The article that I will be talking about was published in 2011 in Psychology Today. You can read it for yourself here.

Now let’s create a summary of that this article says. This way we can address the points and go into detail later.

The basic premise of this article is that human beings are hardwired to be aroused by either dominant or submissive sexual behavior. This phenomenon tends to show itself in one or the other, a person is either dominant or submissive. It also says that research shows that the majority of men are dominant and the majority of women are submissive. The article then says that this phenomenon can create issues with modern feminists by inhibiting their sexual pleasure.

The first thing that I will say is that their research looks sound. I can’t bring myself to refute their data. It does seem like a majority of men are wired to enjoy dominance in the bedroom while women are wired to enjoy submissiveness. I do however have 2 issues with their explanation of this.
First: Dr. Ogi Ogas does not do a good job at clarifying the difference between majorities and absolutes. He does use the word majority in the article, but the public responce to this article shows that this distinction was not clear. I think that it should have been directly stated that all conclusions talked about only refer to the majority in a separate paragraph at the beginning.
Second: Dr. Ogas seems to have used some inflammatory examples and language. I can’t speak to his motives; but this seems to be done to generate controversy, or was done without realizing the controversy it would generate. The best example of this can be seen in this passage, “most men are aroused by being dominant, as evidenced by the massive cross-cultural popularity of dominance-themed adult Web sites for men. These include some of the most inventive and varied genres of male erotica, such as hypnotism porn (where Svengalis hypnotize woman into having sex), drunk porn (where men trick inebriated women into having sex), sleep porn (where men take advantage of sleeping women), and a wide diversity of exploitation porn (where women exchange sexual favors for school books, a ride, or a rent-free apartment).” While these examples are legitimate examples of male dominant pornography, they are also examples of the extreme. Had the article gone over a broad range, say from porn centered around a man being forceful in his movements, to porn centered around spanking and light bondage, to the extremes of exploitation porn; then this passage would have been less inflammatory.  This also makes it seem like the research shows that men are hardwired to want to rape, and women are hardwired to want to be raped.

I chose that extreme example because that was the exact conclusion a reader of this article came to.  Now, in a follow-up, Dr. Ogas clarified that rape is not something that should be condoned and that these dominance fantasies, where rape is the outcome, are the extreme that should be left to consenting role-play.  Another problem that I have with this article is the general conclusion that it comes to.

Now I will clarify that the article tries to clarify this conclusion.  It however fails to do this with any satisfaction to me, having a degree in English literature interpretation.  The article says that the changing american culture that has women finally gaining the equal rights they deserve as people has stifled our sexuality.  I think that Dr. Ogas has again used inflammatory language to come to a partial conclusion.

I personally don’t think that feminism is the cause of our sexual frustration.  I think that the problem that Dr. Ogas has found is not specific to any gender, but to our cultural perception of self.  As a society, we tend to see ourselves in the extremes.  If we have personality traits that differ from the social norm, we tend to make that our key personality trait.  We see ourselves in extreme terms; “I am a christian, I am an atheist, I am a homosexual, I am a feminist.”  What we fail to recognize is that we are a collection of all of our personality traits.  The problem that is addressed in the article is that many feminists have a problem reconciling their desires to  be respected as equals in life with the desire to be submissive in the bedroom.  This has nothing to do with feminism.

Let’s take two fictional people who are married, John and Jane Smith.  John works as an accountant.  He loves old western movies and is an outspoken defender of women’s rights in his office.  He enjoys throwing Jane on the bed during sex.  Jane is a regional manager in the company she works at.  She attends conventions of women manager to talk about the rights of women in the workplace and fights to change policies that limit the upward growth or women in the workplace.  She likes it when John picks her up and throws her on the bed during sex.  Dr. Ogas makes it seem like their sex lives would be inhibited when Jane has a conflict with being dominated by a man during sex while also being an outspoken feminist.  I say that if they both recognize that their behavior during sex is a fantasy role-play that they both enjoy while being equals outside of the bedroom, and that they are not defined by these traits, they should have no problem with their sex lives.  They should both recognize that this dominance and submissive side of themselves does not translate to anything but their sexual role-play.

So to conclude,  I think that Dr. Ogas saw this problem of people not recognizing that their day-to-day lives and their sexuality do not have to define them entirely.  He came to a partial conclusion, and failed to explain this points in a way that would not offend the general public.

But I want to know what you think.  Is feminism inhibiting sexuality?  Or, is it the way that we label ourselves that makes us unable to accept our sexuality?  Please leave a comment and let’s get this dialog going.