These are a few thoughts following Mark Simpson’s recent piece (well recently re-posted) on ‘Hazing’.
Posting this on my own blog made me realise I am totally screwed up about ‘sex and violence’. I think I am pretty fine with homosexuality! But when it comes to violence I am completely confused. Part of me really really hates any kind of violence, even in sports etc. And yet I have willingly ‘voluntarily’ chosen to be hurt by people for the sake of sexual arousal.
I can’t make sense of that in the way some ‘masochists’ do, by saying that ‘consent’ and ‘sexual desire’ make all the difference. Because I have felt quite disturbed by some of my S and M sexual experiences. They have left me feeling frightened, vulnerable, freaked out. Indeed, I have been in ‘violent’ relationships that were not overtly ‘S and M’. There was no spoken ‘consent’ for what happened to me. And one of those relationships led to me being properly assaulted and stalked for months.
Many of the ‘rationales’ for S and M are written by ‘masochists’, and often by masochistic women. The role of the ‘sadist’ (and also of the masochist man) goes largely unexplored and undefended. ‘Sexual Sadism’ is still considered a psychiatric disorder. http://allpsych.com/disorders/paraphilias/sadism.html It is difficult for people, especially men, to be open about the pleasure they get from hurting others. Partly, I am afraid, because feminists demonise men’s sexuality, and make out that ‘sadists’ are rapists by any other name. That men are rapists by nature, and they need to learn to curb their ‘sadism’ or else they will be labelled as such and punished.
For me, just as masochism is hard to explain and ‘defend’ solely in terms of consenting sexual relationships between adults, so is sadism difficult to tidy away neatly into the S and M box.
When I read about Hazing rituals, even the ones that don’t involve physical violence but more humiliation or discomfort, I feel conflicted. Part of me is in horror at the thought of being forced, or choosing to participate in such a practice. Another part of me is intrigued and a little turned on.
After I read Mark’s post the last time, I went and looked up ‘hazing’ online. I found some videos. Some of them were pornos and some weren’t. It was all mixed up. I like things mixed up. I find in my own life, pleasure and pain, sex and violence, consent and non-consent are often mixed up.
In The Notebook my first entry read:
‘The line between good violence and bad violence is blurred. I like it like that’.
I think Hazing is part of the blurring of the line between ‘good violence’ and ‘bad violence’. This is what makes it appealing/threatening to many of us if we are honest I should think.
It’s not just about fears around ‘homosexuality’ I believe. It also touches on our ambivalent relationship with sadism (and masochism). I think Mark is brave, not so much for pointing out the inherent homo-ness in all male groups (though he does that so well I’d hate him to stop), but for defending sadism, even when it is not dressed up in ‘consensual sex’ terminology.
And, like I believe that the best chance we have of dealing with our need for sadism and masochism in a ‘healthy’ way is by openly practising them in our sex lives (or even just our fantasy lives, or our pornography lives, or our talking about sex lives), so I believe that we need to be open and not ashamed about how we enjoy ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ in other areas. Like sports. And group dynamics. And work. And voyeurism. Sometimes even looking is painful. And sometimes it is kind of sadistic.