Chapter Six: Kink = Leather = S/M = BDSM — It’s All Still Sadism and Masochism

 Kink = Leather = S/M = BDSM —

It’s All Still Sadism and Masochism

Bev Jo

(This is an update of our chapter against sado-masochism from our book, Dykes-Loving-Dykes, which I co-wrote with Linda Strega and Ruston, and which we published in 1990, and which was translated and printed in the German Lesbian anthology against sado-masochism, Mehr als das Herz Gebrochen (More than a Broken Heart) by Constance Ohms (Hg)in 1993. Some other chapters and updates from our book and later articles can be seen at https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/)

(My focus here is about the contradiction of some Lesbian Feminists, or even Radical Feminists, also being sado-masochists. Some Radical Feminists ask how sado-masochists can be feminist at all, but some do have otherwise strong feminist politics. I am exploring this because Lesbians are my people. But I am in no way saying that Lesbians are more likely to be sado-masochists than are women who choose to be het or bisexual. Sexual interactions with men are by their nature sado-masochistic. Lesbians are the people who are the most free from the sado-masochism permeating patriarchal culture.)1

Most of us grow up with mental, emotional, and physical abuse. I believe most of us have been sexually assaulted, and certainly all females have been sexually harassed as well as subjected to violent hatred of females throughout the media. Patriarchy, reinforced by religions, is a sado-masochistic culture, based on humiliation, pain, and suffering. Most females’ earliest feelings of love, intimacy, and passion are interwoven with dependence, fear, anger, threats, and rape. We are taught to be both self-hating (masochistic) and to hate our own kind (sadistic). We are trained into sado-masochistic scenarios from the day we are born. I believe this is done to disconnect us from our natural feelings of love and passion towards other females. We are also taught to turn our reasonable, righteous anger inward so that most girls feel suicidal at some point in their lives. It is hard to identify with other females who are victims, so many girls and women learn to worship the boys and males who have tormented and tortured them. This also explains some of why women will line up to marry imprisoned serial rapists and killers of women and girls, and will betray other females on behalf of men claiming to be female.

Most girls hate themselves and other girls so much that they choose to become heterosexual. Lesbians fight for the right to love ourselves and each other, but we still carry a lot of self-hatred. That doesn’t mean that we have to accept feelings of masochism and sadism because of the ways we’re oppressed any more than we have to accept the feelings of hatred and self-hatred because of being exposed to the heterosexism, classism, racism, anti-Semitism, ableism, ageism, fat oppression, looksism, etc. that are reflected in the patriarchy around us. Our politics and common sense give us the awareness to say no to oppression, as well using our own privileges against others, and gives us the strength and awareness to face reality and reject the lies forced on us.

It’s one thing to recognize the ways we are manipulated and conned to hate ourselves and other women, but it’s another to glorify, proselytize, and sexualize this misogyny and to justify it as a reasonable political position and identity.

CONTRADICTIONS

It’s telling how many euphemisms Lesbians use for sado-masochism. It’s as if Lesbian sado-masochists, and particularly those identifying as Lesbian Feminists, really do not want to use the most accurate and revealing word for what they do. I believe that’s because they are in conflict about it.

After all, how can they self-identify with the Marquis de Sade, who proudly tortured and murdered women, as well as Sacher Masoch, who pretended to be a masochist2, while also subjecting women to non-consensual sadism. Identifying with these men is male-identified in the worst possible sense. And yet, many Lesbians have joined with the majority mainstream het and bisexual women and with most men in becoming sado-masochists.

When sado-masochism first openly appeared in my Lesbian Feminist community in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late Seventies, Samois, a “Lesbian Feminist” sado-masochist group, played with the terms and with many Lesbians’ minds by calling it “S/M,” saying that the power was equally shared. Their book, “Coming to Power,” began with sado-masochists patronizingly re-naming the rest of us as “vanilla.” (The sado-masochist cult shares many parallels with the trans cult, where women are re-named against our will – trans call us “cis” — and where we are insulted and lied about and lied to in order to con and manipulate us.)

The euphemisms keep changing. The most common one I see now is BDSM and “Leather” and “Kink.” I have been shouted at for daring to say “sado-masochists” rather than “Leather-dykes.” I have also been called “leather-phobic.” Anyone who refuses to call men who appropriate female and Lesbian identity “transwomen” will recognize the cult technique of bullying to censor opposition and political differences. In both cases, we are forbidden to think or say what we think. After enough times of being yelled at and threatened, many Lesbians just obey.

But why should we obey? What right do sado-masochists have to claim the term “leather” for their own or to police our language and politics? Leather has long been associated with Lesbians and especially with Butches who came out before feminism, and has nothing innately to do with sado-masochism.

Can you remember your first reaction when hearing about “Lesbian Feminist” sado-masochists?  Many of us were stunned that Lesbians, and especially Lesbians who called themselves feminists, would participate in such a Lesbian-hating and female-hating practice.

It’s important for those who consider themselves Radical Feminists or Separatists to be aware of how sado-masochism bonds them with patriarchy, het and gay men, and het and bisexual women. Some of us watched sado-masochism brought into our Lesbian communities and relationships by women who learned it from their husbands and boyfriends. Other women learned it from gay male friends. Some members of Samois had previously been in “Cardea,” a women’s sado-masochist support group, which had been connected to “Janus,” a group that included het and gay male sado-masochists.

Sado-masochism may be trendy, but it isn’t new – it’s as old as patriarchy. Religions, such as christianity, are based on sado-masochism. Those of us who were forced to be catholic as little girls, grew up surrounded by images of bloody and tortured jesus and saints, and were taught to regularly contemplate the blood and gore.

Mainstream culture is full of sado-masochism. I saw virtually every Hollywood movie in the Fifties when I was a girl. I’d thought that sado-masochism in the media was less obvious than now, but recently saw just a few minutes from the 1960 popular film, “Spartacus,” which I’d seen when I was nine. Spartacus was the escaped slave who formed an army to free people enslaved by the Romans. In the short scene I saw, he freed a slave woman who asked him to order her to always obey him, as part of their flirtation. Talk about obvious sado-masochism!  Clearly, sado-masochism was far more important than the idea of freeing everyone. (This scene, which was supposed to be powerful and presumably sexually charged, was just laughable. But then, most sado-masochistic scenes are.)

Part of the myth of sado-masochism is that it is so bold and daring that discussing it or even thinking about it will “trigger” women who have been abused. I believe sado-masochists get off on this because it contributes to their power. Nothing deflates that posturing as quickly as not only refusing to be intimidated, but finding it silly and pathetic. Yes, some aspects are horrifying and play on serious misogyny, Lesbian-hating, racism, etc., but that makes Radical Lesbian Feminists angry rather than afraid.

Sado-masochists attempt to intimidate any Lesbians who oppose them into not trusting our reasonable and instinctive emotional, psychic, and political objections to sado-masochism by using the political language of oppression to silence and censor us.  Just as with the trans cult’s dishonest tactics, sado-masochists use feminist politics against us. The fact that many responsible and caring Lesbians don’t want to oppress other Lesbians is used to manipulate us into accepting sado-masochists as an oppressed sexual minority. In reality, they are the mainstream majority, with sado-masochism providing titillation for otherwise bored hets. Sado-masochism (again, like the trans cult) is a right wing backlash against female-loving. It’s mainstream as well as deeply misogynist and Lesbian-hating. Reverse discrimination does not exist.

In my experience, when the political cons don’t work, both sadists and masochists resort to their usual verbal/emotional abuse, including using classism, by calling us “stupid, ignorant fools” and telling us to “educate ourselves,” as if that will make us be more open to their obviously warped politics. Attempts at shaming and humiliation are classic parts of sado-masochistic scenes, so most are quite used to these techniques.

The main pro-sado-masochist argument is that someone should be able to do whatever they want in the privacy of their bedroom and it’s no one else’s business. Well, the same can be said for porn and prostitution, as well as other right wing political practices. Such decisions affect all of us, individually and as a community. We’ve had enough decades seeing the harm sado-masochism does to Lesbian relationships and communities to have the right to talk about it.

At this point, for me, it’s really just about saying “no” to sado-masochists. But I haven’t seen that work very well, whether I’m trying to be friends or work politically with them. What I’ve experienced is non-consensual verbal and emotional abuse with my “no” being ignored.

The last time I ignored my common sense and worked with two sado-masochists in a Radical Lesbian Feminist political group, I was subjected to one of the members bringing her bullwhip to every meeting, presumably because she needed to practice. (You can’t make this shit up.)  From what I could tell, she was using it to flirt and to try to intimidate me. The intimidation didn’t work, but the flirting with other members did. Another member who claims to be against sado-masochism gave me an insulting lecture saying that I was showing bigotry equivalent to racism because I’d said my experiences with sado-masochists are that they inevitably do non-consensual emotional abuse.  (Again, this is similar to the kind of mind-fuck the trans cult uses against feminists.)

I lost a sadist friend from that group who I otherwise shared Radical Lesbian Feminist politics with. She accused me of “outing the worst and darkest hour of the Leather-dyke community” because I wrote at a Radical Feminist blog about gentile Pat Califia non-consensually carving a swastika into her Jewish lover’s back. What Califia did has been well-known for decades as an example of what sadists can do in spite of claiming to be respectful of “no.”  It is even more volatile and relevant because Califia is one of the original stars of the “Lesbian Feminist” sado-masochist movement and was instrumental into bringing it into our communities. Linda Strega, Ruston, and I wrote in our book in 1990 about what Califia did. It’s never been a secret. Yet, this friend was so desperate to keep it hidden that she verbally abused me and tried to censor me. She acted like I had betrayed her beloved sado-masochist community and expected that I should keep their secret, which I have to say is a bit reminiscent of keeping Daddy’s secret about molesting daughters – especially since sadists (including my ex-friend) like to be called “Daddy.” Considering how many women have been sexually assaulted by “Daddy,” it is also hard to accept “Daddy” being used as a “play” term for sadists in sexual encounters.

Rather than being discriminated against, sadist pornographers seem to get preferential treatment.  Califia has continued being Lesbian sado-masochism’s poster girl in spite of the fact of her increasing public male-worshipping. Califia said decades ago that she “would rather fuck a hot boy who’s into S & M than a vanilla Lesbian.” It’s actually a relief that she has come full circle back to men, although in a slightly different version of her former male-identified self. She is now claiming to BE a gay man – or what the more rational of us recognize as a het or bisexual woman obsessed with gay men (“fag hag”). Yet Califia still has so much power that even after abusing her lover in such a horrific way (can you imagine removing that scar?), after being forgiven for calling the police on the lover’s friends who went after her, and after writing books with some of the most Lesbian-hating misogynist sadistic porn imaginable (in “Macho Sluts,” one story is about a Lesbian being given the birthday “gift” of being gang-raped by gay men posing as cops), she was still made Lesbian sex/relationship advice columnist for the Lesbian magazine “Girlfriends.” She was allowed to keep that job even after she “came out” as a gay man and called herself “Patrick Califia.”

I do not believe the gay male line, which has done so much damage to Lesbians, that we are all “born this way.” Lesbian Feminists in the Seventies proudly said that we were making a choice to be Lesbians, as opposed to the mainstream het lie that says only a few perverts are born queer. Women being aware we are making a choice to be het or bisexual or Lesbian changes women and changes the world. It’s an enormous threat to patriarchy. It brings up the fact that all woman could choose to be Lesbians, which is what I think they would do if it wasn’t for the extreme punishment for refusing and reward for obeying.

As our once independent, strongly feminist Lesbian community was being eroded by gay male influence, many Lesbians started to explain their past het choices and later coming out as “I was always a Lesbian. I just didn’t know it.”  The right wing’s attitude is that we don’t deserve equal rights because we are choosing to be queer, so gay male and now mainstream Lesbians’ answer is that “We would of course choose to be het like you if we could, but we’re just pathetic queers who have no choice, so please give us equal rights.” It’s a politics based on shame and pity, not pride and self-love, like Lesbian Feminism.

I believe that Pat Califia has always chosen to be a bisexual, like the two other women (JoAnn Loulan and Susie Bright) who were the main “sexologists” who pushed their agenda of sado-masochism, porn, heterosexism, etc. in our Lesbian community in the Eighties. They pretended to be Lesbians partly because writing porn/sex books and doing workshops for Lesbians meant they were accepted by Lesbians and made money and careers from Lesbians. JoAnn Loulan redefined “Lesbian” in her destructive book, “Lesbian Sex,”(which Linda Strega and I reviewed in our article, “Lesbian Sex – Is It? In 1985) by saying that “some Lesbians have wonderful ongoing sexual relations with men.” This was such a mind-fuck that one of our headings was “Can Therapists Make Lesbians Disappear?” We knew Loulan could not be a Lesbian by her own definition, and years after taking money from Lesbians, she admitted on national television that she was with a man. But most Lesbians seemed to believe and trust these women based on the authority and expertise they claimed as therapists or “sexologists.” In restrospect, it was actually quite the dominance and submission scenario. This was also where our community seemed to switch from not trusting anyone who set themselves up as stars, to just obeying “authority.”

Those who were pro-porn and sado-masochism were scathing and ridiculing towards Radical Lesbian Feminism. The glossy magazine, “On Our Backs,” that glorified “Lesbian” porn and sado-masochism and role-playing, chose that name in opposition to the longtime Feminist newspaper, “off our backs.”  It was all clearly so reactionary and right wing, yet few seemed to question it. Or maybe they did and were censored in the Lesbian media. And then the “Lesbian” strip shows began – not just in the usual male porn districts, but in our own communities, prostituting all of us for men and endangering us. (How many men have raped Lesbians after reading Califia’s porn about Lesbians wanting to be raped?) Suddenly, mainstream or liberal and leftist bookstores replaced Feminist or Lesbian Feminist books and newspapers with porn and sado-masochist books by “Lesbians,” for Lesbians, and whoever else wanted to spend the money. I still believe that the male porn industry funded this takeover of our communities.


SADO-MASOCHIST “CONSENT” IS AN ILLUSION

The “consenting” exchange of power and trust said to be the core of sado-masochism is in reality a re-play of the betrayed trust and abuse of power most of us experienced as girls. What does it mean to be unable to accept “love” unless punished? Why ask someone you love to play your rapist? Why want to hurt, beat, cut, whip, burn, humiliate, and shit on someone you “love?” How can re-playing scenes of sexual terrorization ever be good for someone? How can anyone who is sexually excited by the inequalities acted out in sado-masochism be trusted to respect limits. If it was a release, then why is sado-masochism so addictive and those who join the cult increase the level of pain and destructive games? Why do so many lose control?

When Lesbians are used to playing emotional as well as physical sado-masochistic games, do they automatically stop when they are around Lesbians who do not want to play games of hierarchy and humiliation? In my experience, they don’t. Besides friends and acquaintances being treated in sado-masochistic ways, some scenes are done as public displays, with unwilling spectators, because many sado-masochists are stimulated by having an unwilling audience. Even just parading around in sado-masochistic regalia, and bragging about sado-masochistic events is exhibitionistic and an example of shoving sado-masochism at us against our will, like the sadist who brought her bullwhip to our political meetings.

It’s hard to take seriously a Lesbian who accuses you of “demonizing” sado-masochism while she is wearing the Nazi-style leather cap that gay male sado-masochists popularized. Gay men made an entire business out of producing expensive leather sado-masochistic paraphernalia, as well as fabricating a political movement, complete with a “Leather Pride” flag (black and blue with a red heart3), which they march with and fly over the Armory, an enormous dungeon that takes up an entire city block in San Francisco. Demanding respect as an oppressed minority parallels the trans cult again.)  My ex-friend first became a sado-masochist in a bisexual community when she was still quite young. She became a Lesbian within a year, but, in spite of her otherwise Radical Lesbian Feminist and Separatist politics, her first loyalty lies with the sado-masochistic community, which became obvious to me when she clearly still thought of Pat Califia as a courageous hero, rather than the male-worshipping misogynist porny bisexual sadist who brought the worst aspects of gay male culture directly into our community, as well as the genderqueer crap my friend so rails against.

But then sado-masochism is about ritualizing inequality and oppression. Hero-worship without examining what that means is just one aspect of mainstream sado-masochism in patriarchal culture.

Another example of non-consensuality is in female-identified Lesbian support groups which are meant to provide a safe space for Lesbians who do not want to be around women identifying as male and using male pronouns, yet special exemptions are made for sado-masochistic “play” language. Why the double standard?  Even more interesting is that it would never be allowed for someone to bring a beer to such a group since that might trigger a Lesbian in “Recovery” to want to drink, yet there is no concern for anyone who has been raped by their “Daddy” to not want to hear Lesbians play with that term sexually.

A friend of mine had dinner with a Lesbian who defines herself as a “Top.” When my friend went to leave, the sadist grabbed her arm and told her she was staying.  My friend finally had to push her away to get her to let go. What if another Lesbian in that situation had been too intimidated or upset to be able to show that she was willing to defend herself?  It sounded like this was a game/scenario the sadist was used to playing. How many Lesbians has she attacked?

I have to ask: What atrocities have sado-masochists managed to hide?

“WHAT CAN TWO GIRLS DO TOGETHER WITHOUT A —–?”

Sado-masochists tell us we need games, apparatus, and role-playing scenes to be exciting, which is similar to when men and het women ask “What can two girls do together without a prick?” Instead of asking how can we be passionate without rape and slave and prisoner scenes, handcuffs, whips, dildos, role-playing, etc., I ask why any Lesbian feels so bored and empty that she is driven to increasingly unsavory and bizarre scenarios. It’s running away from real passion and intensity. There is nothing like being completely present with your lover, looking into each other’s eyes, as you make love. But then, many sado-masochists have anonymous sex with complete strangers.

To me, the epitome of sado-masochism, which, after all, is based on male violence against women, is the glorifying of maleness. Using dildos, and believing you need dildos for Lesbian love-making, is more destructive for Lesbians than the worst aspects of sado-masochism. I just don’t understand the reason for it other than pretending to be male or pretending your lover is. There is nothing you can do with a dildo that you can’t do far more intensely and passionately with your Lesbian hands and Lesbian body. Most Lesbians find pricks disgusting, so why play with a fake one?

From what I’ve read, it’s ex-het Fems who primarily brought dildos into our Lesbians communities (Joan Nestle wrote about this in “A Persistent Desire,” when she described carrying a dildo in her purse in case she met a Butch she wanted to fuck her), and then brought them back after they seemed to be rejected by most Lesbians. I can’t help but distrust the motives. A self-hating, lesbophobic, Lesbian-hating Lesbian can pretend it’s not really a Lesbian making love to her if a dildo is being used. And that same hateful woman can feel more “normal” by pretending to be a man touching a woman when she is “making love” with a dildo. It’s a way to avoid touching and being touched. It’s a way to distance, as well as to pornify Lesbian sexuality.

I have heard so many Butches say they hated and felt objectified by being asked to use dildos on lovers. But, of course, Lesbians, and especially Butches, want to please their lovers. I’m guessing that dildos came back into use because some Fems demanded them, and then lovers complied. Dildos merged with the rest of the sado-masochistic “sex toys” that Lesbians talk about in order to not feel left out.

I’ve seen two documentaries where Lesbians decided to have mastectomies and take hormones to please their lovers who did not want to think of themselves as Lesbians, and to please their lovers’ families. So if mutilating yourself and risking your life is required for some relationships, why not use dildos?

When I protested at a Butch Conference that it was wrong to assume that we all used dildos, a sado-masochistic Hard Fem lectured me as if I had no awareness of what dildos were. When I refused to submit to her, she dismissed me by using ageism, telling me that I was probably too old to change. Is fourteen too old?  That’s the age when I first heard about dildos, in 1965, when I visited the girl I had been in love with since I was five and she was nine. Now, at eighteen, Rosemary had found a sort of Lesbian community, though it sounded like it was the ex-het, ex-wife Fems in control and who taught the younger Lesbians what to do. Rosemary was in love with her Butch friend, but that was disapproved of. She asked if I knew what a dildo was and proceeded to explain that Lesbians needed to use them to satisfy these women since they didn’t have pricks. I only vaguely knew what a prick was and was repulsed. I was also confused since I was sure I was a Lesbian, having been in love with other girls since my earliest memories, but if this was what it meant to be a Lesbian, then how could I be?  How many young and older Lesbians are made to feel more alone and isolated by the normalizing of dildos and other sado-masochism in our communities?

Butches are particularly objectified in regards to dildos. A local “sex toy” party and demonstration was given recently by a Fem who made a “joke” about having to watch to make sure that no Butch would steal her dildos. Why would any Butch want her ugly dildos/

It is so disturbing how absolutely mainstream and acceptable dildos have become in our communities. Where once Lesbians said no, they now feel guilty and not trendy enough if they don’t use them. I even hear Lesbians complaining about the cost — after all, it’s become a big business. It’s also become a het and mainstream joke in the media and elsewhere, and therefore is a way for men to be reassured that, deep down, Lesbians really do want pricks. How can any Lesbian with a sense of pride want to participate in this? Men appropriating Lesbian identity are also using dildos to claim that their pricks are just a variation and so they should be allowed to be in female-only space. (GenderTrender is a blog by Gallus Mag, where she posts some of these Lesbian-hating men in their own words — http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/)

SADO-MASOCHISM IS ADDICTIVE

Many sado-masochists are also addicted to alcohol and other drugs. The popular gay male drug, poppers (amyl nitrate), is used to make it easier to have something shoved up your rectum. While it can be damaging to be lovers with addicted Lesbians who are not careful, it can be dangerous to do sado-masochism with one. Sado-masochists say that when someone is sexually aroused, sensations which normally would be painful are no longer felt as pain, or that, mystically, there becomes less distinction between pain and pleasure. But why wouldn’t there be more sensitivity, rather than less? Why is insensitivity to pain said to be good when it is actually dangerous to our safety? If a Lesbian is feeling numb sexually, why is sado-masochism recommended, rather than exploring why she is shut down? The oppression and brutality that we’ve suffered as Lesbians and as women have caused many of us to become numb, physically, psychically, and emotionally. It can be hard for many of us to really feel our bodies because they’ve been the objects of torture and ridicule for so long.

A friend has said that we’re not born wanting to feel pain. Babies move away from pain, not towards it. Craving pain is not natural. It’s a sign of damage.

We’ve all internalized a connection between love and violence, pleasure and pain – it’s a natural response to constant assault and abuse from an early age and a culture that glorifies rape and torture. It’s not our fault if we’ve internalized some of those feelings, but it’s therapized crap that we should just accept them. Do we just accept oppressive or suicidal feelings that we might have? Sadistic and masochistic feelings are not naturally ours. We must fight them just as we must fight suicidal, addictive, or other destructive impulses.

Another addictive and male aspect of sado-masochism is competition to see how far you will go. There is definitely status into being into “heavy” sado-masochism, including wearing the black handkerchief in a back pocket (again, Lesbians imitating gay male culture.)  Along with this are the putdowns and ridicule of non-sado-masochist Lesbian love-making as being weak, passionless, prudish, etc., when the truth is the opposite.

The fact that many sado-masochists keep increasing their dosage of pain and humiliation, as addicts do, in a desperate attempt to feel less numb or just to feel something, is ignored, as is the fact that as a group, Lesbians are the most passionate people on earth.

Sado-masochists, like other addicts, insist that what they are doing is good for themselves and that they are making a healthy choice. Once addicted, doses tend to increase, and so does the level of sado-masochism.  Lesbians start to do more and more, bragging about pushing limits. It becomes necessary to do sado-masochism to feel sexual at all or to have an orgasm. And sado-masochists relentlessly push sado-masochism on the rest of us, nonconsensually.

An example is from an interview with Joan Kelly (an upper-middle class woman who describes herself as a Radical Feminist and who has a blog called “Chicks Dig Me.” She is still selling her book, The Pleasure’s All Mine: The Memoir of a Professional Submissive. Here’s an excerpt from the Village Voice review of her book:

Big Bucks for Pain Sluts: Inside the Kinky World of a Professional Submissive4

My favorite part of the job is the physical high, while the biggest drawback is tending to bruises several times a day after a heavy corporal scene. “I surprise myself at how far my pain tolerance has evolved. For example, I had a client sew my vaginal lips shut, and I didn’t make a peep,” Ophelia (Joan Kelly) boasts via e-mail. “I had another client who took 18-gauge needles, heated them until they were red-hot, and used them to pierce the insides of my butt cheeks. I could hear my skin sizzling as the needles penetrated me.”

Why have I never seen any feminist challenge this woman’s right to call herself a feminist, let alone “Radical Feminist,” while selling herself and all women out in such a disgusting way? She is making money off feeding men’s fantasies about women loving being tortured by men.

A friend describes these public proud sado-masochist prostitutes as being in the pimp role, because they proselytize prostitution. In this case, Joan Kelly is also pimping all women into being targets for male violence. Certainly men use this kind of porn as an excuse for assaulting women, since it’s not just “snuff” films (where women are literally killed for male pleasure) which lead more men to attack women and girls. Explicit pornography in advertizing, TV, movies, magazines, and online has massively increased as a response to feminism until it’s become a “normal” expression of heterosexuality and is now part of mainstream “culture” in many countries. It’s also part of the backlash against the Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Liberation Movements and has contributed to the rise of sado-masochism in het and Lesbian society. “Lesbian” porn for and by men is the most popular porn. The mainstreaming of sado-masochism in the everyday propaganda of women being willing victims or “sluts” is just as dangerous. There is a direct link between sado-masochist “toys” and high heels, make-up, slutty clothes, etc.

Too many Lesbians get involved in sado-masochism because of desperately wanting to please lovers. How many Lesbians now want to become free of the addiction of sado-masochism, but don’t know how, and instead of getting support, are called traitors by the proponents of sado-masochism? It is very hard to leave a cult.

THE DANGERS AND THE DAMAGE

We really are not supposed to talk about this, but some sado-masochist Lesbians have suffered permanent physical damage from: lacerations of the vagina and cervix, loss of bladder and bowel control (from fisting), uterine injury, scarring from whipping, burning, and cutting (how do you remove an incised swastika?). Some Lesbians have gotten STDs, including Hepatitis and AIDs from blood and shit contact. Joan Kelly described loving the feel of those hot needles inserted into her body and from having her labia sewn up. Can you imagine her scars? (Sorry to focus on the scars, but it’s a permanent reminder even after a woman decides to quit sado-masochism.)

One Lesbian sado-masochist book’s “suggested guidelines for safety” only reveals how unsafe sado-masochism is.  The needle for nipple piercing has to be carefully placed to not puncture the milk ducts. “A womon’s nipple will take three months or longer to heal, with daily attention to hygiene.”  For labia piercing: “You will need to wash the vulva at least twice a day…until it has healed. It will take at least 6 to 8 weeks to heal.” For “golden showers:” “Anyone who drinks piss should be sure to drink plenty of water afterward, to help wash the excess urea out of her system.” “If you receive brown showers, you should monitor your health closely. In particular, you and your partner need to be checked regularly for intestinal parasites.” Since it can take a while to show up positive for certain blood-borne illnesses, some women can be contagious without knowing.

What does it do to a Lesbian to be whipped, chained, cut, burned, humiliated – to lick someone’s boots, to have cries of “No, stop!… please stop….” be ignored as part of the game – to be literally shit on and ordered to eat shit, to be called vile names? What is the effect on the Lesbian doing these things?  How does it affect anyone else they relate to? What does it do to a Lesbian to be told she must hurt and humiliate her lover in order to please her?  And how often does the “safe” word end up being ignored?

Lesbians have been made the scapegoats for the men and boys who sexually assault girls and women. What damage does it do to play out those scenarios? When a Lesbian plays “rapist,” she is inviting the forces of Lesbian-hatred deep into herself and into our culture. When a Lesbian plays at being a willing victim, she is mocking all victims of rape. (I still believe that glorifying rape by feeding the lie that women want to be raped, as Califia has done for money and fame, is one of the worst betrayals any woman can do to other women.)

What damage is done for a Lesbian to be called a “slave” and call her lover “master” or “Daddy?”  On US national television a European-descent Lesbian was shown calling her African-descent lover her “slave,” as she led her around by a leash. What damage is done when a gentile dresses up in a Nazi uniform and carves a swastika on a Jewish Lesbian’s body? What damage is done in playing out rape scenarios for “fun?” How can any Lesbian defend, identify with, or justify these actions?  I ask the same question about those who read and watch porn. I say that it damages Lesbians who do these things, on many levels. It is hard enough to not be contaminated by misogyny and Lesbian-hatred that is all around us as it is.

Some “Lesbian Feminist” sado-masochists are outraged at what we and others have written, and they protest, “But we don’t do that!”  Yet by saying they are into “Leather” or “Kink” or “BDSM,” they make a public statement identifying themselves with that cult. I have yet to read or hear any Lesbian publicly protesting or disagreeing with any aspect of sado-masochism. Loyalty first goes to other sado-masochists, including someone as abusive as Pat Califia. My ex-friend never sounded upset at Califia, but only at me for writing about what she’d done.

Most sado-masochists insist that sado-masochism helps free them from past trauma and abuse. They say they know the difference between real and pretend, consent and abuse. But Lesbians who leave the sado-masochist cult say differently and talk about how lines are crossed and consensuality ignored. Even Lesbians in non-sado-masochist relationships that become abusive can have trouble recognizing what is abusive until it’s in the past. Instead of freeing you from past abuse, sado-masochism is like cutting an old scar, deepening the damage.

MASOCHISM IS SELF-HATRED/SADISM IS LESBIAN-HATRED

“Top” (sadist) and “Bottom” (masochist) are roles used by het and gay men, het and bisexual women, and Lesbians to define their sado-masochistic roles. Although sado-masochists may switch, most define themselves in rigid roles. Sado-masochism is defined as a “mutual exchange of power.” Why then, are the vast majority of sado-masochist Lesbians self-defined masochists who crave pain and humiliation? The few “tops” usually don’t look very comfortable in their sadist role.

We live in a very Lesbian-hating world and it is almost impossible to escape internalizing that self-hatred. It’s no coincidence that many sado-masochists Lesbians, including “tops,” are still self-mutilating. Rather than accepting and encouraging the roles of dominant and submissive, sadist and masochist, why not fight those roles?  Many sado-masochists are addicts trying to be sober. Why don’t they see the connection with sado-masochism as another kind of destructive drug?

We have enough trouble from having grown up in patriarchy with inequalities like heterosexism, sexism, classism, racism, anti-Semitism, ableism, ageism, fat oppression, looksism, etc. as being the norm without glorifying abusive power differences. It increases and reinforces inequality to ritualize and sexualize it. Yet, it used to be said that playing sado-masochistic games would somehow free Lesbians from the oppressions we’ve been indoctrinated with. No one is so trustworthy that it’s safe to play with such pain and oppression. Even when the roles are reversed, how does it affect a relationship for the more oppressed Lesbians to focus a lifetime of justified rage onto her Lesbian lover? The situation still isn’t equalized.

All these years after this fad became popular in our community, has anything seemed to change for the better?  I sure haven’t seen it. I only see the sado-masochists I know refusing to take “no” for an answer.

TRENDY IS REACTIONARY

Patriarchy loves to create subcultures so that the boring, bland privileged can feel even more superior compared to “common, ordinary” people. Meanwhile, their trendy subcultures, with their own expensive clothing and hair styles, create new markets for the fashion industry. Often manufacturers themselves determine which new fashions will become “counter-culture” styles. This game-playing at who’s trendy and who’s passé helps hets feel less numb, since being het is incredibly boring.

The most popular fads are those pretending to express “rebellion.” Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol had that appeal in the past, but they have long since become part of mainstream dominant culture.  Still, in spite of how passé they are, and how dangerous they are to the health of the users as well as those around them, many Lesbians still use them simply because they are associated with being trendy.

Trendy Lesbians often act as if they are still rebelling against their parents who don’t want them to look slutty, but they are actually allying with the parental attitudes that prefer a Lesbian be or look ANY way other than identifiably Lesbian. Looking male-identified feminine is very much part of sado-masochism, although many non-sado-masochists also consider it exciting and sexy. This is where the line between non-sado-masochists and sado-masochists can blend and merge. It’s interesting that some feminists who object to leather and studs on Lesbians feel fine about the more traditional male look for women: high heels, make up, dresses etc. But the conformist, reactionary politics that support Lesbians looking het also fuel sado-masochism.

Anything that reflects how men want women to appear, including looking ridiculous and emaciated, is innately misogynist.  Mainstream and fashion images of women often mimic or promote sado-masochism, such as showing women wearing makeup that mimics bruising – once you start to recognize sado-masochistic promotion, besides the overt images, you see that the media is full of it.

For het and bisexual women who are already male-identified, being sado-masochistic is just “normal.” Het and gay male culture and media constantly show sado-masochism in films, television, plays, books, etc. Many het and bisexual women seem to whole-heartedly participate. I believe that heterosexuality is by its nature sado-masochistic. Women being fucked by men is humiliating and degrading, which is why many het feminists are against women being fucked or “PIV” (Penis in Vagina), as many call it. (I really don’t like euphemisms, and the current feminist term “PIV” both pretties up the reality as well as making it sound even more grotesque.)  There’s a reason that girls’ first reaction to learning about fucking is to be horrified and disgusted.

Many women now proclaim proudly how they love being fucked, but that’s a fairly recent phenomenon, which I believe is in response to the intense pressure on women to obey men’s rules, which is a direct response to the threat of the Women’s Liberation Movement. In the past, it was an open joke that women chose a form of legally contracted prostitution, to sexually service one man in exchange for het privilege, respectability, “being taken care of” (since men’s wages are so much higher than women’s), to be considered “normal,” please their families, etc. – with the joke being that they hated being heterosexual with their men. (“Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.”) All that changed with the “Sexual Revolution,” where men got “free love” (no more paying), while women got STDs, pregnant, and less rewards (though still enough for most to not consider being celibate or Lesbian.) The “Sexual Revolution” was men’s way of dispensing with the game of heterosexual “love” in order to admit that they just wanted to fuck, rape, and abuse as many girls and women as possible.

Some mothers try to protect their daughters from being fuck fodder for men but many girls and young women rebel against their mothers by becoming even more of what patriarchy calls “sluts” and are proud of what they mistakenly believe is being “liberated’ and daringly rebellious. There is nothing more conservative, reactionary, destructive and old-fashioned than for a woman to be fucked. The male “Sexual Revolution” capitalized on this by encouraging as many women as possible to agree to being fucked by as many men as possible to feel “liberated.” Some women literally died as a result from getting lethal STDs such as AIDS and Hepatitis.

There is a whole level of sado-masochism that carries over into oppressing Butches, but with the same kinds of erroneous assumptions that are similar to the trans cult, where the most female and Lesbian and most oppressed in the situation (Butches) are equated with being the opposite – the most male, the dominator, and the privileged. The reverse is true, which we explained in our book and in my recent update, “Supporting Butches Supports All Lesbians.”

For the Radical Lesbian Feminists who don’t understand, equating Butches with privilege, is similar to how the trans cult says that Lesbians are more privileged than trans, even though they are either men wielding their male privilege against Lesbians and women, or are women who want male privilege and are self-hating enough to despise Lesbians.

FIGHTING SADO-MASOCHISM IS PRO-LESBIAN

I went to a party recently where a friend brought out a paddle and explained that sado-masochism helps to heighten sensation. Another friend, rather wearily, I thought, repeated almost verbatim, another old Samois line about how playing with sado-masochism helps women overcome past abuse (as opposed to the reality of becoming addicted to reenacting it.) It is very sad to see all these years later, younger women continuing those sado-masochist con lines.

Some Lesbians promote the myth about sado-masochists being an oppressed minority by saying they shouldn’t have to “be in the closet” about their sexual preferences. We agree that we would prefer knowing who is and who isn’t a sado-masochist since so much of how they act is based on enjoying power imbalances and there’s enough of that already between women without playing games to add to it. So, no, we don’t want anyone hiding that they enjoy humiliating lovers, cutting and beating lovers, pressuring lovers to drink their piss or eat their shit, etc. or that they are masochists who want a sadist lover, and we object to comparing being sado-masochist to Lesbians who have to hide who they are to survive.

Some have credited sado-masochism with making it easier for Lesbians to talk about sex, but Lesbians do that all the time without being sado-masochist. Perhaps it just isn’t considered “real” sex if it isn’t in a male context? — Just as men don’t consider whatever is not fucking to be “real” sex, no matter how many more orgasms women can have with other women.

We support Lesbians who have stopped being sado-masochists and know that they get bullied in a similar way to how women who leave the trans cult are harassed.

Haven’t we learned enough by now to know that wanting to do something that is destructive to ourselves and other females is just not good? For our survival and self-respect, we need to turn our justified hatred against our enemies and our oppressors, instead of inward, letting men’s war against us to be successful.

Many Lesbians are becoming Radical Lesbian Feminists and Separatists, saying no to male and het values, and are fighting unjust hierarchies and oppressions. Recognizing

heterosexism among ourselves and in our communities opens the way to freeing ourselves from it. Rejecting and fighting sado-masochism is part of that. Some Lesbian events, like Dyke Separatist gatherings have been publicized as sado-masochist-free.

If Lesbians give up sado-masochism and allow their natural Lesbian passion to come out, they’ll find that nothing can compare with that wild love that only Lesbians have and can give.

 ENDNOTES

1   Susan Hawthorne has also written against Lesbian sado-masochism in http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/againsthate/journal4/04ancienthatred.pdf

2  From Wikipedia: On 9 December 1869, Sacher-Masoch and his mistress Baroness Fanny Pistor signed a contract making him her slave for a period of six months, with the stipulation that the Baroness wear furs as often as possible, especially when she was in a cruel mood….Sacher-Masoch pressured his first wife, Aurora von Rümelin, whom he married in 1873, to live out the experience of the book, against her preferences.

3   Leather Pride flag – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather_Pride_flag

4   Big Bucks for Pain Sluts
Inside the kinky world of professional submissive
By Rachel Kramer Bussel Tuesday, Feb 7 2006

Over the course of her career, Joan Kelly (submarnie.com) has been strung up and splashed with freezing water, had her labia sewn shut, gotten caned, and taken countless bare-bottomed spankings—and has loved almost every minute of it. As “Marnie,” the Los Angeles–based kinky gal works as an independent professional submissive. For $260 an hour (to start), you can hire her to lie across your lap and get whacked good and hard (her favorite) or, for several thousand dollars, go deeper into your dominant fantasies. She’ll even come right to your hotel room, or you can use a local dungeon.

Joan Kelly, author of The Pleasure’s All Mine: Memoir of a Professional Submissive

It’s clear from Kelly’s (Carroll & Graf, 2005) that this job’s about much more than money. Her excitement        is evident over the phone, as she reveals that she’s been single until recently, getting her pain fix on the job. “When I started, I had that Pretty Woman fantasy, thinking I’d meet Mr. Kinky Right. If that had ever happened, I would’ve quit in a heartbeat,” she confesses. “If I don’t have someone in my personal life [to be kinky with], I’m physically compelled to do sessions. I’ve tried to quit a few times, but I couldn’t—I have to have this in my life.” Kelly’s current paramour, whom she met online, is “getting kinkier by the minute,” responding to her cues.

Local pro sub Submissive Ophelia (submissiveophelia.com), who claims she’s “New York City’s most hardcore masochist,” also got into the work after a failed relationship. Her first boyfriend made her his captive, and after that, “I had a difficult time meeting men who enjoyed dominating me. My submissive urges kept growing, and I decided being a pro would get me more playtime and fulfill my desires.”

Her favorite part of the job is the physical high, while the biggest drawback is tending to bruises several times a day after a heavy corporal scene. “I surprise myself at how far my pain tolerance has evolved. For example, I had a client sew my vaginal lips shut, and I didn’t make a peep,” Ophelia (Joan Kelly) boasts via e-mail. “I had another client who took 18-gauge needles, heated them until they were red-hot, and used them to pierce the insides of my butt cheeks. I could hear my skin sizzling as the needles penetrated me.”

Byron Mayo, co-owner of the BDSM advertising hot spot Eros-Guide.com and former owner of a commercial San Francisco dungeon, has nothing but praise for the skills pro subs bring to their trade. “You can touch places in a really good sub session that most marriages don’t get to in years. The result is a sense of psychological intimacy most of us crave but rarely get,” he says. “In a world of political correctness, confusing role models, and enforced ‘equality,’ the ability to tell a beautiful, intelligent, and demure woman to get on her knees and do what you say is a fantasy come true.”

A woman after my own heart, Kelly’s favorite type of scene involves over-the-knee hand spanking and role-playing. “The hottest thing for me is if they’re ‘punishing’ me for something. I could do back-to-back spanking sessions all day, every day,” she enthuses, then clarifies—”but not if it were eight hours of super hard spanking.” She has done five hours in a row, but she enjoys the challenge. “I’m tired at the end of a day like that, but mostly from the emotional energy of plugging in with one person after another.”

Being a sub is decidedly more risky than wielding a whip, which is why pro subs make more than your average dominatrix. Kelly explains that in L.A., dungeons often start women as subs who can work their way up to being doms. They may go through the motions, but for Kelly, it’s all real. “Virtually any pro sub will do spanking, but if it’s not their fetish, they’re not gonna have the kind of response that turns a fellow fetishist on. Spanking pushes an instant arousal button in me. That’s not common in the professional s/m scene.” Mayo praises such dedication. “I’ve seen pro subs come out of sessions glowing like they’ve just spent a week on an island vacation with a fantasy lover. Others emerge needing to curl up and be held because they exposed so much raw emotion. They have to do it because they love it, or it will quickly go sour.”

  • Novice clients, be forewarned: Cash alone will not buy your way to smacking Kelly’s ass. This proud “spanking fetishist, selective and submissively responsive bottom, and excitable pervert” (according to her website) insists that although she enjoys herself immensely during sessions, she’s no one’s plaything or naughty little girl. Don’t call her and expect instant obedience; you not only have to pay for that, you have to earn it. “Clients have to respect me as an equal person. I get to say how hard things will get, I get to say what I need,” she explains. “Guys will call up and while I’m trying to interview them as a potential client, ask, ‘Are you kneeling?’ It’s embarrassing for the guy.” Her advice? “Never assume anything about a woman you approach for a pro session—we’re all different. Some subs won’t take off their G-strings but will let you cane the shit out of them. There are women like me who’ll get naked and jerk off in front of you, but you better not start caning the hell out of me unless it’s my idea.”

About Bev Jo

I’ve been a Lesbian from my earliest memories and am proud to be a Lesbian. Lesbians are my people and my blood. My life’s work has defending Lesbians and our culture and existence against those who oppress us. Working-class, ex-catholic, mostly European-descent (with some First Nations, probably Shawnee, ancestry), from poverty class culture. I’m a Lifelong Lesbian, born near Cincinnati, Ohio in 1950. I became lovers with my first lover in 1968, became part of a Lesbian community in 1970, and became a Dyke Separatist in 1972. I helped create Radical Lesbian Feminist and Separatist community and worked on some of the earliest Lesbian Feminist projects, such as the Lesbian Feminist Conference in Berkeley in 1972, the newspaper “Dykes and Gorgons” in 1973, the women’s bookstore, Lesbian coffeehouse, and taught self defense to women and girls. I’ve been published in journals and anthologies, including “For Lesbians Only,” “Finding the Lesbians,” “Lesbian Friendships,” “Amazones d’Hier, Lesbiennes Aujourd’hui,” “Mehr als das Herz Gebrochen,” the Journal for Lesbian Studies, Lesbian Ethics, Sinister Wisdom, Trivia, and Rain and Thunder. With Linda Strega and Ruston, I co-wrote our book, “Dykes-Loving-Dykes: Dyke Separatist Politics for Lesbians Only” in 1990. I’ve been disabled since 1981 with ME/CFIDS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.) I love nature and plants and animals — and especially the animals who are feared and hated and killed by people who don’t even know them, just as Lesbians are. I’ve learned to love rats especially, who I do not consider inferior to humans. I’m a spiritual atheist, but I’ve found out that there is definitely life after death because a little rat returned from the dead for three days to comfort us. These hated little animals are so kind and loving, and willing to die for someone they love. I say, in our fight to protect the earth — distrust all “truths” we are taught by patriarchy. The true truth is often the opposite.
This entry was posted in Additional Radical Lesbian Feminist writings and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Chapter Six: Kink = Leather = S/M = BDSM — It’s All Still Sadism and Masochism

  1. Val M says:

    This is a wonderfully-written and important article, Bev. Thank you.

    Like

  2. Stephenie Smith says:

    Thank you. I am elderly now, but have a history of involvement with B/D and S/M which left me very uncomfortable. You have explained much of my discomfort. I was a professional and made money from men who wished to be abused. This has left a bad taste which still surfaces today when I hear other Lesbians talk of “accepting” this activity.

    Like

  3. Bev Jo says:

    Thank you, Stephanie. It’s so good for you to speak out since I’m in “feminist” fb groups where some women are still proudly working as professional sadists and thing they are being feminist by doing that. It’s always good to fight all the ways that patriarchy damages us, personally and politically.

    Like

  4. SheilaG says:

    Excellent article, and good to know the sell outs like Loulan and Suzie Sexpert, and the real histories behind their creepy ideology.
    I’ve noticed the one thing missing from a lot of the new lesbian movies I’ve seen, is true loving relationships between two women, or even beautiful love making. It comes across jarring, or just not very loving. So the BDSM crowd has done a lot of sexual damage to the community, and what young women face is truly alarming.
    I think we miss out on something key here; that love between women is one of the most beautiful physical acts in the universe, that this fills us with energy, with creativity, with a sense of the truly alive in the world.
    One has to wonder how abusing, using sex toys, the hook up culture, the mindless porn, the shallow discussions of lesbian sexuality, that have more of a commercial product selling component than anything else. E.g. holding lesbian sex workshops at a local sex toy shop, for example. The point is to SELL ITEMS… and this SELL items mentality even was highlighted in a keynote speech at a lesbian health conference recently.

    Like

  5. SheilaG says:

    Who makes money off of the lesbian community promoting this stuff? Who are these women who always end up as bisexuals, or pansexuals, or any other male pleasing sexual stuff besides purely and lovingly lesbian sexual? Follow the money, and document the porn industry buying access to lesbian magazines and you’ll begin to get answers.
    Women who go into this stuff are damaged, severly damaged, and I have been very clear how even watching porn distorts your ability to truly love and make love to women. It destroys the softness, the poetic beauty, it degrades the lesbian soul. Lesbians on our own can well make up the creativity and beauty of loving women. We don’t need male sex toys, Loulan’s anything goes equals sex propaganda or the horror show that is Pat Califia and Samois. And every time I talk to lesbians who try to have honest talks about lesbian sexuality, the creepiness invades the events…. the safety erodes, and the pornification of lesbian love making comes out in the open yet again.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bev Jo says:

    Sheila, you are absolutely right about the terrible harm that the public mainstream pornification of Lesbians is doing. No wonder so many girls and women think they must not be Lesbians in spite of being in love with other females. I was so confused when the first Lesbian I knew told me about dildos.

    A few years ago, a Lesbian Separatist who is not generally known to be a sado-masochist (but is) wrote a historical novel that was a cross-over (to the mainstream) popular book because of the moving content (Jewish women fleeing Eastern European pogroms and suffering and then some dying in the sweatshops in New York City). This much-acclaimed Lesbian book that was also about Jewish and class oppression was an opportunity to reach girls and women about Lesbians since it is in libraries and bookstores. But I was horrified that the Lesbian sex scene in that book consisted of “thrusting” and nothing else. “Thrusting” is the last word I would use to describe any aspect of beautiful and powerful Lesbian love-making — as you said, “that love between women is one of the most beautiful physical acts in the universe.” “Thrusting” is a repulsive, boring, male and porn and sado-masochist term — as if that isn’t already what represents Lesbians in the mainstream media.

    What a waste. But did that decision to cheapen Lesbian love come from the writer’s own sado-masochism or was it a way to get the book more accepted by men and het women?

    Yes, money is far more of a part of the “Lesbian” porn/sado-masochist industry than we might have ever imagined. And the price is damaged women. You’re right — sado-masochism, porn, and het and male-identified sexuality “destroys the softness, the poetic beauty, it degrades the lesbian soul.” You said that beautifully.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. S. says:

    I view BDSM and pornography as feminist issues that impact all women not just lesbians. The Playboy of the 1950s is nothing compared to what we see today. BDSM and pornography continues to constantly push for more extreme ways to degrade and punish the female body. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) would have people protesting in the street if there were images of dogs or cats being sadistically bound, tortured, beaten, chained, etc, but when it’s human females, it’s suddenly “sex positive”. Deep down in our hearts, I think most women can see through this utter hatred of women for what it is, but are afraid of speaking out at the risk of being viewed as silly prudes. Because pornography is a lucrative global enterprise, these purveyors of female hatred continue to market their product.

    “Perhaps it just isn’t considered “real” sex if it isn’t in a male context? — Just as men don’t consider whatever is not fucking to be “real” sex, no matter how many more orgasms women can have with other women.”

    Yes, Bev this is true. I also agree with the following paragraph.

    “Those who were pro-porn and sado-masochism were scathing and ridiculing towards Radical Lesbian Feminism. The glossy magazine, “On Our Backs,” that glorified “Lesbian” porn and sado-masochism and role-playing, chose that name in opposition to the longtime Feminist newspaper, “off our backs.” It was all clearly so reactionary and right wing, yet few seemed to question it. Or maybe they did and were censored in the Lesbian media. And then the “Lesbian” strip shows began – not just in the usual male porn districts, but in our own communities, prostituting all of us for men and endangering us. (How many men have raped Lesbians after reading Califia’s porn about Lesbians wanting to be raped?) Suddenly, mainstream or liberal and leftist bookstores replaced Feminist or Lesbian Feminist books and newspapers with porn and sado-masochist books by “Lesbians,” for Lesbians, and whoever else wanted to spend the money. I still believe that the male porn industry funded this takeover of our communities.”

    I completely agree with the statement, “I still believe that the male porn industry funded this takeover of our communities.” This was part of the marketing campaign. After all, this is a lucrative global industry. They wanted to break into a new niche market. Besides, heterosexual males have always had sexual fantasies about lesbians. Since when is making a buck from women’s bodies anything new or revolutionary? They just went about marketing it as something cool and trendy when in reality it’s just the same tired old misogynistic hatred of females, except now it’s really getting more grotesque and brutal beyond imagination.

    One 2006 estimate has the global porn industry at $97 billion in revenues. According to one estimate, 28,000 Internet users are watching porn every second.

    http://www.businesspundit.com/the-worlds-most-lucrative

    Like

  8. S. says:

    Market research conducted by internet providers found that the average age a boy first sees porn today is 11; a study from the University of Alberta found that one third of 13-year-old boys admitted viewing porn; and a survey published by Psychologies magazine in the UK last month found that a third of 14- to 16-year-olds had first seen sexual images online when they were 10 or younger – 81% of those polled looked at porn online at home, while 63% could easily access it on their mobile phones

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/02/gail-dines-pornography

    Gail Dines, author of “Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality” is one of the few remaining feminists who has the courage to write eloquently about pornography. In an interview with the Guardian she states,

    “Every group that has fought for liberation understands that media images are part and parcel of the systematic dehumanisation of an oppressed group.”

    “There were two images from Hustler magazine that she found especially shocking: a cartoon of a construction worker drilling a jackhammer into a woman’s vagina, and one depicting a woman being fed through a meat grinder.”

    “One problem I knew I had to deal with as I was writing the book was the inevitable accusation that, because I am anti-porn, I must be an anti-sex prude who is out to police people’s sex lives. To criticize porn today is to be seen as criticizing sex, because–thanks to the porn PR machine–porn has now become synonymous with sex….This is a business with considerable political clout, with the capacity to lobby politicians, engage in expensive legal battles, and use public relations to influence public debate. As with the tobacco industry, this is not a simple matter of consumer choice; rather, the business is increasingly able to deploy a sophisticated and well-resourced marketing machine, not just to push its wares but also to cast the industry’s image in a positive light.”

    Gail Dines quoted in alternet.org

    GD: If you watch pornography you see that immediately. What you see is a woman being penetrated brutally vaginally, anally and orally. As that’s happening — three men at one time, four men at one time — she’s being called vile, hateful names, she’s being sometimes slapped, sometimes her hair is pulled… Even the industry said that many women have a hard time being in the industry for more than three months. Why? Because of the brutalization of the body.

    SK: Three months?

    GD: That’s what the article says in Adult Video News . Also, I’ve interviewed somebody who worked with AIM, the health care organization that takes care of the health of porn performers, and he was telling me just what happens to the bodies of these women. For example, he said one of the big things are anal prolapses, where literally their anuses drop out of their body and have to be sewn back in because of the brutal anal sex. He also talked about gonorrhea of the eye, and the latest thing — because you have something called [ass to mouth] — they put the penis into the anus, and then into her mouth without washing. They’re finding now that women are getting fecal bacterial infections in their mouth and throat. ”

    http://www.alternet.org/story/148142/should_we_worry_whether_porn_has_hijacked_our_sexuality?page=0%2C0

    Again, if this was being done to dogs or cats, PETA would be having a hissy fit. This is a testament to the successful marketing campaign of a capitalisitc enterprise. It’s not just lesbians and BDSM. It’s all women, and the fact that some consider it “sex positive” is so Orwellian and disturbing that I cringe.

    Like

  9. SheilaG says:

    Pornography is a menace to all women!!! And we all know the men are absolutely incapable of love as we know it.

    Like

  10. S. says:

    Sheila G,

    “It destroys the softness, the poetic beauty, it degrades the lesbian soul. ”

    I loved this sentence…. well phrased.

    “Pornography is a menace to all women!!!”

    Overall, how can anyone not believe this is true? We just don’t want to admit it. The lucrative porn industry as it is today is a menace to women, and we shouldn’t be afraid to describe and bear witness to its utter misogynistic reality. It seems to get more violent and degrading as if they have to constantly find some new and unique way to titillate the viewer. It’s male centric, and for the most part it’s owned by men for the pleasure of men. Today’s pornography is hatred towards women. This is what it feels like to me. We can intuitively sense this, but women keep silent because they are afraid of being labelled silly, old-fashioned prudes for pointing out the obvious.

    “And we all know the men are absolutely incapable of love as we know it.”

    This statement confuses me. Are you saying that men are incapable of feeling, experiencing, and loving the way women and lesbians do in that men and women are innately different? This makes sense to me and I agree. I’m a lesbian because I feel a deep connection to the souls and spirits of women. I don’t believe men can ever be lesbians because they can never experience what lesbians feel. As to pornography and misogyny, male violence against women is ancient and systematic. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to say men are absolutely incapable of love.

    Bev, Susan Hawthorne’s paper “Ancient Hatred and Its Contemporary Manifestation: The Torture of Lesbians” is excellent. Great Link!

    This is brilliant, disturbing, and powerful. Hawthorne exposes the ugly truth. It was painful just to read it. I liked the way she blended the ancient with the contemporary.

    Like

  11. SheilaG says:

    Could you post the link to Susan Hawthorn’s article?

    And what I mean by men being incapable of love is exactly how I mean it. I don’t believe men even know what love is. The proof is in their utter silence to women’s oppression worldwide, their tolerance of pornography, their complete and utter indifference to the suffering of children in facor of a college football program. They feel nothing in this department. I believe they feel lust, or a desire to own, or a desire to mold and control people, and this mascurades as love. They want their sons to imitate daddy or be like him, but again that is really not love.
    We have to know that there is something terribly wrong with men, and what they do to the world and to women and children speaks to the emptiness within that species.
    They imitate feelings, or they seek to control, have sex with, kill, boss over, support (also social control of the family), stamp their name on their wives and children, stamp their names on everything, but again, that isn’t love, it is something else.
    Lesbians who love one another go into some other dimension, and we should know that women can have a compete and authentic erotic life; women’s bodies were not designed for females to receive pleasure through PIV at all. This should be a clue as to the very nature of what women feel erotically, compared to what men DO TO rather than WITH female bodies.
    Don’t assume that men feel any love at all, that all of it is an act, and they will do everything in their power to try to get women to believe that men love women. There is no global evidense of any society in the world right now, where men DEMONSTRATE through social policy that they love women. NEVER once do they of their own free will rise up in outrage over how other men treat women, never once. Once you know this, it is quite liberating. It makes men kind of disappear around you— like they never existed. This is a hard thing to explain, but more and more, they remain silent around me, because they know I am on to them. Just recently, some friends and i went to a wonderful concert. Perfect summer night, picnic basket, wine, the orchestra playing… heavenly. One woman insisted on bringing her 19 year old teenage son, and some older man who shared an apartment building with them. There were three women, and those two men. The women brought all the food, the men contributed nothing at all. I put up a psychic wall, the sullen uncommunicative son said virtually nothing to me, I ignored him. They sat like bumps on a log while us three women talked about the music, the wonderful food, the fun of life. At one point, one of the women talked about a mutual friend who thought she was going to marry her long time boyfriend (both of them were in their 50s) but suddenly after years together the guy dumped her. I said quite plainly that, “Men are incapable of love, that’s why he did that.” Silence for a moment, my two heteo friends know I am a radical lesbian feminist, they did not debate the point, and the men sat silently saying nothing. I had put it out there, and I felt happy to do this.
    So no, men are incapable of loving anything except perhaps their own selves, and even they hate themselves and kill each other in war. War is what makes men feel alive, and when women become aware of this reality, this truth, we’ll see a different world.
    Men disappear, they have no power around me, they shut up…. more and more it is as if they aren’t even around me at all. It is my growing knowlege of how they are nothing that changes the power dynamic. It’s interesting, it’s a good separatist tactic that all women can embrace.

    There is no need to ever believe men are capable of love. Why bother at all with this belief? What does it matter, it has nothing to do with how women love and honor each other. It certainly has nothing to do with how women fall in love with one another so tenderly— all women do this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. S. says:

    Sheila,

    Hawthorne’s link is right under Endnotes…scroll on up, or copy and paste this link

    http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/againsthate/journal4/04ancienthatred.pdf

    “And what I mean by men being incapable of love is exactly how I mean it. I don’t believe men even know what love is. The proof is in their utter silence to women’s oppression worldwide, their tolerance of pornography, their complete and utter indifference to the suffering of children in facor of a college football program. They feel nothing in this department. I believe they feel lust, or a desire to own, or a desire to mold and control people, and this mascurades as love. They want their sons to imitate daddy or be like him, but again that is really not love.”

    Yes, this is mostly true, and I know men are raping the planet which will probably destroy all life on the planet. I know about the male love and fascination with war which never ceases to end. Indeed, if climate change (males own the oil and coal companies) doesn’t do us in, then nuclear war (males run the Pentagon) might. It probably is accurate to state that the human male is the most destructive species on earth. Can we say that males are incapable of love? Collectively, I can understand why people say they can’t. Still, I think of Martin Luther King and Ghandi. Can we honestly say that Ghandi and Martin Luther King never had an ounce of compassion in their souls? Unfortunately, the alpha males always win out, and we are still left with the fact that men are destroyning the planet as I type this post. I agree with 90% of what you have to say, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say all men are incapable of love.

    “We have to know that there is something terribly wrong with men, and what they do to the world and to women and children speaks to the emptiness within that species.”

    This is true. Women know it, but women are afraid to whisper the unspeakable.

    Like

  13. Barbara Di Bari Visconti says:

    Both Gandhi and MLK were womanizers who used women as energy sources for themselves. Their existence does not contradict anything SheilaG said about men.

    Like

  14. Stephenie Smith says:

    OMG. Thank you Sheila and S.

    What a clear, concise explanation of something I have only felt for a long time. I have saved the two posts above to my computer in hopes of learning more as I reread them. May I use the quote, “there is something terribly wrong with men”?

    Thank you

    Like

  15. SheilaG says:

    Please feel free to quote if you like. Take a look at the personal lives of Gandhi and Martin Luther King to get a clearer picture of their less than saintly status. How they treat women in their personal lives reveals all I think, so I stand by my belief that men feel many things, but true and deep love is not one of those things.
    Mary Daly wrote some incredible stuff on Gandhi, and you’ll never see him the same way again after you read what she wrote about him. I think these so-called non-violent men are even more clever at deceiving women. It is the ultimate crime for women to NAME THE AGENT, to actually call out men collectively for their infamy. In patriarchy men have brainwashed women into constantly hoping men will be good or kind, and this hope has been around for a long time. Women will put up with out and out woman hatred, and still say that men can feel love. So NOT THEY DON’T, they immitate this emotion, but they don’t genuinely feel it–the proof is not in the “public men” but what they do behind closed doors to women. That’s where you have to look. I don’t believe a word they say publically. Martin Luther King refused to let any black women speak at the march on washington, for example. It was a closed men’s club.

    Like

  16. SheilaG says:

    All these male led civil rights movements are NOT ABOUT the civil rights of women, it is all about men.
    We have to completely stop thinking of men as capable human beings, they are clearly something else, and this delusion of women is that of the most deeply oppressed group on the planet.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Bev Jo says:

    Thank you all for the great comments!

    I keep seeing in feminist groups certain men named as proof of how wonderful men can be, yet almost no women are ever named when there are references to the great people throughout history. When “compassionate” men are named, are they really compassionate or is it about their working for something for themselves and other men? Yes, Gandhi wanted the English out of India, but how did he treat women? Was sleeping with girls good for the girls? Why are famous men who are worshipped brought up but we don’t even know the names of the women who worked alongside them?

    We never know. Ted Bundy worked at a rape crisis center. Ann Rule said he was the ideal man, and would have been the perfect husband for her daughter, or herself if she’d been younger. We still don’t know how many girls and women he raped, tortured and murdered, but wasn’t the last one known twelve years old. The exceptional feminist man.

    I always say that we never know what boys and men are doing when alone with small animals or girls. Some men even say that they are not to be trusted and just can’t stop wanting to rape. Feminist men. Michael Moore announced on television that “We just want to fuck everything in front of us.” They are a world apart from women, but women keep trying to change reality to believe they aren’t really different, or if they commit horrific crimes that women never commit, it’s because they were abused in childhood. If that was the case, then most women would be serial killers.

    Sadly, we get punished for even daring to suggest this. And all these years after feminism, I see most Lesbians, like most women, have a completely different standard for men than women. So the het man who marches in the Dyke March, even though men are asked not to march, who seems to be perving on Lesbians every chance he can get, including going where he can see naked Lesbians, is described as “The most feminist person I know.”

    Even if there are some good men in the world, isn’t it better for at least a few of us to put our love and support into other Lesbians and women, rather than the men that the rest of the women are worshipping? Lesbians and other women need our support and love so much more. And that is the revolutionary earth-loving choice.

    Like

  18. Audrey says:

    The most revolutionary thing for a woman to do is to always put women first. Don’t mention public “exceptional” men like Gandhi and MLK, because their personal lives WITH wives etc., reveals the truth of who these men actually are in intimate relationships with women. Public persona is not what men do behind closed doors.
    The really horrible men I work with have wives who are blissfully unaware of how awful their husbands are. Sometimes, something slips out of the convesation. A wife who is HIS secretary talks about wanting to go back to school so she can teach high school again. “Oh, are you doing that this year?” I naively asked. She reacted in shock, “Oh no, I wanted to do this years ago, but my husband would’t let me.”
    I was stunned at this, and said, “so you want to do this now, of course, why not.” She could see my shock at male supremacy, I could really tell that somehow she wanted to reveal the truth about her husband, because on some level she knew I hated him. The wives somehow know this stuff, even though I don’t go around saying I hate the men in my office, I simply ignore them and get my work done, and talk to the women most of the time. The men really don’t exist for me on some energetic level. So het women know the truth, they live with it, because they get to live in a really luxurious house, have boys, whom everyone fawns over, have a big role in the community where people fawn over their big house and fancy hetero parties. The sex part with the husbands…. they just put up with it to get the house etc. But with me, they can’t pull that S—. They know I have no respect for kept women, which is what these women are. They know their wealth and power will not impress me, because their lives are brainless malestream lives, which is not the intellectually passionate lesbian life I routinely lead. They sense, when my partner and I come to the annual holiday party that we are not like the heteros, that we have a depth of intellect and equality with one another, and that we expect women to have brains and analytical ability, because I will ask them serious questions that most people don’t ask. The truth comes out.

    So no, men are not wonderful, the “great” men of history are unknown in their own homes. They probably raped their wives, they expected dinner on the table, Coretta Scott King actually introduced Martin to black activism and she was a well known activist before he even got involved in the civil rights struggle. Gandhi got his non-violent tactics from the British suffragists, it was NOT his original idea at all.
    He insisted on a Hindu practice of sleeping with nude underage girls to “prove” he could stay celebate.
    Today we would call this pedofilia, and it would be grounds for jail time. So let’s look at the really great women of herstory who overcame all the patriarchy to achieve greatness, who had to put up with abusive men first, to get somewhere.
    Let’s not ever forget that “great” men are not known really. Only their “public” accomplishments are known, as they steal energy and ideas from the “women” in their lives. Men steal from women, and are waited on by women, and work to throw the British out of India, but they still own and control wives and children.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. S. says:

    Hole-y-Army…Yes, we understand completely..same misogynistic bullcrap…..different day…

    Since we are on the subject of BDSM and pornography, let’s talk about the Hole-y-Army and its in your face direct misogynistic assault on all women, especially lesbians. The fetish like fascination with vulvas and vaginas paraded around on sticks and poles should make all feminist wretch. The reason the Hole-y-Army deliberately shows up at Dyke Marches with their vulvas and vaginas on sticks is to intentionally intimidate lesbians. This is a concerted direct attack meant to dehumanize and psychologically break down lesbians. The female reproductive system is remarkable in its complexity, and to describe female reproductive organs as “holes” would never be tolerated coming from heterosexual men. However, when it’s coming from transgender biological males at Dyke Marches, feminists never blink an eye.

    Sit back and magine this.

    What would happen if the “Hole-y-Army” and its collection of fetishized vaginas and vulvas on sticks showed up at a NOW (National Organization of Women) meeting and started to chant their little song,

    My hole has lots of surprises
    Dykes come in all shapes and sizes
    We are the holey army
    We’re here, we’re holes, we’re fabulous please fuck with us”

    This wouldn’t be tolerated, and I imagine jaws would drop because it would be so outlandish and sexist. Since they are transgender, or queer identified men and it’s a Dyke March, some think it’s revolutionary, edgy, and cute. All these males do is show up at Dyke Marches, nobody cares about dykes anyway, and lesbians need to learn to love penis whether they want it or not.

    By looking at various online photographs of these “holes” that are made of feathers, fur, and all types of material, some of them look kind of like the artificially created “holes” that men have fantasized about and masterbated into for centuries. I have to admit that some of the “holes” are quite colorful, but they are still “holes”. How are these “holes” different than the festishized masturbatory tools and devices that men have been buying at porn shops for as long as anyone can remember? It wouldn’t take very long on the Internet for a resourceful man to find one of these “holes” that he could masterbate into. Where did transwomen and queer identified males get the idea for their “Hole-y-Army”? Female bodies are nothing more than holes for penetration by a penis with some kind of soft fur like sustance on the outside. Where have we seen this before? This comes directly from pornography and the sexual objectification of female bodies in which the female reproductive system is reduced to some sort of fetish. After these “holes” are made, they apparently are placed on long sticks or poles for the specific purpose of being paraded around at Dyke Marches. I’m sure transgender and queer identified men must take great delight at deeply offending all women, and especially lesbians.

    In the following article, this man definitely seems proud of his “hole” on a stick that he paraded around at the Toronto Dyke March.

    “Clearly I am not a lesbian. But when the opportunity to participate in the Toronto Dyke March was presented to Lisa and me this afternoon, we couldn’t resist. We were each handed a vagina, told to hold it high in the air and chant the following:

    My hole has lots of surprises
    Dykes come in all shapes and sizes
    We are the holey army
    We’re here, we’re holes, we’re fabulous please fuck with us”

    http://francocignelli.com/2012/06/30/dyke-march/

    At the Peak Trans blog, one person said,

    “My peak trans moment was when I saw video of Coral Short’s “Hole-y Army” at the Dyke March in NYC. Parading replicas of women’s reproductive organs as ‘puppets’ on stakes and telling participants to chant ‘We’re here, we’re holes, we’re fabulous, come fuck with us.’ Calling women’s reproductive organs ‘holes’ and telling people to fuck with our ‘holes’ was supposed to be promoting trans inclusivity, because “GENDER > GENITALS”. No. We’re not holes. Our reproductive organs are not holes. You’re not allowed to fuck with us.”

    http://peaktrans.tumblr.com/page/8

    I’m a female who happens to be lesbian. I am nothing more than a “hole” who needs a good fuck. This is the way my anatomy is described, and men dressed in drag need to parade it around atop a long pole. Why does this feel like rape to me, and why can’t lesbians be safe at Dyke Marches? Perhaps by parading my “hole” around atop a long stick, men at Dyke Marches are symbolically taking possession of lesbians. This is clear and precise street theatre designed to intimidate lesbians. It’s like reaching deep inside my lesbian soul, and ripping out my heart.

    Same misogynistic crap… just queerified…

    Like

  20. S. says:

    On Gandhi,

    “Gandhi got his non-violent tactics from the British suffragists, it was NOT his original idea at all.”

    “He insisted on a Hindu practice of sleeping with nude underage girls to “prove” he could stay celebate.Today we would call this pedofilia, and it would be grounds for jail time. ”

    This does sound creepy. In school we are taught to venerate Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

    “Let’s not ever forget that “great” men are not known really. Only their “public” accomplishments are known, as they steal energy and ideas from the “women” in their lives.”

    I completely agree.

    Like

  21. Audrey says:

    All men need to be evaluated on how they operate within the home, away from the public spectacle of
    HIS-troy. We can’t just look at an MLK or a Gandhi or any man really without knowing what he does behind closed doors to women, wives, children, girlfriends. Newt Gingrich comes to mind, so does Schwartzenegger, so does Edwards, and when we find out just what they do to wives and girlfriends, and get the full story, they aren’t so great anymore are they?
    We can know for certain that lesbians don’t go out raping other women, they don’t go out making other women pregnant, so it is a big difference. Men steal women’s labor, they bring porn into the lesbian community, they co-opt lesbian sexuality with the trans-porn cult that seems to be everywhere these days. So we need to question everything!! And we need to get the truth about any man who is considered a secular saint.

    Like

  22. Maggie says:

    Thank you so much for this brilliant piece of writing, Bev Jo. I had been waiting for it with so much impatience. 🙂 I love it how you debunk the most prevalent patriarchal myths about women-loving women’s sexuality in it. Keep up the great work!

    Like

  23. Bev Jo says:

    Thank you so much, Maggie! I appreciate your work too! Spread the word. I will keep adding to it as more info or need appears. Recently, a Lesbian tried to explain how her new girlfriend was less of a sado-masochist because she hadn’t been a sadist. I understand it being even more disturbing when a Lesbian has declared herself to be a sadist, but, sadly, from my own experience with trying to work politically in Radical Lesbian Feminist groups, the masochists end up being just as sadistic as the sadists. It’s a continuum, and once they embrace that whole dynamic to play with abuse, they cross the lines into non-consensuality.

    Like

  24. mary says:

    Thank you. Just… thank you.

    I came across your blog just an hour ago.
    I’m Austrian (so please excuse any mistakes, my first language is German), I am a lesbian, of course, and in my late twenties. I have been a feminist from my early teenage years on.

    Although there is a strong feminist tradition with Alice Schwarzer and her PorNo campaign in Germany in which porn and sadomasochism are clearly named as un-feminist and harmful, I grew up in a “younger” feminism that – as you describe brilliantly – claims “bdsm” is an orientation that has to be a accepted and pornography and prostitution are not only not harmful, but potentially liberating and pro-feminist.
    Personally, I rejected the idea of porn and prostitution as potentially “feminist” very early (and got used to be ridiculed for my prudish uptightness), but I couldn’t just as easily dismiss sadomasochism and I couldn’t bring myself to accept my instinctive troubles with so-called transgender women, mainly because practitioners of sadomasochism and transgender claimed respect for their orientation like I claimed respect for my lesbianism. After an university discussion (I’m a graduate student) with a male to female transgender person I started to think about the matter more intensely.

    This, eventually, led me into a nasty position: I found myself being an outspoken feminist and an open lesbian (with a relationship of four years now) with a terrible secret: I found porn and sadomasochism degrading, I was against prostitution and – what is “worst” – I rejected the transgender model.
    To say it bluntly: You cannot say anything of that out loud in any feminist or non-feminist circle I ever was in. Call me naive (I may be), but I never met anyone who spelled out anything like my “secret opinions”. My girlfriend agreed on the porn/prostitution/sadomasochism thing, but not on the transgender thing.
    I blamed myself for probably having adopted Catholic ideas about “female virtue” in regard to porn/prostitution (although I am a strong atheist since I was 13 and grew out of my instinctive atheism of childhood), and I blamed myself to be bigot, judgmental, narrow-minded, Victorian and prejudice-ridden about sadomasochism and the transgender model.
    I struggled with self-blame until I read the name Janice Raymond and started to take a look around in the web (no Janice Raymond books available at my university library).

    I ended up here, with your brilliant and wise and elegant arguments – and I just want to thank you.
    Thank you very much.

    PS: If this is too long, too off-topic, please feel free to delete it.

    Like

  25. Bev Jo says:

    Thank YOU. Your English is perfect, but no one should ever worry here about being criticized for grammar, spelling, etc. Of course what you wrote is not too long! No limit for writing like yours!

    That is so courageous of you on your own to disagree with porn and prostitution being presented as “feminist,” as well as instinctually being against sado-masochism and the trans cult. Yes, it’s harder with the trap of our own politics and oppression being used against us, and then the terribly bullying if you dare speak the truth for even a moment. Also, these enemies in the guise of feminism have taken over to where it’s so hard to find any book or information or support about true Lesbian Feminism.

    I identify too with having been raised catholic against my will used against me.

    Do you have any other support about all that you believe? Where are you in Austria? An old Radical Lesbian Feminist friend (never in person, but by letter and phone) has a women’s bookstore in Wien (Vienna) and also has had a radio show. I’m sure she would know of a more radical community if you’d like me to share your email with her. Her name is Leni.

    It’s a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for writing!

    Like

    • mary says:

      Thank you for your nice answer!
      I am in Vienna indeed (grew up someplace else, though), and I would love to visit your friend’s bookstore!

      I really wasn’t aware there are Radical Feminists in Europe at all; before I “came out” I read a book that addresses young Lesbians specifically and can be found in school and university libraries. In it there was a list of “types” of Lesbians, and Radical Feminist or even Separatists were mentioned like dinosaurs: Once all over the place, but now gone and never to be seen again.

      So I am glad to hear you are still around and thriving. Makes me feel less alone and gives me hope.

      Like

  26. Bev Jo says:

    Thank you too! It heartens me to know that we continue, but I did know we would and do because we always have. Of course our enemies want us to disappear and have the privilege and power of the press to say we don’t exist. They always have. I remember before there was one book or one film that was supportive of Lesbians. It can never go back to that again, though the method now is to coopt us into male, self-hating thinking and living, like sado-masochism.

    Anyway, Separatists and Radical Feminists are across the world and are all ages. I think Europe is better than here, where there are no more bookstores or places specifically for Lesbians anymore (we used to have three bookstores in this area.)

    I just wish we all lived close enough to visit!

    I’ll contact Leni to get info about her bookstore to send you.

    xoxo

    Like

  27. mhairi says:

    That was a really interesting read.

    I’m het and always have been but hung around gay communities in my yoof, and went to a workshop on exactly this in the early 90s. Its a long time ago, but as I recall those who identified as “natural” lesbians accused the “political” lesbians of policing their sexuality.

    Ultimately IMHO it comes down to the issue of consent, which I’m of the opinion that the BDSM community have made major strides in which reaches back into mainstream western society. If both (or more for that matter) parties have sexual consent from the other(s), then at one level their private sexual behaviour isnt my or anyone else’s concern.

    But at the same time we need to look at where that consent is coming from. When I went to that workshop it was well before the massive explosion in porn that happened with the internet. Porn depicting lesbians is frequently stylistic and features S/M or B/D, either between women or with a male “overseer”. It is lesbianism as seen through male eyes.

    I cant agree with you on..
    “There is nothing more conservative, reactionary, destructive and old-fashioned than for a woman to be fucked.”
    I dont see being fucked as necessarily a humiliting act, but at the same time, I recognise that it has the potential to become one. In the same way, I dont see BDSM as universally negative. I think that in some circumstances, a desire for domination, submission, to be hurt or to hurt can be a form of communication, but at the same time, not all communication is healthy communication.

    I think it is better to concentrate on developing healthy communication both physically and mentally, and I think that this is what the BDSM community is doing. There have been some high profile outings of some pretty nasty characters, and an assertiveness coming from women (both les and het) who identify as submissive.

    But this is all in the face of a battling tide of pornography that is getting more brutal, more extreme and more violent.

    Like

  28. Bev Jo says:

    No, I’m a natural Lesbian. The sado-masochists and pornographers and sexologists might have claimed that radicals policed them, but they were the ones policing lifelong Lesbians and pressuring everyone to be more het-identified. When we look at them now, most are back with men.

    As I said in my article, in my experience, sado-masochists almost always end up playing non-consensual games, even in political groups.

    With the entire patriarchy demanding all female be fucked, it is very important for a few of us to say what we think about — that it is always bad for women and always humiliating. Women even have to learn to ignore that it hurts!

    Sado-masochists are not “developing healthy communication both physically and mentally!” They do the opposite, and they are completely connected to the porn industry. Did you not read what I wrote?

    It looks like you are completely supporting sado-masochism.

    Like

    • mhairi says:

      No, I dont support S/M, and I dont think its particularly healthy. I think BDSM is a sexual response to social conditioning and there is an S/M element to practically all sexual relationships. What I meant was that within the community people are reasserting boundaries, including the violations of those boundaries that brought them there in the first place. Where it is made explicit it can be negotiated over and negated. I tend to see BDSM as a method by which the socio-sexual conditioning of a patriarchial society can be contained and ultimately structurally negated.

      There is abuse within lesbian relationships, sexual, emotional and physical. While it may not be as extensive as within het relationships, a lesbian existance doesnt get rid of the social conditioning which leads to both abusive tendancies, or harmful desires.

      But I do agree with you that the porn industry is a major and growing problem, particularly with the promotion of lesbian BDSM for (I strongly suspect) male titillation.

      Like

  29. SheilaG says:

    There is nothing consensual at all in getting fucked by men; it is a requirement of heterosexuality as a woman dominating system to begin with. There is nothing consensual at all about the BDSM crowd, who will never honor my requests of NO you can’t talk about that stuff around me. I’ve had hets dump that porno sex talk on me even at lesbian bars, and they won’t shut up.
    BDSM and submissiveness and dominance again, is just male supremacy writ sexual. Women want to use the word consensual mainly to avoid thinking of themselves as prostitutes, but het women with men, they are owned…. food, clothing, shelter and manditory PIV is the lot in life of the great majority of women worldwide.
    The porn industry has lavishly funded the BDSM so-called lesbians since the early 80s, from the glossy magazines to the sex toy stores in major cities all over the U.S.
    I’ve had so many lesbian friends greatful to me for speaking up against it in public, and for advocating a truly egalitarian lesbian sexuality that has nothing to do with toys, capitalism, ownership or hurting your partner in any way.
    What men do to women sexually is a horror story, it is done behind closed doors, and it is never policed.
    Whoever got the idea that lesbians could police male porn dogs? That is a reversal of what really happens in patriarchy.
    Bev and I have never been het, have no interest in its corruption and degredation, no interest in males fucking women– we object to all male dominace, including the sick gay male sexuality that invaded the lesbian community right in the middle of the AIDS epidemic… yeah that’s what happened.
    So no Mhairi, this hetero nonsense is just that, another excuse for women to be raped, abused and sexually tortured behind closed doors. We stand united against all of it, and certainly I would consider inflicting pain on a beloved partner or lover just the sickest thing on earth.

    Like

  30. SheilaG says:

    “….there is an S/M element to practically all sexual relationships.” No, there is no S/M element to any of my sexual relationships with women. This is just the tired old argument “everyone is doing it.” Well, no that is not the case. There are many things that I have never done, that everyone else claims to be doing. And pornography is a huge force for the destruction of women’s souls, and lesbian porn is being funded by very evil porn industry people, and this has been going on for a very long time.
    I don’t believe that SMBD is about consent at all, and I have explained every time I stand up publically against it. And it is a real sickness of patriarchy and male supremacy, which is pornographic to its core. It is a male justification for sexual agency at women’s expense, and it has been supported by a male sex obsessed oppressor class for ages. Men coerce women into all kinds of things that women don’t want to do. It is not a natural response to abuse, but BDSM is about seasoning and conditioning and expanding the pool of victims.
    The lesbian community was relatively free of all of this nonsense until maybe the late 70s or early 80s, and I believe BDSM and porn were simply part of the backlash against radical feminism, which was making real inroads.

    Like

  31. SheilaG says:

    “I tend to see BDSM as a method by which the socio-sexual conditioning of a patriarchial society can be contained and ultimately structurally negated.” No Mhairi, this is about torture and the legitimization of it, nothing less and nothing more. You don’t cure PTSD with more sexual attacks and degredation.
    This is a merely an excuse and the propaganda of the BDSM people, who will lie about everything, they even call prostitution liberating.

    Like

  32. SheilaG says:

    What is required is compassion, love, and healing. These are the things women need, especially sexually used and abused women, not more of the poison, which is BDSM. Really, who comes up with this non-medical nonsense anyway? I’d have to say, that it sounds like you are involved with this in someway, and why are you on this radical lesbian blog to begin with, other than to bring the case for BDSM here? Your arguments are exactly the same as the pro-porn lobby, the pro-S & M people who have had such a corrosive effect on lesbian community life.
    But I have learned that women long to hear the opposite; that abused women need to have safe places, not more torture. BDSM is torture; if it is done in war time, it is considered a violation of the Geneva Convention. Think about that, you are actually arguing in favor of war crimes Mhairi, think about it.

    Like

  33. S. says:

    “But I do agree with you that the porn industry is a major and growing problem, particularly with the promotion of lesbian BDSM for (I strongly suspect) male titillation.”

    In my opinion, this is about the only thing this person said that makes sense.

    “The porn industry has lavishly funded the BDSM so-called lesbians since the early 80s, from the glossy magazines to the sex toy stores in major cities all over the U.S”

    This is absolutely true. After all, this is a lucrative global industry.

    “Whoever got the idea that lesbians could police male porn dogs? That is a reversal of what really happens in patriarchy.”

    Sheila, you always have a way of nailing it. It’s always interesting to me how some claim that lesbians are the ones “policing” other people’s sexual behavior. Where did this nonsense come from? Read my earlier post in which Gail Dines speaks about her book “Pornland:

    “One problem I knew I had to deal with as I was writing the book was the inevitable accusation that, because I am anti-porn, I must be an anti-sex prude who is out to police people’s sex lives. To criticize porn today is to be seen as criticizing sex, because–thanks to the porn PR machine–porn has now become synonymous with sex….This is a business with considerable political clout, with the capacity to lobby politicians, engage in expensive legal battles, and use public relations to influence public debate. As with the tobacco industry, this is not a simple matter of consumer choice; rather, the business is increasingly able to deploy a sophisticated and well-resourced marketing machine, not just to push its wares but also to cast the industry’s image in a positive light.”
    Quote from Gail Dines

    “I think BDSM is a sexual response to social conditioning and there is an S/M element to practically all sexual relationships.”

    No, there isn’t an element of S/M to practically all sexual relationships. Where did people get this idea? Apparently, if one partner isn’t submissive enough and the other person isn’t dominating, then “real” sex doesn’t happen. There can be “sexual relations” in nothing more than a tender touch.

    I cant agree with you on..
    “There is nothing more conservative, reactionary, destructive and old-fashioned than for a woman to be fucked.”
    I dont see being fucked as necessarily a humiliting act, but at the same time, I recognise that it has the potential to become one.

    Again, why is PIV (penis in vagina) considered “real sex” and everything else “foreplay” or some other patriarchal term that men created? Females have always known that PIV can be dangerous to women (unwanted pregnancy, HIV, VD, rape, etc). Still, men insist on it. Men certainly know about the dangers of PIV for women, but they still demand it. So, when Bev says, “There is nothing more conservative, reactionary, destructive and old-fashioned than for a woman to be fucked”, it’s more often true than not. I’m a lesbian, and I am not into PIV, but all women know about the dangers of PIV (penis in vagina) even straight women. Yes, it’s conservative (as in ancient and nothing exciting or new), reactionary, and destructive (VD, unwanted pregnancy, HIV).

    “I tend to see BDSM as a method by which the socio-sexual conditioning of a patriarchial society can be contained and ultimately structurally negated.”

    What kind of horse **it is this? I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but this is utter nonsense. In reality, BDSM doesn’t “structurally negate” anything. Instead, it props up and supports the degradation of women in a structured, systematic, and degrading ruthless manner. Statistically, most girls and women are victims of some form of sexual assault or incest. In BDSM, women who might have been victims of incest or rape, repeatedly replay their abuse. Could it be that BDSM (domination and submission) is the only thing these women know? Now, it’s somehow “therapeutic” to replay the base violation of their bodies and souls? Are you really this sick? Traumatized people don’t need more trauma.

    “What is required is compassion, love, and healing. These are the things women need, especially sexually used and abused women, not more of the poison, which is BDSM.”

    Very true.

    Like

  34. SheilaG says:

    Gail Dines had to address this idea that women “police” sex. Well, no women don’t control what world patriarchy defines as sex, men control this. Just as male porn dogs to create an addictive market for their porn. The comparison with anti-smoking groups is germaine here. We don’t get on people who object to smoking, we regard them as trying to protect public health, and prevent people from getting addicted to smoking.

    When you inflict pain on people during a sex act, your are causing brains to rewire. This isn’t sex, this is torture/addiction. I am glad some people are actually getting what Bev and I am writing about. There is a huge global industry for porn of all kinds, and the fueling of BDSM infiltration within the lesbian community, just like the trans lobby is infiltrating the lesbian community. There is a CONNECTION here wimmin.

    I’ve heard many young lesbians come to me complaining about things they are being expected to do sexually, and it is very common in large urban centers.

    PIV is dogma, and it is conservative and reactionary, because it serves male sexual entitlement to women’s bodies. To question this is key to all radical feminist discourse, because PIV is about males dominating women, and subjecting them to HIV, pregnancy etc. It’s why you NEVER hear conservative christian radio hosts tell men never to have PIV sex with women, and why they never blame men 100% for impregnating women. Het men should be banned from PIV period, and it should only be the woman’s choice 100%. Anything else is just status quo patriarchy.

    Women are abused all the time, women are raped as girls, women are put into prostitution.
    Lesbians and het women have been sexually harassed and traumatized since the beginning of patriarchy. Anyone, and I do mean ANYONE who defends BDSM or justifies it as a palliative for PTSD or as a way to deal with past abuse is NOT a doctor, and certainly doesn’t have healing in mind for women. You simply advocate more torture after the victims get out of Abu Gruabe.
    You are siding with the “father” of sadism itself, and lesbians don’t police male sexual degredatuion, we certainly don’t police sexuality at all, but we do object to harmful sick practices, just as we object to smoking in restaurants.

    Who makes money off of “Off Our Backs” and why was that lesbian magazine glossy back in the day? Who are the sadists within the lesbian community advocating and instructing an entire lesbian health conference on the use of dildos and sex toys, and portraying this as lesbian sexuality? Who makes money off of this stuff?

    To make love to a woman is a profoundly joyous experience, and requires no “male” objects at all. It is about touch, about connection, about a sharing of bodies in equality and happiness. The rest is patriarchal advertising and marketing. We need more love and compassion to help women heal for all the abuse. I’ve never heard a person say that a rape crisis center should have “rape programs” as a way to heal rape victims, for example. MORE child abuse to heal the previous child abuse, more heroine to heal the heroine addiction.

    Like

  35. Bev Jo says:

    I really agree. I just wanted to say that “off our backs” was the longtime feminist newspaper, while “On Our Back” was the “Lesbian” sado-masochist glossy magazine that certainly did look funded by the porn industry. And their right wing reactionary politics was so clear when they thought they were being clever by satirizing the feminist newspaper which was one of the longest-lasting in our movement.

    Like

  36. SheilaG says:

    You’re right Bev. It was “On Our Backs” that was the glossy lesbian porn magazine that made fun of “Off Our Backs” which was or is one of the oldest feminist newspapers in the U.S. The porn industry helped start the attack on feminism, and we are still suffering from this.
    Very rarely do you go to any lesbian conferences or even feminist conferences where porn is challenged.
    The dildo industry alone makes millions, and it is in the best interests of patriarchy to make sure women are controlled within S/M even in lesbian relationships.
    So we need to be aware of who profits from this, and why. It is not all about individual sexual choice, it is about a much larger system of female exploitation at work here. We can see this easily in the prostituting of women, the exploitation of children, but somehow when lesbians bring violence into the bedroom this is “freedom” or “power exchange” or any of the other very slick explanations for degredation.
    Co-opting the name of a respected feminist publication in the early 80s— I recall back in the day getting my first issue of “On Our Backs” in the mail. It just arrived. I was publishing an international feminist magazine back then, and corresponded with feminist editors and publishers all over the world. I was so horrified with this magazine, that it was the first lesbian publication I ever tore in half and threw away in the garbage can. Little did I realize how much porn, sleaze, BDSM and sex toys would be invading my beloved lesbian community. But speaking out now is powerful, because I think a lot of lesbians want sexual integrity and profound love in their lives. So we must stand up against the porn empire!!

    Like

  37. Ave says:

    The points you made about choice in sexuality are brilliant and refreshing to hear. I always found the insistence of people proclaiming “born this way” as too simplistic and not how things actually are

    Like

  38. SheilaG says:

    Yes Ave, I’ve always wondered where this rather recent political obsession of born that way comes from… Gay Male Inc. as political tactic to get the same patriarchal rights straight men get.
    It is actually not too common to meet lesbians who have never had sex with men. So this alone should tell us something about how long it often takes for women to figure out they truly love women in the first place. There is so much hetero-indoctrination out there trying to erase women’s true feelings about anything. I’d say it is very much a mix, between girls who choose to love girls, and not care about social consequences. Then there are girls who just get seduced into the hetero reward system, which is all encompassing 24/7. Since we do not have massive promotion of lesbian life and love in malestream worlds, the censorship of lesbian exisentence itself speaks volumes.

    Like

  39. Maggie says:

    There is so much hetero-indoctrination out there trying to erase women’s true feelings about anything. I’d say it is very much a mix, between girls who choose to love girls, and not care about social consequences. Then there are girls who just get seduced into the hetero reward system, which is all encompassing 24/7. Since we do not have massive promotion of lesbian life and love in malestream worlds, the censorship of lesbian exisentence itself speaks volumes.

    I totally agree, Sheila G. The het-mindedness that is poisoning the lesbian community is really unhealthy. And I hate how malestream society erases lesbian existence.

    BevJo:

    Thank you so much, Maggie! I appreciate your work too! Spread the word. I will keep adding to it as more info or need appears. Recently, a Lesbian tried to explain how her new girlfriend was less of a sado-masochist because she hadn’t been a sadist. I understand it being even more disturbing when a Lesbian has declared herself to be a sadist, but, sadly, from my own experience with trying to work politically in Radical Lesbian Feminist groups, the masochists end up being just as sadistic as the sadists. It’s a continuum, and once they embrace that whole dynamic to play with abuse, they cross the lines into non-consensuality.

    Thank you. 🙂 I agree with you that BDSM leads to a slippery slope into non-consensuality. How BDSM culture is forced upon us every day is itself not consensual. It’s also so scary to realise that there are some lesbian sadists. 😦

    Look, I understand you don’t like the Hub much but I am starting spreading the word on lesbian BDSM with my new series there. I hope you will at least go have a look at it, and keep looking as more posts (Part 2 and Part 3) will come out also there. Your work, your own analysis of lesbian BDSM, massively helped me. Thank you. 🙂

    Like

  40. Bev Jo says:

    Thank you too, Maggie! It’s not about “not liking” the Hub but not being sure how many Radical Feminists are being deliberately censored there and not referred to. There is so much re-writing of our female and Lesbian and feminist history by male historians, including some who identify as Lesbians. It’s upsetting when some of us who were the first to write about these issues, are not mentioned at all, either our books, articles or just existence. It does a disservice to feminists who do want to know our complete Radcial Feminist history and work.

    Even when we have differences, all of us who helped create Radical Feminism and who have written against sado-masochism should be listed.

    Anyway, it’s great to see you excellent article there! Thank you so much for writing it!!

    Like

  41. Maggie says:

    Thank you so much for commenting there anyway, and for your kind words. 🙂
    I agree that all important authors should be listed.

    Like

  42. Bev Jo says:

    Of course! You say such important things and I hope everyone reads what you’ve written. It’s so good how you say that for some, sado-masochism might feel good at the time (which is like other addictions), but then it can make Lesbians feel so much worse about themselves afterward, and of course it compounds past abuse.

    It’s such common sense that too many ignore. I see in parts of my community how it’s a trendy way to make other feel like they are not part of the in crowd and be excluded. That is quite sadistic too. But it’s also interesting how few act out as sadist in scenes, and one of the sadists I know is also one of the most fearful people I’ve ever met.

    Anyway, I really hope you can help some to stop and for others to just avoid the whole trap and con.

    Like

  43. Maggie says:

    Thank you very much, Bev Jo, for your kind words and encouragement. 🙂

    Like

  44. Bev Jo says:

    Thank you too, Maggie! You’re doing great work for all women.

    xoxo

    Like

  45. SheilaG says:

    Why is so much het -mindedness poisoning the lesbian community now? I’ve been thinking about this, because we aren’t really paying much attention to what kind of lesbians are in the lesbian community these days, or even acknowleging that we come from very different places sometimes.

    This even applies to women who are just coming out of the closet at age 70, for example, or women who were married to men until age 40.

    When we hear the word “lesbian” we still don’t know the baggage of het-normativity that many women bring into the community in an unexamined way.

    Usually you can tell by comments… one woman commented to me after a wonderful lecture by an incredible lesbian activist that she was hot, cute, sexy etc. I put my foot down immediately and told her to shut up with the sexist nonsense, but she acted like she didn’t even understand how offended I was. I had to just tell her to get the hell out of my sight, as I walked away— she is ex-het for sure!!!

    Do ex-het women ever bother to get a real lesbian education, or do they just think they have a right to bring hetero sex practices BDSM, porn etc. into the community without question?

    Like

  46. Pingback: Lesbian BDSM, part 2: Contemporary Lesbian Culture | Radfem Hub

  47. S. says:

    Since Audre Lorde is far more eloquent than I could ever be, I found a few of her comments online.

    “Without a rigorous and consistent evaluation of what kind of a future we wish to create, and a scrupulous examination of the expressions of power we choose to incorporate into all our relationships including our most private ones, we are not progressing, but merely recasting our own characters in the same old weary drama. . . . S/M is not the sharing of power, it is merely a depressing replay of the old and destructive dominant/subordinate mode of human relating and one-sided power, which is even now grinding our earth and our human consciousness into dust.”
    —Audre Lorde, “Letter to the Editor,”
    Gay Community News

    Interview with Lorde…

    leigh:
    How do you see the phenomenon of sadomasochism in the lesbian community?
    Audre:
    Sadomasochism in the lesbian-feminist community cannot be seen as separate from the larger economic and social issues surrounding our communities. It is reflective of a whole social and economic trend of this country. Sadly, sadomasochism feels comfortable to some people in this period of development. What is the nature of this allure? Why an emphasis on sadomasochism in the straight media? Sadomasochism is congruent with other developments going on in this country that have to do with dominance and submission, with disparate power—politically, culturally, and economically. The attention that Samois is getting is probably out of proportion to the representation of sadomasochism in the lesbian community. Because s/m is a theme in the dominant culture, an attempt to “reclaim” it rather than question it is an excuse not to look at the content of the behavior. For instance, “We are lesbians doing this extreme thing, and you’re criticizing us! ” Thus, sadomasochism is used to delegitimize lesbian feminism, lesbianism, and feminism.
    Leigh:
    So you’re saying that the straight media both helps amplify the phenomenon within the lesbian community and that they focus on lesbians in particular as a way of not dealing with the larger implications and the very existence of the phenomenon in the world?
    Audre:
    Yes. And because this power perspective is so much a part of the larger world, it is difficult to critique in isolation. As Erich Fromm once said, “The fact that millions of people take part in a delusion doesn’t make it sane.”
    Leigh:
    What about the doctrine of “live and let live” and civil liberties issues?
    Audre:
    I don’t see that as the point. I’m not questioning anyone’s right to live. I’m saying we must observe the implications of our lives. If what we are talking about is feminism, then the personal is political and we can subject everything in our lives to scrutiny. We have been nurtured in a sick, abnormal society, and we should be about the process of reclaiming ourselves as well as the terms of that society. This is complex. I speak not about condemnation but about recognizing what is happening and questioning what it means. I’m not willing to regiment anyone’s life, but if we are to scrutinize our human relationships, we must be willing to scrutinize all aspects of those relationships. The subject of revolution is ourselves, is our lives.
    Sadomasochism is an institutionalized celebration of dominant/subordinate relationships. And, it prepares us either to accept subordination or to enforce dominance. Even in play, to affirm that the exertion of power over powerlessness is erotic, is empowering, is to set the emotional and social stage for the continuation of that relationship, politically, socially, and economically.
    Sadomasochism feeds the belief that domination is inevitable and legitimately enjoyable. It can be compared to the phenomenon of worshipping a godhead with two faces, and worshipping only the white part on the full moon and the black part on the dark of the moon, as if totally separate. But you cannot corral any aspect within your life, divorce its implications, whether it’s what you eat for breakfast or how you say good-bye. This is what integrity means.
    Leigh:
    What about how Samois and other lesbian sadomasochists use the concept of power?
    Audre:
    The s/m concept of “vanilla” sex is sex devoid of passion. They are saying that there can be no passion without unequal power. That feels very sad and lonely to me, and destructive. The linkage of passion to dominance/subordination is the prototype of the heterosexual image of male-female relationships, one which justifies pornography. Women are supposed to love being brutalized. This is also the prototypical justification of all relationships of oppression—that the subordinate one who is “different” enjoys the inferior position.

    I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde
    ed by Rudolph P. Byrd, Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Beverly Guy-Sheftall
    2011
    http://radfem.org/
    (scroll on down)

    Like

  48. S. says:

    Pornography and BDSM can’t be separated from the particular period in history in which they grew and expanded, and slowly seeped into mainstream media. It’s no accident that pornography and BDSM seemed to explode during the decline of feminism in 1980s. With Ronald Regan in the U.S. and Margaret Thatcher in the U.K., neo-liberalism with its rapacious form of capitalism swept the globe. Income inequality greatly increased in industrialized countries. Labor unions were dismantled. If you haven’t watched this video, listen to Gail Dine’s “Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism”.

    Jeffreys on the power of global sex industry…

    In 2007 a website which reviews technology for the web, including Internet filter systems, Top Ten Reviews, collated information from a number of sources on the size and worth of the pornography industry. Pornography revenue for the US was estimated at $13.33 billion, which is higher than the total revenue of the media corporations ABC, NBC and CBS. Top Ten Reviews estimated that the industry was worth US$97.06 billion worldwide, which is more than the combined revenue of the top ten web technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon (Top Ten Reviews, 2007). In 2007 there were 4.2 million porn websites, which constituted 12 per cent of all websites, and 420 million web pages of pornography. Internet sales of porn were estimated to be worth $4.9 billion. By country, the largest number of pornography webpages originated in the US, with 244,661,900, followed by Germany, with 10,030,200, the UK, with 8,506,800, Australia, with 5,655,800, Japan, with 2,700,800, the Netherlands, with 1,883,800, Russia, with 1,080,600, Poland, with 1,049,600, and Spain, with 852,800. In Denmark pornography is estimated to be the third largest industry in financial terms, and Richard Poulin points out that the country was the cradle of the ‘sexual revolution’ which decensored pornography and ushered in the commercialization of women’s sexual subordination (Poulin, 2005, p. 108). European Internet users paid 70 per cent of the US$364 million they spent in 2001 on pornography (ibid.). The number of hardcore pornography titles produced increased from 1,300 in 1988 to 12,000 in 2004 and 13,588 in 2005 (Top Ten Reviews, 2007). The big mainstream pornography distribution companies had considerable incomes. Playboy earned US $331,100,000 in 2006, for instance, and Beate Uhse earned US $271 million. The part of the industry that resides in the San Fernando Valley in Hollywood was estimated to be worth US$1 billion in 2006 (Barrett, 2007).

    The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade
    by Sheila Jeffreys
    2008

    Like

  49. Bev Jo says:

    I agree, but was upset with Gail’s use of the academic term “neo-liberal” (which means the opposite to most people in common usage)0 to describe Reagan and Thatcher, who were right wing. Gail explained elsewhere why the term is accurate, but considering how people who didn’t live through Reagan and Thatcher literally causing the deaths of thousands are now believing media lies about how wonderful they were, it is important to talk in language that people understand. By what most of us understand “liberal” to be, they were the opposite — thinly disguised nazis — and the damage they did must never be forgotten. Our Lesbian history is being re-written by men, and now so is our national history. No one with any sense should ever laud Reagan or Thatcher. They were fucking evil. And we are still feeling the effects.

    Like

    • Lizzy Shaw says:

      Neo-liberal might be an accurate term, but it is true that what most people associate with the word “liberal” is very different from Reagan and Thatcher. It is disgusting that now people are portraying them as great. Thatcher was so right-wing and caused so much damage to the UK that even she even feel out of favor with her own political party (similar to how George W. Bush is the Voldemort for the Republicans. They don’t like to talk about him.) Reagan and Thatcher destroyed labor unions and caused widespread economic depression so that their rich friends could get tax breaks and have more people to exploit. I wasn’t around yet when Reagan was president, but I sure don’t believe that he was a great leader. My parents and my aunt used to tell me how he fucked up the economy.

      Like

      • Bev Jo says:

        It’s bizarre how Thatcher and Reagan are now called “neo-liberal” because at the time, they were called “conservative” or for those more honest, “right wing,” which is what republicans and Tories are.

        Both did terrible things and we are still feeling the effects. Thatcher seemed in charge, but Reagan had to be just a puppet, like all the presidents seemed to be. He was a joke at first, but not what he ended up doing. He clearly had dementia even while president, and there is a video of him as president welcoming Princess Diana, but calling her “Princess David.” Someone must have said something because then he looked really annoyed and then said, “Princess Diane.” Scary really. He also said all the Redwoods should be cut down, because “If you’ve seen one Redwood, you’ve seen them all.”

        He was first governor of California and stopped the free state universities. We also began to lose our California health care. So much changed.

        Like

  50. Pingback: Lesbian BDSM, part 3: BDSM and the Prevention of Revolution | Radfem Hub

  51. Pingback: Lesbian BDSM, part 2: Contemporary Lesbian Culture | Liberation Collective

  52. Pingback: Lesbian BDSM, part 3: BDSM and the Prevention of Revolution | Liberation Collective

  53. JJ says:

    Beautiful article. I’m just getting into radical feminism and I’m very ignorant about BDSM and things like it, so I appreciate your words. You have really opened my eyes. I sincerely thank you.

    Just one thing I disagree with: All women can choose to be lesbian. I think many (and, possibly, most) women have innate romantic and/or sexual attraction to women, but not all women have that. I’m one of them.

    I am asexual (and possibly aromantic i.e. not romantically attracted to others), which means that I do not find people sexually attractive and do not desire sex. (In fact, I’m the type of asexual who is repulsed by sex and it is one of the main reasons I am a lifelong celibate).

    I think it’s possible for me to be romantically attracted to women (I don’t know because I have trouble understanding the difference between friendship love and romantic love), but I couldn’t make myself sexually attracted to women even if I tried.

    I know you mentioned celibate women and I appreciate that, but please keep in mind that there are asexual and/or aromantic women out there as well.

    Again, thank you. Your words make me more confident in myself and my womanhood.

    Like

    • Bev Jo says:

      Thank you so much!

      I do think we would all feel love, be in love with other girls and later women from when young. It certainly makes sense to not feel any attraction than to feel it with males, but since most girls are sexually assaulted and all are sexually harassed, that can make us shut down in many ways. I was always in love with girls, but didn’t think it was “sexual” since I associated that with porny hetness. The passionate in love feelings did just lead to lovemaking with my first lover though.

      Again, I understand very much feeling repulsed by “sex” as it’s presented to us in this porny, female-hating patriarchy. I certainly feel more kinship with you than with women who have made themselves attracted to males….

      Like

  54. JJ says:

    You’re welcome! While the patriarchy doesn’t help with my feelings about sex, I’m just naturally repulsed by it. (Like I can empathize with non-porny lesbian love-making, it’s just “gross” to imagine myself participating in any sexual activity. Sex just doesn’t make “sense” to my brain.)

    I’m honored that you feel kinship with me. 😀 Thank you for sharing your story/experiences/opinions with me. I appreciate all of the work you have done and continue to do.

    Like

    • Bev Jo says:

      I think it makes sense to be repulsed by “sex” as patriarchy defines it. Really. They go at us from our earliest memories to separate mind and spirit from body since that makes it easier to prey on girls and women. When they haven’t interferred and girls naturally fall in love, then it all flows.

      But the constant bombardment of het propaganda through the media and even in “feminist” groups and media, continues that disconnect. I really understand. It’s almost impossible to get away from it. I remember hating MS magazine when I would read it years ago because it always had these grotesque pornographic het stories which was typical among het feminists. Horrible propaganda for girls trying to explore if there were other options to being sexual with men.

      Thanks for the support!

      Like

  55. Lizzy Shaw says:

    “The right wing’s attitude is that we don’t deserve equal rights because we are choosing to be queer, so gay male and now mainstream Lesbians’ answer is that “We would of course choose to be het like you if we could, but we’re just pathetic queers who have no choice, so please give us equal rights.” It’s a politics based on shame and pity, not pride and self-love, like Lesbian Feminism.”

    Exactly! You know, I always thought that the born-this-way crap was kind of pathetic and self-hating. I always hear stuff like “gay pride” and “I’m proud to be queer” yet this technique of begging for rights is pathetic. I wouldn’t choose to be heterosexual, and if I was “innately heterosexual” I would just be celibate because I don’t want to deal with obnoxious men. The irony is that the “born-this-way” crowd is a big proponent of the Cotton Ceiling nowadays, along with other rapey bullshit that pressures women to at least be bisexual. They fail to see the contradiction of insisting that sexual orientation is fixed while insisting that lesbians examine their sexual preferences until they feel guilty-tripped enough to fuck men (particularly male woman-impersonators). And the thing is, I do think most girls grow up liking girls. I know het women who admit to liking other girls when they were young, but who decided to give the previously hated boys with cooties a try once they hit puberty and the pressure to be “normal” intensified. I think being a lesbian is the most natural thing and that many women just end up forcing themselves to like men.

    As for the S/M stuff, I agree. That stuff about Joan Kelly was just cringeworthy, and I don’t get so easily grossed out. None of what she does sounds empowering; she sounds like a broken person who desperately needs professional help. (Although, that might not end well since the medical establishment is full of sadists.) I am not surprised that people into the BDSM or S/M, or whatever you want to call it are into pushing boundaries with their friends or people who aren’t into it. They say that what goes on in their bedroom is not anyone’s business, but they always bring it up in public or try to pull S/M stuff on their friends because it’s all about the boundary violations. There are a few blogs on tumblr that criticize BDSM and the people (all or almost all women) get tons of messages from kinksters going on and on about their sex life. The thing is, all the blogs I bumped into were run by women who had been in BDSM groups before and who suffered abuse, and they also get a lot of messages from other women and occasionally men who had to deal with it.

    I think you are the first person I’ve seen to outright compare BDSM groups to a cult and to the trans cult, but there are a lot of similarities. Many people who left BDSM groups or relationships and who now criticize them mention mindscrew techniques that are like cults. The “vanilla” thing is annoying and it does involve naming people (usually women) without consent, just like the term “cis”. Kinksters do not have an oppressed sexual orientation. There have been cases where men have gotten away with raping and/or beating up their girlfriends or wives by claiming it was part of a consensual BDSM sx-game. It sounds like a lot of privilege to me if the domestic violence laws don’t apply to you because you’re crying “consensual BDSM”. The idea that these people promote the importance of consent is laughable.

    Like

  56. Lizzy Shaw says:

    I wanted to add that I agree that BDSM is like an addiction. That’s why people participating in it keep escalating it. It’s like using drugs where you need a higher and higher doses, which would kill non-addicts. I also think it’s sad how many alphabet soup, “feminist” organizations, and websites like tumblr encourage participation in BDSM to heal from past abuse. It’s especially bad when it’s suggested to young people who don’t know any better. Talk about grooming. Why not encourage abuse survivors to deal with it in a way that doesn’t involve re-traumatizing them?

    It does not surprise me that your ex-friend is more loyal to Pat Califia than to radical feminism due to the mentality behind it. So, you speaking about Pat Califia’s Neo-Nazi behavior was worse than what she actually did. It’s a classic reversal, like how talking about racism, sexism, and lesbian-hatred, naming and calling it out, is seen as worse than actually experiencing these things. Anyway, Califia sounds like an awful person so I’ll know to get the hell away from anyone who likes her. All that porn she wrote sounds disgusting too.

    With the trans cult, I’ve seen the bootlicker handmaidens support some pretty disgusting men who they would have probably not gone anywhere near had they not had the speshul trans identity. (Like that guy posting “terf” lists who raped his girlfriend and said it was okay because she was racist,) That’s why cults are bad and why I’m suspicious of radical feminists who seem to be trying to have followers and be a star.

    Like

  57. Pingback: Still pissed off | Bureaucromancy

  58. Pingback: The TERF Laundry List of Hate! | Bureaucromancy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s