BDSM Does Not Make Me Any Less of a Feminist

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I get it all the time: “how can you be a feminist and be into BDSM?” I hear it so regularly from other feminists and non-feminists that I’ve become used to defending my sex life and activism. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the definitions of feminism are: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, and organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests. While both of these definitions cannot define feminism entirely or to each individual person, it is true that feminism is about the liberation of women and feminine people. This also includes the sexual liberation of women and feminine people.

Sexual liberation is important because we live in a world that shames, abuses, rapes, and kills women and femmes because of their sexuality. Dismantling a system that is violent towards women/femmes for their sexual freedom is very crucial in the liberation of all women and femmes. We live in a patriarchal society where are bodies and sexuality is not ours to own; our pleasure and labor aren’t ours. We are taught this our whole lives and unpacking this mentality can be a long and hard journey. Teaching women/femmes that their sexuality is not something to be ashamed of and that they do have agency is a part of feminism.

I understand that BDSM doesn’t have a very positive reputation especially when speaking of feminism. From the outside it seems like a sexual activity for men who enjoy degrading and spitting out orders to women. But the fact of the matter is there are women who like this. BDSM is about safe, sane, and consensual play. There are women/femmes who like to participate in scenes where they are submissive. Women/femmes submitting to a dominant doesn’t make them less of a feminists nor does it “push women’s rights back years”. Being submissive isn’t something they are forced to do; some submissives find freedom in it. They consent to their partners having control and enjoy it -- BDSM gives womens/femmes agency. Both subs and doms get to set their limits, get to say what they want and don’t want, and it gives them control of their pleasure. Women/femmes aren’t just submissives, but dominants as well. Just as some women/femmes like to give up control, some like to have it. BDSM also isn’t just about giving and taking orders but also support and care. In BDSM taking emotional and physical care of your partner is important, and aftercare is something that is required after a scene. Aftercare can range from just sitting and talking and reassuring them to caring for your partner’s scars. BDSM gives some women/femmes a safe space to perform their desires and explore their sexuality.

It’s easy to still not understand why some people would be into BDSM. You don’t have to understand why because each person enjoys it for different reasons. All you have to do is respect their decision and not judge or shame them. Being into BDSM doesn’t make someone less of a feminist, but shaming those who are does. You cannot call yourself a feminist while shaming the women/femmes who consensually participate in BDSM. if you do, then you are no better than the system you are fighting against. Being into BDSM provides so many women/femmes freedom, a voice, agency, and pleasure. It doesn’t support a system of oppression, but it does support consent, safety, and care. Ultimately, BDSM an important part of many women/femmes sexual liberation.

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