Can We Subvert the Mechanisms of Violence by Turning Them into a Game?

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 07:45
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Dear Betty,

I am so happy I found this website. I have been pouring over it for the last few days and found it very helpful. I only wish I found it sooner.

A little about me before I get to the issue I am having difficulty with. I am male, 26, polyamorous and bisexual. Understanding my sexuality and my desires for all kinds of love and affection was the most difficult struggle I have had to get through in a life full of struggle. It has been three years since the pieces started to come together and I am finally coming out to friends and I can't wait to tell my mom when she comes to visit in May. (strangely the bi part is easier for most to digest than the poly)

My relationship with my mom is great because of what we had to endure from my father. He was an incredibly abusive, misogynistic, ass-hole. He rarely hit me or my mother but his emotional manipulation, threats, rages and coercive attempts at complete control did some damage to my psychological development, especially my sexual development. Remarkably my mothers love overcame most of this. I have tried my whole life to be a far better man than he was and I so far I am succeeding. Although I was a relatively late bloomer, all my partners have told me I am a special, sensitive, affectionate lover.

I am only fully attracted to strong, independent, radical-feminist, blue-stocking, women. I've had six wildly unique female partners, for all of whom, a perfect night is cuddling up reading Noam Chomsky followed by acting out 50 shades of grey. For the longest time I didn't understand the apparent contradiction. Because of my parents relationship I am always very reluctant to engage in anything too kinky. But I always ended up acquiescing because, although I don't enjoy or find comfort in being dominant, they trust me to not actually hurt them and I do enjoy the increase in pleasure experienced by my partner.

I was confused about this until about a month ago. To the utter dismay of every one of my anarchist, anti-war friends, I, along with my best friend, am a paintball addict. Even beyond the adrenaline rush, there is something wholly satisfying about playing at war in a non-violent way that I absolutely love. Anyway, my last longterm lover finally agreed to play paintball with me right before she moved to California. While she didn't enjoy playing the sport much at all, she later expressed her own joy at my heightened state of pleasure from playing with her. We talked about this (in between some fantastic goodbye sex) and the similarity to my reaction to her sexuality and we came up with a theory:

War is really bad. Sexual violence against women is really bad. Both have been a part of our lives since we were born and we were socially conditioned to accept them. We want both these things to stop. We can subvert the mechanisms of violence by turning them into a game, acting out our respective oppressions in a playful way, to better understand them and overcome them and, in the mean time, enjoy them without causing suffering.

Is there any validity to this theory? What is the experienced, sex-positive, feminist take on it?

This has never been a problem with men, as there is already political equality. Discussions of boundaries are far less emotional, awkward affairs, just simple discovery of each others preferences. We can go from gentle to rough, giving or receiving, at the drop of a hat without feeling put-on or less loved.

I never looked at any (non-kinky) sexual position as hierarchical with either a man or a woman, simply what must to done to heighten pleasure. My favorite position is being sandwiched between a man and a woman. And I prefer combined fallatio/ irrumatio standing up, not because my partner is on her/his knees (in a culturally defined position of inferiority), but because I am getting better blood flow to my brain and penis.

So following that logic, what can I do to feel more comfortable with tying-up/down, choking, slapping, etc, my partners? I am hoping I can do further healing from acting this out. But my fear is getting too carried away when I'm in character as I am far more familiar with real coercion and sadism.


Dear D,

That was a thorough explanation of where you are on your sexual journey. The idea of playing with power during sex is often referred to a SM or Sadist/Masochist, or Slave and Master. When I first entered the "scene" to discover what it was all about for myself, I learned a lot. It's always based upon clear verbal agreements and consensuality. There must be an upfront negotiation of how two (or more) people want to share sex and intimacy and pain for pleasure. I have not read Fifty Shades and most likely won't.

From what I gather, it's a glorified romantic love story with spanking. That aside, "being in character" must always take place with the utmost consciousness. You can never "play" if you are actually feeling angry or upset or using recreational drugs. It sounds to me like you are playing safe. I eventually left the "scene' as it became a bit tiresome to go through all the rituals to simply enjoy hot sex. You will know instantly when the "play" becomes "too real" and then it's time to stop. Meanwhile enjoy your favorite threesome with face fucking and drop the fancy term "irrumatio" cause no one will no what you fuck you mean.

Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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Sat, 06/25/2016 - 15:30
Clayr (not verified)

You sound absolutely amazing, I am a radical environmentalist feminist and strong woman, haven't tried anything kinky/S&M but would really love to try!

I also really love your theory - I have thought something similar myself. I also feel the same way about activism. I've done some direct action protesting (shutting down a coal mine) and it was one of the best experiences of my life. My brain and body were all totally engaged and I felt so ALIVE. I also felt such camaraderie with the people in my group I was protesting with. I remember thinking 'oh, so this is why people go and fight wars!'

It's finding those positive, proactive, even agressive outlets for that violence and anger we have that yet do no harm... I think it's an idea some native american tribes have (sorry to generalise, I am woefully ignorant and couldn't say which) of the 'warrior' spirit that resides in us all and has to be exercised but can be in a defensive or some other symbolic, not actually harmful, way.