Writing BDSM as a Feminist
by Christina Harding
I am a self-descried feminist, yet at the same time I also enjoy reading and writing BDSM. These two traits seem to contradict each other. On one hand, feminism is about the equality of the sexes, while on the other hand “dominance and submission” is literally in the definition of BDSM. And so, it has been a bit of a grapple for me to figure out how to rationalize these two opposing values.
In this rationalization, I think it’s important to keep in mind exactly what feminism entails. For this, I would like to refer you to this speech given by Emma Watson to the UN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rymHYhlbBmw. If you have not yet had a chance to watch this powerful and eloquent speech, I highly recommend it. Ms. Watson perfectly encapsulates my views on feminism. Unfortunately the word “feminism” has become synonymous with “man-hating” and with cold-hearted women who only care about their career. But this is not the integrity of the ideology which feminism stands for. Feminists simply believe that both sexes should be treated with the same respect and privileges. It would be hard for me to list an ideal which I hold closer to my heart.
However, I remember back to when I was as young as seven years old having dreams in which I was a slave being whipped, which I strangely enjoyed. At that time, I didn’t have the understanding or vocabulary to describe this strange joy, but in my later years I came to realize I was experiencing arousal. This type of dream reached an apex for me many years later when I was traveling in Venice, Italy (strangely enough). In this dream I was being gang-raped by three different completely unattractive men. They were practically fully clothed and I was naked. Over the years I’ve learned to have some control over my dreams, and so I manipulated it to make the scenario as vulgar as possible. I woke myself up, soaking wet. I had to go to the restroom to dry myself off. When I woke up the next morning I had completely forgotten the dream, until I discovered I still needed to dry myself off.
At this point, it’s important to backtrack. Both of the stories I have provided have been dreams. The reality of the matter is that truly whipping a slave or gang-raping a woman are horrible crimes which will have lasting effects on the physical and mental well-being of the victim. Nearly ten years ago I was home alone at around 12:30am when a stranger tried to break into my home with the intent of hurting me. Fortunately the criminal was unsuccessful in his ploy, but it left me terrified of being home alone at night. It’s a fear that has lead me to install alarm systems in my home and avoid being home alone at night whenever possible. This close call nearly ten years ago has made me feel uncomfortable in my own home ever since. I can only imagine the impact it would have had if this criminal had actually been successful.
Clearly I become aroused when BDSM graces my dreams, but pushing this line in reality is a completely different matter. However, that’s where the important distinction lies. Dreams, much like fantasies, are not reality. Many little boys love the fantasy of killing a dragon, but if faced with the “reality” of a huge fire-breathing dragon, would probably feel otherwise. This is the same case with BDSM.
There are many authors who refuse to write BDSM because they “know too many people who have been raped.” I completely sympathize and respect this concern. However, I think psychotic men who would actually rape a woman would do so regardless of whether or not they read my work. A man who would do such a thing has a lot of other problems which have little to do with my writing.
Additionally, I personally found I could only truly appreciate my own sexuality when I learned to embrace my desire for the fantasy of BDSM. Finally learning to embrace and express this fantasy originated in the very safe place of reading BDSM. Then it progressed into role-play with my husband. While this may seem more like “reality” the fact of the matter is that I’m in a loving, committed, trusting relationship, and I know that if I ever seriously conveyed any kind of discomfort my husband would stop immediately. This is fantasy because we’re “pretending.” Finally, I continued to explore my thirst for BDSM by writing some of my own in the form of a paranormal erotic novelette, Underneath the Gargoyle. The fact that this is a paranormal novelette couldn’t underscore more the fact that this is a fantasy. Embracing and exploring my love for BDSM has enriched my sex life and strengthened my relationship with my husband.
I am a feminist who also believes that sexuality is an integral part of human existence and a happy marriage. Sometimes fully embracing our sexuality entails accepting and cultivating a desire for BDSM. I write BDSM because I believe enacting our sexual fantasies in a committed, trusting relationship is another way to express our love.
Christina Harding is an erotica reviewer and author of Underneath the Gargoyle available from Amazon and Smashword, and check out Christina’s blog where she reviews erotica and follow her on twitter @TinaErotica. You can read my review of Underneath the Gargoyle on my blog.by