Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Addendum to "The Problem As I See It"

Sorry if I was over generalizing before, it's just really frustrating to me the way that real life can get lost in discussions of social theory.

On this thread at feministing, Jadelyn says: "It's funny, because I *tried* that navel-gazing back when I was realizing what some of my sexual desires were and, at the same time, growing into my feminism. Yeah, that was an ugly mind-fuck to work through."

Yeah, this is the real issue for me. I mean, I think that curiosity and social critiques are fine and all, but when you're at that stage - when you're young and unsure about your desires - if the message that you get is that your sexuality is incompatible with or harmful to feminism, well it's not a fun (or safe) place to be.

Maybe my experience is completely abnormal because I grew up in a very feminist town and area, but it was such a struggle for me to be okay with my sexuality. I tried for years to just act normal in the hopes that if I tried hard enough at it I just might change. I didn't. But I did end up in a really horrible abusive vanilla relationship and I think that part of the reason that happened, and a large part of the reason I had so much trouble leaving, was that I struggled so much with being submissive.

I think that to a certain extent I had internalized the idea that my desires justified the way that I was treated, I mean I wanted to be dominated, right? And everyone knows that's weird and dirty and certainly not feminist or self-respecting. If I had had a feminist community saying, "no, these two things can be compatible, you can have and act on those desires and still deserve to be respected as a human being" my life would have been much simpler.

So, I'm not saying don't critique, but just be careful of the ways in which you frame your questions and the messages that you send.


  1. If you're abnormal, I am too. And a lot of submissive women I've talked to, as well.

    And my sexual assault has threads of issues around being unable to face my submissiveness that I've not talked about - I probably should. And I was also in an abusive vanilla relationship where someone took advantage of my buttons to control me, until I snapped out of it hard and dumped his ass.

    I was quite aware through my childhood and early adolescence that my sexual desires were Never To Be Spoken Of, because they were Utterly Shameful And Contemptible. Which makes it damnably hard to, y'know, work out how to deal with them, how to keep them from creeping around and getting out in unfortunate ways, and similar stuff.

    ... I should run back to my place and do some writing about this. It's been on my mind.

  2. Yeah, I didn't really think I was that abnormal but I haven't had much of a chance to discuss it with very many other people.

    The thing is that, to me, this is the area where a feminist examination of kink could really be helpful. It's really frustrating to me that instead of saying "how can I as a vanilla, and therefore privileged, person be supportive of your issues?" and then working from there (which is exactly what most of them would do if we were discussing something like race or queerness) the most common response from feminists is (at best) something like, "but have you thought about this reason that you're wrong."

    Also, thanks for being my very first commenter. I really enjoy your writing.

  3. I'm pretty sure there's no sense of privilege there. I mean, there's all this "How can you feel bad about being submissive, that's what Teh Pat tells you you should be!" language out there.

    I'm really liking what you have written (I was chasing around links to the folks who commented on my frustrated blowup on the Feministe thing); I'm going to add you to my blogroll. :)

    I'm afraid that what came out over at my place as an expansion on my other comment was kind of a really angry rant....