Mansplaining was Christianised by the New York Times as the buzz-word of 2010. I had never heard about it, but today I encountered the word twice. For me that functioned as a clear sign that I had to put it on my agenda. As my views might interest others, I opted to post it in my blog/writings. It is addressed to a fictive and fellow feminist kinkster, so please keep that in mind while reading.
As a kinky feminist, you will agree, that "mansplaining" as such is annoying in the sense that it forms an expression of the alleged paternal supremacy. And it is the sad truth, that our society - for the most of it – remains full of examples where men try to explain something to a woman in a condescending way, starting from an attitude of overconfidence and not taking that woman’s own base of knowledge, expertise and intelligence into account in a proper and adequate way.
Yet, as a word that uses a specific gender – in this case male - mansplaining runs the risk of being a double-sided sword, then:
- first, it might be regarded as sexist towards men in general - and thus be misandrous - and;
- second, it might be regarded as essentialist in the sense that men should possess - or lack - the attribute of occasional mansplaining in order to be perceived as a man, and;
- third, it may be, that men - as a victim of their own paternalist upbringing, culture or religious stance - behave in a mansplaining way, because they mistake that for actually proper behaviour in a genuine attempt to communicate something valuable out of good intention.
This latter use of mansplaining is, of course, still undesirable, but it should be regarded as a cultural default in some cases. And mansplaining as being a genuine expression of paternalistic cultural bias does not require radical scorn in such cases, but rather education and the careful raising of awareness for women rights. Especially in kinky environments, traditional roles are used instantly, instead of realizing, that we need to start as equals and intrinsically remain equals, even when in play, inequality may be intended.
On top of that – and a bit leaning on the above mentioned point three - as a feminist sadist and daddy-dom, I have to add, that mansplaining can be a constructive and enticing part of the role-play that I - together with my bottoms - wish to employ in, not dissimilar to using dirty talk, humiliation or force in an – of course – full consensual play setting. Let’s call this consensual mansplaining.
In this way, mansplaining can be taken for a form of deviant behaviour that functions in a specific context that draws its energy flow from the power-exchange that comes with given roles. Similar to the use of 'slut' 'anal-whore' or 'princess' are words that should not be carried outside the safe play environment, also the praxis of consensual mansplaining can be regarded as inherent to certain kinky roles and play-forms.
As much as I oppose the general oppression of minorities, I have severe hesitations to apply feminist discourse to kinky settings. Shadow play, the left-hand-path, TPE; these are not the expressions where politically correct mental statements do apply to, but rather these are the free and unfiltered urges that sprout from our unreflected (animal) past or intentionally activated desires centred around primal sexual power-play.
For that reason, I plea, that: (A) philosophical, anthropological, psychological, religious and feminist reflection towards kink, is something we should endorse and promote in kink theory or reflection on kink, but like with any other world-view or scientific framework we ought to realize that such starting points often lack compelling warrant when we wish to use them for primarily non-logical praxis, like kinky sex or play.
Consequently, the human character of safe, sane, sound and consensual kink may likely not be fully grasped by mere rational reflection alone. And this, for the whole reason that our sexuality as such, is human behaviour that mirrors our pre-rational evolutionary past, our unconscious dispositions and our rational tendencies alike. Sexual behaviour is therefore not depleted from rationality, but it also contains and instrumentalizes the human dimensions of non-rational instincts and emotions.
Forcing any non-kink discourse over actual BDSM-play activity as such, runs the risk of being reductive in nature, because it could easily form an instance where rational arguments are valued above non-rational needs, like the need for humiliation, pain or pervert sex. Luckily, consensual kink is not a value-free space, as already the notion of explicit consent presupposes a rational and committed pre-play negotiating between adult equals. Yet, applying any kind of normativity to kink, should nevertheless be practiced with care and consideration, as logical argumentations are by no means the sole driving force of human behaviour - and particularly not when it is about kink or sex.
Therefore, I further plea that; (B) we specifically place experiential kinky play in a laboratory-like context; the kinky professor fucks around a little, and in doing so, finds liberty and discoveries that cannot be found outside this safe play-space. As such mansplaining a bunch of silly sissy girls in a play context, is both liberating and fun and in this context, mansplaining has nothing to do with reduction of women or exaltation of male faculties – per se -, but is simply playing with limits, roles and social conventions within the boundaries of the agreement between players.
ConclusionOne can object to this praxis or not, but the freedom of sexual expression of two consenting adults must have priority over patronizing (pun intended) feminist discourse that transfers rational arguments to explicitly not logically meant deviant activity between sane players.
This said, I again agree, that sexist male pricks that uninvited send lectures, dick-picks and other display of their allegedly dominant self-image to kinky women, displays very unwelcome behaviour and makes our communities less safe. At the same time, extreme femdom and feminist influence, or even alleged female supremacy, should be weighed on the same balance, as any form of gender related dominance and submission. As kink is not served by switching from paternalism to maternalism, we should instead creatively use and employ both of these cultural impulses in safe play and keep it there, for as far as we as imperfect humans can manage to do so.