taiWelcome! I’m Tai Scarlet Kulystin, the creatrix of Purveyor of Pleasure. I am a somatic sexuality educator, occultist, professional harlot, and gender & relationships coach. This blog is my personal exploration of gender, sexuality, spirituality, kink, and the pitfalls of an overanalytical nature.

I identify as a queer fat genderqueer polyamorous switch and prefer the pronouns ne/nem/nir or they/them. I spend a lot of my time thinking about sacred sexuality, sacred kink, relationships, the body, queer theory, depth psychology, erotic psychology, sexological bodywork, and so much more. I'm in a long-term live-in relationship with my partner Onyx, and I also have a few other relationships and lovers.
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Archive for the ‘Discourse’


Empowerment and Submission

A fast-write to help me with my paper, and to entertain you all, of course.

How is it empowering to be a female submissive in a heterosexual relationship? That’s the question, really, and sometimes I’m not sure how to answer it. Although I feel empowered within my relationship, in many ways, it’s also a question of power and choice. If I was ordered about and such in a relationship where I had no choice, no power, and was still ordered and bossed around it would be far from empowering. Or, in a relationship where I was spanked, slapped, and had my hair pulled on a regular basis and I didn’t enjoy it or didn’t want it or didn’t request it, I would be far from empowered.

I’ve heard the argument said that since patriarchy imposes these ideas of submission onto us, as female subs we are essentially just buying into that patriarchy, into that system which subordinates us, into that perpetuation of gender stereotypes and roles.

Now, I’m not one who believes in gender supremacy. I don’t think that just because my Master is male he therefore has some right to be dominant or some right to be above me. That’s just not true. It’s due to my desire to serve and his desire to be served that we come to these roles, and not anything else. Now, speaking as a feminist as well, I can see the previous argument. I can see it as a valid argument, I just damn well don’t agree with it. I believe in individuality, which could also be said to be a product of the culture we live in. However, I extend individuality to much more than male/female roles.

I use the terms M/f and F/m and so on because there are these ideas such as gender supremacy and patriarchal brainwashing which often accompany bdsm (and wrongly so in most cases). I think there are some trends that many M/f couples follow and many F/m couples follow, and there are differences, but those are largely regarding individual differences and choices. While there may be similarities, I don’t think that those are wholly based on gender. However, I do think the terms M/f and F/m and M/m and F/f are all useful, just as I think labels in general are useful. That is: as long as we don’t stick to rigidly to them. I use these terms because of the patriarchal and social connections to them, but not meaning to generalize to those groups.

That said, I don’t really identify as a femsub. I identify as cuntpet and submissive, but female isn’t really something I cling to, though femme is, but I still don’t identify as femsub, mostly for the reason I’ve already mentioned. The majority of the time, there is some sort of lumping or categorization of all fem subs as this and all male subs as that, and etc. And I just don’t buy it.

Now, back to the original point: empowerment. How is BDSM empowering? How can I say that through giving up power to another person I am empowered? Well, BDSM is all about power, it’s all about playing with power and what it means to have power. Through playing with power we are able to recognize that there is no innate or natural power which one person has. All power is constructed, all power is socially given, and none of it is inherent to the person.

Now, through play with power and the recognition of this I am able to realize that, also, there is great power in the giving up of power. Even though vulnerability is so devalued in this society, that does not mean that there is not power in it. I also get to practice passive aims, which I do not see as a bad thing. Passive aims can be described as “being active through being passive,” and can be considered manipulative, though I don’t believe that they always are. Through giving over power I am putting myself into the passive role, into the subordinate role, but in doing that I am achieving my aim, my desire, and getting just what I want out of it. If I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it, I wouldn’t be doing it.

That brings me to another point. All power play, even that which is commonly referred to as Master/slave, where, basically, the slave has no power, no rights, and has little ways to get out of the situation short of leaving it all together, there is still the ability to leave. Even in Venus in Furs we are able to see that Severin is able to leave, and he does so when it goes too far, though he realizes that he is a man of his word. Granted, there is a lot of psychological turmoil which may occur due to leaving a situation which you have agreed upon and pledged your life to, but there is always the choice, even if we can’t make it.

Because the sub always has the choice of leaving, or safewording, or calling limits, the question comes to: who really runs the show? Is it the Dom/me, even though the sub has continuous veto power? Is that like saying that the President has no hand in passing bills, even though s/he has the power to veto them? I don’t think anyone would make that claim. It’s the same here. However, that’s not to say that the sub has all the power, but it is a power exchange, not just power giving and taking. There is power given up on both sides, otherwise the Dominants of today would look much more like the sadists of DeSade.

Which brings me to my next point: masochism and sadism ala Deleuze. While I agree with Deleuze’s points, that sadism and masochism as literary forms, taken right from the works of Sade and Masoch, are not complementary. Sade’s sadists Sade-ists, if you will, are remarkably different from the contemporary use of the term sadist. Sade-ists do not desire consent, and, even, desire no consent. Their play is completely one-sided. Contemporary sadists, however, are generally part of this greater term BDSM, and submit to either RACK (Risk Aware Consensual Kink) or SSC (Safe, Sane, and Consensual), and are not rapists or mutilators, but partners. Sade-ists as depicted are rapists and mutilators and humiliators, and ones which are not desiring of consent.

This brings me to yet another point: consent. BDSM is not BDSM without consent. Not in my view at least. Consent is key, as can be evidenced by two general theories of bdsm play previously mentioned: RACK and SSC, both of which center around consent. If there is not consent, it is abuse. I believe that in order to get consent, there must be trust on both sides. Master and I have had a lot of trouble with our relationship specifically because of lack of trust, either in each other or in ourselves. We both have struggled with trusting ourselves in these roles. I have struggled in trusting that he will not see me any differently if I submit to him (logically I know it’s true, but I still have struggled with it). And so many other little things which have hindered our process.

Without trust, consent is impossible. Without consent, BDSM and RACK or SSC are not possible. However, when you have both of these, the feeling is amazing.

04.14

2008

Topics

Some days I have very little to say D/s wise, and on these days I’m quiet.

I’m working on a paper for my Queer Theory class exploring BDSM, which should be interesting. I’m having a very hard time narrowing down a concept. I’m thinking of exploring gender, using Venus in Furs and Secretary, or possibly Venus in Furs and a scene which I will describe. Another option is marriage and BDSM, I know quite a few Dommes and male subs who won’t participate in it due to the misogyny associated with it, and since it pretty much goes the opposite of their roles, similarly, in ViF Wanda asserts that she could never marry someone who was subordinate to her, if she was to marry it would be to a Dominant man. I also know many female subs who want to get married to their Dom. And then there’s me…

Other than that… marriage would be easy to do, but I’m not sure if I could write twelve pages on it, though… possibly. I may add marriage into a paper on gender, and I could add something on gender supremacy within BDSM and also some things I’ve already talked about in here.

My Prof. agreed that basically at this point the hardest part for me will be narrowing down a topic. I think I just need to choose one and run with it, but there is so much that I would like to explore. Whatever I do I’ll end up posting it here, to be sure. It’s two weeks from the end of the semester, so I may be quite absent these next two weeks.

03.09

2008

Degradation

Foucault, in an interview in Salmagundi, said “Men think that women can only experience pleasure in recognizing men as masters”(1) (talking about cisgendered regular men who buy into the compulsory misogynist hegemonic paradigm, of course). He also, in the same interview, “praises sado-masochistic practices for helping homosexual men (many of whom share heterosexual men’s fear of losing their authority by “being under another man in the act of love”) to “alleviate” the “problem” of feeling “that the passive role is in some way demeaning”(2). The article this was in, by Leo Bersani, was one I had to read for my Queer Theory class. Bersani basically says that Foucault is wrong, and that the point of the “passive” or bottom or powerless role is that it is degrading and it should be valued as degrading. I think they’re both right.

In some ways, the point of submission, the point of putting oneself in the powerless role, is the ability to feel that loss of control, the ability to not have to think, but it also is a way to grow. Though experiencing degradation (and I don’t mean specifically degradation play, I mean degradation in the sense of being “reduced in rank, position, reputation, etc.” (3), which is, the way Bersani used it as well) one is able to find out what is truly valued as well as truths about the self which may not be known any other way. When one is reduced to a state of powerlessness, that is when one is degraded, there is a vast amount which one can learn about oneself. In this way it should be valued as degrading, as Bersani said, but viewing it in that light can also take away from the fact that it is degrading and demeaning, as Foucault said.

There is great power in submission and powerlessness, and great value in it. However, I wonder if it is the ability to be powerful or powerless at will that makes this more valuable. That is, if one is always powerless, constantly powerless, and unable to change their power for some reason or another would the worth of powerlessness be able to be seen, or since it is simply the way that one has to be would it not have the same kind of value? I’m honestly not sure. I’m also not sure if there is a situation where power could never change, never being so absolute. I think this is a catch in/emphasis of my power drag theory as well.

Since bdsm is power drag, and power drag is emphasizing the non-essential nature of power dynamics, that power dynamics are ever present, and that power is fluid and changeable, what would it mean if there were situations where power was never able to change? Like I said, I’m not sure if there are instances of this, but there probably are. Though, looking at gender drag and mirroring it, I’m sure there are situations where people feel like there is no way they would want to or could change their gender, so this might not be much of a snag after all.

(1) “Sexual Choice, Sexual Act: An Interview with Michel Foucault,” Salmagundi, nos. 58-59 (Fall 1982-Winter 1983), p. 21.
(2) Bersani, Leo. “Is the Rectum a Grave?” The MIT Press October, 1987 p.212-213.
(3) “degraded – Definitions from Dictionary.com

12.04

2007

Rhetorical Gymnastics

Postmodernism is “ultimately meaningless rhetorical gymnastics” according to some.

Yes, yes it is. And I love it.

This was posted on another site, apparently this is what it used to say before a rewrite?
“Postmodernism’s proponents are often criticised for a tendency to indulge in exhausting, verbose stretches of rhetorical gymnastics, which critics feel sound important but are ultimately meaningless. (Some postmodernists may argue that this is precisely the point). calum, from wikepedia, Feb 19,2005″

Lovely.

11.29

2007

Power Drag

This is just a draft, I’m working on organizing my ideas of this, once I get it down perfectly I’m going to post it to communities and such.

This concept was actually the idea of Lisa Diamond, Ph.D, a professor of mine here at the University of Utah. We were talking about BDSM in my Gender and Sexual Orientation class yesterday, and this is a concept which she came up with.

What does it mean?
The term “power drag” is playing on the same idea as gender drag is, most notably Judith Butler’s idea of performativity, that all gender is drag, all gender is constructed “woman is to drag not as original is to copy, but as copy is to copy. all gender is drag” (paraphrased). This does this by showing that gender is simply a performance, and regardless of the body that masculinity or femininity is placed upon it is still masculinity and femininity.
What power within BDSM and specifically D/s or M/s relations does is emphasize the power dynamics between the two people, going to one extreme of power, with absolute power and absolute submission, it is showing that power is a performance, and without an exchange of power no power can be gained or lost. Power drag shows that there is no natural power dynamic between people just as there is no natural gender.
However, just as one cannot escape gender, one cannot escape power dynamics either, but power drag brings awareness to the power dynamics between all people, not just people within BDSM relationships. It shows the constructedness of “natural” power, such as white dominance or male dominance, even when it is a white male dominating a non-white female there is still a choice being made as opposed to blindly accepting the dominance of the white male. Most obviously this constructedness or non-naturalness is shown when a female dominates a male or when a non-white person dominates a white person, or any other inequalites (age, class, ability, etc.).

Why is it important?
By exposing the non-naturalness of power dynamics between people we can begin to play with power (though we in BDSM have been doing that for a long time now already) and we show how power is fluid, and power dynamics can change from moment to moment. The realization of power drag could help both with keeping roles within relationships strict or being able to relax the usually strict roles within our relationships.

Gender drag is to Gender as Power drag is to Power?

What else? I’m sure there’s more I can/should talk about. What kinds of questions do you all have about this? What else should be included in a conceptualization of power drag? What else do I need to discuss?
This is so huge and I’m so excited by it that I don’t quite know how to cover everything or what I’m missing.