Letting Sexism Win

8 May

There’s another layer to my worries about how I will be perceived in calling myself submissive. I wasn’t able to verbalize this in my last post, but Rogue Barbie put it perfectly in a post about porn (yet another topic I hope to get to soon):

[…]There’s still the issue of wanting things that are deemed degrading to me … I am still not comfortable with porn showing exactly what I fantasize about. It’s usually not evident that this is not supposed to be the norm, this is a kink. Porn has essentially been one of the biggest reasons I never could give up and give myself away the way I always secretly wanted. I was afraid I would be taken seriously, I would be taken advantage of, I would enforce the image of women as the subclass of the world, only capable of submission. Yuck.

You know those moments where you read something someone else has written and you want to jump up and down and shout “Yes! This! I feel exactly this way!”? That was what I experienced when I read this. I think this is one of the biggest fears that kept me from admitting my desires and impulses – the fear that, when I said “I want to be objectified, degraded, used,” the person I said that to would believe me. And not understand that I also want to be valued and treasured for my unique qualities as a person. (I cringed a bit inwardly even writing the words “objectified, degraded, used” – feeling that old tug of “that can’t possibly be what I want” – but if I can’t be honest on an anonymous blog, then where can I be?) Of course, there’s the equal and opposite fear that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.

It’s not just porn. It’s the entire dominant narrative around sexuality, which normalizes unwilling objectification and makes it shameful to actually want this.

But you can only let that define you for so long. Remember back in 2001 and 2002, when people talked so much about “not letting the terrorists win” that it became a bit of a joke? Denying my sexuality because it’s been so denigrated by the patriarchy would be letting sexism win. And I’m done with that.

5 Responses to “Letting Sexism Win”

  1. RogueBambi May 9, 2011 at 6:53 AM #

    Hey, thanks! It’s really nice to hear, that there’s someone out there trying to vocalise the exact same sentiment… and essentially feeling the same way about submitting. It’s somehow consoling, that there are others in this plight as well.

    It’s not just porn. It’s the entire dominant narrative around sexuality, which normalizes unwilling objectification and makes it shameful to actually want this.

    You’re absolutely right about that. It’s bad enough, that women have to fight off those hideous stereotypes, which are seen as the norm. It’s impossible to find a healthy image of a submissive woman. Active submission, enthusiastic submission – it’s all blurred by actresses showing off to the camera and sex being perceived as something men want and need constantly, but women give reluctantly and for a price.

    • feministsub May 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM #

      It’s really nice to hear, that there’s someone out there trying to vocalise the exact same sentiment… and essentially feeling the same way about submitting.

      I felt the same way reading your blog! I have to say, I’m both envious of and made hopeful by your relationship.

      Active submission, enthusiastic submission – it’s all blurred by actresses showing off to the camera and sex being perceived as something men want and need constantly, but women give reluctantly and for a price.

      I know. I think this is true of sex in general (the idea that it’s something women don’t want for its own sake, but something we trade for other things we really want), but I think it’s especially true of taking on a submissive role. It’s portrayed as demeaning because it’s something women in mainstream porn do to please men, not themselves. Edit: not that there’s anything wrong with doing something to please your partner, but when that’s seen as the only potential motivation, things get disempowering fast.

  2. RogueBambi June 27, 2011 at 2:26 AM #

    I have to say, I’m both envious of and made hopeful by your relationship.

    Awwww. I’m just one example of how it can be – why wouldn’t it be the same way to you too at some point?

    I got really lucky with Wonderboy… Because when we met I hadn’t connected with my submissiveness at all. I’m still in awe that we fit together so incredibly well, especially considering our desires’ nature. I’m guessing, though, that my closeted desires had more than a little to do with our falling in love. There was a very unsettling pull he had on me. And now we are finding out what it means for the fourth year already.

    I can’t see my life without him anymore and I don’t know what I’d do if I’d had to start all over again. Seems really scary finding dates on Fetlife or somewhere. I’m more prone to trying to find the intellectual connection first. So, I really did get lucky. But I’m really happy that I can write about my clumsy way through love, sex and sumbissiveness so that someone else might find hope in recognicion. Being a self-identified feminist made this road just so much more difficult, I’m telling you.

    Ps. I just joined Fetlife, if you’re there too. 🙂

    • feministsub June 27, 2011 at 9:33 AM #

      Aww, thanks for that. I’m just feeling a bit frustrated lately about finding someone who I connect with on the sexual/kink level as well as in other ways. So it’s always really nice to read about others who have found that. I really enjoy reading about your relationship – even when you have hard times, it’s clear how much you care about each other.

      I also tend to go for the intellectual connection first as well. It’s the best way for me. And I feel like that’s ok on a sexual level, too, because for me so much of it is mental. If I don’t find a guy engaging intellectually, it’s unlikely I’ll find him engaging sexually.

      • RogueBambi June 27, 2011 at 11:29 PM #

        And I feel like that’s ok on a sexual level, too, because for me so much of it is mental. If I don’t find a guy engaging intellectually, it’s unlikely I’ll find him engaging sexually.

        So true. I think we started talkin about corporeality and gender stereotypes the minute we met. But I have a full academic education and he’s an old school worker man. I’m just saying this so you won’t judge someone too harshly, if they don’t have the right credentials. I know I did and it took me some time to readjust and see what he was actually like. Some people aren’t cut out to go through the mind-numbing business of learning the jargon of academia – but he’s still so perceptive and wise it blows me away.

        I really enjoy reading about your relationship – even when you have hard times, it’s clear how much you care about each other.

        Thank you for this. I seem to be writing more, when something isn’t right, and I’ve thought about how it may seem from the outside.

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