Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Continuing a topic drift from feministe

this thread.

I started this drift, but I'm feeling a bit gingerly about hosting this one, because I'm not a rape survivor (which doesn't mean i couldn't ever be, of course, so i still find these discussions useful in a number of ways).

But because the original thread was a carryover regarding a woman who was raped during a bondage situation, some stuff about "safewords" and so forth was brought up. While I think by the end most of the participants at the feministe thread were pretty much all on the same page that this was a red herring in the context of the woman whose letter started the whole thing (see the original thread(s) for why), I and I think some others of us were thinking that a separate discussion about let's say non-heteronormative situations wherein rape occurs, and what if anything might differentiate them from the situations in which rape is mostly talked about on feminist boards (man rapes woman, often in a dating or relationship context), could be worth exploring.

I mean, I think that BDSM protocol is worth discussion all by itself; but here, particularly because one participant starting talking about -his- experiences as a -bottom- (wrt bondage, and the original thread), i wanted to, i guess, explore various ways in which to talk about rape/abuse/intimate abuse of power that doesn't automatically assume PIV, or indeed man-over-woman. i don't necessarily mean acts so much as interpersonal dynamics and cultural expectations, including subcultural expectations.

Or to quote myself over there, one way this could go:

"...whereas in straight dating/romance/what have you there are still i think gender-based “rules,” even if they seem to be changing so rapidly no one really knows what they are for sure; but, you know, there’s a template.

but if you’re just coming out (and this goes for gay women, too, and anyone who doesn’t fit the “normative” het dating/sexual experience), for the most part, you’ve either found a subculture for your template (much more likely to be true in urban centers, even now), or you’re simply in mostly uncharted territory.

so i guess what i’m saying is, with women/women as well as men/men: the act can be the same; the feelings the victim go through are certainly the same; but it’s possible that the erm expectations going into it (a situation that ends in date rape, say) might be a bit different. i think for lesbians/women with feminist sensibilities there’s the added, well, WOMEN can’t be abusers, because…they, we just can’t.

and then too of course there’re various experiences of aftermath, of being able to tell your community. If you’re not out and you're raped in a dating/hookup/relationship context, that makes the likelihood of your getting support even less."

Part of the reason I bring this up, of course, is because I'm queer, and i do become acutely aware of the heteronormativity of many such conversations on feminist boards (wrt a variety of subjects, but especially anything let's say intimate). In this last discussion at feministe, i didn't find this (what i'm about to say), but often, in other discussions, i guess let's call them traditional gender politics seem to get all wrapped up with sexual abuse. I'm wondering if there are other ways in which to talk about this.

I'm going to open the floor here and just mostly moderate, I think, at this point.

144 comments:

Holly said...

I feel like I should have something really smart and insightful to say about this, since I've had experiences dating men and women and people of other genders while myself presenting as a man, a woman, or an androgynous non-gendered person. Well, not every single combination of the above, and some more than others... but still a lot more than average, I guess? A little awkward.

Instead I just feel less able to comment on this subject, maybe because I'm also not a survivor of rape, maybe because I feel like I have a tenuous perch when it comes to what kinds of opinions are allowable or are supposed to come from which perspectives.

I guess my main thoughts are that yeah, "rules" like you mention seem to change a lot depending on what gender people see you as. Not really in obvious or articulated ways, but I think you can still feel it.

I also feel like at least in the particular queer scenes where I've dated, there's a strong legacy of safe sex and BDSM protocol, but also something underlying that says, if we're the same gender (even if that's some queer gender that might encompass all sorts of people) then we kind of don't have to worry about this stuff AS much, plus we have these rules that our whole community kind of follows, that you have to be educated in to play, that protect us. But there's something weird around some of that too, like... when rules are well-known and agreed upon at a communal level, breaking rules becomes taboo. And it's hard for taboo to not be sexy.'

Sometimes I feel like there's an attitude of "we know what we're doing / I trust you enough that we can ignore the rules, 'cause we're awesome." Which maybe is a bit troubling sometimes, and maybe it feels dangerous, and maybe it leads to new kinds of practices like fluid bonding or enthusiastic consent for "non-consensual scenes." All of which I feel a bit scared about, but there it is.

I feel like maybe this post has gotten a bit too abstract and far away from the violent reality of rape. I guess if we're going to talk about the surrounding culture, "dating rules," and assumptions people make, that might make sense. But I don't want to forget about the reason for talking about this either.

Renegade Evolution said...

BD:

You know, I would love to see more discussion on this sort of thing, because I think all too many folks over look abuse/rape in homosexual relationships, be they male/male or female/female and there is this idea that rape is ONLY a man on woman crime/concern...excetera. As we all know now, I've not been raped, but I did date a real prize-winner of an abusive woman once upon a time...and part of the reason it took me so long to get away from her is well...I didn't get a whole lot of faith or support when I implied/said/mentioned my female significant other was a violent abuser...(and, sadly enough for all the good, normal, nice people involved in the scene, also into BSDM)...

Lesley said...

I was almost going to post a snarky comment at Feministe directed at the people suggesting more rape risk reduction advice for women, please! But I stopped myself, because of the heteronormativity the snark would have portrayed. I do think that more rape risk reduction advice vis a vis women being raped by men is ludicrous and patronizing, because it mostly does boil down to "Be good little girls."

However, as you say, there are other scenarios in which people rape other people. For various reasons, some the same and some different, these get ignored in ways that are very detrimental for the victims.

However, as a heterosexual woman who is not a survivor of rape, I really don't know where to go with that. I can think of ways in which fucked-up societal prejudices would screw helping gays and lesbians set boundaries. In a totally fucked-up way, society is at least somewhat supportive of heterosexual women setting boundaries with heterosexual men. When we're told "It's OK to say 'No,'" there's an implicit "But it's also OK to say 'Yes.'" With all the caveats around in a "proper" relationship, and if he ignores you, then you didn't make yourself clear enough, etc. However, the only way society (at large) tells gays and lesbians "It's OK to say 'No,'" is with an implicit "And it's never OK to say 'Yes.'" I would imagine that could seriously fuck up some people. If the only societally acceptable boundary is totally unrealistic and unlivable, then, yeah, I can see where it might be hard to figure out where to set yours.

Also what ACS talked about on the Feministe thread, about how consent is viewed by men as something women do, not men. Men don't think of themselves as having to consent, only getting their partner to consent. How that dynamic plays out when you're dealing with lesbians I couldn't begin to say.

Incidentally, I don't consider any of the above to be rape risk reduction advice. I think it's more about awareness and setting boundaries. So what ACS is talking about, that I think is good, non-patronizing stuff for everyone.

belledame222 said...

When we're told "It's OK to say 'No,'" there's an implicit "But it's also OK to say 'Yes.'" With all the caveats around in a "proper" relationship, and if he ignores you, then you didn't make yourself clear enough, etc. However, the only way society (at large) tells gays and lesbians "It's OK to say 'No,'" is with an implicit "And it's never OK to say 'Yes.'" I would imagine that could seriously fuck up some people. If the only societally acceptable boundary is totally unrealistic and unlivable, then, yeah, I can see where it might be hard to figure out where to set yours.

Yes. Thank you. That was one of the things I was trying to get at.

I think for me, what happened was I just set the boundary extra high and thick. in itself this is not protection either, i realized much later; ("I am a Rock, I am an Island," yadda). it took a lot of work to undo that, to change it from what i think was not a terrifically functional way of being in the world to more of a let's say style. and even so.

but when I first started to date, I was so used to second-guessing myself that I really don't think I was able to be present at all, much less with the other person. part of it was simply starting late; which is common, i think, what your straight counterparts were doing in early adolescence, many (not all! i am both gladdened and kind of witsfully envious at how much younger -some- kids seem to be coming out these days) don't really get into till their twenties or even later.

like i say, my first defense has always been "flee," so (or maybe coincidentally) i didn't end up in too many situations that felt out of control, you know.

but i had a sense of, i have no idea what the "rules" are, just that i know there have to be some, somewhere. and, i couldn't really let myself be guided by what i -felt,- what i -desired-, my gut instincts (except, like i say, i erred on the side of "no," i'm sure at least sometimes correctly), because...well, that's tricky to talk about. Hm.

belledame222 said...

and this is, i realize, the very very heart of why i get/got so hot under the collar wrt the Eternal Subject battles. because, i think for a lot of women, they were feeling the pressure to say yes, yes, yes, with no allowance for "no;" but for me, it was always the opposite. No. No. No. I didn't need or want any more -no,- you know?

JackGoff said...

Just to add in my two cents as a male currently in a heterosexual relationship, rules in my experience haven't really been necessary. Safewords are a good thing to establish and having them, as a bottom, makes me happy they're there, but I've never needed them and it's never been something I have had to worry about. This could put me in th position of having a blind spot with respect to other relationships where rules are specifically needed. In my mind, I'm just itching to judge these people for having an abusive relationship, and that judgmental attitude can be pretty messed up. I, personally, question my motivations in what I see in other BDSM relationships, and maybe that's because I can't really identify with (specifically male) tops. That said, any judgments I have to give are bullshit, and I know it. I would never assert otherwise

I love my girlfriend, and her sexuality has brought out a lot of things in me that I've been previously unaware of, but I cannot specifically identify with the way she gets off. I would never say I'm judging her, but there is a disconnect in terms of who I am and who she is. Regardless, there IS the inherent connecting between us where we at least attempt to understand each other and to reconcile our personal difference via our love for one another.

That said, sex does not have to be about love, true, and as I have never been in a same-sex relationship, I cannot apply my experience to the specific question being tossed around. I can, however, say that being a bottom can be a little bit scary, and the whole protocol that has evolved around BDSM practice is a beautiful thing. What I believe I would wish for is that more people, especially doms, appreciated the position us bottoms are in and that more dialog existed to alleviate ignorance.

Trin said...

Oh yeah. OH yeah. Some of the things that happened in my last relationship, I just kept telling myself "It can't be that bad, she's a dyke, I'm with someone who doesn't have structural power over me, everything is just... well not fine but not really not fine."

I also felt really pressured to be a good queer. I don't know if this pressure came from her (she talked some trash about other bisexuals but not about me) or somewhere else, but I felt like this was my first relationship and first sex that wasn't more like BDSM play getting a bit more gooey with a woman and I'd better make it good, make it right, etc. And there were a lot of things I did because I thought, why I don't know, that dykes did them. I wanted to be a Good Lesbian. I thought A Lesbian would be better than me, somehow, and I was striving to be even just a little bit Like A Lesbian.

trin said...

JackGoff,

What do you mean by saying you can't identify with how she gets off? I have a vague idea in my mind what that MIGHT mean, but I'm probably wrong. If it's not too personal.. how do you mean that, roughly

JackGoff said...

What do you mean by saying you can't identify with how she gets off?

Not to get too TMI, she gets off on domination in certain instances. The one time I've been placed in that position, I had to stop, and had to move on to something else. I most definitely was not judging her, and it was all about me. We've discussed it, and she knows my feelings on it. Who people are sexually is not something I find myself able to judge in many instances, and empathizing with a top is seriously hard for me, but I would NEVER judge her, as she's a wonderful, empathetic person. She's just got a kink that I don't. That was all I meant.

JackGoff said...

Although, thinking about it more, I definitely understand what you mean. I shouldn't have phrased it as I did. I identify with her, and I understand where she is coming from. This specific kink is, however, not my kink, and from my experience in her position, I found myself out of place and not having any fun whatsoever...if that answers your question...

Trin said...

JackGoff,

I'm probably veering too far off point, but are you saying she gets off on dominating you, or that she gets off on being dominated? Because you talked about yourself bottoming somewhere up there, so I'd assumed you're a bottomish sort.

Or did you just mean you're a bottom but not a sub?

--puzzle-ated dominant top #6238

JackGoff said...

I'm probably veering too far off point, but are you saying she gets off on dominating you, or that she gets off on being dominated?

I've never been into BDSM until I was in the relationship I'm in now. At first, I was apprehensive and completely misinterpreting the entire practice (as I originally thought it was a way for men to rape women on the "straight and narrow". Yeah, I was ignorant and stupid about it.

To specifically answer your question though, which I hope you realize is a little too inquisitive for what I usually talk about, yes, I am a bottom and cannot be a top. My girlfriend can be both, but as I am incapable of being a top for reasons of my own, she is the dom in our BDSM escapades. If this is not enough, I'm sorry.

trin said...

JackGoff,

I'm sorry for making you feel uncomfortable. To me talking about this stuff is like saying, I don't know, "Sex is fun", so I wasn't thinking it would bother you to talk about it.

I still honestly wish I knew where all the assumptions that no woman is anything but a submissive bottom come from. I get a little tired of people who don't even know me making assumptions that are exactly wrong... as way too many do, because BDSM is raping women. Or something. I don't get the logic at all.

belledame222 said...

well, this is one of the reasons i wanted to start this thread. if i can do it without re-opening the imported flame wars (now twice removed!) or the Dan Savage letter that inspired all this:

one of the commenters at feministe, a man, i think, who if i am reading it correctly, was actually ID'ing more with the bottom in the original example (a woman, tied up, had been raped). there's a lot of going back and forth, the way these things do, hopefully trailing off now, but i did catch, i thought, in passing at one point, a -glimmer- of, well, he's a man, he must be identifying with the top, and thus in this case rapist, at least to some extent. i mean in general the feministe crowd is sophisticated, i don't think it was overt, if there at all. god knows how that one would've played out at -ahem-, starting with the original example (at least no one was going, that i saw anyway, aha! bondage! say no more! DEMONS!!!)

...ANYWAY, all this aside: it seems like it ought to be kind of self-evident that in a situation where you've got one person tied up, if the other person decides to violate the trust established that got them to the point of the tying-up, then gender, even physical strength, suddenly becomes rather irrelevant, doesn't it.

but as you say, trin: the idea of a woman topping even in a safe sane consensual way, (of her own volition that is), much less taking an abusive turn, is sort of "does not compute," at best, among ehm certain people.

which, without dwelling on the certain people, again: the above-mentioned seems kind of self-evident to -me,- but i am thinking--and Jack noting that before his current relationship, he too would've bought the "BDSM as excuse for man raping" thing--that this maybe isn't being talked about enough, either. so: uh, talking about it. ahem. yeah.

JackGoff said...

I don't get the logic at all.

And I am completely sorry if I gave that impression. I've actually thought according to that logic, that all BDSM is rape, once. It's stupid, it makes no sense, and it's ignorant as hell.

Specifically, I'm not personally uncomfortable talking about it. I am, however, uncomfortable talking about it on the internet. Big difference.

I also wonder what you wonder, as my entire experience with BDSM has been the exact opposite of what I originally believed. I actually have grown to love being a bottom, and this fact alone has shown me that my harsh judgments of people in BDSM relationships are completely unwarranted, especially as I have understood more about it from other people. If I personally gave you the impression that I am currently against people in BDSM relationships and against men in the top position, I am sorry, as I am not. I do not believe, currently, in the ignorance I once believed in.

belledame222 said...

Jack, so what i hear you saying is that you can't identify with your GF in the same way that you can't identify with male tops: because, well, they're tops. and what goes with it: dominant and/or sadistic. which, as a pro-feminist and pacifist, i imagine that taking that position -yourself- -would- be, well, challenging, to connect with, maybe?

belledame222 said...

...i think trin was speaking more generally about many, many headdesking discussions she's encountered in feminist circles, based on what i know of her, and some of those very same discussions...

belledame222 said...

i should say: not just feminism, mainstream culture, too, obviously.

JackGoff said...

i imagine that taking that position -yourself- -would- be, well, challenging, to connect with, maybe

Yeah, basically. Though, I do NOT want to make it seem that I'm judging said "dom" people. I realize that my original post makes it seems that I am. I'm sorry for that.

JackGoff said...

Or did you just mean you're a bottom but not a sub?

Just a question about meaning here, is there a difference, as I am admittedly ignorant in terms. When I think of the word "bottom", I ignorantly think of the submissive person. I identify with that particular persona in BDSM.

I am, I sdmit, completely unaware of the specific lingo, as my GF and I have an understanding about the way we practice it, and the specific language is unimportant, except for safewords.

Holly said...

In addition to the above, I have to say I found it much more difficult to top anyone when I was (generally) being perceived as a male, despite what my partners were really into / wanted / asked for. And I think societal assumptions had a lot to do with my discomfort.

KnifeGhost said...

However, as you say, there are other scenarios in which people rape other people. For various reasons, some the same and some different, these get ignored in ways that are very detrimental for the victims.

I don't want to distract from the interesting tack this has taken on the BDSM side, but this is a really important point, and something I was very hamfistedly trying to get at back on Feministe.

Peter said...

Sorry to join in as late as this.... Hi, folks!

Just for the record, I am a gay leather top. If you want to add just that much more confusion to things, since the gay world speaks of Tops and Bottoms rather than Doms and Subs. Just wanted to say that. From now on I'll use what I think is more standard straight BDSM language.

I promise I will get back to the original question, but where the thread is now intrigues me. I had absolutely no contact with the BDSM world until I entered it through the gay leather world. So it never occurred to me to consider it as anything other than a mutual experience between equals. What I loved about it (besides the sweaty parts, Yippee!) was that it allowed the inherent equality of the gay relationship to move, through negotiated roles, into non-identical roles with equal power exchange.

I'm always flummoxed when I hit the assumption that the power isn't equal in a BDSM relationship, or that BDSM is a way to dominate women (this is the first time I have EVER heard it thought of as a way to rape women! Holy crap.) If those are the unspoken assumptions in the straight and/or feminist world, no wonder I've walked into a few unexpected walls!

Peter said...

belledame,

when you first asked the question at Feministe, my first reaction was that rape is rape and I wasn't sure that there really were going to be any distinctions based on culture, but the very knee-jerk of that thought intrigued me. Then, as you fleshed it in a little, I thought about it a lot more.

By the way, thanks for something else, too. Socially, I move pretty freely in the broader community and the gay community. My partner and I are out, and we are completely accepted by our neighbors don't think much about doing things like shopping together. We have a wide gay circle of friends, But this question and these threads have made me realize that since I've been into leather, I've completely lost touch with even the gay vanilla sexual mindset. I have NO idea what gay vanilla folk think about sex. (I have increasingly out of date vanilla memories from when I started out, but even then, my mindset didn't fit and I never knew why until I found leather.)

So, I can speak with some authority about gay leathermen, and make moderately informed guesses about the other folks. This is cool. I am not used to discovering entirely unexpected blind spots in my experience! (I have known blind spots, where I try to tread lightly, but that's different!)

JackGoff said...

If those are the unspoken assumptions in the straight and/or feminist world, no wonder I've walked into a few unexpected walls!

I really have to admit though, I was raised in an environment that was pretty anti-sex, and ignorant about sexual practices. As I said, I definitely do not think that way anymore.

Peter said...

jackgoff: Just a question about meaning here, is there a difference, as I am admittedly ignorant in terms. When I think of the word "bottom", I ignorantly think of the submissive person. I identify with that particular persona in BDSM.

There is a difference, but the confusion is natural since there is a huge overlap in actual practice.

Others will have takes on this with nuanced differences, but roughly speaking (pun noted), here goes:

The Top/bottom spectrum is about who is doing and who is being done to, largely in the physical sense.

The Dom(me)/sub spectrum is about who assumes and who surrenders power, which can include the physical, but is usually in the mental sense.

Most often, you see dominant tops and submissive bottoms, and that is the way that the conventional image has locked in.

I am roughly 95/5% dominant, but about 80/20% top. So when I tell my boy to tie me up, and then direct him exactly what to do, where to do it, and just how hard, I am bottoming, but remaining dominant. (And he is in heaven!)

He can top, but is deeply unhappy doing so if he doesn't have direction, because he gets very self-conscious and uncomfortable. When directed, he gets all happy and we both have a great time.

Top and bottom can also be used both as nouns and verbs. That can create such seeming paradoxes as me saying "I am a Top, but I am looking to bottom tonight."

By the way, I read a bit of hesitance or apology in some of your comments. In my experience, it is extremely common for genuine subs to have a real hard time imagining the dom mindset, and vice versa.

belledame222 said...

btw: welcome to all first-time posters here! hopefully i will be able to add something a bit more substantial later in the day...carry on

Peter said...

My first reaction to the "how culture may affect rape" question was that I didn't see any difference at all.

Then I realized that I am coming at it from two specific cultural points that make that true. First, I no longer have sex outside the leather community (why bother?) and second, I'm sexually experienced and out.

So I live in a sexual world where negotiations and limits are everyday practical realities. When I play with my partner or people I know well, things can be skipped or shorthanded because those things are already clear, and when I play with someone new, I am punctilious about clear negotiations.

One cultural difference I can imagine in the broader gay world is that I think there is a far clearer upfront awareness of whether any given social situation is going to be sexual or not. I don't think it is unfair to say that men separate love (and friendship) and sex more distinctly as ideas than women. So there is a clearer awareness of the idea of cruising someone specifically for sex.

I think (I could be wrong) that it is far less common for a gay man to find himself unexpectedly in a sexual situation. That doesn't change the possibilities that things could go in an unexpected direction or intensity, but for the most part I don't think the sex itself is a surprise.

belledame222 said...

well, yes, again, i think it often is different for people who're first coming out, especially in a context where there's no greater culture to be a part of, no modelling, no support.

especially if there are other RL power differentials. i am thinking of a few men-then-boys of my (once removed) acquaintance who were basically molested at the hands of smalltown community pillars. or when people first coming out date people who are older and/or more "knowing," more out, pillars of the subculture community, hoping i guess for a mentorship experience, and instead the other person takes advantage (i can't recount the story of the person who was telling me something along these lines, just: there was one).

midwesterntransport said...

ok. (deep breath)

this is of great interest to me as i am a) a survivor of het sexual abuse and b) a queer. i believe that because my abuse happened so early in my life, it deeply informed the way that i experience power dynamics in sex.

until my most recent relationship, i didn't know just how much those early experiences had informed my thoughts on the gender of sexual violence. in my mind, topping equaled lack of consent equaled sexual violence equaled male. when my GF and i started playing around with topping and bottoming,
i began to realize that whenever i topped her, i was uncomfortable because doing so felt dangerous.

i felt predatory. i felt aligned with my abuser. and i never wanted to top because feeling that way was hello! Not At All Sexy.

the only way i knew how to express this discomfort at first was to say that i "felt like a guy" while topping.

it's taken some time and work to separate masculinity from male-bodied persons from my assumptions about how cisgendered men behaved sexually, even when those assumptions directly contradicted my experiences.

i don't know if any of this is making a lick of sense.

Peter said...

But when you added the whole question of being new, or newly out, that got a whole new set of questions rolling.

And I really do think the whole world is changing, and changing fast, even in the non-urban areas, due to the Internet.

In my day (God! I'm only 46, but with the changes I might as well be 90!), it was pretty inconcievable to come out while in high school, and even college was a pretty big risk. One learned about sex ONLY through porn, and when you wanted it, you went to a bar or a known cruising spot.

If porn is your model for how sex works, you can imagine the possibilities for abuse. On the other hand, if your model is "pretty much anything goes" then it is pretty hard to think of anything that happened as rape unless there was an injury, and even then, it was usually truly unintentional and the other guy would be genuinely upset.

I don't want to paint an ugly picture. One of the great things about the gay world was (I fear it is fading) an awareness that "we were all new at this once" and a collective sense of taking care of the newbies. And, since most people got started later in life, a lot of that was more about making sure the newbies didn't go to fast with their pent-up eagerness rather than about preventing abuse.

But things really, really are changing. Kids today know that they are gay and what that means far earlier than ever before, and for many, their social experience is coming fast into line with their straight peers, timeline-wise. Far more people than ever before are out of the closet before they are sexually active, which turns all previous gay experience on its ear.

I do worry that there is a generational shift that could create huge possibilities for both deliberate and unintentional abuse, and even rape. Speaking only of those old enough to be legal, many gay youths are attracted to older men, and vice versa. If the older man operates on the rules of "out = sexual" while the younger one uses the straight model his peers use, boys could easily get in over their head fast.

We have no social paradigm teaching boys to turn down sexual advances. The heteronormative assumption is that men always want sex and that men hit on women. So we teach women how to turn aside sexual advances (with mixed success), and we try to teach boys to hold off on sex -- but not for their own sake, but because the girl might not be ready.

Since the assumption is that the boy will be the initiator (if not the aggressor), we don't even consider the possibility that things might go too fast for the BOY.

Oh yikes. I just realized I am making the assumption that the only way this can go wrong is with an older, more experienced man. I was about to say, "this is less of an issue with his peers, because there is only so much harm two uninformed boys can get into fumbling around with each other."

But in a world of internet porn, assuming that no 17 year old isn't going to have images of bondage, fisting, or other risky behaviors, and pressure an equally inexperienced partner into trying them, because nobody EVER gets hurt in porn, is a deeply naive assumption.

And, am I wrong in thinking that boys are going to be more likely than their straight girl counterparts to "consent" to something that they don't really understand, and then be afraid to stop if it goes wrong?

Although, I do keep reading that anal sex is on the rise among straight teenagers because it isn't "real sex" and can't cause pregnancy? Again, yikes.

I feel old.

belledame222 said...

I'm always flummoxed when I hit the assumption that the power isn't equal in a BDSM relationship, or that BDSM is a way to dominate women (this is the first time I have EVER heard it thought of as a way to rape women! Holy crap.) If those are the unspoken assumptions in the straight and/or feminist world, no wonder I've walked into a few unexpected walls!

and this is exactly why i have been hoping fervently for more crosstalk between gay men and feminists, among other dialogues.

i dunno if those are the unspoken assumptions in ALL feminist and/or straight worlds, but as i say: you can find a number of discussions where these are not only unspoken but spoken and shouted assumptions. And among more sophisticated straight people,(and some lesbians, i have noted, especially certain kinds of lesbian-feminists) who do understand that no, in fact BDSM=! "rape," you still get a lot of heteronormative assumptions about gendered roles; and further an assumption of an imbalance of RL power, and just about always in the "traditional" way--that is: man has the power; woman doesn't. discussions of any other formulation besides male dom, female sub, tend in such cases to simply not come up, much. it...well, without getting too far into the dynamics of these online discussions (i suppose offline too, although my own experience in womens' spaces IRL, as i've said elsewhere, did not prepare me for what i saw as a decidedly retro vibe online)...yeah, there's a disconnect.

Peter said...

Midwesterntransport -

No, what you are saying makes absolutely perfect sense. Good for you that you seem to be overcoming it!

belledame222 said...

--hi, mwt, glad to see you here.

Although, I do keep reading that anal sex is on the rise among straight teenagers because it isn't "real sex" and can't cause pregnancy? Again, yikes.

Well, this is why i think right now is so deadly, and where i do tend to see some of the point of the people who wring their hands about "raunch culture" and so forth (we can talk more about that as well): that the -combination- of mainstream images of sex, sex, sex! but in of course unrealistic and often misogynistic ways, combined with the clampdown on real sex education, even instilling abstinence-only education--that shit is fucking deadly.

it's just, for me i'd rather mostly ignore the "o dear, look at all this Sex on the telly, tsk" and focus on trying to overcome this repressive, regressive atmosphere coming from the State and reactionary religious forces: -more- talk, -more- information.

Peter said...

belledame,

I hadn't even considered the closeted-on-closeted abuse issue, mostly since, while the details are different, I still consider that child abuse.

But there is a difference, you're right, which is that post-adolescent but not yet mature boys are itching to get some, and so the "consent" is there in ways it isn't in other abuse scenarios.

It makes it that much messier. I think that is the unspoken but vitally necessary talking point that is missing in the whole Catholic priest sex scandal thing. It makes it necessary to start talking about things like "consensual abuse" -- that while deeply important in the context of gay kids, would only be used in straight discussions to do even more "she had it coming" BS in victim-blaming.

We just don't have the language to talk about kids who want it and go out and get it, but are damaged because they weren't ready for it.

midwesterntransport said...

thanks, peter. :)

onward and upward!

Trin said...

First a comment with no substance :)

Peter, I tend to use "top" in the same way you do. I don't personally like the hairsplitting between "top" and "dominant." I was doing that because I thought JackGoff might have been saying he's comfortable with SM or BD but not with D/s. Usually, though, I use "top" and "bottom" as blanket terms and then figure out from there exactly what that means to a person.

The grammar purist in me also doesn't like "dominant" and "submissive" as nouns. They're adjectives! I'll sometimes use "submissive" a a nouns because it's too clunky to say "submissive partner" all the time... but "dominant" as a noun just wrecks my brain.

midwesterntransport said...

i date both men and women (though i'm currently in a monogamous relationship with a woman) and i had very set ideas of the way that sex was supposed to play out depending on the gender of my partner. it worried me for a long time and i never quite knew how to fix it.

Trin said...

JackGoff,

Thanks for clearing that up. I did get the impression that you thought men ought not top. And of course there are many sexist straight men who use topping women as an excuse to go on believing and sometimes even preaching their sexist crap. But I also have close friends who are straight male tops, and my current major crush is a bi switch, and the idea of cringing at these people having fun kinda bugs me.

Because it means not only assuming that they're icky, but also assuming that there are no guy-liking female bottoms wise enough to take care of themselves. When I hear things like that come from a man (anyone remember Creepy Basement?) I get twitchy. I thought that's what you were saying and it grossed me out.

As far as women who top men go, I think it depends where you go. The big BDSM groups tend to accept us and have a lot of us, but when you get to smaller ones you sometimes find some very M/f-filled groups and sometimes you get glowered at or treated as a curiosity.

In e-feminist circles a lot of anti-BDSM types like to pretend you're not there, or that you must be a pro. I've actually had people fuss about me talking at all, because "I don't want to talk about female tops. There aren't any. This Trin person is just making a lot of noise and obscuring that BDSM is a way for men to hurt women."

So when I see someone say "I thought BDSM was a way for men to hurt women," my mind wonders why the assumption that people like me don't or can't exist. Because that is sexist.

And not only that, it's heterosexist too. Who were on the front lines of the sex wars? SM DYKES! DYKES! It fascinates me that so many people, feminist or not, just ignore the dykes. It just smells to me like another sexist example of "if there's no cock, nothing interesting is happening. Unless it's a transwoman's cock and I can say EW a lot."

belledame222 said...

GAAHHHH Creepy Basement

my intro to both you and the whole online rabbit hole of...all this! well, and when i first delinked IBTP.

what's worse are doodz like Robert Jensen and Stan Goff, who are not only taken much more seriously but get PAID for this kind of bullshit. by women. jesus wept.

Trin said...

Creeeeeeeeeeeeepy Baaaaaaaaasement!

The thing that scares yet amuses me is how solicitous I was to him when I first saw him on IBTP. He was all "and there are never any posts by female tops" (suggesting there aren't any) and I was all "Hi! What do you want to know? :) :) :)"

I might as well have just hit myself in the head with a 2x4 and gotten the brain pain overwith.

belledame222 said...

well, and i was so clueless that i automatically assumed that because he was posting on a feminist board about such things & spoke for a female partner, he MUST be a woman. because surely no STRAIGHT MAN would be so presumptuous, so clueless as to speak for...on a feminist board...and then for lesbians and feminists including the host to respectfully accept as a voice of authority...

...oh. ah. mm.

Peter said...

midwesterntransport said...
thanks, peter. :)
onward and upward!


And hopefully, downward sometimes, too!

Big smile and hug.

Peter said...

This is so fascinating for me. I've heard the idea that women get into BDSM because they have low self-esteem, and that men get into it because they are assholes.

But I got into it because it is so damn much fun, and finding the addition of power exchange to sex was like having a unknown dislocated arm snap into a socket.

I really, really, really, don't get it. I am damn good at what I do, and I have an absolute blast at it. Any play partner is giving me the opportunity of going for it, and my enjoyment is a direct result of their skill at it playing back to mine.

How in the world could I not value and appreciate a great bottom? And why in the world would I not work to help educate and raise the skills and self-esteem of the new or less-skilled? Why would I play with someone who didn't like himself?

My head hurts.

The only reason to subjugate or abuse a bottom or sub is if you are a mediocre, unskilled asshole hoping to create someone who won't make you grow or bust you on your incompetence.

I know they're out there, but it saddens me that they constitute the assumed default face of our community.

Trin said...

Peter,

Have you ever read the book Coming to Power? It'll give you some clue what the climate was like for leatherdykes who were trying to be taken seriously as feminists when the whole brouhaha started in the '80s.

If you want to know what the anti-BDSM feminists think... guh. I'm too tired to dredge up links, but I think there's a comment to my latest public post that offers one particularly wild example of the crazy.

You can also have a look for the book "Against Sadomasochism: A RAdical Feminist Analysis," but it's very soul-sucking reading. Lovely stuff in there, like referring to tops as "sadist/rapist" repeatedly.

Peter said...

trin,

Thanks, but I'll skip it for the moment. Yikes. I am SO glad I have a community!

Trin said...

Oops. I meant to give a link to my journal and didn't.

http://trinityva.livejournal.com/

and the link to crazy anti-BDSMness I was talking about is

http://demonista.livejournal.com/35495.html there.

belledame222 said...

trin, that one spinning off the IBTP mess with creepy Basement lo these many months ago is public, too, right? and i think there's a link back to the original, actual mess within, if Peter wants to spelunk.

belledame222 said...

slippage. yeah, i don't blame you, Peter.

belledame222 said...

instead, i already posted the link, i know, but i will recommend once again, this piece by Queer Dewd Formerly Known As Bitch Lab.

Trin said...

bd,

I don't remember what's public and what isn't. And I'm not goin to look that shit up right now, honestly, because EWW.

Q|D's post, however, is the shit.

Queer Dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

bd:

<< "...whereas in straight dating/romance/what have you there are still i think gender-based “rules,” even if they seem to be changing so rapidly no one really knows what they are for sure; but, you know, there’s a template >>

yes. exactly, my sliced multigrain and honey oats bread.

Bitch | Lab said...

<<< Oh yeah. OH yeah. Some of the things that happened in my last relationship, I just kept telling myself "It can't be that bad, she's a dyke, I'm with someone who doesn't have structural power over me, everything is just... well not fine but not really not fine."

I also felt really pressured to be a good queer. I don't know if this pressure came from her (she talked some trash about other bisexuals but not about me) or somewhere else, but I felt like this was my first relationship and first sex that wasn't more like BDSM play getting a bit more gooey with a woman and I'd better make it good, make it right, etc. And there were a lot of things I did because I thought, why I don't know, that dykes did them. I wanted to be a Good Lesbian. I thought A Lesbian would be better than me, somehow, and I was striving to be even just a little bit Like A Lesbian. >>>

oh. holy hell. you just told the story of my first rel i a way, the one you commented on. and the reason i said it was "real" was that, although i'd had sex with women before that, it was the kind of 'play' sex you engage in when having slumber party one thing leads to the next -- which is how plenty of us experience things anyway, but then, no one talked about this. we all that it was fine, it was only when a neighbor, older and catholic, was invited that we encountered shock and disgust.

anyway, what you describe is how I approached that rel, complete with the "she's a real dyke" and I'm bi dynimc. back then, the hatred of bi was way worse than now. it's still around, but there was serious fear and loathing back then.

Queer Dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

<< i felt predatory. i felt aligned with my abuser. and i never wanted to top because feeling that way was hello! Not At All Sexy. >>

totally makes sense. good friend of mine who did her research on abuse survivors like herself (she explored racial, class, gender, sexuality differences), says this is what happened with her. she couldn't stand anything at all that might make her feel she was identifying with the abuser.

as she explained it, there are three responses to abuse: id with abuser, ID with victim, ID with nurturer. the goal in her therapy had been to get her to stop ID with victim and move on to id with nurturer. you may already be familiar so sorry to repeat what y'all know.

but anyway, this is what helped her through this crisis. what also helped her, and boy was i damned once for mentioning this, she came to have several crisis therapy sessiosn in which she finally allowed herself torealize that she had to deal with the fact that she eroticized the abuse as a kid and had shoved that down and repressed itso much that this played into her adult relationships in ways she hadn't grasped yet. it took a long time.

she ended up doing her research on the issue of how survivors cope with eroticizing the incident and how the fact of the eroticization is often ignored in the literature and, much more common, ignored in pop advice books, etc.

now, does THAT make any sense? :)

midwesterntransport said...

QD, your friend and i have a lot in common.

i would like to see that research.

Holly said...

I really like what trin had to say in her long last post, about assuming that there are no "real" female tops, and no female bottoms who can take care of themselves in relationships with male tops. And midwesterntransport, you can add my "oh definitely that makes sense" to what you said as well. I can most most definitely relate to that.

I mean, I'm a switchy usually-toppy trans woman. I think this combination makes more sense to people who know me in real life. But I'm always leery of saying anything about my sex life on the internet because of what some people (heck, most people?) will automatically think that must mean about what I look like, what my gender is like, what kind of sex I have, what my body looks like, all of that, right... I mean, a lot of people have this problem all the way from straight dudes yelling "so who's the man?" at gay couples, but even otherwise well-meaning people make all sorts of assumptions about the combination of male-assigned + living-as-female + queer + top. It's making me flush with anxiety while I write this.

I'm not sure waht this has to do with rape anymore except that it's weird to have some feminists think I'm a rapist by default and others think I couldn't possibly be a rapist at the same time. When really, anyone who rapes someone is a rapist. If I raped someone, I'd be a rapist. If I don't, then I'm not. It sounds stupid but somehow "those who commit rape are rapists" doesn't seem intelligble to some people in some contexts. Meanwile, I'm as scared of sexual threat in all sorts of contexts as any other woman, including in relationships with people I don't know very well. My head hurts.

Holly said...

Some of this conversation, about straight women and gay men, also reminds me of this pair of ads that were done as a PSA about AIDS and condom use in France.

straight girl version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC8Xxmsbgj0

gay boy version:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE8nStuWQFg

It's really interesting to watch both of these and look at what images and "familiar stories" and stereotypes are deployed in each case... how the creator made these stories similar and how they're different. Both kids start off getting pushed around by other kids due to gender roles, dealing with unwanted attention (of very differing degrees), having a good sexual experience that then leads to heartbreak. Then there are "problematic" lovers who come in some familiar stereotypical forms including BDSM references... basically they each encounter a "scary sexual practices I didn't want to consent to" situation. Which I thought was interesting given this conversation, even though a lot of stupid stereotypes show up in the animations.

Rootietoot said...

It's a good day, when you learn something new.

belledame222 said...

i don't mind straying from the original subject. or coming back to it. i figure people will bring what they have, you know, and we'll take it from there. personal being political and all that.

here's another thing:

trin, you've talked about BDSM in conjunction with...how could i shorthand and do you justice. of living in your body, i guess, and some issues wrt that which you do -not- particularly share with a lot of women, or at any rate they tend not to write about so much in yer basic feminism 101 discussions.

over at kactus', there were the beginnings of some talk about what transgendered/sexual bodies and people with disabilities might find as parallels.

this conversation is making me wonder if in fact finding mm let's say recentered ways of expressing eroticism mightn't be one of them.

one of the things i love about BDSM and kink in general is how it widens and widens the field of what's actually sexual, what's erotic. Body parts, acts, ways of communication, dynamics...props, costumes, erotic theatre, basically, create-UR-own.

belledame222 said...

and of course, as mentioned above, there is still way more prevalent than one would think, even among feminists who are supposed Agin' All That, that the Penis is what matters; penetration and specifically with the penis and particularly particularly PIV, is what's really Serious.

which, as a non-penis bearing person who has sex with other not penis'd persons, is, well, bemusing to me, to say the least.

that is of course one other way in which i find such discussions heterocentric. i mean, all these political lesbians; do they like ever, you know, talk about...doing it? with other women? anyway. that, i know, i've talked about before, so i don't want to swell on it necessarily; just wonderin'.

little light said...

Maybe, BD, that 'recentering' basically comes down to assuming the right and agency to decide what our own bodies, and the things they interact with, mean.

(I've been meaning to jump in on this for a while, but I get too distracted enjoying the conversation already going on.

Still. If our bodies are made on some level of symbols, then it makes sense to turn to kink/BDSM/etc. as a frame for learning to make them mean what we need them to in order to be happy. If our parts don't match other people's expectations of us, it's nice to have a lens through which to flout the "rules" and reinterpret them.

Holly said...

Yeah and I think that's exactly why I know a number of trans people as well as people with other kinds of different / differently abled bodies who have found BDSM really helpful for figuring out a sexuality that actually works for them.

PIV is a hilarious acronym btw. As for political lesbians talking about having sex... well there is the old stereotype (which might just be a stereotype?) about perfectly symmetrical side-by-side soft non-penetrative touching. I always kind of wondered if that stemmed from an original source somewhere describing good non-power-dynamic, non-penetrative sex, or if it's just a mocking extrapolation.

belledame222 said...

o i dunno. i always called it "pinkie touching" myself.

and as i said, i figured that sort of shite had gone out with the dodo, till i came online. i guess you can find pretty much anything online. still...

Holly said...

And then once you know about tribadism aka pinkie touching, you're ready for the dude version version: frot, brought to you by Heroic Homo Sex (warning: not safe for work and really offensive in some ways) It's like a bizzare mirror image of women who say all lesbians should only have perfectly equal non-penetrative sex... these guys believe that gay men should also only have perfectly equal non-penetrative sex. But like macho warriors!

I make fun, but I certainly think there's something to be said for a little pinkie touching every now and then. May be better with clothes on if you ask me.

Amber said...

Coming in late but... just wanted to say, wrt this:

and this is, i realize, the very very heart of why i get/got so hot under the collar wrt the Eternal Subject battles. because, i think for a lot of women, they were feeling the pressure to say yes, yes, yes, with no allowance for "no;" but for me, it was always the opposite. No. No. No. I didn't need or want any more -no,- you know?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

I know the pressure I felt to always say 'no' is not the same as the pressure you, as a queer woman, felt. But I can relate because I felt plenty of pressure to say no, and... that's why learning that it's okay to say 'yes' was such a liberating process. (I say 'process' because in many ways, it's still ongoing.)

Trin said...

Oh wow.

So much good stuff in here. Just so, so much. Holly... yeah, I've seen other toppy trans women talking about how they're assumed to not exist, too. Or worse. I don't have anything clever to say other than shit, that sucks, and I'm sorry you have to deal with it.

But yeah. There's assumptions about how I have sex, too, particularly since I have sex with men. And really... I'm a top. I fuck people. They fuck me sometimes, but I don't identify with that.

And people often can't get their minds around that, or believe I couldn't possibly enjoy sex because the Goddess decided not to grant me a dick with nerve endings, etc. Where I think they would get it, at least a little more dimly, if I were strictly a dyke: Oh, she's one of them backwards chicks! But since I like men, too, I'm weird because they're factory equipped and I'm supposed to swoon and stow them away posthaste!

(Actually I quite like penises. There's lots of other things to do with them than stick them in my cunt, amazingly enough. And amazingly, penises I've encountered seem to like other things too! SHOCKING REVELATION ISN'T IT.)

There's just an awful, awful lot of: if you have THIS body THIS is how you have sex. THIS is what gives you pleasure and why.

And really that's not the point of sex. The point of sex is pleasure, in which case do whatever, or babies, in which case you're limited in what works.

trin said...

and now for amusing:

I just moved back to this house, and after typing that last post found myself thinking "hey, just where DID I put my penis, anyway?"

hee.

Lesley said...

And, am I wrong in thinking that boys are going to be more likely than their straight girl counterparts to "consent" to something that they don't really understand, and then be afraid to stop if it goes wrong?

I don't know how to judge that, as I've only ever been a straight woman, but I can say that it is very common for straight women to consent to things we don't really understand and be afraid to stop if it goes wrong. In fact, I think straight men might be surprised how often straight women have sex with them when we'd really rather not because we're afraid of the argument and consequences if we don't just go ahead and say "Yes." What I can't do is say how common that is for a gay man, so judging relative frequency is out of the question.

What I wonder about is the pressure men, both straight and gay, feel to have sex. I think it's fair to say that we cast men as wanting to have sex all the time, even though that isn't true. Therefore, men don't consent, they simply have sex. Women are the ones who are supposed to consent. If a straight man doesn't want to have sex at any given time, it's probably easier for him, because he just doesn't have to initiate it. Not that straight women don't initiate sex, but more often than not men are in the role of initiator. How that plays out with gay men is something I wonder about. If one man initiates sex with another man who isn't in the mood at that moment, does the idea that men somehow always want to have sex interfere with his feelings about refusing? Might he feel less of a man if he turns it down? I don't know.

belledame222 said...

What I wonder about is the pressure men, both straight and gay, feel to have sex. I think it's fair to say that we cast men as wanting to have sex all the time, even though that isn't true. Therefore, men don't consent, they simply have sex. Women are the ones who are supposed to consent.

That is an excellent point. And it's one of the motifs that's come up with reasonable frequency on feminist boards (some more so than others) that's driven me batty, because that's where you'd -least- expect to find such assumptions, -unexamined,- yet; but, there it is. Blame the patriarchy if you like, but if you insist that this is how it is, 'twas ever thus, and 'TWILL ever be thus until some nebulously defined post-patriarchal world shimmering dimly over the hazy horizon, it...doesn't leave a lot of room for anything that doesn't fit that paradigm ("brother, can you.." sorry) -right now.-

word verification: fuuttc. exactly!

Rootietoot said...

"these guys believe that gay men should also only have perfectly equal non-penetrative sex. But like macho warriors!"

I had this flash image of all the dudes from Gladiator standing in a conga line, smiling sweetly and humming something from Paul Simon.

Rootietoot said...

"What I wonder about is the pressure men, both straight and gay, feel to have sex."

I have a 15 yr old son who is dating a very attractive (both psychologically and physically) young woman. He gets hassled alot at school about when he's going to 'put it to her'. He (YES! My BOY!) blows them off, and told me one evening, when I asked why he wasn't interested in having sex with her, that actually, he was interested, because he was a 15 yr old guy and that's all he ever thinks about. BUT, he likes her far too much to risk screwing it up with sex at this point.
My BOY! Woo!

JackGoff said...

What I wonder about is the pressure men, both straight and gay, feel to have sex.

Seconding rootietoot here, I was raised to think of sex as not something you "obtain" from someone, but something you share with someone. By this light, especially as it was drilled into my by my mother, you have to respect the other person as a human being, see them always as a human being, and to always try to maintain a fluid type of equality. Now, for my mother, that "equality" was pretty unequal and not really feminist per se, so I've had to make efforts, as I grew into myself, to understand how I perceive that equality. That's why consent and dialog are important to me today.

One thing is for damn sure, though, society culture aren't trying to help me, in many respects.

JackGoff said...

That would be "society AND culture".

And RT, "Still Crazy After All These Years"? 8^D

trin said...

B|L,

I wanted to ask you about your comments on abuse survivors and how many of us will "id with abuser, ID with victim, ID with nurturer." I wanted to ask just what that means, because I think that concept has actually been rather destructive to my own healing (and was a little hard to read, actually.)

First of all, who is the nurturer? I'm assuming she's talking there about another adult, but I'm not sure how that fits into the dynamic you're describing.

Second, I remember long years of worrying when I was younger that I must be IDing with my abuser because of my BDSM fantasies. The first therapist I had was sure of this, too. I still remember her gasp of horror when I told her we had similar hairdos.

Both of us had short brown hair. Looking back on it I wonder how I could ever have thought the idea that I wanted short hair (which is about my gender presentation! long hair makes me look femme (actually it just makes me look wrong IMO, but whatev) and feel like my shoes are on the wrong feet!) must mean I was turning into my abuser.

But you know, that's what everyone tells you... that what you're doing and thinking is just a pattern, is just acting out, is just rote. And sometime somehow they might succeed in reconfiguring your head.

Maybe there are patterns, and maybe knowing what they are helps some other survivors. But all that stuff ever did for me was convince me I'm a puppet, not a real person, and make my suicidal ideation worse. Because if I'm turning into her, better I eat bullets than finish, you know? Especially when the therapy that's supposed to make me identify differently... doesn't work. Because who I was becoming... wasn't my abuser, but me. And my mind resisted all attempts to be something else.

That therapist eventually decided the whole of my sexuality was about revenge on my mother, who I wanted subconsciously to beat or something.

The only therapist I've ever had that actually works for me is the one I've currently got, who doesn't talk or think like that. She tells me, and treats me like, I'm my own person. It helps so much more than sniffing for imprints.

Peter said...

Gotta hop on with rootietoot and jackgoff.

Note, though that both of them are talking about pressure coming from outside -- or maybe better said, pressure coming from one person (or society) to have sex with another person.

They aren't talking about being pressured by their partner.

I often wonder, if even with all the cross-gender discussions, most women really get how ready for sex most men are. Quality men aren't drooling for it or planning rapes, but for most of us, "not in the mood" is pretty rare. (Absent things like work stress, a bad relationship, etc.) And the shift from "not in the mood" to "in the mood" is often neither long nor hard. (Did I really just say that?)

That isn't an absolute, and I think men in relationships experience it less than single men, but I think most men are far more there than most women. I know, I know, I know that it doesn't apply to everyone.

My point is that most men simply don't experience being pressured by their partner for sex, because generally, the invitation is all it takes.

Lesley, when I was talking about gay boys possibly being more likely to experience getting into something they weren't prepared for than girls, I can see I wasn't quite clear.

When you talk about what girls experience, you are talking mostly about being pressured into having sex, aren't you? ("In fact, I think straight men might be surprised how often straight women have sex with them when we'd really rather not")

If we're talking about that, then I think that sort of pressure is much more common for girls, or at least no more common for gay boys than girls.

Actually, in the context I was discussing, what I was talking about was a gay youth, knowing he wanted sex, happily consenting to sex, and then finding himself in a situation where his partner assumed he was more experienced, and finding himself in a situation he wasn't ready for. Gay sex can mean so many different things. The kid may picture sex as kissing and oral activity, and then finding himself with someone who assumes that it naturally involves anal sex, for example.

While it is certainly (almost inevitably true) that an inexperienced straight girl may not really fully understand what she is getting into, I think that when a straight person consents to "having sex" there is a much clearer understanding of what that means than for a gay person.

For example, my guess is that for most straight people, "do you want to have sex?" "Yes." pretty much finishes things unless there are fetishes to be negotiated.

For gay people, that is only one of the questions. Top? Bottom? Both? Oral? Anal? -- and that's just the vanilla folk.

I certainly don't want in any way to minimize the pressures on a young woman to have sex to keep a relationship going.

But the pressures on a young man, who, having gone home with someone he's turned on by, having already agreed, (probably eagerly) to have sex, not to admit "this isn't what I meant by sex" are pretty damn big.

And let me add, that since so many gay men come out later in life, the above situation is extremely likely to happen to an older man, who is going to feel even more pressure not to admit he doesn't know what he is doing.

With straight people "young" and "inexperienced" often go hand in hand, while with gay people, they don't necessarily. I was 27 when I first had sex at all, my partner was 39 when he first had sex with a man.

And I'm really not just talking predators here. The more experienced partner may ask all the right questions and get all the right answers, and still not have gotten the point across. Just as one example, something as moderately innocent sounding as "ass play" to a newbie can sound very fun and safe. He's thinking "sure, I've put a finger up there" while the guy he's negotiating is buying lube by the drum.

Luckily, most of us can spot a newbie fairly easily, and most men I know who have any interest at all in the younger guys just assume they are new at it.

Lesley said...

I often wonder, if even with all the cross-gender discussions, most women really get how ready for sex most men are. Quality men aren't drooling for it or planning rapes, but for most of us, "not in the mood" is pretty rare. (Absent things like work stress, a bad relationship, etc.) And the shift from "not in the mood" to "in the mood" is often neither long nor hard. (Did I really just say that?)

I'm not barring the possibility that I'm just not like most other straight women, but I have to say that in my experience, I usually want sex more often than my boyfriends (not like a whole lot more, but somewhat more). Seriously, when I was 34, I was dating a 27-year-old, and it was even true with him. And with only one exception, every one of my boyfriends have had pretty high sex drives.

Of course, the plural of anecdote is not data, but I find it hard to believe I'm that unique. If anything, I'd suspect I just have fewer internalized issues about female sexuality than a lot of women. What I'm trying to say is that I think a lot of women repress their sexuality because of cultural pressures (if you want sex too often, you're a whore). Which then leads me to wonder whether the flip side is true for men.

[Yet, even I have had occasions where I wound up having sex when I didn't really want to because I did not want to deal with the arguments.]

Trin said...

Lesley,

Yes, I've noticed that too. My libido has dropped a substantial amount lately (though I suspect some of that is not having a partner other than for cyber, which doesn't do as much for me as for him; I tend to get more aroused when there's someone around and less when there's not) so I don't think it would be true any more, but I definitely remember situations with my first bf where we'd have interminably long makeout sessions and I'd be like "so when are we getting to the sex?"

Maybe it's different among gay men, who don't have the cultural expectation of there being a "gatekeeper" -- but I find the gatekeeper hasn't usually been me. Maybe that's because I'm a top?

Lesley said...

but I find the gatekeeper hasn't usually been me. Maybe that's because I'm a top?

Not sure if that's true in your case, but it wouldn't be in mine. I don't happen to practice BDSM, but on the few occasions I've done light bondage, I've always been the bottom. I wouldn't be comfortable being a top.

To my prior post, I should also add that I find it hard to believe that my boyfriends have been that unique among men.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as another woman who is pretty much always 'ready' for sex - throughout my pre-adolescent and teen years I always felt like a freak since girls aren't meant to masturbate constantly, like porn (not erotica, just sleazy, decidedly visual, porn), or try to initiate sex. As I got older, I of course realised that most of my close female friends were actually as horny as I was (I would say horniness is fairly ubiquitous in teenagers of all kinds), and that I wasn't such a freak after all, but by then I had already internalised a lot of sexual shame to the extent that sexual humiliation is now a central part of my fantasy life (which is not to say ZOMG, I've been irreparably damaged or anything, but just that my sexuality has been, in many ways, impacted and suppressed by the normative statement that women aren't as sexual.)

I also feel that female sexuality is often seen as 'toothless' and reactive/passive in a way that can prove dangerous, as others previously mentioned. My partner is a male survivor of sexual abuse by an older girl, and the idea that any sexual overture from a woman, no matter how abrupt, will always be welcome has certainly affected him negatively, both in others' response to his abuse, and in his own difficulty in communicating when sexual overtures are making him uncomfortable.

Trin said...

lesley,

I'm not sure mine have either. I used to think they were, but I've dated so many that didn't seem "always ready" that I've started to think that most men being always ready is a myth. Some are (the guy I'm doing cyber-stuff with is a bottomless pit!) but I've known quite a few that are not.

That may be that I've played with a lot of older men. But I've seen a lot of people not having the same stamina I've got or the same long interest.

trin said...

And I can't speak to "do you want to have sex" "yes" being how straight sex works, because I'm not big on being penetrated, especially right away, so I have to make sure they know what sex is first. Which is probably a big part of why first dates tend to be play, not sex. Sex can happen pretty soon after that for me though.

Probably not true for most people for whom the scripts aren't awkward or who feel pressured.

Amber said...

Yep. Basically always read for sex, too. Sometimes I have to force myself to abstain, due to physical exertion of one form of another. But even that only lasts a few days.

Fortunately my partner has an equally charged libido.

I think stereotypes about how much sex men and women want are useless and harmful, to both men and women.

trin said...

I always wondered as an adolescent what "men always think about sex and women don't" meant. Because I thought about it pretty close to all the time. I figured that maybe they could never, ever do anything like cook dinner, because nothing else could ever take their focus even briefly. That's not been the experience with men I've had. :)

Now my libido has slowed a bit, but even if part of why is that I'm not a teen, another part of why is that I've struggled recently with depression and dissociation. Now that I'm feeling better I pretty much feel like masturbating all the time. (I feel nervous about real sex, but I think that is the depression talking, not some preference for Rosie...)

Peter said...

Ladies, you may have missed my point.

Granting that each of you who've said so have the libidoes you do, has that translated into "pressuring your partner for sex?"

Remember that my original point is that most men do not experience being pressured. Maybe I made my point badly, or only made half of my actual point.

But, granting that you want sex more than your men do, does that mean you don't take no for an answer? Allowing for variations on "Are your sure, because I'm really in the mood" to count as encouragement rather than pressure, do you really pressure them for sex?

As in, "I don't care that you don't want to do it, I am going to emotionally blackmail you or hold the relationship over your head if you don't?"

(Let me add, because the BDSM angle has been a part of this from the beginning, that ordering a sub to have sex, where they have consented to take orders and consent to follow the order, doesn't count as pressure in this sense, even if it isn't something they would have preferred in the absence of the order.)

Somehow I doubt that your partners feel pressured in the sense I was discussing. Am I wrong?

Peter

Peter said...

trin, I suddenly realize I may have been in error. I lost track in your postings. I am correct in thinking you identify as female, right?

I certainly did not mean to be in any way insulting by starting the last point with "Ladies" - quite the contrary. If that came across as either insulting or patronizing to anyone here, please point it out to me.

Peter

belledame222 said...

I will extend that question to "has anyone ever felt pressured for sex by a female partner."

Amber said...

Granting that each of you who've said so have the libidoes you do, has that translated into "pressuring your partner for sex?"

No, because having a strong sex drive doesn't automatically mean being an asshole.

Lesley said...

Peter, re: my partners feeling pressured by me, I mean, I suppose to be absolutely certain, I'd have to ask them, but I can't see how. Generally the second I see a hint of "I'm too tired or not in the mood"-ness, I back off. I have occasionally said something like "Oh, come on, are you sure?" but no more than that. And even that's rare.

But that isn't what I thought I was taking issue with in your comment. I could be wrong, but I was getting from your comment that women don't understand just how ready for sex men usually are. Which I interpreted as "Men are more ready for sex than women, and even on the occasions they aren't, it doesn't take them long to get there." My experience has always been that men are less ready for sex than women think they are. IMO, the reason that women think they are more ready than they really are is because this is how they're consistently portrayed.

And the pressure I was referring to was societal pressure that men may have internalized. I think I'm not making myself clear. Women generally internalize the pressure to be "good little girls" and not have sex too often. This can manifest in many ways, but one of the ways is to actually make you turn down sex even if you'd rather have it. Like waiting longer than you really want to to have sex with a man you're recently met because you don't want to appear to be a "slut."

So what I wonder is how does the societal pressure to always be ready for sex manifest in men. I can think of one way. One of my partners hadn't had very many previous partners. This was because he was a genuinely decent human being who viewed women as human beings who deserved to have their feelings respected. He just couldn't play the kinds of emotional blackmail games that a lot of men play to increase their chances of sleeping with a woman. However, he actually felt there was something wrong with him because of that. How screwed up is that? He felt there was something wrong with him for being a decent person, because it got in the way of having more sex.

Could other men internalize that as they should be emotionally manipulative bastards and do things they might not otherwise do if society didn't have that paradigm for them?

Lesley said...

Like waiting longer than you really want to to have sex with a man you're recently met because you don't want to appear to be a "slut."

Or presumably a woman you've just met. Sorry for the heteronormativity.

Peter said...

May I point out that I mentioned "being ready for sex" not "thinking about sex." Not sure why that seems like an important distinction, but I think it is a real one. I know I don't think about sex all the time, but I can sure turn on a dime if required.

trin said...

Peter,

That makes a whole lot of sense. I don't turn on a dime, so much. My libido does, but my mind starts chanting things like "Potential for STDs and drama!" and that makes me not have sex right there, and scope out the person instead, with the eventual goal being sex.

Lesley said...

I know I don't think about sex all the time, but I can sure turn on a dime if required.

Very interesting phraseology, and potentially an example of what I'm getting at vis a vis societal pressure. The thing is, you are never required. Might a man feel that he is, in some fashion, "required" if his partner wishes to have sex at a moment when he wasn't particularly thinking of it? And I don't mean required by his partner, but by something he himself has internalized. And I may be talking completely out of my hat here, but I do find it interesting that you used the phrase "if required" rather than "when I want to."

Speaking for myself, I understood the distinction between being ready for sex and thinking of it. Nonetheless, in my experience, men are less ready for sex than women believe they are. Otherwise we wouldn't be surprised when we are in the mood and get turned down. In my case, the first few times it happened, I started to question myself.* Was I no longer attractive to him? Was he tired of the relationship? Was he sleeping with someone else? None of those things were true. As it continued to happen with multiple boyfriends, it finally just hit me that the only problem was my expectations.

*You might find it interesting that I questioned myself and not him. You'd be right. Another example of how we swallow our socialization without thinking about what we're swallowing. Dollars to doughnuts that when I've turned down a boyfriend, he did not question himself, but just figured I wasn't in the mood. Which in a really twisty way brings me to my favorite lame-ass attempted pick-up story. I was at a club and some jerk tried to pick me up. When I turned him down, he asked me "What's the matter, are you frigid?"

Peter said...

And I may be talking completely out of my hat here, but I do find it interesting that you used the phrase "if required" rather than "when I want to."

If I am horny and get asked to have sex, there is no shift required.

If I am not horny and get asked to have sex, and I am not interested in it, then there is no shift required.

If I am not horny and get asked to have sex and it sounds like a wonderful idea, then in order to have sex, I need to shift into that mode. In other words, a shift is required.

It never occurred to me when I said, "I can turn on a dime if required" that anyone could possibly take that to mean that I felt required to have sex.

Nor, having had you point it out, do I think that there was some unquestioned worldview thing underlying my statement.

Truth is, there are times when my partner DOES try to push for sex when I've said no, and honestly, times when for whatever reason I've chosen to do so, or even initiated it, because I love him and I know it is something that will make him feel good, especially when he's had a bad day. Those times (to which I freely consent) do NOT involve "turning on a dime", but a more complicated shift, for things to work.

Lesley said...

Nor, having had you point it out, do I think that there was some unquestioned worldview thing underlying my statement.

Fair enough. As I said, I might have been talking totally out of my hat. Seems I was.

Truth is, there are times when my partner DOES try to push for sex when I've said no, and honestly, times when for whatever reason I've chosen to do so, or even initiated it, because I love him and I know it is something that will make him feel good, especially when he's had a bad day. Those times (to which I freely consent) do NOT involve "turning on a dime", but a more complicated shift, for things to work.

Yeah, there are times I've gone ahead and had sex with my boyfriend for the same reasons. I don't dispute that you can freely consent to that. Certainly I have.

Peter said...

Lesley,

I am doing my damnedest here to try to avoid sweeping statements, or having made one, to throw in things like "this may not apply to everyone."

But I am starting to feel that I am having so much trouble making a point without having to backtrack and explain every single point that the conversation is rapidly becoming no fun at all.

I have made several broad statements that I believe really do apply to the majority of people, including the fact that I don't think most women understand the way men think about sex.

You respond purely from your own experience, and about your own experience. I grant you your experience, and I did my level best when I said what I said to allow for differences.

So, yours is different than what I say. Fine. But what is your point? Are you saying that you think I am wrong in principle or about the majority of women?

Do you think that most or all women are more interested in sex than most or all men? Do you think that most women share your experience with most of the men that they partner with? That would not match my sense of the way things are, but it may well be true, and if so, it's news.

It really feels that, rather than discussing my points, you are using yourself to invalidate them. That would be fair and valid if I were trying to make universal statements, but I am sure trying not to.

Peter said...

Damn. Cross posted. Thanks for your response, and mine would have been a bit less bitchy in tone if I had seen it first. (Not in content, just tone. I really do mean those questions, and I would truly like to hear your answers.)

Peace?

Peter said...

So what I wonder is how does the societal pressure to always be ready for sex manifest in men.

I think your example was a good one. With a less understanding parter, he would doubtless have continued to feel something was wrong with him, and it he weren't such a quality guy, might have overcompensated.

I guess this is why my questions of whether there really are a lot of women out there who are more sexually interested then their men really does matter.

Because the pressure on men to be ready for sex isn't really a problem if they are happy about it.

I really, truly understand the whole point about men consenting to sex, and really, truly see the value in it. Particularly with my BDSM focus, consent and limits are sacred to me.

And my partner IS more highly sexed than me.

And I can honestly say that I rarely, if ever, have thought of myself as "consenting" to have sex, even when I was the one who was asked, hit on, or pursued. Most of the time, I think of it as "getting to have sex," and sometimes, as "choosing to have sex."

Sure, those things count as consent, but my reaction is still "what an odd way to put it." In my head, I "consent" to specific sexual risks, not to sex itself, or to specific sexual activities. That isn't that I feel pressured into it, quite the reverse. "Consenting" to something just doesn't seem to match up with an "ooh, goody!" It sounds more like a "well, if I must."

Any man who experiences a world where he is asked to have sex he doesn't want and feels pressure to be ready for it is going to be oppressed by it (even if only a bit, and even if only rarely.)

I think every man experiences that occasionally. I wonder, though, how many experience it frequently?

And I may be wrong, but I don't think men experience the same thing if they are hit on by someone they aren't attracted to. That doesn't feel like "pressure to have sex."

Lesley said...

First off, totally peace. I didn't experience your penultimate comment as being bitchy anyway.

It really feels that, rather than discussing my points, you are using yourself to invalidate them. That would be fair and valid if I were trying to make universal statements, but I am sure trying not to.

Full disclosure. I studied economics in undergrad and finance in grad. As such, I have a lot of grounding in statistics. So to me, the problem is that we're both arguing from experience. Yours may not be limited solely to your personal experience, but also include discussions with your friends. Nonetheless, I believe we're both dealing with biased sample sets. So short of designing a solid set of survey questions, finding a large random sample, and running a regression analysis on the results, I'm not sure how else to interact with your points. So I use my own experience and my belief that I'm not all that unique, as that would be statistically improbable. Not impossible, but highly improbable.

Do you think that most or all women are more interested in sex than most or all men?

I think that most women are as interested in sex as most men. I think most women repress that for internalized cultural reasons. I think that some women are more interested in sex than some men and vice versa. I also think that it's distinctly likely that I go ahead and have sex with my boyfriends when I'm not particularly interested because I want to make them feel good more often than they do for me. I think that's also true for most women. This would make it seem as if we're more interested in sex than our partners.

Do you think that most women share your experience with most of the men that they partner with?

Yes. I do know from discussions that a lot of straight women experience being turned down when they initiate sex with their male partners, and that this happens more often than you might think. Sometimes this gets chalked up as "Is something wrong with me?" Sometimes it gets chalked up as "Men don't like it when women are sexually assertive." If it gets chalked up as the latter, they are more likely than I am to stop initiating sex out of fear of driving their male partners away. I also know that a lot of straight women virtually never initiate sex when they want out of that very fear. So I extrapolate on that basis.

Rootietoot said...

AS for men pretty much always ready for sex- yeah, that's true of my husband. I also know that I have often times had sex with him because he wanted it, and I wanted to do something for him that he'd appreciate, even tho I'd rather have been reading a book. I don't think that makes me submissive or (whatever), I prefer to look at it as an act of generosity. He's never forced me to do anything. (not even laundry!) I've also taken to learning new tricks, to surprise him, because he has always been more adventurous than me, and I want to do something to make him happy. In the process I am learning to lighten up and have my own brand of fun.

In this sort of intimate relationship, there is always a give-and-take, with one person pushing the boundaries and another holding back a little. The hope is that each person is aware of the other's desires, and both can remain fluid in their relating.

Peter said...

I think that most women are as interested in sex as most men. I think most women repress that for internalized cultural reasons.

AHA! Found my glitch.

I was equating behavior with internal reality. Hadn't accounted for internalized repression.

And you are absolutely right about the biased sample sets. Big time. I did reference that earlier, saying my actually sexual experience is principally as a gay leatherman.

And I can see that the biggest practical effect would likely be in more committed relationships, yes? That while dating, if men are expected to be the initiator and women are socialized not to, then single men rarely experience a situations where they are seriously invited to have sex they don't want, where in a relationship, if women feel more free to ask, then it will happen more often?

Still, I do go back to my original contention, backed up by what you folks responded -- I really do think that men feel less "pressured" to have sex they don't want than women, even if the "invitation" to have sex they don't want is more common than I originally allowed for.

I have to read back, because I am not sure how I ended up on this point. I think it had something to do with inexperienced gay men getting in over their heads, but I've lost the map.

Lesley said...

Although speaking of statistically significant studies, there was one a couple of months back that indicated a very similar physiological response time for men and women from visual erotic stimuli. I think the difference was something around 1 second longer for women. I did not find that surprising.

Lesley said...

And following up on my last comment, contrast that with survey responses to questions about whether you get turned on by porn. Women are far more likely to say "No" than men. Yet the physiological responses bely that. Which goes to the point of internalized repression.

And I can see that the biggest practical effect would likely be in more committed relationships, yes? That while dating, if men are expected to be the initiator and women are socialized not to, then single men rarely experience a situations where they are seriously invited to have sex they don't want, where in a relationship, if women feel more free to ask, then it will happen more often?

Still, I do go back to my original contention, backed up by what you folks responded -- I really do think that men feel less "pressured" to have sex they don't want than women, even if the "invitation" to have sex they don't want is more common than I originally allowed for.


Yes, I agree with both those statements.

And I can't remember how we got here either!

Peter said...

I keep trying to get back to the original set of question in my head, the "are the underlying cultural norms for gay men and lesbians sufficiently different" range of questions.

One thing occurred to me, which is that for men, it is just that much harder to fake being turned on, and consequently that much harder to convince yourself in your head that "oh yeah, he wants it." There's that excitement barometer right in your face, so to speak.

As we said, things like that won't stop a determined rapist, and I know that there is male-on-male rape in the world outside of prisons.

I wonder, though, what affect the penis has on the "I didn't think it was rape" scenarios.

I know that a limp partner usually throws a big wet towel on my fun, unless that's been clearly discussed in advance. ("Don't expect me to be hard if we do that, but trust me, I love it.")

I don't know if that counts as a cultural expectation, but it certainly it a reality. Consider how important to a male ego his own penis is, then add to that his responsibility for the other guy's erection. Then double it to allow for two male egos in play at once.

Given the essentially direct and obvious feedback (that at least can be present in gay sex, how does that compare? Do lesbians have to overcome temptations to question their performance or their partner's satisfaction, or is it true that men are more performance-based, so it is less of an issue for women?

Peter said...

And oh, PLEASE, hear me as saying that women CAN fake it, not that I assume that they do! (That would be an entirely different discussion, one I have no qualifications to be involved in!)

Trin said...

"Do lesbians have to overcome temptations to question their performance or their partner's satisfaction?"

I know that, in the one relationship I was in, I could clearly tell when my girlfriend was enjoying sex and I'm quite sure she wasn't pretending to, but could not tell when she was actually having orgasms. I guessed, and I have some reasons to believe I'm right, but I wasn't always sure.

Other women I've done things with have been more obvious (and I suspect that I am, too, once my partner knows what to look for), but some are not. (The last person I played with recently actually told me that what I thought were just gasps of intense excitement were minor orgasms. Whee.)

As far as someone faking being interested at all... I don't know. I suspect, but I don't know, that for some women it's not a complete faking of interest but rather a "I'm a little interested, but I'm scared to ask for what really gets me off so I'm not going to like this much. Eh."

That happens to me -- a lot of men I'm with seem like they'd know what I want, but when they're actually in bed with me rather than in the dungeon they start trying to lead, and it drastically reduces my arousal. I've never tangoed, but I imagine it's like both people trying to lead and repeatedly stepping on one another's toes. Not sexy at all to me.

I find I'll often go through with the sex, though, because I am horny and I do like things to happen to my genitals when I am horny, and even if this misstepping happens I'd have to stop sex and start talking (bleh!) to stop the misstepping.

And that I don't want to do -- maybe from embarrassment, maybe from fear, I don't know what. So for me it's less that I don't want sex at all and am letting a testosterone-filled bull do its thing, and more that I want sex but it's bad but I don't stop it, even if later I figure I really should've.

But this has also happened to me with women, so I'm not sure if it's a heterosexual interaction thing or a me thing. Or perhaps an internalized sexism or shame thing, about how a woman should behave in bed. I don't know.

cicely said...

I will extend that question to "has anyone ever felt pressured for sex by a female partner."

Late to the party, belledame, but, yes. I'm particularly thinking of a partner I once had who became tres amorous after drinking. She was not always unattractive to me after drinking but at times,once she'd reached a certain stage, she was. I would know at these times that, more likely than not, when we got home and to bed there'd be this long drawn out wheedling and whining and unwelcome touching going on until she got tired and went to sleep. It used to begin feeling abusive, because she never did, at these times, accept 'no', she just wore herself out.

belledame222 said...

There's another thing which hasn't been touched on:

In my experience, at least, women (making allowances for cultural, personal, etc. differences) tend to be socialized not to be direct, period. Fittingly the socialization itself is often not...direct. But stuff like simply and clearly saying, "I want such and so," in -any- context, including, but not limited to sexual...i think that that is hard for a lot of women. can't speak for/to men so much. i'm sure there are plenty who have trouble with this as well; but in general...well, it's related to what someone said above about women being expected to be passive, recipients. In theory we've moved past all that, culturally speaking, in the past few decades, but as i've observed and experienced it...really, not so much. certainly not for everyone.

Peter said...

I'm not sure it is so much about being "passive" as it is about the whole consensus thing, or at least, I've had women make a believable case for that. Instead of "I want ice cream" it comes out as "Wouldn't ice cream be nice?" or even "There's a new Dairy Queen open."

I've had women tell me that they feel the second one is a very clear statement their interest, but that it doesn't feel so pushy. That way, "we" decide to have ice cream, because "we" all agree it would be nice.

I don't know.

Peter said...

And what my last post had to do with sex or sexual negotiations in any way whatsoever evades me.

belledame222 said...

AUFGH. yes.

you know, i had some earlier observations on this phenomenon ("read my mind! that means that you Care!") as well as other stuff, admittedly not terribly nice, examining this one guy's blog...hold on (rummages)

...ah yes. This post.

little light said...

I'm late to the party, too, but hell yes I've been pressured by female partners sexually, even when I was presenting as a male and they were ostensibly heterosexual hookups.
(And yeah, Peter, I gotta say, however I identify, here's one woman who's got some idea what goes on with male sexuality.)
It was always a source of shame for me, when I was trying to be a guy, that I was so "undersexed" for not being in the mood all the time, or disappointing the female partners I had for being more interested in other stuff. Yes, some of it came down to body dysphoria, but still--I don't think there's much of a difference between male and female sex drives, in the aggregate, but there's a hell of a lot of difference in terms of internalized expectations and policing, with men telling themselves to be more into it and women repressing their urges, sure.
In some of those same relationships where I felt shame for not being into sex enough, women I was with were feeling shame for being "oversexed." It was pretty ridiculous.

That said, libido is linked to testosterone levels, to some degree, in men and women. And the libido decrease I was warned about when I started rearranging my endocrine system has been in evidence, even if not to the extreme degree I was supposed to be scared of. It's...hm.

belledame222 said...

I'm wondering if part of the problem is that men are pressured not just to "want sex" but to -perform.-

actually, for pretty much everyone, "wanting" doesn't really come into it much. maybe that's the problem. it's how you perform, what you look like. how you feel...well, uh, yeah, that. (mumble).

Peter said...

I agree about the focus on performance, but honestly, it doesn't bother me. Maybe I am too socialized into it, but it makes me step up to my own standards, and makes me more sensitive to my partners.

Maybe I've internalized some refinements on performance to include "did everybody have fun" and "if there were any glitches, has everyone's ego been petted and taken care of."

Sort of a combination of "if you're going to do it, do it right" and "if it ain't fun, what are you doing here."

Lesley said...

you know, i had some earlier observations on this phenomenon ("read my mind! that means that you Care!")

Yes, yes, yes. I have friends like that, and it definitely spills over into their sex lives. They wind up either doing things they'd rather not because they can't directly state it or not doing things they'd like to. On the first one, I have to say, their sex partners need to be more aware, because if your partner isn't really all that into something, you should be able to pick up on that. Unless they're doing an absolute bang-up job of faking it, but I'm fairly sure that isn't the case most of the time.

belledame222 said...

Well, point being, yes, partners should be better attuned to "no;" but for damn sure no one should be expected to magically intuit what someone -does- want.

Lesley said...

but for damn sure no one should be expected to magically intuit what someone -does- want.

Definitely. I get very frustrated with the regular "Why don't you just say exactly what you want." "Oh, no, I couldn't do that. If he/she really loved me, he/she'd know!" "Can he/she also use those powers to get me a winning lottery ticket?" conversations.

Trin said...

lesley,

But sometimes people really can't articulate what they do want. For example, one of the fuckbuddies I had for a while just really didn't fit well with me because I really needed stronger powerplay, and I couldn't really explain it. Like, I could say "your version of submission isn't what I need," and I could say that I knew why, but I couldn't explain what it is that makes it work when it does.

And he thought I meant that I wanted to give more orders. When that wasn't what I wanted. What I meant was that with the powerplay that works for me there's a chemistry, and if that's not there I tend to feel downright silly flouncing about giving orders. So there was an aspect of "well, if you don't know, I don't think this is going anywhere."

Not because I was trying to fuck with his head, but just because I didn't know how to describe the kind of space I like most to see my partners sinking into. Because I'm not a sub myself so I don't know exactly what it feels like to them. I only knew the feedback loop wasn't getting started, and it was insanely frustrating to be asked "Why? What am I doing wrong?" when nobody was doing anything wrong, really.

So I find myself a little leery of "Just negotiate more." I've gotten into way too many situations where that really isn't going to do anything because people don't know how to talk about what they want first.

KH said...

actually, for pretty much everyone, "wanting" doesn't really come into it much. maybe that's the problem. it's how you perform, what you look like. how you feel...well, uh, yeah, that. (mumble).

Old psychology joke: Two Skinnerian behaviorists have sex. After, one says to the other, 'It was good for you. How was it for me?'

Thanks folks, you've been a great audience! I'm outta here. Be sure to catch Dick Contino in the Tiki Lounge.

cicely said...

Trin said...

But sometimes people really can't articulate what they do want. For example, one of the fuckbuddies I had for a while just really didn't fit well with me because I really needed stronger powerplay, and I couldn't really explain it. Like, I could say "your version of submission isn't what I need," and I could say that I knew why, but I couldn't explain what it is that makes it work when it does.

And he thought I meant that I wanted to give more orders. When that wasn't what I wanted. What I meant was that with the powerplay that works for me there's a chemistry, and if that's not there I tend to feel downright silly flouncing about giving orders. So there was an aspect of "well, if you don't know, I don't think this is going anywhere."

Not because I was trying to fuck with his head, but just because I didn't know how to describe the kind of space I like most to see my partners sinking into. Because I'm not a sub myself so I don't know exactly what it feels like to them. I only knew the feedback loop wasn't getting started, and it was insanely frustrating to be asked "Why? What am I doing wrong?" when nobody was doing anything wrong, really.


I so relate to this, trin. I could talk your ear off on the subject but I'll try to restrain myself, because some would surely be TFI!

I'm a lifelong lesbian, and a bottom in terms of d/s relating, although haven't yet ventured into your actual BDSM, I don't think, but close!!?? Quite a few stories about problems communicating my desires, and fortunately, enough about having them understood without any need to explain, as well. And that does seem to be the key. If you have to explain at this level, it's not happening. (The feedback loop!)

eg. There was quite a bit of sexual tension between myself and a friend some years ago. She would often come on to me, but I couldn't respond to her 'methods' for want of a better word, and she got pretty frustrated with me. I told her it just wasn't going to work between us, despite the fact that I did find her attractive, and she demanded to know why not. Well, it's a bit embarrassing trying to explain this kind of thing in words, especially to someone you already know doesn't get it, so in the end I said maybe it would work better if I showed her. I did my best - which wasn't very good I feel sure (and it was understood to be a demonstration rather than actual seduction or sex) but anyway, she still didn't get it, and still wanted to have sex. (and this is mildish, but still another case of my feeling pressured by a woman to have sex...) This was during the sex wars in the lesbian community and my friend was a lesbian-feminist as well. (which I've never been. A lesbian AND a feminist is me. I really only realised that *she* was a LF over this exchange.) The upshot was that she decided I was a sexual dinasour (?) in the lesbian community, she said she could show me reams of feminist writings to prove it, and that I'd probably never find a partner again. She was wrong, fortunately, but that sure did hurt me and even scare me at the time, as I was beginning to feel quite isolated and lonely. After two great and sexually compatible long term relationships that made up 11 years of my life, I'd been single and had a few years of dealing with RF/LF around sexuality by then, and this was for me, the proverbial last straw. I set off not long after that to see a lesbian sex therapist who told me I could change my sexuality if I really wanted to and charged me $150.00. I realised that wasn't at all what I wanted. I met someone suitable a couple of years after that and I'm still the same as I ever was, and back to being happy with myself again :)

I credit the BDSM community with providing language and complex and fluid understandings of sexuality and gender etc (I have a copy of 'Coming To Power' too...also Amber Hollibaugh's 'My Dangerous Desires' and Joan Nestle's 'A Restricted Country' and 'The Persistent Desire'...) and I also credit the butch-femme.com online community for it's part in creating and/or spreading language around lesbian sexuality. As Gayle Rubin once wrote - and I'm paraphrasing here - talk about actual 'sex' was 'disappeared' from dialogue about lesbianism with the influence of RF/LF - or at least a lot of lesbians who didn't fit the non d/s prescription got silenced.

I do also, in the context of the original post, know of only one lesbian who has definitely been violently sexually abused, raped in fact, and that was because it happened in public over a car bonnet outside a nightclub and friends of mine actually saw it and told me about it. I've had my own suspicions in other cases, where other violence had occurred or was occurring, but nothing has ever been said. I'm not saying it's rife - at all - but I would be surprised if it weren't the case that there is more sexual abuse that goes on between lesbians than just about anybody except the parties involved know about. At least I don't think it would hurt at all to assume that this might be the case so we can provide support for the victims in our community. And, obviously, I don't think feminist ideology would be any kind of appropriate therapy in such cases. I think lesbians who experience sexual abuse or rape by other lesbians certainly would experience the same feelings as heterosexual women at some levels, and this would surely include the shame and the wondering how they'd contributed to or brought the situation onto themselves. I think there are human social dynamics that don't have much to do with gender or sexual orientation, but a lot to do with attitudes to sex. But then there might be issues unique as well - like whether you're a 'good' or 'proper' lesbian, or whether anyone would even believe that what's happened to you would qualify as rape, since the perpertrator was a woman, and may well have raped you without even the use of a strap-on or hand-held dildo, let alone there not being an actual man and an actual penis involved. And if you're anything short of out and proud about being in a lesbian relationship in the first place, there's another silencing factor. Then, of course, there could be the feeling that you're 'letting the side down' if you reveal that this sort of thing has happened to you in the women's community.

Rootietoot said...

" but for damn sure no one should be expected to magically intuit what someone -does- want. "

Well, it took me 20 years to figure out my husband isn't a mind reader.

Lesley said...


But sometimes people really can't articulate what they do want. For example, one of the fuckbuddies I had for a while just really didn't fit well with me because I really needed stronger powerplay, and I couldn't really explain it. Like, I could say "your version of submission isn't what I need," and I could say that I knew why, but I couldn't explain what it is that makes it work when it does.


No, I know what you're saying. I apologize, because I never meant to suggest otherwise, and I was flip about the whole thing. For the record, I don't actually ever say that last crack out loud when I'm talking about things like that with my friends.

I'm just talking about situations where they can articulate, because they do so to their friends. I even get that they're afraid to articulate it directly to their partners due to a lot of socialization. It's just the actual expectation that their partner will magically know that I find frustrating. Not a real inability to articulate.

Peter said...

But sometimes people really can't articulate what they do want.

That's a whole different thing, isn't it? I took what Belledame and Lesley said to mean that one person knows exactly what they want, but don't say so, on the "I shouldn't have to ask" theory. Which is a game, pure and simple.

Depending on the circumstances, it can describe a whole variety of different games, but it is still a game.

But what you and Cicely are both describing is almost the reverse. You knew you wanted something, and you articulated as clearly as you knew how as much of what you wanted as you could.

Being limited to "this isn't working, I want something else but I don't know what" isn't withholding a truth for your partner to guess, it's expressing a challenge for your partner to share.

It has to be frustrating for your partner not to be able to solve it, but that isn't the same thing.

belledame222 said...

a lesbian sex therapist who told me I could change my sexuality if I really wanted to

:headdesk:

Trin said...

peter,

Yeah, I thought about it and realized that is what they mean, and I misspoke. I've just found myself in a lot of situations where I just could not make my partner understand, and finally threw up my hands and said things like "If you don't know you don't know! Read my mind!" because I just didn't know what else to say.

I find myself asked to "explain" a lot, usually with regard to things I just can't explain well. And I often do feel that part of the reason it's been hard to sort out is because I've had a few very selfish partners lately who just really haven't paid attention to things like non-verbal cues, things like what gets me off most, etc.

And I don't like that. So when I say things like "Fuck you if you don't know" (which I don't say unless there's a huge problem, btw) it generally means "I really don't think you care what I want, and if you don't you'll more than likely get dumped soon."

I think there's a myth in the kink community that long negotiation fixes everything. And IMX that just ain't so. Negotiation is a wonderful thing, but people don't always understand one another and don't always know what they want. I just wanted to be sure that rightfully dissing people who expect telepaths doesn't veer into expecting words to make everything work.

belledame222 said...

Peter: I was going to say something along those lines--that what trin is talking about is sort of the opposite of "I know what I want, I just am afraid to be too forward about it"

but on reconsideration, I actually think it's more of a continuum, or interlocking phenomena. it's true that even the most...experienced? sophisticated? folks may find themselves stumbling up against unknown territory, and find themselves at a loss for words, from time to time.

but i think on the whole the connection is the seg-negative, sexist (and all its attendant assumptions of normativity), utilitarian society we live in, how its worst weapon is silence, lack of vocabulary for subtleties of feeling, for naming of -desires- that go against the norm (if any at all), let alone even feeling entitled to demand them out loud to another person.

belledame222 said...

trin slip't

Trin said...

"I set off not long after that to see a lesbian sex therapist who told me I could change my sexuality if I really wanted to and charged me $150.00."

Ouch, ouch, ouch. I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

At least you didn't get someone agreeing that you identify with your abuser and are totally messed up. Or did she think that too?

"Then, of course, there could be the feeling that you're 'letting the side down' if you reveal that this sort of thing has happened to you in the women's community."

Yeah. I found that the one relationship I have been in with a woman had just as much -- and often more -- pressure as the relationships I've been in with men. It really weirded me out, because I was an enthusiastic new convert to radicalish feminism and everyone around me talked about how relationships with men are so hard because of the starting power imbalance and it's so nice to be a dyke and free to let your hair down.

I don't think there's no truth to that -- I think dynamics of privilege can and do affect us. But I think they do a lot less than the theory says. No violent assault happened in my relationship, but there were things like pressure to have unprotected sex that I finally gave in to because I was going nuts (I convinced myself I must be really serious about her and "okay with it" when really it made me nervous), nonchalance about being tested and reporting status, etc.

And the worst part, which was actually her giving me head, which is supposed to be all egalitarian and cute, right? It was like "All dykes do this, and no real dyke would use a barrier, so I need my snack now." Like I was Doritos or something and she was hungry and that was that and it had very little to do with me. But that was okay, because it was about getting me off, right?

And okay, that got me off, but every time I did I felt slimy and like "why am I letting her do this?"

But that's supposed to be emotionally safe sex, if you listen to dykes who say that there's this hierarchy of sex that's lovey-wovey and sex that's patriarchal and scary.

Well it was receiving head that was gross to me, because there was this illusion that that was the thing that shouldn't matter, that had no power dynamic. And it had a huge one. I'm a real dyke, I need to eat you now, you have no real reason to say no.

Consensual power dynamics are awesome. Random ones people use on each other to mistreat each other are not awesome. I've very rarely seen a relationship that didn't involve one or the other. (By that I don't mean that vanilla people mistreat one another. I mean that good relationships are ones where people understand what they can and can't ask for or demand from one another. Pretending power dynamics don't exist to look cool is a recipe for disaster.)

trin said...

trin slipt?

WHAT YOU SAY?!

belledame222 said...

heh. posting convention from the old v.c.: when you post something in response to the post above and someone else posts something else while you're still composing, possibly rendering the "to whom this is addressed" confusing. after a while people started just using it even if there wasn't necessarily any confusion.

you don't get that on lj so much, because you have the sub-threads. it's mostly handy in these linear topics.

Queer Dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

after my own experience with abuse, i quickly learned to shut down. the issue finally got some play in the late 80s in my neck of the woods and it became part of a much wider politicized movement to ensure that all rape and abuse violence call/crisis centers were informed about the issues. mostly, this was initiated by gay men first, and once they legitimated talk about it, it because easier for the lesbian community. this was, at least, how it happened where i lived.

there is plenty of research on the topic, but some is suspect because folks worry about the underlying agendas of the researchers.

at the rape crisis center, which was part of a broader community-wide effort to deal with the effects of economic crisis in a cummunity (which manifested in higher rates of family violence than we'd ever seen before) rape calls were less frequent and tended to involve very very obvious situations where the woman was violated with objects.

On campuses in the wider upstte NY area, rape was often a part of unequal power relations between lesbian profs and students who felt duped and confused. They had an attraction to the prof because of the experience of learning so much at her feet, only to have the be taken advantage of. (Sort of like therapists have to be careful to not take advantage of transferance.)

other situations less common but that's partly because the way we talk about rape makes it hard for people to understand it as such.

Manipulation and wheedling for example. I myself have a hard time understanding this. I can't even imagine being in a relationship with anyone who wheedles b/c I'm ready for it all the time and if i'm not, I'm physically hurting and I've never had any partner be a total jackass)


I was both relieved and upset by the L Word's rape scene. But they didn't put that in there for nothing, because it happens. What worried me was that the show is so freakin' geared straight at a het audience....

But anyway, there's plenty of research on topic. Lori B Gershick's stuff is groundbreaking:

Woman-to-Woman Sexual Violence: Does She call it Rape?

Here rather comprehensive bibliography is here:

http://www.loribgirshick.com/bibliography.html

Dont' read this, part of a pamphlet, that has descriptions of rape that might trigger you:

http://www.loribgirshick.com/booklet.html

Queer Dewd formerly known as ( ) said...

oh, and IIRC, in schwartz and blumstein's massive study on american couples (N= 20,000 -- yes 20,000 which is huge for a survey), there was discussion of times when partners feel they service the other, even if they're not into it. that's an old book though, but it was eye opening to a lot of people back then because the rhetoric was in super high gear that this simply didn't happen. women were like so in tune with each other. later, this was made worse by the sex frequency studies which showed lesbians to have the least frequent sex of all pairings.

ahhh. women really *don't* like sex, do they. see!

as marilyn frye pointed out, the way the researchers were 'counting' sex might have a lot to do with it.

how do you count "having sex" if the researchers just went with orgasms, then they might be ignoring all the ways lesbians engage in eroticized play where the goal might not be orgasm. blah blah. ;p

TRin said...

I did notice the frequency of sex decreasing in my relationship and I wondered about it. I mean, part of it is that the things that went on really were messed up (now my head is all full of wondering if any of that could have been rape, ugh... I just don't know) but another part of it was just... weird. Because we started out with me fucking her a lot and playing a lot and doing both a lot, and it was very fun and satisfying. By the time the weirdness happened, I was often wanting sex... and the only choice offered me was that really weird head with the gross dynamics attached to it. Everything else was no, whatever.

I dunno. Maybe that was part of the point, that as long as I was horny and clearly wanted sex, she could do that to me and find me unsure enough to not say no? I don't know.

I just know the attitude was so different. It was facilitating. "I need my snacks." Where what had happened in the beginning felt to me like sex, rather than like... feeding a pet so it didn't get growly and snarly.

cicely said...

belledame222 said...

cicely: a lesbian sex therapist who told me I could change my sexuality if I really wanted to

BD :headdesk:


Yes, well, cynic that I am, I thought she might be most interested in a long line of $150.00 payments! Especially as she knew I wasn't very financial, because we discussed it, and yet made a great song and dance about my notice being too short (the day before) on cancelling a second appointment, and insisted I pay for it.

trin: At least you didn't get someone agreeing that you identify with your abuser and are totally messed up. Or did she think that too?

I'm not sure. That wasn't really touched on, at least not directly or not in that way. What amazed and angered me though, in the wash-up, was that she didn't allow the discussion I think I wanted to have. I think I was hoping for her to assure me of what I actually did believe, but had become unsure about at the same time, which was 'it isn't you, it's them', beause I felt that as a well established *lesbian* sex therapist, she would have counselled women with my kind of sexuality in couple situations. She just went straight to 'you can change if you really want to' which I heard as, 'the situation your friend has described is correct', and possibly also that the therapist agreed that this is how it should be. I was too beaten up to ask her the direct question. I don't think I could have faced that coming from her at the time. I could be wrong in my interpretation too, and she may have been confused about what I wanted from therapy. It was really all about politics that had undermined and wounded me over a period of years.

I have to come back to this - some work to do...

Trin said...

I was too beaten up to ask her the direct question. I don't think I could have faced that coming from her at the time.

Oh, I know. I was basically told "You're not diagnosable with anything (because of your sadomasochism), so let me make something up. I can still help you."

Meaning fix, I guess. Nope.

cicely said...

Wow, those links were pretty powerful, gay dewd...just the titles in the bibliography one got me thinking. My very first live-in relationship I felt lucky to have gotten out of alive, it was so violent. It lasted only - but a long - 14 months, beginning on my 21st birthday and the power difference was age and experience (she was 28). She literally pounced on me, announcing to other women in the bar ( on my very first deliberate visit to a known lesbian and gay bar- my b-day present to myself) that 'she's mine', and it went right on from there. We had nothing in common really except that we were both lesbians and we both drank a lot. I stayed with her as long as I did primarily for the sex, no question. We were actually arrested together on my 22nd birthday ater she'd beaten me up in a hotel car park - (jealousy - always over nothing - was her usual 'reason') and we were put in the same cell - alone and together - because lesbianism was that invisible!! In court the next day one of those 'friends of the court' people who'd observed that both my eyes were completely closed from the beating, asked me who did this to me and did I want to press charges. I said no, of course. One story I tend to recount as a humourous one because I have to say it even struck me as funny at the time. (Shocking and depairing first - and *then* funny, at least.) This same partner and I had a room together in a women's kind of boarding house. (No male visitors allowed ater 10.00pm.) Well, we used to argue loudly and often over the few weeks we were there and she occasionally beat me up there in the house as well. One day I was running down the stairs trying to get away, with my partner chasing me, and I grabbed the house manager who was coming up the stairs, and hid behind her. All she said was 'If you two girls can't get along I'm going to have to put you in seperate rooms.' Honestly, I just knew it had never occurred to her - and it didn't even then - that we were a couple. This was back in 1976.

Now, I realise my life is starting to look pretty disastrous as presented in this thread so please note that it's a very unbalanced picture overall. The good far outweighs the bad, but the bad did happen too.

So, yes, visibility sure has been and still is a problem re lesbian on lesbian sexual and other violence, but it's good to see that those studies have been done, and hopefully things are improving. And yeah, I was glad they had that rape scene in the L word too, and to hear lesbians discussing it. I've felt quite amazed that I've actually seen a lesbian centred tv show before I shuffled off, so still grateful for it, whatever its shortcomings.

Hey, trin - I think this club we appear to belong to might not be all that exclusive. (People with marginalised sexualities who've paid therapists to fix what isn't broken.) What breaks you is the marginalisation, and even more so when it comes from within your own already marginalised community. Those who 'know' me from around a handful of blogs will have seen me write about this before - I'm quite conscious of that, and a bit embarrassed about it too - but I guess it's because I really only began to heal properly from this stuff last year, thanks to the internet. I've been sitting on it for years, not really feeling safe to talk about it for fear of having deep wounds re-opened because I picked the wrong woman to talk to. It hasn't been an 'active' issue in my life for a long time, but that alone wasn't enough to allow me to heal. I really thought I was going to take it all to my grave before I found the net. I can only hope that my sel-indulgence in writing so much about it can help others as others have helped me.

Trin said...

"What breaks you is the marginalisation, and even more so when it comes from within your own already marginalised community."

Oh, yeah, yeah, YEAH. I just went back to an old online haunt, and I was looking at a kink thread in which all the kinksters were talking amongst themselves about what kinds of kink were okay (eg. race play, Nazi role play, etc) and what kinds were not. Anyway, one woman was just like

"Oh, I'm SO glad I gave up BDSM. I'm so much better now. I never brag about how full of problems my life is any more, you know?"

I felt like I'd been punched. Because... since when is it about attention? It's about having liked pain most of my adult life I thought...

cicely said...

Oh, yeah, yeah, YEAH. I just went back to an old online haunt...

Oh, now you've got me started...my introduction to the net wasn't great actually. It's exactly where my old wounds *did* get re-opened. The thing is - once you realise there's a wider choice out there is when it gets better, and even great. It's true that it's healed me, and belledame and gay dewd, you've both had a lot to do with that and I thank you both particularly, but also others, for being out here. You make me feel strong.

I was invited by a traveller who regularly attends michfest to participate on the disussion board there. She was someone who'd know I'd go straight to the politics part of the board, but what she wanted was to get me inspired to actually organise to go to fest from this part of the world, because I'd talked about it as a kind of lesbian mecca, which is how it had seemed to me for many years. (Almost as long as it's existed in fact.) I mentioned prior that I had problems with some radical feminism and she said 'really?', and that not everyone is a radical feminist so, go on, jump in, and, in her own words 'get your feet wet.'

To cut a long story short, I made the mistake of even mentioning in an appropriate discussion, and without detail, that I'd been personally affected by RF/LF sexual politics as had many others. When I tried to remind people that I had a political perspective on it as well as a personal one, which was whenever it came up and I always articulated the politics over the personal, a couple of women, one of whom was 'mine host' who'd invited me there in the first place, would always bring it back to the personal and in a particularly nasty way. I know I left those boards with a reputation I have nothing to be ashamed of beause I never stooped to cruelty and other nasties that were all too often on display there - which is not to say there weren't also many others who didn't either because there were.

I didn't know the blogosphere existed over the year I was on the michfest board. I discovered it by accident when I followed a link to 'Alas'. Like belledame, I didn't know all that MacKinnonite, Sheila Jeffries stuff was still so alive and so kicking. It was the anti-trans stuff that finally made me leave the michfest board - after someone called 'Lucky' jumped in and took things way beyond the pale, and no-one - not one single woman - took her to task over it. Except me. That was the moment I also decided never to support WBW space by attending any event so defined again.

Now I've really de-railed this thread with this further personal indulgence and I really do apologise for that, although it happened because I feel so at home here and that can't be bad. I'm finished now - no, really.

trin said...

"Like belledame, I didn't know all that MacKinnonite, Sheila Jeffries stuff was still so alive and so kicking."

Yeah, it's very very weird. I find it's a lot more alive on the Internet than it is off. Especially the anti-BDSM stuff. I'd gotten into reading traditional radfem stuff like Against Sadomasochism and I wanted to know if anyone still agreed with it. I found one professor who definitely did in undergrad, but no one else. Then I went online, and I found a lot of "No, you can still be a feminist" and a lot of "well, but question yourself all the time." From there I found the Jeffreys-ites and the people who assume BDSM and "trans politics" are the same thing.

JackGoff said...

First off, sorry I've been out the discussion. I just feel I have little important to say.

I wonder what radfems say about male masochists? I like the things that are done to me, so am I not somewhat masochistic? Why is this not something we can talk about in the sphere of consent and dialectic? Obviously, if it exists outside of that sphere, then we can take issue, but if I liked to be choked, who is someone else to tell me that I have not examined it enough? I never even knew I would like it until I had experimented. Was my experimenting not examining my sexuality? Who is someone else to imply I have mental issues because I like to get dominated? Meh.

Anyway, this has been extremely enlightening for a novice. Thanks to everyone.

Bitch | Lab said...

jack -- male masochists don't exist. ask creepy basement. :)

oh ciceley. i need to go to australia and sit by your side and feed your grapes and fan you and stuph. every time you write anything it's like this shock of familiarity and recogniztion!

and there have been huge strides made. i worked with a group in the later eighties to change the way domestic violence and rape crisis shelters handled the situation. unfortunately, there's the backlash where people want, all to often, for it to be the case that violence happsn because of the depravity of being gay / lesbian in the first place.

but the work has to be done in spite of that. and i think, looking around at the literature online, most of the ones I've seen do contain sections on abuse among gays/lesbians. so huge changes were made for the better. i wanted no one to go through that silencing as i did.

Trin said...

JackGoff,

The radfems who critique SM either pretend straight male masochists don't exist, or claim that gay couples are either copying heterosexuals and making a "woman" out of the bottom, or make claims like this:

"True masochism is relatively rare in genital males. Men who pay money to women (such as prostitutes and mistresses) in exchange for coital access and who want women to insult or spank them first are commonly but incorrectly cited as examples of male masochism. In fact, the sexual behavior of such men is a variant of normal phallocentric domination and economic control."

-John Stoltenberg, "Sadomasochism: Eroticized Violence, Eroticized Powerlessness," in Against Sadomasochism: A RAdical Feminist Analysis, p. 126.

His claim is basically that all female tops who top men are pros, and that they are used and paid for a sexual service, which fits exactly with the usual paradigm of a woman sexually servicing a man.

Trin said...

Which makes me wonder where all my money is. When they all finally pay up I think I'm going to Tahiti. I need a vacation.

;)

(word verification: dmgsx. Oh yes. Oh hell yes.)

Trin said...

B|L,

Ah yes, Creepy Basement. The heterosexual male ex-submissive who spent all that time on the BDSM thread on IBTP sucking up to the straight female ex-dominant.

How cute. I propose a toast to the happy couple. May their self-loathing blissfully devour them.

cicely said...

oh ciceley. i need to go to australia and sit by your side and feed your grapes and fan you and stuph. every time you write anything it's like this shock of familiarity and recogniztion!

Thanks for this lovely thought, bitch/lab :)

For complicated reasons I'm a bit out of touch with what's going on community wise where I am, but I can only hope some others here have been working on this stuff as you did.