For starters, you're wrong about BDSM. You're insulting both the mentally ill and all the perfectly happy, normal BDSM practitioners out there. Freud sucks, because when he found out that his women patients had been molested by family, friends, and authority figures, he decided that his career meant more than their mental health, so he declared it to be all 'fantasies'----which gave generations of sexists the ability to dismiss women by saying, "See, she secretly fantasized about it." Nowadays, it's a known fact that rape victims---such as Freud's patients----suffer from PTSD at a rate that's equalled by just one other group in the population-----soldiers.
There's nothing wrong with BDSM if practiced between consenting adults. Aside from the fact that the author is making money off of bad fanfic, it's badly written, the characters are flat, and the there's so much repetition I'm surprised Ana doesn't wind up biting her lip on every page.
Anne Rice, you are entirely missing M. L. Woolley's point. Saying that women have the "right" to entertain dark, kinky fantasies makes as much sense as saying that we should have the right to play Russian Roulette. (If you don't know what that is, Google it.) Why should we clamor for the right to do something harmful to ourselves? Does that make any sense?? It's even silly to start talking about "rights" at all; the right is ours, it's always been ours. No one can dictate your decisions. It's just a matter of what decision you want to make that's good for you in the long haul. What other people think (or what you THINK other people are thinking) shouldn't make a difference.
I think we all know there is no happy ending to abusive relationships, not in real life and not in our imaginations. One fantasy feeds another until we are anything but liberated - we're made discontent by our own "harmless", yet obsessive, thoughts! It's NOT healthy as you say, and it's time we woke up and smelled the coffee.
P.S. Acting like a "good girl" is as much a woman's choice as acting like a bad one. On the contrary, if there is any social pressure to act like either, the pressure is on being a bad girl. The only real expectations of how we should behave as individuals are in our OWN heads.
That makes no sense at all. Plenty of nice normal healthy people play around with BDSM.
Far from being sexually liberating, this book is the epitome of the status quo. If, as Ms. Rice suggests elsewhere, this book is somehow transgressive and edgy, it would feature characters that didn't so neatly reflect the standards of the romantic novel industry and the source from which Ms. James drew her material.
I'd like to see a heroine who doesn't bite her lip every two pages, who has a healthy sense of self esteem, who sleeps around, who doesn't care what she weighs, isn't one of those "I didn't know I was beautiful" Mary Sue types, and so on. Basically, if you want a truly adventurous sexual fantasy, you'd have to take every trope and cliche in this novel and turn it upside down.
J.L. Allen, it's very patronizing to tell a best-selling author to look up what Russian Roulette is. Ms. Rice and I disagree, but that's just plain rude.
As to the notion that no one can affect your rights, that's also inaccurate. The number of women and other people who are prevented from exercising their rights is stupendous.
What most of the argument is about is style, how the author unwittingly depicted an abuser as a hero, and whether or not the status quo can be passed off as something transgressive.
(Some people have apparently fallen for the latter item.)
J.L. Allen, I think it is you who is missing the point.
You do not get to decide what is healthy for anyone else sexually. You don't get to define my choices, or anyone else's, as "normal," "good," or "bad." In this novel, a grown woman makes a decision to engage in a BDSM relationship with an adult male. That is NOT abuse. I think it is interesting to ponder why these traditional depictions of masculinity and femininity are so increasingly popular in a post-feminist culture, but it is not for me or you to pass judgment on those who willingly and consentually engage in BDSM.
Your point about my comment to "Look up Russian Roulette" was well-taken. First of all, I didn't think that the person going by Anne Rice was really the authoress. My assumption was that it was the username of an Anne Rice fan. Secondly, I did realize after posting it that such a statement would probably sound patronizing, when I didn't intend it that way. I simply didn't want to make a vague allusion to something that may or may not be well-known (certainly not everyone I know has heard of Russian Roulette). My apologies to all those offended.
As for my "notion" that no one can effect your rights- let me clarify. I was not saying that no one is or ever has been affected by social expectations, and/or have had their rights taken away. Of course not! First of all, I was talking strictly within the context of superficial expectations; I'm not going to delve into the matter of those who are actually prevented from their rights, because that's a whole other matter - related, yes, but not to this discussion.
That being said, we ARE almost constantly affected by others' opinions - IF we allow ourselves to be. I'm not suggesting that we become Superwomen overnight and act like there isn't a world around us- but there are healthy ways of interacting with others and considering their opinions. What I was arguing is the knee-jerk, albeit very popular, mentality of "I will act/read/believe/dream whatever I want REGARDLESS of whether it's even good for me, and especially if people are telling me that it's not." Raising the flag of feminism every time someone hints that something is (gasp!) morally, even psychologically unhealthy for us as women, is not even feminism. So much of what women do in the name of self-empowerment is a backwards march into objectifying themselves all over again, and it starts with reading the kind of junk that promotes this thinking. I hope someone out there begins to see my point.
Disclaimer: I am not a grandmother, a therapist, an Amish person, a man, nor anyone over 25.
I am not missing the point. I see all of your "points" all too clearly. And it makes me believe in mine all the more. Yes, I am loudly and proudly passing judgment on people who pursue disgusting behavior for their own amusement. Consenting, conshmenting. "Consenting" to abusive sex does not make the sex any less abusive. Abuse is abuse. Abuse is wrong. Or so it was, last time I checked. I fail to see how this act of consenting is not pure masochism. It doesn't matter if it's in the privacy of someone's room - society is crumbling because of this kind of behavior and those that condone it as a 21st-century freedom. It's a slap in the face of human dignity...whatever shreds of it we have left.
I expect this will incur a lot of riled comments, but I couldn't give a rat's patooty. This whole discussion is already making me ill. I won't be revisiting this site again soon.
I agree 100 percent with J.L. Allen. Everyone has the right to pick what they read, but they shouldn't expect all choices to be treated equally. As if "choice" meant that you are free to whatever disgusting thing you want. PORN IS WRONG, PEOPLE!!! You can talk all you want about "freedom", and you most certainly are free to read porn, but please be honest with yourselves. ;)
Oh, and another good point that Allen made was the fact that today society is actually pushing people to follow bad examples.
You want to see a book by an author who took this controversial dominance theme and did something really interesting with it? Try 'Master and Slave: A Covert Love Story.' What it is is a combination erotica-love story-fairy tale. with all the erotic elements in place, but a lot of high spirits and whimsy. Master is definitely Master, but his affection for slave is apparent in every page. Both Master and slave have a great sense of humor. This book is actually literary!
I have not read these books yet, and they're next on my list so that I can really join in the discussion, however I have read many reviews on them. Two in particular were of interest to me because the were written by two separate people who had ACTUAL experience with BDSM. I have no problem with BDSM or anything else that consenting adults do behind closed doors. I do not think BDSM is abusive at all. However, from what these two women described, the relationship in this novel IS abuse and IS unhealthy. It is not at all an accurate portrayal of an actual healthy BDSM relationship according to people who are actively involved in that lifestyle. It appears that Christian is a controlling manipulative jerk in desperate need of long term therapy, and a horrible failure as a Dom on top that.
Again, I haven't read it, but I can't wait until I do so that I can come back and argue about it! :D
I think the key here is understanding where Christian's lifestyle came from and appreciating his personal growth as the trilogy progresses. Therein lies the beauty of the novels. What I found a bit repulsive initially, I got past as he started to change. It became apparent that deep down he did indeed have a heart and in his own flawed way, he gave it to Anastasia. That's sweet, and THAT is what resonates with women. He also relinquished some of his control as the story progressed, and the "control" he continued to exercise was predominantly with regard to her safety. And what woman doesn't want to be safely cocooned in the adoration of a gorgeous man? His intentions were pure; his actions were sometimes flawed. The key is to read all the way through - don't stop at the first sign of trouble - all the way through all three books. And I should note that I have no experience with or desire for BDSM. It's not even a genre I would typically read, but I LOVED these books!
J.L. Penn - great post ... and I agree, you have to read all 3 books to see how deeply Christian loves Ana. I think the compromise that the two of them came up with is truly the lesson to be learned here ... BDSM isn't my thing either, but as I've said here before - that's why Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors. If it's two consenting adults and no one is getting injured - then go for it ....
I'm glad he loves Anastasia, but so what? Abuse isn't about love or lack thereof. Abuse and love are not mutually exclusive. I'm sure many abusers do love the people they abuse, or they have made themselves believe that what they are doing is "good for them". It doesn't make it right, and it doesn't make it healthy. I've just started reading this, so I can't comment on the entire trilogy, but a relationship like this IS NOT healthy. It's not desirable. It should not continue.
J.L. Penn wrote: "And what woman doesn't want to be safely cocooned in the adoration of a gorgeous man?" NONE! Not if this is the form that "adoration" takes. No woman would want this. Are you kidding? This is a controlling and manipulative relationship which any woman in their right mind would not be happy living in, so I find it a little disturbing that it's displayed at "normal if not a little kinky". If you actually stop and rationally think about yourself in this relationship, you would be miserable. I'm glad Christian gets better as the novels progress, but no woman should just "put up with it" until the day her man gradually comes around (because so often abusers do not change without professional help). Again, what Christian needs is not a relationship such as this one, what he needs is long term professional therapy so that he can overcome his issues in a healthy way and not hurt others in the process.
I noticed that the past two replies have both said they don't know about BDSM and that it's not really their thing. Well, I do happen know about BDSM (just casually... I don't have a dungeon in my basement or anything). This relationship in no way resembles a mutually beneficial BDSM relationship, and if the author's intention was to bring that topic to light and present it in a positive way (in other words, being a normal part of human sexuality, and not something that "only freaks are into"), then she has failed miserably. A dom/sub relationship is supposed to be 100% consensual by BOTH parties 100% of the time. There should also be the utmost respect and trust between the two partners. The partners should have open communication at all times. A dominant should know his partner well enough, and his/her limits well enough (this is why open communication and trust are so important), that the use of a safe word is rarely necessary. In the event that limits are reached, however, a sub should always feel comfortable safewording. None of these things happen here. Love or not, this is an ugly relationship where both parties would be better off if they separated.
I have been in the lifestyle for 21 years and I do not believe bdsm relationships are inherently abusive. They CAN be, of course, just as vanilla relationships can be. But to have a healthy relationship a female submissive has to be extraordinarily strong and self-aware. This is especially true in TPE. It is not generally recommended for those who are innocent, naive, and especially not for women with low self-esteem!! More than anything it's not for women who don't enjoy submission (or pain) and want that for themselves. It is NOT for weak minded chits who are just "willing to put up with a certain amount of it" because they are so "crazy in love."
This book does not describe a bdsm relationship. It describes n emotionally crippled but wealthy douche bag who gets off on punishing his mother through his lookalike submissive stand ins. What he has isn't a fetish; it's a psychological disorder. It is abuse. And the fact that Ana tolerates it doesn't make it less abusive. Does the battered wife who goes back to her husband not count as abused? Do we call that marriage healthy because she refuses to press charges?
This depiction of bdsm was very, VERY poorly researched. It appears as though the author spent 20 minutes on google and then said to herself, "well if it's on the Internet it MUST be true. Anyway, most of my readers will be vanilla and too dumb to know the difference." it's sad to see she seems to be at least partly correct.
I was worried, too, about this book sending the wrong message to women, especially young women and young men. In fact, I just discussed this with my husband today. It certainly can. There have been people who have said for men to read this book to see what women like, what turns them on. What?! I don't agree. I think Christian in the book is a Jekyll/Hyde figure. Because he is a *fictional* character! He is demanding, controlling, mentallly physically abusive, and he is nurturing, protective, kind, and pleases a woman any way he can and loves her. The love story is very compelling and heart-opening. There is unconditional love, healing, trust, and honesty involved. These are very good books, as a female fantasy only, I believe as an indulgent escape! And they are very well done so much that women are reading them over and over again. Including me, I read them so fast, within a week, I will re-read them more slowly. But they are an escape/fantasy, and never an example of how to reenact your life in a marriage or relationship. Other than to open your imagination in the bedroom perhaps.