Consent and the State

Trinity’s most recent post at SM Feminist got me thinking about parallels that can be drawn between the state and BDSM. In it she quotes a feminist opponent of S/M who addresses the sexualization of and desire for male dominance, referring specifically to Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind

A thorough overhaul of desire is clearly on the feminist agenda: the fantasy that we are overwhelmed by Rhett Butler should be traded in for one in which we seize state power and reeducate him.

Of course anytime someone starts talking about “seizing state power” then I don’t really know how to engage with them. But this passage did start my wheels turning.

A very popular guideline among many BDSM inclined folks is that everything should be safe, sane and consensual or risk-aware and consensual. There are those who will not even make conspicuous BDSM elements of their relationship in public, because to do so is to involve others who have not given their consent (see the variety of responses to a couple being kicked off a bus because one of them was collared and on a leash). Everyone is given a choice on whether or not they wish to be in a BDSM scene or relationship. Those who choose not to are not threated with violence or otherwise pressured.

We’re not given the same option with the state. Even in the most representative and participatory forms of government we’re not given the option of opting out. We can have some voice in our collective masters, but we can never truly consent because we’re only presented with the option of being governed.

I don’t think that everyone should be forced to live in an anarchist society. I think that people should have the ability to create governments for themselves, but the only way that is compatible with free choice is if one of the choices is not to govern nor be governed at all. As it stands those who would choose not to participate are threated with violence, so even when someone makes use of the input they have into the American democracy, they have not done so with full consent, because consent under threat is no consent at all.

One Comment

  1. We’re not given the same option with the state. Even in the most representative and participatory forms of government we’re not given the option of opting out. We can have some voice in our collective masters, but we can never truly consent because we’re only presented with the option of being governed.

    DOOD! You’re totally right! That’s not fair!

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