MASTRESSA REDESIGN OF THE STRATUMS OF SEX
|Text / images by Pia Lindman|
|Female aggressivity - if ever even acknowledged - girls learn to sublimate. l.e., women learn to direct their aggressivity inwards and to blame themselves. Aggressive response does not here mean violence in any form. I mean aggressivity as a mode of positing oneself in the world, as a subject with some sense of integrity and a capability of agency. So, instead of the typical situation, where a woman is a victim, a passive and receptive element, I propagate for asserting a new (its always been there but repressed) possibility for women to position themselves in life; positions from which they may decide and perform their public, sexual and private lives according to their own active will.|
|I call for women to participate in this
Use codeword Mastress in the subject field
|This design is still a work in progress and I call for women to participate in this process. Please send me your opinions and tell me about your experiences about having sex in these positions. I hope to be able to perfect the Mastress to the juiciest of pleasures! Although the design is not yet a ready product, you can test the ideas of the product by using cushions and different furniture. For instance, you can lay on top of your lover by the side of your bed putting the other leg on the floor - that will give you a good thrust - or straddle him on a narrow bench, or...?|
|If we assume that language and
philosophy (and therefore also psychology] constitute a general framework for our lives
and identities, a glance at what Luce Irigaray has to say about gender division and
philosophy is appropriate: In her critique of Freud in the interview "The Power of
Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine" in This Sex Which is Not One she
claims that Freud - unknowingly - reveals in his theory that which always has been active,
although hidden and implicit, i.e., "the sexual indifference that underlies the truth
of any science, the logic of every discourse".
She states that for Freud, there were not two sexes, the differences of which would become explicit in the sexual act or more generally, in the imaginary and symbolic processes that configure a society and its culture. Rather, she notes; "The feminine is always described in terms of deficiency or atrophy, as the other side of the sex that alone holds a monopoly on value: the male sex./.../ All Freuds statements describing feminine sexuality overlook the fact that the female sex might possibly have its own "specificity"./.../ Woman herself is never at issue in these statements: the feminine is defined as the necessary complement to the operation of male sexuality, and, more often, as negative image that provides male sexuality with an unfailingly phallic self-representation."
Irigaray continues: "Now, this domination of the philosophic logos stems in large part from its power to reduce all other"- the economy of the Same/.../Whence the necessity of reopening the figures in philosophic discourse - idea, substance, subject, transcendental subjectivity, absolute knowledge - in order to pry out of them what they have borrowed that is feminine, from the feminine, to make them render up and give back what they owe the feminine."
Irigaray also points out that the male self-representative systems are manifested in the economics of pleasure as follows: "Feminine pleasure has to remain inarticulate in language, in its own language, if it is not to threaten the underpinnings of logical operations. And so what is most strictly forbidden to women today is that they should attempt to express their own pleasure".
The "Mastress" is a project that requires a progress on many fronts of everyday life. It demands changes in public politics as well as in the cultural narratives that stratify our ideas of our personal sexual identities. In this particular project I want to focus on the one site that has perhaps been discussed the least during the one hundred year old history of emancipation. Judith Butler among others opened the discussion of a possible renegotiation of sexual identities during sexual intercourse - sexual performances - in a postmodern condition where the free-floating sexual attributes are released by the disconnectedness of any signs from their respective signifiers. The floating sexual attributes are repasted upon bodies in different sexual positions in sexual acts - i.e., bodies perform their sexual identities in the performance of sexual acts. Moreover, bodies may change their role in the performance and take on new and thus change their sexual identity. The attributes are always released and repeated again. The bodies may change position and identity accordingly. Butler discussed her theories with the backdrop of sexual relations addressed as sadomasochism in gay and lesbian environments. But what about boringly normal heterosexual relationships? Are there no power-relations there to be discussed? Butler directed our attention to a crucial focal point in sexual relations, in which political, social, cultural and psychological issues of gender meet. By the dramatic sadomasochisms of gay/lesbian communities, she brought to the front and dramatized the sadomasochisms also hidden in every heterosexual relation of western culture.
In a heterosexual performance the hidden sadomasochism is by convention asserting the power of the phallus and a passive, receptive nature of the female sexuality. Positions taken by male and female actors in this performance/relationship are both physically and symbolically that of a dominant male and a subordinated female. Male actors are supposed to lead the act and to have control over the situation. Female actors are supposed to submit and subdue themselves. There is joy to be experienced in both submission and control. There is joy in control for controls sake but there is also joy in having control and by that being able to produce joy for the one you command. So, I am not implying that women should take total and finite control over men when having sex with them, but I am saying that women may have pleasure in taking ALL the possible varieties of physical/symbolic positions in sexual intercourse as well as men may have pleasure in all varieties of positions, too - including total submission.
Male actors are perceived and felt to penetrate the female actors. A subversion of this notion is that female actors engulf and subsume the male actors. Of course, here we move over to castration anxiety, and the question of how to deal with that arises. Modern psychoanalysis still has to discuss this further. I think that a point of departure for the whole structure of modern psychoanalysis has been the father/mother/son relation ship, in which castration anxiety has been the crucial problem around which sexual identities are constructed. Maybe it is time to see castration anxiety as one of many elements in the construction of sexual identities and at that also negotiable. The joy in submission to the castrating omnipotent mother is no crime! To loose an identity built on the negation of that desire is maybe an identity not worth having. I acknowledge that these are dangerous waters; the problem will be the assertion of an identity feasible enough not to plunge the son into psychosis. But I also think it is time to acknowledge that the daughter in conjunction with the development of a male identity of the son is always plunged into the position of other, of the amorph female identity - only existing as a mirror for the assertion of the male (crystallized, empowered and defined) identity.
Another even more stereotypical physical/symbolic position is the top-bottom position. That already has been subverted to some extent. It is amazing however, how even today, all imagery on television, advertisement and cinema, still predominantly present sexual intercourse with a man on top of a woman. After all these years of emancipation, this is still the nut to crack: whos got the lead in the heterosexual Kingbed?
I have now prepared the way for my proposal of a practical device that would help us physically negotiate our symbolic positions in sexual performance.
As the first experiment I will create another kind of mattress for the bed. The flat, horizontal surface of the bed seem to reinforce the combination of one actor being in a horizontal position and another actor being in a vertical position. Moreover, the physical features of women and men incline men to be in the vertical and women in the horizontal position. Women have to spread their legs to be able to engulf the penis, causing difficulty in balancing and obstructing forceful action if standing upright - especially in a bed! William Blake refers to this biological fact as something that originally instigated ancient cultures to use the symbol of the cross. The horizontal/vertical relation is seen as something essential in life. Naturally, it posits female identity in relation to male identity very specifically, as I have already discussed.
I am therefore presenting a mattress that would help women to spread their legs, engulf the penis AND act upon it. Acting here means the possibility of control and command, of being able to create pleasure for both the male actor and herself. The mattress helps her physically to maintain balance and give precision in her push when on top of the male actor and protects her from bruises mainly in her knees caused by repetitious motion in which the load is focused on her knees. Further, the male actor will be lying on a surface that slightly rises his lower back, giving him a curved back that will push the erected penis outwards, and at the same time help him to ejaculate. This rising of the back helps the female actor to push the penis deeper inside her vagina, increasing pleasure for both.
Another version of this mattress will be placed on the side of the table, positing male actors between the female actors and the table. In this performance, the female actors would have their knees on the table and the male actors would have a cushion behind their backs that gives support and reduces bruises in the back.
The third version would completely alter the design of the bed. It is a support for the male body, slightly rising the back as in the first version. The rest of the bed is as narrow as the male body and as high as the female actors legs. The female actor would thus be able to stand on her feet and still acquire the ability to engulf the penis and act upon it as in the former mattresses.
Another alteration of this bed is the implementation of supports for the knees, so that instead of standing on her feet, the female actor would be supporting herself from her bent knees. This probably is an improvement, because the female actor may spread her legs more when supporting herself from her knees than from her feet. This bed distinguishes itself from the first versions that also rely on the idea of supporting the knees by the fact that the female actor in this version may put her legs in a vertical position. This will change in a drastic way her capabilities of taking in and playing with the penis inside her vagina.