During June, two members of Spank Collective were invited to talk in Stockhom’s anarchist bookfair. Here are the essays:
Spank Collective: Presentation of the collective and introduction to bdsm,politics and identity
- Spank Collective was initially created in 2015 with the publication of some texts clarifying the framework of a queer and anti sexist approach to kink and BDSM. The idea evoluted to the creation of a collective and the publication of a zine on the topic.
- As far as our way of operation is concerned, we are experimenting from the start with a model of edgy aformalism. This means that we don ’t meet on a standard basis, we have never really followed our deadlines and that any result that has come out has been produced on the basis of an inspirational synchronicity. Given that almost all of the current or ex members are neurodiverse or toxic, the priority has consciously been given to the relation and respect between our symptoms, the trust among us and taking care of each other, which we consider political and indispensable in order to feel honest with the political components and not just write vain theories. And this is exactly what we mean by the term “collective”, a dynamic procedure to create these political and personal bonds with each other in order to be in position to open up about our experiences or to fight together in our common struggles. We are open in discussing our disagreements and we don’t necessarily have the same political position in all fields, but we always try to approach each aspect multi aspectively.
- So what do we mean by a queer approach to BDSM? How do we bridge these phenomenal different worlds? On one hand, and despite the fact that the origins of BDSM culture are on the gay culture, more specifically on the leather movement, there has been a sex negative tendency in feminism, considering violence as inherently male and patriarchal which may also reject anti state violence for the same reasons. On the other hand, a large portion of the anarchist scene in Greece is also kink phobic and considers BDSM as the Trojan horse of authority inside antiauthority. And then we have the mainstream BDSM community in Greece which still carries heavy stereotypes of male dominants and female submissives with standard clothes, equipment and practices like a holy tradition, and of course hierarchy based on social relations, male privilege, class privilege, mainstream events with expensive entrance etc. Our member M., who has been in the greek BDSM community for years has ran a lot of struggles for example for the exclusion of male doms who used this status in order to abuse or blackmale their female subs and tried to get away with it because they were event coordinators or really old in the scene. He has even been threatened for this. Also, as spank collective we have been targetted and threatened by a supposedly anarchist misogynistic dom who had abused more than one female comrades in the newly born anarchist BDSM community, which was were some of us actually met each other. I actually have a more anti community approach, I ’m more on the DIY, maybe that ‘s not irrelevant with the fact that when I discovered the community some years ago as a young female swich I got really disgust by the dominant notion that I had to become the sub of an old one in order to learn, and of course that I was a sub and I didn ’t know it. Or for example, because I loved shibari, there was this dominant who is top in shibari in Greece and we started negotiations where I clearly stated that all I wanted was to be tied up and learn to tie up as well and he pretended to agree while he was strategically trying to manipulate me to have a session with him, which in the end I forced him to make it clear and then we had no deal of course. So for me the distinction between ars erotica and holy tradition which is hierarchically transmitted has to be clear.
- So, by trying to make radical kink politics, we firstly challenge any essentialistic view of violence. Violence can also be female and we consider anyway that any act of resistance against power exercises power.
- Secondly, we challenge any stereotypical confusion between BDSM and abuse. The line is definitely drawn by the existence of consent covering each and every action taking place in a BDSM session. What ’s more, BDSM culture entails a number of elements, focusing exactly in the preservation of joy and safety for both parts. Either in the ssn (safe sane and consensual), or in the rac (risk aware consensual) it is usual that the preferences, the desires, the fantasies, the roles, the softer or harder limits are discussed in advantage. This is called a BDSM agreement. Also, during the session, the existence of a safe word or nod is necessary to preserve that the consent is present. But also, regardless of the safe word, the top person needs to be aware of the body language of the bottom for any sign of distress and pause the session if necessary. What ’s more, there is the concept of after care, namely after the session, the top person needs to take care of the bottom. This may include the caressing of any physical damage, and tender caressing in general, to counterbalance any emotional tension and any positive action that makes the bottom person feel safety, since breaking one ’s limits always includes the experience of strong emotions. That ’s why BDSM is not exclusive of persons with neurodiversities or persons who have experiences sexual traumas as long as the other person keeps constantly in mind their singularities and takes care of them. It can actually get an excellent therapeutic tool exactly because of this culture.
- As far as the kink identity, or the kink identity characteristic is concerned, it is not something single dimentional, since we consider every sexuality as inherently bastard, nor something elitistic relating to an alien desire but exists when one ’s sexuality in a given point in time, is so strongly seized by kinky desire that self realization is impossible without the performance of roles and practices considered as antisocial, namely their visibility entails a social stigma. So when one can perform and socialize its sexuality without getting a social stigma is in a privileged position, and this is called a vanilla privilege. Of course, the kink identity, or identity characteristic may co exist with other identities connected with privilages or oppressions, and how privileged one is must always be seen under a multi aspect spectrum.
I.THEORY AND ACTION : A PERPETUAL DIALECTIC
BDSM as a way of realization and liberation of desire can become politically sharp and threatening for what exists.
Ok, personal is political but what do we exactly mean by that? But, of course, that in a way all of our relations and actions are political. For me, the political dimension of personal experience is exactly the meeting point between theory and action. When they crash each other, actually, very often, one of the two will change or a contradiction will become conscious. So, on one hand, the realization and verification of a theory can only be achieved through experience, on the other hand, this process can lead to a revision or evolution of the theory. Finally, it ’s usually an experience which, at the start, leads us to formulate a theory.
For example, the experience of a monogamous relationship can lead one to start thinking about polyamory. However, when the time to put it in practice comes, one can find itself coming up against with all of its insecurities, indeed socially constructed, existing, therefore. And, somewhere at this point, one can consider that poliamory can’t work in general, deducting its experiential conclusions into general laws of the human nature etc, or consider that it can’ t work for it, being, maybe more honest, but, still characterizing itself too soon, for me. One can also force itself to verify the theory by ignoring its internal barriers and not really passing through them, risking a trauma which could evolve into a stronger internal barrier in the future. Finally, one can realize this internal contradiction as such and consider, on one hand, which desire(s) of it poliamory satisfies and, on the other hand, which desires of it are satisfied through the existence of the internal barriers such as jealousy and possessiveness and hierarch these desire(s). What would also be helpful would be looking into and realizing not only why but how these internal barriers were constructed in the first place in order to deconstruct them. What I basically want to stress here, is that we should not be afraid to realize and recognize our internal contradictions while trying to transmute theory into action, neither stay stagnant in the realization of a theory because of them, nor pass into action without getting pleasure out of it, forcing ourselves and just hiding them.
Here to, I think that pleasure is another key notion. When speaking about priorization of desire(s), the only experiential honest criteria is pleasure. Of course, this is not less chaotic, since, anyway, our self realization can simultaneously pass through conflicting actions, sometimes even through self destruction or oppression or through the cancellation of a more “creative” self realization. So, yes, in a way our complexes, our urge to oppress and our self destructive mechanisms include a kind of self realization and that’s why we experience them, me, at least with guilt. However, and, although, I don’t want to say here that there is “right” and “wrong” self realization, I will accept that there is one that leads towards an overall liberation and one that leads to stagnation. So, the priorization of desire and self realization doesn’t just have to do with some measurement of pleasure but goes, for me, with a conscious choice. And this is exactly a realized view of freedom, the choice of one to priorize liberating self realization, even when it ’s harder, and to deconstruct one ’s internal barriers, even when they ‘re concrete.
So, between theory and action there ‘s a sea of internal contradictions. In some levels, this sea is so deep than we can only speak of veneer of identities. We are veneer of anarchists just by consuming inside capitalism, I ’m a veneer of an antispeciest just by teaching my non human roommate to obey me when I ask him to come towards me. But in some levels the sea is swimmable. We can be in a constant battle with the cop inside of us all, we can abstain from using our privileges in order to exercise power to non privileged ones, I can stop drinking milk and you can stop using a leash when taking out your non human roommate.
Our bodies, our desires, our pleasures, are as political as anything else. As a field so close to the Freudian “Id”, to our most unprocessed urges is, therefore, one of THE battlefields between theory and action. It ’s actually difficult to decrystalize one ’s sexual experience in order to formulate theory. So is pleasure, sexual or not, an action inherently incompatible with theory? The formulation of sexual theories comes with a risk of exclusion. Let ’s see it in relation to its purpose. Can sex have any purpose other than pleasure? Well, pleasure, sexual or not is a purpose by itself but sex can also be a means, a conscious or unconscious tool, as well. Usually, if you ask me it ’ s a combination of both but I can only speak for myself. For example, for me, sexual pleasure and kinky pleasure more specifically, is a tool of liberation and enhancement of my rage and desire through pleasure, as well as a psychedelic therapy. Kinky pleasure and, more specifically pleasure through BDSM practices, the pleasure of domination and submission, the pleasure of violence, is a battlefield inside the battlefield. Since occurring by playing on the edge of one ’ s urges, it ’s a field where we can clearer process the only theoretical limit that can be formulated about sexual pleasure as a purpose and as a tool of anything : CONSENT.
BDSM, as a tool of realization of desire, reverts the essentialist validation of violence produced by state ’s monopolies in its use, mocking it and, thus, fleetingly, abolishing it.
The invisible violence, the economical, the statutory, the coldly calculated and keenly executed is the most establishing tool of the dominant power systems. The violence of the wage slavery, soaking every second of our stolen time. The political and penal prisoners rotting in the democracy cells, the trafficking victims being raped by family guys in their own cells inside metropolis. Some kilometers out of the big European capitals, the migrants are being piled up in the detention and punishment centres. At the same time, there is the naturalized violence. The violence against the bodies of the non privileged ones or the “Others”. The cop bullets penetrating in the non white bodies, the male violence acting on the female bodies, the everyday murders of trans women, the corpses of the non human animals hanged out of the butcher shops.. Finally, there ’s the violence occurring “elsewhere”. The war violence, the bloodsheds of the executive organs of the authorities, when they can ’t stay invisible nor naturalized through power knowledge systems, then they become spectacular tragedies. The empathy of the masses towards them, is decompressing inside the spectacle and the violence occurring “elsewhere” is finally naturalized as well in an another level.
At the same time, their rage, all of this desire flow is being engaged and directed through complicated power knowledge systems. Like was put by Deleuze and Guattari : “The true history is the history of desire. The fact that the persons in a society desire oppression for the others as well as for themselves, that there are always persons that want to break the ribcage of others and they have the chance, the “right” to do so, is what brings up the problem of a deep link between libidic desire and the social sphere. An altruistic love for the oppression machine.”
If we accept every insurrection or revolution as a desire explosion, it ’s then impossible to ignore the intense sexual complexion tone that transpires them. The Freudian theory that supports that without the transmutation of the sexual libido into mature non sexual libido there would be no accomlishments in civilization nor art, involves a suspicious neoteric separation. From the other side, Leninism rejects sexual liberation as bourgois degeneration. (Let ’s not forget that Raich was deleted from the communist party when he proposed the creation of spaces for the workers to have sex in.) It was only in the barriers and the speech of May of ’68 that desire was recognized as constituent element of the insurrection and the subject emerged as undivided sexual and political being, not just without these two being in contrast with each other but, understood as undivided.
The system of sexuality is indispensable for the existence of the other power knowledge systems, exactly because it manages to detach sexual desire from the rest of desire. Stripping it from the rage of desire for a total liberation, it makes it politically harmless. As far as sexual consensual violence or violence as pleasure, since pleasure in BDSM practices is not necessarily sexual, if we accept this division for analytic reasons, it was exiled in the psychoanalytic divan, at least for the urbans who had the privilege of the access to this divan. Today, evoluting together with the social conditions the system of sexuality is trying to absorb it in the spectacle and sterilize it by distorting it in the mainstream culture.
But why is BDSM so politically sharp? But exactly because it expropriates violence as well as pleasure from the dominant power knowledge systems controlling them. By implementing violence and power dynamics in a game level towards pleasure as purpose it derails them from any convenience and utility they would have for authorities and reverses their meaning. The act of consent as a conscious choice, which applies for both parts as a political act of self determination of one ’s body, opens a rapture in power lines, an escape line. The thing is that these escape lines need to get crafted together in a revolutionary level. Because political, may start from personal but the subversivity of desire has a lot to do with its communization. And maybe this exactly where Wilhelm Reich failed. After all, the tumbling of violence and pain and familiarization with them can get a lethal weapon in every crash with authority. As my first Master once told me, after a lot of violence, we beat up pain, now it ’s time to beat up fear.
Anyway, my relation with pain is a complicated story. I m not a masochist, namely, I don’ t take pleasure from pain as such. Pain is part of the procedure. As a brat, pain is the cost I pay for breaking the rule and mocking the law. And I take pleasure in feeling strong enough to do so. As a submissive, pain is part of the submission. The mightiest of beating can only have a symbolic value in my twisted sapiosexual mind. A double symbol since two jouissances cross each other and finally meet and this is violent by itself. It comes with a BOOM or, more specifically, a SPANK. The real symbolic stake in submission is trust. Trust of the Other, trust of my self, trust of the Other ’s trust on me. So, when I met my father, after some days of dark psychedelic exploration of each other ’s everything he told me “You ’re crazy, you need to get tied up. Shall I tie you up?” We stood in silence for an hour. I was aware of the heavy symbolism his words carried. All kinds of thoughts crossed my mind. I could feel his desire, strong enough to break my legs. I could also feel my desire, challenging him to do so. I was afraid. But I wanted it, fuck! I wanted so much to trust him! I stood up. “You ’re invited…” I said. And so he did, he tied me up. And I became his little girl. And up to this day he still marks me with his affection.
II: The experience of A.
Hello, my name is A. and I ’m gonna speak about my experience, of how some of my identity characteristics, as kink, homoerotism and bisexuality were formulated, interacted with each other and connected. I choose the term identity characteristics over identities because identity as a term is something concrete and entails a normativity element, while the term identity characteristic expresses better the fluidity characterisng, for me at least, my sex or its lack, and my sexuality.
I have the experience of sexual encounters with my 6 year older cousin from a very young age, more specifically, from when I was 7. There is a repression in my memory of what occurred during this first time, I don ’ t remember what we did. We were in my aunt ’s bedroom. It was basically for me like playing a totally new game, I kind of hazily remember that I liked it. But the game stopped and was replaced by the phrase “Don ’t tell mom, nor aunt not anybody” I remember this phrase accompanied by a very ugly feeling, a mix of fear, insecurity, shame, loneliness and self negation. I feel that sexual games among us continued between 7 and 9 years but I have no recall from this period. I definitely didn’t feel pain, neither the first time, nor in general. My body was responding positively
Since I went to first grade of primary school, I discovered that I liked girls. More specifically, I was in love with two girls from my class who were the most femme and nearest to the dominant notion of beauty in my class. In the third and fourth grade, in another school, while my interest was still monopolized by a classmate of mine, I was having homoerotic encounters with my cousin. When we stayed alone in the house we were playing sexual games. During that period, our encounters had role playing as a basic characteristic. For example, we were playing cinema. We used to put an animation movie, close the jalousie very well, place two chars next to each other and depict that we were in a cinema hall. While pretending to watch the movie he was slowly applying his hand on me and looking at my ass, while I was bending over as much as I could, for him to grab it better and couldn’t wait and bending even more in order to put one of his fingers in my butt.
At other times, we used to play doctor. He was taking the style of the expert and pretended to be the doctor while I was obeying to his orders, like to lie down facing down in order to examine me, firstly by putting a finger inside me for the diagnosis and following many fingers inside me since it was the only way for the therapy to be achieved.
I was feeling really ok with all these. Don ’t kids want to play with joy as the only purpose? I was enjoying more than the “games of my age” and the physical pleasure without however feeling erotic attraction for my cousin as a whole, but only for his hard dick, his dirty looks on my ass and in general for the sessions we were doing together.
We were spending endless hours together. His mother, having schizophrenia was vanished in that period so my cousin was staying a lot over. My mother was in her own universe, she was taking care of us, my father was working until late. It ’ usual for parents and the wider family to strictly guard a kid ’ s sexuality and sex expression aiming for the kid not to deviate from the cis hetero normality, in regardless of how he/she feels.
This phenomena didn’t exist in our house, since everybody was usually away , or busy. And that was actually really convenient since their presence entailed repressive care, when they remembered and a lot of shouting . But when we were gathering together around television watching tv shows, I could hear my mother, her friends, my godmother, my aunts, my cousins ( I was raised up mainly with females treating me as a boy) laughing at every expression of femininity from persons classified as males, I was hearing extreme homophobic comments and so I was getting in the procedure of not allowing myself act as I wanted e.g. they were all painting their nails, but they were happy if I debased that as girl nonsense. While, I wasn’t seeing it as nonsense at all and I would have liked to take part equally in what was taking place in the house. In a few words, women of my life wad put it as a goal to make a man out of me. This first “don ’t say” that my cousin had told me, that once costed me my internal peace, I was slowly starting to understand it as self evident. The only way to protect myself in a society that even your parents hate you for your desires. This secrecy became my fetish, I was breaking their rules in secret, and getting extra pleasure from the breaking as such, beyond sexual practices.
Since the fifth grade, my cousin had started taking me with him in a variety of places, squats, metalheads’ spots in Exarcheia, football teams’ leagues etc. Of course, I was adopting the identities since they were giving me a sense of freedom against the family normative activities and duties and we were operating as a team. He was of course the leader. When we were home alone, I enjoyed bringing him objects that I had chosen to put them in my butt. He was often asking me to stand well on four and he liked to caress me and put objects inside me while I was standing completely still. I think that he had tried once or twice to penetrate in me with his dick but had not made it. This period I was getting pleasure by the idea of exhibition and I was inviting him to play in front of the window, which frightened him and obviously was never actualized. But for some reason, the idea of humiliation got me really erected. I was imagining that me and him were being laughed at while we were playing, being spitted and having objects such as eggs, tomatoes etc thrown at us and this thought made the hard on even bigger. I had discovered the distinction between normal and perverted since I was very young without though having experienced the consequences of being considered as perverted by the others, society. And I enjoyed this secrecy.
When I was on sixth grade, I had discovered at home a bag with pornographic material and dildos in the upper part of my parents’ wardrobe. For a period I had kept it secret and when I had the chance I was taking down the magazines, with witch I was astonished. It was my first experience with pornography
And they were actually all hardcore. What made me special impression were the faces of women full of sperm and that it could bee considered as humiliating. Some time later, I showed them also to my cousin. We were getting really horny to play with each other. We were picking which picture to depict but first we had to choose who was going to play the woman. My cousin considered this role as pejorative so we were tossing coins. It was very fun because every time the coin put him as woman we came down and found an excuse to toss the coins again until I had to be the woman. I never felt a desire to have the top role. I had learned that the word homosexuality was a threat but I was anyway identifying with women so I was protecting me somehow from my phobia, since I was feeling sure that my secret was not gonna leak out from my cousin. To him it caused panic. He was saying homophobic and misogynistic stuff which made me feel embarrassed since I really wanted to bend down, I really wanted to eat dick! So, I had a voice internalized in me, a voice stared speaking in my head saying “you ’re a pervert’ “faggot” “embrassment of the family etc. But as long as nobody else knew about it I was feeling hurt but safe
When I started middle school, it was the period when my parents broke up. I was living with my mother and my six years younger sister. At the first grade I was depressed since my mother, who already was not in good terms with her own nervous system, let off her steam on me for her breaking up with my father, presenting me as a monster, putting guilt on me, hitting me and turning also my father against me. I don ’t want to stay here on my relation with my parents or how they treated me but on the fact that my house was not a safe space for me. Soon enough, both school and the street became unsafe as well.
After the first year, my mother had me to change school because she thought that the teachers had created a bad opinion on me. My new school was full of bullies and I, because I had a very extreme external appearance, was drowing their attention. But there was a quality difference among us, although teachers classified us in the same context. As trumps.
I was hanging out with an immigrant from Albania, a year younger than me, who was also not safe in his house. During breaks or gaps we were hanging out smoking in the toilets and I think we had started developing a relationship similar to the one that I had with my cousin, just this time I was the more experienced one. I was then thinking sex with women all the time, something that I had not done yet. One day, my friend and I were jerking each other off while at the same time I was narrating a pornographic story that I was making up. The bullies heard us and soon enough they leaked it out and we were immediately targeted as faggots, dick suckers etc and we were everyday receiving physical or verbal violence for all the rest of the school year. A top point of this violence was an afternoon when I was found on a pedestal street near my house and got circled by fifteen persons kicking me, spitting me, blackguarding me and generally sexistic attacking me. I characteristically remember that they forced me to open my mouth and searching with a torch for sperm. In all this, I clearly found something sexual and hedonistic, regardless of the fact that my dominant emotions were fear and shame. Beyond the fifteen boys who actively participated in my abuse, they were at least as many persons, boys and girls watching and laughing at the spectacle.
The sexual scenarios and fantasies created at this time, all included humiliation, submission and domination, I was fantasizing being humiliated, gangbanged, being an object and of course, bukkake on the face, in the mouth and generally everywhere. Which I was trying to depict by myself, with self made sex toys and just before ejaculation I was taking such position, so that my sperm would spill on my face. I was imagining the girls that I liked making me licking their feet etc. Other times, I was imagining that we had all been kidnapped together and we were tied up, blackmailed and that they came on her face and I had to lick the sperm from her lips, her cheeks etc
My outcome is that my kinky and sadomasochistic desire, are, in a great degree the counterbalance to the sexualized non consensual violence I was receiving at school
The situation was totally out of control. Violence at home, violence at school. I left Athens next year and went to stay with my father at Lamia
After I left things got normalized. I went somewhere that they didn ’t know me, I made new friends and the situation at home was calm. I was performing the male role, to be fit in normativity, although I knew that it was a stupid rule, the breaking of which though, carried heavy consequences in order not to get targeted as well as in order to be desired from the subjects I was interested in, namely, girls. However, although I was “passing” , my secret was there and I was terrified with the idea that it could become known.
Returning to Athens after four years, I had learned very well to protect myself from stigma, I was in a relationship with a girl, slowly slowly, the greek homophobia stopped coming after me, at least not as intensively as it used to do. I continued to have homoerotic fantasies but at the same time I was not attracted to men. I was experiencing homosexuality in a fetishist way and only on a fantasy level.
Years later, Ι got involved with antifa and antiauthoritarian scene, I started troubling with homophobia and any kind of racism with the result my guilt and embarrassment to get transformed into faggot pride. I was fucking with men but I liked what a man could do to me and not the fact that he was a man, so I started to take bottom roles with women, with whom until now I was only top, appearing with feminine clothes, expressing my feelings, not being ashamed of looking weak, since I was than clearly viewing male strength as a systemic power I refused to reproduce
The last time that I saw my cousin I told him that I had enjoyed everything we did and that there was nothing problematic about it and he told me that homosexuality is a perversity and that we simply didn’t have any other choice. After that conversation, I never had a fantasy including him again, because I found and I find homophobia extremely unattractive.
Since the period I am experiencing sex only as a social construct, I have also expressed myself through the feminity spectrum, I have experienced myself as both a woman and a non binary person and I have generally experimented on sexes. This specific period, I m mainly expressing myself through the masculinity spectrum but I don’t care to include me in the male sex. I had passed a period during which I considered every masculinity as acid. The last two years, I have rethought masculinity and perform again my own masculinity without guilt. I still experience homoerotism as connected with fetishism, however my fetishism has also become self reliant. As far as kink is concerned, I consider myself as a swich, since I swich roles such as anal bottom, slave, pet, with roles such as dom, pet owner, bastard and trump, depending on the interaction of desire and biochemistry of the moment, since I am toxic as well, namely I ’m a user of psychodrastic substances.