Feminism and Kink: Black, Blue, and Feminist


In the post-WWII gay scene there were two roles: top and bottom. These terms are coined from sexual positioning: top is defined by the penetrator (/giving) and bottom is defined by the penatratee (/receiving). As the gay leather scene became part of pop culture and an influence on all-kinksters the terms top and bottom  have been redefined to focus on specific activies such as sadomasochism, power-roles, bondage and restraints, and other fetishies.

I identify as a bottom with kinks that focus on submission and masochism.

I started exploring these interests five years ago in the digital scene and one of the first things I noticed was that there are a lot of ciswomen who are submissive. These observations were later renewed a year ago when I joined New York’s local/public scene. From a feminist perspective it is a bit distressing– has one of the things I hate the most (patriarchal oppression) infected one of the things I love the most (sex)?

The answer: very likely. Gender roles have taught me how I should dress, how I should speak, and also how I should behave in relationships. I know this because when someone in this society is raised as a female they are also raised to be calm, passive, obedient, maternal, and submissive. It seems pretty natural for that to internalize and for me to get off to being submissive.

The natural confusion that I keep on finding myself muddled in is how I can call myself a strong feminist when I’m a willing bottom. I’m still deconstructing these two identities however, so far, I gather that I can be a strong feminist and bottom because I do such in a consensual manner and because I feel empowered when I bottom.

First, I know that I choose to bottom. Consenting to bottoming isn’t anti-feminist because it is flexing the ability that the feminist prior to me fought for me to have. I have a platform to express and actualize sexual interests and this is evidence of feminism’s progress.

Second, I enjoy bottoming for many reasons but what is relative to this discussion is that bottoming and especially masochism makes me feel empowered. My masochistic experiences have led me to being belittled, degraded, raped, beaten, etc– in general by the end of the scene my power is taken away from me. And yet having these experiences make me feel powerful. When my weak points are hit(both literally and not) and I survive I know what my potential is. I know that there is a lot of internalized strength inside of me and I know that I can handle what life dishes out to me.

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One thought on “Feminism and Kink: Black, Blue, and Feminist

  1. I think a lot of what makes BDSM and kink in general desirable is that it lets up tap into the excitement of both what is forbidden, dangerous and even what is apparently “wrong.” As a cis male who was raised by women and very much identifies as a feminist it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I was initially (and stereotypically) a top and a sadist. As I learned more those labels turned into switch and sadist and masochist, but the fact remained that hurting and controlling women was pretty high up list of turn-ons.

    I know a lot of political feminist of different waves and bents. From top or bottom, queer or straight, the angles of entry into kink seem to rely on people getting off on things that they have been socialized not to get off on, as well as things they have been socialized get off on but not to like, i.e. domination, objectification, &c.

    I’m a male bodied person who identifies as male/masculine, but in a lot of ways I fetishize masculinity because I spent so long rebelling against it. I didn’t want it to define me and I don’t think it does, so now it’s because a forbidden thing that it’s fun to play with.

    We (as in kinky people) play with scary things; knives and rope and fire and pain and aggression. In a lot of ways heteronormativity and objectification and the cultures of oppression are some of the scariest things in our lives, so it makes sense that they would also become some of the hottest things in our fantasies.

    At least that’s how I’ve come to see it.

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