Evo-psych? (And ranting)

Rant time, skip if you don’t wanna see my whine about internet strangers.

I’m normally pretty Pollyanna about how all the sexualties can get along, but then some earnest person posts this, on /r/bdsmcommunity, about getting the mainstream to accept kink.

Fourth, bdsm in all its many forms is base. It is primal. That is part of the appeal That is the entire appeal. Either returning to a “natural” lust where the man dominates his woman and she thanks him for it, or some subversion of that primal nature (ie: femdom). Either way it is all about power and submission. I don’t think I need to explain how base sexual power is, but perhaps most people don’t know how deep sexual submission runs in humans.

  • You’ve all heard of Stockholm Syndrome where victims start to empathize with their captors and can even get to the point of helping them. Well there is an evolutionary psychology reason for that. As it turns out, women being taken from one tribe and brought to another to be “assimilated” was a very common practice in our early society as a species. Of those women, no doubt many resisted either killing their captors, running away, or killing their new children/themselves. Those ones tended to end up dead.

  • The women that accepted their new lot and became model wives and mothers to the warriors that stole them from their homes got to pass on their genes. That passed on to us all. The psychological response from submitting to someone sexually and completely runs nearly as old as the response for forcing someone to submit to your will.

  • Because of this we don’t really have a high ground. Vanilla people will look down on us for the primal, visceral needs we have and we will look back at them in contempt for being sexually repressed. Humankind prides itself on pretending it is more than animal. We’re just a little more in touch with reality in my opinion. (Chillbro22)

Yeeeeah, that last bit of BDSM elitism is going to fly with the vanillas. Call them less in touch with reality. Yaye!

The poor OP can’t understand why this is blistering sexism “Either returning to a “natural” lust where the man dominates his woman and she thanks him for it, or some subversion of that primal nature (ie: femdom).

Of course when I called him out, leave it to someone else to come up with an inventive (implied) rape fantasy for me:

Women are biologically physically weaker than men. As a woman, I understand that, and this is why I love being a Domme. But there is an argument to be made about the genetic psychological inherency of female submissiveness. That is obviously not for everybody, and in no way should that be a norm in a modern society (forced submission). But he’s completely correct – if YOU were taken and actually forced to submit in a third-world or tribal setting, typically you would submit or die. This still happens with women around the world today. You can’t view everything through the rose colored glasses of your cushy modern life. (AnonymouseDomina)

Yuck. I need a shower now. I hate that the OP is incapable of seeing that his stance is pro-rape and is hung up on defending not being sexist. Kinda makes me grateful for /r/femdomcommunity.

Though poor Chillbro22 provides an interesting launching point about talking about evo-psych and kink. He meant it as a way to convince vanilla people that kinksters (specifically male doms and fem subs) were more in touch with “real” sexuality.

They’re talking about this sort of scenario:

Allegedly the first Romans got wives by abducting a bunch of Sabine women. The story, and legends like it, informs popular culture, to this day.

It’s a popular idea for the M/f set, that D/s is simply returning to some sort of natural order. Gor fans tend to be particularly enamoured with this, and the books make a big deal about how the female slaves learn to be true women, and finally get emotional satisfaction now that all choice is stripped from them.

But this sort of hindsight harkening back type thinking tends to be highly reductionist. As well as the PR harm of going around telling people that BDSM practitioners are simply primal rapists and telling people their sexuality is unnatural unless they do M/f, it very much I don’t know… blue washes the past. Never mind that individual societies are highly variable in the roles they allow for women, from out right exclusive to completely inclusive,  it erases when women have been involved in society and ignore the legion of historically subjugated men.

First off, in real life, real bridal abduction (not the highly ritualized kind) is a traumatic event that doesn’t cause a woman to go into happy sub space. Case in point: in Ethiopia.

Of course you can point to the fact that the woman interviewed says she now loves her husband. On the other hand she is saying it is related to the fact that he doesn’t beat her anymore, and her marriage was painful. She didn’t go into some sort of subby trance. The ability for people to make the best of being raped and basically enslaved is not a good justification for BDSM.

The primal cave man walloping woman fantasy, outside of wanking, is shitty for a social model.

It presents a two pronged problem. In the first place it really confuses both social dominance, rape and BDSM. Additionally it assumes that what people do now is somehow un-natural and that humans have not, historically, included some kinky buggers among their ranks since time immemorial.

For example we know that throughout humanity’s history, and among other species, non-procreative sex occurs. In humans it occurs more than procreative sex. Even in a straight people fucking scenario, we take nine months to gestate, and lactation gives partial ovulation suppression. Most conceptions miscarry, or fail to implant, and humans fuck twelve months a year, every hour of the day, whether they are ovulating or not.

Even cultures that don’t generally go in for oral and anal, still masturbate. We know that sadomasochism as part of porn, though it wasn’t bound up in the trappings of ‘leather’. Even the kamasutra talks about how nice coupling induced marks are, and Georgian era porn (Fanny Hill) has an erotic flogging scene and an erotic fetishism scene in its bulging pages, while many of the BDSM tropes we enjoy today were pioneered by the Victorians. Meanwhile Saint Sebastian writhes all sexy like with arrows sticking out of him from Renaissance paintings, Japanese people were doing fun things with rope, and so on and so forth.

It might be perfectly possible the human propensity towards rape influences our kinks. I have no issue with that. But reductionist arguments glorifying a sort of problem that is ongoing today (ie the abduction of girls to be bush wives) to justify male-dom and the claim that the past was some sort of M/f buffet is fucking bullshit.

History is not a simple narrative of warrior kings and simpering princesses being passed about as property. This particular problem with historical narratives is that it in no way reflects the rich range of human expression and how we can order our hierarchies in many ways. I’m not, incidentally, even talking about societal matriarchies. Even in some of the most ghastly, sexist times, women have had power and done shit. Humans are a bit more complicated than Man 1st, woman 2nd. For example the initial European colonization of Canada was funded as a religious charity project by French noblewomen. Very tribal/family oriented cultures are infamous for putting women in positions of power before they will give the role to an outsider. Some theorists point to the “all men are equal” thinking of the Enlightenment as a period that actually took some rights away from women as they moved away from hereditary power. “Men in charge” is not a perfect rule.

But that’s neither here, nor there, as the problem with the “natural past” hypothesis is that it presupposes that we are not natural now or that we were instant Savannah transplants who went from chasing down herbivores with pointy sticks to suburban commutes. Panties are not something that occurs in nature, but plenty of people fetishize the shit out of panties. If people fetishize rape, it is just as likely they are doing it because people are being raped today, than because people were raped in the past.

Using historical sexism to label femdom aberrational is also problematic.  Obviously being treated like a weird mutant and occasional curiosity is in itself inherently harmful but…

BDSM, again, is not real power. A lot of harm is done in the community, especially towards male subs, by assigning unearned real rank to anyone who can call themselves a dom. Women holding power is not aberrant,  as when the society we live in allows us to do it, we seem to have the same natural aptitudes for leadership as men. Perpetuating, as AnonymouseDomina did, that me being happily silenced is only not happening because I live in a rare bubble… well, again, bullshit.

I wouldn’t “submit” in the D/s sense, because I’m not a sub. Sure any damn fool can beat and torture compliance, but any bully can bully a man too. Hell, I have it in me to be a domestic abuser. And if you think for one minute I have lived in a world free of sexualized violence, you have not opened your eyes to what modern life is like.

As demonstrated in the Ethopia article- women are perfectly capable of organizing against the behaviour. The ability to make the best of a miserable situation (one where you are beaten for complaining) is not really the same thing as D/s, nor are we kinky because “Grrr, caveman!”

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4 Comments

  1. theo

     /  April 12, 2013

    Yeah I think you’re correct about this. If BDSM fetishes are all about some collective buried primal M/f rape fantasy (or the subversion) then how does one explain the incidence of M/m and F/f kinksters? ChillBro’s comments seem to completely ignore these types of BDSM relationships. He is implying that it is only natural that the woman feels submissive and the male feels dominant and that everything else is a subversion. That seems a bit elitist as well. As seen on this fetish chart: http://www.bentblog.com/art41782126.htm/The-Great-Big-Chart-of-Fetishes
    there is a fuck ton of different fetishes out there. Are all these under the umbrella of BDSM? Probably not, but it’s interesting that people argue all the time about what does. That means the answer of what BDSM is about really is not as simple as he said.

    Personally, I get most of my pleasure as a dom by emphasizing the helplessness of my sub in or out of bondage, but this isn’t gender based. I enjoy seeing both men and woman made helpless, but I happen to be more attracted to the female form.

    Reply
    • I must say I like the diagram!

      There’ a strong tendency for people to assume that they are the entirety of kink, or that kink is the world. I have to check myself sometimes.

      Reply
  2. I just found this article by googling. I will admit that I myself look to EvoPsych to find answers to these strong instincts I feel. However I am a (very straight) male submissive and I certainly don’t feel like an aberration!

    Do you think there’s any evolutionary history to the dynamics we enjoy?

    Reply
  1. Feminism and BDSM - O Miss Pearl

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