I have mulled over something for about a month now...
After hearing the argument thatFifty Shades of Grey overrides the Women's Movement I feel somewhat taken back... despite identifying myself as submissive and agreeing to follow someone else's rules, a big part of my volunteering in college was in the sphere of women's rights, particularly re-empowering females after abuse.
When asked by a partner why I never write about my own relationships in-depth, I really had no reasonable answer. It lead me to question if I was afraid to admit that not only do I partake in BDSM, but it's something I promote as a healthy sexual exploration... after all, isn't that really what Fifty Shades of Grey is about? Or any romance novel? Or is Fifty Shades of Grey a smoke and light show of abuse?
Abuse can be found in both vanilla, otherwise known as non-kink, as well as kinky relationships.
I'll be honest... I have had my own abusive relationship in kink. In fact, I had my own abusive relationship in kink around the time that I was working with stop violence centers in college. I can say that I chose to go into the relationship and I chose to trust the person I did, but I did not choose the abuse in my relationship. The issue is slapping the word "abuse" on to anything that could be considered kink when there is an actual situation where abuse is happening... how do we assure the person it is safe to speak out? Instead of slapping a label on something that is "different," separate what is wanted and whats unwanted. Can a book, such as the Fifty Shades of Grey, really promote abuse? Or is my lifestyle choice just really misunderstood?
What constitutes abuse is a hot topic with both the mainstream and my kink community. Is it physical or can it be mental/emotional, or is the latter just downright bullying and not actual abuse? (That's a whole different blog.) However, there are some forms of play which consist entirely of mental and emotional play... sometimes only through email... and physicality plays a small role in the relationship.
My chosen relationships, although not mainstream, are not holding back the woman's movement... much to the chagrin of psychologists who have over-analyzed Fifty Shades of Grey... I'm simply choosing to follow a traditional relationship structure. No one questioned "Leave it to Beaver."
What is relationship structure? Is it just the structure, or does it cross the line when someone looks at the sexes or genders involved? The opposite of the relationship portrayed in Fifty Shades of Grey is a D/s authoritative structure, in which females, better known as Fem Doms, are in control of the relationship. She makes the decisions, and ultimately what she says goes...
If I understand my feminist friends correctly, choice is the primary right that the women's movement worked so hard to gain. The current debate seems to rest on the idea that if the male in the relationship is Dominant, it automatically turns into out-of-date. Choice, to me, is another form of consent. Consent and intent, in most states, is what separates BDSM from abuse.
I didn't consent to my former partner's abuse. I consented to go into a service relationship, I even consented to inequality, but I did not consent to mental or emotional abuse that can be so easily located by knowing where a person's buttons are. In my case, activities that consisted of punishment were overdone, to the point that I will physically freeze and have flashbacks if they are done in any play sense now with another partner. My intent in any healthy relationship is for both people to benefit from that relationship, to allow each person an opportunity to grow.
I make choices when I start seeing a partner. My choices, much like the choices made by any vanilla folk, are drawn from what type of relationship I want with the person. Is there a power exchange? If so, in what form? If not, how can I pursue a purely platonic friendship? I look at the chemistry, I see if there is potential for a long-term relationship and then ask myself about the wants and needs of each person. I give consent to partners to do different things, but it's always my choice. The difference between being out in the workplace and cleaning house and cleaning house in a relationship is that I don't get paid. My mother didn't get paid when she was cleaning house as a stay-at-home mother, either. It's a choice that I make, it's not something that I am born into, it's not something that I am struggling to break through like a "glass ceiling" and I'm not trying to overthrow my partner.
I am fine with the women's movement. I am, really, and if one of my friends wants to go walk on Washington to get the same rights as men in the work room or wants to share with me why their boyfriend is going through the umpteenth break-up with her -- I did have a neighbor who did this ten different times while she lived here -- that's fine. But... I am utilizing the women's movement. I'm choosing happiness within a relationship structure I'm comfortable with while sticking up for my civil rights outside of the bedroom.
After all... aren't we all looking for support?
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