VANILLA, BDSM, WHO CARES?

cage/whip

I finally started a new novel. It’s an erotic romance, which is a complete departure from the 2 romantic comedies I have written. But my muse writes the story. I find I have very little control over which way it goes.

Unfortunately, the writing has been very slow going because the muse has chosen to add certain facets to the story I am completely unfamiliar with, resulting in me having to do a crapload of research. One of my heroes is an artist, another is a pediatric neurosurgeon. My heroine owns horses. She teaches Gothic architecture at a college. I know of none of this stuff. Write what you know, they say. There’s a reason for that. You get your book written in half the time.

But my muse is stubborn and her ideas are firm. She wants elements of BDSM. I groaned when she first informed me of this. “No, no, no, there are enough Fifty Shades of Grey knockoffs, for goodness sake,” I complained. But the bitch wants what she wants.

Now, researching the BDSM lifestyle is interesting because it has obviously exploded since the 3 Fifty books came out. I understand the BDSM community has felt misunderstood in the past, that outsiders think it’s all about abuse, and Fifty is in no way an accurate representation of an authentic Dom/sub relationship.

I’ve been reading tons of blogs. I’ve talked to both men and women involved in the lifestyle. I’ve joined private groups on Facebook, and followed many pages of Doms, Dommes, subs, and littles. Private groups on Facebook, and even certain blogs on Tumblr portray the lifestyle pretty accurately. Their main objective is to provide accurate information, which is vital so participants don’t get taken advantage of, or worse, injured.

The public fan pages on Facebook mystify me though. Obviously, erotic authors have professional fan pages with provocative photos and/or relevant articles related to whatever they’re writing about, but this is done to sell books. I can’t figure out why any Dom or a Mistress would create a fan page just for the hell of it. Entertainment? A creative outlet? Ego? And they have tons of followers, mind you. We’re talking thousands. It’s like they’re celebrities.

Dommes post erotic photos (within FB guidelines), which are like the clean version of porn stills, so the comments are all by middle-aged to older men wishing it was them being stepped on with spike heels or paddled or walked outside with a leash. “Yes, Mistress,” Please, Mistress,” “I love you, Mistress.” But Mistresses make it clear they’re not to be solicited for business.

Dom pages are even worse, because women as a whole seem to be particularly vulnerable to men who come across as assertively sexy or provocative. Doesn’t matter that these women have no idea what the man looks like. Hell, he could be posting while sitting on a dirty, ripped couch in stained underwear, swigging a Bud, but if they portray themselves as sensitive and in touch with women’s feelings (while being DOMINANT, of course), women swoon like prepubescent girls paging through Tiger Beat Magazine.

“Oh, Sir, if only I could find a man like you.” “Sir, your words hit me right in my solar plexus.” “Sir, Sir, Sir…”

It feels a little cult-like to me. Why should a stranger call someone they don’t know “Sir” if he’s not your Sir. No one addresses a “Daddy” as such. It’s way too personal a title. Another thing I’ve noticed is a lot of middle-aged Doms prefer emotionally-broken 20-somethings. I’m not sure if this is because they feel they can save them or mold them, or what. And FFS, does every Dom have to be a polygamist and an exhibitionist? Seems like their most important pastime in life is going to dungeon parties, picking out a new, young impressionable thing, getting her up on a St. Andrew’s cross and going to town on her.

It’s bad enough practically every single kinky picture involves young, thin, and firm. (Isn’t this what “vanilla” people complain about all the time?) In a lifestyle claiming diversity and open-mindedness, where the fuck is the diversity? Where are all the middle-aged, thick women? Surely, there are plenty. And in a community that preaches non-judgment, they’re pretty freaking judgmental when it comes to a vanilla lifestyle. If a couple wants to have vanilla sex and it’s satisfying to them, who is anyone to judge? Just because someone enjoys being whipped or humiliated or tied up doesn’t make them any more edgy than someone who prefers being vanilla. (Oh, how I despise that banal term.)

I guess what I’m questioning is the need for some people to have their sexuality right out there in the open. Is it really anyone’s business what their kinks are? Why do they feel the need to share them with the rest of the world? If I came out as a lesbian, I don’t think I’d start a public Facebook page and only post things regarding homosexuality. By making it your sole identity, it goes against what gay people ultimately want—to be like everyone else by not having their sexuality singled out.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just a cranky, private, introverted, non-exhibitionist monogamist.

I’d love to hear anyone’s views on the subject.

FIFTY SHADES OF OH CRAP

wedding vow

I wasn’t ever going to post on Fifty Shades of Grey. I am well aware of the fact that there are already thousands upon thousands of opinions out there regarding this first novel in E.L. James’ erotic romance trilogy. These novels have been discussed ad nauseam, by everyone who doesn’t live under a rock. What I have to say about it is neither enlightening nor profound, and yet, I still can’t seem to keep my pie hole shut regardless.

Now I haven’t read FSOG in its entirety, because the writing is so atrocious that I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’d rather get a gynecological exam, or have my nipples clamped, or my clit whipped, or…well, you get the idea. I’ve been reading excerpts of it in blog posts penned by a hilarious writer who is critiquing the book chapter-by-chapter, and just from those horrid excerpts, I feel I’ve seen enough. If you want a good laugh, you should check out her blog: jenniferarmintrout.blogspot.com. You won’t be sorry.

“Lighten up!” the fans say to us haters. “It’s just a book.” Ah yes, but to writers it means so much more. It signifies a poorly-written piece of work unjustly catapulted to the top of the bestseller list. There are so many talented writers in the world who have been toiling away for years, and yet their words will never see the published page.

Most writers spend hours upon hours painstakingly choosing the right word to use, searching for a way to describe something that causes the reader to see it in a new light, mulling over phrases so as not to be cliché, and yet here is an author whose heroine “flushes” or “blushes” 125 times. Really, I’m not kidding. Certain repetitive phrases or words have been searched for on Kindle, and here are some of the things that came up:

The heroine bites her lip 35 times.

Characters raise their eyebrows 50 times.

The heroine says “Jeez” 81 times.

The heroine says “Oh my” 72 times.

Characters murmur 199 times.

Characters whisper 195 times.

There are 92 repetitions of the heroine saying some form of crap, from “Oh crap,” “Holy crap,” “Double crap,” and when she’s on a really good one, “Triple crap.”

Now, I’m not expecting Jane Austen or even Anaïs Nin here, but I expect a writer to have some standards, for God’s sake! Yes, I know FSOG was originally written as Twilight fanfic, a methadone of sorts for all the Twihards going through withdrawals. Yes, I know that even though this is the author’s first published novel, no one, including her publisher, felt the need to use the services of an editor. Yes, I know E. L. James’s inner goddess, subconscious, Id, ego, super-ego, clitoris, spleen, and what have you are all laughing their way to the bank.

Sadly, this leaves me with only one thing to say to the fans of Fifty: SHAME ON YOU!

Shame on you for praising a novel that reads like it was written by an over-sexed twelve-year-old.

Shame on you for glorifying an extremely jealous, possessive and controlling hero, who at times, is downright creepy. (For all you wives out there wishing your husbands were more like Christian Grey, get thee to a therapist and fast!)

Shame on you for buying into the fantasy that the only thing a broken man needs in order to be “fixed” is the love of a good woman. Anyone who has ever been involved with an abusive man or a “bad boy” knows what a crock of shit that is. Just go to the local women’s shelter and ask some of them.

Shame on you all you bored, frustrated housewives out there who think light BDSM is way kinky and totally “out there,” and/or is a fetish that needs to be cured. I get that your husbands are passive vanilla pussies in bed, but please, do yourselves a favor and go buy yourselves some quality erotica that doesn’t degrade women.

I’ve come to the sad conclusion that based on what constitutes a bestseller nowadays, our society prefers their reading to be more on the Kraft macaroni & cheese and Wonder bread side. No one wants to have to look up a word, and based on the fact that the “average” American reads at a 7th or 8th grade level, or hardly at all, the choices of reading material is going to be limited. And probably have mostly pictures.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise though, considering we’re the same culture that has made the members of “Jersey Shore” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” millionaires.

So I guess I don’t begrudge the author of FSOG anything. If someone were offering me boatloads of money for crap I’d written, I certainly wouldn’t go on national television apologizing for my crap. In my humble opinion, it’s our society that’s fifty shades of fucked up.