Monday, April 29, 2013

Can A Submissive Be A Feminist?

And, likewise, can a feminist be submissive?

I know what you're thinking and I can see you all whispering to each other: "Oh my god," you whisper, "she's using the F word!! What's wrong with her? Doesn't she know this is a kinky book review blog?? Why would she say the F word? That F word??" 

Well, I promised you social commentary in my About Me section and I don't lie! So, social commentary you shall receive. Brace yourselves.

This topic has come up for me repeatedly over the last few weeks – how feminism relates to BDSM or Domestic Discipline or any kink that puts the male and female into what appears on the surface as traditional gender roles. You know, where the man leads and the woman submits. Is it a contradiction to say that the woman is a feminist if she allows the man to lead? This applies to both relationships that are mostly egalitarian but have the power imbalance in the bedroom and relationships that are completely structured on power exchange in all areas of their life and any combination thereof.

For me, the answer was always no, it’s not a contradiction at all. Not when the women who engage in such relationships are CHOOSING to be there and enjoying the ride. Let me explain. This might get lengthy. You’ve been warned.

Excuse me while I take off my bra and pull up my soapbox.


When I was in college I wrote the sex column for my school’s paper (surprised? me too) and my very first article addressed this exact question. It’s a personal question for me, because I happen to be submissive and masochistic and very perverted in many ways and I was already involved in the BDSM lifestyle by that time. I also have very strong opinions on the Women’s Rights Movement (and really all Civil Rights)... I identify as a feminist. I’d like to see a society where any person has the opportunity to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be (you know, excluding the sociopathic types… I’m not into their rights at all and wouldn’t shed any tears if their dreams of being crazy evil were dashed).  

I find that the reason for all this confusion about how a feminist can possibly be happy to submit to a man, to be spanked, sexually objectified… whatever the kink, hell washing dishes and staying home to raise the kids while he (manly man that he is) goes out and hunts for bacon… it’s because the definition of feminism has been partly lost or maybe muddied. People mostly associate feminism with the Redstocking’s Manifesto of 1969, which is very extreme and started the 1970s movement that promoted equal rights for getting women into the workforce and such. Unfortunately, it also promoted the idea that men are the enemy. That’s where the idea that all men oppress all women came from. It’s very black and white. No discussion of race, class, age, sexual orientation, etc. It reinforced the binary system it rebelled against, i.e. man has power, woman does not. And so now there’s a backlash. It’s understandable. It’s also very frustrating.

I minored in Women’s Studies in College and so I have read enough feminist theory to last me a lifetime and happen to know that there isn’t one school of thought that unites all feminist thought. Everyone’s got an opinion. Thankfully, this isn’t a paper on feminist theory. I just might poke my eyes out if it were. The point in discussing the differences in feminist thought is that the one underlying thought that DOES, in fact, unite most feminist thought is that feminism is about equality in Civil Rights, equal opportunity, equal value, and the freedom to make CHOICES about how to live life in a way that is most fulfilling to each individual woman (or man or transgendered or however the person identifies) without being shamed for it.  

That means that if a woman chooses to act on her submissive cravings and explore unequal power dynamics in her sexual relationships and maybe even extend that to other parts of her life – choosing a subservient role in the relationship, then that means she is fulfilling HER desires. This makes her strong and powerful in a way. She is actively seeking out the fulfillment to her desires. That is empowering. That is feminism. At least to me that is what feminism stands for.  

I reconciled this ages ago for myself and I hope that this post might help other women, who may not have been sure how to deal with these seemingly conflicting paradigms to come to terms with their cravings and not worry that it’s going against what is expected of them by society.

No comments:

Post a Comment