It only makes me a better feminist.
The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has brought to the forefront of modern society and readers' minds the fact that some women (and men) enjoying bondage (and overall kinky sex). Shocking, right? What sort of deviant enjoys being spanked or tied up or told they're a "bad girl?" I'll tell you who: about 60 percent of my friends — mostly women, but some men, too.
As with any book that explores a realm diverging from the mundane, there has been a lot of talk about not only the writing (apparently it sucks), but also the topic. While some are appalled by it, others, like myself, are just giving my fellow friends who enjoy some spanking action high fives. It's about time that a woman wanting to play the submissive role in the bedroom is portrayed in a light that makes it seem like a normal sex act, not something that goes on in a creepy S&M dungeon.
The Daily Beast hired Katie Roiphe, an anti-feminist who's totally ignorant to the world of BDSM, to write about Fifty Shades and the controversy surrounding it. As a woman who is very much against modern feminism, Roiphe has taken the opportunity to question feminists who enjoy BDSM.
Her stance on the topic is ridiculous and misses the point: "Why is it so interesting to surrender, or to play at surrendering? It may be that power is not always that comfortable, even for those of us who grew up in it; it may be that equality is something we want only sometimes and in some places and in some arenas; it may be that power and all of its imperatives can be boring."
Women only sometimes want equality? Wrong, Roiphe. What she doesn't understand is that the fantasies and actions played out in one's bedroom have nothing to do with equality. It is a fantasy after all. Just because a woman enjoys being spanked or having her hair pulled mid-coitus doesn't mean she is giving up equality — it's simply a game she wants to play.
In fact, it takes a real feminist, one who's comfortable in her own skin and who is aware of her position and power, to ask for fun stuff like this — and enjoy it. The core part of feminism is being able to do what you want when you want and respect yourself for it.
I would never allow a man who didn't see us as equals outside of my bedroom to indulge in rough play with me. Outside-the-bedroom equality doesn't just dissipate because of a fantasy. The one time Roiphe suggests something almost clear and relevant is when she says BDSM is an escape from everyday situations:
"Is there something exhausting about the relentless responsibility of a contemporary woman's life, about the pressure of economic participation, about all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world? It may be that, for some, the more theatrical fantasies of sexual surrender offer a release, a vacation, an escape from the dreariness and hard work of equality."
Congratulations, Roiphe, you nailed it on the head! It's an escape! That's what fantasies are: a vacation from your usual way of thinking or living. But a woman doesn't have to live a high-stressed, overly responsible existence to want to enjoy the fun of BDSM.
As a feminist who works from home as a freelance writer and who gets to work from foreign countries and even the beach (I know, you must be jealous), outside of the occasional deadline and editor breathing down my neck, my life is without many major stresses — nor is my life boring in anyway.
However, if we're being candid, I do love getting tied up, spanked, tossed to the ground and ravaged. Why? Because it's fun, I love it and I'm a feminist, so I'll do whatever I damn well please and still respect myself for my decision and desires.