Reductio ad Phobium: Logical fallacies for today’s feminist

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It’s not easy being a feminist in 2016. Your Twitter mentions are blown up regularly with the same arguments over and over again:

“You’re whorephobic!”

“Stop erasing me!”

“Well, I’m happy in patriarchy…”

Don’t you wish there were shorthand descriptions of these logical fallacies we see everywhere in mainstream discourse and media? Well now there are, with this updated list of logical fallacies for today’s feminist. Enjoy.

Reductio ad Phobium: The logical fallacy in which a feminist critique of systems of power is reduced to fear/hatred of individuals.

For example, in response to bell hooks’ cultural critique of the commodification of sexualized female bodies in media, Janet Mock accused her of “femmephobia”:

In response to Gail Dines’ critique of the porn industry, she is routinely labeled “whorephobic,” and accused of “slut-shaming”:

Why it’s a fallacy: First, this tactic reduces the opponent’s critique of systems of power to a nonexistent attack on an individual. Second, accusations of ____phobia do not engage with the critic’s arguments, but instead resort to pathologizing one’s opponent (not unlike when men accuse feminists of being hysterical instead of refuting the actual content of feminists’ claims).

Silentium est Liberatum: The fallacy that erasing references to “woman” and “female” from language will end sexism.

Why it’s a fallacy: Instead of arguing against the content of feminist claims, this tactic resorts to attacking the very ability of the speaker to make the argument, by erasing the political categories used to name sex-based inequality. Women are told that the act of naming the oppression they face creates that oppression by “perpetuating the gender binary.”

Pueri erunt Pueros: Boys will be boys, aka predators will be predators. This is used to argue that laws/policies should not be put in place to curtail male violence because violent males are… violent males.

Why it’s a fallacy: “Boys will be boys”/“predators will be predators” is a tautology, meaning that the statement is devoid of content. It’s basically the logical equivalent of shrugging one’s shoulders.

Non Sexquitor: The belief that nothing oppressive could possibly follow from something involving sex and that anything involving two consenting adults cannot be harmful:

In fact, even if the sex-thing doesn’t happen between two adults, it’s not sex acts, but just thinking about sex negatively that is harmful:

It is acknowledged that gaslighting happens in abusive relationships, which can convince women to accept abusive behaviour:

But, if violence happens within the context of sex, it is always acceptable because “consent,” which makes the violence totally feminist:

Why it’s a fallacy: There is a disconnect between liberal feminism’s basic premises and its conclusions about sex. Sex is given special status that disappears power relations between men and women. For example, women are systemically barred from high paying, male-dominated industries, such as STEM, and compelled into lower paying, female-dominated industries, such as caretaking. This is called sexism. But when women are systemically barred from the same professional opportunities and instead compelled into the female-dominated sex trade, this is called empowerment.

Identitus ex Machina: When a person is losing an argument, so claim their identity/experience/very existence is being erased by the act of their opponent disagreeing with them, in order to end the conversation.

Why it’s a fallacy: This is an interesting one. Rather than addressing an opponent’s arguments, this fallacy resorts to attacking the legitimacy of argumentation itself. The very act of disagreement is said to violently erase the one whom is being disagreed with.

Et tu, Cuté?! Not technically a fallacy, but what happens when someone you just met and think is cool and/or attractive says something like:

Buzzkill.

Habeus Porpus: The idea that because a patriarchal structure works for one woman’s individual purposes, it isn’t oppressive to women as a class.

Why it’s a fallacy: This is a more specific version of Ad Verecundiam (Appeal to Authority). In this case, the appeal is to individual experience as the ultimate authority. But relying solely on individual anecdotes or experiences isn’t a reliable way to analyze systems of power.

Dicktum Factum: The argument that, because male supremacy has been around for a very long time, it is an inevitable and immutable fact.

Why it’s a fallacy: This is a more specific version of Ad Antiquitatem (Appeal to Tradition). It argues that there is nothing that can be done about male supremacy because it exists. It is the phallus declaring: “I am who am!”

So there you have it, a definitive list of logical fallacies for today’s feminist. Perfect for saving time and space, whether you’re running low on characters in the Tweetosphere, or responding to an argument on the fly. Happy patriarchy smashing!

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • Cassandra

    Fantastic, Susan!!

  • Five stars (out of five :)).

  • Novo

    Identitus ex Machina by proxy: I was listening to melissa gira grant on a podcast with Katie Klabusich, a hack writer who claims to hate capitalism but deifies prostitution. I was waiting for mgg to make a brilliant case for legalizing prostitution. Instead, she was arguing that all abolitionists are racist and transphobic because they historically only cared about white ‘cisgender’ women who were trafficked. Unfortunately, the only evidence she had of this was from the 19th century. Yeah, because I’m sure the pimps and johns of the 19th century USA had enlightened views about race and used all the right pronouns. Hilariously both she and klabusich are themselves both white ‘cisgender’ women. Klabusich also chirped that ‘anyone who has a problem with sex work can help me destroy capitalism!’, thus acknowledging that she doesn’t actually give a shit about challenging capitalism. Gira Grant, an alleged ‘socialist’ didn’t have anything to say about that. Liberal feminism is basically the status quo + PC language

    • Meghan Murphy

      Those two are a match made in moron heaven.

    • Tomatoface

      “Liberal feminism is basically the status quo + PC language”

      This is perfect. I think of liberal feminism as Capitalist feminism.

  • Tomatoface

    I usually agree with everything I read on this site, and today I’m ferverntly on board with 80% of this article.

    Mainly I’m wondering about the blanket condemnation of BDSM, especially given it’s many permutations. Should women deny themselves sexual gratification that happens in private because their play immitates toxic power structures in the real world? Does being a feminist mean denying oneself sexual gratification? (I have head people express this view before.) Because sex is so complicated and sometimes the things that get us off aren’t politically correct. And yet those things don’t change or go away when we try and supress them, so we end up feeling enormous shame and self-hatred.

    I guess I don’t understand how consent doesn’t matter in regards to BDSM. If a woman wants rough sex or bondage or whatever in a private interaction, should she not be allowed the agency to own that without shame? I’m not talking about porn or sex work, but private sexual encounters. Do you not think that people are able to separate outside politics from their personal sexuality, which they didn’t choose?

    These are genuine questions, I’m not having a go at you.

    • Artemis

      The problem you will now face is that, in all other discussions about other subjects, commenters who disagreed with you over this issue will cast a jaundiced eye over everything you write about anything in the future, and pick on you, victimise you and argue with you, because they see you are someone who promotes the sexual abuse of women. It’s a shame, but I’ve seen this happen 100 times. My advice would be to change your ID on here. It’s ironic that people arguing against you on this subject became abusive towards you, in the name of wanting to save women from abuse! Yep, they gave you a real beating. And they made huge assumptions, then attacked those assumptions. It was sickening to read TBH. If I ever tell anyone what my b/f and I do in bed it will be under a false ID!

    • Independent Radical

      “Mainly I’m wondering about the blanket condemnation of BDSM, especially given it’s many permutations.”

      Sadomasochism is blanketly condemned because it blanketly celebrates power inequalities. It is that simple.

      “Should women deny themselves sexual gratification that happens in
      private because their play immitates toxic power structures in the real
      world? Does being a feminist mean denying oneself sexual gratification?”

      If you admit that it comes from a toxic source, yes. The same way people should avoid substances that are toxic (like drugs and cigarettes) even if they enjoy them, at least I think they should. Some radical feminists disagree, they apply liberal reasoning to everything that is not blatantly sexist, which is kind of inconsistent, but they are still right about toxic, physically and mentally degrading sexual practices.

      I do not argue that pleasure itself is wrong, it just tempts us to do things that are wrong for other reasons. I think we should be wary of things that produces too much pleasure with too little effort. There is usually a catch.

      “Because sex is so complicated and sometimes the things that get us off aren’t politically correct.”

      Some films and video games that people really like have harmful content. I do not think these things should be above critique just because people get pleasure from them and sex should not be any different.

      “And yet those things don’t change or go away when we try and suppress them, so we end up feeling enormous shame and self-hatred.”

      I think it is possible to provide therapy to people with unhealthy desires so that they can overcome them. It is not the same thing as promoting self-hate. These feels only exist because liberals have convinced people that their sexuality is “who they are” rather than what it really is, which is just another desire like food or movie preferences.

      “Do you not think that people are able to separate outside politics from their personal sexuality, which they didn’t choose?”

      No, the personal is political. That is one of the core principles of feminism. Different aspects of a person’s character are interrelated and some people practice sadomasochism 24 hours a day so they definitely cannot separate anything from it.

  • Independent Radical

    “Birthing parent”? Seriously! What’s next? Are they going to make a certain notorious non-Sith Lord turned non-Jedi (because that’s not confusing at all) say “Luke, I am your non-birthing biological parent”?

    Oh wait, no, because “father” is okay, right? It is only okay to obsess over the biological rather than human traits when talking about women, right? Seriously, I want to see if the same complaints exist come Father’s Day. I bet they won’t.

    Furthermore, it is not as if language like “birthing parent” in any way excludes caring non-biological parents and guardians
    (a far more numerically substantial group than people who are truly
    intersex) at all! *Sarcasm*

    Seriously, feminists should be fighting against the idea that pushing a fetus out
    of your vagina radically changes who you are and obligates you to nuture
    and care for it, not for it. Children should be nutured and cared for by people who want to nuture and care for them whether they are biologically related to the child or not.

    That is why I do not like the term “mother” either and the implication that the role of a mother is radically different from that of a father. I say we have a Caring Guardians Day (which includes biological parents who actually do a good job of raisin their children instead of implying that they deserve infinite praise just for having had unprotected sex once), not to deny the weight of gender roles on the lives of parents and guardians, but to argue for their abolition and celebrate those who consciously and deliberately refuse to conform to them.

  • MW

    Great article.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I know many women who would qualify as “happy, psychologically healthy” people who engage in misogynist sex practices too (including BDSM). But that isn’t the whole story. Context matters and whether or not individual women feel ‘happiness’ within the context of BDSM or performances of femininity, sexualized oppression, whatever, does not make those practices harmless, healthy, or ‘good.’

  • Hierophant2

    Hey, thanks for the link! Glad you liked it. 🙂
    (I am Francois Tremblay, in case some don’t know)

    • Meghan Murphy

      🙂

    • lk

      Nope, I had no idea that this was Francois. And I will add that some of the articles on your site (and on feminist current) significantly contributed to my decision to stop watching pornography.

      • Hierophant2

        Wow, thank you! You’re the second person I’ve heard about who quit partially because of me. I think that may be my greatest accomplishment…

  • Melissa Cutler

    Tomatoface: “I know too many happy, psychologically healthy women who actively choose to play the role of submissive with friends and lovers because they simply enjoy it.”

    This fallacy was addressed in this post. Habeus Porpus:
    “Habeus Porpus: The idea that because a patriarchal structure works for one woman’s individual purposes, it isn’t oppressive to women as a class.”

  • Meghan Murphy

    People do not have the ‘right’ to find sexual gratification however they wish. There is more than one way to find sexual pleasure. You act as though women’s liberation lies in her ability to orgasm through rape fantasies. This is not true.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Of course you can participate! Though you will find many disagree with you on this one…

    • Tomatoface

      Thank you, Meghan. And that’s fine, in my mind it’s all an ongoing discussion.

  • Susan Cox

    Yeah, that comic EF published is too ridiculous! It frames the girl who doesn’t like violent sex as just not self-actualized enough, and even slightly bigoted, because she hasn’t gotten over (this is a direct quote) “toxic ideas you’ve been taught.”

    • Independent Radical

      I was on board with the comic and felt it made a compelling case for vanilla sex (even if you include aggression as a form of intimacy, which liberals do, how it hitting someone with an inanimate object more “intimate” than actually touching them?) until the last frame. The woman who prefers vanilla sex needs to work through “toxic ideas”. What toxic ideas? The idea that she should not be beaten up? What does she have to journey towards? Yes, everyone has a right to decline loving, egalitarian sex (for the simple reason that it is not loving or egalitarian if they do not), but sadomasochists are not fighting for the right to decline vanilla sex (which makes the “I can always decline” comment a shallow comfort to those dating sadomasochists). They think sadomasochistic sex is a need for them and get furious at the prospect of being with partners who do not give it to them. How the comic missed that problem is beyond me.

      I do not care if the last panel is joking. It is sick.

  • Susan Cox

    I think you are right and it should be an attribute complement and not a direct object. I might change that. Thanks. Though I would keep it as “pueri erunt pueri,” and not “pueri pueri erunt” because word order in Latin is quite flexible (thanks to the declensions) and the former is more understandable to English speakers.

  • Hierophant2

    “Your two answers contradict each other. If a woman can only have sexual gratification by engagine in power games,”

    Women can have sexual gratification in all sorts of ways, but abuse is not sexual gratification. Abuse is abuse.

    “then refusing to allow her the agency to choose to have that kind of sex means denying her the right to sexual gratification.”

    Agency just means “I’m blaming the victims.” Just like you’re blaming the victims of BDSM right now for their own abuse. It’s their fault because they seek “sexual gratification” in abuse.

    Well I say your position is bullshit. Denying that women should be abused is not a denial of sexual gratification. Fuck you for saying otherwise.

    “Also, no. Consensual, pleasurable play is not violence and abuse.”

    I disagree, but it doesn’t matter, since BDSM is not consensual.

    “Abuse is not consensual or pleasurable.”

    That’s a rather narrow view. But since you’re victim-blaming, I am not surprised that you have a rather narrow view of abuse.

    “And not all BDSM is violent. In fact a whole, whole lot of it doesn’t invole any sort of pain or violence at all.”

    Look, I don’t care what stupid ideology you’re trying to peddle, but you shouldn’t lie.

  • radwonka

    “not all BDSM is violent. In fact a whole, whole lot of it doesn’t invole any sort of pain or violence at all.”

    lol what a lie.

  • lk

    “I’m afraid I just don’t believe that sexually is completely moulded by society. I think we are born the way we’re born. I don’t agree that D/s desires stem from societal norms.”

    We are shaped by society from the second we are born; and yes, biological drives and instincts counts but where and when you were born matters, how you were raised matters, what you have been consuming matters. Sexuality, like everything else, is molded (at least partially) by society, time, place and etc.

    Even if we are born with certain desires, I still think its important to examine those desire and decide if acting on them is the right thing to do. “We are born the way we’re born” isn’t a justification for bad behavior. A few months ago, FC posted an article about a guy who make child sex dolls for men and he basically said that some people are just born with fetishes and we can’t change them. First, fetishes and desires can be changed. Second, even if you are born with a desire to have sex with children ,that’s not a justification for acting on that desire. (I’m not comparing pedophilia to bdsm, I’m just trying to show that being born with a desire doesn’t mean you should act on that desire, nor does it make it healthy).

    I thinks ethics should trump pleasure…even when it comes to sex. I don’t think immediate pleasure should be the ultimate judge of how good/healthy an activity is.

    Rapeplay, raceplay, breathplay, degradation/humiliation/derogatory name calling and etc. are all abusive and involve pain..even if it is consensual and causes orgasms. These are all behaviors that we would condemn outside of sex, but inside of the bedroom they suddenly become okay?

    I think intimate relationships should be about fostering and bringing out the best parts of each other and not the worst.

  • radwonka


    non-snarky”

    Who was snarky tho?

    “As I said in another comment, BDSM done correctly is about communication
    and intimacy. And, yes, I absolutely find these activities healthy when
    everyone emerges satisfied and happier than the were before.”

    Is it THAT complicated to understand that not everything revolves around consent? That criticism can go beyond consent? That consent can be a complex concept? Or that sociology studies human behavior with or without consent?
    Everything that isn’t rape isn’t “cool” by default.


    I think we are born the way we’re born.”

    So you think that some people (well mostly women haaa) are born sub and that some people (meeeeeen) born are dominants… and like, we should just follow what “nature” teaches us… because if we don’t we”re just prudes and won’t follow “natural” rules haaa… culture ain’t that important…… wow so deep… The MRA and fascists would agree with ya.

  • Hierophant2

    “I admire the living hell out of you Meghan. You’re pretty much my feminist guru these days. But I’m not on the same page with this subject. ”

    Hm. Isn’t that weird though? You advocate for the abuse of women, but you like a radical feminist writer. Maybe you should resolve that cognitive dissonance first. Just sayin’

  • Bleep

    “If a woman can only have sexual gratification by engaging in power games, then refusing to allow her the agency to choose to have that kind of sex means denying her the right to sexual gratification.”

    What? Who can deny anyone “the agency” to choose things they choose? If they have the “agency”, then they have it. No one can “deny” it. It is there or not.

    Also, denying said “agency” does not in fact deny anyone the right to do things they are doing. I deny your agency to eat peas. And yet, I am nowhere near you and cannot force you not to eat peas. If you eat peas, have I denied you the “right” to eat them, because I deny your agency to eat them?

    Again, WHAT???

    Another option, besides reinforcing neural pathways that have been trained to see violence, degradation and abuse as sexually stimulating is to take a break from sex, take a break from getting off on violence, degradation and abuse, and retrain your neural pathways. Maybe take a look at where and how they got so overstimulated by violence + sex that they became “naturally” acclimated to and stimulated by it, and think critically about whether it’s a healthy thing to continue to condone for our (super stupid and violent) species.

  • fragglerock

    Yikes. Glad I don’t have a twitter account.

    What about when someone uses their own personal trauma as a weapon or a distraction tactic? I pointed out some of this flawed logic in a comment I made in response to some “trans-panic” article on Medium and some rabid commenter hurled her rape story at me as evidence that….I actually don’t know. I think she was just trying to derail my argument which she didn’t but I was definitely confused. Ugh.

  • Melissa Cutler

    Well put, as usual, will. Thank you.

  • Wren

    I don’t know how old you are, but you should be wary of any self-defined “community” that claims it’s rules and architecture is “complicated” or difficult for outsiders to understand. Be wary of any group that tells you you’re different and others (like everyone here who is writing back to you) won’t/can’t understand. If you can’t convince a bunch of intelligent and compassionate women, something ain’t right.

    You should tread carefully, or seek counseling.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Everyday Meninism.

  • Crimelord Canada

    To be fair the last two tweets listed under Silentium est Liberatum are mocking responses to the UK Green Party using the term non-men to be inclusive, Meghan reported about it here : http://www.feministcurrent.com/2016/04/18/non-men-of-the-world-unite-to-mock-greenpartyfeminism/

  • Crimelord Canada

    I like giving them the definition of phobia with an example of those who have a legitimate diagnosis of [blank]phobia behave.

  • Crimelord Canada

    I noted elsewhere recently that many ‘subs’ buy into the distorted thinking that the ‘dom’ is a benefactor who is only committing the abuse as a teacher and not actually getting off on it. That they only do it because they care for and want nothing but the best for the ‘sub’.

  • Artemis

    Go ahead get beaten up? You have deliberately, for effect, reduced the entire gamut of bdsm sex play down to being beaten up? Your reply and that of others is abusive, in the name of being anti – abuse? Hypocrite.

  • Artemis

    “I hope that doesn’t mean I can’t participate in the community here anymore.” Tomato, you won’t be able to without people being snarky and abusive on every other subject, because they disagree with you on this one. This thread has been sickening to read. Nobody has even thought for a second that it might be the MAN who wants to be sub, or that a couple might play about both ways with a bit of mild role play or being tied up and teased, etc. Why always jump to the conclusion that it’s all about a naive woman bowing down to the demands of a sadistic man? My boyfriend and I have done all kinds of things in bed over the years, and he found that he gets far more excitement and satisfaction by being the “sub” being dominated by the woman (and not in black leather, just naked!) Where does this leave all your detractors? Does it make my b/f an abuser only when he’s indulging my whim by playing out my sub fantasies, then a wuss for indulging his own? People on here seem to find it impossible to imagine a couple having fun playing about with sub/dom stuff without having to pathologise it and turn it into something misogynistic.

  • Meghan Murphy

    My point is more that, like, is it more important to make every individual feel justified in their behaviours simply because a behaviour is connected to “sex,” even if those behaviours are, in fact, rooted in things like misogyny, the sexualization of slavery and torture, domination and subordination, etc.? I mean, at the end of the day, no one’s stopping anyone from doing anything, but the argument that says criticizing BDSM practices “denies [women] the right to sexual gratification” is the same argument people use in defense of prostitution — they say “it’s her body, it’s her right to do what she wants with it.” We’re talking about larger contexts and implications here…

  • Meghan Murphy

    Indeed I think framing angry responses as “abusive” is wrongheaded. Especially considering that what we are talking about is the sexualization of abuse.

  • radwonka

    Its not because you enjoy something that it becomes non violent. Do you think facefuck is non violent/non misogynistic too?

  • radwonka

    Ive been into BDSM. But thanks anyway, you can keep ya “””research”””

  • radwonka

    >being in power
    >caring

    Where is the logic?
    And doesnt change the fact that BDSM is éroticized abuse. Kek.

    So basically: some people are sub and some are doms. And we know who the subs are and who the doms are. Cause nature.

    Deep. And no comment.

    BTW also the personal is political. Thats feminism101. Culture does impact sexuality. Its obvious.

    And lol @ “it has no impact”. Sure men who want their girlfriend to like pain/anal/choking/etc, and calling them prudes and worthless if they dont, have no impact and no influence AT ALL. They werent influenced by other eithers right? The porn industry doesnt impact anyone and men who love this stuff are just nice guys right?

    Yeah biology is everything and patriarchy doesnt influence sexuality AT ALL. Yeah, no. Thats not convincing sorry.

  • radwonka

    Also lmfao, bdsm isnt about tea, you want me to show you the popular research tags on BDSM porn sites? I bet you know what BDSM is exactly about, and yet you are talking about fucking tea. Like seriously?

    • Meghan Murphy

      I should also add/point out that many BDSM practices are derived from the witch hunts and the torture/humiliation “witches” were subjected to. Also, many BDSM practices, as I think I mentioned briefly, are connected to slavery. BDSM literally sexualizes racism and misogyny. It’s not just a thing people like to do that has no context.

  • radwonka

    That doesnt answer my question.

  • Hierophant2

    Excuse me? You’re the one advocating for BDSM and you’re calling ME mean and that you don’t advocate for the abuse of women?

    You seem to be unclear on the concept. You ARE advocating for the abuse of women. Whether you realize it or not is not really my problem.

    I am not willing to give you a “pass,” because the issue of BDSM is becoming more and more important. It needs to be clearly talked about and people like you, who are its “useful idiots” (like the Western advocates for Stalinist totalitarianism were), must be publicly called out and shamed. It is NOT okay to advocate for vaw, even if it’s disguised as sex!

  • radwonka

    I replied to you before duh. With many references, that you obviously didnt read anyway.

    Block me m8. Criticizing sexuality is not bullying, debating is not bullying, answering childish questions is not bullying, but do what you want kek. And Keep ya accusations for you. If you cant handle different opinions, thats your problem, not mine.

  • Bleep

    An actor who is playing the role of a racist doesn’t use cutesy terms to make it seem like it’s not what it is though. They don’t spend their time in interviews trying to convince others about what “fun” the playing of a racist character is for them, either.

  • lk

    Behavior can be private and consensual and still have negative impacts on its participants. I don’t think private and consensual necessarily= good, positive, healthy.

    If a behavior is playing out/engaging in something toxic, then by definition, it is unhealthy or at minimum, its not good.

    If we’re going to really talk about bdsm (or any other sexual behavior) its important that we think beyond just our personal, individual experiences of it and consider bdsm as as institution and a practice-what it entails, its rules, what it considers acceptable and etc.

    And I think we have to admit that bdsm (perhaps not all of it, but some if it) entails, allows and encourages much more than just rough sex and blindfolds. BDSM says racism,sexism, violence,name calling, pain, degradation, humiliation are all okay…if your partner consents and it happens in pursuit of sexual pleasure.

    Generally, I’m also concerned about how much of a free pass we give sexual behavior and how low are standards are for what constitutes healthy sexual behavior.

    For example, imagine if you and I were platonic friends in real-life and I told you that everytime we hung out at your place or mine, I really wanted you to tell me I was a worthless b*tch and I wanted you to send me text messages reminding me of how worthless I am because having people call me insulting/derogatory names gives me a huge rush of endorphins and makes me feel really good. Now we’re doing it in private and I’m asking for it-but I don’t think we would consider this to be healthy behavior. But if we were sexual partners, these same things would suddenly be seen as healthy? Why is that?

  • Meghan Murphy

    What are you talking about, Artemis? 1) None of this is ‘knee-jerk’ anything, it’s called critical analysis and historical, culural context, 2) Who the fuck is talking about ‘shaving’ here??

  • Meghan Murphy

    I do think that even when the male is playing the role of submissive it still is mimicking and sexualizing those patriarchal power dynamics. In that case I feel like the titillation comes from a man, who is normally in a social position of power, playing the opposite (i.e. ‘feminine’) role.

    I don’t necessarily think BDSM harms all individual women who practice it, but I do think the practice, itself, is not healthy or positive and I think people need to be more critical and thoughtful about the things that turn them on and why. Especially when we start promoting these practices in the public sphere as somehow neutral or ‘sex-positive’, I think it starts to get really dangerous in terms of the ideas and behaviours we are teaching men and women and boys and girls are ‘ok’ and ‘sexy.’

  • Meghan Murphy

    You seem upset.

  • corvid

    How ’bout this for ” snide”: you are a tone-policing manipulator. The women here are under no obligation to play your game.

  • corvid

    Oh, come on. You comment on a rad feminist site looking to be commended for *only* ordering a woman to make you tea, and that this proves BDSM (bondage, dominance/discipline, sadism, masochism) isn’t about oppressive hierarchical power relations? While scolding women for reacting with anger to the trappings of our oppression and cyclical arguments we’ve heard a million times?

    Lol!

  • corvid

    Many of the women who frequent this site have front-line experience with it. It’s just that folks like yourself want to pretend that no conscientious objection can be made.

  • corvid

    If it’s a stupid question you should have no trouble answering it.

    • Tomatoface

      Okay. The answer is no.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Artemis, you are the only person acting unreasonably here. I have bullied no one. If these are my ‘true colours,’ these have always been my ‘true colours,’ and trying to threaten me by pretending that, like, “Once I liked you and now I don’t! Because…. You don’t support BDSM…?” Is laughable. Learn how to disagree without screaming at people. Also don’t try to bully me into agreeing with you lest I lose an imagined fan.

    Now stop attacking people and make a reasoned argument. Please.

  • Sara Marie

    Hi tomatoface,
    The thing is, unless participants in BDSM are never going to talk about what they do with others, including online, it *does* impact other people. You are essentially advocating BDSM as healthy sexual activity for certain people; you are doing this in a context where women are sexually abused and degraded against their will on a daily basis, and many women are fighting to free themselves of urges to be used and abused.

    Doms/tops/sadists in BDSM can’t know for sure how their partners are going to feel about their consent to abuse in 5, 10, or 15 years. And many “tops” in BDSM really don’t take the time to find out how and why their partner(s) want to be subordinated, even in cases where the “sub” knows they feel compelled to act out previous abuse and feels badly afterwards.

    We have no way of being able to separate innate sexual desires from environmentally influenced ones; I’m sure you know the brain is neuroplastic, and things can certainly feel innate in origin without being so. It seems an ideological stance on your part to say there is this innate desire for aggression in some people and feelings of helplessness in others/at other times, and that these desires are best expressed, and expressed in sexual activity.

  • corvid

    You know what, some of us never wanted to come into a world where our genitalia marks us as all-purpose punching-bags. We never wanted to have our sexuality torn apart by porn, and to see our torture glamorized as hip and sophisticated. But we never got a choice. I don’t understand how you can sit there complaining about your choices being misunderstood when we never got to make a choice.

    Go ahead and support a culture of ritualized hierarchy and abuse if you want to. Go ahead and excuse your desire to hurt others just because it happens in the context of sex. Just don’t expect everyone to like it.