When I stumbled over sadomasochism in my late teens, I felt like everybody was getting something I didn’t. Why did they choose a Marquis as a symbol of the huddled masses? Why was whipping people associated with freedom for these people? Why did sadomasochists try to make themselves out as an oppressed minority and “the cool kids” simultaneously?
It was like an inside joke, and I was determined to get behind it. I mean, it was there. When I came out as a Lesbian, one of the first books I read about being a Lesbian had a long section in it about how to do sadomasochism (and another one mocking separatism). Our local women’s and Lesbians’ café held sadomasochistic workshops. And I was a leftist. By sheer association I figured I should be okay with it.
I went to university, and of course sadomasochism was there, too. Again, student organisations held workshops, leftist groups had their own kinky sub-organisations, and everyone else seemed to find the most profound insights into the human condition in violent wanking material.
I read and read and read, I discussed and discussed and discussed. I got perspectives of kinksters who were arguing from a homosexual viewpoint (“We are all kinky, because we are not het!”), from an atheist viewpoint (“The Marquis de Sade was prosecuted because he was an out atheist, therefore doing SM is by definition the most atheist kind of sex, not like this vanilla Christian stuff!”), from a leftist viewpoint (“Oppressed people have their sexuality othered, and so do we! We are basically the same as black women during slavery in the US!”), from an artistic viewpoint (“Have you seen The Night Porter?”), or from a philosophical viewpoint (“Nietzsche!”).
During my undergraduate years I lived in my blue collar family’s overcrowded, noisy flat in the housing project I grew up in. I also started to bring my newly-found knowledge home. Wanted to know what my folks had to say about the stuff I heard at university.
When I brought up sadomasochism to them, they laughed about it. They of course had heard about it all their lives, seen it on TV, and they all found it silly. The ridiculous pastime of “the better people”, as they still call members of the middle and upper classes with a hint of irony. Where I come from, we make a sharp distinction between having real problems and whining. Sadomasochists were whiners.
And not just whiners. Stuck-up wannabes who try to piggyback oppressed people’s strive to feel better about themselves.
I’m not saying there are no blue collar people in sadomasochism. I see upwardly mobile working class folks participate in all kinds of middle-class rituals to belong: They play golf, they get into wine and cheese, they wear pink polo shirts with popped collars. Still, white and middle-class, that’s what kinksters are for the most part. Continental Europe in the 1980s and 1990s (the time I got my first research material from) or the US in the 2010s, it’s always the same: White and middle-class, white and middle-class, white and middle-class, with the occasional person of colour or Jewish person or poor person used as a figurehead.
And why wouldn’t it be like this. Sadomasochistic practices pre-date Christianity, but sadomasochism as a distinct ideology and behaviour grew out of the frivolities of the Christian upper classes of Europe.
It is right there in their own words. ‘Dom’ comes from the Latin dominus (from domus, house), signifying the head of the household, the owner of slaves. ‘Sub’ is Latin, too. It literally means just ‘under’ and is used to create verbs and nouns: It is the Latin verb submittere that is basic to modern English’s ‘submissive’.
Other terms are not even classical Latin at all, but rather mimicking it to sound authoritative: ‘Dominatrix’ for example is correct in a grammatical sense, but is not classical Latin and attested first in the 16th century. ‘Dominatrix’ or its male form “dominator” (which I personally have rarely read before) are not needed for classical Latin. It already has domina (which is what many Germans use for female dominants). I also take it that ‘dominatrix’ is somewhat of an outsider term to kinksters and indicates a prostitute.
The word I see used for “real” female dominants is ‘domme’, which is not just fake Latin, but also fake French[i]. French used to be the conversational language for royal courts and aristocracy all over Europe, so it is not really a suprise to see kinksters trying to associate with it. Of course their love for the Marquis de Sade has to do with it as well, and they probably even try to invoke and piggy-back the Lesbian term femme/Fem (coined by Anne Lister[ii]).
French with its feudal origins or Latin, they are a dead-giveaway that it were the educated middle and upper classes who shaped sadomasochism. Latin, this language of slave-holding imperialists taken over by the church, to this day is the sine qua non of proper higher education in Europe. (See what I did there? Ruling class language.)
No working class person would have come up with that shit. It weren’t poor people or people of colour, enslaved and deprived of their right to education who walked around and thought, “hm, how about we play whipping and use Latin words while we are doing it”. Sadomasochists forced poor people and people of colour into allyship with them just like they forced Lesbians.
Sadomasochism as a fetish system really appears in the limelight from the 17th century onwards. It probably is much older and definitely rooted in institutions like medieval monasteries, the ideology of chivalry and early modern court culture. But with the 17th century, we get an explosion of source material after printing, publishing and circulating of books got significantly easier.
″At just the same time that the sadistic motivation of flogging by schoolmasters was being analysed and exposed, the psychological opposite, the stimulus to masochism in some boys, was also first brought to public attention. In his play The Virtuoso of 1678, Thomas Shadwell portrayed an elderly man who in a moment of sexual excitement asks his mistress: ‘Where are the instruments of our pleasure?’ When she produces a couple of birch rods, he explains ‘Was so used to it at Westminster School I couldn’t ever leave it off since…. Do not spare thy pains: I love castigation mightily.’ (Plate 34.) James Cleland included a mutual whipping episode in Fanny Hill in 1748, while Hogarth’s print in 1732 of a whore’s room in A Harlot’s Progress showed a bundle of birch rods hanging on the wall over the bed. ‘Le vice Anglais’ was well established by the eighteenth century, apparently among both sexes.”[iii]
The Marquis de Sade wrote his texts and sexually assaulted women in the 18th century, but he was not the only “great man” of the time to dabble in sadomasochism.
The château of Villers-Cotterêts near Paris was used by Louis XV and his court for sadomasochistic orgies, so-called ″Adam and Eve nights″. They not just included general nudity (hence the name), but also bondage and flagellation. For this, the court exploited not only women and men in prostitution, but also local inhabitants[iv]. In Great Britain, men of the nobility organised Hellfire Clubs, once again exploiting prostitutes.
This is also what the Marquis de Sade’s biography comes down to: The aristocrat exploiting local poor people. Rose Keller, whom he held hostage and raped, the young women he poisoned in Marseille and the young women lured to work and be raped at his castle Lacoste were dirt-poor and legally and socially powerless. On the other hand, the Marquis de Sade was a member of the noblesse d’épée, the oldest and snobbiest part of the French aristocracy which traced their origins back to knights and conquerors. He looked down on his own wife, because her family “merely” belonged to the noblesse de robe, elevated to nobility by the king for their faithful service in administration as recently as a few decades or centuries ago. Some poor people around him were complicit (e. g. his valet and partner in crime Latour; the woman who threw her own teenaged daughter in with him to rape when he was imprisoned). He pissed off his peers with his lack of discretion, but there is no doubt whatsoever this man was as upper-crust as they come, and simultaneously nothing special in his tastes.
Rose Keller was not out expressing her sexuality and looking for a dom. She was lured with the promise of work, kept by force, escaped by her own courage and was paid off by the Marquis’ mother-in-law to keep her mouth shut. Some biographers of the Marquis downplay her ordeal to a mild inconvenience. Some paint her as a treacherous, greedy prostitute who bailed out on him. Some paint her as the one who really exercises power in the ″relationship″ because his family had to cough up hush money. She is a perfect example for a woman raped and scorned by sadomasochists.
A middle-class example for an 18th century sadomasochist is the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He was an all-around piece of shit. He got into an exploitative relationship with dirt-poor and illiterate Thérèse Levasseur – who, together with her mother – was more or less a live-in servant to him. They had five children, all of whom he forced her to abandon at an orphanage. He refused to take a pension from the king, although this would have brought economical safety to Thérèse, her mother and any children they would have had in the future. He wrote a lot of shit about people of colour and women and some of his digusting ideas about the female nature we still have to deal with: The breastfeeding mafia today is rooted deeply in Rousseau’s biologically essentialist drivel.
He also had the habit to expose his buttocks to random women on the street, hoping to aggravate them enough to hit him. He himself ascribed this fetish of his to the beatings he got in childhood.
This got interpreted as “queerness”, by a female scholar, nonetheless: “This study explores the way that Rousseau’s Confessions disrupts the binary of sexual difference via Rousseau’s sexualization of and identification with the bottom. I argue that Rousseau’s exhibition of his bottom to groups of women is key for understanding a queer structure of sexuality that begins with the famous spanking episode. Ultimately, Rousseau’s queer bottom aligns him with the feminine sex while simultaneously differentiating him from the typical structures that would fix sexual or gender difference.”[v]
What it really was, of course, is sexual harassment of – presumably – working-class women (not many upper-class ladies out and about on the streets on their own two feet at the time).
Sadomasochism is literally the master ideology. It was invented by the master class, using the tools of oppression, as a frivolous little game in an environment already saturated with violence. How transgressing is a good whipping when there are whippings all over the place? Let’s take a look at the 17th and 18th century: Parents and caretakers whip children, husbands their wives, teachers the pupils, masters their servants, legal authorities whip criminals, abbots and abbesses whip monks and nuns, captains their sailors, officers their soldiers, humans whip animals. There may have been some lucky people who never were whipped, but it’d be impossible to find someone who never witnessed a whipping. It was as common as street dirt, an everyday life experience. And of course it was the man who wielded the whip (literally) who wrote the glorifying myth around it.
‘Masochism’ derives from the 19th century author Leopold of Sacher-Masoch. He was an Austrian nobleman, and – like the Marquis de Sade who was raised by his abbot uncle, had aunts who were nuns and attended four years of Jesuit school where he was flogged – in his childhood and youth deeply influenced by Catholicism. His novella Venus in Furs is a fictionalised account of his own life.
It wasn’t the slaves, but the slave-holders of the British and the French empires who kept alive and traded the memory, right up to the “intellectuals” in the 20th and 21st century. These “intellectuals” have tried to argue that the import of sadomasochism into oppressed groups means liberation or a raise in status for members of the oppressed groups: “Lesbians have claimed S&M, previously seen as the privileged space of the powerful, to transform the suffering experienced as a result of social powerlessness into pleasure.”[vi]
What really happened was aggressive marketing towards Lesbians and outright invasion of Lesbian spaces by kinksters. Lesbians falling for their tricks were like blue collar people thinking they will be allowed in the club if they just know how to pronounce foie gras. If they didn’t obediently turn het eventually, they at least took over patriarchy’s dirty work: Hurting women. That for they got crumbs of privilege, but it didn’t do shit to end “suffering experienced as a result of social powerlessness”. Yelling “But I do SM!” does not stop an attacker. Men still rape and kill Lesbians, and many women side with them.
The deep roots in Christianity I proclaim on the first glance seem counter-intuitive. Sadomasochism has aligned itself with liberalism and (pseudo-)leftism and there are big overlaps between neopagan and sadomasochistic communities both in practice and in ideology.
What’s more, there are indeed pre-Christian examples for sadomasochism we know about, like a lady named Sati at the court of Amenhotep III, whose nickname was ‘Lady Whiplash’ (ḫʻr). Greek and Roman authors wrote about slaves being used in a sadomasochistic way, e. g. Martial’s epigram V, 46 about an enslaved boy[vii] named Diadumenus: “As I dislike all kisses, except those which I have secured with a struggle, and as your anger, Diadumenus, pleases me more than your face, I often flog you that I may often have to solicit you. The result is, that you neither fear me nor love me.”
Note the two levels here: The slavery here is social and legal reality, and additionally play-acted in the sadomasochistic violence the child is forced to join in. What discerns this from a straightforward rape is the additional mind-rape, i. e. the performance/reenactment aspect.
In another epigram Martial goes so far as to call Diadumenus “cruel”, once more forcing him to play out a sadomasochistic fantasy on top of an actual reality: “The perfume, which is exhaled by the apple bitten by a young damsel; by the zephyr that passes over the saffron-fields of Corycia; by the vine, when it flowers white with its first clusters; by grass just cropped by the sheep; by the myrtle; by the Arabian spice-gatherer; by amber rubbed with the hand; by the fire pale with eastern frankincense; by the turf lightly sprinkled with summer showers; by the chaplet resting loosely on locks dripping with nard: all this fragrance, cruel Diadumenus, is combined in your kisses. What would it not be, were you to grant them without grudging?”
The motif of women being used as beasts of burden to pull wagons can be traced from ancient Indian and Roman texts right through the middle ages up to modern ‘pony play’. Even the so-called Song of Songs compares the female “beloved” to a mare pulling the pharao’s carriage[viii].
From the incestuous, paedophiliac and warmongering 18th dynasty in Egypt that peaked in the theocratic dictatorship of daughter- and sister-raping monotheist Akhenaten to religious texts from the Rigveda to the Pentateuch, the aggressive father-god is the common denominator. Martial wrote under the eyes of Jupiter Capitolinus. Christianity owes both its brutal conquering nature and its central philosophical tenets to the Roman empire.
Some sadomasochists consciously try to create “pagan“-flavoured rituals: “Julie told us one story of a “ritual” she and her partner planned out ahead of time. They had a longstanding agreement that whenever she wore an all-black dress around him, he was allowed to destroy it. The “how” was left up to him. Later, at a Pagan altar party (more on that in a moment), she says that he… “… threw me down on an altar and ripped my dress apart … It felt like he was ripping ME to shreds. It was just my dress, but it felt like he was ripping me, offering ME as a sacrifice … and I think he slapped me around a lot too while he did it … the thing that sticks out in my mind is just the way I felt blissfully helpless. A lot of people I interviewed talked about how it’s almost religious to give up control.””
According to antique writers Tryphiodorus, Quintus Smyrnaeus and Lycrophon, when Troy fell, Cassandra the Seer was raped by Ajax the Lesser inside the Athena temple, on the altar, while she was clinging to the goddess with both arms. The sight was cursed onto her by Apollo, who spat into her mouth as she fought off his attempt to rape her.
Again a god, and another play-acting of what happened in reality through millennia: Women being raped by males who give a shit about altars. This is what these “pagan” sadomasochists probably tried to invoke, but what they are actually doing is try to stick it to the (Christian) Man. They grew up after centuries of Christian mental hegemony, were socialised in a Christian society, and their altar is essentially a Christian one. They play at being pagan like they play at being oppressed for their hobby. Having sex on altars is something teenaged satanists – or bored French aristocrats of the 17th century[ix] – do, and for the exact same reason: the blasphemous thrill. They pervert pagan piety by reenacting one of the myths central to Judaism and Christianity, Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac.
Such a Christian foundation can also be found in sadomasochistic practices in non-Christian countries. A BBC article on sadomasochism in urban India sheds light on this: “In an apartment in a middle-class neighbourhood in the Indian capital, Delhi, a group of men and women have met to talk openly about their love for BDSM activities. Talking about bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism is an absolute taboo in India, a country well known for its conservative attitudes to sex. But here, the conversation is candid. The participants are members of the The Kinky Collective, a small group of heterosexual and transgender people, trying to connect to other Indians active and open about their BDSM preferences on various online communities and social networking websites. (…) Transgender activist Sara, a member of the group, says it has a “dual purpose”. “We want to spread awareness among people who carry preconceived notions on BDSM, but we also want to educate people joining this lifestyle about its own rules and principles. For example, consent is critical and the dominant [partner] has to always be very responsible for the submissive and take care of his/her safety.” Calcutta-based Joy Willingly says most members of the collective were slow in opening up about their BDSM lifestyle, but as they came in contact with other people, they realised that some support, organised initiative and conversations were needed urgently. “We found out that there was a lot of hostility, once these people came out, even their friends wouldn’t understand and distanced themselves, so we are now trying to give a sense of community, that there are others who feel this way, and that it’s fine.” Almost a year into their work, the group, which has grown now to 15 members, has presented papers and held discussions with students of mental health, women and gay activists and participated in human rights and law conferences.”
This imported specific “BDSM” culture does tie into older local woman-hating traditions like sadomasochistic practices in the Kama Sutra, but could only take hold due to the imperialist force of Western (and therefore Christian-based) cultural hegemony. If there was any need to prove that sadomasochism and the trans cult involved in its promotion are imperialist, here it is.
And, eventually, the article once more shows who is doing stuff like this: a middle class with money, time and trust in Western scientific concepts (or else they wouldn’t have turned to a sexologist[x] for advice): “India’s well-known sexologist, Dr Narayana Reddy, disagrees. He says in the last 20 years, at least 1% of his patients came with complaints about their partner’s demand for a BDSM lifestyle. They were between 30 and 50 years old and were middle class, Mr Reddy says. They spoke about acts ranging from being burnt by cigarette butts and severely bitten by their partners. They were also pricked with needles, tied up in chains and put on a dog’s leash and “humiliated” in front of others.”If this kind of bondage, domination and sadomasochism is the only means by which a person gets aroused, then I would term it as sexually problematic behaviour,” says Dr Reddy.”Initially, someone might try it for its novelty, but with time that can run off and it can leave deep scars, both physically and emotionally.” Many in India were surprised that Fifty Shades of Grey – a trilogy about a steamy romance between a businessman and a student which contains scenes of sadomasochism – sold so well in the country. Sandhya Mulchandani, who has researched many historical Indian texts on erotica like Kamasutra and written books exploring Indian writings on sexuality, says: “Unlike modern times, our historical texts were not judgmental. I don’t find any specific writing on BDSM, but the spirit was to acknowledge the many shades of human behaviour and ask them to be accepted for what they are.” Despite this legacy, Indians are still prudish.”
Liberal feminists and kinksters will readily claim that Indian women’s “prudishness” – as mentioned in the article – is owed to the lingering influence of British law, as they do for example in the prostitution debate or homosexuality[xi], thus by inference siding themselves with the oppressed.
Even if it were true that Indian women’s claim to dignity and liberation were somehow a false, prudish consciousness implanted by the colonisers (as if!), the strive to replace this alledged British heritage with yet another violent, Western, middle-class ideology is just as imperialist. It is also happening right now rather than decades ago and, ultimately, it takes away any and all authority of white, Western liberal feminists and kinksters to call feminist opponents of sadomasochism racist.
To trace back sadomasochism into Christianity is also counter-intuitive because it is not just the middle class who is engaged in it, but the educated middle-class. Academics are vastly overrepresented in the community and many colleges and universities have their own respective clubs.
Such people tend to maintain a distance from traditional practices of the faith they were culturally imprinted by. Conservatives tend to cling to the structure of their faith as instruments of oppression, but most liberals display a less obvious form of this imprinting. They are also often unaware of how their seemingly liberal actions and opinions are still influenced by the faith they were brought up in.
Sadomasochism is one such outlet for a Christian imprinting, and one that serves two specific purposes: One, it allows liberals to experience feelings that the less sophisticated unwashed masses have to get from their silly little superstitions, while they are able to feel superior. Second, it allows them to keep liberal face while promoting patriarchal and racist violence just like any teabagger and Trumpist does. They think they ironise, subvert or transgress it, but ultimately, they just promote the status quo (see Sacred Kink I).
Their specific form of sexualised and ironised Christianity desperately needs the Other to grind against. Kinksters often fancy themselves as rogues against a puritan society, as transgressive rebels who are daring enough to tear down the mask of hypocrisy and explore our deepest darkest nature. In other words, they always need someone, anyone, to be against: Free-thinkers against small-minded people; liberals against bigots; enlightened aristocrats against the church.
The problem is that the religious bigots don’t make good opponents anymore.
Religious fundamentalists are focusing on homosexuality, pre-marital sex plus the assorted topics of contraception and abortion and even divorce (Communion for couples in second marriages, yay or nay?). When asked directly, some will condemn sadomasochism, but it falls just under the big umbrella of general fornication. They don’t really care about the whole thing enough to make the extra effort to be against it.
Also, in Europe with its secular tradition, the vast majority of people don’t give a damn about what priests say about sex. In my country, about two thirds of all people are Roman Catholic, and about three quarters are Christian in general.
Only about 5% of these 75% attend their church regularly. And even those who do fulfill the minimal requirement of church attendance, they do not adhere to (Catholic) teachings when it comes to sexuality. They use contraception and abortion, they have sex before marriage, they get divorced and remarry and when asked, they will be among the first to admit how ″the church″ (= the institution) does so many things wrong in this area. Among them – ironically – are many who will be found in grass roots church organisations to further liberal values.
The type of conservative Christian with many children and strong ties to the teachings is a fringe phenomenon here. Politically overrepresented, yes, terrorising women and children, yes, well-connected in business and politics, yes, but still essentially fringe. For the pride parade around here, they muster maybe fifty protesters they have to scrape together in the whole country. This year they don’t even bother.
They are just not fun to be up against anymore, and the cultural influence leading to sadomasochistic behaviour is almost sub-liminal.
So, feminists are the easier target. This also is many feminists’ own damn fault. The ones who invited the kinksters into our movement, the ″sex positivists″, they paved the way for us being attacked by people desperately defending the right to whip women and wanting us to do the same.
Sadomasochistic behaviour has gone mainstream. Turn on the TV. Sadomasochism everywhere. Practices that would have been considered obscene and deviant in the 1970s and were used in serial killer trials to prove the killer’s deep sexual disturbance (e. g. watching lots of porn, anal sex, shaved genitalia) now make up the ‘Tips to spice up your love life’ section in perfectly average newspapers, right next to the recipes for the holiday season. Fifty Shades of Grey has been dubbed ‘mommy porn’ for the sheer dowdiness of it. Sadomasochists like to condemn these books for what they call inaccurate representation of their ″lifestyle″, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the ingredients are all there: The terminology, the tools, the tropes. Heck, there is a Simpsons episode now where Homer gets Marge a full SM equipment.
And nobody gives a damn. There are no religious loonies protesting The Simpsons for this episode specifically. There has been some response to Fifty Shades of Grey in evangelical-fundamentalist circles (e. g. the movie Old Fashioned), but nothing like the breathless Fox News idiots against gay marriage or the Orlando mass murder.
Sadomasochism, like religion, also heavily relies on performance, visibility and group experiences, proven by their dungeons, play parties, munches, fetlife.com, Folsom street fair and the careful set-up of scenes in general. Kinksters are explicitly proud of how their public display of sexuality is so much more progressive and sophisticated than the boring vanilla couple stuff done in – ew – beds. Not a big difference to religious services, prayer groups, church-based hobby groups, public blessings and processions, and not a big difference to the sense of mission religious people tend to display.
I’m not the first to recognise parallels between religious and sadomasochistic group experiences.
German theologian and gay activist David Berger wrote about the strange fact that it is the most traditional forms of conservative Catholicism that draw some gay men into priesthood: “The reasons given here for the attractiveness of the traditional liturgy to homosexual men may seem a little far-fetched on the first glance. On a second glance, however, it shows that both worlds indeed have something in common. In the Tridentine Mass we encounter symbols and rituals that people today no longer perceive as elements of a religious aesthetic, for instance the kissing of a saint’s clothing or body parts, which on the other hand play still a big role in homosexual eroticism, in particular in the fetish sub-culture. Here it is not the Holy Father’s foot that is being kissed, but the leather boot of the “master”, and both rituals have to be interpreted as a sign of submission out of free will.”[xii]
The parallels are not just limited to the material sphere[xiii]. Like the promises of redemption and salvation in the Hereafter, the promises of societal change through sexual transgression and subversiveness in sadomasochism are immaterial. Only the most knuckleheaded kinksters claims that a smack with a paddle somehow keeps an abuser from hurting a woman[xiv]. If tomorrow everyone started to have sadomasochistic sex, the world would not change. It would put a whip into every male’s hand and across every female’s back. That’s it.
Also, like in Christianity, suffering is considered to be useful – for the sufferer themselves who experiences release, but also as a principle. The right to suffer for the greater sexual, societal or religious good is vehemently defended by kinksters and Christians alike.
They also share a sense of martyrdom combined with a rebel rhetoric. The likes of Bill O’Reilly (not to mention European bishops and right-wingers) frequently claim that Christianity is under attack and one step away from being prosecuted. In the same breath they declare themselves rebellious against the dictatorship of political correctness and worthy grandsons of the American revolution. Kinksters tend to do the same. They claim oppression and rebeldom, and neither is real. In a world full of injustice and violence it is not rebellious to orgasm over make-believe injustice and violence.
How exactly this is supposed to work in detail is not readily obvious for the onlooker or even liberal and feminist kinksters themselves. They have build up an elaborate theoretical framework to justify why sadomasochism is so very transgressive and compatible with their political leanings. Texts by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler and countless other academics lay down the basics, and are utterly inaccessible to people without college education.
There is a slew of books, articles and blogs in which the authors try to reconciliate their feminism and their interest in social justice with their personal sadomasochistic tendencies, and it is easy to see why. It is so blatantly obvious that these do not go together. A feminist submitting to a man is just as absurd as the idea of a black abolitionist in the 19th century seeking sexual domination by a white man. The solution is to core out feminism.
Sometimes it is pure shock value that is being used to muddy the waters. Raven Kaldera is a “pagan” example for someone who fancies herself to be transgressive: “Over the past 30 years Raven Kaldera has shat all over pretty much every boundary going. And this endless transgression has never got in the way of Raven looking anything less than amazing; like a Viking Biker, with a leather jacket and animal skin draped over his shoulders. Raven’s a chilled out guy. He worships Norse gods by sticking his boyfriend’s fist in his arse and then at sunset goes home to his wife of 19 years. His boyfriend used to be a woman, his wife used to be a man, and Raven himself used to be a woman – but that’s semantics. Born an intersexual, Raven was raised as a girl at the behest of doctors who figured that if they told Raven he was a girl enough, he’d eventually believe it. Turns out that was bollocks and after gender reassignment 20 or so years later, Raven’s been creating an identity of his own design ever since. Depending on the circles you mix in, there are many roles you may identify Raven from. You could know him as one of the world’s prominent voices on paganism and BDSM; or an enthusiastic authority on polyamorous relationships. He’s a celebrated writer of transsexual pornography and an author and essayist on topics like vampirism and shamanism. Or he may be your abuse counsellor.” (Click through the link for more infos on her women-hating, cultural appropriation and sexualised violence. I won’t put the drivel here.)
Stripped from all the posing, this interview comes down to a woman (who has given birth to a daughter, so, yes, woman) who is fucked in the ass, probably takes money for sexual services, perpetuates the lie of women as the submissive, to-be-raped sex and collaborates with a religiously-backed, sexually violent male supremacy. Groundbreaking.
It needs extreme self-gaslighting to induce this double-speak of the mind: If consented to, slavery is freedom. If consented to, pain is pleasure. If consented to, submission is liberation. As if it were not actually slavery, or pain, or submission that are the problem, but a lack of consent. As if there was a right to be enslaved, in pain and submissive.
On the other hand, it needs no mental gymnastics, academic obscurantism or elaborate sociology-and psychology-laden justifications for sadomasochism when it comes to political conservatives, conservative believers and the enforcers of patriarchy. Sadomasochism allows them to sexualise their ideologies and ideologise their sexuality.
The only “mistake” from sadomasochists’ point of view they tend to make is that they are not so keen on consent or at least assume that consent is a given in marriage. Then again, kinksters talk more about consent than they care about it. Both the dramatically higher rates of rape compared to the general population and the coercion of normal partners into sadomasochism[xv] are a feature of the community, not a bug.
It is almost ridiculously easy to find examples for outright MRAs dabbling in sadomasochism. The subreddit r/breakfeminazis containing sadomasochistic images and texts about feminists being raped used to be moderated by a man who also moderates r/TumblrInAction, which dedicates itself to whining about bloggers who are too progressive for their taste. An MRA associated with Gamer Gate also moderates a subreddit with pornographic pictures of (only women’s) prolapsed rectums[xvi].
Female MRA (more like unhinged neo-nazi) Janet Bloomfield in a blog about the benefits of wife-battering casually mentions her own sadomasochistic relationship: “Let me preface this column by saying my husband has never hit me in any context that wasn’t erotic and consensual.” If there were any inherent progressiveness in sadomasochism, the likes of Janet Bloomfield would hate it on sight.
Sadomasochism, the most extreme right-wing conservatism, woman-hating and plain old violence don’t just go together swimmingly, they are inextricably and naturally linked.
Members of law enforcement and military with their own violent, woman- and Lesbian-hating culture practice sadomasochism without any cognitive dissonance whatsoever.
One of the investigators in the Robert Pickton case engaged in sadomasochistic practices and posed for pictures that leaked from fetlife to the media: “The photos discovered of Brown on fetlife.com included, for example, images of him holding a knife to a woman’s throat, another where he is binding a woman’s hands and feet, another where his boot is placed on the back of a woman who was wrapped in saran wrap. The photos posted by news sources online are much more tame, the reports say, than others they saw that were deemed too violent to be made available to the public.”
“American Sniper” Chris Kyle in his autobiography[xvii] describes his SEAL training with clear sadomasochistic overtones. He delights in the descriptions of psychological and physical torture inflicted on him and his comrades, and makes clear over and over again that he and the others chose and enjoyed this sort of training. He does not only take pride in his ability to cope with all the torture and pain, he craves the pain and glorifies his submission.
In the book, Chris Kyle introduces the reader to a SEAL named Marc Lee. He came to the Navy from the seminary, which he left because he couldn’t handle other seminarists’ hypocritical behaviour. Both military and seminary are built on submission and the ideology of servitude. This man in essence left one monastery for the other. God’s servants were not submissive enough for his taste, so he tried the United States’ servants.
When joining the SEALs, Marc Lee of course was hazed. Chris Kyle’s book can be read as one big record of men torturing each other. Instructors and COs torture trainees. Trainees torture each other. Longer serving SEALs torture newly appointed SEALs. Unit members torture each other along the lines of informal hierarchies. Stronger men torture weaker men. To rise from tortured to torturer requires the ability to not only to take the torture, but embrace it with a grin.
Chris Kyle over and over writes about SEALs who choke each other into unconsciousness for the fun of it, plainly completely unaware each such incident causes brain damage. This they have in common with kinksters who fantasise about ″safe choking”.
When Marc Lee tells his ″brothers in arms″ he has never been choked unconscious before, Chris Kyle calls him a virgin and the men take turns to choke him. I can’t decide whether Kyle is aware that he is describing a make-believe gang rape or not.
It doesn’t really matter, anyways. The ultimate point is that the enforcers of patriarchy practice sadomasochism with impunity, and this alone should disqualify it for feminists.
And then there are the religious kinksters.
All the Sade-worshipping, polyamory and pseudo-pagan bullshit glosses over the fact that there are not just some confused Christians who stumbled into sadomasochism by accident, but that the whole idea of Christian sexuality is inherently sadomasochistic.
Radical (Lesbian) Feminists as the only feminists explicitly and consciously questioning heterosexuality get often called ‘puritans’. Even women who merely question certain aspects of heterosexuality like prostitution, pornography or sadomasochism get accused of being brainwashed by the United States’ foundational puritanism.
All the more ironical is it that the Puritans didn’t have any problem with heterosexuality at all. They saw sex in marriage as a duty. Spouses didn’t get to decide whether they wanted or not, because god had decided they had to fuck: “Marital love must be sexual, so that both marital partners can give themselves fully to each other with joy and exuberance in a healthy relationship marked by fidelity. Reformers such as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin established this aspect of marriage by abandoning the medieval Roman Catholic attitudes that marriage was inferior to celibacy, that all sexual contact between marital partners was a necessary evil to propagate the human race, and that a procreative act that involved passion was inherently sinful. This negative view was rooted in the ancient church and based on the writings of such notables as Tertullian, Ambrose, and Jerome, all of whom believed that, even within marriage, intercourse necessarily involved sin. This attitude toward marital intimacy, which dominated the church for more than ten centuries, inevitably led to the glorification of virginity and celibacy. By the fifth century, clerics were prohibited from marrying. Two classes of Christians emerged: the “religious” (i.e., the spiritual clergy), which included monks and nuns who vowed to abstain from all sexual activity, and the “profane” (i.e., the secular laity), who, being unable to rise to the noble heights of virginity or celibacy, were conceded the right to marry. Puritan preachers taught that the Roman Catholic view was unbiblical, even satanic. They cited Paul, who said that the prohibition of marriage is a doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1–3). Even the Puritan definitions of marriage implied the conjugal act. For example, Perkins defines marriage as “the lawful conjunction of the two married persons; that is, of one man and one woman into one flesh.” In contrast with Desiderius Erasmus, who taught that ideal marriage abstained from sexual intercourse, Cotton said in a wedding sermon that those who call for marital abstinence follow the dictates of a blind mind and not those of the Holy Spirit, who says that it is not good that man should be alone. The Puritans viewed sex within marriage as a gift of God and as an essential, enjoyable part of marriage. Gouge says that husbands and wives should cohabit “with good will and delight, willingly, readily, and cheerfully.” “They do err,” adds Perkins, “who hold that the secret coming together of man and wife cannot be without sin unless it be done for the procreation of children.” Perkins goes on to say that marital sex is a “due debt” or “due benevolence” (1 Cor. 7:3) that a couple owes to one another. That must be shown, he says, “with a singular and entire affection one towards another” in three ways: “First, by the right and lawful use of their bodies or of the marriage bed.” Such physical intimacy by “holy usage” should be “a holy and undefiled action (Heb. 13:4)… sanctified by the word and prayer (1 Tim. 4:3–4).” The fruits of God-honoring, enjoyable sex in marriage are the blessing of children, “the preservation of the body in cleanness,” and the reflection of marriage as a type of the Christ-church relationship. Second, married couples must “cherish one another” intimately (Eph. 5:29) rather than having sex in an impersonal way as an adulterer with a prostitute. Third, a couple should be intimate “by an holy kind of rejoicing and solacing themselves each with [the] other in a mutual declaration of the signs and tokens of love and kindness (Prov. 5:18–19; Songs 1:1; Gen. 26:8; Isa. 62:7).” In this context, Perkins particularly mentions kissing.”
This jab at Roman Catholic doctrine is more political than based in a historical reality. The small pockets of celibacy Catholicism carved out were never meant for the mass of the faithful and the far-flung ideas of marital sexuality as sinful were also something theologians prattled on about and didn’t actually concern believers in their everyday lives. (In particular not in the Middle Ages, which were significantly less pious than Europe after the backlash against protestantism.)
The idea of the body being used in a “right” way is firmly Catholic, and it is the same church fathers Puritans condemn who came up with the idea that husbands can do sex wrong by treating their wives like prostitutes (or rather, they stole it from Stoic philosophy, but that’s another topic.) Tertullian is also not the best example for a Catholic writer, since he borders to the “heretic” sometimes. He expected the world to end any day now, which coloured his ideas about celibacy. Later church fathers are not really comparable.
Celibacy for poor women was completely unattainable, and even for many rich ones: Jerome for example drove into asceticism the upper-crustiest of upper-crust Roman ladies, and there are countless stories of late antique and Medieval wannabe holy virgins who were married off by their powerful families against their pious will. Many convents demanded sizable dowries before women could join, and were little more than storages for superfluous upper-class women who without the blink of an eye would have been taken from the convents to be married off if needed.
Also, convents and monasteries kept alive the ancient medical tradition of how unfucked women suffer damage to their bodies (hysteria). According to this medical philosophy, married sexuality was the only appropriate balancing force for the female organism in and by itself. Breeding was always the number one thing a good Catholic woman should do, and Catholics are among the loudest opponents of laws against marital rape under the theology of ‘one flesh’ to this day. If I’m not mistaken, there even has been an encyclical some time after Vatican II that said pretty much the same as this Puritan page does, so, zero excuses for Catholic wives.
The page I took the quote from is not exceptional at all, and this view of marital sexuality can be found even in evangelical circles. When the Duggars wax poetically about their wonderful sex life, that’s not the abnormality liberal internet commenters treat it as. They are virulently, enthusiastically pro-hetero-fucking.
That kinksters and liberal feminists ever came to view Christianity as the biggest anti-sex institution women (allegedly) suffer under was always beyond me. They may not like the particular rules and regulations set up by the church(es), but motherhood as the central role of religious women inevitably means fucking. So does the principle of woman as man’s helpmeet: A wife is the only one who can keep a man from straying and therefore from sin. Her willingness to fuck is his ticket to heaven.
If it were differently, Christian lawmakers would be totally fine with IVF. If they really just wanted women to be mothers rather than to be fucked, they’d see no problem with women breeding without sex. But they do.
This article on a conservative-Catholic website is particularly telling. It goes into the phenomenon of virgin/celibate/non-fucked women getting pregnant via IVF. The author condemns these women by reproducing pseudo-scientific arguments: “At least four major clinics told the newspaper that they had helped virgins to become pregnant. Child psychotherapist Dilys Daws said the fact that virgin women were resorting to IVF “suggests someone who is not emotionally mature enough to be close to someone else – and that matters when it comes to bringing up a child. It implies the woman has a fear of having a close physical relationship with someone else, in which case the baby will not be brought up with that love.” Fertility specialists had different observations about the IVF virgins. One said that: “In some cultures it is the stigma associated with childlessness which causes some women to head for fertility treatment rather than counselling for psychosexual issues.” Another’s explanation was “fear of sex. Most of them don’t have a fertility issue – it’s more a psychological problem”. Another observed that “Some wish to save sexual intercourse for a special relationship. They feel they have not found the right partner to share sex with, but they know they want a baby now.””
When it comes to pathologising non-het, non-sexual women, the medical establishment, conservative Christianity, liberal feminism and sadomasochism get all nice and cosy together. The exact rules as to how may vary, but being sexual with males in a male-dominated environment is not negotiable for any of them.
It is not just that Christianity and other religions want women to be fucked. They also want them to like it, or else.
This may be even more counter-intuitive. Proponents of the so-called sexual revolution, sex-positive pseudo-feminists and sadomasochists have always made out Christianity as the biggest enemy of female sexual enjoyment. Reality also shows that religious males rape without the blink of an eye. After all, here is always lube and a pillow over her face for their convenience.
And yet, the gold standard of submission is joyful submission. The original template for this is the virgin Mary. After she is told by the angel that she is pregnant and she declared herself a servant of god, she goes and meets Elizabeth. They celebrate their god-willed pregnancies, thus setting the tone for the joyful subjugation of Christian women in the centuries to come[xviii].
Logically, Christian wives today promote this type of happy, cheerful submission for not just themselves, but all women. Like female kinksters, they even go so far to call submission an “empowering” concept: “Do “submissive” women have more powerful relationships? (…) Gabby Reece made her name as a successful and powerful volleyball player. She fell in love with and then married fellow athlete, surfer Laird Hamilton. But Reece said their commonalities started to drive them apart. “We’re both strong-willed, opinionated, bossy– you know, pretty outspoken,” Reece said. “So when you have two very strong personalities, it can be challenging. But let’s face it; cohabitation in general is a dance.” Their dance, Reece said in her 2013 autobiography, almost ended in divorce. So she made a shift: strong-willed at work, less so at home. “To be truly feminine,” she said in her book, “means being soft, receptive, and — look out, here it comes — submissive.” “I started to learn, ‘Well, you know, maybe if I leave some of that “alphaness” outside and leave that for the world and then maybe develop and cultivate this other female side,'” Reece said. “It brought out also a very positive side of my husband that made things better.” Another woman, Candance Cameron-Bure, got her big break when she was just 11 years old. At 20, she married hockey player Val Bure and left acting to raise a family. It was her home life that would thrust her back into the spotlight, when she also used the word “submissive” in a book about her life. “I use this word because I was quoting the bible. The word just got taken out of context,” Cameron-Bure said. “My husband takes his role seriously as the leader, a leader of our family and I take the role seriously as the nurturer of our family” She said one isn’t more important than the other, but that they’re complimentary. “I’m not talking about submissive in an oppressed way. That’s not the definition of it,” Cameron-Bure said. (…) Both Cameron-Bure and Reece said using a word like submissive, might just help push women forward. “I would not be an author, an actress, a producer, a mother of three, a career woman if I was a weak or oppressed woman,” Cameron-Bure said. “There’s nothing weak about me and my marriage.””
The more fundamentalist an enviroment, the stronger this line of argument becomes. Libby Anne, author of the interesting (if liberal) blog Love, Joy, Feminism wrote a post on an article about wifely submission from the 1990s, quoting it extensively. The article goes on and on how submission is strength, how submission is power, how submission is a conscious choice: “Let me begin with a few simple statements about the nature of submission: Only a strong person can be submissive. Submissiveness is not timidity, it is not servility, it is not subservience, it is not docility, it is not degrading, it is not a sign of weakness. Submission is a sign of strength, not of weakness and a greater degree of submission requires a greater degree of strength of personal character. Submission is an act of the will — it is the result of a choice, a decision. The act of submission can only come from a choice that a person makes. Submission cannot be enforced upon a person. Either a person submits of their own free will or they do not submit at all. Submission is a gift that one person chooses to give to another person. By contrast oppression is the act of extracting something from a person against their will. Submission and oppression are, therefore, opposite qualities of a relationship and not even remotely similar. (…) Those people who look down on submission as if it were something demeaning, degrading or humiliating are merely showing that they have no understanding of what submission is and that they are quite ignorant of its power. (…) A submissive wife is one who makes a choice not to resist her husband’s will. That is not to say that she cannot disagree with him or that she cannot express an opinion. Indeed the submissive wife is, by definition, a strong woman and will usually therefore have her own opinions and these may often be different to the opinions of her husband. (…) Now I would like to briefly reiterate and expand upon some misconceptions about a submissive person. Misconception: A submissive person is weak. This is very wrong. In fact a very weak person cannot submit. Only a very strong person can submit fully. Remember, submission is a gift that must be given freely. It is impossible to force a person to submit because that is a contradiction in terms. A weak person can be manipulated and forced to obey but then that is no longer submission but oppression. Misconception: A submissive person has no control. Actually nobody is every fully in control of their own lives because nobody can control all of their circumstances. Submission is an act of the will; a submissive person makes a positive choice to submit to another person. Consequently a submissive person has at least as much in control as any other person, possibly more since many people never make definite positive choices but merely drift from one excuse to another. Misconception: Submission is degrading. In fact submission is a very beautiful and enormously valuable gift that only a strong person can give. Nobody is degraded by giving, or wanting to give, beautiful and valuable gifts to another person. Submission is a gift that benefits the giver even if the receiver is incapable of treating the gift and the giver with the appropriate respect and care. Misconception: A submissive person is abused. Well, it is true that a submissive person could be abused by a stupid person who does not appreciate the value of the gift. However, anybody can be abused, submissive or not, so this irrelevant.”
This could have been written by a “submissive feminist” just as well. There is absolutely no difference to female kinksters who try to pass off their cowardice as a powerful, progressive choice. There isn’t even a consent issue. If a Christian wife chooses submission, she does exactly the same as a “submissive feminist”. Both ignore the power structure of patriarchy for their own selfish choice, and their arguments are virtually indistinguishable.
Libby Anne also gives further insight on how Christian wives are not just expected to submit, but also to like it. Her blog is a good starting point to explore a whole world of Christian women’s blogs brimming with all that ‘submission is joy and power’ bullshit and tips on how to be sexually available all the time.
One almost random example I picked is from a blog called littlemisswife.com. In the post ‘How to satisfy your man’s need for sex when you’re not in the mood’, blog author Kay Svela gives instructions on how to submit to one’s husband properly: “What to do when you want to satisfy your partner sexually but your body just ain’t in the mood? Here are 4 quick tips to help you out! 1) TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM: Yes, that is right, take one for the team. Just get for a second that your overall commitment in your partnership is to contribute to your partner’s life and overall happiness. Sex is just a small part of that happiness. Have you ever seen him get home late from work and although he is tired he takes out the garbage for you? Or, maybe he spends time with you and some of your old friends from high school he doesn’t really enjoy. Same thing here. He is taking one for the team to make you happy. So, strap on those hooker heels honey and give him a show! Who knows, you may even end up getting in the mood too. 2) MAKE HIM A DEAL: Ever heard the saying: “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”? Well, it works. He wants sex and you want the bathroom to get painted….hmmm….sound like a good swap?! Sounds a little business like but sometimes that is what you need to satisfy both parties. A good deal leaves both parties feeling like they have one the lottery. Bottom line: it takes something for you to make him feel good when your body just won’t go there so make it worth your efforts. 3) COMMUNICATE: If you are not in the mood it might be a lack of communication in what you need sexually from your partner. As relationships evolves, sexual relationships evolve too so it is important to be on top of letting your partner know what you need. Or, if it is a case of your body weighing you down (ie. its that time of the month, you are pregnant or have just given birth etc.) be in communication with your partner. Share with your partner why you are not in the mood and when you will be able to be with him. Let him know it is not about him so he is not left thinking: “she does not want me anymore”, “my wife is prude”, “am I not sexy?”, “I have no clue what to do!” – men actually think this, believe it or not! 4) GRANT HIM HIS PERSONAL SEXUAL FREEDOM: Everyone has the right over their own body and he should have the right to take care of business if need be. Believe it or not, many women ban their men from porn and/or masturbation. Just because it may not be a female form of arousal (for some women) doesn’t mean you have to ban your man from this mode of sexual self expression. Women tend to make it personal if they catch their man checking out a porno or masturbating (“I’m not good enough?”, “He likes that more than he likes me”?) Ladies, he is just horny and he wants to relieve himself!”
Note how this falls in line neatly with all the porn-sick liberal ‘Improve your marriage’ advice out there, complete with porn, hooker heels, a prostitution model of heterosexuality and a dig at “prudish wives”.
Another example is Texan state representative Jonathan Stickland. He goes by ‘Stick’ online and weighed in on a man’s bitter complaint on a fantasy football forum that his wife wouldn’t do a particular sex act with him. This bright spark of a husband calls it ‘reverse cowboy’, but what he is talking about is actually called the ‘reverse cowgirl’ position. Jonathan Stickland, law-abiding citizen that he is, helpfully tells him he cannot rape his own wife: ″Rape is non existent in marriage, take what you want my friend! ~ STICK″
To leave aside that Texas boasts a representative who doesn’t feel the need to stick (sorry) to the law – the husband’s complaint is the important part here. This man does not wish for his wife to submit to ‘missionary in the dark, through a hole in the nightgown’, the sex act ″sex-positivists″ like to invoke as the very essence of oppressed female sexuality.
No, what the husband wants his wife to submit to could be lifted directly from a progressive sex advice blog, including sadomasochistic overtones: ″After seeing several blurbs here and there about reverse cowboy, I started thinking. My wife has never done this pleasure to me after 10 years of marriage. I confronted her about it, and that didn’t go over real well. She has to be in the ″mood″ to be on top. Now, I want her to throw in the reverse ride with these sexy high heel black boots.”
Throw on porny clothing, let the woman get on top, the classical sex-pozzie recipe to solve any inconvenience of hetero life. Only this time, it is wished for by the type of male who complains about his ol’ ball and chain in a fantasy football forum and gets endorsed by a bible thumper.
The sadomasochistic overtones become the main melody in Christian “marriage advisor” Larry Solomon’s praise of ″fear and dread″ as instruments to deal with one’s wife. On the other hand he wants that wife to be an enthusiastic partner: ″No – she sees that in order to get ‘some’ of her wants met she must FIRST reverence her husband outside the bedroom and she must ravish him inside the bedroom and this becomes the pattern of her behavior toward her husband, He explained. ”If either the reverence or ravishing goes down, he pulls back on these other things so she understands the correlation.””
His usage of ‘ravish’ in this context is interesting. Not only is it biblical, sadomasochists also occasionally use ‘ravishment’ to avoid the term ‘rape’ (for the lily-livered souls too bashful to use ‘rape play’ or ‘con-non-con’, I suppose). Combined with his tit-for-tat approach to Christian marriage (Wife is eager to please sexually = wife gets nice things in return), biblical-gender role approving Mr Solomon is awfully close to liberal feminist approaches to sex and prostitution both in terminology and thinking.
Larry Solomon has written several other posts on this topic. He calls a wife’s refusal of sex ″sexual immorality“. It doesn’t get clearer than that. Christian Marriage = hetero sex, and women better like it. I utterly fail to see how this can be misconstrued as ″Christians want women to be asexual″ or “Christians want women not to enjoy sex”.
Conservative males are control-freakish about it, but the same holds true for kinksters. Their rationalisations are different – ‘mental health’ or ‘sexual liberation’ rather than ‘biblical gender roles’ as the standard to sexually aspire to – and their language – instead of ‘marital duty’ they have ‘maintenance sex‘ and ‘good, giving, and game‘ – but from the outside, I honestly see no difference in substance.
In case you wondered about the mental health bit, kinksters do claim their hobby helps with mental health not just – but also – after rape. They advocate shit like “spanking therapy” and I have seen with my own eyes someone suggest it could be good for one’s physical health too:
(This is a screenshot from Secretary , which in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey was brought up by countless internet commenters as a “SM movie done right”.)
All this comes together in explicitly Christian forms of sadomasochism.
Organised in groups like christiandomesticdisciplineDOTcom, takeninhandDOTcom or the respective group on fetlifeDOTcom[xix], this particular sub-branch of sadomasochism operates under the assumption that men are heads of the household by biblical authority, who have the authority to punish their wives for “disobedience”, “rule-breaking” or “attitude problems”. Punishments can include “time-outs”, writing lines, humiliation or – for the most part – beatings[xx]. Some practise what they call ‘maintenance spanking’, which essentially means that the women get beaten regularly and without a “reason” to remind them of their submissive role.
Articles on Daily Beast, Jezebel and Rawstory brought this form of sadomasochism to the attention of liberal feminists in 2013, and it immediately was met with disgust and criticism. This criticism hinges on two things:
First of all, liberal feminists and kinksters perceive sadomasochism and sadomasochistic pleasure as “theirs”. Christians practising it interrupts the narrative of sadomasochism as progressive. They don’t see that the bible takes both them and Christians directly into sadomasochism, albeit in different ways; Christians get into it directly, kinksters take the long way home. Second, they think Christian sadomasochists are doing it wrong. They don’t have much choice if they want to maintain the first point’s cognitive dissonance.
They criticise that they draw children into the “lifestyle” while “regular” kinksters on fetlife can outright fantasise(?) about raping their daughters under the protection of the liberal choice paradigm. They are willing to accept that the “dominant” males in the scenario are disturbed women-haters, whereas regular “doms” are not to be questioned. They are even willing to admit that there are many women for whom Christian domestic discipline led to a negative outcome on their lives and mental health, while female victims of “regular” sadomasochism are commonly silenced (“If you are not an active community member, your opinion is invalid”), ridiculed (“vanilla prude couldn’t handle it”), blamed (“Why didn’t you use the safe word?”) and brushed off (“one bad experience”). The choice narrative goes out of the window the very moment Christians use it.
Christian domestic discipline rips the pseudo-progressive mask off sadomasochism’s reactionary face. It is the logical conclusion of sadomasochism, coming back full circle to where sadomasochism started out: A Christian pastime.
Even the trans cult has understood this to some degree. Not only do they cuddle up with astonishingly welcoming clergy to the point of trying to trans Jesus, some of them also have set their minds on invading religious spaces, enabled by Christian therapists aligning with the trans cult to further their own gender ideology.
This man has built his whole mock-female persona around his idea of a “devout Catholic woman” with a badly hidden fetish for schoolgirls[xxi]. It is so very telling he calls himself “Dominican”. The Dominicans, the ‘order of preachers’, were the executive agents of the inquisition, hunting heretics and spreading the faith by force.
Another example is “Tara” Hewitt who fancies himself so very Catholic he is “pro-life”, and simultaneously got thrown out of the conservative party for not being able to keep his yap shut about his sadomasochistic ‘pet play’ and swinging (! ) habit.
Many liberal feminists have difficulties to wrap their head around Bruce Jenner being so conservative that he endorsed Ted Cruz and has spoken out against gay marriage. But what is easier to mimick for a male with a sissification fetish than a “devout religious woman”? They already do them the favour to call themselves submissive and engage in sadomasochistic practices.
There are people who grew up in a fundamentalist environment who came to a similar conclusion as I did in regard of their upbringing. Blogger Cynthia Jeub in a heart-breaking, yet brilliant series of posts recalls her childhood and at some point explicitly compares her mother’s behaviour to sadomasochism: “One evening, when I was exhausted from arguing with her, I collapsed on the couch. She sat next to me and stroked my head, and told me I could trust her, and that she loved me, and that she hoped I’d get better, and said how she thinks I’m an awesome person. It was like being cuddled after a nonconsensual BDSM session, as I told a friend a few days later. Had I not read a post on tumblr criticizing the lack of consent in Fifty Shades of Grey, I would not have recognized what my mom was doing that night.”
Even some kinksters themselves draw vague parallels between their own doings and Christianity.
Still, they don’t ever make the last, decisive analytical step, not even those who are literally using Judeo-Christian principles of faith, such as “scape-goating” lifted directly from the bible[xxii]: “In reality, kinky people value creativity a hell of a lot more than having a wall full of pristine tools: “… the most interesting ritual I’ve ever attended involved a person with hooks in her chest, walking with them as she was carrying this heavy log behind her attached via wires, dragging them in the dirt while people come up to the log and yell everything they’re angry about, all the things that make them upset, and they take turns kicking the log as it’s being dragged. The idea is the log and the person are taking over the group’s pain, and at the end of the ritual, the person gets freed from their burden and the log gets burned.” (…) “… someone volunteered to be a sacrificial animal. We actually stalked him in the woods, caught him with rope, dragged him back into a room and took turns beating him with floggers. I’m not sure what his own personal demons were, but it was clear it made a real difference in his life.” (…) “I didn’t participate directly in hurting this guy at all. I helped hunt him down. But I would say that what I got from it was largely as a witness — through his experiences, this powerful feeling of self-transformation.””
I’m not trying to be “blasphemous” just because. I just don’t see the difference between this and the bible, and kinksters shouldn’t, either.
[i] French does have actual terms derived from domina: Madame and mademoiselle. Madame of course is used by sadomasochists as well. Mademoiselle comes from late Latin domicella = little domina, and originally was only used for unmarried upper-class women. It was then attributed to all unmarried women of all ages, and kicked to the kerb by second-wave feminists who refused to be classified by whether they were owned by a male or not. No French woman or girl would be addressed as ‘domme’, however.
[ii] This quote is from Rictor Norton’s essay ‘Anne Lister, The first modern Lesbian’: “Marianna was initially ashamed to be seen in public with Anne because the latter’s masculine appearance was remarked upon by others. They are a butch/femme couple. A woman friend told Anne that Marianna is ‘”plus femme que moi” [more womanly than me]. I have the figure & nature of a man. Have not beauty but agreeable features tho’ not those of a woman. I joked, pretended to be shocked.’ Many people suspected things and talked about Anne’s masculinity, but she and Marianna withstood it: ‘For if we once got together the world might say what it pleased. She should never mind. . . . She shrank from having the thing surmised now, but declared that if we were once fairly together, she should not care about it. I might tell our connection to all the world if I pleased.'” While Rictor Norton is very outspoken against the nonsense that is queer theory and makes accessible the above quote, I don’t agree with most of his work on Lesbians, women and sadomasochism.
[iii] Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500 – 1800, London 1977, p. 440
[iv] See Tom Reiss, The Black Count. Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Christo, New York 2012, prologue part II.
[v] Angela N. Hunter, Rousseau’s Queer Bottom, Sexual Difference in the Confessions (FLS, Volume XXXIV, 2007; link)
[vi] Sophie Phoca, Rebecca Wright, Introducing Postfeminism, Cambridge, New York, 1999, p. 84. “Postfeminism” is the useless and conceited word vomit of over-privileged French and American academics sucking up to males like Freud, Lacan, Sade, Derrida and Foucault.
[vii] That Diadumenus is a slave (rather than a Roman citizen) and a young boy (rather than an adult lover) is the only possible conclusion from the epigram’s content. A pre-pubescent slave boy is the ONLY male person an adult Roman male like Martial was allowed to penetrate without having to fear legal repercussions and social death.
[viii] Adalbert Podlech, Sex, Erotik, Liebe, Vol. 2, Munich 2007, p. 223
[ix] For example the Abbé Guibourg who celebrated black masses for the court of Louis XIV (see Uwe Schultz, Der Herrscher von Versailles, Ludwig XIV und seine Zeit, Munich 2006, p. 175/176)
[x] Sexology itself is an area of radical feminist critique and a tool to subjugate women.
[xi] Ancient India is often construed as a sex-positive wonderland by liberal feminists. The realities of women and children are of no concern to them, apparently.
[xii] David Berger, Der heilige Schein, Als schwuler Theologe in der katholischen Kirche, Berlin 2012, p. 39: ″Die Gründe, die hier für die Anziehungskraft der traditionellen Liturgie auf Homosexuelle genannt wurden, mögen auf den ersten Blick ein wenig weit hergeholt erscheinen. Bei genauerem Hinsehen zeigt sich aber, dass beide Welten durchaus etwas verbindet. So begegnen uns in der tridentinischen Messe Zeichen und Rituale, die den Menschen heute als Elemente einer religösen Ästhetik kaum mehr präsent sind, zum Beispiel das Küssen von Wäsche- oder Körperteilen eines Heiligen, dafür aber in der homosexuellen Erotik, besonders in der Fetischszene, nach wie vor eine große Rolle spielen. Hier ist es dann eben nicht der Fuß des Heiligen Vaters, der geküsst wird, sondern der Lederstiefel des ″Meisters″, wobei beide Rituale als Zeichen freiwilliger Unterwerfung zu deuten sind.” The English translation of this passage is my own.
[xiii] Although the actual Christian torture does lend itself easily to a pornographic re-interpretation: From this and this it is not very far to this, this, this, this and even this. (Warning – pictures are pornographic.)
[xiv] Although I did see internet commenters ask (naively?) why Ariel Castro didn’t just join a BDSM group rather than to kidnap Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus.
[xv] See Sacred Kink I.
[xvi] See these two articles for references.
[xvii] Chris Kyle, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U. S. Military History, USA, 2012
[xviii] Luke 1, 39ff
[xix] I deliberately didn’t include working links. Google the stuff yourself.
[xx] They call it ‘spanking’. I won’t. As a side note, traditionalist parents do all that to their children and get praise and legal protection for this kind of abuse. I’ll go into that in Sacred Kink IV.
[xxi] At this point, I’m used to have my womanhood appropriated, my Lesbianism invaded, but to have my Catholic girlhood in an all-female convent school fetishised is immensely strange.
[xxii] There are other cultures who also practised some kind of “scape-goating “, but Westerners are way more likely to act on the biblical archetype than on what they read on some cuneiform tablet.