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"Too Many Shades of Grey"

on Sunday, 29 April 2012. Hits 1160

Huffington Post

In last week's Newsweek cover story, "Spanking Goes Mainstream," author Katie Roiphe set the blogosphere atwitter with her commentary on the cultural trend of bright young women willingly engaged in BDSM relationships: 50 Shades of Grey, Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls --even the wedding night of teen heart throbs Bella and Edward in the third Twilight movie. Roiphe pointed to the paradox that our postmodern freedoms are leading to an embrace of sexual subordination. Because Roiphe's modernist assertions of individual responsibility often clash with postmodern feminists' more nuanced understanding of how cultural and social forces shape us, her analysis was largely dismissed as just another of her potshots against contemporary feminism. But she's picking up something about female agency that I've had on my radar for a while, something women need to think about deeply: Why, when the women's movement aimed to liberate us from being sexually objectified and degraded in a male-dominant culture, are so many women objectifying and degrading themselves?

Feminists get their knickers in a twist, as they say in the UK, whenever anyone dares to question a women's right to choose whatever she wants to choose -- particularly in the bedroom. Culturally mandated chastity, modesty and marriage were the means of controlling women's reproductive lives and their sexuality between the 17th and early 20th centuries. The "Sexual Revolution" of the 1960s and the second wave of the women's movement were deeply intertwined, and for complex reasons, sexual freedom became the sine qua non of women's liberation. I show how free I am by flaunting the taboos that cloistered women's sexuality for hundreds of years. The funny thing is that this form of sexual-transgression-as-liberation has been going on now for fifty years, with each upcoming generation feeling that they have discovered something new. Choice is, of course, the expression of human agency; and it's only right that women choose their own path to sexual pleasure. But at this point, I would argue that our continued focus on sexual agency is a distraction.

Choice is a most precious capacity. It makes us human. It's not simply about preferences -- soup or salad, flats or heels, top or bottom. Human agency, expressed through our creative engagement with choice, is how we expand the measure of freedom that we have as human beings. Through it, we can define new potentials and pathways in culture. The capacity for creative agency through choice is what has enabled human beings to thrive and will be the only thing that will enable life to develop further here on Earth. Expressing sexual agency -- doing whatever the f--- we want to do -- has little to do with stretching our capacities toward anything new or significant. It should be a given, exercised in our personal lives, rather than some badge of courage. There's nothing new there. ...

"Former Royal Spa Exec Claims Sexual Harassment"

on Friday, 27 April 2012. Hits 479

Man Makes Lurid Accusations In Lawsuit

ABC News - RTV6

INDIANAPOLIS -- A former executive of Indianapolis-based Royal Spa has filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the company and its owner, leveling several lurid allegations against the owner.

Kevin Roessler claims that when Robert Dapper, the company's owner, discovered that he and his wife were swingers, Dapper forced his employee to involve him in sexual activities or lose his job. Roessler said that he was employed by Royal Spa from 2008 to March 2011 as director of business development.

"Fearing for his position at Royal Spa, Kevin eventually relented and secured him an invitation to several of the events," part of the lawsuit read.

Roessler claims that Dapper's sex-related demands escalated over time and that Dapper asked him to acquire more sexual partners for him.

"Using a variety of websites related to the swinger lifestyle, Kevin would arrange sexual encounters for Dapper," part of the lawsuit read. "Kevin was required to attend each of these encounters and to initiate sex in front of Dapper."

Roessler claims in the lawsuit that he was "sickened by the behavior he was being forced to engage in" and that some of the sexual activity involved his wife. "Although these were consensual sexual encounters, he felt that he was being used as (a) pimp to acquire sex for Dapper," part of the lawsuit read. "At all times during these events, Kevin was informed by Dapper that his employment would be adversely affected if he failed to comply." ...

"Holy Boycott Groupon, Touring the Armory: What's All the Fuss About? "

on Friday, 27 April 2012. Hits 337

Huffington Post

The boycott against Groupon has nothing to do with morality. It has to do with intolerance and sex-negativity. This blog is a direct response to "Groupon's Latest Deal? Torture Porn," by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of Porn Harm and Morality. Hawkins takes a hard strike at Groupon, kink.com and the porn industry in general. My first question to Hawkins is, "Have you ever taken a tour of the Armory?" For a place she claims to know so much about, I don't believe she ever mentions a visit to the home of kink.com. Since I have been to the Armory on many occasions, including taking said tour, I thought I would clarify any misconceptions.

Hawkins stated, "Pornography's purpose is primarily the sexual exploitation of women and children for pleasure of men." The purpose of pornography is not to exploit women and children for men. In the words of the great Nina Hartley:

"The most important thing about pornography is that it hosts our sexual dreams. Those dreams tell a lot about who and what we are. How we feel about ourselves, how we interact with the world, and most importantly, how we create intimacy with ourselves and others. We get to be who and what we want in our dreams. Everything is perfect in our dreams. It's smooth and nice and runs along on greased rails. Porn as fantasy is really important, because that's where we imagine our sexual selves and bring those selves out to play."

Hawkins continually refers to the degradation and exploitation of adult performers, namely women. She even goes so far as to say women who make porn and find it acceptable are simply influenced by their male predecessors. I find it insulting that Hawkins is taking the position that women who do porn are doing so because of men and have no idea what, if anything, they are doing to themselves. That statement implies that women do not know how to think for themselves, which is an insulting and degrading statement. ...

"Local women love erotic ‘Shades of Grey’ for characters, fantasy"

on Thursday, 26 April 2012. Hits 1017

InForum FARGO – For years, the only books Megan Riegel read were “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “Breastfeeding 101.”

So when this 31-year-old Fargo mom of two and bank branch manager was looking for a little “me time,” a friend who’s an avid reader suggested she pick up “Fifty Shades of Grey,” an erotic romance that’s become enormously popular among women across the country.

The trilogy by British author E.L. James started as “Twilight” fan fiction, gained a following online, and was released in mass distribution earlier this month.

Locally, the series is as popular as anywhere else, says Mary Schimke, community relations manager for Fargo’s Barnes & Noble. The books are asked for all the time, a store manager says.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” has been described in some media reports as “mommy porn,” as it vividly depicts the world of BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism). The S&M scenes in the books worry some experts. Celebrity therapist Dr. Drew Pinsky called the books violent, and said the obsession with them is “disturbing.”

But local women who love the “Fifty Shades” trilogy cite the captivating relationship between its protagonists, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, as well as its comedic tone.

“When I first started reading it, I thought it as a bit degrading towards women,” Riegel says. “The farther I got into the books I realized their love is a special, unique love. I think everyone wants that for themselves. Relationships are different from couple to couple.” ...

"Possible new clues in Marine wife murder"

on Tuesday, 24 April 2012. Hits 794

CBS8.com

SAN DIEGO - Sexually explicit website postings are linked to a person of interest in the murder of a young marine wife.

News 8 has uncovered personal ads on bondage websites posted by 45-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine Louis Perez. Investigators say he is a person of interest in the death of 22-year-old Brittany Killgore, but he's being held on unrelated weapons charges.

With an active investigation, authorities aren't saying what connection, if any, Louis Perez's alternative lifestyle played in Killgore's murder.

The face of Perez is featured on alternative sex websites, catering to bondage, where the Marine goes by the alias Ivan and posted this: "I am lord and master, dom and daddy of my house. My slave, Ms. Dee, is a slave to no one, but myself."

News 8 is not showing Dee's face in the video reports or releasing her real name, because authorities have in no way connected her to the disappearance of Brittany Killgore.

The 22-year old Marine wife's nude body was found Tuesday in a rural area of Riverside County. Following the discovery, 25-year-old Jessica Lopez was arrested and charged with murder.

Lopez lived in a Fallbrook home, which is an address also shared by Perez. However, records show the home is owned by Dee, who also posts on a bondage website under the username Twisted 2 Plus You. She describes herself as "an alpha slave to master Ivan. We have a poly home in which I own two slave girls. Life is good." ...

Strange Attractions

on Sunday, 22 April 2012. Hits 474

20/20

From '50 Shades of Grey' to open marriages, what's going on with sex these days?

Check out BDSM, Polyamory, Male Escorts and What is Your Favorite Position?

"Posters cause outrage at USM"

on Sunday, 22 April 2012. Hits 704

Hattiesburg American

A poster promoting a show at a Hub City bar drew the ire of some University of Southern Mississippi students and faculty members as being "degrading to women," prompting school officials to pull copies down around campus Friday.

"There is a pervasive hatred of women in our culture, and it is scary to see an expression of that in our midst," said outraged Southern Miss English Professor Nicolle Jordan, co-chair of the university's Committee on Services and Resources for Women.

The poster, taped to approximately 20 campus locations Thursday for a Cash Fountain concert today at The Tavern, featured a drawing of a naked woman with her head bowed and her hands tied behind her back.

Cash Fountain is a local group of DJs that performed at Eaglepalooza last year.

Members Greg Brooking and Drew Bardin said they were surprised by the reaction to the posters that they admitted to placing around campus. "We weren't trying to make people mad," said Brooking a 2010 Southern Miss alumnus, who explained that it was for a BDSM-themed costume party.

BDSM is an acronym suggesting bondage, domination and sado-masochism.

But what troubled doctoral creative writing student Christina Rothenbeck, one of several English graduate students to complain, was the posters' decontextualized image of a submissive woman.

That's why she defaced many of the them Thursday with graffiti reading: "This is what rape culture looks like," "She is not an object," "Degrading women degrades everyone," and "Rape is everyone's problem." ...

"Virgins, Bondage and A Shameful Media Fail"

on Saturday, 21 April 2012. Hits 551

Huffington Post

Thanks to its recent cover story, The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Sadomasochism is a Feminist Dream, millions of people can thank Newsweek for unfulfilling sex and a cynical undermining of feminism's attempts to change that. Instead of substantively considering the gendered nature of shame in our culture and how e-readers are being used by women to deal with its effects, the magazine perpetuated some pretty dubious and unsubstantiated theories about power, sexuality, gender and yes, feminism. The only trends that surface when considering the work cited in the article are women's use of technology, their openness to overtly sexual content and mainstream media's persistent misrepresentation of both women and the feminist movement.

The article in question relied largely on the success of the soft-core porn condage/dominance/sadomasochism (BDSM) series, 50 Shades of Grey, to explain why working women (mis-conflated with feminists) might be uncomfortable with free will. What drivel. Not only is women's consumption of BSDM (in the book or two other referenced media) not a trend, but there is also no connection between the theme of submission/dominance and women's "possible" discomfort with economic successes and power. The series' sales are unexceptional and their content ultimately traditional for the simple reason that the books are about romance in the context of VIRGINITY, SUBMISSION and the transformative power of what filmmaker and writer Therese Shechter calls "the magical penis" which awakens and transforms a woman in these narratives. The deep thread, not to be pulled by Newsweek's predictable trojan horse writer, connecting all of these things is gendered shame. Electronic readers are changing culture in lots of unexpected ways and this is one of them. Feminists aren't grappling with why women have submission fantasies. Women, liberated by feminist ideas about equality on many fronts including, but not limited to shame-free sex, are openly consuming sexual stories that interest them and talking about them to boot.

Sexuality is just one dimension of being human, and sex is probably best when pursued with consent between equals. It's just that misogynistic systems and the people that support them, both men and women, think of women as only here, ultimately, for men's sexual and reproductive use -- female desire, consent and equality being largely irrelevant. Feminists like me are more concerned with the pervasively destructive effects of living in a culture that says women's pleasure and reproduction are only legitimate when they serve the needs of men and shameful when they seek to define them on their own terms. It's subjugation, but not the kind Newsweek is irresponsibly touting. ...

Latest Reader Comments

  • Where's the rest of the article? It just ends worth "no longer qualifies..."

    Heather Vandegrift

    18. February, 2015 |

  • Your paragraph contrasting poly and swinging contains what I consider to be a fallacy that causes a lot of needless controversy....

    John Ullman

    10. February, 2015 |

  • Oh Shit. didn't know I was responding nation wide. LOL and laughing at self! Nothing is private these days!

    faunta

    04. February, 2015 |

  • I'm not understanding why you would send me a link to an article announcing the 50 kinkiest cities, yet when I click the link, the only...

    faunta

    04. February, 2015 |

  • I have to wonder about the people who made the film and what did they actually think that it was some off kilter game??? To many of...

    Wryter

    07. January, 2015 |

  • I didn't think much of the books and doubted if they could do better on screen. So, I will have zero reasons to pay good money to see it....

    Gillian Boardman

    07. January, 2015 |