Saturday, December 20, 2014

The virgin/whore complex

Some men dream about a woman that is pure and chaste. She has been waiting all her life for him, rejecting every man in her path until his arrival because he is her special one, the one she will love and cherish for the rest of her life. Once she is with him she will not flirt with anyone, not even look at them. She will protect her modesty and save her charms only for him. She is his virgin, if not in deed, at least in her deepest heart. She is also ready to step in the mother role, to build him a home that will be his castle, to take care of him and eventually of his children.

Well, maybe it is too much to be expected from a woman to be a virgin in this day and age, but a man can always dream… And, as a last resource, he can always invoke the old American Redemption Myth that permeates so many of the stories and biographies in the USA. It goes like this… A person is led astray by the “follies of youth”, tempted by sex, drugs and violence. She spirals down in circles of increasing degeneration until she touches bottom. Then she “looks for help” and starts a new life in a magical ordeal of rebirth - she is “born again”. That would be the perfect moment in her life in which her savior, the prince she has been waiting for without knowing in, can ride in wearing shining armor or a cowboy outfit, to “sweep her off her feet” and welcome her into her new life. All the mistakes of the past are forgiven and forgotten. Her virginity is magically restored by the soul-searching and the trials of her rebirth.

However, before making his glorious appearance into the virgin’s life, our knight-in-shining-armor or Malboro man has to entertain himself. He looks for “easy” women to have fun with. They are sexy, hot and funny and he likes to spend time with them. But in is heart of hearts he despises them because he knows what they are: they are whores, ready to fling themselves into the arms of any man. They are unworthy of him, they are soiled, they have lost their self-respect by pursuing the easy pleasures of life instead of the higher goal of Pure Love and dedication to Her Man. Of course, there is always the possibility that they would see the error of  their ways, repent and be reborn as virgins ready to devote themselves to the Just One Man ideal.

Occasionally, after he has settled down with his virgin, our King-Of-His-Castle can feel a pang of nostalgia of his careless past with the whores. He thought the virgin would be all he wanted, but now that she is running around taking care of the house and the kids she is not much fun anymore. She dutifully opens her legs for him every time he asks, but sex has become a boring routine. So, since “men will be men”, he occasionally goes out of his castle to find himself a whore or two. Or maybe he adopts a special one who is always waiting to take him on a wild ride when he feels like it. But let’s not get it wrong, everything has to be in its place: the virgin locked in the castle and the whore waiting by the whoring bed.

Things are no different in the BDSM world. In fact, there are some roles that fit perfectly well with the virgin / knight stereotypes. The submissive can be in fact a super-virgin, one that chooses to carry her dedication to her Master to heroic extremes by being ready to obey his every word and to be punished if she ever strays from the “straight and narrow”. And the Dominant can be the super-knight, the Daddy who knows best and has no other desires than the well-being of his submissive virgin.

Do I really need to explain what is wrong with this picture? The virgin / whore complex is the manifestation of some of the deepest sexist reflexes of our culture. It is misogynistic because it negates the right of a woman to run her own sexuality, putting it at the service of a man’s fantasies and desires. It is sex-negative because it is based on repressing sexual desire and imposing a narrow normative of sexual behavior. Indeed, it reinforces the same old monogamous societal norms based on sexual and romantic exclusivity, and the labeling of “infidelity” as the worse possible transgression in a couple.

Yes, everybody has a right to live their kink as they please. If they opt for the most conservative versions of monogamous Domestic Discipline, that’s fine. But we cannot allow sexist, sex-negative and monogamous societal norms to be imported into the BDSM community and preached as the only valid way to do BDSM. The very nature of BDSM, the vast variety of its practices, lends itself to having multiple partners with whom to experience different forms of play. A desire for variety and experience doesn’t subtract from the intensity of the surrender in D/s; in fact, it adds to it. Furthermore, we shouldn’t take it for granted that complete surrender and obedience to a Dom is always wholesome and sane. The intensity of the feelings involved in submission makes it way too easy to manipulate them for psychological abuse, especially when coupled with social isolation in the name of “fidelity”. The best way of preventing this from happening is to be immersed in a kinky community that can raise warning flags when they are needed and provide advice to the submissive, and even the Dom, when things start to go wrong.

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