Within the Hindu community there are multiple ways that women have become the property of the male figures in their lives, either it being their fathers, sons, and/or husbands. Traditionally, women are depicted as much more delicate that men, whom require the protection of her male figures. From a cultural perspective the woman’s virginity, while in her birth home, is one to be protected. Within the community these male influences are seen as the protectors, but in reality the woman is imprisoned.
The refusal to speak about sexuality as well as physical and emotional changes that take place during growth years causes for many accounts of sexual abuse to go unreported. As a result of this the girl, whose mother has not spoken to her about basic issues like menstruation, is unable to tell her about a person who has made sexual advances towards her. As contradictory as it may seem the history of sex has been influenced by different attitudes and behaviors from India.
India pioneered the use of sexual education through art and literature by writing the first literature, Kama Shastra (Kama Sutra), which treated sexual intercourse as a science as well as specifically outlining the practices of BDSM. The Vedas, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, reveal moral perspectives on sexuality, marriage and fertility prayers; these epics had a huge impact on the culture of Asia. An excerpt of the Kama Shastra states that women should study these texts, it also goes into detail as to why they should study the text.
Although many seem to think women are not “allowed to study any science” it states that women already know the practice of the texts and should practice the art. Many religious communities are close-minded to the lifestyle of BDSM practitioners, but there are still those where it is accepted amongst a community of like minded people is where acceptance of that lifestyle comes to play. There are ways to devote your worldly desires and spiritual needs together; it may not seem that way if you believe yourself to be the only one to be having a deviant sexuality.
People of a like mind search each other out to strengthen their sense of well-being and celebrate it together, so it is only right to find a community with a similar cultural and social lifestyle. Within BDSM there exists a power exchange which has been discussed an accepted as the central focal points of sadomasochism, rather than pain or other concepts. A style of BDSM that allows for women to assert their sexuality is through Goddess Worship.
Goddess worship is an activity within the spectrum of sadomasochism, which involves submission of an individual, predominantly male, which is trained to worship and appreciate the female dominatrix (ProDomme 2015). The BDSM community adopted the concept of a great figure being appreciated and admired, due to this the community created an adaptation to goddess worship, which removes the concept of religious undertones and incorporates a sexual element.
As stated before sadomasochism doesn’t necessarily involve sex; within goddess worship there are many styles of play, which includes a body worship fetish in the form of a Dom. requesting that a Sub. kisses, licks or interacts with a body part the mistress wishes to be admired. This form of BDSM play allows for one to explore and assert their dominant nature through play wile breaking the negative stigma related towards their sexual desires. By allowing a woman to be one with her erotic side, she can learn to break away from the negative stigma of sexuality.
By embracing the inner goddess within all women the erotic aspect of sexuality is embraced as well. Eroticism is a theory of art which focus on sexual desire embodied between both of the sexes; it is not limited to just the male species, however for women it has been suppressed by the male world. Western thought is used to discredit anything that is related to a female mentality with the suppression of their experiences, thoughts and opinions. Eroticism, if and when is explored by women is thought to be demeaning, why should it be honorable if explored by males?
Women have been suppressed an aspect of their life, which should be embraced with open minds and open arms. Sexuality and eroticism have always been used as a religious weapon to keep women in line and limit their mind frame. To allow the ‘same freedoms’ as their male counterparts, women would be seen as equal within a religious context, but they are to be contained and overpowered due to the fact that they are the ‘weaker sex’ and ‘seducers’ of the pure hearted males.
Within a social context women who express their erotic desires and are degraded while males are glorified with the amount of sexual partners they have ‘conquered’. With the exploration of eroticism it functions to further connect to oneself and to fully understand the possibilities of having the similar satisfactions within their daily lives. As women continue to explore their ability to break away from the negative connotation of sexuality they further gain the power to own their body.
By learning the value of sexuality through any form liberates one from the thought of spirituality as an inhibiting factor. To get an interpersonal connection with the subject I posted my topic on BDSM forums such as KinkTalk and LitErotica. Many of the patrons of the forum were not very responsive to the questions I had posted, so I waited for members to private message me personally without the intentions of asking the generalized questions I had. I spoke to the patrons as if we were friends in a nonjudgmental and safe zone having a conversation.
A patron, Jewels, who messaged me from LitErotica raised as a Hindu believed “spirituality takes humanist ideals and advocates a person should try to take as much pleasure from life as possible, my spirituality hasn’t conflicted with my fetishes, but rather has enhanced them” by allowing herself to accept that her spirituality didn’t refrain her from doing what makes her happy. This aspect of her life has allowed her to take great pride within herself and her sexuality rather than the shame that would come by not accepting that her sexuality and spirituality were fluid.
She was raised in a household where they identified as Hindu but many of the spiritual practices were never performed, however she always had an interest and looked into her cultural history and continued to not practice; she was interested in religion within a scholar like perspective she was intrigued by the history, art and iconography within the culture. She felt though those who were religious understood things that she would never understand but wish to see; much of the world was also too beautiful to all be coincidence so she believed within a higher power.
After finding out that her great grandmother used to be a gypsy from Agra she felt that she had the bloodline blessing to believe in the mystery that is earth and open herself to the possibilities around her. Although she got married to a lovely individual with whom she considers and equal and has a more intellectual relationship with she felt unfulfilled within her marriage. She wanted to have a tryst to fill the void so she posted on to BDSM forums her fantasy, after many responses one caught her attention.
Ever since then the connection she has with her Dom as she sates “bears all the hallmarks of indoctrination into a cult”, however not in the perverted sense more in the likeness of process in where intellect and belief are enmeshed. The ways she described that their relationship was religious in nature was: the way they spoke to each other, his love for her and she worship for him, the realization that the connection that they have is utterly sacred.
These are the attributes one has with the god/goddess of their religion, although it may not make sense to others it is a bond that is formed from absolute trust and love; the same exact bond one has within those they worship. Through this connection she has opened her eyes to her own personality and strength although she is a sub he makes her feel ferociously empowered. The journey a woman goes through to own and reclaim her sexuality is an experience one goes through due to the reality of conscious suppression with religion as a weapon.
The inability to understand the changes of her body, the appropriate responses to unwanted attention, how to react in the presences of threatening or non-threating figures are many signs that the use of religion and the negative connotation of sexuality, and the inability to connect with another who may not have the same ideals are factors that render the inhibiting factor of conscious sexual identity.
BDSM within its self is a liberating practice which allows for women to deconstruct the ideology that has been ingrained into their mind and remove the inhibiting factor that spirituality and sexuality are unable to come together. By also exploring ones cultural background to understand where change was formed assists in the removal of the negative connotation allows for women who practice BDSM to combine both their sexual identity and spirituality fluidly without having to create a block between them.