Kink and Patriarchy

18 Nov

Ran across this quote: 

To make oneself an object, to make oneself passive, is a very different thing from being a passive object,” 

from Simone de Beauvoir and thought how true it is.   i googled de Beauvoir  (1908 – 1986) because i couldn’t remember anything about her except that she’d written “The Second Sex” which was about the role of women and our oppression.  i discovered (among other things) that she had a life-long polyamorous relationship with Jean Paul Sartre, the French existential writer.  And she was, indeed, quite the feminist. 

Here's a picture of her. I suspect she wrote some kinky letters...


This picture shows up when i google images of her, but i haven't been able to find out why - i guess it is her... interesting, huh?

To make oneself an object, to make oneself passive, is a very different thing from being a passive object,” 

i don’t know the context of the quote either.   But i read “passive” as “accepting,” “receptive,”  and yes, even “submissive.”  i hear “object” and think of blogs that express the joy of being objectified, whether we call it being a “fucktoy,”  “cunt,” or some other term that reduces the submissive partner to – an object.  

i think the quote reflects a theme that resonates in so many of our blogs.  It’s part of the answer to the “Is being submissive weak?” and “How can i be submissive when i’m a feminist?” questions.

It reminds me of Mollena, who did a workshop at the kink convention.  Mollena is this gorgeous Black woman who was selected  “International Ms. Leather, 2010,”  meaning (as i understand it) that she’s considered the epitomy of submissiveness  in the leather community.  In her workshop, she reinforced my thoughts  – that being submissive is not about making myself smaller than i actually am.   Not about hiding whatever talents i may have under a bushel.

And you know, i might have done some of that in vanilla relationships.  Trying to shrink myself so the guy i was with could feel bigger.  After all, i’m old enough to remember heated debates about the merits of “letting him win,” no matter what the game was, and i may have done my share of that.  It didn’t really work so well, and i often ended up feeling slightly ridiculous.  

i thought about that last week when i was chatting with JM, the amazing analyst.   He wanted me to explain why BDSM isn’t just another form of patriarchy.  How being submissive is different from making myself smaller.   (Yes, he knows that it is, he just likes to make me explain myself…)  

So here are my thoughts.

Patriarchy splits pretty rigidly down gender lines.  “He” is always the dominant gender.  BDSM isnt always male dominant/female submissive.   I’ve read some blogs that suggest it should be that way, but it’s not the general norm.

Patriarchy is often not acknowledged.  i’ve had more than one person tell me that things are completely different now, that women are perfectly equal, in fact, we might even have an advantage.  Or that the way things are isn’t unfair to women, we’re just different, and have different needs.  Which has just enough truth to it to be distracting.   Even some of the people reading this blog will scoff.  (Maybe lots of them – i don’t know!)  

But contrast that with BDSM, where the power differential is openly acknowledged – and is ALL we talk about sometimes.  With great pleasure.   In fact, we celebrate it.

Patriarchy is not consensual.  Nobody asked me if it was ok for women to get less pay, or for most of our images of God to be male, or for there to be an implicit understanding that women are “less than” men in a variety of ways.    Contrast that with BDSM, where “Got consent?” could be the slogan.   (I actually have a pink t-shirt with “Got consent?” on it – they were selling them at the kink convention.)

Patriarchy’s not enjoyable – not for this half of the equation anyhow.  And of course, i don’t have to preach the pleasure of the lifestyle here, right?

So that’s what i told JM, the analyst, and he nodded, he got it.   i’m glad i don’t have to turn in the feminist card i carry.  But it’s interesting, and i find myself thinking about it, circling back to it from different angles at different times.

What do you all think?


16 more days til i see Sir, but who’s counting?  And really, i think i’ll stop for now because He’s going to be having a wonderful time on vacation and i want Him to, i’m not trying to wish His time away.  We’ll be in touch some, and i’ll be fine. 


8 Responses to “Kink and Patriarchy”

  1. Mick November 18, 2010 at 6:17 am #

    well, here’s someone who certainly doesn’t believe its about patriarchy.

    It’s quite enjoyable for me to contract myself into that submissive role and let Mistress take charge when she is ready to do that….. our dinner together with you and D was a delightful example of that.

    • aisha November 18, 2010 at 7:15 am #

      @Mick – Right! It was very cool watching your Mistress domming it over you… (Don’t know if that’s the right terminology, just like the way it sounds.)

      Of course that’s not a persuasive arguement – even the good ole boys clubs let in the occasional female. But it’s certainly part of it!

      And – let me just say this – even better than dinner – was watching Her lead you around on the leash…


  2. sin November 18, 2010 at 6:49 am #

    Aisha, I know there are billioins of women who live under patriarchy with no choices and for many of them there are no choices and that things are often very unpleasant. And I’m not going to try to suggest that the choices of a few women change much of that.

    BUT, some women do “choose” patriarchy. I think that is exactly what many of us have chosen. I think it is very clear in a head of household arrangement, but I think it also fairly clear in my own. And I think that some (though obviously not most) orthodox religious women (in various religions) choose to live in patriarchal societies.

    I used to worry a lot about whether feminism and my submission negated each other. I think I have concluded they don’t. But only because feminism encompasses my right to choose.


    • aisha November 18, 2010 at 7:20 am #

      @Sin – Thank you for your response – I really appreciate your perspective.

      Having said that, there are a zillion questions I want to ask you, but think that would sound too – argumentative? Challenging? Obnoxious? Whatever.

      I would love to know more about how you define patriarchy though, and what aspects of it you accept, and so on. And, I guess, how you define feminism. With the understanding that I would listen and totally honor your right to your own perspective and the value of us being able to disagree respectfully.

      In any case, thanks for weighing in on this.



  3. strivingforpeace November 18, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    As I read this, I found myself wondering about the statistics of women who choose TTWD before the feminst movement vs. afterwards

    I wonder if part of all of this is fetishizing the taboo.

    I guess as long as we’re all as closeted as we are — it’ll be difficult to pin down.


    • aisha November 18, 2010 at 7:46 am #

      @Sfp – Interesting questions… Which feminist movement?

      It would be interesting if we all came out of the closet – can you imagine the new opinion polls and marketing research that would take place? {Laughing}

      thanks for commenting,


  4. Jz November 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    Ever read “The Alphabet Versus The Goddess”?
    I’m not sure he convinces me on all his points but it’s a fascinating consideration…

    • aisha November 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

      No, I haven’t read it, but i read a review of it a while back that fascinated me. I was gonna read it, and then I read some reviews that said it didn’t have much of a fact basis, and I backed off. I’ve been doing some reading about goddesses though, and the ages before patriarchy and so on. And –

      part of me believes in this idea that we had the ages of matriarchy, and that was good, and that patriarchy has been necessary, that it’s added essential elements, and that now we need to move toward combing the two.

      Fascinating stuff all around…

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