Aggie & Edna on… Power

Aggie & Edna on… Power

Our pseudonymous bluestocking sexplorers tie themselves in knots over BDSM. 

BDSM has experienced a bit of a public renaissance recently, with Fifty Shades of Grey being touted as both illustrating the voracious sexual appetites of women, and as an example of false consciousness and the kind of fucked up shit it can lead to. Edna feels uneasy about the role that BDSM plays in reproducing patriarchal power dynamics in the bedroom. She feels that were she to get into BDSM she would choose to take a dominant role, especially in heterosexual sex, partly as a way to subvert the role of submissive woman.

After discussing this with Edna, Aggie –who does enjoy being thrown around the bedroom from time to time – got in a bit of a tizz. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she hasn’t called her grandparents in weeks and BASICALLY PISSED ALL OVER EMMELINE PANKHURST’S GRAVE by forgetting to vote in the last council elections, now she’s also responsible for reinforcing millennia of patriarchal oppression whenever she has a wank? Not Good. So, like the Strong, Independent woman she is, Aggie had a bath and a little cry and called a Man for advice. The Man was not encouraging. Despite admitting that it might be ‘really patronising’, he refused to believe that anyone could genuinely enjoy pain, and thought that taking pleasure in causing someone pain was gross. Aggie thought about this for a while and decided that, yes, this was patronising, but didn’t feel any better about herself – until she remembered that the Man played rugby. Sports which involve knocking people over and doing exercise – ARE THEY REALLY SO DIFFERENT FROM KINKY SEX? In an effort to figure out why she likes what she likes, Aggie made a list of things she enjoys for reasons similar to those which make her want painful sex: running around uni parks until she can’t breathe and wants to vomit, dancing, getting really, really, really drunk, going to foreign countries on her own, and crying at sad films(books/songs/poignantly arranged napkins). Things that push her limits or force her out of her head and into her body – some kind of release. . For her painful sex at its best is a case of ‘ohholymotherofcunt, would you LOOK at what my body can do? I can go SO FAR and take SO MUCH (and I want it to be for you).’

But does allowing someone to dominate you physically impact on the rest of the relationship? It depends. Aggie has definitely known boys who, upon request, will push her down on a bed and fuck her in the throat with a menstrual-blood covered dick, before cheerfully offering to do the washing up and engaging in a balanced and respectful debate about the current state of the EU. While kinky things done with someone who doesn’t respect you could definitely make the situation worse, doing things that are both intensely physical and personal, especially if they are things that most people would think are a bit weird, can bring its own kind of intimacy – in Aggie’s experience fisting mostly feels like a very advanced form of holding hands.

Aggie and Edna’s discussions of BDSM has raised some tense and personal questions about power, consent and why we want what we want. Too often power dynamics in sex go unexplored. Take the role of penetration in heterosexual sex. There are*loads* of straight men who would consider themselves as having lovely fluffy sex completely divorced from ideas of dominance and submission, but would totally freak out at the idea of being penetrated, regardless of the gender of the other person involved. Most human interactions involve power dynamics in one form or another and it’s good to be aware of them. Whether or not we finally accept that the accentuation of power dynamics involved in BDSM can really be healthy, the kind of interrogation of consent, desire and power that is prompted by discussing it can only be a good thing.

December 2012
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