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.” ...
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." ...
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." ...
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. ...
As usual, Katie Roiphe misses the point. Women aren't the only ones who find escape in submission
What about men? That was the first thought that came to mind after reading Katie Roiphe’s Newsweek cover story on the BDSM-themed “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon, in which she controversially speculated that women’s current fascination with the book’s story line of female submission was the result of the “pressure of economic participation” and the “hard work” of striving for equality. The desire for submission is hardly something unique to women.
Who understands this better than professional dominatrixes? With so many speculating this week on Roiphe’s article, I decided to hand the microphone over to women with a unique perspective on the dynamics in power and play.
Several said that Roiphe is actually on to something when she talks about submission as an escape from life’s stresses — only, this reasonable point is overwritten by her wrongheaded focus on women and the impact of feminism. Roiphe wonders whether there is “something exhausting about the relentless responsibility of a contemporary woman’s life … all that strength and independence and desire and going out into the world,” and suggests “that, for some, the more theatrical fantasies of sexual surrender offer a release, a vacation, an escape from the dreariness and hard work of equality.” What about the exhausting, relentless responsibility of contemporary people’s lives? ...
PRETTY sales assistant Kirsty Sowden was jailed today for crying rape in shame over her kinky sex session with an older stranger. Kirsty, 21, had met her “victim” online after advertising herself as a sexy “BDSM Princess” - standing for Bondage, Domination and Sadomasochism - on the internet.
The John Lewis store girl voluntarily enjoyed a bondage sex session the man; she agreed to wear a leather dog lead and collar and to be spanked.
But guilt-ridden Sowden - who was trying for a BABY with her boyfriend at the time - regretted the romp afterwards and tearfully claimed she had been raped.
Sowden contacted the police after leaving businessman Andrew Boarer’s flat, having had full sex.
She told officers she had been raped in a park area by a baldling stranger in his 40s who grabbed her as she left a gym at Cascades in Gravesend, Kent.
Police arrested a man based on her description but soon realised he was totally innocent.
Separately, officers traced DNA samples which led them to the actual man Sowden had had sex with.
A horrified Mr Boarer was arrested at work in front of his boss. The innocent man, who was going through a divorce at the time, was taken away in handcuffs and questioned then remanded in custody on the strength of the false claims.
It was only while he was behind bars that Sowden’s lies came to light, as police were able to uncover internet exchanges between the pair.
Sowden, of, Northfleet, Kent was jailed for 14 months at Maidstone Crown Court after admitting perverting the course of justice by trying to disguise her sex session as rape. ...
Roiphe casts feminists as moralising killjoys policing women's fantasies of sexual submission. I'll submit – that she's way wrong
Katie Roiphe has been exploring her fantasies again, and I wish she'd stop. I don't mean the one about being tied up and spanked – not a thing wrong with that one. I mean the one in which scary, scowling feminists tell her what a bad girl she is for wanting it.
A quick primer for those who missed it: in this week's Newsweek cover story (complete with faux-scandalous cover image of a bored and blindfolded gamine), Roiphe argues that the success of the Twilight-fanfic-turned-romance-novel 50 Shades of Grey, as well as the sexual escapades depicted in the pilot of the much-ballyhoo'ed HBO project Girls, indicate a re-emergence of women's perrenial compulsion to get bossed around in bed. She then goes on to claim that this "trend" exposes the supposed facts that feminists (who, in her delusion, only want you do to it gently side-by-side with the lights on and Enya playing) are against female submission, and that women are uncomfortable with having power.
Allow me to exercise my feminist power to say this: there's a reason she provides precious little evidence to back up either claim. They're both bunk.
I'll agree with Roiphe on two fronts. First, it's notable that the current craze centers around a story (the one in 50 Shades) that requires our heroine to submit primarily out of love, not out of any kinky desires of her own. Most actual feminists who concern themselves with the sexual realm are focused on creating a world in which all women have genuine agency. We want to create a world where women are free to explore our desires and bodies for our own pleasure, not just use them to bribe men into loving us....