By Jamie L.
BDSM is probably one of the more common fetishes, and is often mentioned in modern media, though is rarely taken seriously. There are a wide variety of practices involved in BDSM, but for the sake of simplicity I will focus on the dominance and submission aspects, wherein one partner exerts sexual control over the other. The fact that there are no clear gender roles in the practice is particularly interesting. In fact, it is quite common that a female is dominant.
Anthropologists proscribing to feminist theory would most likely find this particularly fascinating. With the female taking a strong, dominant role in sexual conduct, it is a clear breach from standard gender norms, particularly in the 1960’s and 1970’s when BDSM was on the rise. For Domme women it is a power shift. In a world which is largely male dominated, they have now are willingly given power, and they are able to take on a role that is different from what is seen to be the norm. A main point about BDSM that is often misconstrued is that it is all fully consensual. While many of the actions performed are forceful, it is built on a relationship of trust within the partnership. In a heterosexual pairing with female dominant, the male is willingly giving up his power to the female, and it is exhilarating for her.
Not only is BDSM changing up the normal gender roles of our society, but it is also differing from the expected rules of society. Practice Theory would look at modern America’s ‘rules’ of how sex should be and who would take on which role. While today, different sexual preferences, beliefs and practices are more widely accepted, people still rarely openly talk about sexual practices that are seen as taboo, so that people who participate in BDSM are unlikely to say so openly, leading to a gap between their public speech and private practice. Things are changing, but a large number of Americans still think sex should be between a man and a women who are married and that it should be for the purposes of creating new life. Sex should be “Biblical” (although, sex in the Bible is very different from what I assume these people are thinking of), and the man should have a dominant role in it. With female dominant fetishism, very few of those boxes are being checked. It doesn’t have to be a man and a woman, you don’t have to be married, it is rarely for the purpose of conceiving and gender or sex doesn’t really have in part in deciding who takes on what role.