Dangerous identities, dangerous ideas?

Liga StrangeloveLiga Strangelove is a Dominatrix from Australia. Her experience with fetish and sex juxtaposed against her radically intersectional Marxist feminism means that she spends a lot of time arguing with herself. She tweets @mmestrangelove.

She was leaning on the door frame when I got to the top of the stairs, tapping a long, vicious cane lazily on the sole of Her boots, which laced up Her legs to Her inner thighs. The moisture my mouth usually produced was seeping through the palms of my hands, and my tongue felt like sandpaper on the roof of my mouth. She said nothing, but Her face twisted into a mocking snarl as Her hands commanded me to my knees. I sank, legs shaking heavily, to the floor, desperate for her next instruction.

Excerpt from Erotica written by author taken from website blog


She is a Mistress. A Dominatrix.

Modern women have it all. Contemporary consumer culture offers up a range of choice: be waifs with lips like puffed candy labia and heads full of smoke and perfume; or be leftist goddesses championing the cause with your boots and your tongues; doting mothers with open warm smiles and happy dispositions; corporate giants with stilettos to kill. These comfortable positions allow us to be seduced by their aspirational and seemingly progressive appeal. They permit us to forget the prisons that we are forced to live within, and the reality that violently asserts itself whenever we leave our houses, log onto our computers or exist in shared spaces: when you are a woman, the very act of existence is an act of defiance. We are taught from a young age that the system will rise up and forcibly punish you if you do not choose your role wisely (must not wind up old maid,) or have the choice taken away from you (must not get drunk and fall asleep/pass out).

When women choose to take on these dangerous roles that ostensibly threaten us (single mother, President, Doctor, sole commuter, prostitute), their actions threaten the decadent vestiges of a past rich in power imbalance, cruelty and exploitation. Throughout history, the unwaveringly patriarchal mainstream has vilified women who have taken up these subversive positions against the hegemony. The Mistress is one of these women. She is a Dominatrix, professionally. Decried by her fellow Marxist feminists as being the perfect metaphor for the capitalist degradation of the wage actor; shamed by the radical feminists for her alleged participation in rape culture and slavery; fetishized by the corporate oligarchy to sell shame and sex; ostracised by her peers due to her terrifying licentious, inescapable dominance: She makes everyone uncomfortable, basically. The Dominatrix represents a dangerous, threatening subversion of many popularised contemporary attitudes towards sex, gender discourse and indeed the labour market; and the act of being a Service top presents a plethora of ideological and personal challenges to any individual willing to take up the cane. Ultimately, The Dominatrix is simply an extreme metaphor for femaleness and femininity: an extreme threat to the authoritarian dominion of the masculine, in all its forms, be they economic or social.

She was a Marxist feminist before she was a top. The genesis of her feminism came, as she believes it to with most, with her adult sexual awakening – where she was confronted with the full force of consumer culture’s hyper-sexuality, and the performative, toxic hunt that is contemporary sexual discourse. Feminism taught her how to claim her voice, and it gave her the language she needed to express the incipient rage she felt at how the world around her rose up to tell her, to tell us all, that we were inescapably subordinate, in the most fundamental and pejorative of ways. The death, rape and oppression painted by narratives, news and statistics rose, and continue to rise, in a vicious roaring wave above her until she was crushed by the gravity of our circumstances. They lived in a war, a world war, more insidious and dangerous than anything she had read about in textbooks or seen on the news.

Marxism brought her the full picture, the neo conservative nightmare steeped in Freidman’s malevolent tendrils. A silent, normalised war. The weapon? Continuing shocks to our own social conditioning. The victors? Effectively…the shadowy corporate oligarchs who loom silently in the nebula, pitting us against each other in a never ending cog of blind consumption, fuelling the capitalist leviathan. She sees too strong the misery and disenfranchisement of all people, women and men, to believe the machinations of this secret war only touch her sisters. Nevertheless, modern sex culture is littered with a veritable buffet of shame and blame for a young woman attempting to navigate within its reductivist, judgemental and objectifying walls. She was as pragmatically fascinated by slut shaming as she was intrinsically molested and devoured by it. But she believed in rebellion. Absorbing American Transcendentalism and Thoreau’s words on civil disobedience; challenging the individual’s morality in calling their attention to the need to rebel and subvert; Butler’s commentary on performativity, the intrinsic metaphors and power discourse operating within us and around us, which intersected nicely with her dialectic materialism. She saw the power of deviance, of subversion. Of performance. To draw attention, to make a point…to reclaim and make change.

She saw the viciously won civil rights victories throughout history, and the war raging loudly against women and female sexuality. Across time, and throughout all doctrines encountered – Marxist, Feminist, Dogmatic or Capitalist – the act of a woman taking ownership of her sexuality for her own uses has continually been cause for mass panic. From one of the very first damned women, Lilith, who infamously attempted to ride her mate as he rode her, through the witches and their cleansing, right through to the Marxist and liberal feminists who decry the actions of their fellow liberated women as degrading, who so blindly apply the same strictures to the agency of woman as the very structures they rally to subvert and destroy. This category of women so subversive that they threaten even the utopic notes of egalitarianism touted by Marx to the extent that he condemns them as the ‘epitome of the capitalist oppression of individual labour,’ The Damned whore is eclipsed again by her horribly unrepentant sister the Dominatrix. So too are they savaged by liberal feminists for their performative degradation, hailed as counter-productive agents sending out pervasive messages of rape and violence across the ether. She scoured these accounts, reading tome after tome of liberal and Marxist literature eviscerating the fallen, scorned Lilith, the damned dominant whore. Observing the same level of righteous indignation as the catholic patriarchy, in all its late stage capitalist glory: attempting to force the individual to internalise its evils, rather than see individual actions as mechanisms for revolution and change. To her, the question seemed to be not ‘what is wrong with these women?’ but ‘what is so threatening about these women that all of our systems, hegemonic or otherwise, decry them as a great evil?’ She had to find out. She had to take the apple, offered by the viper. So she ate it….and became one.

And what she found stirred in her a contempt shared by the likes of De Beauvoir, Wolf, Butler and Weil. Marxism is a product of its time, and the inherently imperialist social conditioning of the time – thick with sexist dogmatism – cannot escape that. Feminine sexual power, and our ability to reclaim that in whatever way we choose – be it for pleasure or monetary gain – has forever been a threat to the establishment. The surreally subverted erotic performance of Domination presented to her an opportunity to examine that which had been defined by all as repugnant, dangerous and degrading. Submissive men send her wish-lists that often read like black site interrogation protocols, dripping with violence, cruelty and shocking pain, and she is tasked with constructing a fictitious reality where she becomes the cruel headmistress, the merciless policewoman, the stone cold bitch. Her favourite thing to tell her clients is, “this is what you paid for,” because much of the time, she has to remind herself of this. Sometimes, she catches a glimpse of herself during a performance, laughing like a maniac over a faux cowering lump of humanity. These images burn themselves into her consciousness, plaguing her with doubts about the integrity of her character – is she the malevolent witch she pretends to be for her decidedly submissive clients? Does the fact that she can do these things mean that she is innately immoral? Or is it that she can see through the shame complexes developed to degrade, and help another reclaim a desire for which they have been told to fear and hate? The post structuralist movement should have ignited the recognition that these anachronistic vestiges of power and control lived within the revolutionary doctrines of Marxist and liberal feminism that were created to stand against them. Instead, cowed by the roar of consumer culture’s deficit modelling, they taxonomised and alienated the individual, stripped away complexity of character to its essentialist skeletons, and silenced a sea of voices by smothering them in superiority and prudish, ignorant judgement.

Truly though, they were simply slaves to their conditioning. As Doris Lessing crows, trapped within the prisons we choose to live inside. Think to Lilith, who in one of the very first doctrines of control, was so holistically vilified for her attempt to be the equal that she was. For wanting to ride her man as she rode him; for wanting to own her sexual energy and power with the same level of strength offered to a man, she was demonised and turned into a baby eating harpy. The salience between the story of Lilith, and the unwavering denigration of feminine domination and sexual reclamation through choosing exactly how we value ourselves – even if we choose to do that with a whip, or a dollar sign, is inescapable. Contemporary condemnation of these dangerous women simply reeks of a refusal to transcend social expectations that have been drilled into us since the first stories were written, by power holders that do not have our best interests at heart.

Further to this, as with the structuralist approach of early to mid-century research, these evaluations come largely from communities where these voices are not called upon at all. Do those who preach equality not see the hypocrisy in telling others what their actions mean? Capitalism is supposed to be the insatiable leviathan that strips away our humanity, rendering us irrelevant consumers in its relentless march toward oblivion. So why fall into its judgement traps when assessing those members of our community who challenge its strictures so potently? Basically, if Madame Strangelove makes you uncomfortable, maybe it’s because you’re a slave. But, you’re not her slave. You belong to the hegemony. The extremity of her metaphor just holds that mirror up to you. But that’s just her opinion.