Saturday, August 30, 2014

Judgment day

Well, folks, Monday morning I got an email from my baby. Bless his heart, he passes enough stuff on to me to keep me busy for several months. This, however, was something he was pretty sure I'd be interested in and this time, he was more than right.

So here's my disclaimer: If you have a problem with "swear words," you might just want to back out of this right now because it's fixin' to get all crazy up in here. I read this "study" and just about shoved my fist through my computer screen.

I've debated whether to put the link in this post or actually dump the text. I've decided I'll give you the text because, quite frankly, I want to go back and reference comments from it.

So read this. Some of you will need inhalers. I know I almost did. The actual link is Oh, and note the graphic lurking over there to the right in my sidebar. Seems some other people found this to be useless too.


Women who read Fifty Shades 'more likely to have unhealthy behaviors'

Monday 25 August 2014 - 12am PST

MNT FeaturedAcademic Journal

"Mr. Grey will see you now." Just these words are likely to send many women into a frenzy. The Fifty Shades novels by British author E.L. James have been a global phenomenon, selling more than 100 million copies worldwide. But although reading a book may seem harmless, a new study suggests young adult women who read these erotic novels are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors that are risk factors for abusive relationships.

romantic novel
Women who read Fifty Shades are more likely to have unhealthy behaviors that are risk factors for abusive relationships, according to new research.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fifty Shades, the story revolves around the sexual endeavors of two characters: Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
In the first of the series - Fifty Shades of Grey - Steele, a literature student described as "unworldly" and "innocent," meets Grey, a man who is charming, intelligent, but who has a dark, controlling side.
They then embark in a "daring, passionately physical" affair, or as lead study author Amy Bonomi of Michigan State University deems it, an abusive relationship. This continues throughout the subsequent two novels - Fifty Shades Darker andFifty Shades Freed.
According to the researchers, the erotic series "depicts pervasive violence against women, perpetuating a broader social narrative that normalizes these types of risks and behaviors in women's lives."
Is there a relationship between reading these books and unhealthy behaviors in real life? Bonomi and colleagues from The Ohio State University wanted to find out.

Fifty Shades fans 'more likely to binge drink, have abusive partners and eating disorders'

For their study, recently published in the Journal of Women's Health, the team analyzed 655 women between the ages of 18 and 24 - a time in women's lives when they are most likely to explore greater sexual intimacy in relationships, according to Bonomi.
Of these women, 122 had read all three Fifty Shades novels, 97 had read at least the first novel but not all three, and 436 had not read any part of the novels.
The team found that, compared with women who had not read any of the books, the women who had read the first novel were 25% more likely to have a partner who verbally abused them, 34% more likely to have a partner who showed stalking tendencies, and 75% more likely to have starved themselves for more than 24 hours or to have used dieting aids.
Furthermore, women who had read all three books were 65% more likely to engage in binge drinking - defined as drinking five or more drinks in one sitting on 6 days or more every month - and were 63% more likely to have had five or more sexual partners in their lifetime, compared with those who had not read any of the books.
Bonomi admits that one limitation of this study is that they were not able to determine whether these behaviors were already pre-existing among the women. But she says that even if they were, reading the books may still pose problems.
She explains:
"If women experienced adverse health behaviors such as disordered eating first, reading Fifty Shades might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma.
Likewise, if they read Fifty Shades before experiencing the health behaviors seen in our study, it's possible the books influenced the onset of these behaviors."

Unhealthy behaviors 'risk factors for abusive relationships'

Bonomi notes that she is not recommending that the book should be banned, nor is she trying to dictate what books women should or should not read.
But she says it is important that women understand that the unhealthy behaviors linked to reading Fifty Shades demonstrated in this study are risk factors for engaging in violent relationships.
In an attempt to reduce these risks, Bonomi says that parents and teachers should have conversations with children from a young age about sexuality and expectations of body image and gender roles.
In addition, she believes children and young adults should be taught to be critical when it comes to watching movies, reading books or consuming other media that demonstrates violence.
"We recognize that the depiction of violence against women in and of itself is not problematic, especially if the depiction attempts to shed serious light on the problem," Bonomi adds. "The problem comes when the depiction reinforces the acceptance of the status quo, rather than challenging it."
Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, revealing that almost 10% of youths under the age of 21 have instigated sexual violence.

I posed some interesting questions on Facebook this week in preparation for this post. One was how abuse is defined; another was how much countrol should the government have over what goes on in our bedrooms; from a male Dominant/female submissive standpoint, is BDSM degrading to women; and how much credence is given to research. I thought those were relevant to the article above, and I got some surprising answers.

Most of those who thought BDSM was degrading to women were abuse victims themselves. Pretty much no one thought the government had any business trying to regulate what happens in the privacy of a person's bedroom. Defining abuse was a little harder, and I, along with others, leaned toward the legal aspect, although what is illegal is often not truly abuse. As for the research, well, one only has to look above to see the flaws there.

The first thing I did when I read this was try to find out who funded this so-called research. The lead study author was from Michigan State University, with the balance from The Ohio State University. There was no indication regarding funding, so I'm left to guess that perhaps Bonomi is working on a thesis for some level of graduate degree. I also checked Medical News Today, the organization that published this, and found that it's independently funded. So my reasoning that perhaps it was funded by some über-conservative group fell flat.

Before I go any farther, let me explain to you that, regardless what you or I think, FSOG is indeed about a physically abusive relationship. The things depicted in those books are NOT what BDSM is about, not at all. In the books, we see a damaged, sexually abused man trying to transfer enough pain to get to a breakthrough, and a young woman who's determined to see him through. And let me tell you, if a guy with a multi-million-dollar corporation and a helicopter wanted to cane me, I'd probably let him. I can do anything if I know it will eventually come to an end.

In light of the knowledge that FSOG really is abusive, I also realize that a lot of readers are reading for the titillation and don't get the implications. They want the rumpus in the sack. Many of them started out with FSOG and then moved on to works like mine, Kallypso Master, Red Phoenix, Lexie Blake, Shayla Black, and many others too numerous to mention. The difference in our works is that the BDSM is far more true to life (although there is no real submissive training school, but I wish there were, Red). Sure, sometimes they supposedly occur in exotic locations, but the message is the same: Mutual satisfaction, a deep level of caring, and even love.

And there's the kicker. True BDSM is all about trust, respect, and communication. It's why I keep telling women that if they're married and find a Dom who'll work with them without their husband's knowledge or consent, they should RUN LIKE HELL! That's neither honorable nor trustworthy. And if they do not inform said Dom and he finds out, well, I wouldn't want to be her, no I would not. With that in mind, the BDSM depicted in FSOG is nowhere near the real thing, at least not as practiced by responsible individuals.

But knowing what I know, this article made me bristle big time. I was tee-totally fucking pissed that all BDSM works were lumped into the same category with FSOG. While I read and liked the books, they in no way represent the entire genre. With my pissed-offedness in mind, I started to parse out the article. And here's what I found.

They claim that the 219 out of 655 women in this study, ages 18-24, who read at least the first book, if not all three, were more likely to have partners who verbally abused them, stalked them, or they were more apt to use diet aids or starve themselves. So I have a question for them: Could it be that these young women were looking for a way to understand how they got themselves into that predicament? Or could they possibly just be more sexually open, and thereby attract the wrong men who would gravitate to women in that age group? Let me be clear here: Women ages 18-24 are higher on the risk-taking scale for EVERYTHING, not just behaviors that lead to abusive relationships. It's part of being young and seemingly invincible.

Nowhere in this study did it mention the socio-economic standings of the women in the study. Could that by any chance have an effect? It most certainly does. If the 219 women in the study were economically underprivileged, they would be more likely to engage in risky behavior in their search for some relief from their financial impoverishment. Didn't the researchers think that might be important?

As for the binge drinking data, we are talking about young women of college age. Ditto for the numerous sexual partners. It stands to reason that if they're reading books like FSOG, they're likely more sexually open and, therefore, have probably experimented sexually more than their counterparts. And at that age, that's all BDSM really is - sexual experimentation. Listen, if you haven't figured out that NO ONE in that age range is a sexual expert or BDSM master, then you've got a double load of shit for brains. The entire idea of someone below thirty being experienced enough to be a sexpert is ludicrous. There may be the one lone individual who's old beyond their years, but just one. Really. I'm not kidding. Otherwise, they aren't out there, folks.

And did it ever occur to these researchers that the ones who said they didn't drink or have multiple sex partners might be lying? I think that's entirely probable. I mean, if you ask females in that age range those kinds of questions, do you really think all of them are going to be truthful? Hey, I raised a girl. I know what they do and don't want people to know. Good luck with that.

The study goes on to state that if one had an eating disorder before, the books might glorify that, and even suggested that the books might be the cause of the onset of these behaviors. Really? Wow. Those are some pretty powerful books E.L.'s got there. They must be magic. I'll have to remember that. But toward the end of the article, they acquiesce in that books depicting violence against women aren't inherently bad if they're used to shed light on the problem, but are dangerous if they're to be taken as the norm. Again, I do believe most people, even younger people, know that the behaviors in FSOG are not considered normal in any context. Not only that, but I think most people know that the scenario in the books is totally fantasy. My baby has a helicopter too - he got it last year for the holidays from one of the kids, and it takes four AA batteries. He's run that thing into the curtains so many times that I want to snap it in half.

But here's the part I loved. Bonomi admits that the data leaves out whether or not these behaviors and problems existed before the women read the books.

Whoa. Here's my question: How the HELL can you make the correlation between the books and the aforementioned problems if you don't know whether or not these young women were partaking in these behaviors BEFORE the study? Listen, I don't know a lot about studies - didn't think I'd ever be doing one, so my brain kinda slipped into neutral during that part of statistics class - but even I know that studies must have controls, and that would definitely be one of the most important controls they could have. How can you infer a correlation between an increase in one thing juxtaposed with another if you have no idea of its levels beforehand? Without that simple information, how can you even call this research data?

In short, how irresponsible could they be for publishing this? Pretty damned irresponsible, I'd say. So irresponsible that it irked me right down to my pedicured toenails.

So I want to go on record as saying this:

I'm insulted. I'm insulted regarding the way this study was done and the assumption that my view of FSOG could be changed by incomplete data. I'm insulted for all of the responsible, safe, sane, consensual, and conscientious BDSM practitioners out there and what this study attempted to say about them, their kink, and their partners. I'm insulted that it's assumed that reading a book could cause a person to binge drink, starve themselves, and sleep around. Crapola, I say. This study smacks of bigotry, ignorance, and sexual frigidity. Matter of fact, I'm more than insulted - I'm downright incensed.

Let me do a study like this. I guaran-damn-tee you the results would be different, and I'd do it the right way, with the correct controls and all of the data. I'm tired of talking heads pontificating regarding things about which they know absolutely nothing. Stop picking on peoples' lifestyles. Stop trying to make sex the devil. Go to the adult store, get yourself a dildo, and get laid. Because with your attitudes about sex and kink, you're going to have a hard time finding a real person who'll want you. And leave the rest of us alone.

Damn it, break out the wrist restraints and my Lelo flogger. I feel a heavy-duty session coming on.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Reads: Story of O by Pauline Réage

I know I usually feature contemporary writes in this space, but this is a read with which you should be familiar if you're at all interested in BDSM, more specificially Dominant/submissive and/or Master/slave relationships. It's not a new book by any means; written in 1954, it has piqued the interest of readers for years now. Along with the subject matter, the mystery surrounding the book has kept it in the minds of not only readers but also writers in the erotic romance and erotica genres over the decades. This week's feature is the infamous Story of O.

I'd like to be able to give you a spectacular graphic, but I can't. You can't buy this book from Amazon, Matter of fact, it's hard to get anywhere, but I do have a source. If you can't find a copy, well, I'd say let me know and I'll help you, but there are a finite number of copies still in circulation, so go on a hunt and see if you can find it.

This is a book that doesn't have spoilers because it really doesn't have a plot. Well, it kind of does, but not really. The plot is the sexual acts that take place within the book and, with that in mind, it qualifies as pure erotica. And there are lots of sexual acts, plenty. The protagonist of the book, a Parisian photographer in the fashion industry, is known only as "O" throughout the book.
She is taken into the world of willing sexual slavery by her lover, René. He takes her to Roissy to an exclusive club where her training to service all of the members at their discretion begins. Later, she is passed by René to his stepbrother, Sir Stephen. René's goal in this is to teach her to serve those with whom she's not in love. During this time period, she undergoes body modification, including branding and labial piercing.

Along the way, she's instructed to lure a beautiful model, Jacqueline, to Roissy. Jacqueline is curious and agrees to go only for that reason, to see what it's about, but later she is unwillingly enslaved there and forced to serve as O does, although this isn't detailed.

In the end, O is used in a most public fashion at a party. And this is the part that I refuse to reveal: The epilogue of the book hints at what becomes of O, and it's not pretty. Not pretty at all. I remember being more than mildly shocked but, given the slave mentality, it's not at all surprising, since O had fallen in love with Sir Stephen, although he didn't return her feelings.

Story of O is a classic in the genre. The author was actually Anne Desclos, but no one knew that for forty years after the book was published. She had a lover who was enamoured with the work of the Marquis de Sade, and she wrote this novel for him.

I liked Story of O because it took me into a world where few novels dare to tread. If you want to understand the dynamic between a Master and a sexual slave, this book is the ultimate resource. Being written in the 50s, the language is a bit stiff compared to what we now see, and yet the meanings come through loud and clear. It's almost lyrical. I'm not sure if anyone would find it titillating as much as horrifying, but I found it to be both. And if you're an erotic romance or erotica writer and you have not read this book, I feel as though it should be made mandatory reading for the genre. Within its pages you will find the basis for Dominant/submissive relationships, and then discover what happens when they're taken much, much farther and into a completely different realm. It's truly frightening, until you realize that through this particular lifestyle, O gained true freedom and, in the end, the ultimate freedom.

I would note that there is a particular Master/Dominant whose writings I follow, and while he is the consummate Master with a more-than-willing slave, this book goes much farther than the relationship he has or that others I've known have. It's a tale of true obsession with submission to the point of utter destruction. Read it at your own risk, but don't be surprised if you see something of yourself, even a little hint, within its lines.

And good luck finding a copy. If you find a source, please share in the comments below so others who might be interested can look for themselves. And thanks for that in advance.