Sexperts: Feminism in the Bedroom

January 23, 2014 Columns, Opinion, Sexperts

Guest Writer Rebecca Wilson ‘15 explores the ethics of BDSM and reveals that it isn’t the antithesis of feminism after all.

I frequently face the question, “Doesn’t writing about sex get old?”

I usually shirk and respond with a witty one-liner that neither confirms or denies the fact that writing about sex is often tiresome.  But, I will confess I often find myself staring at a blank computer screen questioning my authority as a “sex columnist.”

One such means of coping with this internal struggle is through the recruitment of new columnists.  Which brings me to the column that follows.  I met Rebecca Wilson in a class last semester and was instantly enthralled by her unique perspective on sexuality.  She is an involved student on campus who recently organized and ran last semester’s Slut Walk.  I respected her point of view and encouraged her to guest write this column–which showcases her wit and insight on a unique aspect of sexuality.

As the semester begins we showcase the fresh voice of a new Sexpert, and look forward to her future submissions.

-David Matteson
Senior Sexpert

It’s an ethical dilemma for many a modern sexually open feminist. Can a strong feminist engage in and enjoy bondage, domination, and submission sex?

It’s becoming more mainstream and accepted. Fifty Shades of Grey might be an iconic example, but’s it’s more and more prevalent in culture. We can look to music videos, characters in Law & Order, and more.

I don’t think this is some sort of moral collapse of society; I think it simply parallels an exploration of sexual power play that is much more possible now a days.

I strongly believe in feminist ideals and am firmly against the exploitation of women’s bodies in media. And yet I am not ready to say that I’m an anti-pornography feminist. While it does market in women’s bodies, it is also a sexual outlet.

Side note – I still meet men who are shocked that girls watch porn. Newsflash, we do. (Lots of us.) Where do you think all the fan blogs about James Deen come from? It’s straight ladies who like porn of a specific variety. The kind the famous James Deen plays in, it’s rough, dirty, and demeaning. But women find him sexy as hell. I don’t think just because women support it, it’s necessarily right, but I don’t believe in limiting sexuality. Besides obvious boundaries of consent (obvious to me that is, consent could be several articles on it’s own).

I also don’t believe in any “correct” sexuality; there isn’t only way to be turned on or attracted to any one type of people. If BDSM floats your boat and the porn you’re watching features consenting adult actors I don’t feel inclined to object.

But what about the role of feminism in the personal choice to watch or engage in the submission of BDSM?

Being the Dominatrix involves a different set of sexual politics.  Media constantly presents women as sexual objects and demeans them. Is placing this same attitude in the bedroom acceptable? Is it internalizing oppression to engage in BDSM? Or could it be viewed as a radical exploration or our own oppression?

It think it’s an interesting way to examine this particular kink. Trauma victims sometimes feel a psychological need to re-explore and conquer their trauma. If we view systematic oppression and degradation of women in media as trauma inflicted upon each of us, this same psychological need may exist.

Engaging in submission sex for women could be an exploration into our submissive programming. We’ve been told both blatantly and implicitly that we’re not as good as men, that we’re here for their pleasure for most of our lives, and media images enforce this.

Feminism presents a much needed counter narrative and is a million times beyond necessary in today’s society.  I don’t believe I ‘m supposed to be submissive to men; I don’t believe I’m inferior to men; I don’t believe I should only be concerned with a man’s (or any partner’s) pleasure. But if my pleasure is tied up in their pleasure superseding mine, is it still anti feminist?

Is giving up my power in a way an exercise of my will power? Is there something freeing in playing with your oppression? Having a safe word for the objectification of women on a daily basis would be nice. The fact that I can have one and explore in a consenting adult way may just be a feminist exploration of the very patriarchal world we live in.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.

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