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safewurd

on the Fetish Flea, and the scene in general

Really, I don't think it's nostalgia that has me remembering a time when "the scene," that is, the public face of BDSM ("our community," however you want to put it) was much, *much*, MUCH more diverse. D/S was always the predominant flavor, of course, and that's always chapped my ass a little bit. But there were all sorts of ways to do it, and all sorts of folks to do it with, including a hefty dose of queers, and a lot of dominant women, and quite a few just kinky weird folks doing whatever the heck they felt like at the time.

Now, there's a definite predominating dynamic.

It's male dominant, female submissive.

In fact, it's a little more specific, but I am having a hard time right now explaining exactly how. But, you know, women are there to be displayed, men are there to display them. Women are there to give blowjobs and accept spankings. Men are there to dole them out. Women are on their knees, or on leashes. Men hold the lead. Women smile and flirt and tilt their heads, or they stare at their feet. Men bare their teeth and joke about "if you know any beautiful young Scorpio women, send them my way."

It's also aspirational, with people aspiring to be more and more submissive, give up more and more control, and not just in scene. And you're supposed to have one role with one person. You can switch, but that means you top person X and you bottom to person Y, not "yesterday I tied you to the bed and cut pretty designs into your chest, and tomorrow I think I want you to spank me."

A few months ago, I thought this might just be an artifact of that personals site I work for. My suspicions that the issue might be larger, however, began to grow after attending a couple "mixed/paneseuxal" play parties here and there.

After yesterday and my walk through the S/M Fetish Flea Market, my suspicions are confirmed.

And, really, I am not coping well. Individually, M/f D/s is fine. Whatever floats your boat. I might even do it once in a while, what the heck.

As a prevailing community dynamic -- as the default, in terms of what you're most likely to see if not assume -- it gets every single one of my raging radical feminist neurons screaming.

It pisses me off to see it so prevalent, because I don't think that M/f D/s is something one should engage in heavily unless one has *also* interrogated one's gender politics and assumptions. I want you to *know* that you are *consciously* reproducing a prevailing societal power dynamic that is *not* natural and that *is* oppressive when normalized and expected. I want you to be aware that you are making it explicit and obvious, and I want you to have thought about what the implications of that might be.

Then you can do whatever you like.

But if you haven't done that work, I will snarl at you. And I don't think these folks have done that work. (She said understatedly.)

Every time I step into "scene space" these days that is not specifically queer, my head starts screaming at me. I get cranky. I get angry. I start counting blowjobs and leashes. I fantasize about punching and kicking people, about pulling that man's long, flowing hair and forcing him to bend over and see if he can take it as good as he dishes it out. Not some loving spanky-spanky, titter, ha ha, but some welt-raising, please.

It makes it hard to enjoy myself.

More on this later, perhaps.

P.S. I did buy a couple things to hit people with yesterday. Happy birthday to me.

Comments

AAAUUUGH. I am so upset!!!! I thought the flea was NEXT week.

I was doing laundry and moping.

AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH!!!
You didn't miss much. It was also small.
Yeah. It's extra hard for me right now b/c of the job thing. I am *so* glad I get to have the gay site under my auspices, too, to balance things out a bit in my head.
"And you're supposed to have one role with one person. You can switch, but that means you top person X and you bottom to person Y, not "yesterday I tied you to the bed and cut pretty designs into your chest, and tomorrow I think I want you to spank me.""

I stopped in briefly, with my butch Daddy/boy just to combat those aspirations. :) It WAS small! Bought a tacky purple collar, and have designs on a custom paddle.
Thanks for writing this!
I went to the last flea and spent more than I thought I would, despite being underwhelmed.
Happy birthday to you!
Thank you, and you're welcome!
It pisses me off to see it so prevalent, because I don't think that M/f D/s is something one should engage in heavily unless one has *also* interrogated one's gender political and assumptions. I want you to *know* that you are *consciously* reproducing a prevailing societal power dynamic that is *not* natural and that *is* oppressive when normalized and expected. I want you to be aware that you are making it explicit and obvious, and I want you to have thought about what the implications of that might be.

Damn! Thank you!!!!

I have a really hard time at pansexual play parties for this reason. It not only offends me, it bores me, which offends me in a different way!

And, this is one of the reason's my buttons are pushed when people misunderstand the position I occupy as a queer femme and queer femme bottom in the world. My bottoming has everything to do with taking up space as a powerful entity in the world - and though it may tickle me to be on the receiving end of some awfully nefarious actions that fact in no way implies that I am not a powerful woman who should not be messed with.

I only play with people who understand and adore this fact and I think it is conveyed when I play as well.

This is interesting, I'd love to talk to you about it more sometime.

And, on a side note - although a gnarly migraine prevented me from attending your fantabulous birthday party I hope to be able to celebrate you and Guy when I return from NY. Does that sound doable?

xoxoxo

You're welcome!

I definitely want everyone I bottom to to understand that I am a powerful person in this world, and that I am allowing this because it is what I want. Even when I am being "forced."

And I really want everyone I top to know that I respect their power, too. Otherwise it's no fun.

P.S. Sounds very do-able. Have fun in NY!
i once attended a play part in san jose where i got to witness this in the extreme. definitely not my kink, and i didn't stay long.
I've never seen the Flea, but this is exactly how I felt at about half the parties I've been to. The gender politics for sure, plus it creeps me out in other ways that are more just personal style but still make me really uncomfortable: (a) plain dumb social anxiety of being the only guy in the room who's not In Uniform (Viking/Ren/Trek), and (b) the almost total lack of humor in a lot of those scenes... I don't have anything against grim silent people but I just don't get it, and it amplifies the creepiness.
You should have been at the party where I, as top, required the bottom to count strokes received...backwards from 100.

In French, a language the bottom last studied in, IIRC, high-school.

;)

(If I can't laugh, I don't want to be part of your playparty.)

It's rather like my ongoing temptation to go to a "strict" D/s party with a twenty-sided die and a chart, and every half-hour or so roll on the "Who's on Top" table.

Men on top

What a relief to see your comments.

I live far, far away from all the famous Fetish Flea Markets of the world, but the predominance of predominant Alpha Males with loyal femme-slaves (and vice versa) on the 'net concerns me. Somehow I doubt if these relationships are all ironic, playful, and politically-conscious.

Actually, the authors of "Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns" had something to say about that in 1995.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose (as I learned in high-school French).
You may appreciate some of the stuff that maymay wrote recently -- he's a male sub/bottom who's frustrated by M/f spaces because they feel like they exclude him. (I'm particularly thinking of There is So Little Space For Me and What Sexuality Might Taste Like If You Were A Submissive Man in 2007.

Personally, I'm driven batshit by M/f dynamics because M/f is not my kink, despite the fact that I'm a submissive woman whose dom happens to be male. I'm creeped out massively by the way people want to drag sex roles and gender dynamics into it, or characterise what I do as necessarily being all about gender. No, I'm not a sub because I'm female; I'm sub because I'm me. I'm also an occasionally loud, opinionated, strong-willed wallflower because I'm me. I'm also a rope switch because I'm me. And, in the kink thing, I'm in a relationship with someone who considers it part of my official responsibility as a sub to point out when he's missing steps, running in mental circles like an idiot, or otherwise needs to be hit with a fish.

I don't want a kink universe with a "men are" and a "women are"; I want one with a bunch of different "I am"s and a bunch of responding, "That's so cool, do you want to play? I always wanted to know someone who"s.

(Also, I may use this post as an inspiration for bloggage over at Let Them Eat Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces. So's you're warned.)
I didn't know you were one of the Let Them Eat... people! By all means, blog away.
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<i.So what HAS happened to queer SM space?</i>

I retired :( And Damon closed Castlebar.

There is Queer Playground. Of course, I'm going to be out of town for the next one (on Friday).
It pisses me off to see it so prevalent, because I don't think that M/f D/s is something one should engage in heavily unless one has *also* interrogated one's gender politics and assumptions. I want you to *know* that you are *consciously* reproducing a prevailing societal power dynamic that is *not* natural and that *is* oppressive when normalized and expected. I want you to be aware that you are making it explicit and obvious, and I want you to have thought about what the implications of that might be.

You're right, of course, but for the same reasons one should even go on a vanilla date -- or even go out in public at all -- without interrogating one's gender politics and assumptions.

My own related sensibility here is that, regardless of what sorts of genders are involved, no American should do any sort of master/slave play without interrogating at least a little bit their own relation to actual historical slavery and its aftermath.

And the sad truth is, for most people who are going to get involved, that's Not Gonna Happen.
I'm awfully glad to read this post.
I'm fairly new to playing in any kind of public way and seeing this sort of dynamic has been really disheartening. I was expecting to see something a lot more progressive and dynamic in SF kink spaces then what I've seen so far. Maybe I need to go to some queer kink spaces? I haven't checked those out yet. It would be really wonderful to see more variation.
Yes, I recommend more queer kinky spaces. Leatherwomen (et al) spaces still feel like a lot of fun to me, for example, and I also enjoy Queer Playground.
And of course, this wouldn't be an issue if these ignorant young kids had worked their way up through the ranks the way it was done back in the day of the Old Guard ;-P
While I know you meant to be sarcastic ;), there's something else that struck me.

When I first started going to leather events, I felt young, and new to it, and all that, surrounded by older people.

At the fetish flea, I felt young, and tired of it, and all that, surrounded by older people.

It's not entirely accurate, though it also felt like the age gap skewed towards male/older vs. female/younger, but it was a strong, strong impression.
It pisses me off to see it so prevalent, because I don't think that M/f D/s is something one should engage in heavily unless one has *also* interrogated one's gender politics and assumptions. I want you to *know* that you are *consciously* reproducing a prevailing societal power dynamic that is *not* natural and that *is* oppressive when normalized and expected. I want you to be aware that you are making it explicit and obvious, and I want you to have thought about what the implications of that might be.


I think I get what you're saying but I also think you're missing something when you restrict your reaction to people acting out male-dom fem-sub roles. The reverse (or anything else) can be just as reinforcing to the default societal dynamic because it exists in putative opposition to it. I have a favorite quotation which speaks to this, from J. Krishnamurti: "If you deny the traditional approach, as a reaction, you will have created another pattern in which you will be trapped."
This is why I desire diversity, not a reversal, and said so in the first para.
I came up when YKIOK was a big deal, too, and I still struggle with exactly that. I hesitated over making this post because of it.

I guess I've come to the place where I think that acronym means (for me) "whatever's in your head is OK" -- your fantasies are OK, thoughts are free, etc. etc.

How you act, however...
"It pisses me off to see it so prevalent, because I don't think that M/f D/s is something one should engage in heavily unless one has *also* interrogated one's gender politics and assumptions. I want you to *know* that you are *consciously* reproducing a prevailing societal power dynamic that is *not* natural and that *is* oppressive when normalized and expected. I want you to be aware that you are making it explicit and obvious, and I want you to have thought about what the implications of that might be."

although I do not understand everything written in this entry I would like to say thank you. and thank you/ happy birthday because this seems to me what you're about-- giving generously on your own birthday.

as a small aside, a number of years ago i was surprised that while learning how to dance swing among queers evryone expected me to be the lead based on my gender presentation. for as *progressive/alternative/whatever* sf / ba claims to be, i find most spaces to be focused on m/f / b/f and it's endlessly frustrating because i don't fall neatly in those parameters.

thank you for writing clearly about something which is quite confusing and frustrating. although i hope not without hope for improvement.
Are you interested in contra dancing at all? There's a queer contra that happens around here. It's monthly: http://www.lcfd.org/sf/
Could it be an artefact of BDSM becoming more mainstream?
I absolutely think it is, yes. As the scene becomes more mainstream, its power dynamics begin to reflect that mainstream more and more as well.
dang. I thought it was just Idaho.
d/s has not always been the predominant flavor. Locally, SM was for many years.

And I think you might want to extend your rant to any gender coupling - or to just drop gender out of the equation entirely. Any social dynamic which is normalized and expected is oppressive to someone.

I don't even know what qualifies as "queer" space anymore because I quit caring after I was denied entrance to a few "queer" spaces on the basis of being insufficiently queer. Just talking about the label takes me to that place of wanting to be kicking and punching.
Months late to the discussion...


d/s has not always been the predominant flavor. Locally, SM was for many years.

Our observations differ.

I think you might want to extend your rant to any gender coupling

I might -- if I saw them. But I don't. Which was the point of this post in the first place.

I quit caring after I was denied entrance to a few "queer" spaces on the basis of being insufficiently queer.

One gets the sense you might have an agenda. I'm not going to apologize for not signing up for it.

Why not write your own rant instead of telling me my business? Just a thought. But please don't do it here. Thanks.