The Political is Personal

When a practice reinforces the violence in our culture, how does that affect the individual practitioner personally?

Hoagland writes, “I have read that sadists and masochists parody oppressive institutions and relationships, and thereby rebel against them. Yet Jean Genet made it painfully clear that while those parodying authoritatianism may expose it for what it really is, they are hardly able thereby to release themselves from it. …to play at having power or to parody power is not to have power.[1]”

There’s a strong argument that such playing at having power is to settle for a counterfeit; and by propagating the terms of the oppressor, to make oneself an accomplice.

In Baumeister’s studies, women bottoms reported that their submission promoted greater intimacy and mutuality with the top, yielding feelings of satisfaction or fulfillment in their relationship. At the same time, he observes that “feminine masochism seems to elaborate and exaggerate some features of typical stereotypes of female identity.”[2] Do the feelings of fulfillment reinforce conformity with those stereotypes outside the S/M scene?

[1] Hoagland, 158, 160.
[2] Baumeister, 1989, 209.

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