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BDSM & Me

It's not surprising that most of the women out there who are against BDSM (henceforth called sadopatriarchy a la demonista have experiences with it. And by "experiences" I mean that they've gone past, "oh, that orgasm felt so good" and went to everything underneath and everything around them that caused them to be that way.

For me, I was in training to be a "submissive" - i.e. a Feminine Woman - long, long before I had seen a scrap of pornography. My entire life was one long training period; from my mother telling me that my fingers "were like little sausages" and taking me to Weight Watchers (dieting is inherently self-mutilating, in my opinion), to reading "erotic" rape scenes in Anne McCaffery's Dragonriders of Pern series, to being told at the age of 13 that I needed to wear a bra because the boys in my focus group were looking down my shirt (gawd forbid that they not look!), to finally being introduced to pornography by accident.

Before I go on, you must understand that the hatred of women is everywhere. It's in fucking children's fantasy novels, for fuck's sake. I didn't want a Barbie until I went to Kindergarten - and it never occurred to me consciously that a woman would want to look like that (I preferred dressing my Barbies up in bright colours). But it is especially virulent in that domain that men so fiercely defend - pornography.

I started off pretty innocuously. I found pornography on the internet by accident; my brother came downstairs to tell me about a PSA about anorexia, and he told me to go to "ana.com". I mistook his words and, with the naivete of a presexual 11-year-old, misspelled the name.

What we found wasn't directly about anorexia, though it probably has contributed to causing the eating disorder in many girls. In any case, I called my mother downstairs and she reassured me. I closed the window and went on with my life.

But I went back to it. While Googling, I found a hardcore pornography page through a Sailor Moon page, and, fascinated, looked around. It was a pay site. That didn't stop me - I knew how to type, obviously, so I just used the buzzwords I found there and went Googling for other sites. I found them.

This is where it starts to get fuzzy. I remember reading and viewing "tame" rape scenes - you know, the one where the rape victim ends up loving it - of the kind that litter mainstream pornography. I remember going to a site that was specifically geared towards men who wanted to see women being hurt by extremely large penises. Because of the innocuous, routine conditioning I had been immersed in throughout my life, I didn't find it disturbing like I did the first and second times I stumbled upon pornography. No. I masturbated to it.

But the thing is, when radfems say that it's a desensitisation system - where you need to go harder and harder to get your fix - they're not fucking kidding, and they're not fucking lying. I escalated from being a curious watcher of pornography to being an addict at the age of 13. I'm not kidding; I was masturbating as often as I could. And in part I think this was because of how all addictions work - there's something missing in your life. I was missing love, recognition, admiration - all the things that humans and many other animals need so dearly.

Except that there's a catch. With pornography - and other, more obviously chemical addictions - the drug (orgasm, cocaine) gives you such a different experience that it creates that feeling of loss/missing. It creates that feeling of something not being right, not being there. That's the trick, see? The more you use it, the more it just so happens that, when you come back to your life - your real life, not the fake one you live through fantasies and pictures and videos - you're dissatisfied with it. The more you fall into the addiction, the worse your life is, and the more easily it is to fall into the addiction.

Something that I'm sure many of the current and former pornography addicts will recognise is that addictions - pornography addictions, too - actually sabotage your relationships. If your friends and SO aren't users, you drift apart; if they are, your relationship becomes totally based on the addiction and devoid of anything else.

In any case, my life got shallower and shallower, revolving more and more around pornography, until I got shocked out of it. I was 13, and didn't have my own computer - I had been using my dad's laptop. Well, he wanted it back, so I panicked. I deleted the history I could and eventually removed IE from the computer. I don't know if he found out about what/who I had been looking at (I was aroused by bestiality at that point), because he never said anything. I still don't know.

I stopped looking at pornography, point-blank. I couldn't take the risk anymore. I stopped masturbating because I had other things to do and I was no longer looking at pornography. What's strange - and what, for me, casts doubt on everything guys say about men being more sexual and/or visual - is that, without pornography, sex became totally unimportant again. I was completely, utterly uninterested in it. And I think that, in part, was a defense mechanism - offering me a little time to heal.

I didn't heal enough to escape the "sub" phase I went through. I found a boy, Cody. I was depressed because I was being used as a plaything (non-sexual) by one of my friends. He told me he wanted to save me, and I was out of my right mind enough to see that as acceptable/good rather than a huge fucking warning sign (thank you, Patriarchy!). We decided we would be boyfriend and girlfriend. Completely uninterested in sex with men - and somehow not considering lesbianism to be valid despite being raised in an extremely progressive family - I found http://asexuality.org and the light went on - I must be asexual! (For the record, asexuality exists. I was just traumatised - yes, traumatised - by pornography so much that, as a coping mechanism, I shut down my sexuality.) Thinking that, well, it didn't matter to me if I had sex since I didn't find it repulsive, I went along with what Cody want.

A little backstory on Cody. He was, at the time (I don't speak to him anymore) a hardcore pornography addict. He liked rape scenes, sapphic (i.e. lesbian-for-pay) scenes, and young girls. He claimed that, because it was hentai (a Japanese-style form of drawn pornography) he liked to see the young girls in, not "actual" porn, he wasn't a pedophile. He said he wanted to be with me forever, to have me support the both of us using writing, that he would "really, really like it" if I let him stick his penis into me without a condom, and that he would "convert" me from asexuality. You get the picture.

So I dived into the relationship, my warning bells so muffled by this time that I didn't feel anything was wrong whatsoever. We got into a BDSM relationship, and no, not any more abusive than most BDSM relationships are. He told me I was beautiful, so I said "yes". There was no bloodspilling, guns, anything you would think of as a weapon, no hitting - at least, "none that I didn't want." I chose to be a submissive, I told myself and others. I chose this. I had been deluded by the popular pro-pornography rhetoric that we live in a world where women can have a free choice. We don't. None of us do. And that may not be a bad thing, theoretically, since no humans have a free choice because they are constructed not just by themselves but by the words and actions of others. In the case of a sexist society, it's very, very bad.

And it gets fuzzy again. I'm told that not being able to recall things like this is a part of trauma; I rarely, if ever, thought of it as trauma, so I wouldn't know. I do know that, about six months after I pulled myself away from pornography, I was tested by a psychologist, and the results were that I was a chronically traumatised child. (This probably wasn't just pornography. It was probably traditional schooling, too.)

I remember a belt. I remember making breakfast for Cody. There's some more stuff, but I can't remember it easily. They say it's burned into your brain.. well, that's not exactly true. I can hardly remember at all.

When I was raped, I was so appalled/shocked/hurt/devastated - on top of everything else - that Cody didn't seem to care that I broke up with him. I received an apology for his actions several days later. I didn't, couldn't respond. We left it at that.

So. After I was raped - not wanting ANYONE else to know, and I didn't even know the fucker's name - I couldn't fantasise about that again. I couldn't for the life of me find BDSM arousing, because it had been used to hurt me in such a blatant way that I couldn't ignore it any longer.

It's been four years - almost five, now - and I still don't understand everything that went on. I was just fucking 15. I couldn't understand. I didn't have the capacity to. And yet, it didn't strike me, even years later, until I found some antipornography blogs and pages - Always Causing Legal Unrest, for example - how tied up pornography was in that. That's when I really started thinking instead of parroting - when I looked around and said, "hey, that relationship really hurt me." I said, "hey, I didn't know I was being hurt." And eventually I said, "hey, I participated in my own abuse. What if others.."

That is why I can never - EVER - condemn a woman for "getting herself into trouble." That's why I can't condemn her for liking BDSM, or getting off to pornography, or anything like that. I can tell her, "That's Patriarchal thinking," but I can't tell her, "You're a tool of the Patriarchy." Because, when it comes down to it, I was there too. I was her too, at one point in time. I've been there. I've seen the decor. And I've come back from it.

And ultimately, it's the men who perpetrate it. It's the men - adult men - who are the ones buying, abusing, using, and throwing away women's bodies. It's the men who are teaching little girls that this is hot and if you want a man (and you need a man to be happy, little girl!), you need to act like this.

Patriarchy doesn't require that women not have sex. It just requires that women do what men want - have sex all the time, have no sex, have sex only when her "owner" wants to.

And you know, there are so many stories worse than mine, they'd make you vomit.

That's why I'm a radical Feminist.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
demonista
Sep. 30th, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this. You are doing wonders to further my understanding of subordination, porn, feminism, eating disorders, etc. I'm really glad your back, and, again, thank you. Reading this made me cry, but it needs to be said, again and again.
captainvanille
Oct. 1st, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
You're very welcome! It's been a part of my life's journey to learn to NEVER shut up - which isn't surprising, given that I was the quiet one, the one who never said anything to other students because I had my head in a book all the time. I wanted to ESCAPE my life, not live it!

Fortunately that's passed, now - in part thanks to the school I transferred to, which allowed me to grow and speak and BE HEARD rather than ignored and dismissed.

Now, eating disorders.. Hmm. Well, I explain some of the phenomenon in my Food, Death chapter that I sent you just now. But I developed a full-blown eating disorder AFTER I had become a radfem - my girlfriend had just broken up with me, and due to other circumstances in our former relationship, I was left feeling unbeautiful again, literally for the first time in years. One part I didn't put in the post is that I fantasised so much about being fucked (I wouldn't call it "making love" by any stretch of the phrase) because I felt I wasn't wanted; that I was ugly; that I was unlovable. Imagining myself being fucked didn't go against that deep indoctrination - and honestly, I might have gone crazy if it had, because I just wasn't able to cope with my life at all at the time - but it DID let me fantasise about being wanted for SOMETHING - even if it WAS just my body.

And you know what? To this day, no verbal compliment means more to me than, "You're beautiful!" - because I grew up hating my body and ignoring it totally in favour of my mind.
(Deleted comment)
captainvanille
Oct. 1st, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I get that. It's the same with me a lot. I think that, more than the fact that we're trained into alternate personalities for the pleasure of men - i.e. he will want this, I must give it to him or I will be hurt or alone - we're told that relationships are "boring" without "kinkiness". For some reason, Western and Western-influenced cultures have completely lost the idea that loving sex or sexuality is hot - I think it has to do with the same sort of addiction/desensitisation that I talked about in my post. It is, almost absurdly so, easy to get into that frame of mind - at least for women - where you have to have something sharper, more cutting than just pleasure. You have to have something that hurts and shocks while it pleases.

I think another part of it is that women's selves are stomped on from the moment they're born. It's probable that, even as infants, girlchildren are made to wait longer for need-satisfaction than boychildren (though I don't know if there's any studies to back my hunch up). We're trained, in pornography and in the general culture, to stomp on ourselves whenever that self's needs would interfere with another's - particularly a man's. (Women are usually fair play, for some reason I'm still figuring out.) We go into self-denial mode whenever we're faced with aforementioned man's needs.

So yeah, I getcha. Maybe my interpretation is a little different than yours, but I getcha.

I'm glad I got out when I did, too. I'm sure that, if I didn't, I wouldn't be nearly where I am now; writing books, starting organisations to help others, making pamphlets, etc. etc. I might even be dead, figuratively if not literally - but then again, humans are really, really fucking persistent when it comes down to it. So, I dunno. It could've gone either way. I'm happy with the way things went, though.
(Deleted comment)
captainvanille
Dec. 7th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
You don't - especially not the SEVERAL levels of it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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