May 212016


My impression of Submission didn’t improve with the second episode.

I could often hear people’s footsteps, which is a strong indication of non professional sound recording.

Much of this episode was Ashley visiting a women’s book discussion group to talk about the book she found, The Slave. This scene is pretty obviously talking about the Fifty Shades trilogy. The harhest feminist criticism of the book is voiced by a woman coded as older and unattractive, while younger, more attractive women are delighted with it. This turns into a scene recounting one of the women’s MMF threesomes.

Ashley later talks about the book with her employer Raif, saying that modern men are “passive boys.”

Meanwhile, Nolan Keats continues to lurk in his windowless dungeon, appearing nowhere else.

Linda Williams, in her seminal Hard Core, observed that narratives about sex are usually really about gender. The gender politics of Submission are pretty heteronormative, in the register of soft-core cable porn.

There’s also troubling racial politics here. Dylan (Skin Diamond) is the only person of colour in the cast, and she is consistently shown as the most sexually uninhibited, even procuring new (white) female subs for Nolan. She’s the designated freak.

Much like other mainstream treatments of BDSM (e.g. Fifty Shades, Secretary, etc), Submission presents kink in an extremely familiar narrative, with conventional gender and racial politics. It doesn’t expand the boundaries, just redraw them. At least we only have four more episodes to go.

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