth of our country’s history is disturbing.”

I’d say our present day is pretty disturbing too, bro. Like, did you hear about this guy who strung up a woman in cemetery and took phot– oh, right. Also, one can do a lot to simply “make people think”… dude could throw his literal shit on the ground, photograph it, and say that he wanted to perform a visual critique of Bergsonian intuitionism. By all means, do that (and I’m sure you could even get an MFA out of it too). But of course women’s bodies have to be used as tools to communicate his ‘message’. But I’m sure I’m just missing his self-aware irony that replicating forces of oppression represents. It’s meta! Or something! It’s just definitely not problematic or rapey. Nope.

On the photographer’s website, there’s another photo set from last month depicting a woman in latex garb out on the sidewalks of downtown Seattle. The caption mentions that they were playing “terrorize the tourists”. In this particular set, passersby are not cropped out of the photos. Rather, they are fully visible, reacting to what this man has thrown into their lives. Oh, you just needed to go to the bank? FETISH IN UR FACE. For all the talk of consent and boundaries within the ‘community’, part of the thrill in this is that there are non-consenting people involved in what he’s doing. It is the erasing of boundaries that makes it appealing in the first place, knowing that you are violating someone.

And now, cats and treadmills. Because the world is hateful and you deserve better.

Links: April 18, 2011

18 Apr

Rad Fem Crafts: “Don’t Piss on My Head and Call It Privilege”. . . not only does this post win the Post Title of the Year award, but it also succinctly describes what’s wrong with big tent politics.

Scum-o-Rama: “Tasty Privilege”. . . on the crap that is ‘vanilla privilege’.

We Won’t Submit: A guest post by Bev Jo, “Would A Vulva By Any Other Name Smell  As Sweet?”. . . on male language for ‘female parts’.

Gender Trender has a simple graphic, providing a RadFem 101 lesson: “MOAR Simplr”.

Undercover Punk: “Trans childrens”

Ball Buster: “Imagine”. . . [TW for violence]

Imagine, if you will: If every time a female porn star got beat up, that it would make national news.

FAB Matters: “the problem with fun feminism”:

What the malestream and funfeminism offer women is the same, only the funfem version is more nervous and complicated.

If she chooses to roll with the malestream, in return she will get male approval. If she chooses to roll with funfeminism she will get some (more limited and highly conditional) male approval, quite a bit of male ridicule, and … ?

Not much else.

The Nation: “Will the Justice Department Stand Up for Women Raped in Prison?” [TW for sexual assault]:

[F]or women, one consequence of sexual violence is pregnancy, especially for those who are forced to endure repeated rapes. More than 200,000 women are imprisoned right now, and many more pass through prisons and jails over the course of a year—each one vulnerable to sexual assault, and to pregnancy resulting from it. Despite the years of hearings, testimony and research, the Justice Department’s PREA rules still fail to protect the reproductive rights and health of women in this situation.

Quotable: Material Matters

29 Jan

Martha Nussbaum, from “The Professor of Parody”. . . on Judith Butler, parody, and theory without real-life application:

“For women who are hungry, illiterate, disenfranchised, beaten, raped, it is not sexy or liberating to reenact, however parodically, the conditions of hunger, illiteracy, disenfranchisement, beating, and rape. Such women prefer food, schools, votes, and the integrity of their bodies. I see no reason to believe that they long sadomasochistically for a return to the bad state. If some individuals cannot live without the sexiness of domination, that seems sad, but it is not really our business. But when a major theorist tells women in desperate conditions that life offers them only bondage, she purveys a cruel lie, and a lie that flatters evil by giving it much more power than it actually has.”

The entire article can be read here (opens as a PDF).
For a summary of the main points of the article, check out this page.

Degrading Feminism (See What I Did There?)

15 Jan

[Trigger warning for descriptions of BDSM.]

I found an interview on Feministing with “feminist” pornographer and sex-pozzie educator Tristan Taormino recently. I don’t visit Feministing anymore, so I found it linked from another site. That site? Adult Video News, the pornography industry’s trade mag. Just how I like my feminism. . . pornography-industry approved and promoted.

I’m not really going to get into the interview too much, but you can read it here if you’d like. There were just a couple bits I wanted to draw attention to since they relate to my later analysis.

1. Taormino says that, in college, she lived in a place called Womanist House. Later, when discussing young women not identifying as feminists, she expresses her confusion at this. She mentions how it’s a slap in the face to all the feminist work of the past, which I’m assuming means USian, white suffragists. While I get the train of thought she’s going with, there are other reasons that women – even young women – don’t call themselves feminists. Uh, hello… Womanist House?

2. “And I was raised by a gay man, so I love musicals.” And I was raised by straight, blue-collar parents, so I love NASCAR.

Now, onto something that was not in the interview.

On Taormino’s website, she answers messages from people asking advice about their sex lives. This one question stuck out to me. The following bold emphasis is mine.

Dear Anal Advisor:

My boyfriend is ultra submissive in just one area: his ass. He doesn’t go for the Mistress thing, lick-my-boot mentality, but when it comes to his ass (which is the focus of his fantasies and always how he’s able to come) he’s full sub. I know exactly what he needs that way, pain and humiliation. Directed at his ass. Insulting HIM gets us nowhere, but insulting HIS ASS does.  My snag is this: there are only so many ways to insult an ass. Degrading his ass, calling it a cunt or pussy gets him off in a snap. Is there any way to get good ideas to boost my imagination so play is not monotonous for either of us?

Mistress of His Ass

Can you guess what is not addressed whatsoever in the response? What is just glided over as a-okay and totally unproblematic? Get out your sex-poz bingo cards!

Dear Mistress of His Ass:

Plenty of people get off on pain, humiliation, degradation, and overall submission. Clearly your boyfriend’s submissiveness is tied directly to his ass and anal play. There are many ways to combine submission and anal pleasure. You’ve already insulted his ass, but have you also tried to insult and humiliate *him* for wanting his ass penetrated, for being a naughty butt boy? Take all the cultural baggage that comes with anal pleasure, and use it to your advantage, as a psychological tool: it’s dirty, taboo, dangerous, and will make him gay. Of course those aren’t true, but these myths can make for great mindfuck material. If he likes extreme submission, you may also want to explore forced anal penetration or anal rape scenes; that’s tricky territory, so tread lightly. It also sounds like there is an element of gender play in your man’s fantasies, since he enjoys having his ass be called his pussy. Try to explore that part of his desire further. Does he want to crossdress, to be girl? Does he want to be forced to do it? Forced feminization is quite popular and may be part of what he’s try to express in the anal play you’re currently having. See if he will open up about and be specific about his submissive anal desires, and use what he gives you to take things to the next level.

Way to NOT unpacked everything that goes into the idea of degradation being sexy.

The woman writing for advice says that her boyfriend enjoys being degraded. How? By calling a particular orifice of his a pussy or cunt. This is then misidentified by Taormino as a possible desire for “gender play”. Could it be that, since he equates having a vagina with being degraded, that he is actually just into that other popular practice of misogyny? Then, there’s “forced feminization” brought up in her response. That idea/practice is seriously woman-hating as folks raised as girls/women endure that exact thing – forced feminization. And this is what bunch of dudes get off on. Surprise, surprise.

The first line of Taormino’s response is simply a statement of fact, implying that if enough people like something, that makes it good/healthy/etc. “Plenty of people get off on pain, humiliation, degradation, and overall submission.” Yeah. Like rapists.

Taormino advises the advice-seeker to use “cultural baggage” as a way of turning her boyfriend on via degradation. Interesting term… “cultural baggage”. Using homophobia as incitement for your boyfriend to orgasm. . . FEMINISM.

And for all the talk about how “sex is a normal and natural thing”, “pornography can be a celebration of healthy sex”. . . why is it that sex is constantly referred to as dirty, women as dirty, etc in all porn, including feminist porn? Oh, but Taormino clarifies that sex as dirty and so on “aren’t true”. Just how far are we supposed to take this massive cognitive dissonance here? What if this boyfriend (who I’m assuming is white because BDSM is totally a Thing White People Like) really got off on, say, “fantasies” of being degraded as a black woman under U.S. slavery? Do we say, “Hey, well, what gets you off gets you off,” or do we offer even a modicum of analysis of just why the hell that may be? Hmm, could it have to do with misogynistic racism? I’m a little surprised Taormino doesn’t suggest something like that since, you know, what’s more degraded than having a vagina as well as brown skin? “But how else will he orgasm if not imagining himself in the position of an indentured woman?” Tough shit. Find something that isn’t  overwhelmingly offensive even at first glance. Find something that doesn’t eroticize someone’s oppression.

Golly, I’m sure glad that feminist Tristan Taormino is doing justice to all the feminist work that came before her. Fight the good fight, Tristan. . . well, unless someone thinks it’s really hot.

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.

Amazon.com & the Tip of the Rape Product Iceburg

10 Nov

[Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault and sexual abuse of children.]

There’s a news item going around about how Amazon.com is selling an e-book called, “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct.” It’s a guide to raping children and how to get away with it. Amazon isn’t taking down the book and said in a statement that Amazon thinks taking down the book would be “censorship”. It’s a great feat of mental acrobatics to believe that a private business doesn’t have the right to sell what it wants, so I’m guessing that something else is behind this.

It’s been pointed out elsewhere that Amazon sells plenty of products designed to fit all your rape culture needs. I think one of the reasons Amazon is claiming some bullshit “first amendment” argument here is because, if they listen to people’s concerns about this item and decide to pull it from their site, they’d probably have to stop selling a really freakin’ huge number of other rape-related products.

As was done in the Shakesville post I just linked to above, I too decided to look up “rape” on Amazon. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of material, particularly movies.

Now, Amazon doesn’t sell (what they consider to be) pornography. However, just because they don’t sell anything released by Vivid doesn’t mean they don’t have things closely resembling pornography.

On the search results page, I find “Breaking Her Will”. The main reviewer complaint is that it was too tame. The film is about the abduction and rape of a female hitchhiker. Reviewers of these kinds of films tend to voice this dissatisfaction about the violence and degradation not being ‘intense’ enough. As reviewer S. Klepper of Texas (using his real name) says,

when it arrived and I looked at the cover, I was thinking “5 stars”, when I started watching it, I was like “holy sh**!”, after watching it all…weeeellll…. the bottom line is this, B&D, lots of female nudity (cool), BUT! NO penetration (not so cool).

Perhaps this would-be rapist would prefer one of the movies in the “Forced Entry” series or “Victims” or “Forgive Me For Raping You”. Maybe he could watch the films while wearing this shirt that Amazon also sells.

Amazon knows that they have customers seeking products that facilatate their rapist desires, and they likely aren’t going to take this pedophilic ‘guide’ down. Money over women’s lives, like always.

‘Sex Radicalism’ & Anti-Political-Correctness: Peas in a Normative Pod

31 Oct

I’ve been thinking about so-called sex radicals lately. You know, the “pro-sex” (aka pro-commodified-sexuality) crowd who thinks it’s super awesome to engage in “power play” in sex and watch porn that includes fucking machines (or whatever). They throw around the word ‘vanilla’ to describe any type of sex that looks like you actually care about your partner’s safety and well-being. They claim that they are just so outside of what is socially-acceptable and that they are, essentially, a sexual minority.

This attitude is also seen with supposedly progressive people (*cough* Bill Maher *cough*) crusading against “political correctness”. This strain of back asswards liberalism believes in just “saying it like it is” and not “censoring” themselves. They act as if they’re fighting against The Man, but the result of their cavalier fuck-all attitude is that people get hurt. Not just “Oh, you hurt my feelings” hurt either. More like “Oh, thanks for keeping me as a permanent underclass through bigoted language” hurt. When you profess how little you give a damn about this, you are The Man.

The “pro-sex” and the anti-PCers both believe they are outside the norm of what is acceptable. However, what is so radical about calling Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin a bitch? They’re women in politics who you just demeaned with a gendered slur. Congrats. And what is so radical about hierarchal sexual relations? Isn’t that, ya know, exactly what we’ve been doing all along? Oh, I see though, you are aware that your Nazi/prisoner S&M role playing has clear power differentials. Well, I’m glad you read that chapter on WWII in your high school history book. Reenacting hierarchical relationships that are already present in the culture and calling it a part of your sexual orientation is not revolutionary. It’s just magnifying preexisting oppressive paradigms tenfold.

Your hip irreverence is not bold. Your hearty embrace of commingling power with sex is not in opposition to existing sexual norms. Knock it off and actually get radical.