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’.