This is my first time joining the Spanking Round Table discussions, and I’m glad Casey suggested this topic. I’d like to offer a brief overview of feminism followed by my thoughts on why F/F is an especially potent site to demonstrate feminism.
I tend to cringe when feminism is mentioned within the context of domestic discipline, largely because these types of discussions tend to rely on oversimplified or outdated ideas of feminism.
Examples of “feminists” depicted in popular culture:
- a shrill, overbearing woman who browbeats her husband and male colleagues
- a bra-burning radical who rejects shaving
- an angry woman who hasn’t met the right man yet
- a lonely, insecure, unstable woman who needs a man to calm her down (preferably with sex, marriage, and a baby)
- a tired, overburdened career woman who longs for a man to sweep her off her feet and tell her that things are all right
A typical setup of feminism in a DD story goes something like this:
Accomplished, intelligent career woman is single, formidable, and hostile to male overtures. Knight in shining armor arrives, disarms our heroine, and bends her to his will. Our heroine struggles with her conscience before realizing that “true” feminism means making the choice to submit to her man. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Here is what is great about this setup:
- Many women do feel burdened by the expectations placed on us by society. We may feel that we have to be breadwinner, sex kitten, and arm decoration all in one.
Here’s what is also great about this setup:
- Feminism does not preclude relationships. One of the battle cries of middle feminism (also called second wave feminism, which focused on proving that women were equal to men and therefore entitled to work, go to school, and otherwise participate in what had previously been considered a man’s world) was that women could love men and still fight for equality.
Here’s what is not so great about this setup:
- Heterosexual romance is not a sine qua non of the condition of womanhood. A woman can be a fully developed and mature individual even if she remains single, does not or can not bear a child, and/or loves a woman.
Yep. That’s the topic of today’s post, ladies and gentlemen. Feminism, in its various forms, argues that women should receive equal opportunities and treatment. One of my favorite sayings about feminism is this slogan:
Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
Can we say that women have achieved equality? Many would say yes. Girls can play soccer, hockey, go to college, and continue working after marriage and pregnancy.
First wave feminism argued for legal changes such as the right to vote and own property. The general response to this was ridicule and demeaning comments such as telling women to go back into the kitchen, have a baby, or find a man if they didn’t already have one. (I’m oversimplifying, of course, because I’m only allowed 2000 words for this post.)
Second wave feminism, what most people today consider to be feminism, argued for equality in schools, workplaces, health care, and so on. For example, a woman cannot (legally) be fired for becoming pregnant. Does it still happen covertly? Absolutely.
Third wave feminism, or what we experience today, argues that white, privileged US and European figures such as Helene Cixous, Julia Kristeva, and Gloria Steinem represent only one small segment of feminism. Instead, we also need to look at class, nationality, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and all kinds of factors. For women of color and women outside these areas, feminism can have different goals and appearances. Unfortunately, some white US feminists have wanted to “rescue” other women who live in these countries and cultures, particularly from the men who do not follow white feminist ideals. This places women of color between choosing “feminism” and their men. Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, one of the most prominent of the third wave feminists, argued that feminism should be more than white women saving brown women from brown men.
Contrary to popular opinion, feminism is not outdated or no longer relevant. Domestic abuse, rape, harassment, and gender bias are still prevalent in many societies. Many heterosexual women who embrace DD resent the restrictions feminism has placed on their men’s willingness to spank, or as their husbands view it, “hit” or “hurt” them. These women say that they are free to choose, feminism means having a choice, and they want men who are no longer afraid to be men.
There will always be those who long for a nostalgic time when everything seemed to be better, but nostalgia is just that—a memory. We still live in a society in which legally elected officials claim that “legitimate” rape cannot result in a pregnancy. We still live in a society in which young women are warned not to go out alone after dark. We still live in a society in which little boys are told not to cry.
As for me, I am grateful to men who hesitate to raise a hand to a woman. I thank the acculturation that has taught men that violence is not the answer. By engaging in conversations about the nature of DD and how it differs from abuse, we re-affirm the gains feminism has given us.
A man should not strike a woman.
Unless she wants it. Unless she asks for it. I mean literally asks it, not “asks for it” by wearing a too-short skirt or flirting without giving sexual favors.
But how do I reconcile DD and feminism?
Yes, you read that correctly. All of the best qualities of DD—loving, leading, nurturing, protecting, caring, and the wonderful spontaneous play—come to light when gender dynamics are removed.
Natalie asserts her right over Kat, not because a different set of genitals entitles her to such, but because something about her personality and background fit her for a protector role.
Carene asserts her right over Leila, not because biological characteristics define Carene as natural in this role, but because she loves to spank and guide, and Leila needs it.
Within the sisterhood of female friendship, we find stories of love and leadership. In my personal life, it has been women who have taught me, nurtured me, and guided me.
Loving women has nothing to do with hating men, just as loving men has nothing to do with renouncing feminism. Instead of pitting one against the other, I propose a new solution.
Accept that love comes in many forms.