Jun 202007

Salon’s Broadsheet blog has an interesting theory on the reactionary images of helpless, out of control women that seem to be filling the media these days. Instead of a regressive sign, this may actually be a sign of how much their status has changed.

Naomi Wolf … has an interesting take on why women take on the role of shrinking violet. In yesterday’s Washington Post, Wolf addresses Hollywood’s helplessness narrative, …

…this is where Wolf’s argument is most daring: “Yes, it gives many of us the thrill of feeling morally superior,” she says. “But it’s also a way to tap into a yearning for regression and irresponsibility — even a fantasy of not being so competent, of letting it all go to pieces and having someone else clean up the mess — that millions of us generally have to suppress as we make our way successfully through the daily checklist and get it all done.”

The overworked BDSM cliche is the male executive who pays a pro dominatrix huge amounts of money to be beaten and infantilized. Critics say that the executive’s submission to the prodom has nothing to do with changing power structures in the real world. If the real world and the kink world have no relationship, and male submission is a vacation, then doesn’t it follow that women of responsibility and authority would want the same kind of vacation?

I’ve started on Louse J Kaplan’s Female Perversions from 1991, which takes direct aim at the old “do women have fetishes?” question. Kaplan isn’t really interested in consensual BDSM, and focuses instead on the clinical definition of fetishism and perversion, something that is compulsive and fixed.

Kaplan says that “the perverse strategy” is a way of escaping the strictures of gender. Men get aroused by, say, infantilism or transvestism, because they want to act in a non-masculine way; the arousal is actually to decoy or divert attention of the fetishist and/or observers away the desired behavior by expressing sexual performance.

This is the inverse of Michael J Bader’s theory of sexual fantasies in his book Arousal. Bader says the fetish allays anxiety to make arousal possible. Kaplan says the arousal allays anxiety to make the fetish possible. I’m divided on which I think is true; maybe it’s a chicken-or-egg thing.

Kaplan says women have perversions that allow them to escape the strictures of their gender (e.g. being nice, clean, caring, etc.) while being camouflaged by other things. Maybe by observing female celebrity basket-cases, women vicariously experience being greedy, callous, self-indulgent, irresponsible, etc.

Addendum: This seems every apt to the discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey.

May 132006

Nerve has a great personal essay on a woman’s quest to develop her sexuality after an accident paralyzed her and put her in a wheelchair. (Emphasis added)

Unfortunately, when we turned on the lights, I discovered I had bled like a sieve. Back then, I had a catheter in my urethra to keep my bladder empty. (I can now independently drain my bladder via a tiny hole in my bellybutton.) His penis had rubbed the catheter the wrong way and irritated the inside of my bladder. Blood was flowing into my drainage bag, which was lying on the bed beside me.

But I didn’t let this scare me off. A year later, the Oklahoma guy and I were deep in a serious, sexually active relationship, even talking about marriage, when a friend of mine told me I was being stalked online by several “devotees,” a group of fetishists who get off on wheelchair users, particularly those with atrophied legs and spastic muscles. I told my boyfriend about this shocking revelation and he acted surprised, weirded out and disgusted. A week later, he tearfully confessed that he was one of those freaks. I was devastated. He told me that even though my wheelchair was what attracted him in the beginning, he was now truly in love with me. I was too in love with him to break it off.

…we sat on my automatic bed and made out. He leaned over and quickly pulled up my tank, exposing my breasts. He was so deft, so confident, and clearly experienced. I let go at that point and let him explore me at will. I’m a submissive at heart and get turned on from giving up complete control. Being paralyzed makes that very easy to do, which is perhaps the one ironic benefit of my accident.

The relationship to how powerful people are in their everyday life and how powerful they act in the Scene or in bed. There seems to be no correspondence between the two, in my experience. Some people who identify as Dom are high-powered, authoritative types in the work and home lives, while others have low authority jobs.

So, what’s the relationship between a person who fantasizes about being disabled (other examples: Vicky Hooks, ParaCathy) as a form of submission and a person who is submissive sexually and disabled? If your physical circumstances require you to be submissive, does your sexuality adapt to that out of necessity?

More on disability fetishists

Jan 062006

In 1917, the same year a generation of Englishmen were being slaughtered on the killing fields of Europe, Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was captured by Turks at Der’a, beaten and threatened with rape. By his own account, he liked it.

“I remembered smiling idly at him, for a delicious warmth, probably sexual, was swelling through me; and then that he flung up his arm and hacked with the full length of his whip into my groin. This doubled me half-over, screaming, or, rather, trying impotently to scream, only shuddering through my open mouth. One giggled with amusement. A voice cried, ‘Shame, you’ve killed him,” Another slash followed. A roaring, and my eyes went black; while within me the core of life seemed to heave slowly up through the rending nerves, expelled from its body by this last indescribable pang.”

Lawrence survived and escaped, but not without his experience leaving a lasting effect on him.

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