“A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?”
I open this discussion of the article Assaulting Sophia with a poem by William Butler Yeats. This was my first association upon diving in to the critical analysis provided by Cindy Dawson, from Rice University. As such, it makes a perfect pairing for our purposes here.
Assaulting Sophia provides an interesting narrative that may be familiar to you as a reader, through a kink lens. The Narcissistic personality traits of male partners in dominant roles is something we don’t only face in literature, mythological and religious text- it permeates the modern consciousness and places a lot at stake when entering in to agreements of power exchange.
Dawson’s take on the commodification of the female took me down many roads. I wonder how many individuals wish to feel like a sacred and protected “artifact” without realizing the potential risk to their identity as an individual. I, for one- felt a splitting apart while I read.
The brutality of masculinity so closely coupled with the desire to protect their feminine counterpart is stirring, erotic, and also problematic. So many of these same polarizing emotions and values appear in BDSM, kink and sex in general.
Can submission be just as powerful as dominance? Can women and feminine presenting individuals reclaim autonomy over our bodies with in submissive roles? Or are we to fall victim to what mythology and religion have made us? Will men forever see us as a Madonna/whore binary- or is there something to reclaim in those roles?
Let’s find out together.