Friday, 25 May 2007

Stacked Decks and Rubber Cocks

I want to talk about stacked decks. I got into a discussion here with another dominant woman about the use of strap-ons with male partners. She is vehemently against them, or at least vehemently against the stereotype that all dominant women use them or that they should be the culmination of a female dominant, male submissive scene:
And, no, fucking someone with a strap-on is not empowering. Having to use a rubber cock to fuck someone is – I think – rather the opposite. It’s like an admission that a woman isn’t equipped to fuck and dominate someone. It’s equating the dom-fuck with the penis.

Having to strap a phallus to myself to be a dom? Empower me backwards!

Listen carefully and you’ll hear the oh so subtle message of strap-on play: You need a cock to be on top, you need a cock to be a dom, you need a cock to fuck.

I mean really, seriously really, does no one else think that it is *fucked* *up* that scenes of a woman dominating a man often culminate in her doing a more politically dubious drag act than your average forced fem session.

A culture where femdom sex puts more value on strap-on up arse than cock in vagina it is saying that the person on top, doing the fucking, intrinsically has more power than the one on her back getting soundly pounded. Which really isn’t true. There’s a lot of nasty things I can do to a person when I’m underneath them, close to their belly and their chest and their nipples. Things that they can’t really stop me doing because their arms are busy bearing their weight and doing all the work of fucking me extremely nicely and hardly
Now if you know me, you can probably predict my reaction to this pretty accurately. That being that it's profoundly insulting to claim that I'm disempowered by having sex in a way that I like, (even worse, that I don't come from the sex that I like, as if 1) I'm lying and 2) how good the sex I had is is dependent only on my orgasm, and whether others are adequately aware of it, even if they're predisposed to believe I must not have had one!) and worse to suggest that I must do it because I'm only serving someone else. As I said in the comments to her post, I fantasized about penetrating my partners since I knew what penetration was. Part of the reason I sought out the SM community was precisely because of that hokey, woman as penetrator stereotype. I was like “Oh, whoa, women like me! I’m not crazy!”

And there's also the disability angle. Relaxing enough to enjoy being penetrated is somewhat difficult for me. On rare occasions, it's worth doing. But when I could be inside my partner, experiencing what it's like to actually literally get into someone... relaxing enough to like something in my vag just seems a bit silly and off-point.

So there's the whole whiff of ableism in people telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing when I'm having sex with a man. (Interestingly I see much less shit about whether I should be penetrating a woman. The feminist in me asks "Why is that?" Knowing what people think of my flexi-semi-stone-ity, I know the answer well, I think: Some cunt needs to be getting penetrated, and well even if hers isn't, at least hers over there is. That's what cunts are for.)

But here BJ is again, responding to me:
And there is so much gender fucking in femdom compared to other deviances. You have to ask why.
That's when I realized, thinking about how I didn't dare say in her space that I love gender fucking (alongside good old fashioned pain, it's my biggest turn-on) and actually prefer to be called Sir rather than Ma'am, that the deck is stacked either way.

The deck is stacked against me because I'm too butch, not adequately representing my gender if I do what I want to do. If I do what I want to do, no holds barred, I must be demonstrating that being masculine and being dominant are one and the same. No matter how vehemently I insist that I don't believe this is the case for anyone else. I will be seen much more easily and much more frequently than I will be heard.

The deck is stacked against her because every time she claims that being penetrated can be a dominant act, someone out there isn't going to hear that either. Someone out there is going to go right back to thinking that she must be less dominant or be submissive deep inside, because she really likes to be on her back.

And I think it's very important to acknowledge that all of us fit the "problem" stereotypes in some way. I fit them because I love being a butch top with the feminized male bottom. I've introduced several partners who never would've liked or wanted it to feminization, who've come to love it precisely because I like making them my "girls" every now and then.

And as far as she goes, I don't know or well enough to know how she fits them or doesn't. But I do know that she calls herself "Bitchy Jones," and even though I get the pun (on "Bridget Jones' Diary"), it makes me groan because I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of the stereotype of a dominant woman as "A bitch." I hate that.

It makes us all sound like harpies, shrilly picking at people, with nothing real or serious to say. It bothers hell out of me. Yeah, we're bitches, baby. It couldn't possibly be that we're smart, or taking pain from us is fun, or we're authorities who deserve to decide. Nope. Don't fuck with us because we're bitches.

Reminds me so strongly of the stereotype of overly "dominant" vanilla wife/female partner-as-petty-controlling-nag that I cringe.

And there she is, OMGBWTFBBQ, REIFYING IT ALL BY NAMING HER BLOGX0RZ NO WOMAN SHOULD WANT THAT!!!111!!!eleventy!!!!zomg! IT'Z BAD 4 UZ.

To me this stuff, this inavoidability to ever fully divorce ourselves from the crap version of what we do, is why a careful, thoughtful feminism is something the SM community badly needs. It's not necessary because it's better not to be feminine, or better to find an empowering way to be feminine. It's necessary because patriarchal stereotypes create Catch-22's where no matter what we do, someone out there can call us not feminine enough, or disempowered due to or femininity, and have what they say stick. Have what they say taken to define us, over our own voices and we have to say for ourselves.

30 comments:

BJ said...

I think that's fair.

Please remember that when I asked why when dominating a man it should be compulsory to have a phallus, no one else was saying that - I had to pitch high.

And I understand that you don't enjoy vaginal penetration, but most women do (I don't think that's unjustified) and I hate that femdom (not just in strap on play bit everywhere) seems to believe that cock/cunt penetration is only pleasurable for the man.

It's funny because I see the strap-on wearing dominant woman with a feminised submissive man all the time. And it's interesting that even though you are that (or I think that's what you said) you feel marginalised too. Maybe because you don't have 5 inch long fingernails and thigh boots and a tight pony tail.

I think we have a lot in common really. And the burden of representation is a bastard.

SnowdropExplodes said...

I wrote a femdom/malesub story once in which the female dominant obtained her pleasure from being penetrated, and from exercising control over when her submissive was allowed to orgasm. I posted it on a website (bdsmlibrary.com) and was shocked that people interpreted it as "sugar-domme fantasy". I wrote it to express that side of me that is deeply submissive!

As someone who is mainly dominant, I've been in charge both on top and on the bottom. But, I'm male, so maybe that doesn't count. But if my gender makes a difference to which positions can be "dominant", then it doesn't matter what the position is - the thesis resolves to being that sex of any sort is disempowering to females. Some people, of course, manage to give the impression that they genuinely believe that to be the case.

Sex is neither empowering nor the opposite, in and of itself - although there are ways in which it can be expressed as empowerment or otherwise. But essentially, empowerment comes of being able to choose one's own pleasure. A dominant can be recognised in that she calls he shots and takes her pleasure as she chooses - if she demands an upright hard cock with which to pleasure herself, commanding her submissive to do all the work, then so be it. Likewise, if she wants his bumhole spread wide around her fake phallus, then that's power too. it's only if he is deciding what happens, when, that I see any loss of empowerment.

But try explaining that in patriarchal terms!

Anonymous said...

"the female dominant obtained her pleasure from being penetrated, and from exercising control over when her submissive was allowed to orgasm."

I switch, but I'm more of a bottom at heart, and this is a very common play dynamic between my wife and I. She'll get me hard for several days in a row and I'll agree not to come; I'll eat her pussy and ass several times; and then she'll tell me to fuck her, missionary, and not give me permission to come. When we do this, generally the punishment for coming without permission is a few hard kicks in the balls, which I like, but which post-orgasm I loathe and find very, very tough to take. So, basically, I'm terrified that I'll come. Which my wife loves, so she keeps ordering me to fuck her harder until I'm at the limit of my ability to control myself. A few times, she's forced me to keep going until I exceed my self-control and come, just because she likes it.

I'd say that pretty effectively subverts the cultural paradigm about the penetrator topping.

Thomas

thene said...

I confess, I adore Bitchy Jones and I found that particular post very funny and powerful. I'm merely on the adventurous side of vanilla myself, but I felt like I was 'getting' the whole dom thing from reading BJ, which I've never particularly done before.

I feel seeing members of sexual partnerships as being 'representatives' of gender isn't a useful way to look at things, and I fear that regarding women in that way - as representatives of a gender, or of a partnership, family or community - is harmful. Both this post and Bitchy's are very personal reflections on sexuality, not ones that anyone would seek to generalise across all women, or even all dom women. I can well understand why you're worried about how your sexuality is represented, but I think it's a shame that you're personally concerned that you might be a 'bad representative' of your gender.

As for whether you should be penetrating women, never fear; there's someone in bloglandia whining about that choice too. I think there's a limit to how much you should worry about politics and representation when you're getting it on, personally.

I'm generally in favour of reclaiming the word 'bitch', but perhaps that's a coerced view, an admission that I cannot beat that word, so I must join it. At any rate embracing the word prevents it from censoring you; it means you can rant and rage without fearing that someone might say you're a 'petty controlling nag', because you've already made it clear that you don't care. I'm not accustomed to seeing the word as solely applied dominance, either - in the sense of 'making so-and-so my bitch' it can be used to imply a fierce, combative submission. Plus saying that the use of that word 'makes us all sound like harpies, shrilly picking at people, with nothing real or serious to say...' is a tad reminiscent of the way anti-porners talk about their detractors; it's a 'shhh, you're making me look bad!' line of argument.

Renegade Evolution said...

Trinty: There is a reason I believe firmly in fisting. Everyone has a fist. (devious smile and all)

Dw3t-Hthr said...

SnowdropExplodes -- while my sense of self-identity is primarily as a sub, I'm switchy on occasion, and that's one of the dom modes that I go into.

(Currently skirting around negotiations with my liege about whether he'll let me tie him down and tease him until *I* decide it's time to fuck. Mmmm.)

Trinity said...

"I think there's a limit to how much you should worry about politics and representation when you're getting it on, personally."

Oh, but that's really a big part of the reason BJ's post got me riled.
She spoke in generalities. She spoke of how femdom is represented,

which, sure, okay, right on! even

and then how women need to stop "lying".

That's what got me.

That assertion that someone like me is lying.

That somehow an entire sexual orientation is being tarnished or demeaned because no one could possibly really actually honestly want to fuck like I do.

That was all I cared about. If her post had just been "No, I don't have a strap-on, I tried that and it was boring and meant I wasn't getting what I wanted. Fuck that noise. And hey, I'm really tired of the way the subculture claims all the time that that's what I'm supposed to want. I like getting fucked. I don't think any women hiding this to look more dominant makes any sense"

I would have been cheering.

But the way she said it, universalizing experience...

I can just as easily say I know scads of people who love their strap-ons and use them all the time. I can link to whole long threads about "the psychic dick."

So, y'know... generalizations suck.

That's my point. That's what got me. "I hate this generalization, so here, let me tell you what we all really want."

That and the early commenter to her post saying "Oh wow, an actual feminist female dominant! SWEET!"

Whoever that was: all I can say is honey, I've been blogging a long damn time.

"I wrote a femdom/malesub story once in which the female dominant obtained her pleasure from being penetrated, and from exercising control over when her submissive was allowed to orgasm. I posted it on a website (bdsmlibrary.com) and was shocked that people interpreted it as "sugar-domme fantasy". I wrote it to express that side of me that is deeply submissive!"

See now, that's just... well, I was going to say it's strange, but it's not. You and BJ are right to point out that there are people who don't get how a dominant person can enjoy getting fucked (and there are gay men that deal with that too) and... well. Whatever.

It's up to the people involved what the dynamic they're creating looks like. Heck, last night at MAsT, I mentioned the one thing that worked in my first D/s relationship: I ordered food for both myself and my sub when we went out to eat. One of the slaves mentioned that she orders both for herself and her Master, as a way of serving him and getting him what he wants without him having to bother.

They're both an expression of the same dynamic, using completely opposite means. And that's okay.

"it's only if he is deciding what happens, when, that I see any loss of empowerment."

Yeah, and that's (part of) why I'm much more choosy about who I fuck than who I hit. Because there are a lot of people who are all

"She's going to fuck me, because it's in the script."

Nope. :)

BJ said...

No, I don't have a strap-on, I tried that and it was boring and meant I wasn't getting what I wanted. Fuck that noise. And hey, I'm really tired of the way the subculture claims all the time that that's what I'm supposed to want. I like getting fucked. I don't think any women hiding this to look more dominant makes any sense

I thought that was what I said. I just reread the post and I swear - that's pretty much it!

Trinity said...

"And it's interesting that even though you are that (or I think that's what you said) you feel marginalised too."

Yep.

Best way I can explain it is this:

I once was IMing a good old friend. We started talking about anal sex. I started talking about liking to give it, and he goes

"Wait, you CAN'T give anal sex. You don't have a dick."

"Yeah, I do. It and my harness are in my drawer."

"But that's anal play, not anal sex."

"How's what I'm doing different than what you'd be doing if you had your penis up someone?"

"...Hmm. I see your point. But what you're doing is anal play, not anal sex."

The attitude that what I'm doing isn't sex is pretty widespread. And there's a whole big thing where... I must be an idiot because I've never thought of a double-ender. And I'd be amazed, and isn't [person] special for having been the first [riiiight] to suggest it to me?

No. I want to focus on what's happening, not be distracted by feeling like it started growing backwards. :)

But this is... not how I'm supposed to feel, for some reason, according to a lot of people.

Or if I ever don't actually manage to come, it must be proof that what I want to do isn't "as good" on some Great Universal Scale as getting vaginally penetrated. It's proof that I must just... I don't even know.

When, actually, not coming is sometimes nice. Things being long, taking work, building and building...

...not really a problem for me.

And I don't come from being penetrated alone anyway. So... why exactly is getting fucked and not coming > fucking and probably coming but sometimes not, but absolutely enjoying myself because I love it?

That's... you know. "You must not feel anything."

Uh, there's a giant rig plastered right up against where my clit is, and I get the psychic feeling that it grew to mythic proportions for a clit... and all that put together isn't enough for me to feel anything?

Whuh?

Trinity said...

"Trinty: There is a reason I believe firmly in fisting. Everyone has a fist. (devious smile and all)"

Whee!

I think the "can you feel anything?" brigade comes out a bit on that one too, though.

BJ said...

I like rimming. I mean, as the giver.

But, anyways, I don't come from vaginal penetration without clitoral stim. But I still love to get fucked. I love the view.

Oh, and I love to be called 'bitch'. Oh man, I really do. When I hurt him unexpectly and it just slips out.

Oh wow.

Trinity said...

The view? From what position?

Trinity said...

If you happen to mean on your back: I HATE people looming over me.

It's in part a trigger of remembered abuse, and even when it's not... it's totally the hottest thing in the world for me to look down at someone who's looking submissively up at me.

Uh... yes please, I'll take twelve :)

Bj said...

On my back. Him on top. I like arms

Trinity said...

Amusing side effect of this thread:

I've spent ALL DAY thinking about fucking.

I feel like an 18 year old boy in a 28 year old woman's body.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Yoi. I can't speak to the whole dominating a man phallus thing at all, seeing as how I'm a sub and all (aside from the aforementioned switchy caveat), but, y'know, that stuff about being wrapped up in a partner, being enveloped in their themness, filling them up with me that Trin's been writing about?

Gets me hard.

And if I had a strap-on I'm damn sure I could fill that sucker up with that energetic sense of penis without any problem whatsoever. That's easy energy stuff compared to the sort of thing my liege and I do all the time. Compared to equalising the response systems of our energy bodies so that he goes multiply orgasmic, something as minor as dedicating some attention to my imaginary penis is piffle.

There ya go, Trin, you don't have to go looking for a psychic dick thread. ;) This sort of thing is why my place is "World on a Slant".

Trinity said...

"That's easy energy stuff compared to the sort of thing my liege and I do all the time."

Right. On.

I used to have a handy link to a psychic dick thread but I've apparently not got one right now (link, not dick -- my psychic dick's been hard all day.)

As far as genderfucking goes, this is about all I have public on my journal: http://trinityva.livejournal.com/604407.html

Renegade Evolution said...

Trinity:

Of course you can feel something! The HUGE level of trust required by your partner have a fist in there! And well, yeah, the power trip :)...

BDSM, the most cerbral form of sexuality, ever. So sayeth me anyway.

verte said...

And I understand that you don't enjoy vaginal penetration, but most women do (I don't think that's unjustified

Mostly? I can take it or leave it. Except when I really, REEEEALLY want it. And then it's awesome. There are things I enjoy more, though. Ditto my male dominant. It's not the be all and end all of human sexuality, and I suppose both of us find it disappointing when the almighty Male Phallus is placed at the centre of M/f BDSM, and that the rest is just foreplay.

I agree with thene that politicising positions, who has the cock, etc, is mostly kind of useless. BUT: there are expectations placed on you sexually, especially regarding vaginal sex, because of gender, and it's surprisingly easy to feel marginalised even in the BDSM community when you don't abide by those rules. I feel ridiculed and patronised quite often, especially because I'm happy to be noisy about my feminist politics and ask awkward questions. I still love the site and think the emphasis of it is very strongly placed on tolerance and understanding, but you don't always get it. And sometimes, yeah, it's hard to give. Everyone has squicks, and if BJ wants to open hers up she blatantly should. I love what both BJ and Trinity write about femdom. Both of you open my eyes.

verte said...

Ren: I soooo want to try fisting. Unfortunately, T's hands are HUGE. Seriously enormous. Now if only there were some kind of reasonable sized rubber hand toy I could use to, uh, expand.

SnowdropExplodes said...

verte: I can sympathise with T on that - I also have big hands, and I would love to be able to get my hand all the way in, but it's never fit.

The "can you feel anything?" question re: fisting must come from people who've never done sex with their hands and fingers, because having a warm, wet cunt wrapped around my hand is an awesome feeling. Likewise a tight anal ring gripping my fingers as I do my thing there!

Trinity said...

"Of course you can feel something! The HUGE level of trust required by your partner have a fist in there! And well, yeah, the power trip :)..."

Oh, I'm not arguing. Fisting is awesome.

"BDSM, the most cerbral form of sexuality, ever. So sayeth me anyway."

Yeah. I mean, there are people out there who wonder how a top can get much out of hitting someone, because you're not the one "getting done." I've had people ask me this.

Given that, the idea that my using a strap-on would seem "sensationless"... well, it still flummoxes me that that feeling would come from another top...

"
Of course you can feel something! The HUGE level of trust required by your partner have a fist in there! And well, yeah, the power trip :)...

"BDSM, the most cerbral form of sexuality, ever. So sayeth me anyway."

Agreed 200%. There's a reason so goddamn many of us are nerds! ;)

Trinity said...

"BUT: there are expectations placed on you sexually, especially regarding vaginal sex, because of gender, and it's surprisingly easy to feel marginalised even in the BDSM community when you don't abide by those rules."

Yeah. I had a dude abruptly stop going on dates with me because I wasn't feminine enough, and his whole femdom fantasy world was the cruel German bitch in a corset, using the power of feminine sexuality to squish him.

Okay, fine, great... but really, telling me what to wear is NOT submission, honey.

Trinity said...

"Ren: I soooo want to try fisting. Unfortunately, T's hands are HUGE. Seriously enormous. Now if only there were some kind of reasonable sized rubber hand toy I could use to, uh, expand."

Verte: Having had to do some dilating exercise to even be able to be penetrated at all in the first place, I'd imagine that steadily increasing dildo size would work. I know some sex toy shops sell toys of exaggerated girth that aren't quite the fist-sized monsters, so... maybe some of those would help :)

Trinity said...

"Likewise a tight anal ring gripping my fingers as I do my thing there!"

Mmm. Yeah. Seconded.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trinity said...

And we've had our first spam!

I feel honored. *grin*

Renegade Evolution said...

Verte:

Yep, the sizing up of toys option will help in the fisting areana...hell, I could do a whole post on "preperation for fisting and...um...more extreme anal play"...

Also, wrt to strap ons...mine, well the harness is designed to provide clitoral stimulation whilst the buggering of whomever is being done...so yeah, I do get something out of it.

belledame222 said...

off topic, but did y'all see this?
(another blogger who might be of interest)

Trinity said...

"the buggering of whomever" is a great phrase. Sounds like a good name for a blog. :)