Rolequeer ALL the things



There have been some posts about what rolequeer sex looks like and what rolequeer porn looks like, but what about all the non-sex stuff?

What does a rolequeer friendship look like? And a rolequeer workplace? (I’m tempted to say I’d be an anarchist workplace) Rolequeer parenting? Rolequeer activism?Heck, rolequeer cooking or rolequeer art or rolequeer anything! I’d love to hear your ideas and examples. 

For me, this is a place where you have a lot of movements in different areas but with an ultimately common center. Like, there’s relationship anarchy (which would be relevant to friendship) and the recent nonmonogamist tag, and I’ve run into respectful parenting and gentle parenting.

Would totally be interested in anything anyone else has run into, and thoughts on the other things!

I honestly find this question somewhat confusing in itself, especially given that most of the time I’ve used or intimated the word “rolequeer” I’ve done so in a non-erotic context. Here is a round-up in case you missed some of these references and in so doing were left with an incomplete picture of what I’ve been using the word for.

  1. In “Prologue to Consent Is Not Enough” I use the example of the relationship between a therapist and their client. Excerpt: “[an abusive dynamic in] the overculture [is] where therapists are taught that their job is to help people better integrate themselves in an abusive society by sublimating their own will rather than supporting their clients to do whatever the fuck they need to do to reject participation in said abusive society.”
  2. In one of my “Rolequeerness is not about sex; it’s about power” posts, I explicitly give examples citing workplaces, schools, and parenting. Excerpt: “In a workplace, a rolequeer boss might do everything they can to support an employee’s professional development and then, rather than offer a promotion, that boss would encourage employees who mastered the job to quit. In a school, a rolequeer teacher might jettison the school’s curriculum and start sharing information about how to drop out of school and not be treated “like a drop-out,” covertly if necessary. A rolequeer parent or legal guardian would teach their legal charge about “parental controls” software, not activate any of them, and then explain how to get around any of those controls when they are active.
  3. In the same post, I also quote Kat Whimsy, a dance community blogger, who aptly uses rolequeer to describe a form of partnered dance activity that is neither lead nor follow. Excerpt: “I like Kat’s use of “rolequeer” here because it’s spot-fucking-on and emphasizes the kind of exploration I’m talking about, above. Dance is a great example of a prescribed social interaction with a clearly defined “script.” The interaction is often very rigid: left foot here, right foot there, hands like this. But the ideal outcome of “a good dance” is extremely vague. In that way, it’s not unlike sex. Of course, while heteronormative sex is very scripted (insert tab A in slot B, remove, repeat), sex is actually more like the generic concept of dance than it is like any particular kind of dance. Sex isn’t the foxtrot, or a tango—it’s not necessarily a given activity. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do a given activity (like the foxtrot, or a tango) as sex.”
  4. In my most recent post, “What I mean when I say Submissive,” I gave even more examples of jobplace-related rolequeerness and one more from my own experiences with the Medical-Industrial Complex. Excerpt: “When I was forced to go see psychopharmocologists for my “mental illness,” I became obsessed with learning everything I could possibly know about neurochemistry. (I am still diagnosed mentally ill. No, I do not take medications for it anymore.) […] When I saw secretaries doing painfully repetitive computer “paper work,” I taught them how to automate some parts of their job and then encouraged them to take longer lunch breaks rather than do more work.”
  5. In my post about rolequeer porn, “Multivalent if cornered. Malevolent when dominated,” I was intentionally describing hypothetical erotica using terms from non-erotic, real life examples of embattled anti-authoritarian action. Excerpt, with emphasis added: “So, rolequeer porn, as I understand it, would eroticize disobedience to authority. It would eroticize Submissives taking care of themselves and each other. It would valorize Dominants who are traitors or whistleblowers or turncoats to themselves and other Dominants. It would eroticize Submissives being good *for* themselves and each other, not just good *to* the people with power over them.”

This is just off the top of my head. I’ve been writing about this shit for longer than I had the word “rolequeer” to describe it with. That means there are probably even more examples out there that I just haven’t been able to find links to in the span of one or two clicks.

In another post, you also asked, “What exactly is the relationship between rolequeerness and anarchism?” To me, a short answer to this question is that rolequeerness is queer anarchism; rolequeer sex is anarchism, applied to sex. Compare this with when I say “BDSM is fascism applied to sex.”

I am not rolequeer because I am an anarchist. Rather, insofar as I am an anarchist (instead of someone who is “doing anarchism everywhere in their life”), it is because I am rolequeer. See also this early roundup post, “Continuing Discussion on ‘Dominants are Rapists': Useful Reflections from the Blogosphere,” especially the excerpt by unquietpirate describing me as “one of the most submissively-identified people I know is also one of the most hardcore anti-authoritarians I’ve ever met.”

Does this address your question and clarify my viewpoint?

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What I mean when I say “Submissive”

I need to emphasize this: I have zero tolerance for domination. None. Not any.

I have no tolerance for being parented; my parents finally figured this out, and now our relationship is way better than it was when they were trying to parent me. I have no tolerance for being schooled; the whole reason I started writing about myself online as a preteen, was a deliberate effort to get myself out of the school system, and I stuck with it for four years until I finally did drop out of school and never looked back. I have no tolerance for being employed; I hate having a boss, and I hate having clients, and always have, and I even absolutely hate having customers. I have no tolerance for being masculinized and told to act like a man or feminized and told I throw like a girl; I have struggled with these things from the moment I could feel the constraining assumptions other people’s perception of my body and desires put on me. I have always hated the way it made them treat me as well as the way it made me afraid to treat them.

And, although it took a lot longer to get here for the reasons that will become clear as you read however much you want from my various sex blogs, I have no more tolerance for being dominated in bed.

I am also Submissive as fuck.

Like every other human being, freak or not, I am vulnerable to a lot of things. But if you repeatedly poke a tiger, don’t be surprised if that tiger suddenly bites your arm off. The fact that a tiger can bite your arm off does not make that tiger invincible, but its vulnerability also does not mean it won’t bite your fucking arm off if you’re careless!

Maybe the reason I am Submissive as fuck is because I have an uncanny ability to perceive domination. I am sensitive to it. Domination is something I can sense.

Being sensitive to domination is not some preternatural ability I and only I have. It’s just a sense like any other that I’ve consciously developed. Maybe I worked on it harder than most people because, as the adults in my life told me at that time in my life, I started feeling particularly “rebellious” particularly early. Maybe I am more sensitive to different aspects and forms of domination because of my peculiar personal history. Maybe joining the rape-affirming BDSM Scene while I was “18”-with-air-quotes as a Submissive when no one was even talking about consent in the mainstream, let alone in the BDSM world, the way they are now had something to do with it.

So when people treat me like I don’t know what I’m talking about, or when they poke at me over and over and over again and then express shock and outrage that I’ve bitten their fucking arm off, well. Let’s just say you can’t see most of my scars. I am Sick. And. Tired. of my own experiences at home and at school and at work and in the club and in my beds all being thrown back in my face when I talk about consent and rolequeerness and Submissiveness for being “not real abuse, not actually rape, not a real survivor’s experience” by people who have NO FUCKING IDEA what it is like to be me.

I don’t care what your measurements or your standards or your fucking definitions are. I don’t care. Especially dominants; I don’t trust dominants and I don’t trust you and I don’t care about your fucking definitions. Those are yours. You can have them. I will have mine. If other people find mine useful for themselves, too, then those people can take mine on themselves. And if other people taking my words, and my meanings, and my understanding of things frightens and upsets some other people? GOOD! It’s supposed to. That’s why I made those parts of myself so damned public and so damned vulnerable in the first place.

When I say I’m Submissive, I don’t mean “please tie me down and fuck me hard, I like it that way.” That has as much if not more to do with my kinkiness than it has to do with my Submissiveness. To describe that particular desire that I have, I use the words, “please tie me down and fuck me hard, I like it that way.”

No, when I say Submissive I mean that when I see someone with power lording it over someone else, I can think of little else to do than undermine their every move. When I was forced to go see psychopharmocologists for my “mental illness,” I became obsessed with learning everything I could possibly know about neurochemistry. (I am still diagnosed mentally ill. No, I do not take medications for it anymore.) When I was offered a promotion at a job that would put me in charge of others, I quit that job. (I didn’t even give notice.) When I saw secretaries doing painfully repetitive computer “paper work,” I taught them how to automate some parts of their job and then encouraged them to take longer lunch breaks rather than do more work. (They were unaware of “Find-and-Replace” in Microsoft Word; sad, right?) And when I see BDSM’ers gaslighting other Submissives the way they gaslit me, I start blogs like this one.

So, to anyone reading, please understand what I’m doing here. It may not be what it looks like. What it looks like might change the more context you gain. You might feel unsafe here. You might feel inspired here. I don’t really care how you feel, not really anyway; I am just one person. This is just one blog.

But, I can hurt you, and I might even actually hurt you, especially if you are dominating me or someone I care about. And if you are dominating others, if that was your goal, if you enjoy having that kind of unilateral power and you used it, regardless of who or what you are, then my explicit intention is to neuter your ability to dominate them. That will hurt. I promise.

That’s what I mean when I say I’m Submissive. Don’t ever forget it.

(The above is an excerpt from what was originally published in the context of this conversation.)

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The theory of BDSM as parody [where it's flawed and where it's not]


I was very disappointed today to pick up a reader on queer sexuality, skipping quickly to the chapter on kink, to find yet another article that accepted uncritically the theory that BDSM is a parody of oppression.

For those of you unfarmiliar with the theory, this is the idea that BDSM parodies real oppression with the intention of disrupting and ridiculing those forms of oppression, robbing them of their cultural power and presenting consentual alternatives based on desire. Sounds attractive, right? But it is just a theory, and I’m getting pretty tired of seeing it repeated over and over in theoretical queer work without any attention to the actual practice of BDSM.

Because a parody is subversive, it is a form of protest, it is message against something and it is part of a larger narrative against that thing. Meaning that if BDSM was a parody, we’d see a lot more BDSM’ers talking about and caring about the existence if oppression in the world. The opposite is true.

If BDSM ‘rape-play’ was a parody of rape culture, we’d see a strong political willingness to fight rape culture and a low level of consent violations within BDSM communities. The opposite is true.

If BDSM with a male dom and female or feminized sub was a parody of sexist oppression, we’d see a lot of the dominant men who tie up submissive girls also being feminists. The opposite is true.

If BDSM ‘boss-secretary’ play was a parody of economic oppression, we’d see a strong resistence against the commercialisation of BDSM culture by capitalism. The opposite is true.

Again and again, the opposite of what you’d expect from the ‘BDSM as parody’ theory is true. BDSM scenes have higher levels of consent violations and sexist than non-BDSM spaces. BDSM is extremely commercialised and there is very little resistance to that. The BDSM community is the most unpolitical of all ‘sexually deviant’ communities.

My idea: If a theory is not supported at all by the evidence of reality, it’s time to ditch the theory. BDSM is not a parody of real world oppression, it is a homage.

BDSM is not a parody of real world oppression, it is a homage.

Boom. This is notfuckingcishet‘s second *drop the mic* post in as many weeks. (I refer to the first as, “Consent. It’s Not Just For Sex.”) Serious props.

It is important to note that “BDSM” (a 90’s term of the Internet age) is a relatively recent mutation of what was once called S&M (a term associated with the gay leather subculture dating back to the time of the World Wars). The difference between these two things are mostly academic and niche at this point but the historical context matters. BDSM is a heteropatriarchal appropriation of what may have once actually been subversive, queer resistance to oppression culture. But those days are long, long gone; abuse mutates much faster than academics acknowledge and too fast for mainstream culture to even recognize it as abuse.

Today, the idea that “BDSM is parody” is the rhetorical corollary to the No True Scotsman fallacy that “BDSM is not abuse.” Together, these two ideas form the core of a harmful false dichotomy that states undesirable violative experiences do not happen in BDSM (because BDSM is a consensual parody), but rather only in abusive relationships (because “BDSM is not abuse”). In our key essay, titled “You Can Take It Back: Consent as a Felt Sense,” unquietpirate and I described it like this:

In the sex-positive and BDSM scenes, a “performative violence” model is more common; it claims that if you appear to be choosing violation, it must not actually be violation. In other words, what might look like rape or violence is actually something else entirely, because you’ve given permission for it.

What that “something else entirely” actually is, though, is what notfuckingcishet just nailed: homage to oppression.

That being said, the above should not be taken to mean that kinky sex is necessarily BDSM, nor should we think that having kinky sex can not be a parody of oppression. This is because “kinky sex” is actually a larger umbrella than BDSM, rather than the other way around. In other words, “BDSM” is kinky sex for rape apologists.

In her own earlier and equally key essay, “This One’s For The Invisible Girl,” unquietpirate described how and why fetishizing oppression, thereby turning it into a parody of itself, can have liberatory results, but only if that’s the act’s actual intent. I quote:

to fetishize is “to be excessively or irrationally devoted to” something. When we devote ourselves irrationally and excessively to something, we decontextualize it. Decontextualization strips something of its support structures and makes it easy to manipulate. By erotically glorifying violence, we also trivialize it. We take it away from its massive structural foundation and imbue it with a devotional excess of ourselves. We reduce it to a skeleton of itself. We weaken it.

BDSM takes every kind of sociocultural deprivation and interpersonal destruction you can imagine, and plenty that you can’t, and turns them into “play”. By transmuting violence into intimacy, BDSM can weaken oppression culture. But only if it’s done with that intention. Otherwise, it’s especially good at re-inscribing oppression culture. BDSM play is big deal technomagic. It is scary. It can hurt you — actually hurt you — and the people you love.

But take note that what she termed “BDSM” in some but not all instances here is what we now more precisely term the BDSM Scene-State. This idea of a “Scene-State” encompasses both the idea of BDSM-as-subcultural-institution (the subculture for whom perhaps Christian Grey is the most famous pop culture coverboy du jour), as well as the larger interplay of power roles handed down to individuals in the inherently coercive contexts of employment, forced gendering, compulsory monogamy, and upbringing in which non-consent is the defining element. In other words, what can weaken oppression culture is not something you can do merely by pledging allegiance to the flag of one subcultural institution or another.

We can not weaken oppression culture by religiously and dogmatically and uncritically adhering to any particular doctrine, especially the BDSM Scene’s. But we can learn to do it, and practice actually doing it, “by transmuting violence into intimacy.” Such as, to take only one of a multitude of examples, by eroticizing disobedience to authority in our personal, kinky ass, mothah fuckin’ sex lives.

BDSM is a product of oppression, not an escape from it. That is why, for instance, you will hear Islamophobic men endlessly drawling on about how they “want a harem.” That is why the penises of men who adamantly affirm that they are absolutely not aroused by incest will still get hard as they nevertheless insist you call them “Daddy.” That is why BDSM would not even be A Thing if it were not for the systemic oppression of rape culture.

BDSM exists because rape culture exists. Without rape culture, BDSM can not survive. That’s why BDSM’ers, in their relentless, borg-like quest to become The Most Assimilated Gainfully Employed Master/slave Sadomasochistic Couple Next Door continue and will inevitably end up supporting all the oppressions that make our lives harder and more painful and more full of suffering. They’re not trying to end rape culture; they’re trying to eroticize it. That’s also why they’re fighting so damn hard against rolequeerness; we’re trying to de-eroticize coercion (that means rape) and re-eroticize compassion (that means empathy).

So. One way to think about it is like this: What is kinky sex? Well, let’s just say all hickeys are bruises but not all bruises are hickeys. Get the drift?

TL;DR: BDSM must die. Kill it with rolequeerness.

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Rolequeer porn? “Multivalent if cornered. Malevolent when dominated.”



Given the political meanings of the word ‘queer’, is it a matter of time before rolequeerness splits into a political ‘rolequeer’ group and a non-political/liberal ‘role-diverse’ group?

Already right now it seems to be attractive to some kinksters who have zero interest in the political side of queer.

[…snipped for length…]

I’m gonna emphasize something more from the piece above:

I wrote “Consent as a Felt Sense” from the standpoint of giving Submissives (and when I capitalize ‘Submissive, I’m always doing so in order to suggest a rolequeer orientation toward submission) the power to fundamentally reject Dominant control. I explicitly wanted the notion of rolequeerness to strike fear into the hearts of abusive Doms, because I wanted them to begin to see anyone who identified as Submissive in a radical way as someone who might retroactively “take back consent” at any time — i.e. as dangerous to play with and a threat to their power.

This is important because it cuts directly into the heart of the BDSM’er lie that there are “kinky people” on one side and “vanilla people” on the other, and since you have had fantasies about coercive things, you have already chosen to be a BDSM’er whether you admit or not.

That is insulting. It is paternalizing. And it is a false dichotomy. There is no such “kind of” people.

It’s actually kind of refreshing to notice that when I argue with BDSM’ers, especially the relatively younger folks, even ones who call themselves “real life subs” (looking at you, jennytrout), they will inevitably make the claim that I don’t know what I’m talking about. They ignore and discard, either intentionally or ignorantly, the literal lifetime of experiences I’ve had deeply entrenched in BDSM communities. What’s refreshing about this is not the dripping condescension in their tones, it’s the reliable predictability of such a bad argument, and the reminder that even after more than a decade, no one defending the pro-rape and anti-consent BDSM mindset has been able to offer anything of substance beyond obvious logical fallacies.

I think that’s really good news.

When unquietpirate and I started talking, BDSM and consent were at the core of our conversations. The result of those conversations are what we’ve articulated as rolequeerness and Consent as a Felt Sense.

In other words, when BDSM’ers argue that we don’t know what we’re talking about with respect to BDSM, and that the anti-BDSM argument is made by people who don’t have the slightest clue about what consent is really about, they are betraying the willfulness of their ignorance. Like frightened homophobic men who fear the possibility of other men suddenly treating them the way they treat women, BDSM’ers are—and rightfully should be—suddenly afraid of being treated by other people the way they treat submissives.

That’s why our articulations of understanding consent as retroactively revokable scares men and dominants—and especially dominant men—so much. It was always intended to scare them. And taking for ourselves a power that scares an oppressor is a kind of liberation.

That has nothing to do with porn. Or politics. Except that it has everything to do with porn. And politics. Because everything is always and already political. And everything is always and already fodder for eroticism.

Especially power.

Rolequeers are not the kind of “good boys and girls” BDSM’ers want because we are not obedient to their authority. When a dominant says “what a good boy,” what they mean is “what an obedient boy.” It has nothing to do with being good. Rolequeers recognize that and are intentionally malevolent in the face of domination.

So, rolequeer porn, as I understand it, would eroticize disobedience to authority. It would eroticize Submissives taking care of themselves and each other. It would valorize Dominants who are traitors or whistleblowers or turncoats to themselves and other Dominants. It would eroticize Submissives being good *for* themselves and each other, not just good *to* the people with power over them.

I have no idea how that porn would look in visual form. I don’t even know if it can be explicated in only a picture. Because what makes porny images porny is the multivalence of their interpretations.

After all, like every thoughtful person knows, change the context, and you can change the nature of the image without touching the picture itself. So maybe, instead of scrutinizing “rolequeer porn” for looking too similar or too different than other “porny things” we see everywhere else, we should instead be focusing on what narratives we are projecting onto what we’re seeing.

And if we got really good at that, then that, more than anything else I can think of, that would empower us to queer the roles we are expected to conform ourselves to and are familiar with taking on ourselves.

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Eary musings on “Rolequeer porn” and reflections on Male Submission Art

Anonymous asked:

Hey I don’t know how you feel about adding porny things to this blog but I’ve been googling for rolequeer porn just to see what’s out there and I found some tumblrs using rolequeer tags for sexy pics and stories. so it’s definitely a thing people are thinking about. And the pics are mostly sub-on-sub stuff which is hot! (at least to me anyways)


Oh please do point them out to me! I’m very curious how people think rolequeer porn might look.

Depending on the content I might want to post them with some trigger warnings or behind a link so people can chose whether to click through to the porn. 

Ooh! This is exciting! For two reasons!

  1. Look, a new blog entirely about all things rolequeer!
  2. There is evidently already porn tagged rolequeer out there, and Google knows about it.

I tend to keep this blog pretty heavy on text and light on images for a few reasons, not least of which is “porny things” have historically been pretty trigger-y for me for a long time. The best known archive of porny things I like is ironically also one of the things that made me famous in the BDSM community: browse back in the archives of the malesubmissionart Tumblr for more on that.

But, like all effective exegetic self-criticism, I look back on those archives and I can clearly see the massive shift and evolution my political and personal beliefs have taken over the years. When I read through them, I think to myself, “Holy shit, I was obsessively focused on being dominated, to the point where I absolutely fetishized dominance. That is soooo problematic. And soooo common. And soooo disturbing, especially to me about myself.” What I see when I look back on the internationally-acclaimed Male Submission Art archive I curated is a singular fixation on sexualized authority, the defining, fascistic element of BDSM as a culture and the one thing BDSM’ers are loathe to admit they are fixated on.

So just the idea that there even might be people out there sharing their erotic thoughts and their thoughts on eroticism in a way that criticizes authority-fetishism is really exciting! Might there even be enough out there right now to make a sort of “Male Submission Art for rolequeerness”? BDSM’ers should tremble as I rejoice at the thought! :D

Obviously, I will be doing some googling around for this myself. But, in the mean time, I am signal boosting the fuck out of this and I am sharing the very first two things that came to my mind when I read this post, which I tweeted:

Naturally, feel free to reblog and add your own #YouMightBeRolequeer phrases, humorously presented or otherwise. :)

See also:

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How I would have coached my younger Submissive self to talk to BDSM’ers

Submissive person: I’m really intrigued by the notion of having sex tied up in some way.
BDSM person: You should totes join us, then! We’ll show you the ropes. We’ll even teach you to like stuff you didn’t know you liked!
Submissive person: That sounds…interesting…but…I’d rather just do this stuff I know I like, first.
BDSM person: Oh sure, sure, that’s fine! That’s great, even. After you’re tied up, you should check out this thing with pain I’m totally into!
Submissive person: Uh…thanks, but no thanks.
BDSM person: Well, it’s okay if you’re not kinky, you know.
Submissive person: I am kinky.
BDSM person: You don’t seem kinky to me; a real submissive would be happy to let a Dominant push their limits.
Submissive person: I told you, I’m really only interested in this one thing for now. I don’t want to have my “limits pushed,” I think this thing is hot and I want to play around with it together with someone I feel safe with.
BDSM person: Maybe you’re just a sensation slut, then.
Submissive person: What?
BDSM person: Well, if you’re really kinky, you may just think this is all you like now, but soon you’ll find your limits and, we promise, you’ll want to expand them. We can help with that. *wink wink*
Submissive person: You’re making me really uncomfortable, please stop. Besides, my significant other isn’t even Dominant.
BDSM person: Well there’s your problem! You can’t just go around having sex like that without any Dominants around! You’re a submissive. You need a dominant. I mean, LOL, what would two submissives even do to each other?
Submissive person: But I *don’t* want to have people “do things to me” right now, I just want to explore this thing I think I’ll like. What does it matter if they’re Dominant or not?
BDSM person: It matters because how will you ever expand your limits if you don’t get into a relationship with a Dominant who can push them? You might as well just have “normal” sex.
Submissive person: What are you talking about? I want to explore this thing. You’re right that I don’t know for sure what I’ll think of it but why do you assume this means I’m going to want to do MORE of that thing?
BDSM person: If you’re really a submissive, you will. We know. You’ll probably even start asking us for things you know that you *don’t* like! We’ve seen it happen to submissives before. It’s totally hot.
Submissive person: Well that’s hella creepy.
BDSM person: Creepy? How dare you! We’re CONSENSUAL. You obviously don’t understand BDSM.
Submissive person: Actually, I think I do understand. You’re not interested in helping me play around with this thing for my own sake, you’re interested in making sure I’ll have the sex you want to have with me later on.
BDSM person: That’s crazy, we’re all about consensuality here.
Submissive person: Then stop trying to make me feel like I’m not a “real” Submissive if I don’t want to be raped.

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