(Note, added 21 March 2015: I said certain things of secular feminism here that applies to the large percentage of secular feminists who are liberal feminists. But radical feminists, another group of secular feminists, speak out against sadism and the sexualisation of inequality.) (Other note: Trigger warning: BDSM)
Two groups, one Orwellian message
On the popular blog Love, Joy, Feminism, there was recently a post quoting the Botkins sisters. These sisters were ranting against feminism, apparently saying that equality of the sexes is found in hierarchal gender roles. Yes, yes. (See my dismissive hand wave.) And war is peace and freedom is slavery, typical Orwellian doublespeak. Clearly, honest answers to valuing women, with all they are and all their gifts, are not found in “Christian” Patriarchy.*
Libby Anne, the raised-patriarchal-now-atheist blog owner at that blog, then points out some contradictions of the Botkins’ view. But this story gets worse, not better, for women’s equality. Libby Anne has a blog commenting system that puts comments with the most likes on top, and the least likes at the bottom. Someone among her mostly secular and atheist commenters made a pro-BDSM comment, and that was on top of the commenting thread. Being on top of the comment thread means a lot of people pressed the “like” button on it. This comment claimed that agreeing to a dom/sub relationship is equality, because the partners equally much agreed to it. Another commenter just below it directly mentions that she will use the previous comment – the one that say dom/ sub is equality – next time she wants to defend BDSM. (BDSM is a sexual fetish which is all about making sex violent and violence sexy. It has people tying up; one-sidedly punishing – they call it “discipline” -; or physically causing pain to or insulting their partners; while the bottom partners allow it. “Sadism” is literally what one of the letters of the acronym stands for.)
The problem with these philosophies
It is not true that bottom partners in such relationships allow only things they enjoy. The simplest example is that punishment beatings (and other punishments) are very much part of most such relationships, and the punished partners will say these are punishments because they do not enjoy it. From punishment beatings, we have clear evidence that BDSM bottom partners will not allow BDSM actions which they do not enjoy, and most top partners will do things the bottom do not enjoy.* This, along with the very fact that it contains one-sided dominance, is evidence that this is an unequal relationship. (There is plenty of other evidence too, but this is not the best place to go into detail.) Claiming “she enjoys it” when she often does not is an erasure of female feelings and markets violence against women, telling them to find violence sexy. It also tells men that women want to be mistreated.
But readers on the site Love, Joy, Feminism, with its mostly secular and feminist readers, enjoyed this “inequality is equality” comment enough to vote it to the top of the thread: Orwellian doublespeak on the same level as the Botkins’ message. Honest answers to valuing women, with all they are, all their gifts and their personhood, are not found in secular “feminism” either, if they “like” this. Secular feminists even get angry when I oppose this form of power imbalance in relationships.
All my regular readers know how “Christian” Patriarchy, practiced by for example the Botkins sisters, promotes inequality. But not all of my readers would know that I tend to find references to BDSM mostly from atheists, and the most regular religious view that I hear mentioned by BDSM participants, when they mention anything of the sort, is atheistic in nature. I think I know why that is: When people deny God, they become more as He predicted the results of sin (Gen 3:16) will be. When they try to become as God, almost the same thing happens. How do complementarian men try to become as God? They follow a philosophy whereby the man becomes a mediator between the woman and God. It is obvious how BDSM top partners try to be as God – it even includes someone kneeling before the top/ dominant sometimes.
Somewhere, there will be an atheist / complementarian reading here, and saying: “I am not like that!” I believe you. All complementarians, and all atheists, are not in relationships like these. The average patriarchalist and atheist both has the law that say humans should be treated with dignity written on their hearts.
But neither of them has a philosophy that backs up the justice which they know in their hearts is right. When you say nothing is objectively right or wrong, and no authority exist to call anything morally wrong (atheists), then physically hurting/ degrading/ insulting someone on purpose -as sadists are prone to do – cannot be wrong in your eyes. When you say some people should be in charge (complementarians, but the BDSM community that the “sex-positive” feminists approve of often teaches that too), some people’s gifts and voices will be minimized.
The great philosophy – and Power – behind the egalitarian world view
Egalitarianism is different. When you see:
> equality – and significance and value – in the creation of man and woman
> inequality starting with the fall in Genesis 3, because of sin
> Jesus coming for the poor and oppressed
> a kingdom where “male and female, Jew and Greek, slave and free” should not count
> a kingdom where all get the Holy Spirit and all should use their (speaking) gifts at church
> that all should submit to one another
> a whole Bible book – Song of Songs – describing an “egalitarian pleasuring party”
… then how could you – man or women – not treat your fellow Christian partner with equal love, respect and deference?
If you should love your neighbour as yourself, how could you not start by caring as much (not more, not less) about the will and plans of your partner as about your own? Christian egalitarianism not only gives a belief framework for mutuality, it also – as Christianity – connects to Christ. The One who was raised from the death gives us the power to do his mutually loving, mutually respectful, mutually submitting will. Only His power can overcome our desire for sinful oppression. This is why I think that only Christian egalitarians can, as a group, be trusted to bring real mutuality to the world.
Note: *Anybody who thinks I have not heard the standard talking points of BDSM defenders, and wants to tell me it is safe and sane and consensual and your relationship is actually equal in other ways, please first read this link, comment only if you have any argument that I have not answered in that link already, stay on topic, and please do not link to any BDSM blogs in either your comment or the URL you optionally use to fill in the commenting form.