The title of this blog could easily be S/M vs. Feminism since there has been so much aggro between the two. I find that ironic since, for me, the very concept of S/M Liberation was inspired by earlier liberation movements. Blacks were followed by women and then gays. Why not s/m people? In this spirit, I invited T Grace Atkinson to speak at a meeting of The Eulenspiegel Society. She is the only speaker to demand an honorarium. Everyone else spoke for free. But for her $15, Atkinson denied any kinship between our movement and feminism. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a woman who has called sexual intercourse, itself, oppressive should say, “I do not know any feminist worthy of that name who, if forced to choose between freedom and sex, would choose sex. She’d choose freedom every time.” One has to wonder what kind of “freedom” requires renunciation of sex. It does remind me of the Christian insistence that “homosexuals” refrain from sexual gratification if they can only enjoy gay sex.
That was my first brush with anti-s/m feminism but it was to be far from my last. In California, I came out as a lesbian and hooked up with the s/m liberation groups that existed at that time, The Society of Janus, and Cardea. The former was for all s/m affectionados while the latter was for women only. Out of Cardea, SAMOIS was born, the world’s first lesbian-feminist s/m liberation group. I joined Samois and soon found how much hostility we attracted from the women who’s self-designated mission in life was to liberate women. Of particular notice was WAVPAM (Women Against Violence in Pornography and the Media). Despite their title, this organization was against all pornography, not just the violent kind. By starting Samois, we had thrown down a gauntlet of sorts. We were invading the very stronghold of what these women considered the Woman’s Movement.
Groups like WAVPAM contended that s/m was the quintessence of male-female relationships in this oppressive, male-supremacist society. We were the very thing they were sworn to defeat. How could women even think of being part of it? At one of their conferences which we invaded, we heard ourselves declared “mentally ill.” The irony was palpable considering lesbians had recently been described as “mentally ill” and only rehabilitated by fervent activism. Why couldn’t they see we were following in their footsteps?
Pat Califia and Gayle Rubin are both published writers who have had an impact on the public’s awareness that there really is a lesbian s/m existence. Samois collectively published Coming to Power, a collection of writings of members, and What Color is Your Handkerchief. Gayle Rubin wrote, Deviations and Traffic as well as essays. Pat Califia has written more books than I can list, both fiction and non-fiction. My favorite is Doc and Fluff.
The more it changes, the more it stays the same. A fan of the Twilight trilogy wrote some fan-fiction with an s/m slant. Her books are also a trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey. The first two of these have been made into movies and given the full Hollywood treatment. Oddly, the s/m community hasn’t taken kindly to this work. I think that is snobbish of them, maybe old-timers looking down on the newbies. But this work has also drawn down the hostility of the modern political crowd. I just found a blog that has given a lot of attention to the “fact” that “This book should come with a warning label, dangerous, toxic, for your health, do not leave in reach of children—EVER.” Ah, the children! Someone once said that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. But protection of children is at least as popular with those who would control other people’s personal choices. From the fundies who want to outlaw abortion to “save innocent lives” to censors of adult entertainment, these people seem to believe they have a vested interest, even an ownership of children that gives them the right to play tyrant.
When I was a lot younger, s/m was considered something perverted, indecent and shameful. One couldn’t find anything that catered to it except in the sleaziest parts of town. Since then, it has come out of the closet and is now respectable enough to be discussed and featured in mainstream as naughty but titillating. At least that’s how the mainstream now views it. But the hard-core politicos, true to their puritanical nature, still find it heinous. They confuse s/m with domestic violence and other forms of unconsensual violence. A friend of mine once quipped that Leftists tend to be prudes and Rightists tend to be perverts. Well, there were enough stories about Hitler. Can’t we have the perversion without the fascism?
- Against Sadomasochism, A Radical Feminist Analysis
- Is Anti-Sex a Step Backwards for Women’s Rights? by Jerry Barnett
- Women Against Violence in Pornography and the Media.
- Feminist sex wars. Wikipedia
- Thinking Sex: Notes for a radical theory of the politics of sexuality by Gayle Rubin.
- Books by Pat Califia.
- Fifty Shades of Abuse blogspot
- Fifty Shades of Abuse: E.L. James “GREY” Sexually perverted filth & gutter trash
- Truth about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’: Fox News
- National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
- The Traffic in Women. Gayle Rubin manages to be anti-capitalist and pro-s/m at the same time. It can be done.
is a documentary about the late Bob Flanagan, the masochistic performance artist in the NIN video, Happiness in Slavery. The video shows Bob enter a room, light a candle, remove his clothing, wash himself and then lie down on a machine that tortures him to death. Part of the video was (obviously) faked. It’s not a snuff film. But part was real. Which part has never been said but I believe the talons piercing the backs of his hands and the talons pulling on his cock and nipples are the real parts. Bob has submitted to a lot worse than that. As a performance artist, he has hammered the head of his cock to a board of wood using a not-so-small nail. He has been strung up from the ceiling at a museum exhibit. He signed a contract with the woman who became his wife, Sheree Rose, to give himself totally to her pleasure to do anything she wanted to him.
Besides masochism, the other important thing in his life is cystic fibrosis, a disease he was born with and suffered with all his life. He believed that his masochism was a way to dealing with the disease. It was a way he found to control his body and the pain it experienced. But we are all sick. We all suffer from a chronic, life-long disease. The disease is mortality. Because we are mortal, we are all subject to sickness, pain, humiliation, death and decay. As a mortal, I can identify with Bob Flanagan even though I don’t have cystic fibrosis.
In the film, Bob Flanagan exhibits sense of humor and an openness, an honesty that amounts to transparency. He sings and talks about details of his mortality that most of us would hide in embarrassment. Such transparency is rarely encountered and it is always liberating. Finding it makes one all-too-aware of its absence elsewhere. It’s strange how seldom in the alternative culture one encounters true transparency. Most “cool” people are highly guarded, protective of their image. In their presence, we are all likely to feel a similar need to be guarded. It makes any real communication difficult at best. It keeps us isolated and alone. Bob Flanagan shows awesome courage in many ways. But, perhaps, it is here that he has showed his most courageous side. Just being himself, warts and sickness and phlegm and all, requires the highest courage anyone can achieve.
In conjunction with V. Vale and Andrea Juno with ReSearch Magazine, he has written a book called “Bob Flanagan: Super Masochist.” In the film, he appears in his “Super Masochist” persona, wearing a cape, his tit-rings, color, wrist and ankle cuffs, hands on hips, adopting a “superman” pose. It’s an irony not lost on those of us raised on “Superman” comics. That “superman” was almost invincible because he wasn’t really human. He came from another planet and “could leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Bob Flanagan is flesh and blood like all of us. His heroism is that he achieved transcendence of mortality’s limitations, not by fleeing into the realms of pure spirit, but by delving ever more deeply into the pit of worms and death and decay. The body is perishable and we are all it’s prisoners. We have been shown one way to deal with that reality by a master shaman.
Bob Flanagan starring in Nine Inch Nail’s awesome video, Happiness in Slavery.
Nine Inch Nails: Happiness In Slavery (Uncensored) (1992) from Nine Inch Nails on Vimeo. You can’t find this on You-Tube.
Sam (smart ass M)
Jack, Rosanne and slave
You make yourself a gift to me.
We drown together in the sea
Beyond where words can speak
Raw Power Devours
and viciously deflowers.
Mine in Pain
for my kajira, Terry
The whip comes down
Again and again…
You wait for my command,
“Turn over, Pain Slut!”
I torture your nipples,
We look into each other’s eyes
Power dances between us.
I take you while you moan with pleasure
and delight in your gift of submission
as I cradle you in my arms.
I am a cat in heat
as you kneel at my feet
your flesh is mine to use
I torture you. I am amused.
Your cries of pain excite me
mixed with pleasure and invite me
to hurt you as I please
I am one of the (notorious) founders of The Eulenspiegel Society, which is, as far as I know, the world’s first s/m liberation group. In 1971, when gay and women’s liberation were in high gear, Pat Bond placed an ad suggesting that we could get something together for our own liberation. I answered the ad and was very active in the early formation of the organization. In fact, I was the one who saddled it with the name Eulenspiegel, for which the reviews were, shall we say “mixed?” It had to do with an anecdote in Theodore Reik’s book Masochism in Modern Man about when Til Eulenspiegel was happy going up a hill because he could look forward to going down again and was depressed going down because he knew he would have to go up again. To tell you the truth, I’m pretty tired of explaining it over and over and if it were now, I’d have suggested calling it something simple like “S/M Lib.” But those were the days of euphemism where names of “controversial” causes were deliberately obscure. Anyway, I stuck around long enough to picket the Village Voice (they wouldn’t accept our organizational ads) and write an article (published under the title, Masochists’ Lib for them, get interviewed on the radio by Pete Wilson and see a growth in membership. Then I left New York for several years.
I have had three significant relationships. The first, with Jim Kolb, was kind of crazy and out-of-control. But it was Jim who enabled me to understand my sexuality. Since then, I have had serious involvement with two Doms. The first one was Jack Jackson (who became President of The Eulenspiegel Society). He became my Master and inspired me to write the story of A Night of Loving which appeared in Pro-Me-Thee-Us, our publication as well as Gallery Magazine.
My second and present Dom is Mistress Victoria. She was originally my sub as I was trying my wings as a Dom. As a sub, now as a Dom, she writes poetry:
I have more recently come home to my masochistic roots while Masha, now known as Mistress Victoria, has become an awesome dominant. I am now her slave and loving every minute of it. Here is my own poetry inspired by hers:
Last time I visited New York, TES was still going strong. We are everywhere! There are s/m liberation groups in other places, too. The Society of Janus, in San Francisco, for example. In addition to the Society of Janus, was a women’s s/m group called Cardea out of which evolved Samois which was strictly a Lesbian s/m group. The founder of that group, Pat (now Patrick) Califia, is a crusader for sexual freedom and sexual information and the author of many extremely lucid and well-written books. Now there’s a woman-on-woman s/m group in San Francisco called The Exiles.
Bob Flanagan, who was once, himself, a member of The Society of Janus, was known as Supermasochist. (This kind of reminds me of when I used to think of myself as Super M. I even had a comic book planned on that theme.) He used his masochism as a performance artist and is in the Nine Inch Nails video, “Happiness in Slavery.” Read about his extraordinary life and death.
Our movement has grown prodigiously in recent years. Now there are all these new resources!
- SF Citadel, a play space, community and education center. (slow loading)
- Golden Gate Guards, a SOMA Leather/Levi noprofit organization.
- smOdyssey, South Bay Pansexual social and educational group
- Santa Clara County Leather Association
- The Black Rose
- Cléo Dubois Academy of SM Arts
- Cléo Dubois. More from the above. Cléo is Fakir Musafar‘s life partner. I have been to a speech and demonstration given by her at The Exiles and she is really worth knowing.
- Arizona Power Exchange
- DSM5 and Paraphilias. The weird world of the DSM.
See is right here! I love this movie. It has a lot of personal connections for me. And it is sizzlingly hot.
Innocent and Open…
|I was 17, living on my own for the first time. I had spent two years in the nut house but that wasn’t really on my own, just away from home. Now I was a beatnik and I was going to taste that crazy thing called LIFE. My first real sexual experience was deeply heavy, traumatic and somehow also precious to me. Here is the unvarnished story:|
Tom was a fat man with a full beard which inspired my friends and me to call him “Jesus Christ before his diet.” I knew him from the nut house and we were sort of hanging together for the time being although I didn’t really like him.
I was on my way to Philadelphia to meet with a beatnik of godlike beauty. Tall, blonde with a full beard and a guitar. But, before I could go, Tom said he had a new drug for me to try. I always love to try new drugs so I was game. This was a white powder called “methamphetamine.” Once I tried it, I got so euphoric that I didn’t care about my appointment in Philadelphia. I was happy where I was. After another desultory effort at sex (sex with Tom was largely dysfunctional), Tom said there were some people he wanted me to meet.
We entered a building a few blocks away, still in the East Village. The lobby looked like a cathedral. We were welcomed by a man named Turk who had a lot of tattoos and a plump, dark-haired girl named Paulette. Turk was holding forth on the virtues of drugs when Tom tapped me on the shoulder.
I turned around and looked into the face of Jim Kolb. He had very intelligent eyes that somehow reminded me of O’Brien in 1984. I didn’t want to look away from him and spent the entire night in a heavy rap and painting pictures together. He gave me shots of meth and I found it humiliating that he shot me in the ass instead of the arm. It made me feel like a baby. At one point, Jim looked into my eyes and said, “Baby, you’ve got to go through the mill.” “I know,” I replied, not really understanding what he meant or what I meant, for that matter. In the morning, I announced I had to go to work but everyone said, “Ah, no. What for?” Jim said a pretty girl would never have to worry about making a living which lit up a red light. But I didn’t go to work. Jim led me into the kitchen and we had sex on the floor. I was a very naive girl at the time. I thought Tom’s feelings would be hurt if he knew I had fucked Jim. Later, I figured out that Jim had probably paid Tom in meth to bring me.We learn by our mistakes.
Tom let me know it was “alright” with him that I was fucking Jim. Good. We fucked all day long. Around evening, Jim handed me a pill which he told me was a “goofball.” I had read about them so I had no hesitation. Jim said, “You’re gonna feel that right in your clitoris.” We went on fucking and the last coherent memory I have of that night was Jim saying not to move so much.
I have the following fragmentary memories. Jim said, in a challenging voice, “Now I’m gonna kiss your eye.” I wondered why he would expect an argument from me about that and I said, “Go ahead,” in a sexy voice. Then just static. I am walking across a dark room and bumping into furniture. The pain I feel is much more than one would feel bumping into furniture. I heard a wild, animal scream which I knew somewhere was coming from me but I didn’t experience screaming. I am lying nude while people fully dressed sit around talking. A girl in tight curls keeps calling Jim, “Jive Motherfucker.” She seems to together and comfortable. I wonder what is the difference between her and me.
*****Much later, I woke up and resumed normal sequential consciousness. I noticed my eye was bloodshot and I had a rash on my scalp.Jim said something that made me feel I had blown it some way. He said I was saying all kinds of “Freudian things like fuck me.” When I questioned him more closely on what I had said, he brushed it aside. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. Then he smirked and said, “I had to spank you last night. You were moving around so much I had to fuck you to just keep you in one place. Then you started getting sexy, saying ‘Hit me! Hit me!'” I was shocked by his words, no knowing whether to believe them.
I was far from the euphoria of the night before. I felt confused, fragmented. I wanted to feel the way I felt before. I asked for a shot and Jim gave it grudgingly. But I was still determined to stay there. So Tom suggested we go to my apartment to get my clothes. When we got there, a group of friends was there. They gave me a bath and I began to feel myself. “I don’t think I’m going back,” I said. There was an audible sigh of relief. It seems this was some kind of rescue.
Later, Tom and I went for a walk and he said, “I hope you realize what was happening. You were a toy.” He told me that they thought I was going to die and suggested taking me on a “subway ride,” in other words, dumping me on the subway and leaving me there but Tom refused to go along with it. “You saved my life,” I exclaimed! “Then they all went out and I noticed you were choking on something. I had to clean you out. It was sperm. Someone had jacked-off into your mouth.” I was horrified beyond words. Then Tom said, “I gave them your address but I don’t think they’ll come. If they do, I’ll protect you.” Naturally, I wouldn’t go home. We spent the night at a neighbor’s house. It was a very long night. I couldn’t close my eyes for fear I would see images of someone jacking-off into my mouth. The hours crept by. In the morning, we were going to his friend’s house in Long Island. Tom slept while I agonized.
We took the subway and a bus to where Tom’s friend lived. It was the same town my parents lived but I couldn’t go there. This made me sad. We got to a house and Tom knocked. A nervous woman answered the door and seemed reluctant to let Tom in. He stepped aside and she saw me and let us in. She was expecting a visit from her ex-husband so we had to stay upstairs and be quiet. Actually, I stayed and Tom went somewhere. There were True Confession type magazines which I started reading. The stories were shocking. I thought that I had an equally shocking story of my own. For the first time, this fact kind of pleased me.
Later, after the ex had left and her old man, Chuck, came home, we went downstairs. Chuck was kind of like a Dutch Uncle to me. Tough and disapproving. I must have seemed a mess, with the rash on my scalp and all the burns and bruises and having been up on speed so long. I don’t know how long I stayed there but I heard Fanny was trying to get in touch with me and I decided to go back to the city.
Back home, my head a bit clearer from the sleep I finally managed to get, I talked with Fanny who pursuaded me to see the role Tom was playing in this game. I started seeing him as someone who had been manipulating me, not a savior but someone who brought me to the place where all these things had happened to me. I told him to leave. “I never threw you out,” he said. Fanny laughed. What did Tom have to throw me out from?
My life went back to semi-normal. I went to work to find I had been fired. No huge surprise there. I talked with various people who knew of Jim Kolb or had opinions about him. Apparently, he had done things like that to other girls. I remembered when Tom offered to introduce him to one of my friends. I had called her and warned her. Sure enough, he tried to bring her to him but she declined to go. One man suggested he was a Satanist. “He got a book by Crowley,” he said. He was for organizing a vigilante committee to do something to him.This was kind of exciting but also very confusing as I felt like a secred ingrate for my mixed feelings about Jim.
I discovered that one of my friends actually knew Jim Kolb personally. She noticed one of the burns on my body was in the design of his drawings of bamboo. I started spending a lot of time with her just for the sake of these conversations.
*****My time of living on my own in New York City seemed to be drawing to a dead end. I told my mother what had happened to me and that I was coming home. I gave up my apartment and went back to being a school girl again. I was enrolled in the local high school as a Sophomore. It was a time of hibernation and deep introspection. I wanted to understand the meaning of it all. My parents got me a shrink but my suspicious could not be spoken out loud. I bought Theodore Reik’s Masochism in Modern Man along with a bunch of other psychology books to camoflage my interest. I tried masturbating for the first time, thinking about spanking. I had my first orgasm.
I began spending most of my free time at Chuck and Florence’s house. Chuck was an interesting guy. On his own since age 14, he had hitchhiked all over the country. He was arrested for vagrancy in the South and put on a chain gang. They dug roads from one place in the middle of nowhere to another place in the middle of nowhere. When his sentence was over, as he was walking away, the sheriff immediately came over and arrested him again. He acted as if he had never seen Chuck before. Chuck soon realized this was their game. There were old men on the gang who had been there since their youth, being re-arrested for vagrancy over and over. Chuck got away by cutting through the woods. Despite his hard times, he seemed romantically attached to the South.
He had an enormous record collection. One of his records, a Josh White album, included a song that grabbed me where I lived. It was called Mean Mistreater and went…
I got a copy of the record. I was reading The Fountainhead at the time and I just came to the part where Dominique meets Roark and feels a “sinking gasp” at the thought of being humiliated by him. When he raped her, I happened to be in a diner with my parents. Here I was reading this steamy stuff with everything outwardly dull and normal. It’s a good symbol of my life with my folks during this time.
When summer came, I went to the city and stayed with various friends. But I was really looking for him. I found him too. He wouldn’t talk about what had happened between us but we had lots of sex. I was really attracted to him. Sometimes, he couldn’t get in right away and he would say, “Open up, Bitch,” and I opened. That was the most overtly sado-masochistic thing that happened between us. He was very frustrating, tantalizing and hot. I wondered what my friends thought of my being with him. It was a big approach-avoidance thing. I would be with him and then run away and then go back. He was homeless, himself, at the time. We spent a lot of time walking around the streets to various places we might stay.
I came home in the Autumn as confused as ever. I told my shrink of my encounters with him. I went to school. I dreamed of going back to New York next Summer.