But then I saw this. (Does anyone know how ro permalink that? I can't find any but the "current" link and I don't want any linkrot.)
It makes me really sad, especially her "Don't even defend this to me in the comments because I know better than you because I've been around longer than you have." Um... huh? "I'm feeling really fragile about putting this out, so please don't debate" is one thing. "I've been an activist longer than any of you so STFU" is something very different.
I remember when someone, I think it was her 9edit: yes, it was, answered a question on the Scarleteen site from a teenager who mentioned that her boyfriend had submission fantasies. She answered it just as I'd hoped someone someday would -- by talking about how for some people fantasies like that seem to be a fairly fixed part of their sexual identities, and by saying that that's OK. By saying that the girl shouldn't do anything she doesn't want to, but that it's not some horrible evil thing to experiment, while warning her that some kinds of topping take practice and skill and there are some worthy reasons to wait until she's of age and can get into organizations where she can learn how at meetings and demos and such. By not hiding the idea that some people's fantasies do include those elements, and it doesn't mean they're going crazy.
As someone who did things like self-injure when she was underage, in part because I had no one to tell me I wasn't becoming something akin to a murderer, I'd wanted so bad just for someone to tell me those very bare basics: that SM could be safe. That others had fantasies like mine. That if I could just hold on until 18 or 21 (some groups' entry age is higher than others') I could find out how to be safe and find a community and I'd be okay. That I didn't need to kill myself. (Yes, I wanted to.) When I saw that article on Scarleteen, written so compassionately, I felt vindicated. It wasn't impossible or inappropriate or illegal, it looked like, to let kids know they weren't, at least, batfuck crazy for wondering this stuff, or for being in love with other kids who did. Hell, I had other teens who, when I finally confessed that some of my sexual curiosities were different than theirs, told me they knew that I and other friends who "did" such things (as if I'd started to, then) were destined to die of AIDS.
I'm not dead yet. Or poz either, for that matter, though what the fuck is with the hatred of people who are that's percolating in every syllable of that sentence anyway?
And I don't see how not doing SM keeps people safe. Not everyone who's dying has a leather vest or chaps. Is it nice to pretend they do because then you get to think you're immune?
And now I see this. "Oh wait, whoops, actually I meant you're a dupe of the patriarchy, though we can still get along. But wait, we can only get along unless you don't talk back because I've heard it all before, you know?"
Years ago I would have been blindingly angry, and probably slightly triggered to SI (because see? That self-acceptance I fought for that kept me from doing that? It's a lie. Look, Heather Corinna said so!) Now I'm just sad.
Because I've thought about this for years too. I've started to see the bad shit that can and does go on in the SM community. I realize that for a lot of people the experiences can be very gross. For some of them -- yeah, these male dominants who have no respect for anybody -- well, I can't imagine that some of that's not patriarchy talking. I look at the number of amazing people I know who identify as subs or bottoms who get that used against them in abusively hellish relationships and -- yeah, it's not so easy for me to be comfortable saying that no, it's never there. I look at some people's ways of defending TPE and yeah, I see it there. I look at the fact that 99.983% of the people I hear saying TPE is great are het and in the other fraction there are some dykes but never, it seems, a man submitting that way and yeah, why is that? So sure, I see it too.
But to say stuff like what Corinna is saying is to say that's all any of us are, even the scene people who are my best friends and even me. And to say stuff like what Corinna is saying is to deny the ties the SM community has always had with the queer community, and to say we're all on some heterosexist, power-mad trip. And it's just like Freud, where you can't deny what she's saying because really, is there any proof patriarchy's nefarious tendrils didn't cause or at least infect ANYTHING except maybe the basic tenets of feminism itself? And then I feel like I am bad and stuff.
Because see, I'm fairly sure I could have an "egalitarian sexuality" without giving up too much if I ever figured out what the fuck that was.
No, I'm not being sarcastic.
There's this huge polarization that anti-SM people (and I hate calling her this because part of me is so keyed into what she used to say, and be, but if she can't even discuss it with people who are trying to honor her discomfort and talk thoughtfully about it that is what she is) draw between "egalitarian sexuality" and sexuality that involves power dynamics. On its face that's pretty simple to understand. No D/s, especially not out of bed. No bondage. No pain play either, though I've never been completely convinced that pain play is about power and control in the same way D/s is.
And well... I could work with that I guess. I used to think I wouldn't even be able to respond sexually to that. Interestingly, I only discovered after I tried BDSM that I could respond to that. It was only after I was allowed to get what I did want that what I did want could expand and include things I hadn't already fantasized much at all about.
But where does that leave a lot of other more ambiguous things? It's really erotic for me to look down at my partner and see my partner looking up at me. To me that's inseparable from my being a sexual top, which isn't so separable either from my being a top in the BDSM sense. I can't imagine that deciding to "go egalitarian" would stop that feeling... of lust, of yearning, but also of feeling trusted and safe at the same time when someone I care about is looking up at me like that. Am I really egalitarian? I know what that locks into, what's encoded in me along with that. I'd be lying if I said it was gone, I suspect.
Maybe it would go away after a while. I don't know. But... is breaking things off like that really what we want to encourage people to do? Especially in a society that's very keen on breaking women's sexuality in little pieces, where it's okay to want sex if you're tied to a man, it's okay to want orgasm if his penis is what gives it to you, it's okay to _____ if _____. Isn't that what we don't like, or did I miss something?
I do think that some forms of D/s are not magically outside the scope of critique. I think people who see BDSM roles as something that absolutely has to structure their every interaction with someone else are putting too many eggs in one basket. I think people who hold that up as some kind of absolute BDSM ideal are making big mistakes. But I don't think that's what BDSM is supposed to be about. I think it's supposed to be about sexuality and feeling good, and then some people took it and decided that it being erotic, it being fun, it being about sex, wasn't good enough because sex is dirty so it had to become this sterile, unsexual WAY OF LIFE thing where the sexual gratification is only justified because of the LIFE'S PATH that goes along with it.
It's not that I mind people being involved in relationship D/s. I just think that the nonsexualizing of it all is pretty wacky... it's right up there with the nonsexualization of lesbianism that happened in some of the women's movement in the 70s. Where lesbianism was something all women should do to get a break from the patriarchy and it wasn't really about lust, because it was political and feminist and that was "better." I mean, I don't think people choosing relationships with other women for feminist reasons is bad, at all. Or that anyone who does isn't a passionate lover. But the weirdness where people stopped paying attention to desire and sexuality because it was a higher calling now... that seems to me like some of IT was not so divorced from patriarchy. Because political loving of women is better than desiring and needing women. Having what women need in your head is different than needing THEM in your gut... but isn't that so weird because wasn't needing them in all ways what people like Audre Lorde were talking about really?
And I see the same thing with the many people who want their D/s not to be about sex REALLY IN THE END. They've got to uphold that it's not about sex, that it's not on a continuum with looking up or down into a laughing lover's face and feeling warm and sexy and happy. And that's what makes it so easy for other people to wave this banner of "egalitarian sexuality" around without thinking about things like how both the gay and lesbian communities are full of tops and bottoms and as long as that's not BDSM it seems like people are okay with it. Or is Corinna gonna say next that anyone who is a top or a bottom is making a mistake too? How much of queer culture would she be telling us should wither on the vine if she did that? Think about it.
It's not that I think every aspect of D/s should be directly sexual. It's that we really are acting like we're in bed with the system if we start talking about our natural fate to be this or that and giving justifications that sound an awful lot like "Some people are just born superior." No... sex is just a whirlwind of vulnerability and strength and warmth and joy and all these things and some of us key into this or that. Why do we have to pretend we're not hard or wet for it to be okay?
Because sex is bad and politics are better... and that's exactly what Corinna is telling us here.
And with that I hope some of you go on to read my smut, because this rant is no more important because it's political than that piece is because it's about sex. Some of you can't or shouldn't because that piece is pretty dark and violent and would be triggering or upsetting. It's dark and it's dark on purpose. But for others of you... I want to say this because sexuality and fantasy isn't trivial. It isn't. I'm not better for saying this than that.