Gender and Power
Lindemann through her exploration of the practice of BDSM (bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism) raises a number of interesting points with regards to the relationship between gender and power, as well as general gender constructs within society in general. In particular, Lindemann explores the fact that the type of relationships that the dominatrix normally have with their male counterparts, goes against the traditional relationship between men and women. This she proceeds to argue, raises the need to further explore the relationship in broader terms and against the backdrop of accepted gender constructs and social interaction. Secondly, the author argues that the relationship between pro-dommes and their male counterparts can also be considered subversive towards gender norms, while at the same time conservative towards these very norms, by virtue of the fact that it is normally the woman that is dominant in such relationships, but at the same time is paid act so. Lindemann actually equates the relationship to that of poorly paid prostitution.
Indeed, the dynamics of the relationship and the complexities with which women seem to be on top while at the same time conservative towards gender norms and constructs, make for very interesting reading. Furthermore, the relationship does raise valid points regarding certain unconventional forms of feminine and masculine desire and comportment usually hidden or foreclosed from public view. Part of the reason why males seek such relationships is perhaps due to an inherent need to be dominated. This is however not in line with the traditional gender constructs, a factor which then leads to the engagement in such relationships (ones in which males want to be dominated). Lindemann’s assertion that such relationships do exist even in normal culture but do so in a hidden manner, are therefore quite valid, and raise very interesting questions and challenges for traditional social interactions. Further, such relationships can be argued to reflect the true social interaction that exists between men and women, as such relationships are honest and often unburdened by social norms and expectations.
Lindemann’s second assertion that such relationships ironically conform to social expectations is also correct, as by accepting money to perform, women are essentially participating in low paid prostitution. Furthermore, by allowing themselves to be used as sexual objects aimed at satisfying particular male erotic needs devoid of any emotion serves to fuel the view of women as simple sexual objects, meant to submit to men. In this case, women simply seem to be submitting to the spending power of men, who act submissive out of their own accord, rather than to conform to set social norms and expectations.
Overall, Lindemann makes a number of valid arguments and assertions regarding the relationship between gender and power, as well as how BDSM relationships serve to challenge the traditional socially accepted view of women as the submissive. This also raises the bigger question of whether or not men prefer to be dominant, or are simply forced by society and societal norms, to be as dominant as they are. Conversely, the relationship also serves to reaffirm common social beliefs of the woman as the submissive and inferior gender, due to the fact that it is essentially a demonstration of submission to male spending power, with the males then exploiting this power to satisfy their own sexual needs.
Lindemann, D. (2012). Dominatrix: Gender, Eroticism, and Control in the DungeonDominatrix: Gender, Eroticism, and Control in the Dungeon. University of Chicago Press
Gender and Power