Tuesday, 24 April 2012

submission and feminism

In my profile on a UK BDSM social networking site I mention in my profile "feminist submissive women". It has occasionally raised comments and I received another memo recently from a sub who wrote,
"I find it difficult to equate submission with feminism. Do explain?"
So I replied trying my best. Though I'm not sure how articulate I was. My hurried reply then was,
"Thank you for your interest.

I like powerful women. I believe in women's equality. I don't believe that certain jobs should be done by men and others by women. I think that men should play a more involved role in bringing up children. So I may be considered a feminist myself.

My sub has been a very strong and active feminist throughout her life.

Yet she chooses to submit to me.

It is her choice.

She is a strong woman and it is my use of her strength that enables me to control and use her. I would not want a doormat.
"
It got me thinking again about this subject. I was surprised to find that the last time I wrote about feminism on here was in 2008. It started an interesting discussion and you can read it again here.

There are feminists who write about BDSM and submission. (Kind readers may help me out by offering some links!) I don't believe they are incompatible at all. However I do know feminist sub friends who have found it difficult. They have felt at times as if their submission to a man was almost a betrayal of the struggles of feminists in the past in their demands for equality.

On a simple level of course D/s is not always M/f. There are of course probably as many F/m, F/f and M/m relationships.

Though that does not necessarily answer the problem for a submissive feminist within a M/f relationship.

It has come to the fore in discussions in the media recently. Some D/s literature and films have become almost mainstream and this has become a point of interest. There is an article in Newsweek here which discusses it. It includes a short passage which does address the issue in terms of feminism.

Is it an issue which readers have trouble with? Do I have many feminist submissive readers? More to the point, I wonder if I have many feminist Dom readers?

21 comments:

penthesilea said...

An important point in this discussion might be, that the picture of feminism has largely changed over the last decades. What constitutes a contemporary feminist?
Being in my mid-30s I never had to fight for the equalities I wanted. I take a lot for granted already. Personally, I don't want to be equal in every aspect, because: I'm not! But does this make me an anti-feminist? I don't think so.
I know what I want and if there's something I desire deeply enough, I will fight for it. But I still want to submit certain parts of me to a dominant person.
There are a lot of facets to one person. Being able to show them all - to live them all - is an indication of strength.

K said...

I don't even so much consider myself a feminist, but through D/s and slowly better understanding who I am, I've realized maybe I am a staunch one! I find that most men think it's "cute" for a while, but eventually, they get sick of trying to put me in what they deem my place to be. So, I kindly move along and hope maybe they will have a tad more respect for women as a result of me not budging my self respect for purpose of kissing their ego. With all that being said, I love men and as long as they are trying to understand me, I am thankful for them in my life. Otherwise, it's more of thank you and goodbye.

I've been out of the blog loop for a bit, thank you for the opportunity to process ;)

K x

Word said...

I find it very timely that I chose to check on your blog today. :) I am a feminist. I also have my days that I am a sub. Why? Because there are days that you simply need to be able to let go. You can't be all 'power and in control' all the time. Otherwise, you burn out. My partner and I have a relationship that is built on equality with just the right amount of bend in it to accommodate those time I need to 'let go'.
I am also a writer and there are stories on my blog that deal with the woman who is the domme in the board room and the sub in bed for very similar reasons.
There has to be a balance. A give and take. What I find frustrating is that our society tries to make things so black and white when it is really all shades of gray.

Vanille said...

I don't really think I'm a feminist, but I do believe women should have the same rights as men.

I'm a submissive who is equal to her Master. I am not a doormat. I have wants and needs just as my Master has her wants and needs. My Master doesn't want a submissive who can't stand up for herself once and a while, or makes Master decide everything.

Just because I'm a submissive doesn't make me weak-willed. And I quite like my strength, it too, allows Master to fully control me. She likes the challenge, it keeps things interesting.

Pygar said...

Thanks penthesilea. Your point that the picture of feminism as changed recently is very important. I don't think I had taken this into account enough. I think that women of a generation or two younger than me may have very different notions of what feminism means to them and of what it implies for their life.

I believe you are right too that being confident in expressing all aspects of one's personality is a great strength.

P xx

Pygar said...

Welcome back K. I'm pleased you took the time to comment.

I think you are right about the importance of keeping your self respect - it is sad that you have met too many men who do not have a proper respect for women. Perhaps that is what created feminism! I think though that D/s is built on mutual respect - or should be. Perhaps that is why I do not see D/s as being inconsistent with feminism.

Thanks and good luck

P xx

Pygar said...

I think there are many like you Word who are strong and dominant in their day to day life and who love to be able to let go and let someone else take charge on occasions. I too have in the past been in positions of power and responsibility at work in the past and know the dangers of "burn out" from personal experience. I can totally understand how one could delight in submitting to a caring partner as a break from being in charge all the time. There are many powerful men who visit professional dominatrices for exactly that reason.

I am interested that you are a write - but the link to your profile does not lead to your writing blog. Please feel free to add it here to the comments if you wish - or write to me with it.

Also - isn't grey fascinating at times!

P xx

Pygar said...

I think many would describe your views as feminist Vanille in a positive way. It is good to be strong I like the way you say that your strength allows your Master to control you - and that it keeps things interesting!

Thanks

P xx

Elder said...

I consider my self a male Dominant feminist. That realisation did not come falling out of the sky because there are a so many seemingly oxymoron's and contradictions that it requires some careful thinking and in my case debate with melinda. (Actually it was her who pointed out for the first time that the 2 could be combined). And I was just overlooking it. After all Dominance and submission is just one out of many dimensions that make up who we are. They may have been ignored by the vanilla world but they cannot be made not to exist.

Kudos to the female submissive feminist who has the insight that is can all be combined. I think I just made a compliment to my own sub...

aisha said...

Definitely a feminist submissive. Wrote about it a little bit here:

http://beingaisha.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/not-eitheror/

and have written about it other times as well. I think my Dom is a feminist.

Thanks for your post - it's nice to find Dom's who are.

aisha

Word said...

You can find my blog at: http://wordwytch.wordpress.com

Most of the D/s stories are under the Vanillaverse tag. I'd be interested in hearing what you think of the stories.

Pygar said...

Thank you Elder - it is good to know there are other feminist Doms Also ones like me who are happy to learn from their subs. As you say, there are so many dimensions to this.

- P

Pygar said...

I enjoyed your post Aisha and I hope others will visit it too. (Readers can find it here.)

I agree very firmly with you in your recognition that strength and submission are not incompatible.

Let us celebrate those women who are "independent, strong and submissive.

- P xx

Pygar said...

Thank you Word for sharing the blog where you publish your stories. I look forward to reading and exploring further. I hope others do too.

P xx

Maryann Lovejoy said...

Hi Pygar,
I returned to blogland in the hope I'd find a discussion about the Newsweek article. Of course I found it here. I wasn't very impressed by the article itself, but was glad to see it on the cover. I think the consensual part is what makes D/s feminist. There is a delicious play aspect in what we do that requires fundamental equality. I'm happiest when I get to express professionalism in the marketplace and submission at home.
Maryann

Pygar said...

Hello Maryann, nice to see you here again.

I used the Newsnight article as an example of quite a bit of discussion I had seen and heard in the media that was expressing surprise at the popularity of bdsm erotica amongst women readers. There was a strong feeling that it was anti-feminist.

Perhaps there is another discussion to be had about the popularity of such fantasies amongst women who in their real lives are very vanilla.

I think you are right that the consensual nature can contribute to D/s being feminist though I am not sure it is the whole story.

So another post on this will follow tomorrow!

Thanks again

P xx

AnnWren said...

Such interesting comments so far : ) Yes I do believe that I embrace a feminist philosophy in many areas of my life; and I also have a submissive heart. I don't believe that should be questionable. I believe that women's rights and men's rights are equal, gender-wise; and more, I believe that if a woman surrenders her power to a Dom/me, it does not follow that she surrenders her "rights" in the basic-human-rights sense. She does not surrender her right to basic medical care. She does not surrender her right to vote. She does not surrender her right to eat good food or drink clean water. She does not surrender her rights *simply* by submitting. (If she surrenders her rights in anything, it would have to be *by her choice*.) Equality under the law and in public politics is a good thing, which allows greater freedom for a woman to choose how she wishes to live her private life. And she can choose to submit, because with all that great power, she will have a great power exchange.

Pygar said...

Thank you AnnWren. I do agree that greater strength makes the power exchange even greater. I am interested that you have introduced equality and rights into the discussion in a very thoughtful way. By chance I also decided to talk about equality in the post I have published today. I do think that your points about a submissive not surrendering "rights" is quite central - though as you say there are rights that a submissive may chose to relinquish. Might some argue though that it is the giving up of such rights that is anti-feminist and breaks the equality we have each argued for?

P xx

AnnWren said...

Thank you, Sir, and it is quite possible (and more than likely!) that people would view a woman -- or anybody -- giving up their rights as antiquated and anti-feminist. Some people will see leprechauns, too, if they have enough to drink, Sir, if I may be so bold. I think the salient point is that, for as long as a woman makes decisions of her own free will and is not placed under duress by some dependency or other (financial, obligatory, reputation-damning... whatever), she will make her own choices as a liberated woman. Perhaps the subtlety is best expressed thus: it is not that women wanted to vote so desperately as if it were the most fun thing in the world to do... it is that they demand the right to vote, when they feel like it, as men do. Doesn't mean they will vote, ever. And just because a woman fights for the right to wear a business suit and be paid equally, it doesn't follow that she wants to dress that way and earn a living. She'd just like that door to be open equally to her as it is to men. In that sense, it becomes more and more clear that D/s has nothing to do with how liberated a woman is. It's just about having the power to make choices. Even if the choice is to pretend to have no rights! And how I wish, Sir, that all discussions about sexual equality were as mature as the ones that you broker! You are extraordinary, Sir.

Pygar said...

Thank you again AnnWren - both for your interesting comment and for your kind words.

I think the point you make about the importance of having rights even if one has no desire to express them is spot on.

P xx

Anonymous said...

I definitely consider myself a submissive feminist. I do not find it silly or contradictory that it can exist in the male dom, female sub roles or female dom/male sub, or even gay or bisexual roles.

Life is too short to get caught up in trying to stop people from being who they are, & connecting with people in ways that might seem strange to others.

Granted, I find a man being in control to be a big turn on (especially sexually), however if we're not on equal footing romantically or in a relationship, then he's just using me for more than just sex (and that's not okay in my book).

I think Word had many things right in those statements.

I also think a male feminist can exist but those are fairly rare outside of academic circles, your average male probably won't hold those views.