What is Rolequeer Play?

Posted: December 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

[Reblogged from Tumblr]

I’m a genderqueer identified male-bodied masochist and submissive who critically analyzes kinks. This blog originated as a critical kink blog, but has sort of morphed into my personal tumblr, so it also deals with my feminist politics, left market anarchism, and prison abolitionism.

Here’s why I reject the idea that one should never “kink shame” and that all fetishes are valid:

Subjects should not be off the table for critical analysis simply because they turn us on. Racism, sexism, authoritarianism, and emotional abuse do not magically become totally okay because of consent.

Opposing “kink shaming” is dangerous because it establishes a sphere of action and thought that is not subject to critique. Furthermore, the sphere it puts outside the realm of criticism is a very important sphere. Sexuality is a realm of human interaction where abuse and violence are rampant. It is a realm of human interaction that deals with our deepest emotions. It is, therefore, a realm that we should be able to think critically about.

Declaring that preferences in this sphere cannot be critiqued is a terrible idea.

This blog exists to analyze racism, sexism, transmisogyny, rape culture, pitfalls for abuse, and other dangers associated with various types of kinks.

I will not make my own fetishes exempt to criticism. Here’s hoping we can have good discourse.

– Kinky Kink Shamer

So, I just want to signalboost this person’s blog because, whoa, AWESOME.

And because I want to ask a question: Where is everybody else? Where are the other radical rolequeer folks who are engaged in exegetic critique of their own kinks and still playing with power in ways that feel both hot and liberatory? The kinksters who, without self-flagellating over it (except maybe literally), are working to be honest, transparent, and conscientious about the way their complicity with oppression culture manifests in their erotic lives? I know you’re out there. I want to know what you’re thinking. Even more importantly, I want to know how you’re playing.

See, I have this project. It’s to explicate the ways that “D/s” and other erotic power games can become a tool or training ground for resisting oppression culture:

My ideal model of BDSM is a bit like an erotic Theater of the Oppressed for two. (Or three or however many people you’re playing with.) BDSM is a sandbox in which to learn more about how oppression, discrimination, violence, violation, abuse, etc. feels – so that we can more easily recognize it when it happens to us, or when we are doing it to someone else, in the wider world.

– Bandana Blog: I want Submissives to Take Better Care of Themselves

This project involves three parts:

1. Deconstruct the binary opposition between “Dominant” and “Submissive“.

2. Deconstruct the binary opposition between “Consensual” and “Abusive.”

3. Build something new: Rolequeer Play.

If BDSM is the erotic fetishization of oppression culture, then rolequeer play is the erotic fetishization of liberation from oppression. And it should function in a very similar way to what I describe in The Invisible Girl:

If I play with oppression in my sex, if I consciously learn what it feels like in my body, then it becomes easier for me to see and feel oppression working surreptitiously in the world.

Except that, in rolequeer play, we’re not working on developing our somatic sense of what oppression feels like; we’re practicing resisting oppression and learning what that feels like. Rolequeer play is all about breaking power dymanics.

The erotic climax in a rolequeer scene is when someone safewords, when the bottom says “no” to the top and means it, when the top makes themself obsolete, when the bottom takes the top’s power away or the top freely gives it to them, if there’s even a “bottom” and “top” to begin with. Rolequeer play is two people submitting to each other simultaneously, Submissive solidarity within the context of a scene, Submissives retroactively withdrawing consent from Dominants they’ve played with and infiltrating Dominant headspace to become double-agents, and Dominants getting excited when that happens. You might be a rolequeer if: you think it’s incredibly hot to watch someone remove their own restraints.

Steps #1 and #2 of this project are well underway. Step #1 has mostly been an extension work maymay has been doing for years. (But one of the reasons I was first drawn so intensely to this part maymay’s work was because it put words to something I’d been living and thinking about for most of my life.) Step #2 is mostly still a big blob of inchoate thoughts, but they’re starting to get better articulated in some of mymore recent posts.

Step #3, I’ve been doing a lot of work on in private. In addition to writing a lot of rolequeer porn, maymay and I have spent the past year deconstructing and reconstructing our kinks together, asking questions about why we’re turned on by the things we’re turned on by, and then figuring out ways to reframe traditional D/s fetishes such as “orgasm denial,” “mind control,” “service,” “pet play,” etc. in ways that still get us both hot but don’t rely on hierarchy to function.

I don’t feel comfortable sharing many details about that publicly. Yet. But we are documenting the fuck out of our process. (By which I mean “sexting.”)

If you are doing the same, and you feel comfortable sharing what it looks like for you, I’d love to hear about yours.

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Comments
  1. BSB says:

    This is a really interesting idea. I’m fairly new to the BDSM scene (although always kinky), and I don’t know whether this is a relatively new thing but I’ve spoken to quite a few people who do worry about and critique their kinks… which I’m glad about because for me I think it’s kind of necessary. These desires don’t spring out of nowhere. As a woman who’s mostly dominant, and exclusively dominant with men, I know that a lot of what turns me on comes from a kind of ‘eat or be eaten’ mentality, informed by a society which says that women are there to be fucked, and that sexual violence against women is normal. So what I want is a kind of revenge, and also has a competitive edge – anything you (men) can do, I can do better, and I will do it to you. In my ideal world, I wouldn’t feel these things.

    I’d like to draw a comparison to camp in a gay context here. I did some work at uni on camp, and a lot of the critical literature surrounding it as a cultural phenomenon falls on two sides: camp has the potential to radically deconstruct gender roles, or camp is inherently repressive as it relies on gender roles to have effect. I think camp can spark useful ways of thinking about gender, but ultimately it can’t dissolve the boundaries it relies on. It’s a mode of critique rather than a method of change in and of itself. Regarding rolequeer play, it sounds like your idea of it could actually break some of the binaries you talk about, but I’m wondering how it plays out in practice. I’m not entirely sure I could engage in more than the critique and awareness of the difference in roles myself, but then, I have my own ideas about the radical potential of F/m relationships. But I’ll keep reading your blog to see if there are any developments.

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