This Is Not A Ray Rice Think Piece

by Desiree on September 10, 2014

Everyone is weighing in on Ray Rice.

Well, not me.

The situation between Ray Rice and his wife is between Ray Rice and his wife. And posting and reposing a video containing violent behavior is not helping their situation at all.

At the end of the day, a family is in pain. And what’s more, their pain is now being put on display for the entire world to see. Maybe we’d do good to remember that before offering up our opinions and judgments.

About those judgments though…

Let’s address some of those instead.

To the victim blamers. The ones who whine “why did she stay?” “but why didn’t she leave?”. Obviously you don’t understand the dynamics of abusive relationships and have some reading to do. Or better yet, just listen. There are plenty of abuse survivors willing to tell their stories (even though, and this is important to note, they should not be obligated to rehash their experiences in order to educate us). Check the twitter hash tags #whyIleft and #whyIstayed. Listen. Don’t judge. It could happen to you too.

To the domestic abuse apologists. The ones who are so quick to yell “It’s never OK to hit a woman BUT…” Stop. Just stop. Nothing good ever comes from sentences that start this way. We all agree that everyone, man or woman, should keep their hands to themselves. But I find it highly suspect that so many men are quick to tout “equal rights” only when it comes to being able to hit a woman.

Equal pay for equal work?

*Crickets*

Reproductive rights?

*Crickets*

But then “Oh she HIT him. We’ll then he was right to knock her unconscious. You wanted equal rights, didn’t you?”

To the social media lynch mob. Let’s apply our outrage consistently across the board shall we? Or are we going to pretend that we go after each and every domestic abuser in the public eye with equal vigor? Actions have consequences, as well they should. But we need to ask ourselves why we’re so quick to pull down and destroy people’s lives when what they obviously need is help.

And specifically to Chuck D who tweeted this yesterday:

Because the decision to not hit your wife shouldn’t come from love or respect or just the general sense that it’s wrong. It should be made with the fear of another man in mind.

Seriously?

This whole notion “behaving” for fear of violent reprisals from other men only serves to perpetuate the patriarchal bullshit that makes this type of domestic abuse possible in the first place.

Not just possible, but accepted.

Hell, not just accepted, but even encouraged.

On a personal note, I will say that in my own situation, the intervention of my father was key in preventing my harasser from becoming a abuser. I am forever grateful to him for this and will never downplay the importance that such a role can play in a woman’s life.

But the fact is that it doesn’t address the core issue which is understanding how people become abusers in the first place and dealing with that.

By the way, for those that will inevitably ask why I didn’t leave, I did.

And that’s when the threats started.

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This is a paper I did for my Critical Theory class back in undergrad. I stumbled across it a little while ago and decided to share. It’s a pretty long paper so I’m going to break it down into a series. In case you were wondering, I got an A.

This is part 2. Read part 1 here.

To understand more how this plays out among Fitzgerald’s characters, we first need to understand some basic information regarding non-normative sexuality, namely basic tenets of BDSM (derived from the terms bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) or kink. The world of BDSM revolves around the concept of the “scene”. The term scene refers to the negotiation of one or more persons as to what BDSM activity will take place. Everyone is careful to clearly articulate his or her needs, desires and deal breakers. A scene is often but not always, public. A large part of BDSM activity takes place at play parties, and so there is a good amount of activity that is on display. Easton says, “The play party has become a basic institution in many BDSM communities, so basic that we have been asked if a person can explore kink at all if she doesn’t want to play in public.” (Easton New Topping Book 163). There is often free flowing liquor or possibly other stimulants available at these parties which makes for an overall atmosphere where people let down their guard, let go of inhibitions, and become very open to experimentation. She goes on to say:

“The play party provides a safe opportunity to meet people, watch how they play, explore new partners, and play in a playful environment, with not so much personal commitment beyond the moment. Some monogamous couples come to watch others, socialize and play special scenes for public display…The encouragement of an eager audience helps people push their limits…” (Easton New Topping Book164).

We see the same set up in The Great Gatsby. Granted there are no dungeons, but Gatsby’s riotous parties, and the smaller, but no less scandalous gatherings hosted by Tom Buchanan at The Plaza Hotel provide the perfect space to set a “scene”. We see characters ‘hooking up’ and engaging in behavior that they normally wouldn’t engage in. One such scene occurs after the party at the Plaza, where we see Nick “lying half asleep in the cold lower level of Pennsylvania Station” after staying up late with McKee at his place “between the sheets, clad in his underwear.” (Fitzgerald 38). Here we see the most telling evidence of a main character engaging in non-normative, and most probably sexual, activity. He is extremely drunk in this scene and so is not thinking about his behavior. Rather he is acting more subconsciously, seemingly emboldened by the group dynamic.

There are two basic classifications used to describe participants in the BDSM scene. These are the “top” and the “bottom”. Top and bottom are often used interchangeably with the words “dominant” and “submissive”, but on closer examination the words seem to connote different things. The term top refers to the person who is preforming the action in a scene. The bottom is the recipient of that action. They are technical terms. Dominant and submissive seem to be more closely related to personality types and deep seated needs. Dominant and submissive are much more fluid words with deeper meanings than top and bottom.

Keeping these classifications in mind, we can see how some of the characters in The Great Gatsby are portrayed as such. Tom Buchanan is quite clearly characterized as a top. His physical description is that of a bigger than average man whose presence is oftentimes an ominous one. He has a rough manner of speaking and is always seen getting overly physical with those in his company.

“Now he was a sturdy straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body-he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage-a cruel body.” (Fitzgerald 7).

This is the first image we get of Tom and the imagery here is unmistakable. That Fitzgerald uses words and phrases like “hard”, “dominance”, “aggressively”, and “fill…until he strained” is no accident. His physical dominance is not just an unintentional consequence of his being large. Tom is a man who controls things, and that he is capable of violence when he doesn’t get his way.  He played football in college, and so he is used to roughhousing and using his intimidating physical characteristics to get what he wants. Nowhere is this more clear than in the scene at the plaza hotel when he slaps his mistress Myrtle so hard that he breaks her nose (Fitzgerald 37). Perhaps Tom is compensating a feeling of powerlessness in some other area or areas of his life by asserting his physical power over Myrtle.“S/M has been described as “power games for fun rather than profit.” Playing with power…offers relief from the tedious battle for power we’re stuck with in the so called “real” world…”, Easton says. (Easton New Bottoming Book 24)                               [click to continue…]

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This is a paper I did for my Critical Theory class back in undergrad. I stumbled across it a little while ago and decided to share. It’s a pretty long paper so I’m going to break it down into a series. In case you were wondering, I got an A.

On the surface, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby looks like a novel that upholds the very best of American values. It’s about making the most of oneself, turning rags into riches, and finding your one true, though sometimes tragic, love.

It reads at first as a typical heteronormative love story. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Heteronormative values of love, marriage, family and monogamy seem to be at the core of the novel.

A second look, however, is all it takes to see that there is much more going on here, and when one looks even deeper, it becomes easy to see that the values of heterosexism, true lasting love, monogamy and marriage go right out the window.

So what then really motivates these characters? Many have said that The Great Gatsby is a novel that shows that those who seem to have it all, really don’t. The novel, they say, is really about the corruption of the American Dream. We see that the characters outwardly seem to have it made. They have money, they have status, they have power and everything we as a culture are taught to want. So why do they seem so unhappy and depraved? It’s because they don’t really have freedom and power. Their positions in life come with a high price, and that is the pressure to maintain the facade and to play by the rules of the upper class to which they belong. They have few outlets for the inevitable frustration this must cause and one of the them is sexuality. Playing with sexual things that are against the norm is one way the characters in the novel regain a small sense of power, and in this paper, I will more closely examine the various ways in which the characters’ non-normative and transgressive sexual behaviors play out as well as how this relates to their struggle for personal power.

Michel Foucault, a French philosopher, theorized that sexuality and repression was directly related to issues of power and class. Lemert and Gillian summarize Foucault’s thoughts in their book Michel Foucault: Social Theory and Transgression.

“ The discourse of sexuality is not, therefore, a power exercised over other classes. It is the strategy in which the bourgeoisie develops its own sexuality first of all. The battle against sexual repression in the name of sexual freedom is part of the apparatus of repression. The theory of repression is part and parcel of the affective mechanism of sexuality. Repression is for the bourgeoisie a sign of the difference of its sexuality and the sexualized body. The myth of repression is tied to the diffusion of the discourse of sexuality throughout the whole social body. In becoming generalized, in sexualizing the bodies of other classes, the myth of repression sets apart the bodies of the bourgeoisie. They are more repressed. The sexuality of the bourgeoisie is under more intense interdict  than is the sexuality of others. “Henceforth;” Foucault writes, “social differentiation will be affirmed not by the ‘sexual’ quality of the body, but by the intensity of its repression.” (Lemert 79)

What is essentially being said is that repression is more common among those in the upper classes, such as Fitzgerald’s characters. and we know that whatever is being repressed usually finds its way to the surface eventually. These characters are struggling to find their way, to define themselves in a world where much of who you are is already predetermined by your family name. “Our culture positively worships self-denial. Those who unapologetically satisfy their desires, whether they be for food, recreation, or sex, are vilified as immature, disgusting, even sinful…We see ourselves surrounded by the “walking wounded” – by people who have been deeply, if not irrevocably, injured by fear, shame and hatred of their own sexual selves.” (Easton, Ethical Slut 19).

stay tuned for Part 2…

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e[lust] 31

by Desiree on November 16, 2011

Welcome to e[lust] - Your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether you’re looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, you’re going to find it here. Want to be included in e[lust] #32 ? Start with the rules, come back in January to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

~ This Week’s Top Three Posts ~

A Feminist Defense of Consensual NonconsentHow does a woman who identifies as a feminist reconcile her desire to submit to her partner during sex? Being somewhat new to kink, I had some trepidations about how submission seemingly went against my ethics.

IntimatesAs the evening drew on, I felt like the sexiest woman alive. It’s strange to describe it this way, but I actually felt brimming with a sort of sexual energy. A lustiness, a sexiness, an allure and a desire all at once.

Tightest SpaceI’m paying close attention to your moans, and I stop whenever it feels like it might be too much. But the incredibly tight feeling of your ass gripping my cock is so delicious that I need to get all the way in.

~ e[lust] Editress ~

An Open Letter to the Sex Toy IndustryI write this post not to just let off some steam but with the smallest glimmer of hope that maybe…….just maybe….some of these words will land on the right computer screen and be taken to heart. Maybe one change will happen.

~ Featured Post (Lilly’s Pick) ~

International #Fisting Day!!Beyond awareness and calling for action, I think International Fisting Day is a great day to celebrate fisting; an intimate, hugely erotic and often orgasmic act that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

A Bit about Crushes
Are You on the Pill?
How to Approach Your Partner with a Fantasy
Meeting New People
Sex And Disability: What Does the Literature Say?
Settling – Striving For Connections in Non-Monogamy
Sex and Heart Attacks
Training my rear end

Sex News, Interviews, Politics & Humor

Getting Past The Word ‘Slut’
Private Pictures
The Fetish Fashion of l’Enfant Terrible

Kink & Fetish

Enough is Enough
Hands
In his hands the vibe was intensity personified
Live Well
Public Exposure: The Third Birthday Fantasy
Rope
Scammers come in different flavours
When Submission is a Dry Biscuit

Erotic Writing

A contrast in swinging
A Frightened Heart
6-Some Fun
Bent
Come Again
Emily
Her First Time
In the Bathroom
Move
treat

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Lust…

November 15, 2011
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“Lust’s passion will be served; it demands, it militates, it tyrannizes.” -Marquis De Sade Lust. It’s my absolute favorite of the deadly sins. Or as Rachel puts it in her intro to her new anthology Women In Lust, It’s one of those four-letter words that trips off the tongue. When I say it out loud, […]

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Link Lovin’

October 31, 2011
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Off Our Chests – A Unified Theory of Orgasm I don’t know why. I tried therapy too, but my smart, understanding, sex-positive, open-hearted doctor couldn’t help. drugs while fucking? check. I date attentive men who only want to make me happy, but no matter how fantastic they make me feel, I can’t get off. and […]

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e[lust] #30

October 11, 2011

Photo courtesy of Emmy @ Right Turn Without Signaling Welcome to e[lust] – Your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether you’re looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, you’re going to find it here. Want to be included in e[lust] #31? Start with […]

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Getting Past The Word ‘Slut’

October 5, 2011
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I am a black woman and I support Slut Walk. I feel the need to say this because, as has happened many times before, the voices of a few from the “community” so easily get taken for the voices of all. For all the time black people spend trying to convince everyone else that we […]

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Pavlov’s Dog

September 27, 2011
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I was beginning the hate the sound of that ding. “Sanguine” it’s called on my phone. No doubt it goes by a different name on someone else’s. I was on the D train, going over the bridge, when I heard it. I knew that the ding was not coming from my phone. There was a […]

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Vows

September 20, 2011
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Sunday was my “wedding” day. To be perfectly honest, up until the very last minute I was thinking about calling the whole thing off. But when the alarm went off, or rather when my cat insisted that I feed him, I got up and decided to just do it. I hadn’t yet written my vows, […]

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