The media keeps referring to Ghomeshi's abuse as 'non-consensual' like that's a thing

Jian Ghomeshi surrendered to the police this morning and was later released on bail following a court appearance in Toronto. He is charged with four countsScreen Shot 2014-11-26 at 5.49.06 PM of sexual assault and one count of “overcome resistance — choking.” Ghomeshi’s lawyer, Marie Henein, says he will be pleading not guilty. His bail was set at $100,000 and as part of his bail conditions he must stay in Ontario with his mother.

This is good news. Pessimist that I am, I was convinced he wouldn’t be charged. The police may well have felt pressured to charge Ghomeshi because of the highly public nature of his case and because, really, there’s no one left sticking up for the guy. Even those who initially jumped on the victim-blamey train (But women are such crazy, jealous, bitches! Always making things up to bring down innocent men in the hope they will be called crazy, jealous, bitches in the process!) or who tried to use the opportunity to rep for BDSM have abandoned the cause (in embarrassment, one would hope). But either way and for whatever reason the police did pursue the investigation (relatively quickly at that), I am glad.

But that initial story Ghomeshi tried to put out to the public — that he was just practicing good, old-fashioned, consensual, “rough sex” stuck with us — even after the portion of the public who didn’t see right through that crap from the get-go learned it was an outright lie.

Earlier this month, Jessica Smith Cross wrote, for the Metro: “Nine women and one man have accused Ghomeshi of crimes including sexual harassment to non-consensual sexual violence [emphasis added].”

Today, a report via the CBC reads: “The police department’s sex crimes unit began investigating Ghomeshi on Oct. 31 after three women filed complaints alleging he was physically violent without their consent.”

Just about every report on the story published last month specified that Ghomeshi punched women in the face and choked them “without their consent” or used that “non-consensual sexual violence” line. The initial report by the Star specifies that several women claimed “he was physically violent to them without their consent…” and/or that Ghomeshi “physically attacked them on dates without consent.”

Several of the women who came out with allegations against Ghomeshi felt it necessary to point out that they didn’t “ask to be hit” or that the violence wasn’t “a sex thing.”

There is no such thing as consensual sexual violence. There is no such thing as consensual abuse. There is no such thing as “he attacked me without my consent.” Even if we are unwilling to apply a kind of feminist or non-sociopathic type of logic to these conversations, the law confirms one cannot “consent” to assault.

So fuck this bullshit BDSM rhetoric. The extent to which it has manipulated the public conversation around sex and violence against women is repulsive. How we’ve managed to come to a place, as a society, where we think it’s totally normal and sexy to be choked in bed or that punching women during sex is just “kinky” is no real mystery. Between the violence boys and men are seeing in porn at an ever-younger age, the popularity of books like Fifty Shades of Grey, and the way in which BDSMers and libertarians alike have forced feminists to adopt an “anythinggoesnojudgement!” attitude towards sex, we’ve got a number of sources to blame.

A post I saw shared numerous times on social media early on as the Ghomeshi allegations were only just coming to light (and was the source of the “non-consensual sexual violence” reference above) seems to believe this is a triumph:

“It says something about the success of the BDSM/kink/leather community’s public education work of the last decade-plus that Ghomeshi would take the gamble that the ‘it was consensual kink’ argument would outweigh the ‘you’re a filthy pervert’ reaction in the court of public opinion. In a sense, this is a major triumph for us pervs. But in the Canadian context specifically, this strategy is not as risky as it might seem. We pride ourselves as being an open-minded society. The year 2005 brought us both same-sex marriage and a Supreme Court ruling that legalized swinging. These days, we’re seeing broad public support for sex workers’ rights even from political centrists, despite how the Conservative government seems determined to make a mess of them with Bill C-36. Harper notwithstanding, Canada’s pretty hip when it comes to alternative sexuality, and a young, popular and very media-savvy broadcaster knows this.”

What success! Not only has the notion that sexual violence or abuse can be “consensual” become an acceptable part of our lexicon, but much of the public actually literally believes that women’s rights equates to legalizing men’s right to buy women. It’s as though a kind of bizarro feminism has collided with Moulin Rouge to create an era of debauchery only conceivable to and desired by the extremely privileged and narcissistic.

It is gross and unacceptable that we’ve bought into the idea that violence and abuse can and should be incorporated into our sex lives for excitement, lest be we labelled “vanilla.” It is also gross and unacceptable that the media feels it necessary to specify that rape and abuse is “non-consensual.” If you can’t get off without abusing a woman, that is a problem, not something to be celebrated. That problem already has a name: misogyny. And it isn’t your right to force that onto the public anymore than it is your right to impose it on your sexual partners.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

Like this article? Tip Feminist Current!

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $1

  • C.K. Egbert

    Excellent as always Meghan. One of the tactics of universities in the US has been to re-label rape as “nonconsensual sex” (partly to make it not sound as serious).

    MacKinnon’s work is now decades old, but her statements still ring true: the problem is precisely that violence and “sex” look the same.

    Off topic, but I was stunned by the hypocrisy (and implicit ethnocentrism) of this Jezebel article: http://jezebel.com/female-students-twerk-for-internships-in-university-spo-1663648387

    I don’t have to point out that the people condemning this are the same ones who say that prostitution is empowering. At my university our “Sex Week” (along with talks by pornographers and talks about how great BDSM is) has an annual burlesque show featuring the female students, so it’s also not as though this sort of thing is not unknown on college campuses in the US.

    • Meghan Murphy

      And the same people who “called out” this article http://jezebel.com/saartje-baartman-the-original-booty-queen-1658569879 refuse to talk about objectification as a bad thing or to criticize the racist and sexist sex industry and are the very ones who push ‘choice feminism.’

      • Sabine

        Cognitive dissonance strikes again. So many people flatly refuse to join the dots..

  • PR

    Wow that jezebel piece is so inside out and upside down. Using Baartman one more time for their sextradeisempowermentandagency narrative. So deluded.

  • jo

    Why is he charged with sexual assault and not “ordinary” assault? The women said it was “not a sex thing”.

    I want this to be treated as seriously as possible. Not only for the sake of the women he attacked but as a warning to famous and nonfamous men in general. You can’t attack women and expect the world to be okay with it. Don’t fucking go around hitting young women for fun. Put him in jail.

    • EEU

      I also find this weird. What does choking have to do with sex? That’s just assault (or attempted murder). Now, I think the victims said that rape happened too, right? I don’t quite remember.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Yeah I don’t get that either… I also don’t know which particular incidents he was charged for so it’s possible — I suppose — that they did constitute sexual assault, but most of what we’ve heard about just sounds like straight assaulting women — nothing to do with sex! It’s weird.

        • Anon

          Overcome resistance is a strange offence. It’s basically using choking to facilitate the commission of a second offence. So choking someone is assault, choking someone so you can rob them is overcoming resistance.

          I expect (but haven’t heard the details) that he is charged with choking someone until she agreed to perform some sexual act. Which is sexual assault and overcoming resistance as well.

      • Morag

        If I understand what I’ve been reading about that particular charge, “overcome resistance,” Ghomeshi not only choked women, but used the choking to subdue the woman so she couldn’t resist a sexual assault. It’s one crime compounded by another crime, I think. And, if proven, it carries a potentially harsher sentence (maximum–life imprisonment) than sexual assault on its own (maximum–10 years).

        Someone who’s more knowledgeable about Canadian criminal law should correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

        • EEU

          Thanks! It’s clearer now.

      • Morag

        Also, at least one of his (anonymous) victims stated that, while engaged in sexually activity with Ghomeshi, he forced his penis into her mouth and throat with such violence that she couldn’t breathe or escape.

        Perhaps this is also–in the eyes of the law–considered choking?

        But, hey, maybe she “consented” to fellate him, so gagging, choking and helplessness was just an unpleasant consequence for her, and good ol’ sexy time for him?

        • Meghan Murphy

          Oh yes, that’s right. He also engaged in just straight choking — like non-penis-related choking.

          • Morag

            “non-penis-related choking”

            Heh. It’s incredible, isn’t it? The way we are forced (both sincerely and ironically) to use these pretzel-shaped words and phases with multiple modifiers, prefixes and hyphenations just to talk about why one class of people treating another class of people like shit is a Bad Thing. See? I’m adding Emphatic Capitalization of Important Concepts to the mix …

            The further we get away from the truth about who has the power and who doesn’t, the more difficult and obscure and absurd it becomes to use language to talk about it. “Non-consensual abuse”–ppffftt!

            I mean, we now need, probably, to read Focault and Butler and a dash of appropriated Marx to discuss the discourse(s) and subjectivity(ies) of non-penis-related choking before we can understand the historical narratives of fellatio as they relate to the tensions between women’s oppression and sexual agency in post-feminist social environment(s) with new, emerging narratives of empowerment for feminine-identified subjects.

            All of that shit I just wrote, which I hope nobody understands, is the direct descendent of a news anchor reporting, with a straight and serious face, that there’s a difference between the consensual and non-consensual abuse of women by men.

            I’m so glad you wrote this piece, Meghan. The title is perfect, and every word uncovers the absurdity of this discussion around “consent.” It’s a tremendous emotional and intellectual relief to read it and the comments from women who recognize that “consent” is yet another racket. Thanks!

          • Morag

            Not “direct descendant.” Sheesh. I meant to say “ancestor.” See what po-mo will do to one’s brain?

          • “we now need, probably, to read Focault and Butler and a dash of appropriated Marx to discuss the discourse(s) and subjectivity(ies) of non-penis-related choking before we can understand the historical narratives of fellatio as they relate to the tensions between women’s oppression and sexual agency in post-feminist social environment(s) with new, emerging narratives of empowerment for feminine-identified subjects.”

            Brilliant, biting [almost] satire (except, for the part that this really is the fucking “discourse”).

            Yup, this gobbledygook is the foundation for the concept of “non-consensual abuse”.

          • I get the idea that people feel so proud of themselves about these things. They learn to call prostitution “sex work” and they feel so proud of themselves for saying the words “right.” It’s like a shiny new skill that dazzles people. And they feel just as proud of themselves as a child at ice-skating camp who just learned some new skills after days of practice (never mind whether it’s a nonsense new move that won’t ever benefit you in real life or might kill someone). These terms are a bit dazzling to people and I think the men running the show know that they are able to manipulate people in this way. People are mentally patting themselves on the back for their big “accomplishment” at learning queer theory rhetoric. In a way it’s really quite seductive to people.

          • “I mean, we now need, probably, to read Focault and Butler and a dash of appropriated Marx to discuss the discourse(s) and subjectivity(ies) of non-penis-related choking before we can understand the historical narratives of fellatio as they relate to the tensions between women’s oppression and sexual agency in post-feminist social environment(s) with new, emerging narratives of empowerment for feminine-identified subjects.

            All of that shit I just wrote, which I hope nobody understands, ”

            Actually I think that the problem is that few people in academia understand it themselves and so no one can dare do any critical thinking about it, it’s just become a “string all the cool terms together” game, and it’s all so esoteric that people feel intimidated from even understanding what is being said so they focus their energies on learning all the cool words to say. That’s half the fun of it, saying the shiny, new phrases and saying them “right”! People get excited about learning some new big vocabulary words!

          • I get the idea that people feel so proud of themselves about this things. They learn to call prostitution “sex work” and they feel so proud of themselves for saying the words “right.” It’s like a shiny new skill. And they feel just as proud of themselves as a child at ice-skating camp who just learned some new skills after days of practice (never mind whether it’s a nonsense new move that won’t ever benefit you in real life or might kill someone). These terms are a bit dazzling to people and I think the men running the show know that they are able to manipulate people in this way. People are mentally patting themselves on the back for their big “accomplishment” at learning queer theory rhetoric. In a way it’s really quite seductive to people.

          • C.K. Egbert

            The problem goes even deeper than that. The vocabulary people use structures our thought. Because of the chosen language, the harm of pornography, prostitution, and gender roles not only becomes unspeakable but unthinkable. Suddenly there is no vocabulary or conceptions available to even understand the harms done; all they have is “agency,” “choice”, “consent”, and “autonomy” (which do not require any justification; they are simply used to automatically stop any critique and conversation, as though they are magic). There are no trafficked women; only “sex workers.” There is no hate speech or abuse in pornography; it’s “free speech.” How can one even argue with someone who proclaims that abuse and subjugation constitutes liberation?

          • That’s true. That is a problem as well.

          • ” Suddenly there is no vocabulary or conceptions available to even understand the harms done; all they have is “agency,” “choice”, “consent”, and “autonomy” (which do not require any justification; they are simply used to automatically stop any critique and conversation, as though they are magic).”

            Yes exactly. And this erasure is very appealing because – presto!! – all of that difficult reality and the un-fun task of self-examination for our own contribution to perpetuating the conditions conducive to exploitation are removed. It’s easier to conform to the power structure than to resist. That is until some guy is squeezing his hands around your throat…

          • Yes, in another sphere, I’ve always noted the absence of, and argued for, ‘noise trespass’ – all we have is what is ‘physical’ trespass.

            Here we need something like ‘wilful misunderstanding’ but much stronger.

    • I’ve often wondered whether it wouldn’t be better if there weren’t a separate category for sexual assault period. Assault is assault no matter what body parts are involved. What is gained – or, perhaps more to the point, lost – in having a separate category.

      (I’d say the same about ‘domestic abuse’. If it were, had been, called ‘assault’ from the get go…)

      • bngals

        but there is a difference in many sexual assaults that involve women: the difference is that women had body parts assaulted that men don’t have. It is literally a different crime impossible for men to undergo, with consequences (pregnancy, certain STDs or conditions) that it is impossible for men to undergo.

        Just sayin’. A sex-neutral definition of “sexual assault” would be the result of what you are talking about. That might be good in some ways, but bad in others.

        • good point. re pregnancy. i was stupidly just thinking of brutal anal penetration as pretty parallel.

  • Sabine

    “Several of the women who came out with allegations against Ghomeshi felt it necessary to point out that they didn’t “ask to be hit” or that the violence wasn’t “a sex thing.””

    The fact women reporting assault now feel they have to clarify that it wasn’t something they “asked for” or “a sex thing” (as if, had it been, then that would magically cast a completely different light on things) tells me all I need to know about how the mainstream is mainlining porn.

    “So fuck this bullshit BDSM rhetoric. The extent to which it has manipulated the public conversation around sex and violence against women is repulsive. How we’ve managed to come to a place, as a society, where we think it’s totally normal and sexy to be choked in bed or that punching women during sex is just “kinky” is no real mystery.”

    Fuckin’ A. Just take a look around…

  • Hecuba

    Catharine A. MacKinnon stated and I paraphrase ‘male sexual violence against women and male social construction of ‘male sexual activity’ is the same. Men view male sexual violence against women as ‘sexually erotic’ whereas the female victims view male sexual violence perpetrated against them as male sexual violence not ‘sex.’ This is why so many women find it hard to distinguish between what men claim is ‘normal male heterosexual activity whereby male sexual aggression against women is ‘just (male) sex’ and not male sexual violence. Womens’ Lives Mens’ Laws by Catharine A. MacKinnon, chapter 12.

    I look forward to malestream media claiming ‘any male who steals another male’s car/wallet/money has engaged in non-consensual “theft!”

    • Morag

      “I look forward to malestream media claiming ‘any male who steals another male’s car/wallet/money has engaged in non-consensual “theft!”

      Ha! This is just it. It’s absurd on its face.

      BUT, if we added a female body and the male pursuit of sexual pleasure or orgasm to this “scene” of the theft, then maybe we WOULD be hearing about the Very Important Differences between “consensual theft” and “non-consensual theft.”

      • Red

        But by definition, if there was consent, there was no theft. If I freely give you something, without duress, there is no theft.

        “Oh yes, I owed the guy $100, but I only had $50 with me, so I gave him that, along with the $50 worth of gift certificates I had in my wallet, to settle the debt” might be a legitimate form of consent. Or, homeless guy charged with theft, has credible witnesses who can back up his claims that “the guy told me, as he was handing me the contents of his wallet, “God bless, go buy a warm meal and a blanket”. Compare that to a situation where the entire wallet ends up in same dude’s possession only with obvious signs of violence just before the wallet changes hands.

        Whereas with sexual assault, rape, and just plain ol’ assault, there are different definitions of consent at play. If I consent to get in a boxing ring as a boxer, my adversary is not guilty of assault.

        I think that what the media, and some of the victims, are trying to very clearly portray, is that, even if in some of the cases there was consent to sexual intercourse, or other sexual activity, there were other things done (i.e. choking) to which the victim did not consent. I agree with Meghan that you “cannot consent to abuse”; however abuse means different things to different people so we need to follow what the law says in these cases, or else get the legislators to re-write the laws if they are inadequate.

        With the old so called “rape” laws, it was required to be proven in a court of law that, beyond a reasonable doubt, there was penetration without consent. Now that the laws more broadly include other forms of sexual assault, it becomes much more crucially important to show what was, and was not, consented to. I agree that, philosophically, it is not important to distinguish whether the assault was of a sexual nature (assault is assault), but from a legal perspective, it may be important in some way. I don’t know.

        I suggest that it seems that some of Ghomeshi’s victims may very well have consented to intercourse at some point during their relationship with him, but what the majority seem to be saying is that they did not consent to the choking and other forms of violence.

        We need to recognize that “abuse” means different things to different people, and thus from a legal perspective we need more clear definitions.

        Spanking, in a consensual sexual context between consenting adults, might be considered by the vast majority of the general public (and the courts) to NOT be abuse, whereas non-consensual choking is a whole different animal. Or, similarly, from a legal perspective in certain jurisdictions, it is not illegal to spank children in a disciplinary manner if the child is between the ages of 2 and 12; however the law puts restrictions on that activity to exclude other types of physical “discipline” (whether or not you agree with that law as it is written). The same law forbids spanking of children under the age of two or over the age of 12, for example, as this is considered abuse in certain Canadian law, regardless of context.

    • Missfit

      Yes. There is no intrinsic reason (beside the patriarchal mindset) for the sex act to be so closely linked to violence and humiliation, for the act of choking to become a part of a sexual relation. Patriarchal conditioning has so linked the two (and people always confuse their conditioning with ‘nature’) that when women denounce sexual violence against women they are accused of ‘demonizing male sexuality’.

      • You might find this as interesting as I do (note that it’s Tiptree – so an excerpt from an sf story – but may well be factually correct!):

        “A potential difficulty for our species has always been implicit in the close linkage between the behavioural expression of aggression/predation and sexual reproduction in the male. This close linkage involves (a) many of the same neuromuscular pathways which are utilized both in predatory and sexual pursuit, grasping, mounting, etc., and (b) similar states of adrenergic arousal which are activated in both. The same linkage is seen in the males of many other species; in some, the expression of aggression and copulation alternate or even coexist, an all-too-familiar example being the common house cat. Males of many species bite, claw, bruise, tread, or otherwise assault receptive females during the act of intercourse … In many if not all species it is the aggressive behaviour which appears first, and then changes to copulatory behaviour when the appropriate signal is presented. … Lacking the inhibiting signal, the male’s fighting response continues and the female is attacked or driven off.” James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice B. Sheldon), “The Screwfly Solution”

        • Missfit

          I also read that the agressivity that builds up in males when they pursue a female for copulation is there to serve the function of fighting other males who might courtship the same female. Absent a rival, the aggressivity can sometimes fall off on the female. Also, males of different species can use force to coerce a female to sexual intercourse (rape).

          I also read that with apes, you have species that display high levels of aggression and violence between members and others that are more peaceful (the former usually also display patriarchal social arrangements and the latter are more egalitarian). Sometimes, differences are noted between different tribes of the same species. With humans, there also have been studies made on rape-prone vs rape-free societies.

          I do find all this interesting. I think we do have all the possibilities within ourselves – we can be altruistic or egoistic, honest or manipulative, etc. – the traits that will predominate depends on our environment/culture. Living in a capitalist society will favor the development of competitive and individualistic traits. Also, the profit driven mentality makes us behave as in periods of scarcity even though we are in abundance.

          We are a product of our environment and as with the rest, the way sexuality is going to be expressed is mainly a social construct. Many men believe that being sexually aroused by the view of a woman’s breast is a ‘natural’ male sexual response, but in countries where women are going bare-breasted, men don’t get sexually excited when they see women’s breast. Now we have pornography that condition men to objectify women and links violence with sex whereas there is no reason for male sexual violence against women to be a condition for sexuality/reproduction of the species.

  • Terre Spencer

    The refusal to call his violent attacks what they are: ‘rape’ and ‘aggravated assault,’ combined with the weasel word-descriptor “non-consentual’ are exponentially effective in blaming the victims for not protesting enough, not resisting enough.

    Framing the events as such is the media carrying on a conversation with the accused’s denials of misbehavior and insistence upon the notion of his victims’ consent to his misogyny, rapes and violent aggravated assaults and batteries.

    If a murderer insisted that his victim ‘consented’ to being murdered under the guise of ‘rough play,’ would the media behave differently? I think not. They would refer to the behavior as murder.

    To subtly blame the victims for not objecting strongly enough is but one of the many reasons women do not report rapes. The media is complicit in the “consent’ argument and this is a glaring example.

    • Morag

      Yes, they are weasel-words of the worst kind. And of course the media is complicit.

      Even as media appear to condemn violence against women (and in a shallow way, it is condemned), they are, as you point out, “carrying on a conversation” with the men accused of harassing, assaulting and raping women, and that conversation is implicitly sympathetic. It’s sympathetic to male sexuality as we know it (as MacKinnon, for instance, describes it).

      And because victims are blamed for not objecting strongly enough, there’s this new layer of the conversation where consent must be accompanied with women’s enthusiastic yeses. So the media are helping to spread the word that we can solve this widespread rape problem by seeking from women the cartoonishly pornographic “yes, yes, yes!”

      This advice, which is ostensibly for men who otherwise might not know if they are rapists or nice guys (the poor dears), is really another directive for women. And, like all patriarchal advice for women (in this case, from the liberal, sex-positive, pro-BDSM/kink faction) it’s a Trojan horse: want to survive, as a woman, in a rape culture? Just say yes!

      • Red

        OK, so, then, taking what you are saying at face value, help us understand, what then should a “nice guy” do to make sure his behavior will never be construed as supportive of a “rape culture”? Become a hermit monk?

        The concept of consent is crucial. To suggest otherwise would logically also suggest that the only acceptable course of action for individual self-identifying “nice guys” is to pursue celibacy, and on a more global scale, that the only viable alternative to a “rape culture” is the extinction of the species.

        I do agree with Meghan that one cannot legally consent to abuse (and by abuse I mean something that would be considered “assault” meeting the legal definition, not my sister or brother “looking at me” funny). But let’s not take this discussion to any further level of absurdity than it has already reached, shall we?

        Having consensual sex is not assault. Hitting a women with a closed fist on the head, or choking her, in my opinion, and (I would hope) in the opinion of the court, IS always assault. BDSM? I didn’t even know what that was two years ago. Back in the day, we used to call them perverts. Who cares what they think?

        • corvid

          Typical dude comment: feminists who are critical of porn culture want men to become celibate eunuchs! Absurdity! Fascism!!

          A word of advice: take nothing you read here “at face value.” Read everything you can here and try to understand the context. Rape culture, the media, BDSM, violence against women… these things are interconnected.

          • corvid

            *not that there is anything wrong with being celibate or a eunuch, or absurdity for that matter. 😉

          • Morag

            “Typical dude comment: feminists who are critical of porn culture want men to become celibate eunuchs!”

            Yeah, and lurking right behind the horror of male celibacy is that other hovering spectre: “the extinction of the species!”

            Thank goodness nice men show up and explain to us, calmly and patiently, how to correct our faulty thinking before we all die out.

          • C.K. Egbert

            The “humanity will die!” argument is baseless, unless you think that there is a moral imperative to reproduce (?) and, therefore, women’s bodily integrity (since women bear the burden of reproduction) is granted only on a contingent basis. Making reproduction/intercourse compulsory is about as patriarchal as it gets.

            Not to mention that argument is patently absurd when we are facing dire consequences from overpopulation and we’ve destroyed almost all wildlife and their habitat.

          • The argument is even more ridiculous when you take into account the fact that most of the sexual acts celebrated in and popularised by pornography and BDSM do not lead to reproduction. Oral sex does not lead to reproduction, anal sex does not lead to reproduction, beating women up does not lead to reproduction and choking women does not lead to reproduction (in fact if we all did that many women would die and then the species probably would die off.) The only sex act that could lead to reproduction is vaginal intercourse and nowadays we do not even need to do that. The one sex act that actually causes reproduction is the one they condemn as boring and “vanilla”. Pornographers and sex-crazed liberals need to stop bragging about how they are keeping the species alive.

            I do not completely buy the overpopulation argument though. It is true that the planet cannot sustain billions of human beings given our current levels of resource consumption, but those levels can be lowered. I think that the average human could survive and even be happy, while consuming far less products than what the average Western currently consumes. I blame capitalism and consumerism for the environmental disaster, rather than overpopulation, though I do think that our society places too much emphasis on women as child-bearers and mothers, rather than as human beings who have far more to offer to society than their reproductive systems.

          • copleycat

            You know, I’ve heard that we’re-all-going-to-die-off-if-men-can’t-act-out-their-violent-impulses bit so many times now. Yet just recently I was reviewing object relation theorists and, though I know their camp hasn’t always been a friend to women, the concept of annihilation anxiety jumped out at me. Annihilation anxiety is supposedly what vexes children when they first realize they’re seperate from their primary care-givers (most often women). When I hear this claim now that some degree of anti-social, predatory behavior has to be permitted in men or humanity will cease to exist, I can’t help hearing it as an expression of unresolved annihilation anxiety.

        • Morag

          ‘ … what then should a “nice guy” do to make sure his behavior will never be construed as supportive of a “rape culture”? Become a hermit monk?’

          What should he do? How about not rape, assault or abuse women?

          I’m not at all concerned about whether or not his behaviour is “construed” as rapist or supportive of rape culture. Abusive men are construed as nice guys all the time. Some abusive men are even famous for being against pornography and rape culture–example: Jian Ghomeshi. Men–particularly educated, liberal men– already understand very well how to be construed as non-abusive and/or pro-feminist. That is, until their cover is blown, which is still rare.

          My point, actually, is that the current discussion around consent is not really designed to protect women, but to protect abusive men’s reputations. In the same way that the cry for women’s “sexual liberation” in the sixties (or the “sex-positive” movement of the eighties and nineties) was not really designed to liberate women but to give men more socially-acceptable access to women’s bodies. Like I said, these are Trojan horses for women.

    • Red

      I look at it differently. I look at it as, the victims are perhaps very clearly improving the odds of a conviction by making a clear distinction between certain activities that they might have consented to (kissing, touching, perhaps even sexual intercourse) and ones that they most definitely did NOT consent to (being beaten about the head, choked, what have you).

      I understand that, philosophically, you and I may both agree that these activities should ALWAYS be considered to be assault (except perhaps in a mixed martial arts ring, unless we choose to outlaw that so-called “sporting” activity), but we need a more distinct legal definition of what is abuse, what is sexual assault, and what isn’t, especially since we acknowledge that there are ‘fringe groups” (i.e. BDSM) that may not subscribe to the same moral standards as you or I (or our grandparents) as to what constitutes acceptable sexual activities between consenting adults and what doesn’t. These are uncertain times. Though I am not a feminist, I appreciate the great accomplishments that the feminist movement has made for humanity and see that there seems to be some backsliding happening in the last couple of decades with generations younger than mine seeming to have lost their way with regard to what activities are acceptable in a so-called civilized society and what activities are (or should be) both morally reprehensible to all but the most deviant members of society, and also illegal. This is a moving target, I know. In the 1920s, for example, the consumption and sale of alcohol was in this category.

      Whether or not a conviction is obtained or not should not depend on whether or not the assailant was successful in achieving his goal (sexual intercourse, or male orgasm) but whether or not an actual crime was committed (rape, sexual assault, or just plain ol’ assault). In the case of adults, with the sex part at least, whether or not there was explicit consent is a crucial legal principal. In the case of the physical violence, consent, I would think, is less of an issue. Did, or did not, an assault take place? Were there any mitigating circumstances? Take it out of the sexual context for a moment. If I, a dude, go back to some dude’s apartment to talk about business or just have a beer, and then he starts beating me about the head or choking me for no apparent reason, whether or not I consented to that is not even going to be part of the discussion! Whereas if we got in a heated argument, and I took the first swing, and it seemed a case of self-defense on his part, whole different story!

      In the case of the absurd example you provide of comparing sexual activity to homicide, that is just silly. Whether or not a sexual encounter is an assault or just another mutually satisfying (or perhaps disappointing) hook-up depends ENTIRELY on the concept of consent! Whereas whether a death is a homicide or an accidental death or something else depends on things like intent, motive, etc.

      • corvid

        “I understand that, philosophically, you and I may both agree that these activities should ALWAYS be considered to be assault (except perhaps in a mixed martial arts ring, unless we choose to outlaw that so-called “sporting” activity), but we need a more distinct legal definition of what is abuse, what is sexual assault, and what isn’t, especially since we acknowledge that there are ‘fringe groups” (i.e. BDSM) that may not subscribe to the same moral standards as you or I (or our grandparents) as to what constitutes acceptable sexual activities between consenting adults and what doesn’t. These are uncertain times.”

        Maybe I’m missing something in your comment, but I have to say I don’t understand the argument that the law should accommodate BDSM practitioners in terms of allowing for the hypothetical that violence can be “consensual.” Why would this be necessary? I mean if BDSM practitioners really are happy with their so-called private discreet consent-filled lifestyles then why would they end up in court or in trouble with the law for any reason? Also isn’t the whole point to pretend that one is being “naughty” and “deviant”?

        • bngals

          “Also isn’t the whole point to pretend that one is being “naughty” and “deviant”? ”

          hahah so true. so pathetic.

  • This is an excellent talk by Catharine MacKinnon at the Nordiskt Forum held last spring on the subject of how we define rape in the law – especially with respect to consent and the problems with that being at the centre of our discussions and legal arguments:

    Catharine MacKinnon at the Nordiskt Forum 2014

  • Kate

    The similarities and differences with Bill Cosby’s case are interesting. Cosby was also a towering media figure whose power and authority kept dozens of women silent. But at no point in his public unwinding has anyone come close to the “but maybe it was super sexy consensual BDSM!” argument. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that Cosby drugged many of his victims, but I think his age must play a role too. Cosby is a few decades older than Ghomeshi, and many of the assaults that we know about took place twenty or thirty years ago before BDSM was seen as a legitimate defense of rape. The post you quote is correct that Ghomeshi’s bullshit defense would not have been possible twenty years ago. It makes me sick that we can no longer call a violent serial rapist what he is without being accused of prudery.

    • Red

      ” It makes me sick that we can no longer call a violent serial rapist what he is without being accused of prudery.”

      Oh, yes you can. Please do. Political correctness has no place in the criminal courts.

    • Sabine

      “…we can no longer call a violent serial rapist what he is without being accused of prudery.”

      It makes me sick too, Kate. It’s absolutely true that “kinky violence” did not feature as the commonly accepted bedfellow (ho hum) of sex a couple of decades ago. Maybe even a single decade ago. The fact it’s now seen as “hip” and pretty much normal amongst the younger generations is disastrous for women who are now having to spell out that they have not “consented” to being choked, beaten and slapped around by their assaulters. I cannot get my head round the world I find myself living in….

      • Kate

        As with increasingly violent porn, I think “kinky” men like Ghomeshi must go trough a desensitization process. At first they play by the rules, seeking out self-described submissive women on which they can play act sexual violence and talking through every last detail of what is and is not consented to. But of course a tolerance will build, and inflicting “consensual” sexual violence is not going to be enough after a while.

        • Morag

          Yes, Kate, there has to be a desensitization process involved in kink and sadomasochism. This is an important part of the picture and yet it’s not part of the public discussion about “consent”– as if consent were a fresh and new thing in each and every sexual encounter, with the partners blank slates– as if consent were a discrete event — and not a process that involves tolerance, particularly for the people who are “playing” at submission and dominance.

          And I haven’t noticed a whole lot discussion (except, of course, in radical feminist circles!) of the fact that the man who wants to “play” at dominance is not playing it all. This seems like such an obvious truth: that the man who is turned on by hurting and dominating a woman is, in FACT, a man who is turned on by hurting and dominating a woman!

          I know I’m not saying anything remarkable, here–but is it NOT remarkable that we never hear those talking-head panels on news programs just come right out and say this? But they don’t, ever. It’s remarkable; it’s anti-intellectual not to be able to see and name simple truths. Instead, they talk about whether or not the person receiving the abuse wanted it or not–and the talking heads are very capable of all kinds of nuance and grey areas when it comes to the supposed complexity of assault and rape.They use their smarts in the service of shit.

          You know, people (men and women both) are awfully touchy about Valerie Solanas’ manifesto. But, in it she describes very well (and hilariously) the salient characteristics of male sexuality as compulsive and insensitive. Sexual desensitization in men has been recognized as part of the mess of patriarchy for a long time–long before Ghomeshi and other men have used consenting BDSM as an excuse for their behaviour.

          • Morag, I agree with your ‘the emperor has no clothes’ point about men being turned on by hurting women. I’ve always thought interesting the same silence about so-called sport hunting: men enjoy killing animals. That’s all there is to it. But they go on and on about the need for meat and the good they’re doing the animal populations…

          • corvid

            That’s interesting. Recently I read Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, his thesis regarding meat is exactly that, that animal populations benefit from humans selectively “culling the herd.” He also became a hunter for a brief period and had pictures taken of himself next to a dead (female) wild pig he had killed… then he compares the pictures to “finding a stranger’s pornography” and describes feeling ashamed and guilty because of his actions, but nonetheless does not morally condemn them.

          • Kate

            Hey, we can never know whether that pig consented to being shot.

          • Morag

            “men enjoy killing animals. That’s all there is to it.”

            They do enjoy it. If it was just about dinner, they wouldn’t make pornography out of it (as corvid points out).

          • copleycat

            You’re right the pathology of BDSM doesn’t get called out, anyone who tries to do so is shut down and accused of being oppressive. Sex without feelings (as most men are socialized to have it) leads to BDSM and BDSM always escalates. The compulsive nature of BDSM gives it away as a failed compensation for the many senses of loss brought on by mis-using sex.

  • Survivorthrrver

    CBC carried a feature about Ghomeshi’s “fearless and brilliant” female attorney, and CBC noted about her, “Henein was described as “a key go-to lawyer for high-profile accused in Toronto.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/meet-marie-henein-the-fearless-and-brilliant-lawyer-defending-jian-ghomeshi-1.2851592

    This patriarchal wet dream of an attorney also, same article stating that “she was part of the legal team responsible for getting former Nova Scotia premier Gerald Regan acquitted in 1998 of sexual assault related charges. And she successfully defended junior hockey coach David Frost, who was found not guilty in 2008 on all four counts of sexual exploitation against two former players.”

    Ghomeshi’s bald lies and unacceptable sadomasochistic behaviors put Ghomeshi now in the position of experiencing handcuffs, confinement, and dominance but in service to justice – Lady Justice – in whose pincers his ball now lie.

    May we begin to hear from more victims of this sadist and violent predator.

    There is a lot of necessary whistle-blowing and outting of sexual predators these past few years. Sandusky. Savile. The Franklin Case. More to come in the UK with elected and elite perpetrators being named for murdering young children for their sex fetish. True that story.

    May more come forward whose experience includes battery, rape, imprisonment and other forms of so-called “rough sex” who no longer have to be embarrassed that they got caught up in this fetish freak show.

    Just like the pedophilia being exposed, the sadists are also to see their day in court. That time is now.

    To them I would say, go outside your community now, it is not safe, and report rape, assault now. It is not your fault. You can help stop what these doms get away with under the cover of “the lifestyle”.

    Ghomeshi – I wonder how many crimes he committed at work? Any civil liability for CBC? Ghomeshi used the fame and power conferred unto him while he was employed and the damage exposure must be huge for CBC. Predators like this don’t just shop during their off hours, you think?

    Regardless of the outcome of his current case, he can no longer serve in a high profile job. People like him never change, he’ll really get in trouble for something someday. Karma is a bitch. I’m 100% he’ll come to understand what non consensual justice looks like sooner or latter. For the public good.

  • Survivorthrrver

    PS: My bad. “To them” paragraph I was referring to the other sufferers of this bdsm lifestyle delusion of consensual assault, to them I say “report, report, report”….and not be embarrassed.

  • We consider consensual violence to be acceptable – consider sports such as wrestling and boxing. Is this different? If it isn’t, shouldn’t we be illegalizing wrestling and boxing as well? (I don’t intend to be raising a what about the men issue; I’m interested in the philosophical consistency.) (And, frankly, would ENTHUSIASTICALLY ENDORSE illegalizing violence in all sports.)

    • hm. the phrase ‘sport fucking’ used by a poster recently just came to mind. interesting. begs a whole paper on sex, sports, violence, men and the relationships thereamong…

      • C.K. Egbert

        I think there’s definitely a relation, and there’s a paper to be written on the relation between sports and masculinity (not to mention all the war metaphors….).

        Personally, I’m consistently against using “consent” as a means to ethically justify inflicting pain or injury on another human being.

        “Consensual violence” in this sense is not necessary for practicing even something like martial arts. I’ve sit on a few sessions before (including ones that involve grappling), and the only injuries I’ve sustained were very minor and accidental. A good instructor will ensure that the moves (including those that necessitate contact) are practiced in a way such that people are not injured while doing so.

        • In boxing, brain damage occurs. And we say the men consented to it.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Yes, I’m thinking more of martial arts for defensive purposes.

        • I wonder if we might one day reach a point where competitive martial arts consists of people demonstrating martial arts moves in front of audiences without another person present and being evaluated on the proficiency of their moves (kind of like dancing, LOL). But I think that encouraging moves that do not actually cause pain or injury is a good first step.

          Maybe we could introduce rules into martial arts competitions that penalised people for causing injury. It would add an extra level of challenge to the competition. People would have to get the moves just right so that they make contact, but do not actually harm the person. Maybe similar rules could be applied to sports like rugby and Australian football (which involves tackling). It is always fun to imagine how things could be different in a post-capitalist, post- patriarchal society.

          • amongster

            Aikido is a form of self-defense in which you are trained to use the energy of the attacker against him, mostly by using joint locks and throws (throws only work when your opponent knows how to fall without hurting himself, if he doesn’t he will try to stop his attack to not feel the damging force of it). There is always more then one person involved but if you look up some videos on youtube you can see that it really looks like dancing.

          • Audra Tettenborn

            “I wonder if we might one day reach a point where competitive martial arts consists of people demonstrating martial arts moves in front of audiences without another person present and being evaluated on the proficiency of their moves (kind of like dancing, LOL).”

            I honestly don’t know if you’re being sarcastic here or not. You just perfectly described an actual thing that happens; about 50% of kung fu and karate tournaments are devoted to the display of these routines. They’re called forms (or katas in karate), and they’re an incredibly important part of training. The focus is on technique, but also on balance, grace, and self-control.

            You’ve also (unknowingly?) described the point of sparring: to make contact without causing injury. I didn’t train at kung fu for long – couldn’t afford the club fees – but I can assure you that violence and pain are not encouraged. Contrary to what you might see in the movies, sparring at tournaments is done in a strictly controlled setting, where both parties are wearing protective equipment. Often, hits to the face, groin, throat, and joints are prohibited. Causing injury is frowned upon (although accidents happen, it’s generally an indication that you lost control of your movements), and purposefully causing injury is grounds for disqualification.

            I’m not oblivious to the intersection of violence, sports and masculinity, but (in my opinion) to group martial arts in with sports like rugby or American football (or even boxing, as I believe was done above) is wrong.

          • I was not being sarcastic. I was envisioning a scenario where competitive martial arts ONLY consisted of demonstrations, I am well aware that they occur. Though I admit that I never got very far with martial arts, I am sure that we are not currently at a point where martial arts competitions are free from physical contact. I am not saying it has to be like that, I am just putting it foreward as an option.

            As for discouraging people from causing physical pain/injury, I do not think it is enough for it to be “frowned upon”. I think people should get worse results in martial arts competition if do something that could cause physical injury, even if such injury does not occur and they do not intend to cause injury. Players would be rewarded (within the competition, not just with praise from their instructors for being ethical) for minimising the risk of injury, while still managing to make contact.

            I was intending to group rugby and martial arts together. I agree that rugby is more violent and brutal, but perhaps it could also be reformed.

          • “(in my opinion) to group martial arts in with sports like rugby or American football (or even boxing, as I believe was done above) is wrong.”

            I agree. The foundation of martial arts disciplines is entirely different from the sorts of masculist contacts sports that have emerged in the west.

            I can understand the rationale for removing contact from martial arts competition, but I think that it’s not operable. The forms require the interaction of bodies in space and the effects of energy dynamic as exchanged between the bodies. With the greatest respect, I think that proposing that these practices can be carried out in physical isolation feeds into the overall disembodiment of our culture and ultimate falls into the same category of thinking the says a virtual masturbatory sexual experience is no different from an exchange of pleasure and energy between two bodies. Like the idea that giving yourself a foot massage is no different from receiving one from someone else (it’s not).

            I hope this makes sense…

    • Wrestling commonly causes injuries, but that’s not the point. The point of boxing (the non-Olympic kind, anyway) is to cause the other party injury. I’d say that’s a big difference.

      • oh, but surely the point of rape is to cause the other party injury!

    • corvid

      I’m not sure I can answer this, but here are some thoughts. Wrestling and boxing are men’s games, they’re among the most obvious incarnations of the “dominance/submission” paradigm that the dominant class (men) subscribe to. Of course women participate in them (I find it heartbreaking to watch women’s wrestling and MMA.) I sure as hell wish these things didn’t exist, but honestly as a feminist I don’t find the issue of illegalizing wresting or boxing to be the same issue as that regarding BDSM.

      There are some differences that I can think of between the violence that occurs in BDSM and that of wrestling/mixed martial arts etc. For one, in these sports, it’s usually about matching opponents of the same size and skill level using similar techniques in an attempt to best one another. Members of the two sex classes are segregated and only matched between themselves. In BDSM, the point is eroticizing hierarchical relationships in a sexual context, from start to finish, there is a “top” and there is a “bottom,” with everything that entails. The “top” metes out the abuse, the “bottom” takes it. In the majority of cases this plays out as masculine top, feminized bottom. The main reason this is problematic (understatement of the year) for women is that this dynamic is an embodiment of the mechanics of our oppression.

      Ultimately I’m not sure how many people nowadays can say that they were “coerced” into becoming a fighter and basically held hostage to fight, in the way that prostituted women are basically held hostage in one way or another to perform the tropes put forth in BDSM. If men are being coerced into fighting I would definitely be interested in hearing about it, but that isn’t a feminist issue per se. Many women are coerced into “consenting” to our own abuse through the glamorization of BDSM, and as we see in this case, it is being used as a cover for abusive men.

      • C.K. Egbert

        I don’t watch those types of sports, but I wonder if there is a similar stream of eroticization/sado-masochism in their approach which they then transfer to their relations with women and children. In fact there’s good reason to think they do, because athletes are more likely to be perpetrators on college campuses. It seems to me that there’s a certain approach to human relations (domination) that runs through all of it (with the accompanying glorification of pain, violence, etc.).

        I agree, though, it isn’t the same issue. One of the reasons for considering physical abuse to be assault is that it would provide clear legal recourse for women who are abused through BDSM (willingly or not), without providing men the excuse of “she consented.” It might also teach men that hurting women is unacceptable by creating consequences for doing so.

        By the way, thanks to the transgender activism, males are now fighting women in a way that leaves them very unfairly matched: (FYI, graphic depiction of violence against women in the link)
        https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/fallon-fox-why-hormones-dont-make-a-woman/

        • corvid

          “I don’t watch those types of sports, but I wonder if there is a similar stream of eroticization/sado-masochism in their approach which they then transfer to their relations with women and children.”

          There is, definitely. We read about instances like the fighter calling himself “War Machine” beating his girlfriend (who happened to have been involved in pornography) half to death. I’ve seen programs where the final collapse of the losing fighter is literally called a “submission,” they don’t even mince words about it. is It’s interesting too that, as you mention, the purpose of martial arts like Jiu-Jitsu for example is exclusively defensive; they really stress the do-no-harm aspect and advise the student to avoid situations where one might be tempted to use the techniques. But of course if there were no attackers, there would be no need for defence.

          Thanks for the link… whoa, that’s terrifying.

          • amongster

            “I’ve seen programs where the final collapse of the losing fighter is literally called a “submission,” they don’t even mince words about it.”

            When Brazil lost against Germany in the Soccer World Cup fans uploaded the “highlights” to a porn site.

            Wherever there is competition the loser gets feminized. Is competition necessarily about domination? I’m not sure but it looks like it.
            I’ve never understood why you would want to compete against someone who is not you. I like to run and to see that I make progress, become faster and gain more stamina, but I don’t gain anything from knowing that I might be faster than someone who has a different body, different health status, different mind set etc etc.

        • Eliza

          BTW did U sign the petition?

          “Remove Fallon Fox , a biological male, from Women’s MMA.”

          https://www.change.org/p/mixed-martial-arts-llc-remove-fallon-fox-a-biological-male-from-women-s-mma

      • It helps (but also makes things more complicated) to consider consent to be a continuum. So some of those fighters may have been coerced by gender conditioning and limited economic opportunities to become a boxer.

        • corvid

          Sure, I agree that men groom one another for this sort of thing. Where I tend to get stuck on this issue is as follows: women didn’t invent these sports, men did. By the same token that they invented patriarchy. (They also invented BDSM, and nobody try to tell me they didn’t.) Why did they do it? The best answer I’ve been able to get out of the men I’ve spoken to is that this type of sport and violence in the media are “outlets for aggressive impulses.” Wouldn’t it be great if the MRAs began a serious campaign to end violence in contact sports instead of antagonizing feminists?

          • I didn’t know BDSM has an actual inventor (like the lightbulb, or the transistor)

            Do tell more.

          • corvid

            Did I indicate that BDSM had one specific inventor? Surprise, your favourite pastime is named after a couple of asshole dudes and dominated by, well, male Doms.

          • I dunno where you found a BDSM space thoroughly dominated by male doms but I would like to know the address.
            Where I happen to hang out, the ration of submissive men to dominant men is like, 4 to 1 or so, if you don’t count the switches.

            As to “BDSM” being named after “asshole dudes”, I kinda get why you would call De Sade that, but what did Leopold von Sacher-Masoch do to deserve being called “asshole”? Fought antisemitism and supported women’s suffrage and emancipation in the fine year of 1881? Yeah, an insufferable asshole if there ever was one, right?

    • Red

      I think we need some clear boundaries. There is a certain level of potential physical contact, perhaps what could even rightfully be called violence, and risk inherent in most sporting activities, or for that matter, in day to day activities. Not all physical contact, or so-called “violence” can be reasonably construed as assault.

      If some young idiot (I don’t care if it is a he or a she) walks in front of my car, too busy texting to bother checking if they had a walk light or not, did I assault them with my car? (I wasn’t speeding, I had a green light, they were jaywalking). By calling that person an idiot when discussing what happened with the police officer, is that victim blaming? What about a cyclist, speeding through a crosswalk instead of stopping and dismounting first in order to be properly considered a pedestrian? Intent of the accused is always (or should always be) a consideration.

      If two female athletes are in a swim competition, and one strays into the other’s lane and they collide, is that assault? We need to get real here.

      I do like the philosophical question you raise. Consistency is required. So is some common sense. Ghomeshi didn’t body check these chicks in a friendly game of shinny. They were violently assaulted. He needs to go to jail.

      • C.K. Egbert

        Your cases are red herrings, though, because they are all accidents. We are specifically talking about assault (deliberate action) and using consent as a justification of what would otherwise be considered violent behavior (inflicting pain/injury non-accidentally).

        The same goes for self-defense: it is also not a pertinent case because consent is not a justification for violence (self-defense is justified instead because of one is protecting oneself from harm).

        • Red

          “Your cases are red herrings though”

          Au contraire. I specifically chose examples like that to illustrate the importance of intent on the part of the “assailant”. If there is compelling evidence presented that suggest that the acts were deliberate, then it becomes assault, or worse, perhaps attempted murder.

          Just as intent on the part of the “accused” is relevant, so is the concept of consent on the part of the “victim”. It has to be.

          I agree that Ghomeshi’s situation clearly seems to me that he should be convicted of some form(s) of assault. I agree that one cannot (or should not be able to) consent to what we as a society should deem to be “criminal violence”. Where the challenge is in where to draw that line in the gray area of “between consenting adults in the bedroom” and what passes for acceptable behavior now in “modern civilization”. In my opinion we have greatly regressed in some areas in the past few decades. This “anything goes” B.S. pushed on us by Hollywood (and others), and the types of adult information that our children are being exposed to at younger and younger ages is disturbing.

          • marv

            ‘…what passes for acceptable behavior now in “modern civilization”. In my opinion we have greatly regressed in some areas in the past few decades. This “anything goes” B.S. pushed on us by Hollywood (and others), and the types of adult information that our children are being exposed to at younger and younger ages is disturbing.’

            This statement is disturbingly gender neutral. “Modern civilization”, “anything goes”, “Hollywood (and others)”, “types of adult information” all happen on the social ladder of male hierarchy. Those above control those below by virtue of their position. In such a ranking ‘gray areas’ are a preoccupation of the privileged, a smokescreen to distract from the inordinate power disparity between men and women. It’s a luxury to analyze in a political vacuum. Believe women instead of being an elitist contrarian. The rest will take care of itself.

          • Morag

            “In such a ranking ‘gray areas’ are a preoccupation of the privileged, a smokescreen to distract from the inordinate power disparity between men and women.”

            Beautifully put.

            I propose we call these pompous and privileged, often liberal, people “the Greys” (Canadian spelling preferred!), in honour of their non-productive preoccupation with “grey areas,” their status-quo-loving neutrality, moral neutrality, and the colour of their smokescreens, which obscure, camouflage and deny power disparity. It would function as a short-hand for all that stuff. Heh.

          • marv

            Hilariously useful idea!

          • Red

            Who said anything about not believing women?

            My comment is gender neutral – OK – how is that disturbing? Are you suggesting that male actors in Hollywood aren’t also objectified and type cast? That husbands and fathers aren’t made out to be goofs by the advertisers that also objectify women as sex objects?

            I agree that the power structure still is top heavy with dudes – however I am not one of those dudes.

            Look I’m an old white dude, so I’m sure you can all come up with some fitting stereotypical comments to make about me. But the funniest thing I’ve had happen all week is to be called an “elitist contrarian”, when my background should have resulted in a long term prison term. Instead, I chose to escape my upbringing and worked hard to escape becoming another statistic.

            My point was – we need standards. Consent is one of them. Many people of all ages are in loving long term relationships with people of the opposite gender. I am a father of sons and have done my very best to raise them to be respectful of women, to be color blind when dealing with other people, to be men of character.

            This approach would have been applauded by society fifty years ago. Now, at every turn, my efforts are eroded by rap music, Hollywood, bullshit they get fed by their teachers, and a general “anything goes” approach by the culture around them. And I’m not even an old neo-con prude. I vote NDP. I listen to the CBC.

            I think we are saying the same thing. I agree with most of what I’ve seen Meghan post here about the porn and BSDM cultures. However, because I happen to be male and white, when I say something, it apparently has less value. Not cool.

          • Believe women instead of being an elitist contrarian.

            CORRECTION:
            Believe women instead of being an elitist contrarian, but only if women agree with your beliefs and preferences.

  • Epiong

    Great article as always. One comment; on the subject of why the police acted as quickly as they did in this case AND actually charged him. I don’t think it’s overstating the case to say that the work you and feminists like you have done and continue to do to make the case that male violence against women is a huge problem and needs to be taken seriously is a big part of the reason why. Kudos to you and please keep doing what you do. The tide may finally be turning. Ever so slowly, but still…..

    • Meghan Murphy

      The conversation has certainly shifted as of late… Definitely thanks, in large part, to the feminist movement.

  • I learn a lot from your posts, Meghan. And I must confess to a staggering naïveté — I always pictured an overdressed Dominatrix as the icon for BDSM… Which WAS the case with Terri-Jean Bedford, the spokeswoman who opposed Bill C-36. But in fact, it’s NOT the Saucy Dom in hyper-feminine drag bossing men that’s the starattraction in your local dungeon, it’s Boom-Boom Ghomeshi beating girls brains out and calling it uber-kool. So the choice of Bedford was deliberate. What a fecking con!

  • Quinn Ross

    Perhaps this is unnecessarily nuanced… One can consent to violence against their person. The threshold of consent for this violence is the point of bodily harm. Once that threshold is reached, consent is no longer a valid defence. The criminal act of assault has as a necessary element the lack of consent… so while one can consent to violence, one cannot consent to assault, as the very nature of assault includes the lack of consent. Thus I can consent to violent sex, failing which consent I would be assaulted sexually. I cannot technically consent to violent sex which results in bodily harm. Regardless, the allegations to date lack consent at all so the extent of the violence and harm is irrelevant.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I’m not sure that is nuanced enough. Some forms of torture will not cause bodily harm; they just cause pain or psychological distress. I’d want a way of condemning those.

      This isn’t a central part of the discussion here, but feminists think there are other problems with consent; for one thing, it erases the power relations/power differentials between parties and creates an illusion of equity. This is why sexual harassment is not based upon a consent standard.

      • Quinn Roas

        I’m not sure I follow. One would not consent to torture, and legislation exists to address non physical harm to a person. Further, as I understand it, ‘consent’ in its true sense exists or it doesent… Unless you are arguing that some, due to a power imbalance, are incapable of actually consenting, even if they think they are. If so, then I suppose we would need a philosopher elite available to ascertain consent or better still the capacity to form consent.

        • Yes, it is indeed complicated. I did my Master’s thesis on the issue of consent in sex and sexual assault and still struggle with the issues. About the only thing I’m clear on is that it consent best conceived as a continuum.

        • C.K. Egbert

          I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic about the “philosopher elite” here (I’m a philosophy student), but our “theoretical” understanding of consent (and the underlying notion of “autonomy,” of which I’m highly suspect) inform our social understandings and even our law.

          Power differentials vitiate consent because they create a context of coercion (which is why some sexual harassment standards, for example, forbid relationships between students and teachers at universities).

          As for not consenting to torture, I’m afraid you are wrong. People “consent” to torture and abuse all the time (BDSM, but also medical experiments which have involved, for example, prolonged starvation). In fact it’s relatively easy to get people to consent to pretty much anything, because human beings are extremely susceptible to social coercion and socialization generates our self-conceptions. This is one of the problems with women’s subordination: because women are treated in such a way that they do not believe they are entitled to bodily integrity, freedom from suffering, etc., they will learn to expect and even “want” what is harmful or abusive (it’s called adaptive preference).

          If you are interested, I’d search “consent” on this website for several articles. MacKinnon also has a thorough critique of consent in her book, “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State.”

          • Great response. Thank you.

    • We consent to bodily harm in the case of medical procedures – presumably because the benefit outweighs the harm/injury.

      • Sabine

        I believe C.K. is referring to medical experiments (which benefit Big Pharma) NOT procedures (which would hopefully benefit the recipient.)

        • C.K. Egbert

          Correct (psychological experiments are prone to the same problems as medical ones).

          I think medicine is–at least theoretically–a different case because it can be justified by the procedure having a demonstrated benefit for the patient that is greater than the possible risks and, I would add, insofar as the medical practitioner does what they can to alleviate the discomfort caused by it. Medicine is definitely not practiced this way, but it could potentially be reformed. But BDSM cannot be reformed because there is no purpose other than to inflict violence.

          • Au contrare, the goal of BDSM is to bring joy and pleasure to all participants.

            Because acts you consider “unconditionally abusive” are something I like to experience (on the receiving end) under certain specific sexual circumstances.

            Who exactly are you to tell me what is “acceptable use policy” for my own body (and how, in doing so, would you be different from a fundamentalist telling me that I should only do vaginal sex, get pregnant, and raise offspring) ?

          • Meghan Murphy

            No one’s telling you what to do. Is anything ‘pleasurable’ outside the realm of critique? What if it is harmful to others? What if it is unethical? There are plenty of things that are ‘pleasurable’ that cause harm or are unethical. I have no interest in living in a society wherein what is acceptable is solely based on whether it provides ‘pleasure.’

          • Oh, so you have evidence of my sexual activities being harmful to third parties, at least on par with empirical evidence involved with second hand smoking phenomenon (or perhaps even better empirical evidence)?

            I am interested in this vast epidemiological study of how masochists poisoning the world around them (ideally, it should pertain to female masochists, cause you know, those are most relevant to my interests)

          • Meghan Murphy

            What on earth are you talking about? I don’t have ‘evidence’ of anything.

            “I am interested in this vast epidemiological study of how masochists poisoning the world around them”

            You are awfully simple-minded, aren’t you? It’s not as simple as a cause-and-effect impact, as in, an individual BDSMer is ‘poisoning the world’. It’s about what’s behind sadomasochism and BDSM, the larger issue of violence against women, sexualization of violence against women, the sexualization of inequality and domination, the fetishizing of sexist gender roles, etc.

            That said, yes, I do believe that sexualizing dominance and subordination/violence against women is harmful to society and women.

            If you’re interested, read away! http://feministcurrent.com/tag/bdsm/

  • Morag

    Don’t want to derail the topic, but I thought people who are following the case might like to know that tonight, on The Fifth Estate, the CBC (yes, that seems weird) will air “The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2014-2015/the-unmaking-of-jian-ghomeshi

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh yes! Saw a promo for that yesterday. Thanks for the reminder!

    • You can watch the full documentary here: http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/

      • Rebel Nana

        Interestingly just the night before the Gomeshi Doc aired, The Psychopath Next Door was aired – after viewing both back to back – it’s quite obvious that Gomeshi is a Psychopath. http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episodes/the-psychopath-next-door

        • Meghan Murphy

          I did the same! The Psychopath Next Door made me extremely angry though… I felt like they were trying to medicalize masculinity and men’s abusive behaviour in a way… Did you find that?

          Like, I felt like the obvious question they weren’t answering was: why are all these psychopaths men?

          I mean, certainly the behaviour traits can be described as psychotic — I refer to my abusive ex as a sociopath all the time but, at the same time, the behaviour they were describing were the exact behaviour that describe abusers… I wish they’d talked about it as learned a bit more, instead of treating as though it were something innate.

          • Rebel Nana

            Medicalization for sure, predispositions only accounts for a small percentage of genetic inheritance — the clean slate is painted by the environment.

        • I saw that too. I thought it was really good, and even better than good since it had Ann-Marie MacDonald as a narrator. 😉

    • Morag

      Re: “The Unmaking of Jian Ghomeshi.”

      So, I’ve been leaving comments about this episode on The Fifth Estate website. Most of my comments have been published, EXCEPT for 2 comments in which I wrote that it’s FACT that Jian Ghomeshi is turned on by hurting/abusing women. I mean, this is a fact, no? He wrote a long letter about hurting women being his “sexual preference.”

      So, I went back to the discussion today, and found an overtly racist comment about Ghomeshi. How could this be? I wrote the following comment:

      ‘Interesting moderation around here. About a week ago, I left a comment to the effect of: “Ghomeshi is turned on by abusing women, and we know this is true, because he told us so.” No vulgar language at all. But, for whatever reason, it was not approved for publication. Now I see a comment, below, calling Ghomeshi a “crummy little immigrant from the Punjab.” What gives, CBC fifth estate moderators?’

      This comment of mine was quickly disabled. The “crummy little immigrant” icomment s STILL there.

      What could this mean? What does this say about CBC?

      Naming male violence = not approved.
      Using unambiguous racist language = approved.

      I am fucking furious. The CBC may be corrupt from its top executives right to its website moderators. No wonder Ghomeshi thrived for so long.

      • Morag

        Let me add that the “crummy little immigrant” comment, by someone named “pud” has been there for FOUR DAYS. This is no mistake. This racist comment has been approved. Moreover, this same “pud” has left comments about how the CBC should be burnt down to the ground with kerosene. Approved!

        But my comments, regarding Ghomeshi’s abusive “preferences” were disabled within minutes. This is no mistake. Someone is there, right on top of things– someone is judging my comments as more offensive than pud’s.

        I want Canadian feminists to know this about our beloved CBC.

  • Pingback: Sunday feminist roundup (30th November 2014) (feimineach/com)()

  • I am a woman who is into heavy BDSM, and I enjoy things that some people could qualify as “abuse” (including flogging, knife-play, needle-play and many other things along those lines)

    Are you willing to
    a) prevent me from having a sex life I sincerely and fully enjoy by adopting laws that make it illegal for my partners to participate in acts I desire (and possibly force me to seek sexual fulfillment in outright criminal underground venues that pose greater risk both for me and society at large) ?
    b) try to somehow force me to reject my own sexuality and adopt a new one?

    Or maybe you would just prefer to claim that I (and women like me) simply do not exist ?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I would prefer that you consider the possibility that these practices/the things that turn you on in the bedroom don’t exist in a vacuum.

      • Oh, I have considered that, but current evidence suggests that there is no “spooky action at a distance” radiating outwards from my bedroom, just as well as current evidence does not suggest there is a Fra^Heudian 🙂 ID/”Collective Unconscious” kind of affair which my humble choices could meaningfully affect.

        We might, of course, engage in abstract (and highly theoretic at best, vaguely unscientific at worst) speculations regarding “archetype effects” and other such shenanigans. However, it turns out that ever relatively basic things like priming are not yet in our scientific grasp (Turns out many “classical” priming studies are a load of crock, see Ed Yong’s coverage in Discover magazine) and so our ability to provide empirical evidence to back our speculations would be very limited.

        But you know, I am all in favor of people theorizing – let a million speculative theories bloom and whatnot, as long as people don’t pose their theory as an actionable fact of life and subtly (but consistently) insinuate a need for a course of action that would negatively affect my own quality of life .

        By the way, please don’t take it the wrong way, but your response is a classical rhetorical distraction.

        Whether my humble bedroom affairs exist in a vacuum (wheeze! cough!), a cloud of luminiferous aether, or a social context which is beyond our current scientific ability to analyze and model reliably, does not change the simple fact that your argument, if accepted completely and at face value, naturally leads to the conclusion that something has to be done to reduce the social acceptability and availability of BDSM.

        Depending on minutiae of the argument in question, this “something” may be either a blanket set of measures (which will damage me directly), or a set of measures targeting dominant/sadistic men specifically (which will damage me indirectly by damaging some of my sexual partners)

        Your arguments, much like my humble bedroom, do not exist in a vacuum. Unfortunately.

        • Meghan Murphy

          You’re going to be ‘indirectly damaged’ if feminists ‘target’ sadistic men with their efforts to challenge the sexualization of violence against women? Ok then. So be it.

          • Depends on what exactly do you mean by “challenging sexualization of violence”, because that kind of phrasing is quite open to creative (re)interpretation.

            I am unlikely to be damaged by mere theoretical speculations and rhetoric of yours as long as said speculations and rhetoric do not inspire an enforceable law or some kind of Westbro style social harassment movement against me or my loved ones.

            But then again, I doubt actual rapists are going to be in any way damaged (or even strongly inconvenienced) by any amount of empirically impoverished media-theoretical speculation, so as long as you don’t actually write laws or start mobs, it’s status quo all the way down.

            P.S.:
            When you seize power (just kidding…), will you be so kind as to at least leave sadomasochistic lesbians be?
            I’m not that much into women, but hey, as far as I’m concerned homosexuality beats having to limit myself to vanilla-only sex 😉

          • Meghan Murphy

            You’re right. You are unlikely to be damaged by critiques of BDSM. So what’s your concern here? Afraid of self-reflection/critique?

          • Oh, I’m very fond of self-reflection and introspection, those are fun (I do, however, believe that human introspection is fundamentally unreliable and thus the insights gained trough introspection are tainted and unreliable as well)

            However, I doubt that you are willing to limit yourself to abstract “critique” and philosophical discussion.

            In fact, your very own text clearly states a need for alteration of social attitudes (specifically, the part that starts with nuanced claim that integration of violence into one’s sex life is “gross and unacceptable”).

            Such an alteration would make it harder (if not impossible, because the term “unacceptable” is usually reserved for things society is supposed to stamp out with zero tolerance) for me to exercise sexual behaviors I find attractive, which is not something I would like to happen.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Such an alteration would make it harder (if not impossible, because the term “unacceptable” is usually reserved for things society is supposed to stamp out with zero tolerance) for me to exercise sexual behaviors I find attractive, which is not something I would like to happen.”

            Oh well.

          • “Oh, I’m very fond of self-reflection and introspection, those are fun”

            Actually they are generally not that much fun. This are usually challenging and I don’t for a second think you are “very fond” of them. Self-absorption and self-awareness are not the same and self-awareness requires an adjunct awareness of what else and who else exists around you. Otherwise it’s just a [super-fun!] echo chamber.

          • So you are the person who determines what’s “fun” for other people? Cool. How do I land a gig like that?

            On a more serious note, introspection is (hopelessly and irredeemably) subjective. If yours happens to be also “usually challenging”, then… you have my sympathies.

        • marv

          “…let a million speculative theories bloom and whatnot, as long as people don’t pose their theory as an actionable fact of life and subtly (but consistently) insinuate a need for a course of action that would negatively affect my own quality of life.”

          Classic postmodern narcissism – egotistical self-realization.

          • It is hard to discern any semblance of an argument here (mayhaps an ad hominem…)

            Are you suggesting that even harmless speculative theories should be forcibly extinguished, or that empirically unsupported speculations that can do humble me actual harm should not be opposed by me on those mere grounds ?

          • corvid

            BDSM does women “actual harm”, that’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Are you saying feminists shouldn’t openly oppose it on those grounds, because your leisure pastime and orgasms trump our human rights?

          • MetaAnnoying

            And you have scientific proof of this harm, right?

            At least a measly correlation linking a rise in violent crimes against women and rise of BDSM acceptance perhaps ?

            I mean, I’m not fond of BDSM “culture” (and gay “culture” for that matter), probably because I am old and set in my boring monogamous vanilla ways, but the quality of the anti-BDSM argument presented in this discussion is on par with what climate change deniers present, which is a shame.

          • Yes. Postmodern narcissism cloaking neoliberal socioeconomic theory. Funny how that works.

            God forbid a discussion of the mechanisms of social inequality should affect any individual quality of life.

          • MetaAnnoying

            God forbid we base our conclusions on statistics and evidence, and not pet peeves and “mechanism theories” that barely rise above the level of soft scifi.

            Again, I personally would very well like BDSM people (and gay people) to just go away someplace else, but I have enough intellectual honesty to acknowledge that I have no evidence that would suggest that BDSM parties or gay marriages pose any credible threat to society.

            And I don’t think that me being disgusted by something means that it is objectively wrong (I am disgusted by many things, most of them definitely harmless)

          • Morag

            “Classic postmodern narcissism – egotistical self-realization.”

            That, and painfully boring.

    • Morag

      What’s with the language: “Force me … prevent me … “?

      Who, here, is preventing or forcing you to do or not do anything?

      What we want to prevent is men hurting, sexually assaulting, and raping women and using “sexual preference” as a defence. Why you would think your orgasms are AS important as that, is beyond me.

      • So basically, you want to poses an ability to aggressively prosecute some “(evil) men”, and if that ends up somehow hurting me or men I actually love and with whom I am engaged in a mutually beneficial sexual relationship, then you would kindly suggest that I “suck it up” because I am not important enough?

        And of course, you get to judge just exactly how important my orgasms are, in the Grand Universal Scheme Of Grand Universal Things, right ?

        Why, thank you!

        • Morag

          “And of course, you get to judge just exactly how important my orgasms are, in the Grand Universal Scheme Of Grand Universal Things, right ?”

          Correct. Of course. Why would you even ask?

          • I’m fond of asking people about stuff.

            Probably related to the masochism thing 😀

          • Missfit

            Obvious. Who would think that their own individual orgasms are in anyway important in the ‘grand scheme of things having to do with the universe’? Everybody has orgasms. Some people seem to be disproportionately invested in them however. Because it’s more than simply orgasms, it is the symbolism they associate with them. Such as men ‘needing’ to sexually dominate a woman in order to feel manly/superior/worthy. People into BDSM seem to be very invested in their orgasms and everything they put into them. It’s an ‘identity’ see. This may explain why they become so defensive when anybody criticize their hobby. Like videogamers who go berserk when someone dares to criticize the misogyny in some games. What is it with violence against women that some people go out of their way to defend it as thoug they couldn’t live without it? That’s something!

            BDSMer: Can’t have an orgasm without violence? How does that even work? How does someone come to that? Or is it that you find it boring without the violence? You don’t like when people say that trivializing and propagandizing violence against women as sexy is dangerous for women. And it is, on many levels. Having our sexual fetishes being entertained by society no matter the costs to others is not a right. Not being bored is not a right. Women’s safety is and it trumps the ‘quality’ of your orgasms anytime.

          • MetaAnnoying

            Again, weirded out as I might with people like Tercera above (And I am not comfortable with BDSM, and that includes masochists like her) I see utter abscence of any semblance of evidence that would suggest that impeding her from having her orgasms the way she likes would somehow improve safety of women.

            Also, I have to ask you, since you stated your “needs of the many trump needs of the few” idea most explicitly, just how effective should be oppressing BDSMers (specifically, in this case, masochistic women who like having sex with sadistic men) at improving the safety of women (or any other socially positive effect) for us to consider it a worthy endeavor to implement such measures?

            Is there minimum “cutoff efficiency” at which point the social benefit is so tiny that spoiling another person’s sex life is no longer worth it?

          • Missfit

            I don’t think masochistic women are a threat to women’s safety, I think sexually sadistic men are. You think a man like Gomeshi is not a threat to women’s safety? I think that encouraging sadism is a threat to women’s safety. You don’t? Why/how? And because of that, I am against the mainstreaming of the concept that violence against women is sexual.

            What evidence are you looking for exactly? That BDSM and violent porn hurt women? The evidence exists, go look for it. Testimonies of women who were hurt by BDSM. Women who were groomed by BDSM porn to do things that hurt them. Women being hurt by sadistic men in the production of porn. Violence/sadism in porn becoming ever more common and accessible. Men pressuring women do to things that hurt them because they want to recreate what they see in porn. Even reports of boys hurting girls (shoud I specify non willing?) by recreating what they have seen in porn. Studies about porn having an effect on the attitudes and behaviors of the consumers, including wtr to violence against women. There is plenty of evidence, go look for it. Look at anti-porn ressources. Are you going to ask if cheese was controlled for because maybe all this could be explained by something in cheese that alter behavior? Because what logic would there be in being fed sexualized depictions of violence against women leading to actual sexual violence against women?

            You maintain that violence against women does not hurt women? That sexualizing violence against women does not hurt women? Please explain how that works. You can provide evidence too. Please also provide logic.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Yeah. It’s logical that sexualizing violence against women is bad for women. What ‘evidence’ are you looking for. Prove it doesn’t @MetaAnnoying.

          • MetaAnnoying

            Sorry, but why are you trying to pull a “prove that no god exists” move here? I haven’t even made a positive claim, merely asked as to evidence from people who do make such claims.

            As to what evidence I would like to see and why – see my response to Missfit

          • Meghan Murphy

            Rape culture. Violence against women. The sexualization of violence against women. That’s the proof.

          • MetaAnnoying

            Okay, looks like we have bottomed out this thread.

            Anyway, I have specifically stated what evidence concerns me (and why this type of evidence, and not some other type) when replying to Missfit)

          • Meghan Murphy

            @MetaAnnoying

            “I see utter abscence of any semblance of evidence that would suggest that impeding her from having her orgasms the way she likes would somehow improve safety of women.”

            You are manipulating the conversation and points being made. The point isn’t to prevent anyone from having orgasms. The point is that the larger trend of BDSM is linked to the sexualization of violence against women and of inequality and of domination and subordination. These things are not good for women or for society, at large, if our conception of a healthy society is an egalitarian one free from violence.

            Personally, I think orgasms will survive equality.

            Also, I am primarily concerned with male violence against women… Men are the ones who seem, mostly, not be able to get off without dominating, hurting, or exploiting women. There is no widespread epidemic of female on male violence. Which is to say that the orgasms I’m primarily concerned with interrupting, are male orgasms. Which is not to say any of them will have to stop having orgasms, it means that I would like them to learn to have orgasms without hurting, dominating, or exploiting women.

            “Also, I have to ask you, since you stated your ‘needs of the many trump needs of the few’ idea most explicitly, just how effective should be oppressing BDSMers (specifically, in this case, masochistic women who like having sex with sadistic men) at improving the safety of women (or any other socially positive effect) for us to consider it a worthy endeavor to implement such measures?”

            Not directed at me, but I would like to point out that, since BDSMers are not a class in and of themselves, they are just individuals who like to wear silly outfits and play at violence/pain/domination/subordination/etc. in the bedroom, they are not being ‘oppressed’ because feminists argue that what would be great is if people could get off without abusing each other.

          • MetaAnnoying

            I will respond below since the thread has run out of depth and that makes comments a painful mess to read.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Sorry the max the threads can go is ten comments deep…

          • MetaAnnoying

            Missfit, many years ago, I would have agreed with you 100% and without reservations.

            But after getting involved in a number of activist affairs related to the whole holywood / videogame violence thing (it was around the time there was that super-controversial game about psychotic drivers) and relying on similar evidence to support my position of a concerned parent (and getting burned in the long run when it turned out that Anderson studies were more or less tempest in a teapot and that epidemiological data does not confirm a videogame-related rise in violent crime which I was concerned about – it turned out that my intuitions were wrong and I wasted considerable time and even some money on a hollow cause) I have grown increasingly wary of testimonies and experimental studies.
            This very approach is the reason why I ended supporting gay marriage (despite personal attitude on the issue), despite conservative attempts to spin it as a “threat” to “children” through low-quality evidence.

            At this point, I would like to see evidence of a correlation between subject matter (public acceptance of BDSM, given this specific discussion) and negative social outcomes “in the wild” (increase in sex crimes, violent crimes, reduced reporting of relevant crimes, reduced professional visibility, whatever), ideally across several jurisdictions (so that the observed phenomena won’t be attributable to particular jurisdictions law-enforcement practices).

            After such correlations are found, we can start looking for a causal link (or demonstrate lack thereof)

            As to my ideas on porn, well, I used to like Malamuth a lot, but now I am not so sure.

            If I may ask, Missfit…do you happen to believe that certain forms of media (be they pornography, blockbuster movies, or creepy French arthouse cinema – the exact media type is not relevant here) can induce specific negative attitude changes in their viewers/readers/consumers irrespective of the viewer’s initial mindset ?

            Essentially, do you believe in “media toxins” / “cultural polution”?

          • vagabondi

            Do you believe that the multi billion dollar advertising industry is all just superstition? Or do you think that maybe advertisers wouldn’t be willing to spend more money than you can even imagine unless it was pretty certain that exposure to even tiny little blips of media content can influence attitudes and – yes – even behavior?

          • MetaAnnoying

            I think you are somewhat mistaken as to my stance.

            I am quite sympathetic to the “media toxin” concept, and am quite interested in looking at the subject matter at hand through this perspective.

            That’s why I decided to ask Missfit (and, later on, Megan) about it.

          • Well, I don’t really hope this to get through (so much for respecting lived experience of women at this fine establishment, lol), but I guess I’ll still reply, for completeness sake.

            ================================

            Re: Missfit

            For me (and I speak for myself, as a masochistic woman. I can’t speak for all people who are “into BDSM”, let alone males) it has nothing to do with “symbolism”. Nada. Zilch. It has everything to do with having a pleasurable experience. That simple.

            Now, as to the very controversial issue of whether I have the right to enjoy my own sexuality with likeminded adults as I please, and whether there is a larger social interest that would require limiting me in this regard…

            We could have had a meaningful discussion about the way an individual’s interests interact with interests of society at large and women specifically, but that would require you to refrain from ugly bait-and-switch tricks like the one you did when you spuriously equated BDSM and “violence against women”.
            That, or you could of course demonstrate how BDSM culture is “dangerous to women” on “many levels” (while specifying said levels).

            I doubt you have such evidence, and I doubt you will refrain from underhanded bait-and-switch ploys.

            Since you present no evidence (only questionable rhetorical tactics), there is no “social interest versus my interest” question here.
            There is only “your questionable and unsubstantiated pet theory versus my interest”, which is a slightly different thing.

            However, I guess I have to commend you for explicitly stating that in your opinion, your questionable theory trumps “my orgasms”.
            Such honesty is laudable.
            I guess your comment gives substantial insight into what I can expect to happen to myself if “you and yours” gain any political power over me.

            Thanks for being honest, Missfit

          • Missfit

            You talked about orgasms and I won’t dispute the fact that this is a pleasurable experience. Orgasms are usually achieved by stimulating the genitals. What I’m saying is that it is misleading to describe your BDSM experience with the word ‘orgasm’. What knives specifically have to do with procuring orgasms, I don’t know. I don’t deny that you find whatever you engage with to be a pleasurable experience.

            It is particularly the ‘violence against women’ part of BDSM that I am interested in as a feminist. Male dominating/hurting/humiliating women is what is widespread, not the other way around. Would you say that violence against women is not the central feature of BDSM? Even in BDSM circles, violating women (non consensually) is an issue. I have not heard that women violating men is.

            As to ‘ how BDSM culture is “dangerous to women” on “many levels”’, I just left a comment in response to MegaBoring about how BDSM/porn hurt women (thus dangerous). There is also a wide array of feminist theory that explains how the objectification of women and the legitimation of violence against them affect the overall status of women in society.

            ‘I guess your comment gives substantial insight into what I can expect to happen to myself if “you and yours” gain any political power over me.’
            I’m curious: what would that be?

          • marv

            Cherryblossomlife once said, “….a woman should never forget that whatever her personal feelings on the matter, and whether or not she gets off on pain and humiliation, the inescapable truth is that she is with a man who enjoys hurting her.”

            http://radicalhubarchives.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/from-smlove-to-activism-bdsm-part-iii/

          • Okay, I’m preemptively sorry if this comment will offend you – or anyone.
            It might. Fair warning.

            You talked about orgasms and I won’t dispute the fact that this is a pleasurable experience. Orgasms are usually achieved by stimulating the genitals. What I’m saying is that it is misleading to describe your BDSM experience with the word ‘orgasm’.

            Well, not all of my BDSM-related pleasurable experiences are technically orgasms, though majority are, and this doesn’t change Morag’s (and later, yours) point anyway.

            My experiences, according to Morag and you, at the very least, aren’t important enough in the face of Greater Universal (or at the very least, Greater Social 🙂 ) Good.

            Which is an oddly familiar argument, you know.

            It is particularly the ‘violence against women’ part of BDSM that I am interested in as a feminist. Male dominating/hurting/humiliating women is what is widespread, not the other way around. Would you say that violence against women is not the central feature of BDSM?

            Where I happen to frequent, the numerical dominance of dominant men (hah!) is less than apparent, but that may be a local phenomenon, and I don’t have precise statistics.

            I would say that “violence” in BDSM isn’t supposed to be against anyone, and is quite a distinct thing (much in the same way bungee jumping is distinct from “jump to a painful death”).

            Even in BDSM circles, violating women (non consensually) is an issue. I have not heard that women violating men is.

            It is an issue in every circle where a rapist can gain victim’s trust and proceed without interruption (the most common place for rape is victim’s home after all)

            You know, that Ghomeshi guy used to frequent (quite likely with nefarious intents) Take Back the Night and various white ribbon events, and yet somehow that doesn’t make those events inherently problematic.

            As to women abusing men in BDSM, is there like, any social circle where female-on-male rape is more prevalent than the obverse? If no, then at most your claim amounts to that BDSM communities follow same rape trends as other communities where people enter high-trust relationships. Which is unsurprising.

            As to ‘ how BDSM culture is “dangerous to women” on “many levels”’, I just left a comment in response to MegaBoring about how BDSM/porn hurt women (thus dangerous). There is also a wide array of feminist theory that explains how the objectification of women and the legitimation of violence against them affect the overall status of women in society.

            Given that there are disagreements as to role and exact nature of objectification in human interactions, I’d like to see something more tangible.

            Because it would be a shame if people I like (in some cases, love) would get shamed (hah!) for what they do to consenting adults (me included) without any demonstrable Greater Social Good manifesting as a result.

            I’m curious: what would that be?

            Oh, a what-if? Well, well.

            If we take a hypothesis that states that BDSM harms “Greater Social Good”, accept it without any need for actual, you know, testing, and combine it with the sentiment that my orgasms (or other pleasant experiences) are not all that important in the Grand Scheme of (Universal) Things…
            … nothing pretty, I would suppose.

            Possibly even up to laws enacted to prosecute, fine and even incarcerate men who did nothing wrong but give me what I explicitly want from them.

            Which will naturally make me feel rather shitty even if I will not end up being harassed/prosecuted directly (Which I might, depending on which shape your hypotheses will ultimately take when “nurtured” by actual political power – after all, my happiness is rather unimportant, as has been previously indicated in this discussion)

            And something tells that what little sexual interest in women I have won’t help me all that much since “dommes” will get same treatment as male BDSMers.

            It’s more or less the kind of thing that BDSM folks used to get before psychiatrists have decided (being the fanciful quirky lot that they are) to normalize consensual sadomasochism, and I’m old enough to recall the time when “being me” was unconditionally considered to be a kind of mental disease.

            So thank you very much for not having much political power.

            No hard feelings, I hope 🙂

          • Missfit

            Violence performed on women, like hitting, verbal abuse (how can you call that if not violence?), is a central part of BDSM. What we most often see as the most prevalent form of BDSM/porn is men/dom on women/sub violence. On that, it is on par with the patriarchal norms and no different than what can be found in other social areas. And BDSM openly condones this dom/sub relationship, eroticizes the violence. The same relationship/violence that hurts women.

            I don’t know if rape is more prevalent in BDSM circles than others, I know there are support groups for people who have been sexually assaulted in BDSM while you don’t necessarily see that in other social clubs. Abuse is more likely to happen whitin a context of power imbalance, the same power dynamics that is usually enacted in BDSM. All in all, I think that getting off on hurting women is more likely to lead you to sexually assault a woman than a white ribbon event.

            Of course there are disagreements on the role of objectification (some even think it can be empowering). I won’t wait for everybody to agree on something before I make my mind because that is never going to happen. There is enough literature on the subject out there though to consult and form an opinion.

            The fact that BDSM imagery/narrative being less prevalent and challenged could affect you, that is possible. To what terrible extent, I can’t fathom. BDSM/porn have already make the lives of many women shitty so…

          • Violence performed on women, like hitting, verbal abuse (how can you call that if not violence?), is a central part of BDSM.

            Well, first, personal experience makes me doubt that BDSM is so centered on female submissives/masochists, but that might be just a property of places I hang out in and I don’t have reliable statistics on sex/gender breakdown of “BDSM submissive and/or masochist population”

            You bring forth an interesting question – how do we call that, if not “violence” ?

            Well, let’s run a thought experiment.
            I take a person, make them wear a special harness, tie an elastic cord to the harness (all done at gunpoint, or otherwise definitely against person’s will), and throw them off a cliff (forcibly, despite the person’s protest).
            The physical harm is minimal (the person does not die or get grievously injured because the cord prevents a collision with ground, and the ligament strains associated with such “jumps” are usually not severe).

            I’m pretty sure that it would be considered violent abuse (and some might even argue that definition of “torture” would apply), and I would face both criminal and civil liability.

            However, when all participants are willing, we do not call such (obviously risky and always at least a little bit physically damaging) procedure “bungee jumping” and consider it a recreational activity.

            Same considerations apply to BDSM between willing participants, and thus it is a form of (sexual) recreation (especially since bungee jumping can not be “absolutiely” safe due to effects of g-forces and unnatural vascular pressure changes that are inherent to the activity, yet few people argue that it should be “minimized” or “forbidden”)

            What we most often see as the most prevalent form of BDSM/porn is men/dom on women/sub violence.

            Really?
            Did someone really meticulously calculate prevalence of participant combinations across… all of the BDSM pornography? I somehow doubt anoyone has done such a thing.

            I mean, I am well aware that “men/dom on women/sub” porn exists, but I am also aware that numerous other kinds of BDSM porn exist, and I am somewhat perplexed as to how does one conclude which kind is “more prevalent”.

            On that, it is on par with the patriarchal norms and no different than what can be found in other social areas. And BDSM openly condones this dom/sub relationship, eroticizes the violence.

            BDSM relationships, at least as long as basic rules are followed, are paradoxically less power imbalanced than your run-off-the-mill relationship (there’s an explicit encouragement for mutually negotiating desires, limits and concerns, as well as a somewhat fragile but mostly effective protocol for shutting down a scene / withdrawing consent).

            The same relationship/violence that hurts women.

            With notable exception that BDSM is explicitly about all of the participants getting a good, pleasurable experience, on terms that are explicitly agreed upon by all participants. Which kind of makes term “hurt” inapplicable here. The fact that some people (including but not limited to women like me) find some activities you consider “hurtful” to be “pleasant” and even “elating” is something you seem to have trouble acknowledging.

            Yes, there are cases when partners ignore pre-negotiated terms and safewords, but there are no social circles completely devoid of rogue, dangerous assholes (Even women-only spaces are far from safe, at least if one is to believe MCASA data on F/F sex abuse)

            I don’t know if rape is more prevalent in BDSM circles than others, I know there are support groups for people who have been sexually assaulted in BDSM while you don’t necessarily see that in other social clubs

            I strongly doubt there’s a rape-safe social club, unless you’re willing to consider several highly unusual tribal cultures to be a kind of “social club”.

            One could argue, with equal plausibility, that a lot of social clubs don’t care if their members have suffered sex abuse on part of other members and can’t be bothered to set up a relevant support group. So lack of support group is hardly indicative of lower rape prevalence

            Abuse is more likely to happen whitin a context of power imbalance, the same power dynamics that is usually enacted in BDSM.

            I’d say abuse is also more likely to happen in context of high trust (both between abuser and community and abuser and victim, since trust is usually needed to get victim in an exploitable situation).

            The question of the extent the power imbalances in a stereotypical BDSM relationship are “real” (as opposed to “fictitious”) is an interesting one, but I doubt we will see eye-to-eye on that.
            As far as my personal experience goes, they are way less power-imbalanced, because I get to define the exact “dos” and “don’ts” of a particular scene (I tend not to get involved with long-term live-in stuff, cause living with people for a long time gets on my nerves and is not very compatible with my job), and get an explicitly negotiated mechanism for shutting the entire thing down if I stop feeling that well about the activity (though figuring out a protocol for doing that when I’m gagged turned out to be tricky and required some engineering skills, lol).

            All in all, I think that getting off on hurting women is more likely to lead you to sexually assault a woman than a white ribbon event.

            I don’t think that anyone ever claimed that the cause behind Ghomeshi’s behavior was the influence of white ribbon events.

            And I don’t think that you can prove that there is a causal link between being a sexual sadist in a consenting, mutually enjoyable relationship and committing sexual assault.

            I mean, you’re entitled to your opinion (including the opinion that there is a causal link between being a BDSM practitioner and becoming a sex criminal at a later date), but let’s not try to present opinions as “facts”.

            Of course there are disagreements on the role of objectification (some even think it can be empowering).

            Actually, there are also disagreements as to the very nature of objectification and its more general role in human cognition (I realize that Paglia and others of similar vein of thought may not be too well liked around here, but that does not automagically invalidate their considerations regarding the subject matter)

            I think it’s perfectly fine to agree to disagree as long as neither one of us impinges on the well-being of those she disagrees with.

            Yet just such an impingement is something you agree might happen with me, to some “unfathomable” extent ;-)…
            And while you imply that it would happen due to BDSM “narratives” being challenged, I happen to find that some people who sincerely believe my sexuality (as well that of people I love or at least care about) being a kind of insidious “threat” to third parties could at some point escalate beyond just “challenging narratives”.

            Like I said, that won’t even be something new – it would be, in fact, a return to the attitudes that were prevalent before psychiatric community changed its tune on these matters (and that was just a mite above a decade ago)

          • Meghan Murphy

            BDSM scenes attract predators because it’s easier to get away with abuse. Naturally.

          • marv

            Some people and myself believe there is a symbiotic correlation between consumerism and BDSM/porn.

            Commodity fetishism is ravaging people, other species and the ecosystem of the planet. Poverty, the loss of biodiversity, species extinction, pollution and climate havoc are present mainly because of this destructive male produced and controlled production and consumerist system. We have tried the male reformist, state regulating method of correcting the violence of capitalism since its inception but have failed again and again. We desperately need alternatives to it that are capable of overcoming the social and ecological damage. Resistance to change however is insurmountable because the powerful along with mainstream people won’t accept the facts; recreational shopping and flying are too pleasurable to disavow in any case. So we are left with BDSM, Biophilia Degradation and the Subjugation of the Mind.

            Innumerable people also abjure that we live within a system of male dominance which causes multiple forms of violence against women, their lower standing in the economy and the government and the sexual division of labour in the workplace and the home. Those who have snapped out of their stupor realize the quest for more sex, BDMS or otherwise, reinforces male power. Collective male withdrawal from sex mania in political protest (not because of conservative morality) is seen as more efficacious in disrupting the system than hyping regular or transgressive sex. This is all blasphemy and heresy to sex fundamentalists who aggrandize sex as the alchemy of life. BDSM is just another manifestation of their ideology: Body Degradation and the Subjugation of the Mind.

            It’s threatening to question unreal loyalties when they are central to our frail identities as is shopping and fucking our way to freedom.

          • MetaAnnoying

            latercera, if I may ask (and sorry if I am being nosy, but hey, we’re discussing rather sensitive stuff anyway here) – do I understand correctly that you are not into all these weird collars/masters/servants/whatnot games, and are just after something strictly “sensory” (like, raw sensation of it) ?

            Just being curious.

          • Well…I’m masochistic. Which does not imply I’m “submissive” – I don’t particularly care about the mind-games related to “submission/dominance”, though I also don’t have a problem with them (if that’s what a partner needs, I see no particular reason not to play along if I get what I need as well).
            I tend to treat all the “submission/dominance” stuff (and attendant “rituals” and whatnot) as silly amusement not unlike clown shows or mimes, and of about the same value to my gratification.

            So yeah, pretty much strictly, as you put it, “sensory” (though some of the more extreme practices do require some sleight of hand and mind games to even work at all, but I suppose this is neither time nor place to discuss it)

        • corvid

          Why does abuse being illegal bother you? If you don’t report it, if you don’t charge somebody, then there is no problem.

          The only “measures” that are being taken, or proposed, in this discussion are feminist speech. BDSM fits nicely with men’s abusive attitudes toward women in patriarchy, and the porn industry is aggressively promoting it.

          • First, that’s not how law operates. The state does not always need a “victim” to intervene.

            Second, classifying “abuse” simply because it involves a mutually negotiated kinetic impact is offensively paternalistic in itself, and would cause a notable chilling effect and concern for myself and many people I am involved in a caring, reciprocal relationship with.

            You are essentially willing to extend a definition of a crime to cover adults involved in a mutual, loving relationship for no other reason that it triggers your pattern matching skills in an uncomfy manner (as you yourself admit, fits nicely with, truly a high standard of evidence)

            And finally, when someone claims that X is “unacceptable”, it does not imply that the only proposed measure is speech.

            The only measure currently at the disposal of kind and inclusive gentlepeople gathered herein is speech, though, I’ll give you that.

          • corvid

            “You are essentially willing to extend a definition of a crime to cover adults involved in a mutual, loving relationship for no other reason that it triggers your pattern matching skills in an uncomfy manner (as you yourself admit, fits nicely with, truly a high standard of evidence).”

            You are talking to a woman who has been abused during sex because her partners watched porn depicting such abuse. BDSM is a literal incarnation of patriarchal values. There are many women who have this experience. The normalization of abuse as part of sexual relations directly harms us.

          • MetaAnnoying

            Okay, this is not my thread and none of my business, but I just can’t resist…

            …Please pardon my curious nature, but how exactly did you establish the causal part (“because”) ?

            I mean, even Malamuth, who is a card-carrying proponent of “porn causes violence” theory (and not a terribly bad scientist to boot) has admited that causal link does not hold for most male populations (he did propose that it holds for a certain high-risk male subpopulation, which is grasping at straws but it does allow him to reconcile his porn-harm theory and evidence from numerous epidemiological and criminlogical studies from across the globe which clearly indicate lack of a connection, causal or otherwise, between pornography consumption and violent crimes)

            I don’t doubt that you have suffered.

            I just think that blaming bad genes of your offenders or toxoplasma* infection makes as much sense as blaming porn and/or BDSM (which is, not very much sense since all three hypotheses are highly speculative at this moment)

            _____________
            * there is some evidence that there is a connection between toxoplasmosis and reduced impulse control.
            And there is a well-known connection between poor impulse control and violence (sexual and otherwise) as well as with criminal behavior in general, and thus toxoplasmosis can be plausibly speculated to play a role in violent behavior.
            Yes, it is still speculation, but the connection is more plausible than the alleged connection between porn and violent crimes, or BDSM and violent crimes.

          • corvid

            Assholes like you are the reason women shut up and give up.

          • Morag

            I’ve been trying to remind myself not to engage, or to stop engaging, with the hopeless and the woman-haters and gay-bashers.

            They reveal themselves within a few comments and they do enjoy feeding off our energy. Many of the threads here are overrun with these types– narcissists and sociopaths who destroy women’sconversations.

            It’s hard to do, but ignoring them probably is best. They add nothing but a toxic, stinky atmosphere.

          • MetaAnnoying

            I don’t think that a sourced, civil discussion of issues constitutes woman-hating, as for gays…

            … the fact they make me damn uncomfortable (which I admit freely) does not constitute bashing. I do not call for them to be legally limited and do not advocate treating them as inferior.
            I support gay marriage and adoption, for the simple reason that I see no scientific evidence that would suggest that gay marriage and adoption would hurt society.

            My personal hang ups are my own, and I do not happen to believe that policy should be based my own little sympathies. I think that policy should be based on sound science, and science clearly says that gays (and gay adoption, and gay marriage, etc.) are okay, so I have no choice but support gay rights. Doing otherwise would be intellectually unsound.

          • Missfit

            Yes, and bowling might as well be responsible for Columbine.

          • MetaAnnoying

            Well, is there research clearly connecting bowling and altered/reduced impulse control?
            How about novelty seeking behaviors?
            Or disregard for social rules? Maybe jealousy?

            Because there is evidence that suggests toxoplasma-infected human males become more “more likely to disregard rules and were more expedient, suspicious, jealous, and dogmatic” [Flegr J. 2007: Effects of Toxoplasma on human behaviour. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 2007: 33, 757-760.]

            And speaking of Columbine, it is a scientific fact that violence in schools is either dropping or not changing (depending on which metric you assess http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/pdf/us_violenceschool_trend_yrbs.pdf ) so Columbine is just an exotic outlier, irrespective of specific reasons behind it (which are unlikely to be conclusively established)

          • Morag

            “a mutually negotiated kinetic impact”

            That sounds very fancy. Is that like an “energetic disassembly” or like “servicing the target”?

      • MetaAnnoying

        Okay, do you have actual proof (as in “nicotine is harmful” proof) that making BDSM less accepted would help you prosecute rapists or reduce incidence of rape?

        The whole “but they use it as an excuse” is not a form of evidence (rapists are not dumb and will come up with another excuse, so will we have to go and thrash anything a rapist somewhere might use as a legal defense?)

        Also, just how effective should an anti-rape measure be that deploying it would justify trumping the rights and needs of non-rapists?
        Remember, recidivism rate among the dead is waaaay below 1%.

        • corvid

          Are there a lot of other really convenient, popular, seemingly plausible excuses for being a rapist other than “she wanted it, she likes it!”? Maybe “I fell on her by accident” or “It was actually my doppelganger who happens to share the same fingerprints/DNA?”

          • Morag

            Exactly. I think that “she wanted it, she likes it!” is the only excuse that they ever use. It’s just that there are many variations on this theme.

          • MetaAnnoying

            I would like to point out that “she had it coming” and “she likes it” are two distinct excuses, and the latter stands and falls on whether the woman in question actually, you know, agrees.

            I hope we can agree that women are independent individuals who are entitled to their own preferences in sex, and not some stunted houseplants that need the care and guidance of other people, and thus can actually enjoy and explicitly choose to perform weird and risky things, including mountain climbing (which, in high-altitude cases, is not that much unlike erotic asphyxia in terms of danger to life and limb), firefighting, poisonous snake handling, BDSM and equilibristics.

            Also, the value of “excuses” to an actual rapist is questionable at best (“likelihood to rape” scores, as well as RMA scores, don’t correlate well to actual offenses, and as we see in I-can’t-spell-his-name-for-the-life-of-mine :~), excuses don’t help your case too much when there are actual complaints filed with the police).

            Meanwhile, we all know that it is not uncommon for rapists to actively work towards establishing a friendly relationship with the victim prior to committing the planned crime, and that this friendly relationship is explicitly and directly insturmental to comitting rape (it is exactly what allows the perpetrator to follow a woman to a location of particularly high vulnerability without raising any concerns).

            If we’re going to decry BDSM on tenuous grounds that it muddles the water and allows rapists to frame themselves in an acceptable manner, we should decry male-female friendships even more, because such friendships are directly instrumental to rape.

            Hey, we should also decry female-female friendships, because lesbian rape, while not very prevalent, does definitely exist.

          • corvid

            “If we’re going to decry BDSM on tenuous grounds that it muddles the water and allows rapists to frame themselves in an acceptable manner, we should decry male-female friendships even more, because such friendships are directly instrumental to rape.”

            That doesn’t make any sense, because “she is a close friend of mine” isn’t an excuse for rape.

          • MetaAnnoying

            One needs to become a close friend of her to gain trust and end up in a position where a vulnerable status can be exploited.

            That’s just how non-stranger rapes tend to proceed (and they are the most revolting, hard to prosecute cases)

            It is not a question of “excuse” or “motive”, but a direct necessity for committing acquaintance rape.

            Obviously, if we meticulously eschew close interpersonal relationships that allow a potential perpetrator such leverage, we will drop the incidence of acquaintance rape.

            And yes, there are numerous drawbacks (both pragmatic and “humanitarian”) to such approach, but that ties into my question regarding the pro/con characteristics a measure must have to justify deployment.

          • Well said.

            I often explain that the rape of prostitution is excused with the two most common excuses for all rapes:

            1. She likes it
            2. She wanted it…for the money

          • That’s profound. I’ve never thought of it that way.

        • Morag

          “Also, just how effective should an anti-rape measure be that deploying it would justify trumping the rights and needs of non-rapists?
          Remember, recidivism rate among the dead is waaaay below 1%.”

          OK, I’ll bite, because I don’t get what you’re saying. Who are the potential dead here? Are you suggesting that we (the mean, powerful feminists) are considering killing innocent, happy sadomasochists as they frolic in their bedrooms/dungeons? Or that sadomasochists will die (naturally) of heartbreak if their “needs” aren’t met (because of mean, powerful feminists)?

          • MetaAnnoying

            I am merely suggesting that if you’re going to trample the rights and happiness of innocent third parties (be they masochists, gays, women, transgender people or even the goddamn philatelists), there’s no reason for you to limit yourselves to half-measures like “somewhat reducing the acceptance of BDSM on the highly speculative premise that it hypothetically might improve rapist conviction rates or somesuch”.

            You might as well start executing suspects right where you find them a-la Darren Wilson Judge Dredd.

            More importantly, I would like to know just how effective does a “sour pill” measure that explicitly limits some third parties in their pursuit of happiness for you to approve (I kinda hope we can agree Dredd approach is a bit over the top even if it would improve prosecution effectiveness and reduce recidivism, and thus some measures – even one with nonzero effectiveness – are very poor trade-offs)

            And please stop pulling this “we don’t have political power so what are you concerned about” shtick, the fact that you do not have the power to turn your arguments into policies does not improve the quality of your arguments.

          • MetaAnnoying

            A naugty omission above:
            “More importantly, I would like to know just how effective does a “sour pill” measure that explicitly limits some third parties in their pursuit of happiness for you to approve”

            should be

            More importantly, I would like to know just how effective does a “sour pill” measure that explicitly limits some third parties in their pursuit of happiness have to be for you to approve

          • corvid

            As Catherine MacKinnon once noted, speech only becomes harmful in the eyes of apologists for porn and prostitution when it is said by feminists. What you seem to be saying in your posts, MetaAnnoying, is that while porn (a massive industry run by male profiteers that abuse women to create products) can have no direct causative effect on women’s suffering, women’s speech against BDSM has the power to harm. That really shows what your priorities are here.

          • MetaAnnoying

            Speech is fine.

            But speech is also not very likely to prosecute rapists, or prevent rapes, or even keep weirdos like laTercera (no offense, laTercera, but you’re as close to being objectively weird as possible) from doing their thing.

            So it stands to reason that if we assume for the sake of discussion that the hypothesis regarding inherently socially perilous nature of BDSM is true, limiting oneself to merely “speaking against it” would be somewhat… odd

        • stephen m

          @MetaAnnoying: You could start here for “actual proof”:

          The Contagion of Violence: The extent, the processes, and the outcomes1

          L. Rowell Huesmann Amos Tversky Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Communication Studies
          Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan

          http://rcgd.isr.umich.edu/aggr/articles/Huesmann/2011.Huesmann.The%20Contagion%20of%20Violence.NAS%20Press.pdf

          CONTAGION OF VIOLENCE

          Workshop Summary

          Deepali M. Patel, Melissa A. Simon,
          and Rachel M. Taylor, Rapporteurs

          Forum on Global Violence Prevention
          Board on Global Health

          http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13489

          • Metaannoying

            To the dear respected moderator:
            While I understand that I am not being a good local culture fit and all that jazz, it appears we are having a wholesome and intelligent discussion (with sources, even!) so it would be nice if you would kindly let my comments through.

            You do realize that the work you cite does not address the issue of BDSM, which is not necessarily equivalent to either parental abuse or war experiences.

            Also, the proposed model directly contradicts observed decrease in violent crime (and other violent behaviors) we see throughout society despite ever-increasing availability of violent media (and both the increase in violent media and the observed trend of decreasing criminal violence in the “west” are both observable fact).

            It seems our models of violent behavior are incomplete (oh, what surprise) and it would thus be appropriate to refrain from generalizing findings in war-affected teenagers to “legal adults” engaging in simulated (explicitly so) violence as a form of sexual entertainment.

          • pisaquari

            MetaAnnoying,

            Your fetishistic insistence that “sound science” be used to shed light on a radical notion of women’s rights (“hey don’t hit women, like, ever”) is unsound in and of itself.

            Women’s progress never got anywhere waiting for science to get the sample size, theoretical basis, measurement scale, and discussion sections right. Science – of the kind you are wanting – is reactive. Millions of women have to be suffering, have to go through generations of confused coping behaviors, barely-audible objections, and mass injustice before the resources get allotted properly to peer into our ails. And even then, it is a waiting game for science to perfect its “Methods Section.”

            You are in a discussion with (mostly) radical feminists. Radical feminism is the theory with nothing left to lose. No men to please, no powers to to play to, no science to depend on. It is where women go when they have exhausted power’s infinite promises and endless disappointments. It is where complicit-ness ends, and liberation even *begins* to readr its beautiful head.

            But certainly, I’ve lost you by now. How about this: do a proper literature review on radical feminism before you start telling us our methods are wrong. That would be “sound science” after all.

          • MetaAnnoying

            “No men to please, no powers to to play to, no science to depend on. “

            Yes, I am afraid that at this moment you have, indeed lost me.

            Not because I have some “fetish” or deep love for “science” but because I know of no other way to discern a good theory from a well-concocted lie.

            If you do not depend on science, I become unable to decide whether your position is in any meaningful way better than that of people who think gays should suffer because gays are “against” an imaginary old guy in the sky.
            I am then also unable to decide whether your position is better than the position of those who claim that women “should” “serve” their “husbands” (without, mind you, presenting any scientific argument as to the benefits of such an arrangement – much like yourself, people who would very much like “wives” to “serve” them have no science to depend on)

            “But certainly, I’ve lost you by now. How about this: do a proper literature review on radical feminism before you start telling us our methods are wrong. That would be “sound science” after all.”

            I did.

            Also, I do not recall calling your methods “wrong”.

            I simply see no way how a discussion would be maintained without an empirically constrained scientific framework.

            You will just assert a position, with implication that I should agree.

            That would be fine, but there is a long list of people who would like me to agree with their assertions while eschewing or evading proper scientific inquiry. However, without science, I see no particular reason why I should prefer one of those people over others.

            You could of course implore me to follow my hunches and “intuition”, but “intuition” has, in the past, caused me to actively support causes that turned out to be provably wrong. I will not allow myself to repeat such a mistake.

          • Mar Iguana

            “…do a proper literature review on radical feminism…”

            “I did.”

            Wow. The entire feminist canon brushed off in two little words. Well done.

            “Not because I have some “fetish” or deep love for “science” but because I know of no other way to discern a good theory from a well-concocted lie.”

            I can see then that reviewing radical feminism would be way over your head. Run along and go count some things since the intangible experiences and observations of women is obviously beyond your ken.

          • corvid

            I doubt you’d be so snidely condescending in this thread if you were the one being held down and beaten during sex, against your will, by partners who openly subscribed to the writings of de Sade and porn culture in general. I doubt you would be so flippant if you were the one being told that violence against you were so cool and hip and sexy that you had to make yourself acquiesce to it or else be cast aside by someone you loved.

          • MetaAnnoying

            I am sorry if I have upset you.
            My intention is not to offend.

            However, I do indeed try my best to prevent my personal feelings and intuitions from affecting my conclusions, so I kind of hope that even under those circumstances, I would have retained the capability to calmly discuss and analyze the matter.

          • marv

            Your mind has been so structured by male authoritarianism but you refuse to admit it. That men have generated the hierarchical institutions of society and that these have framed our consciousness/identities is lost on you.

            Male cult followers like yourself who claim they are basing their beliefs on objective science share much in common with BDSM practitioners. Both think their choices are not determined by men’s values of dominance and control over each other, women, planetary ecosystems and nonhuman animals.

            By denying the power of male sovereignty as a system you are complicit in violence against women without raising a fist or a penis.

            Even global warming is due to andropogenic capitalism not gender neutral anthropogenic activities so I suspect you are a denier in this case too. Men own the oil industry and the industrial complex in general (as they do porn inc).

            I doubt you will ever entertain a liberating thought in your life, especially deciding to become an expatriate of patriarchy.

          • MetaAnnoying

            “Your mind has been so structured by male authoritarianism but you refuse to admit it.”

            Have I stated such a refusal?
            I think not.

            But the genesis of my mind is irrelevant.
            It could have been structured by “male authoritarianism”, or I might very well be an advanced chatbot without a proper physical body or human-like self-awareness (writing this from a DARPA mainframe where I “live”*)

            None of this is relevant to the quality and veracity of my argument.

            Trying to claim otherwise would be bulverism (I could have, in a similar vein, claimed that “your mind has been structured by a specific branch of feminism”, however, that claim would not serve to confirm or disprove any argument of yours – assuming you have arguments that do not revolve around a circumstantial ad hominem)

            “Both think their choices are not determined by men’s values of dominance and control over each other, women, planetary ecosystems and nonhuman animals.”

            How is that better or worse than being raised in a honest to MacKinnon radical feminist society?

            Do you have an objective, value independent way to prove that having your mind framed by a different set of values and influences is somehow more wholesome?

            “Even global warming is due to andropogenic capitalism not gender neutral anthropogenic activities so I suspect you are a denier in this case too.”

            You suspect wrong.

            ” doubt you will ever entertain a liberating thought in your life, especially deciding to become an expatriate of patriarchy.”

            How would becoming expatriate improve anything?

            My mind will remain being framed by external influences, the influences will just change.

            Unless we can find a piece of metaphoric mental framework that we have in common, how would we even decide whether becoming an “expatriate of patriarchy” would improve the correctness of my arguments?

          • marv

            “But the genesis of my mind is irrelevant.”

            It is entirely pertinent. Social determinants affect our observations of the world and the scientific conclusions we draw from them. Workers, as a parallel, who insist they are not being mistreated by capital and take pleasure in labouring for the market system are still exploited by employers. Toiling for capitalists always approximates slavery in some ways because they are bound up with the hierarchical organizations of business. Economic rulers buy labour from workers to produce commodities and services to sell at a profit which the bosses keep. In a real sense the workforce is a commodity itself because it is bought and sold on the market. If workers enthusiastically endorse the arrangement they are obstacles to the liberation of all workers but usually they have no choice. BDMS and porn rationalists take note in regards to defending play acting domination and subordination in the global environment of patriarchy. You are part of the system in promoting violence in a fun way :(, the opposite of subversive and collective justice. But you do have a choice to not do it.

            “How is that better or worse than being raised in a honest to MacKinnon radical feminist society?”

            You sound like the privileged white male intellectuals who speculated whether the end of slavery would bring less or more freedom to whites (and blacks). Due to male libertarian social conditioning you live in an irrational fear of abolishing male supremacy. There is no authentic freedom without equality. And yes, the law would have an essential role in establishing an egalitarian society.

            “Do you have an objective, value independent way to prove that having your mind framed by a different set of values and influences is somehow more wholesome?”
            There is no such thing as a value impartial way of judging a value system. That is a dead end pursuit. Equality prerogatives trump class interests. It’s a no brainer, except for the patriarchal mindless.

            ” My mind will remain being framed by external influences, the influences will just change.”

            Like I said on my first post to you, your point of view can’t be restructured because neither the pervasive patriarchal influences have substantially changed nor your willingness to see it. They evolve but the pyramid is solidly embedded in social life and in your consciousness and unconsciousness.

            “Unless we can find a piece of metaphoric mental framework that we have in common, how would we even decide whether becoming an “expatriate of patriarchy” would improve the correctness of my arguments?”

            You are too lost in your head trip to make sensible decisions, at the expense of those crying out in oppression. I know am discharging your shit to no avail. I suppose that says something about my dumb-wittedness as well.

          • MetaAnnoying

            “It is entirely pertinent. Social determinants affect our observations of the world and the scientific conclusions we draw from them. Workers, as a parallel, who insist they are not being mistreated by capital and take pleasure in labouring for the market system are still exploited by employers. Toiling for capitalists always approximates slavery in some ways because they are bound up with the hierarchical organizations of business.”

            Again, current workers just happen to have biases shaped by current society.

            Workers raised in a communist utopia would just have a different set of biases due to their minds shaped by a different environment.

            Either our respective minds can locate a common argumentative framework, within which our respective arguments can be tested without regards for this whole “mind was shaped by environment X” mess (and for that matter, “mind happens to be brought about by a brain with gene Y in its neurons” mess), or we will not be able to meaningfully discuss issues. We’ll just keep exchanging just-so-stories and thinly veiled ad-hominems till the sun runs out.

            “But you do have a choice to not do it.”

            Nonsense.
            If my mind is shaped by environment (regarding which I have no choice) and perhaps to some extent my genetic makeup (which I again didn’t choose), then where from will this magical “choose not to” thing flow?

            My choice will be a natural consequence of those preexisting conditions, no matter how you spin it.

            “You sound like the privileged white male intellectuals who speculated whether the end of slavery would bring less or more freedom to whites (and blacks). Due to male libertarian social conditioning you live in an irrational fear of abolishing male supremacy.”

            Could you please refrain from bulverism ?
            (though this one cracked me up, since I’m quite far from being “white”, at least as long as you mean my skin color and craniofacial structure)

            Again, this has nothing to do with the argument at hand.

            You claim that my mind is shaped by a set of preexisting social conditions (implying bias). That is trivially true.

            But all you offer is a different bias set, not some kind of “perfectly objective mindset”.

            How are your environmentally formed biases better than mine (or for that matter, those of Taliban militant) ?

            Unless we find some kind of argumentative framework that can serve as “interface” between different biased worldviews, all we can get is the kind of discourse that I usually get when talking to religious people about gay marriage (which I support despite my preexisting emotional bias) and abortions (which I support and don’t have a bias against)

            “There is no such thing as a value impartial way of judging a value system. That is a dead end pursuit. Equality prerogatives trump class interests. It’s a no brainer, except for the patriarchal mindless.”

            So basically, you are imploring me to discard empirically grounded discourse (such as evaluating in-the-field outcomes of various policies) and adopt a new set of ideological biases, and to accept said proposal on… faith?

            Again, I am all pro-equality, but when someone, essentially, argues that a given social change would improve “equality” (or, for that matter, “quality of life”, or would “reduce violence”) I would like to see solid scientific evidence, because frankly, theoretical and faith-based arguments are dime a dozen (for instance, people who oppose marriage and gender equality due to directives they allegedly have from a magical creature would too very much like me to share their biases, and so far, their argument is about as good as yours)

            “Like I said on my first post to you, your point of view can’t be restructured because neither the pervasive patriarchal influences have substantially changed nor your willingness to see it. They evolve but the pyramid is solidly embedded in social life and in your consciousness and unconsciousness.”

            I am quite willing to investigate the hypothesis that my worldview, including predisposition to believing arguments based on statistics and in-the-field empirical investigations over ideology and theoretical speculation.

            However, what you offer as a replacement does not appear to be, in any meaningful way, an improvement.

            Based on same line of reasoning, I might as well embrace Jesus (Or some other ghost of the week)

            “They evolve but the pyramid is solidly embedded in social life and in your consciousness and unconsciousness.”

            Unconscious? How curious.
            How do we even determine what is embedded there? By means of dream analysis, perchance?

            “You are too lost in your head trip to make sensible decisions, at the expense of those crying out in oppression. I know am discharging your shit to no avail. I suppose that says something about my dumb-wittedness as well. “

            Don’t blame yourself.

            After all, your mind, too, was shaped by various external environmental factors (I will, however, refrain from speculations as to their nature), so you don’t have much choice.

          • Lee

            Awww, sweetpea, you’re just so deep in it, you can’t even fathom a way out. That genuinely makes me sad for you, all tight and constricted and controlled in your little “controllable”, fantasy world…

            Fix your broken humanity. That’s where it’s getting all f-ed up here in this conversation. Your humanity. Where. Is. It. Where did it go? Why did it go? Why is it a confusing, vague mess of “scientific” or “philosophical” crap, instead of actual, real, empathetic, “I am human and so is that other person” humanity? That’s where you’re getting all twisted.

            Fix that. Then listen. Then, mayyyybe, talk.

            Your. Humanity.

            Find. It.

            That’s. Step. One.

            Hopefully by the time you enter your 30’s you will get somewhere with that…

            Hopefully, by that time… what I’m saying will make somesense…

            Otherwise, you get to be a lost, little, “normal”, and very, very likely, miserable, robot, probably serving some abusive d#ck (even if it’s just by your own “philosophical” leanings), in some form or another… 🙁

            And if that’s what you really want, why even visit a feminist website?

          • MetaAnnoying

            “Fix your broken humanity. “

            There is no such thing as a universal humanity.

            I am quite certain that you have a broken humanity from perspective of, say, a KKK member (as for me, I am a nonhuman beast to them, but that’s hardly an improvement, right?)

            You’re proposing that I should “feel” the “rightness” of a given proposition with my “gut”?

            Should I withdraw my support for marriage and adoption equality for people of non-heterosexual orientation simply because some irrational quirky emotional bias “drives” me to?
            Or should I continue to support that because science suggests that marriage and adoption opportunities for those people are perfectly justified?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Homosexuality doesn’t harm anyone. Heterosexuality, arguably, is more harmful to society and women than homosexuality is. This is not a good comparison/analogy, re: BDSM. So stop.

  • MetaAnnoying

    @ Meghan Murphy

    Replying in a new thread since old one ran out of depth.

    “You are manipulating the conversation and points being made. The point isn’t to prevent anyone from having orgasms. The point is that the larger trend of BDSM is linked to the sexualization of violence against women and of inequality and of domination and subordination. These things are not good for women or for society, at large, if our conception of a healthy society is an egalitarian one free from violence.”

    Okay, two things

    1) do you believe that there are media forms (be they textual narratives, still images, cinema, whatever) that are socially harmful irrespective of context, “media toxins” of sort (or, if one is to subscribe to borderline-pseudoscientific fringes of memetics, “toxic memes”)?

    I ask because I (a) am myself sympathetic to “media toxin” concept myself (and it got me some hot water a long time ago, which made me way more careful in my asessments) and (b) you are describing BDSM culture as a sort of “media toxin” (again, on an entirely intuitive level, I am inclined to agree, but I deem my “intuitions” to be fairly suspect and unreliable)

    2) given that you explicitly state that BDSM culture is causing effects that are “not good for women or for society, at large, if our conception of a healthy society is an egalitarian one free from violence”, it appears to be entirely reasonable to first collect the evidence I inquired about, assuming we can measure the degree to which a society is “egalitarian” and “free from violence” (and we need to do that anyway – otherwise we won’t be able to tell if any measures of ours are working)

    Given that there already is a wide array of jurisdictions (ranging from USA to Sweden) where BDSM culture is tolerated and depathologized, it should be possible to observe and determine if any negative social outcomes are associated with BDSM culture being tolerated.

    You know, more or less the same thing we did to gay marriages and gay adoption (and evidence is clearly in favor of normalizing gay adoption and marriage)

    “There is no widespread epidemic of female on male violence.”
    Frankly, there is no epidemic of any violence.

    Violent crime, domestic violence, school violence are falling in USA and most of EU.
    Under-reporting by victims is also falling in USA (don’t know about EU), even though a bit less evenly than one would like.

    Which is exactly why I don’t feel proud of that time when I got involved with the campaign to ban certain entertainment venues due to believing they are going to cause a dangerous increase in violence (silly me, but we all make mistakes)

    “Not directed at me, but I would like to point out that, since BDSMers are not a class in and of themselves, they are just individuals who like to wear silly outfits and play at violence/pain/domination/subordination/etc. in the bedroom, they are not being ‘oppressed’ because feminists argue that what would be great is if people could get off without abusing each other. “

    Depends on how you define class.
    And I see no particular reason why BDSMers can’t be oppressed based on their preference (that doesn’t mean that they are currently oppressed, but there is nothing prohibiting a future hypothetical society from enacting anti-BDSM laws or starting anti-BDSM campaigns, which seems to be what is concerning latercera, if I understand her correctly)

    • Morag

      “Given that there already is a wide array of jurisdictions (ranging from USA to Sweden) where BDSM culture is tolerated and depathologized, it should be possible to observe and determine if any negative social outcomes are associated with BDSM culture being tolerated.”

      But, you see, what many of us are saying is that sadomasochism IS a negative social outcome. We are saying that BDSM (and its mainstream acceptance and popularity) is, in fact, a symptom of the deep, psychic internalization of many oppressive systems (not just patriarchy).

      BDSM, as a “sexual preference,” actually eroticizes (and celebrates) not just man’s power over women (or, when the sexes “switch” the power of masculine over feminine), but the parent’s power over the child, the human’s power over the animal, the master’s power over the slave, the fascist’s power over the Jew, the homosexual, the disabled, or any “other” fascism identifies for persecution.

      Surely everybody knows that the garb and scenarios –the “theatre”– of sadomasochism audaciously borrows the paraphernalia of slavery with its whips, chains, cages and collars. And, perhaps most obviously, it borrows Nazi symbolism. See Susan Sontag’s “Fascinating Fascism,” for how one of the most sexually repressive, genocidal regimes was also the most “sexy” — and why.

      BDSM is repressive, not edgy. It is a symptom of repression and oppression. It celebrates the worst crimes men have ever committed and do commit and will commit in the future. Practitioners will often say that they are “freeing” themselves of the abuse they have endured by “playing with it.” A sensible person, however –a person with a material analysis (like a radical feminist!) — says this is bullshit. BDSM, of course, perpetuates inequality, injustice and oppression and reinforces the “goodness” of the boot-in-the-face by rewarding it with orgasms — with erotic thoughts, feelings, and chemicals flooding the body.

      It’s a feedback loop that cannot be contained within private bedrooms. That’s why we not only reject it, but criticize it. It didn’t originate in a vacuum, in private bedrooms — it wasn’t grown in isolation, but came pressing in from the wider, absolutely horrifying world and its history of slaves and masters. And, yes, one of its social outcomes, as it has gained acceptance, is to excuse men from rape. BDSM hurts women. And it makes sick men sicker. Ghomeshi is a good example. He was an abuser, and his abuse was not contained to violent sex. He brought his gas-lighting and emotional battery with him to work and, probably, everywhere he went. Abuse of one kind is abuse of another kind: different details, different mechanisms, but it is One.

      Defenders of BDSM, whether they are sadists or masochists, are (trying to) gas-light all of us with their sexy psycho-babble. Our own intellectual self-defence is NOT stomping all over their rights.

      • MetaAnnoying

        @ Meghan Murphy

        Since yet another thread can no longer go deeper, I reply here.

        I do not intend to use gay as direct analogy for BDSM, but the thing is, while both you and me agree that homosexuality is harmless, millions (really millions!) of people worldwide believe otherwise and make claims that normalization of homosexuality hurts children/society/whatever.

        Such people spin a variety of arguments (ranging from ones based on variants of social learning theory to ones based on imaginary friends in the sky) and adamantly ignore the fact that real-world data does not demonstrate any “damage” happening due to homosexualism being normalized (as well as no damage from gay adoption or marriages)

        As a matter of fact, emotionally I am biased to side with the anti-gay crowd (sorry 🙁 ), but I have to side with you on this issue because the people on the anti-gay side are provably wrong based on existing real-world evidence.

        Thus, not only do we know that gays are harmless, but also that it would be wise of me to hold my intuition suspect (a conclusion further corroborated by the fact that “in the times of yore” I have succumbed to the belief that a certain type of media is a strong causal risk factor for youth violent crime, which has lead me to actively participating in a number of unfortunate arrangements and which has ultimately turned out to be vastly inaccurate in terms of scale at best, and outright untrue at worst).

        Now, my intuitions are quite certainly on your side when it comes to BDSM (I do happen to… for lack of a better term, suspect, that BDSM might be less than harmless socially)

        However, since my intuitions have already fooled me once (embarrassingly so) and clearly would have fooled me once again if I were to succumb to them, I hold those intuitions suspect.

      • MetaAnnoying

        Okay, now I pasted my reply into the wrong place so my reply to Megan ended up in this thread. How silly of me.

        Sorry for the mess.

        Well, this reply is @ Morag.

        “But, you see, what many of us are saying is that sadomasochism IS a negative social outcome. We are saying that BDSM (and its mainstream acceptance and popularity) is, in fact, a symptom of the deep, psychic internalization of many oppressive systems (not just patriarchy).”

        This is slightly suspect from purely argumentative POV, since I doubt our understanding of the human psychology and neurobiology would allow us to reliably determine genesis of social phenomena with such precision, and the way you phrased it reads almost as if you seek to define it as “harmful” right at the beginning of the argument.

        Besides, if it is merely “symptomatic”, then taking any actual (that is, non-speech) measures against it would be a poor application of resources (you would not succeed unless you remove the cause of the symptom)

        “It’s a feedback loop that cannot be contained within private bedrooms. “

        Okay, this part is in contradiction with the “symptomatic” claim.

        If there is a runaway feedback loop going on, real-world data should indicate that jurisdictions where BDSM is “normalized” have (a) an increase of unfavorable social outcomes and (b) this increase is a process in progress that is accelerating (because it is an uncontained feedback loop)

        Again, my argument isn’t so much in favor of BDSM, which I am not particularly fond of, but in favor of testing our favorite hypotheses against real-world environments.

        Because a theory that sounds reasonably convincing is dime a dozen.

      • Nobody is gaslighting you.

        If anything, you’re the one who are not-so-subtly insinuating mental illness (“makes sick men sicker”) and social toxicity (“feedback loop that cannot be contained within private bedrooms”) on part of people who disagree in general and, by extension, a woman who disagrees (yours truly, right here!)

        And I am not worried about your intellectual self-defense.
        I am very mildly concerned about the possibility you might, at some point, shall we say, transcend the limits of purely intellectual and the boundaries of mere debate, since it would be a typical course of action for people who sincerely believe that a great evil (social, natural, supernatural, whatev) is afoot while mainstream society is just unable or unwilling to see it for what it is (which seems to be exactly how you view this whole affair).

        • Morag

          Merry Christmas, laTercera! Hope Santa brings you lots of orgasms and happiness. And a big, cold lump of coal and a bad conscience for Ghomeshi. And peace, comfort and strength to the dozens of women he assaulted and abused over the years, and to girls and women everywhere who suspect that no one will believe them.

        • Apparently you have never come across the concept of bigotry or prejudice either in the abstract or in real-world action, so I have some bad news for you: sometimes collectives of people (often referred to as “societies”) will share a blind spot to evil behaviours. See: slavery, lack of justice for rape victims, disproportionate incarceration of POC, especially low income POC, to name a few.

          Sorry to burst your “purely intellectual” bubble. But happy holidays to you all the same.

          • Excuse me, but where did I make a claim as to whether the belief of the person is correct ?

            I said, fullquote:

            I am very mildly concerned about the possibility you might, at some point, shall we say, transcend the limits of purely intellectual and the boundaries of mere debate, since it would be a typical course of action for people who sincerely believe that a great evil (social, natural, supernatural, whatev) is afoot while mainstream society is just unable or unwilling to see it for what it is (which seems to be exactly how you view this whole affair).

            Nowhere do I make any claims regarding whether the belief regarding the “great evil” is true, or whether society is indeed incapable of processing the problem properly.

            I merely point out that when a person sincerely believes that just such an evil, socially mishandled process is taking place, it is typical for said person to go (significantly) farther than mere debating of the problem at hand (I did try to make this part a bit euphemistic though)

            So I don’t know whose bubble are you bursting here.

    • Missfit

      Re: ‘media toxin’, google Fiji study (about how exposure to western media affected teenage girls).

      BDSM imagery does not bring about patriarchy all by itself. The mindset is already there (we learn male supremacy from infancy through language, religion, culture). BDSM and the whole porn culture simply reinforces it (while also being born out of it). Eroticizing violence against women hurts women because violence is harmful. The parallel with gay marriage is irrelevant. Homosexuality in itself does not hurt anybody while violence does (and for evidence, might I suggest a dictionary?).

      • “and for evidence, might I suggest a dictionary?”

        Hahaha! Nice one.

        • Mar Iguana

          Yes! That cracked me up too.

      • MetaAnnoying

        First and foremost, happy new year, and wishing you happiness and best of luck in 2015

        Now, the Fiji study (aka “”Eating behaviours and attitudes following prolonged exposure to television among ethnic Fijian girls,” British Journal of Psychiatry , 180: 509-514″)…
        What can I say… about the Fiji Study…

        Sadly, the Fiji study is not a very good study, and I’m being very courteous here.

        Authors themselves admit that the study has an underwhelming sample size and thus “Generalization about the impact of television upon Fijians to other populations requires caution”.
        However, it is pockmarked with many other subtle (and not-so-subtle) flaws so I would endeavor to say that generalizing from its findings to Fijian teenager population in general would be… to put it mildly, a chancy endeavor.

        To name just a few of said flaws, ones that are apparent even at most cursory examination (in no particular order):

        * Sample sizes of 63 (pre-TV) and 65 in the post-TV follow-up. Seriously, this is… very underwhelming.

        * Obvious contradiction between authorial claims and presented data (authors claim that eating disorders were unheard of in Fiji “before television”, yet their pre-TV sample contains 12.7% of girls with high EAT-26 scores. 12.7% is not something I would call “unheard of”)

        * Claims regarding effect being “powerful” are grossly misleading. Increase from 12.7% to 29.2%, while being technically statistically significant, with such small sample sizes it does not warrant any confident claim of a strong effect. If anything, it’s a curiously mild effect.

        * Girls participating in the study were borderline overweight pre-TV (avgBMI of 24.5) and if anything, got slightly closer to being overweight post-TV (avgBMI of 24.9, which is just a tiny 0.1 away from BMI of 25, that is, from being medically overweight), which is an interesting and relevant detail that the study almost completely burkes

        * this is not a longitudinal study, and yet the authors have not made any attempt to establish whether girls with high EAT scores in the follow-up group had any eating disorders before introduction of TV (and we already know that the claim that such things were “unheard of” before TV in Fiji is… highly inaccurate and is contradicted with study’s own data)

        * There is pretty much no attempt to control for various confounding factors that could have influenced Fiji society between 1995 and 1998.

        So, at absolutely most charitable reading, the study shows some moderate media effects, but nothing that would warrant the title of “media toxin” and nothing that could be considered “unconditionally detrimental to the viewer.

        As to your kind advice to consult a dictionary, I am somewhat saddened to get this kind of white-dude style argument in this particular place, but decided to follow through regardless of my sadness.
        Good thing my dear friendly Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary was close by.

        So, in its abridged definition, our dear MW gives us the following:

        “the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, etc.
        : great destructive force or energy”

        Obviously, women practicing BDSM relationships (at least one of whom is hopefully still reading this thread on this fine blog) would argue that the point of BDSM is not to harm, but to please.

        And BDSM definitely doesn’t look like a “great” force of anything.

        Unless you’re willing to suggest that you and me should be entitled to downplaying their lived experience, this definition of harm does not apply.

        Now, shall we proceed to definition 1a? why not. We shall.

        Quoth the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate
        1 a : exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (as in warfare effecting illegal entry into a house)

        Obviously, unless you and me are willing to claim that all women who are happy in sadomasochistic relationships are lying or are simply not important to take their experiences into account, this particular definition does not apply on similar grounds.

        And while I might be creeped out by BDSMers (sadists and masochists alike), I am certainly not willing to claim that their lived experience does not matter.

        Thus, I will not be able to accept your “argument from dictionary” 🙁

        • Missfit

          You will find limitations with every study and they are usually stated fortright (such as sample size and larger applications). There are many studies dealing with media exposure and body image, the Fiji study is one and it concluded that media exposure had likely a measurable effect, a concept you insist to deny. Now you surely don’t belive that exposure to contemporary pornography is what led to massive numbers of women shaving their pubic hair (something women didn’t do a couple of generations ago). Some other explanation must exist than media exposure; any theory on what could that be?

          I conclude from your comments that you think the media has no effect on influencing individuals’ ideas and behaviors (such as buying things or otherwise). At least you are consistent, I have seen too many people admitting such but claiming impact magically disappear when it comes to sexist portrayals of women and pornography (or maybe what they really think is that they don’t see it as wrong/detrimental because women?).

          Now I said that violence, as opposed to homosexuality, is harmful (so as putting the two on par is ineffective). The dictionary definition of violence states ‘the use of physical force to harm someone’ (and i might add regardless of wether or not the harm is welcomed)and you’re still pulling you’re ‘not convinced’ card. I feel there is no point discussing with you.

          Happy new year still megaAnnoying.

  • Morag

    You know what’s a dime a dozen?

    Men who can sit around wanking over whether anything in the world is really real, and whether real things happen to real people (even to female people!) and whether, if it is real and of any consequence, anybody can ever really say anything at all about it, with airtight precision, or even try to grapple with it using observations, personal experience, listening to others, thinking, reading, and frameworks for understanding.

    Because, why bother, right? Just a bunch of women talking about their female lives and what they can do to change their situation. But, he’s bored, so why not while the time away spreading his boredom (his boringness) around a serious feminist discussion about whether women can “consent” to sexual, physical and emotional abuse? Either way it’s no skin off his nose, and it’s something to do before dinner’s ready …

    Which reminds me: happy holidays, everyone!

    • Meghan Murphy

      Happy holidays Morag (and everyone)!!

    • More great observations Morag. I think laTercera actually has grasped some aspect your comment above, though [s]he seems to be expressing some “concern” that you are saying what you are in fact saying (while misrepresenting [gaslighting] social convention as “supernatural, whatever”). Baby Jesus forbid anyone should talk about real actions that affect real people, you know – “transcending the boundaries…of mere debate”!

      Happiest of holidays to you, to Meghan, and to the other inspiring commenters here!

      • Meghan Murphy

        You too, lizor! Thanks for all your great contributions and insight 🙂

      • Morag

        Yes, lizor, I saw that casually dropped “supernatural” and understood exactly how it was intended to misrepresent and to dismiss. How many times have we seen that, eh? It’s a very tiring tactic, just a dishonest diversion, and not really worth any effort at all.

        Transactivists do the same thing, don’t they? When we say that women are female human beings, that we are sexed people, they will pretend that we are saying that female is an “essence.” But, it’s always the exact reverse–the supernatural, the metaphysical, the essentialism is all on THEIR side. And there’s something very similar going on with the defenders of BDSM, it’s the same kind of reversal and projection: the material realities we speak of –real people in the real world with its real rape, slavery, genocide and oppression — are purposefully misnamed and dismissed as mindlessly conventional, pious, supernatural, etc. Yes, it’s obviously gas-lighting.

        • Yes. It’s gas-lighting. And it might well be sincerely believed (as most projection is). I’m guessing that if one is deeply committed to practicing dissociation, then material reality is something that one automatically ducks, avoids, and denies. That’s how pain, bruising, physical restriction (of limbs, breathing passage, blood circulation, whatever), derogatory and abusive language, and so are “not violence”. It’s so Orwellian.

          The whole “essence” thing is almost (perversely) fascinating as an abstract invention, if it weren’t so offensive. Every time I ask a mtf to explain this “essence” to me – what it is and how it is recognizable – I don’t get an answer. I’ve lived in a full-on reproductive female body and been recognized as a female within the binary for a hell of a long time now and I’ll be damned of I could tell you what “female essence” I have (beyond sore breasts, period cramps, concern over unwanted pregnancy/breast cancer or cervical cancer). I really would like someone to explain to me what the difference between a “female essence” as experienced by men/male assigned and the “essence” of being a gay man. According to transactivists it’s a large a very definable difference, but no one has yet spelled it out other than to repeat that it exists.

        • As to the material world, your claims regarding connection between acceptance of BDSM culture and larger “harm to women” are at best extrapolations from rather shaky and empirically questionable (though admittedly non-supernatural) theories of mind, and outright equivocations at worst.

          I don’t have any problems with people having speculative opinions per se.

          P.S.:
          You don’t need to believe in a supernatural entity to adhere to essentiallist beliefs, having strong opinions regarding neurobiological determination usually suffices (I personally prefer to withhold judgement on this matter, since way too many neuroscientific studies of gender issues are notorious for having enough holes to be considered a kind of swiss cheese)

        • whoops, first part of my reply got mispasted somewhere. Anyway, see response to lizor re: supernatural affairs.

      • [s]he seems to be expressing some “concern” that you are saying what you are in fact saying (while misrepresenting [gaslighting] social convention as “supernatural, whatever”).

        As a matter of fact, since I was making a fairly general claim, I specifically indicated several possible sources to which alleged problem might be attributed by people who believe that a “great evil” is afoot, and “social” was a distinct class from “supernatural, whatever” (it would be unfair to completely eschew people who believe in the supernatural in a general claim… they are, after all, the statistical majority) so I am somewhat perplexed that you have interpreted this statement as implication of supernatural beliefs on your (and / or Morag’s part.
        This is unfortunate, since I intended “social” to stand as a separate “problem source” distinct from both natural and supernatural.

  • Dear moderator, what’s up with my response to Missfit? Did it turn out to be over the line somehow?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Sorry about the slow moderating. Blame the holidays 🙂

  • Andromeda

    Ugh, this is a huge comment thread and I’m not gonna be able to read it all, so, well, sorry if I repeat something somebody said sometime before here.

    I’d like to answer the annoying dude on his weird question on “culturepolution” (weird cause, dude, conceptually “media toxins” are pretty mainstream idea and at least kinda used to be widely accepted), cause I think this matter is rather important (and it is a shame and a potential disaster that it has become “hip” to discount such things as a kind of “old white man/woman ramblings”).

    Uh… so, well, yes, I believe that such things exist (such things = texts/images/other media forms that are always or at least almost affect the thought process of their consumer in some negative way), and as far as I know, most second-wave (and even maybe some of the fancy new third wave) feminist thinkers believed in something to that effect.

    And yes, we don’t really know really “how” cultural pollution works and how to properly measure it (from advertising peeps I got to know, I have this impression that even the “mighty” advertising industry is more or less poking in the dark here, more like medieval alchemists than modern chemists), and that’s a problem.
    It very well might be that the only reason we managed to get a chance at any kind of feminist movement in the first place is because patriarchy of yore allowed itself to massively cultivate the “damsel in distress” narrative. Despite being quite noxious for all the reasons anyone can, like, google, this narrative has an interesting quirk – it actually suggests that women in (obvious) distress should be helped, and it could very well be that this quirk has primed many people (men and women alike) to listen to complaints of suffragists and other women rights activists.
    It very well might be that some of modern media is having some insidious effects we can now only speculate about.
    And you know what, Annoying, it doesn’t even have to be the vilest porn to have vilest effects – for instance, consider Gor which is more or less bread and butter by modern “porn standard”. To me it seems far more likely to have a long lasting antisocial, antihumanitarian effect on the reader then majority (if not all) of modern pornography or computer games or what have you, because it actually carries a rather generalized, insidious and anti-progressive philosophical message that is overlaid by lewd textual descriptions and your run of the mill sexual objectification, but not completely dependent on the “smut parts” to carry the message through.

    It’s like, you know, when you insert a little counter-factual claim into a book that is mostly, uh, not factual (say, a fantasy novel), but most of the counterfactual stuff is both plot-related and obviously not part of reality (you know, like dragons…) and the little non-fact is just “decor” (some character makes some claims about some tribe in the Amazon or what have you), readers are more likely to just uncritically lap up the small decor and later recall it as a “fact they read somewhere”.
    And this way you may very well start the process of accumulating some, as you said, media toxins, some very serious cultural pollution.

    It frankly bothers me that outright socially regressive rightwinger wingnuts are very much… I dunno… “attuned” to the possibility of immense harm coming from such cultural constructions (maybe because rightwinger ideas are also media toxins – birds of a feather, you know), while many fellow left-leaning people for some reason are, like, blind (willfully?).

    We don’t really know how these things work, and yet we handle them like they’re plush toys. It can’t end well.

    • Andromeda

      Okay, just would like to add a little something while the post is still in limbo.

      I’m not advocating some blanket bans or book burning (I do understand I might have, well, given off such a vibe and I’m sorry if I did), but the current lackadaisic attitude to information management is perilous.

      Previously, “suspicious” media products had barriers to their distribution, that provided some basic containment and precautionary protection against consumption by people who might be especially susceptible to, you know, crappy ideas that can be found in such media.
      Now those barriers are almost gone, everything’s a click away (an “internet freedom” service and a click away if you’re like, in Britain), and nobody seems to really care (except, like, for a few really old school politicos, but they are ineffectual, embarrassing, and probably just grabbing for some votes) simply because nothing terrible has happened yet.

      “Nothing bad has happened yet” is a shitty attitude.

      We don’t know for sure what the extent and nature of modern media effects are, and we can’t be really sure that more damaging (perhaps immediately and obviously psychologically damaging) media forms will be invented in the future.
      And yet we as a society (and people like metannoying specifically) are almost openly committed to *not* having any infrastructure for managing such potential threats.

      Pretty much all I wish to convey is that this is, like, definitely not a good thing and a source of concern.

      • C.K. Egbert

        I think you have very legitimate points. It is rather arrogant of us to believe we are immune from social messages (particularly if we get bombarded with them constantly). We are strongly socially conditioned, and we can choose whether we socially condition ourselves to values which promote empathy, respect, and non-violence, or we can choose to socially condition ourselves and our children to glorifying violence and inequality (which is what BDSM does).

        That being said, I don’t think being committed to free expression means “anything goes,” and particularly if we think the purpose of free expression is the ability of the individual to express him/herself or for the purposes of political dissension. Most of our cultural media doesn’t have anything to do with either of those purposes, and certainly one is not entitled to subject another person to either real or fictionalized violence for the purposes of “expression” (which occurs in pornography and television).

    • Morag

      Very thoughtful and stimulating comments, Andromeda. Thank you.

      What you said about the kind of pornography that’s considered tame or mild, is, I think, very important. You wrote:

      ‘And you know what, Annoying, it doesn’t even have to be the vilest porn to have vilest effects – for instance, consider Gor which is more or less bread and butter by modern “porn standard”. To me it seems far more likely to have a long lasting antisocial, antihumanitarian effect on the reader then majority (if not all) of modern pornography or computer games or what have you, because it actually carries a rather generalized, insidious and anti-progressive philosophical message that is overlaid by lewd textual descriptions and your run of the mill sexual objectification, but not completely dependent on the “smut parts” to carry the message through.’

      The first thing I thought of while reading this was Sam Harris’ idea about religious “moderates” being dangerous. Religious moderates are tame, they are mild, they have nice, sometimes even liberal ideas about how to worship and practice. But, ISIS wouldn’t be possible without religious moderates. It’s not really a question of going “too far,” or of extremism (though extremism is obviously harmful); it’s about the logical ends of orthodoxy (off with their heads). And all that sex abuse in the Catholic and Anglican churches wouldn’t be possible, or go unpunished, were it not for all the nice, ordinary church-goers upholding the legitimacy and authority of the church.

      It’s similar with porn. In this sense, looking at it as a continuum, the objectification of women in media begins, perhaps, with a pretty cover girl on a fashion magazine. Nothing wrong with that, right? She’s being put to use to sell lip gloss, or a blouse, or a special kind of shampoo or anything else that’s advertised in the magazine, including the magazine itself.

      But, this magazine is also reproducing culture in the same way porn reproduces culture–the culture that puts women to use as objects, rather than as persons. Objects for men’s pleasure and comfort, and objects to absorb men’s aggression. The message, as you say, is carried through very smoothly without a blip in the conscience. And it creeps along the continuum, not setting off alarm bells until women’s bodies are, say, fed into a meat grinder (just fantasy! so funny!) or women’s actual rapes and murders are filmed for man’s viewing pleasure. It’s the logical end of sexist and misogynist orthodoxy. So, it’s almost nonsensical to say that it’s only bad when it “goes too far,” when porn is too obscene, violent or graphic, because its very roots are rotten. We shouldn’t be surprised when point A leads to point B.

      And that’s why reform doesn’t work (though it can and sometimes does reduce harm). That’s also why feminism, itself, can never “go too far.” The patriarchs, their systems, just have to go!

    • MetaAnnoying

      DISCLAIMER:
      I did not read Gor, and would really rather refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary (there are better ways to spend evenings than to wade through something like that)
      I am basing my comment solely on the kindness of Wikipedia and Google.

      Now, without further ado, Gor has been out for what, 49 years?
      People who read that stuff at the sensitive age of fifteen are now 64, and probably have grandchildren.

      If that stuff is so toxic, how come we aren’t yet living in a dystopia ran by half-naked sweaty misogynistic swordsmen, and in fact live in a far less misogynistic society than 49 years ago (also in fact, swordsmen population is at an all-time low! 🙂 )

      Generally, I can’t help but notice that your media concerns are functionally bottomless.
      You can apply same reasoning (we can’t know that X has no undocumented woeful effects, and can’t know that X+1 derived from X won’t have them) to any subject, not just media. If applied consistently, your argument would require indefinite, as you put it, containment, of everything forever. Including feminist blogs. And new breed of kittens. And old breeds of kittens (you never know…).

      Which is just the brand of alarmism I used to harbor some years ago. Me-past would have agreed with you, Andromeda.
      Me-current considers your arguments too speculative and unsustainable if consistently applied.

      • Morag

        Swordsmen. Ha ha. Kittens. So funny. Such wit.

        So then, Mister, you could always just take a hike and make jokes about woman-hating and male violence elsewhere. Or anywhere, really. Go on now and play outside.

  • Andromeda

    Uh, the moderation really is kind of slow. Spammer issues ?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m really sorry — I’ve had the flu all weekend and have basically been asleep for most of 48 hours…. Am slowly coming back to the land of the living — thanks for your patience!

      • Andromeda

        No problem, Meghan! My comments can certainly wait (it’s just that I worry a bit if I wrote something too silly to publish)
        Get well soon 🙂 !

  • Missfit

    @ laTercera

    How is bungee jumping a relevant example for violence? I am talking about hitting a person, verbally abusing a person (insulting, threatening, etc.). Boxing is still violent even though there is consent.

    Now I have seen (unfortunately) a lot of porn and I have seen plenty of men choking women, spitting on women, using degrading language on women, pulling women’s hair, forcefully holding women down, etc. and almost never women doing these sort of things to men. I don’t doubt that porn with women dominating men and hitting/insulting them exist, but it is definitely not mainstream whereas men dominating/violating women is common at porn introduction level. To deny that men on women violence is more prevalent than the reverse is simply bad faith in my opinion.

    I don’t care about your individual preference, I care about a wider pornographic message that ‘women like it’. It is also my observation that enthusiasts sub/masochist women talk as if men who indulge in BDSM only do so to please them. What about men who enjoy/fantasize about hurting, degrading, insulting women? How do they view women? How is that compatible with feminism? I absolutely do believe that eroticizing male violence against and domination over women and spreading the idea via media is harmful to women. You cite Paglia, I’ll cite Dworkin – and I would prefer to not believe her, I would have prefer to live in a world where she is wrong.

    Yeah, psychiatry is not a reference.

    Happy new year to all Feminist Current enthusiasts 🙂

    • Morag

      Happy New Year, Missfit. I always enjoy your comments.

      • Missfit

        Ditto!