Equality My Ass

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

I was given a challenge today. And I can’t resist a challenge. Ms Dzerins, at the end of a twitter exchange about sex, submission, feminism and power, asked me to write a post recommending she takes it up the arse.

This was as a result of us reading this article in Psychology Today:


The article is basically saying women don’t have a good time in the bedroom (with men presumably, as Psychology Today, and its feminist critics it seems, are nothing if not heteronormative), because they have gained too much ‘equality’ in society to enjoy their ‘natural’ submissive sex role. There were rats and stuff, and evolutionary psychology about women being the hunted, men the hunter etc etc. It’s not really my thing, to be honest, though I do acknowledge that sex and power are as ancient and as rooted in primal urges as we are as a species.

But. The article ended with an interesting point:

‘So what’s a loving couple committed to equality, consensus, and mutual compromise to do? Negotiating sexual politics has always been difficult, but paradoxically the laudable and necessary victories of gender equality activism might make it even more challenging. We’re all figuring out how to live in the first society in human history where women have such power, independence, and clout. But just as democracy has no effect on our basic taste preferences for sugar and fat, democracy doesn’t affect our basic sexual preferences for domination and submission.’

I agree. Domination and submission are how sex works. They are, really, how life works. But we have found ways of negotiating power in society so that we are not always submitting, if we are lucky, or not always dominating (unless we are really lucky). In sex, have we found ways of negotiating power? Of course. Some of us switch, even within long-term-relationships. Some of us have multiple partners. Some of us are single and versatile.

And some of us are feminists.

What do feminists do with power in the bedroom? Now I can’t answer that as I have never been in bed with a feminist. But if they are to be believed. The ones who talk about sex apart from as an abstract concept that is. If they are to be believed, feminists who like to be submissive in bed, separate their sex life from the rest of their relationship dynamics, and the rest of their ‘real life’. Some feminists I talk to seem to compensate for their submissiveness by being frankly bossy in ‘real life’. They seem like they would be the dominant partner in their relationships whether at home, at work or in other social situations.

The video at the top of this post is by a gay man. A gay man who is mainly submissive I think. His advice is the same as mine. If you have an issue with ‘power’. Which we ALL do. Then one good way (maybe, even, the only surefire way)  to get over your insecurities about power, in terms of your sexual identity and your identity as a person, is to bend over, relax, and take it up the arse.

For me, ‘submission’ is not just a fun thing I do at weekends in Anne Summers gear. It is not something I switch on and off at will. I know this will sound totally wanky to any but the most sympathetic ears. But for me, ‘submission’ is actually a political act.

That’s why the ‘irony’ of those nasty comments about my submissiveness in relation to the ‘dozy shit’ debarcle really hit home. Because they had an element of truth in them.  My submissiveness is an aspect of how I communicate, even online. My willingness to ‘take it’, my desire to have people to look up to (they know who they are), my ability to endure quite a lot of ‘beatings’, my lack of resistance to being ‘shown up’ or ‘exposed’, my openness and vulnerability, are all aspects of my sexual self.  I am not saying that all dominants are arseholes. Or that being ‘submissive’ in discourse is always a good idea, and not without the potential for being manipulative, and, an arsehole.

But, as Foucault has said, so I paraphrase, the only ethical thing to do with power is to give it up.

So give it up, feminists. Really. I don’t care who with, or how. Whether it is figurative or real. Whether it is via a strap-on or a dick, or an admission that you are wrong, or a lesson you learn from someone older, and/or more knowledgeable than you. But however you take it, try for once in your lives to concede power willingly and lovingly to another human being.

And then we can maybe sit down and have a conversation, as ‘equals’.

  1. Aaron says:

    As Roissy points out somewhere (http://roissy.wordpress.com if you’re not familiar), observe a bunch of couples holding hands throughout the day and notice, without variation, whose hand is always on top. BOOM.

  2. Tim says:

    Interesting post and nice pun in the title !

  3. Alex says:

    Didn’t you have a twitter rant a while ago about how taking it up the arse isn’t necessarily a submissive act, and straight men who consider themselves dominant should order their missus to peg them.

    It must be confusing having all that interesting pervy stuff in your head.

  4. H says:

    Would you say the same thing to anyone struggling with the idea of being dominated or is this advice just for feminists? How about a macho het guy? Does he need to “give it up”? (I’d be interested to know if what Alex suggests is true.)

    Bumming and feminism are not opposed in my book. In fact, I reckon they compliment each other very nicely in their rebellion against heteronormativity! I’d also suggest that being on the receiving end during anal sex is not necessarily an act of submission. It hasn’t been for me anyway. For a start, I can sit on top of my partner and use my hands to guide his cock in but I’d suggest that the physical “ins and outs” matter far less than how the act is framed by the people doing it. It seems to me that the comments from Natalie are rather convenient for any anti-feminist because they perpetuate the idea that feminists (much like conventional society) see anal sex as some humiliating and gross act that can only possibly be consented to as an act of submission.

    • Hi H
      I think the dude in the video answers your question better than I could. He says yes a bumming would benefit anyone who perceives themselves as ‘dominant’. And a bumming that involves being ‘bottom’. Not just as Alex suggests one that is all about ordering your partner to bum you. But that is actually harder than it sounds I think!

      And yes, I think a lot of feminists are in tune with convention in seeing anal as something humiliating and gross. Another good reason why they should try it!

      • Alex says:

        I guess if it wasn’t for the feminisation trope and the tedious FHM idea of anal as conquest, it’d be quite easy to see bottoming as a dominant act. After all, it’s a pretty solid expression of power to tell someone “pleasure me somewhere stinky”.

  5. H says:

    While I agree that there are some feminists who obviously do think in that way, I also know plenty who don’t (with the latter group covering a wide range of preferences, right from not being particularly fussed with the act but not demonising it to being really into it).

  6. H says:

    @Alex. Exactly 😉

  7. Gs says:

    “With these reflections I worked my mind up, not only to a resignation to the will of God in the present disposition of my circumstances, but even to a sincere thankfulness for my condition; . . .” Daniel Defoe, ‘Robinson Crusoe’ http://www.online-literature.com/view.php/crusoe/9?term=resignation

    One of my favorite quotes, ever. Not to get to religious but, I think you can see the relevancy to ‘submissiveness’ and ‘ giving up the power.’

  8. H says:

    I’m not sure if I would agree with that. I’m not religious myself but I know quite a lot of other feminists who are. It seems to me that feminists these days would see it as misguided to cast religion as the enemy. (One could say I’m a liberal feminist in some respects but I tend to balk a little at the term, as it’s always struck me as a bit wishy washy.)

  9. Quote:
    “the only ethical thing to do with power is to give it up”

    Oh god, that was absolutely orgasmic. That might be the best quote I’ve ever heard in my life. WTB bumper sticker.

    • 😀 thanks EE. It is my words, paraphrasing a phrase by Foucault about how the only way to deal with power ethically is to think about the needs/perspectives of other people. But I like my version best.

  10. elissa says:

    I’m sure anything is possible – though it seems that being on the tail end sure feels more submissive, regardless of who is waving the baton. We’ve heard insults towards gay men: fudge packers, and certainly, the “discomfort” reinforces who is the submissive, and for less gay men who take part/experiment, it’s probably even more pronounced. Intellectually, you would think the one sticking their thing in the fudge should wear the submissive hat. Was just thinking about was @H was saying above, and I’m having some trouble visualizing it.

  11. I don’t associate anal with ‘humiliation’ per se at all. In fact I think it can be a very loving act indeed.

    But I still think the ‘taking it’, the giving over to someone else, is most pronounced via anal sex. I know people can do it in different positions etc. But the people who avoid anal are avoiding it in all its formats. For these people in particular, the act is submissive (and they think it is humiliating), symbolically if nothing else.

  12. Mark says:

    I was a tad distracted watching the clip by the thought that if Davey Wavey had spent less on his furniture he might have been able to afford a shirt. That aside, I think he makes a good point. And I say that as a more or less full time top.

    Couples who walk down the street hand in hand annoy me because they expect single people to walk in the fucking road because they’re… SO IN LOVE!!! I never bother to look at who’s hand is ‘on top’, I’m too busy aiming my shoulder between them.

    • I knew you’d notice his decor Mark. And his…decor.

      Hand holding is for pussies. I walk down the street with my (imaginary) partner in a collar and leash.

      • Alex says:

        Shit submissive you are.

        I’m with Mark that Davey should put his nipples away.

        • I doubt Mark was objecting to the nipple factor. I think he was just making a funny remark about a man selling his clothes to pay for his swanky appartment.

          As for me being a shit submissive. Maybe the time has come for people to stop using my openness about my sexuality to make cheap quips about MY sexuality. Thanks.

  13. redpesto says:

    “Some feminists I talk to seem to compensate for their submissiveness by being frankly bossy in ‘real life’. ”

    *Sigh* – I think this is one reason why female submissives keep getting such a hard time: the ‘logical’ ‘feminist’ role to have is dominant (because Women Are Powerful; it’s Payback for the Patriarchy, or whatever). It’s not ‘compensation’ for whatever one does outside of the bedroom, or a way of aligning a sex life with a set of political beliefs; it’s how you like to fuck (or ‘run the fuck’).

    As for anal sex as a metaphor, Mark ‘Shopping and Fucking’ Ravenhill called time on that one years ago, as did ‘Deliverance’ before that.

    PS: QRG – ever read A Defence of Masochism (Anita Phillips, I think)? Very good, though it doesn’t really explain male masochism very well – and that goes much further than ‘taking it up the ass’.

    • Redpesto- your tone is a little bit dismissive of my post. I am sure I have had something to add to Mark Shopping and Fucking Ravenhill’s ideas. Not that I have ever read him.

      I havent read A Defence of Masochism-only Mark Simpson’s critique of it.

      I think all masochism goes further than taking it up the ass.

  14. redpesto says:

    Sorry – it was probably more your precis of the Psychologies article: the red mist comes down when I read stuff like There were rats and stuff, and evolutionary psychology about women being the hunted, men the hunter– not least because you’re correct to point out that In sex, have we found ways of negotiating power? Of course. Some of us switch, even within long-term-relationships. Some of us have multiple partners. Some of us are single and versatile..

    • Well if you want to offer a more careful and generous precis of the article (somewhere else) please feel free. As far as I could see it was mainly a load of baloney! It was also heteronormative so it only referred to heterosexual dynamics. Maybe because homosexuality does not fit so easily into the You Tarzan, Me Jane, narrative of evolutionary psychology?

  15. 2020 says:

    Excuse me for being a bit slow on the uptake but the general message of the post is there’s nothing weak about being submissive is that right?* Because if thats what you’re saying then you. Power is a really nasty thing I don’t like it, I’m not comfortable having it, I find that people who do have it tend to abuse it. Whether it be to silence debate or speaking of my personal life to make me feel ashamed of myself for caring about another human being. Not everyone with power does this there are people in real life I know and people online whose blogs I read who have a good handle on how much power they have and use it wisely but it can be addictive, it can make you unwilling to see things from another perspective. That’s why I like you QRG you care about people, you want to understand them, you’re very powerful but in a good way.

    * I know in the long run more complex than that but thats what I took from it anyway

  16. Todd says:

    Why do you keep tweeting/boasting about high profile feminists who’ve apparently blocked you? Holding them up like trophies just makes you look like an insecure attention seeker.

    For someone who claims to be so over feminism, you spend an awful lot of time reflecting on what feminists might think of you. Who cares whether feminists like you or not? Why validate yourself on that basis?

  17. H says:

    But, as Foucault has said, so I paraphrase, the only ethical thing to do with power is to give it up.

    So give it up, feminists.

    This view of power from Foucault makes perfect sense* but throwing it out there to feminists as a whole seems rather skewed to me. It’s excellent advice for those who actually have a shitload of privilege and obviously there are plenty of women (some of them feminists) out there for whom that is the case. After all, anyone in an oppressed group can have privilege in other ways and the benefits from that can potentially give that person power over others. No-one’s denying the success feminism has had but there are still sexism against women out there so it seems to me that telling feminists as a whole to “give it up” amounts to telling a number of women to give up defence mechanisms that were a response to a lack of power in the first place.

  18. H says:

    * Would you be able to flag up what text this view somes from? I’d really like to read more 🙂

  19. H says:

    (“somes” = “comes”!)

  20. H says:

    Also meant to say “there *is* sexism,” not “there *are* sexism”!

  21. Clare says:

    I think this would-be-clever aphorism falls down too but I expect some people will disagree with this and will say the tide has turned and women rule the world these days or possibly even that “they always have”. Good luck with that delusion.

  22. Clare says:

    “Blocked by @KatBanyard author of The Equality Illusion TROLL STRIKEOUT! did they have a meeting?”

    Yes, the entire UK feminist movement held a special meeting ALL ABOUT YOU, QRG. That’ll be it.

    Just had a look at your discussion at sian and crooked rib. Funny how you only ever mention the feminists who decide not to engage with you. Damn those who don’t ban you! They’re raining on your parade!

  23. Clare says:

    That must be a relief for you.

    • No it’s not. I shared her post on twitter today as it is a subject I am interested in and I dont like this atmosphere of not being able to discuss gender issues openly.

      I understand the point you are making. This is because you make it over and over and over again. Maybe I am a hypocrite, an anti-feminist, a bitch, whatever. But you need a new point this one is boring.

  24. Clare says:

    Well, I certainly didn’t call you a bitch but I’m glad you understand the point I am making. You don’t need me to tell you you’re an anti-feminist so I’m not. The hypocrite charge seems to need repeating but no-one’s perfect so that’s okay.

    It looked to me like Sian was discussing the issues pretty openly with you on her blog. However, I’ll take your word for it that she has had had the cheek not to allow you into every single thread or space she occupies so you can keep making your own points over and over again! How dare she hamper your steady stream of input in these topics!

  25. AlekNovy says:

    Sofia made a good point on the same thing you mention in this post.

    Its hard to be a different person in your sex life and your “other life”. Now, I have no idea about submissivity personally, but I know one other thing guys struggle with.

    Its being expected to be a nice boy throughout every other context where women are present – and then ravish a girl in the bedroom.

    How does one act all submissive at work and have a “non-threatening” body-language all day to avoid being accused of being macho… And then, he spots a woman at starbucks, and now he needs to turn on the dominant self.

    Going from personal experience, its close to impossible. If practice submissive body-language the entire day, you can’t just go into dominant body-language at the drop of a hat.

    In fact, you’ll probably end up creeping the girl out by being all wishy washy. The same behaviour that is required to be “nice” around women in other contexts, is the same thing that creeps women out in approaching and the bedroom.

  26. Kaliane Moloch says:

    I’m not creeped out by unassuming men at all. I hate when men try and be all dominant with me.

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