Hot Dystopias – My Fantasies Of Totalitarian Control

I’ve never heard George Orwell described as an erotic writer, but 1984 contains passages that work for me at that level. The following one, for example, leading up to the arrest of the protagonist Winston and his lover Julia:

It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late – no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall. There was a snap as though a catch had been turned back, and a crash of breaking glass. The picture had fallen to the floor, uncovering the telescreen behind it.

“Now they can see us,” said Julia.

“Now we can see you,” said the voice. “Stand out in the middle of the room. Stand back to back. Clasp your hands behind your heads. Do not touch one another.”

They were not touching, but it seemed to him that he could feel Julia’s body shaking. Or perhaps it was merely the shaking of his own. He could just stop his teeth from chattering, but his knees were beyond his control. There was a sound of trampling boots below, inside the house and outside. The yard seemed to be full of men.

The control exerted over Winston and Julia by the totalitarian system personified as Big Brother is entirely non-consensual, of course, not to mention brutal and suffocating. I’m in no rush to trade my mutually fulfilling BDSM relationship with My Lady for a one-way ticket to some cruel dystopia. Nevertheless, dystopias can be amazingly hot as settings for submissive fantasies of the starker and more impersonal variety. The same dark little part of my psyche that is deeply fascinated by prisons and incarceration is irresistibly drawn to the idea of living in a society where I would be subject to strict rules and constant surveillance, and risk being told to stand still and await arrest with my hands behind my head if I stepped out of line. As a devotee of female power I’d just prefer that the iron voice from the wall belonged to Big Sister, rather than Big Brother.

The kind of system described in 1984 is just one possibility, though. Hot dystopias come in endless varieties, united only by the incorporation of various forms of inequality, coercion, exploitation, sadism and totalitarian control into the social fabric. A capitalist version of 1984 might feature lifelong “unpaid internships” that amounted to virtual slavery, or perhaps a system of voluntary but literal and legally binding slavery to which the poor would flock out of desperation. A variation on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, a futuristic novel in which only people who had completed a term of military service were treated as full citizens with voting rights, could require young men and women to submit to two years of indentured servitude in exchange for citizenship. Or perhaps just the men would be expected to submit, not just for a couple of years but for the rest of their natural lives? As each generation reached the age of majority, everyone would then be acutely aware that the women were headed for productive and fulfilling careers whereas the men were going to end up as their abject slaves.

Under that system, as I imagine it, a man would be allowed to celebrate his 21st birthday, but afterwards he’d have exactly 180 days to report to his local Male Employment Recruitment Centre (I like to think Orwell would approve of the name). At the Centre he’d be taken into custody, branded with a unique number, and subjected to a battery of assessment procedures that would determine his future placement. Some men would be sold to women as personal slaves, others would made available to corporations and other employers as highly trainable slave workers, and the most unfortunate (except possibly those who ended up as the personal slaves of very sadistic owners) would be sent to grim labour camps where they’d toil away under relentless overseers who might be either androids or women with bionic enhancements that gave them overwhelming physical strength.

Democracy and equality are so nice by comparison, and also (that dark little part of my psyche insists) so painfully boring. It’s a good thing I have My Lady to tell me what to do, ensure I’m never burdened with too much freedom, comfort or dignity, and make me squeal now and then.

Female Supremacy Might Be A Nice Place To Visit

French filmmaker Eléonore Pourriat has been getting a lot of attention for her short movie Oppressed Majority, about the travails of a man in a matriarchal society.

 But something is different in Pierre’s world. Women are in charge. They run around barechested – hey, it’s hot! – piss in an alley, and offer sexual favours to Pierre when he is stuck at a red light. (He’s riding a bike, so his lack of physical barriers provides an opportunity if not a provocation.) Events culminate when Pierre is sexually assaulted at knifepoint. Inevitably, the police officer who takes Pierre’s statement is female. She raises an eyebrow, but only to check for accuracy: “She pinched my testicles … then she took my penis in her mouth and bit it”?

The movie is undoubtedly intended as feminist satire, and I suppose it works at that level even if it’s a bit heavy-handed and obvious. However, watching Pierre’s misadventures also appealed to my submissive side and left me thinking that his “world” might be an interesting one to explore, if only to solve the mystery of how the ladies maintained their power over the hapless menfolk. When my thoughts drift to daydreams of being an oppressed male in a country ruled by women, there’s generally at least a vague explanation for the power imbalance woven into the fantasy – a goddessy religion that even the men take seriously, a particularly capable female politician who worked her way into a position of near-absolute power and then began deliberately appointing other women to all the high-level posts, even a reversal of normal human sexual dimorphism.

In such a country there would still be women who were impoverished or otherwise down on their luck, just as some men are stuck in that position in even the most patriarchal cultures, but all or almost all of the most prestigious and influential jobs would be occupied by members of the female half of the species. Outside office hours, men would be expected to defer to their mothers, sisters and girlfriends until they were given away as blushing grooms, after which time they would begin deferring to their wives. A responsible wife, for her part, would provide her husband with direction and loving but firm discipline. Men who worked outside the home would expect to have a female boss, or perhaps a male boss who in turn answered to a female boss. Male athletes and entertainers might attract a following, but would still end up beholden to the female executives who owned the sports teams, record companies and movie studios. Nearly all police and customs officers would be female, and men who failed to show them sufficient respect would be given a hard time as a matter of course.

On a practical level, this might not be the best way to organise society, given that a lot of male talent would go to waste. If the sexes are more or less equal in their cognitive abilities and leadership potential, which seems more likely than not, then excluding either of them from positions of power and responsibility is counterproductive as well as simply unfair. In contrast to what card-carrying female supremacists like Saharah Eve and (to some extent) Elise Sutton might say, I don’t think that men in general should be subordinate to women in general, or that institutionalising this kind of arrangement would make the world a better or happier place.

However, I’m pretty sure that I would enjoy living under matriarchal rule, at least for a while. I submit to My Lady partly because I’m strongly drawn to female authority, so a society in which authority and femaleness were joined at the hip would suit me just fine. There’s also something intensely compelling about the idea of being automatically reduced to second-class citizenship, inescapably assigned to an inferior caste, because I happen to have a penis. I have no plans to help usher in the day when the world bows down before a cabal of Supreme Overladies, but I can’t help thinking that female supremacy would be a nice place to visit. Closer to home, I tend to be just a little more naturally supportive of businesses, political parties and other organisations that are run by women. Believing that men and women are about equally likely to make good leaders doesn’t mean, after all, that I can’t choose to lavish a bit of extra appreciation on good leaders who happen to be female.