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By Arlene (Ari) Istar Lev

Letter to the Editor Response: In the Family Magazine

Posted By on June 30, 2009

Letter to the Editor In the Family Magazine 
June 29, 1998 

Once again, In the Family has taken on challenging issues — s/m –with depth and grace! A number of years ago, I presented a workshop on s/m issues at the National Gay and Lesbian Health Conference, and the interest was so great they had to move it into the “grand ballroom;” despite this interest there is still mostly professional silence on this issue. There were two points I want to make in responding to this issue. The first concern was the use of the word feminism to represent the Carol Brockman’s, “strong, feminist-informed disquiet about s/m,” as if the “other side” does not have an equally feminist -informed analysis. Many practioners of s/m identify as feminists, and have equally compelling analyses that s/m play has led to a profound empowerment, and a reclaiming and healing of their sexual body. My point here is not to argue which side is correct, but rather to not allow one side to own feminist theory;  although feminism has certainly developed an anti- s/m theory it is simply not the only feminist analysis of s/m.  My other point is that on both sides of this polarized issue, the concerns for clients safety were similar. Whether one identified as clearly a supporter (and practioner) of s/m, or as a concerned opponent of patriarchically erotized power — both sides expressed the potential dangers of s/m play and the need accurate assessment of the issues involved, and both sides advocated for passion as integral to healthy intimacy. It is my hope that this discussion moves us closer to an open dialogue of healthy human sexuality.