I was in the mood to watch “The Quiet Man” this evening. If you are not familiar I recommend finding it and watching it. It’s an old movie that stars John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. If you’ve seen it, you know why it might appeal to a person who lives the power exchange life. Some quotes.. if you please..
Fishwoman with basket at station:
Sir! Sir! Here’s a good stick, to beat the lovely lady.
Is this a courting or a donnybrook? Have the good manners to not hit the man until he’s your husband and entitled to hit you back.
Thornton: Woman of the house! I have brought the brother home to supper!
(Both are quite drunk)
She: Wipe your feet.
Brother: Thank you, ma´am.
Thornton: Sit down, sit down. That’s what chairs are for.
( In a hurry, She begins to bring out drink and food..)
Thornton Hurry it up! ( apparently her service wasn’t good enough )
Its a story told in a time and place dominated by the male gender. Mary Kate comes to love Thornton but can’t marry the man unless the brother approves the marriage. Now there’s something to think about. She also has a dowry, something else to give some thought to. In modern times, dowry disputes often lead to violence against women including “dowry deaths” and acid attacks to scar and socially isolate the woman. But a dowry is supposed to be a form of financial independence for a woman entering into subservience to a husband – so the attack means the dowry didn’t really help the wife at all.
I would like to propose that power between the genders has three levels of evolution. 1) Men in charge 2) Equality 3) Inequality by consent.
1) Men in charge – This is the first rung on the evolutionary social ladder. Its where most religions put the status of the male and female roles. To love, honor and obey is written into marriage vows. When a woman wears an engagement ring she “goes off the market” Why don’t men wear engagement rings? In a male dominated world, there will be “closet submissive males”. Men who are brow beaten and love it but can’t confess this. We could go into great debate on how this inequality gets started. Studies suggest the “hunter-gatherer cave man model” benefits from equality. It seems that as soon as we got cities and a little protection, male dominance took root. All I know its, it has been a male dominated world for a very, very long time, and still is in many places. Dominance based on having a penis is unfair to every woman relegated without consent, but it is especially egregious to the Dominant women and submissive males.
2) Equality – Equality is not a new thing. There have been societies in which gender equality was a standard. In Egypt, a child took the mother’s last name because you could be sure of the mother but not the father. Who can deny the logic? Birth control, and a reduction in the objectification of women plays a large role I think in this. It is a leap forward. Equality is an ideal with issues. As a society moves away from the male dominated standard, higher ideals come into being. In the quest for improving society, we reach for equality. With science and industry and overall generally better life conditions, we are searching for better solutions to the Utopian dreams we harbor. Equality seems a logical improvement but in truth, equality is not natural. If we create a society in which we are all truly equal, we create anarchy. Levels of power and authority are necessary for society to function. Equality without the right to consent is not utopia.
3) Inequality by consent – This is the highest order of gender standard. After women gain equality, then they may consent to inequality. More importantly, men who are pressured to “be a man” can choose to be the submissive. It is not an easy transition to go directly from a male dominated world to one in which men can be submissive. In such a transition, it is also hard for women who desire submission to not appear as if they betray their gender. Regardless of the difficulties, this is the higher standard.
What we of the BDSM community have to offer is a world in which we all walk in as equals with the power of consent. All around us in our every day lives we live with power structures that we barely give a thought to. A police officer expects to be able to issue a order for public safety and have it obeyed. A parent often extends a level of control long after children are emancipated. Employers leverage a strong degree of control over the lives of their employees. Power structures are necessary to create order and to get things done. We consent to many of these structures we live in now but in a blind way without acknowledging their existence.
Equality is not just about equal pay, equality under the law, its about consciously seeing where people would take away our power of self determination, and about consciously choosing to participate and consent. You don’t do that as a child with your parent. You don’t do that as citizen. Its something we don’t discuss, debate, and teach. But we should. We should be giving more thought to the process of emancipating children. With the control an employer takes. In the third level of gender power standards, we consciously recognize that power structures are useful, and we need to find and consent to our place in them, in way that consciously realizes the exchange of power, AFTER we walk in as equals. This is right. This is natural. This is the ideal of equality realized.
In the second level of gender power standards, two people who would build a life together come into a system of management, each with one vote. Two people, two votes, no tie breaker. That is a recipe for disastrous conflict. Any system runs better when there is a person ultimately responsible for decisions. That is not say a household must be run by one gender or the other. Areas of responsibility can be divided. The key is that to get things done, a person needs to have ultimate responsibility for the outcome. It means trusting another to do whats right for both of you. This works if you are a nilla, a D-type, or an s-type. The point is that we are on the cusp of creating a better world, and BDSM has much to say about how we can shape that better world.
Now where is my nice stick to beat the lovely lady! Tonight I want to watch this move and go old school.