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Power play in a gender equal society

I enjoyed Quizzical Mama's new post on the Good Vibes Blog, 50 Shades of Obsessing with Spanking. Although the current popular enthusiasm for all things kinky is positive in a lot of ways, like most politically-minded kinksters she's aware that the trilogy "lacks a more reflective, playful approach to power and submission". Unlike, say, feminist spanking porn...

What intrigues me is how some of the female porn makers I look at in my book After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters appropriate and play with power and submission fantasies. In consensual play with erotic fantasies, no matter how stereotypical and cliché, we do not bind ourselves to the fantasy but free ourselves from its hold, creating room for something different.

Where perhaps domination and submission is replaced by power as a creative energy. Where erotic fantasies feed on new understandings of gender that do not rest on old-fashioned gender stereotypes that cast women as submissive and passive and men as dominant and active.

It's hard to avoid, when reading articles like this, using them as a checklist to measure my work against. And it's always a relief, as with this one, to discover that my own ideas about how to make spanking porn feminist resonate with those of other progressive thinkers.

The distinction QuizzicalMama makes between "active/passive" and "dominant/submissive" is an important one. One of the stories I've been trying to tell in a lot of my recent films is that of active submission, self-determined submission, submission that's sought out by an empowered, self-aware individual because it brings them happiness. Submission doesn't have to be imposed from outside; consensual submission is the free choice of an independent agent, who benefits enough from it to continually re-make that choice.

Likewise, I'm passionate about re-modelling dominant and submissive as roles that are detached from physical sex and gender identity. Dominance can be feminine, and it doesn't have to look like the latex-clad stereotype, either. Submission can be masculine, and honourable, and brave, whatever your gender. And both roles can be complex, layered, interleaved. The same person can be both, and do both at different times, or at the same time in different ways.

Since I started identifying as a switch I've become increasingly enthusiastic about representing switches in spanking video. Many kinky performers are switches, but in most scenes they are only asked to do one or the other. Switch scenes, in which one or both partners play both roles, are much rarer. I'll be filming more of those this autumn and winter, and as always, scenario ideas are very welcome.


Active Submission

I recently crossed swords with a supposed expert on Cliterati, someone paid to write about sex, but with no knowledge it seemed of BDSM. H was writing an introduction to kink based on THAT BOOK. He opened with the assertion that submission was passive, and that submissives always asked permission to speak, apologized if they had suggestions and head bowed and eyes downcast were mere ciphers.

In response, to my rather, ahem, vociferous reply he quoted a book, the kind that claimed to teach you how to Dom in 10 easy lessons, and at that point I withdrew, If I wanted that kind of feckwittery I would still be on fet.

The Domly one once wrote of the self sufficient submissive, which is an image I think you would understand. Submission is not about being a dummy who takes everything, but an active partnership. I hope more views like yours can be put out there to counter the twueness that still seems to get so much attention.

How frustrating when people claiming to be experts say that other people "always" do something or other. "Always" and "never" are very dangerous words when it comes to sex and sexuality! And saying a whole group of people are "mere ciphers" - how offensive. Well done for engaging him, I hope that your remarks stayed with him and caused him to do some thinking, even if he wasn't prepared to admit it at the time.

The thing about dominance and submission is that they are different for everyone who plays with them. Submission for people who aren't self-sufficient can be a really powerful and positive thing; it's not a competition, being an independent, self-sufficient individual doesn't make your submission somehow worth more. Many people who are struggling find submission therapeutic and helpful. It can be a really good coping mechanism when times are tough.

But that's not all it is, and the submission of someone who is approaching it from a position from strength, rather than one of need, is very different. I would say that the role dominance and submission can play in our lives is as varied as the role love can play. It can be good or bad, affirming or abusive, can keep us going when it's all we have and give life an extra sparkle when we're doing alright. If we lean on our loved ones we can make them feel valued and needed, but if we don't, we run less risk of making them feel drained. It's impossible to generalise.

I do think that the healthiest D/S is active, though, if only inasmuch as consent should always be given actively, and healthy D/S needs to be consensual. Otherwise, I would gladly state that for me, right now, active, self-sufficient, independent submission is the best (and only) type for me, but I think it would be silly to claim that any form of submission is the only type that's good for anyone.

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