Wednesday, March 01, 2006

OK, now on to the serious stuff...
Somehow I seem to have managed to get myself into a fight over at I Blame The Patriarchy. This does not make me happy, as I like and admire Twisty very much, and I generally agree with almost everything she has to say.
I think she's dead wrong about this, though. I am referring of course to the great feminist BSDM debate, which seems to flare up on a regular basis over there. I will freely admit that I have been guilty of starting conversations on this subject myself, but I'm beginning to really wish that I hadn't and that everyone would just shut up about it before we all rip each other's throats out.
Here's the thing - feminists have been arguing about this since the seventies. None of that arguing has ever produced anything even vaguely resembling a consensus. Both sides of the debate are quite firmly entrenched in their views, and neither side is likely to budge or change their opinions at this point. Despite the tendency on both sides to assume that the other side just doesn't know what they're talking about the fact is that most people who hold strong opinions on this subject hold them for a reason, and as such they are unlikely to be swayed by any arguments the other side has to offer. Why then are we still arguing about it?
For the record, I think that BSDM is like most other things - it has the potential to be either good or bad, and how it plays out in practise depends greatly on the ethics and motivations of the people involved. I've met some people who've had horrible experiences with BSDM, and others who have stepped in, had a great time and stepped out again when they got bored with no harm done. I have also met a smaller but stastically significant number of people for whom BSDM is simply part and parcel of who they are - they don't enjoy vanilla sex, and seem to simply be wired in such as way that they will always feel the need to play out power issues in the bedroom. I just don't see what purpose is served by telling these people that they are failing the feminist cause and not living up to their ideals every time they pick up a flogger or put on a corset. I also see no reason why those who are anti-BSDM continue to insist that all BSDM is male dom/female sub or that the only real female doms are the pros, who are not really doms since they are only doing what they do at the sufference of their male partners, who could withdraw that sufference at any time.
See, it's not that I don't understand the point that the anti's are trying to make. I just don't agree with them. It's kind of ironic that I'm even involved with this conversation, given that I've been out of the scene for over 10 years (I was one of the ones who had a good time while it lasted but eventually got bored with the ritualistic aspect of things, in case anyone is wondering).
I could go on about the many ways in which I think the anti side are misunderstanding what BSDM is really all about (I could start with the fact that not all female doms are pro's and/or paid for their time, a particularly annoying assumption since it essentially implies that all female doms are prostitutes, not a nice thing for one feminist to be implying to another). That would however clearly be a waste of my time, as the point has been made before without it doing anything to resolve the debate. As has just about every other point that could conveivably be made about this issue.
That's the purpose of this little rant, and what keeps prompting me to get involved in this conversation. As feminists we need to realise that we are a small movement with lots of enemies. Between the religious wack-jobs and the crazy money-grubbing Republicans and your basic garden variety sexists we have plenty of actual opponents to do battle with, real opponents who really do want to do us harm and reverse every gain that we've made in the past hundred years. Why the hell are we wasting our time fighting each other? Given the country's current rapid drift towards a Handmaiden's Tale-like nightmare with no legal abortion and a crappy economy and the dismantling of Social Security, can we really not find something more important to worry about than policing the way that other people fuck? When you stop to think about it it's actually kind of absurd - we're facing some of the greatest actual threats to the feminist project in years and we're busy arguing amongst ourselves about what is and is not an acceptable way for a feminist to get her rocks off. Simone De Beavoir must be rolling in her grave.
So please, people, rather than spending our time attacking each other over what are after all rather private matters can we not all just agree to disagree and get on with the actual business at hand, namely taking our country back from the dangerous lunatics who are currently attempting to drag us all back to the Stone Age?
This really sucks...
Just found out that one of my favourite bands (Dir En Grey), a band which never plays live in the US, is going to be at the SXSW festival in Austin on 3/17. The reason this sucks is that I can't go. Firstly because I don't have a festival pass and really object to paying $600 for a full pass when I only want to see one band, secondly because apparently every hotel within a 10 mile radius of downtown Austin is already fully booked (well, I suppose all those bands have to sleep somewhere), and thirdly because I didn't realise they were playing until now and thus did not book plane tickets. Have you ever tried to book plane tickets on short notice? It's hellaciously expensive. I did a quick calculation and figured out that I would have to spend over $1000 dollars just to get there, find a place to stay and arrange transportation to the appropriate venue and back. As much as I love Diru, that seems a bit ridiculous. There's also the fact that since I don't have a festival pass I would be at the bottom of the line to get into events, making it likely that I might not be able to get into the gig even if I showed up.
Damn, I'm bummed out about this. I suppose the only positive thing to take away is that Diru now have official US distribution, which is why they're at SXSW in the first place, so maybe this will lead to a real tour. Take notice, music biz people - Diru have literally thousands of fans in the US who quite happily shell out major cash for import CDs all the time. If anyone was smart enough to put a real tour together it would sell out no problem. The audience is here, but we can't all go to Japan just to see a gig - can't someone at that nice new US distribution level find a way to bring the mountain to us?

PS Anyone who is going to be at SXSW (lucky bastards) NEEDS to go see Dir En Grey. Seriously, if you like heavy rock/industrial music this is without a doubt the best band in the world right now. They wipe the floor with Ministry...they make Nine Inch Nails sound like the Backstreet Boys. This band is simply astonishing. Go see them. I only wish I could come with you...
Octavia Butler, RIP

I just heard the news that pioneering feminist African American science fiction author Octavia Butler died over the weekend. Apparently she fell and suffered a head injury. She died on Saturday.
Yet another talent lost far too soon. Butler was only 58 years old. She was hugely talented, and one of the most openly political of modern sf writers. She once stated that she started writing sci fi because she had been reading it for a while and had noticed that "apparently there are no black people in the future".
She will be very much missed.