If every era gets the sadist it deserves, it may not be surprising that we have ended up with Christian Grey, the hero of the runaway bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. He is not twisted or frightening or in possession of a heart of darkness; he was abused as a child, a sadist Oprah could have dreamed up, or as E L James puts it, “Christian Grey has a sad side.” He is also extremely solicitous and apologetic for a sadist, always asking the book’s young heroine, Anastasia Steele, about every minute gradation of her feelings, and bringing her all kinds of creams and lotions to soothe her after spanking her. He is, in other words, the easiest difficult man of all time.
Why does this particular, watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism have such cachet right now? Why have masses of women brought the book to the top of the New York Times bestseller list before it even hit the stores? Most likely it’s the happy convergence of the superficial transgression with comfortable archetypes, the blushing virgin and the whips. To a certain, I guess, rather large, population, it has a semipornographic glamour, a dangerous frisson of boundary crossing, but at the same time is delivering reassuringly safe, old-fashioned romantic roles. Reading Fifty Shades of Grey is no more risqué or rebellious or disturbing than, say, shopping for a pair of black boots or an arty asymmetrical dress at Barneys.
As it happens, the prevailing stereotype of the Fifty Shades of Grey reader, distilled in the condescending term “mommy porn,” as an older, suburban, possibly Midwestern woman isn’t entirely accurate: according to the publisher’s data, gleaned from Facebook, Google searches, and fan sites, more than half the women reading the book are in their 20s and 30s, and far more urban and blue state than the rampant caricature of them suggests. The current vogue for domination is not confined to surreptitious iPad reading: in Lena Dunham’s acclaimed new series, Girls, about 20-somethings adrift in New York City, a similar desire for sexual submission has already emerged as a theme. The heroine’s pale hipsterish ersatz boyfriend jokes, “You modern career women, I know what you like ...” and his idea, however awkwardly enacted, is that they like to be dominated. He says things like “You should never be anyone’s ... slave, except mine,” and calls down from a window: “If you come up I’m going to tie you up and keep you here for three days. I’m just in that kind of mood.” She comes back from seeing him with bruises and sheepishly tells her gay college boyfriend at a bar, “I am seeing this guy and sometimes I let him hit me on the side of my body.” ...
Newsday The professional dominatrix who recruited straw buyers to take part in the largest mortgage fraud ring in Suffolk County history was sentenced Friday to community service and probation.
Carrie Coakley, 40, of Manhattan, pleaded guilty last year to her role in the scam, which was orchestrated by her husband, Donald MacPherson, 68, publisher of The Soho Journal. He is serving 4 to 12 years in prison and is on the hook for restitution of $44 million.
Suffolk County Court Judge James F.X. Doyle gave Coakley 840 hours of community service and 5 years' probation.
"Your involvement was not at the level his was," Doyle told her.
Assistant District Attorney Thalia Stavrides described Coakley as a relatively small player in the scam. Coakley said nothing in court and declined to comment afterward.
Prosecutors say the scheme stole $82 million from lenders by inflating purchase prices, fabricating documents and using straw buyers to make phony purchases and obtain fraudulent mortgages.
Coakley recruited some of the straw buyers at The Dungeon, the Manhattan club where she was in charge.
Others in the scheme included former county Legis. George Guldi, who is serving 4 to 12 years in prison, and Ethan Ellner, who is awaiting sentencing.
In a recent interview with the Harvard Independent, an anonymous representative of the newly-formed group, Munch, which stylizes itself as a resource and community for Harvard undergraduates interested in the BDSM subculture (an initialism that stands for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism), insisted that “the BDSM community in general and here at Harvard has a huge emphasis on consent and negotiation.” I had to cock an eyebrow.
To be clear, I do not like policing anyone’s consensual, harmless, sexual proclivities. Nor do I wish to condemn Munch, however sensationalized the Crimson’s coverage might have been. But any utopian claim that the BDSM community-at-large “hugely” upholds consent is a naiveté that is too dangerous not to address.
The BDSM community has a problem with non-consent. A big problem. In late January, salon.com published an article in which kink educator turned advocate Kitty Stryker claimed that abuse in the community is a “systematic issue” and that she had “yet to meet a female submissive [masochist] who hasn’t had some sort of sexual assault happen to her.” Stryker’s confession has sent shock waves throughout BDSM blogs and the BDSM social networking site, Fetlife.com, where a disturbing deluge of horror stories of abuse and systematic cover-ups have begun to appear.
Stryker has not been the first to claim that the problem is systematic. In 2011, prominent kink educator Mollena Williams, who spoke at Harvard as part of Sex Week, published an account of her rape within the community and her subsequent distress that her “story was common. Standard. Typical.” In 2008 in “Are We Men a Bunch of Lying Pricks?”, Jay Wiseman, author of the canonical book SM101, wrote of his similar epiphany when a woman revealed her shock that Wiseman didn’t rape her during kinky play.
At the center of this maelstrom of abuse is the nebulously defined nature of consent in the context of BDSM. According to the idealized narrative that the BDSM community feeds the outside world, the masochist and sadist agree beforehand, in a contract, what activity will or will not take place in a “scene,” the sharply limited fantasy space in which kinky activity occurs. The sadist cannot exceed the bounds of this contract, and the masochist can terminate the scene at any time by the invocation of an agreed-upon safe-word. The use of the contract prompted post-Freudian theorist Gilles Deleuze to term masochism an “ironic subjugation” of the “sadistic” partner, and ethnographers like Andrea Beckmann and Stacy Newmahr have continued to maintain that BDSM is subversive because, among other things, the supposedly subjugated partner is actually in control. ...
Residents of a small fishing village on Mexico’s Riviera Maya are up in arms about the expansion of a hedonistic swingers club in their town.
Puerto Morelos, a hamlet of just under 10,000 people located about 37 miles south of Cancun on the Yucatán Peninsula, is known as a tourist hot-spot for its secluded beaches, world-class scuba diving and water sports.
But since news broke last year that the town’s family-friendly wedding destination Ceiba del Mar Resort and Spa would be transformed into Desire Resort and Spa -- a couples-only, clothing-optional swingers resort – locals have been concerned that tourism will take a hit.
Desire has another location in Puerto Morelos in a more secluded area six miles from town, but the new space, which opened this month, is on the strip of beach in between the town center and a hotel zone that is frequented by locals and vacationers.
The opening of the second Desire location comes as Mexico, and the Yucatán Peninsula in particular, prepare for December 21, the date in Mayan mythology that marks the end of a 5,125 year-long cycle, which some believe could mark a doomsday-like scenario. The day has been a big tourist pull, and the Mexico Tourism Board estimates that 52 million domestic and international tourists will visit the southeastern part of the country in 2012.
Tourist have already been flocking to sites that are catering to all type of tourist, from the luxury-seekers, to the foodie-types, to those looking for a more spiritual break. But local restaurant owners and tour operators say they're not interested in getting the type of tourist Desire is expected to attract, and don't want their businesses exposed to the potentially tawdry goings-on at the resort.
“People in Puerto Morelos don’t like the idea of Desire. People here are conservative,” Wilmo Zetina, the co-owner of Pelicanos, one of the town’s largest restaurants and beach clubs, told FoxNews.com. ...
An alleged sex camp is causing controversy in a community in Greene County.
The place is located on Edgar Hill Road in Washington Township and is known as “the dungeon,” the site of sex parties that charge members for a Bondage Domination and Sadomasochism (BDSM) experience.
That is according to the group’s website which even advertises cutting and blood play. The site was taken down Tuesday. Critics say they know why.
“What goes on up there – I wouldn’t even say on TV,” Leonard Dean said. “I mean, it’s all about sex and it’s all dirty, about what you can get and it doesn’t need to be here and the man makes a lot of money doing it.”
Linda Dean lives on a piece of the land owned by her parents, Ron and Joann Valetti of Greensburg. She says they recently handed over camp operations to a business partner. The barn is locked, but she managed to snap several photos of the alleged sex devices inside.
“We just want it to stop,” Linda Dean said. “I would have never in a million years thought that this was going on and I’m ashamed and I’m humiliated and it’s a shame.” ...
“It changed my life,” my friend announced at dinner a few months ago. The “it” in question was a book, which she described as orgasmic. My interest was certainly piqued. In furtive late-night conversations and mid-day lunches over the next few months, the transformational qualities of the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, by British author E.L. James, spread among the wives and mothers all over New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County. The series, which began as online fan faction before racking up hundreds of thousands of e-book downloads, are about an S&M relationship between a billionaire and a virginal young college student. What started across the Atlantic as one woman’s desire to bravely express her lurid desires, had created sensual upheaval—as well as an ad hoc community of empowered women bound by their shared discovery of pleasure—in the unlikeliest of places: the suburbs. And I just had to document it.
The end of Fifty Shades of Grey has stuck with me. I'm still disturbed by the hero using a belt on the heroine. Yes, she asked him to do it, so she could "understand" what he went through as a child and therefore, presumably, understand him better. That's a weak premise to begin with, frankly. I don't need to be shot in the head to know that it would hurt like H-E-double-hockey-sticks and maybe leave me brain damaged and scarred for life. So I really didn't buy the "you need to beat me with a belt so I can understand you" argument.
Other than that disturbing scene, the rest of the book was certainly compelling enough to keep me reading, It was also the first BDSM erotica I'd ever read. Which raised lots of questions in my mind about the genre. So I consulted with another expert on erotica and BDSM. (I also consulted with the wonderful Raelene Gorlinsky of Ellora's Cave. The link to that interview is at the bottom of this post.) Rachel Kramer Bussel, an author, editor and blogger, has written for several publications, including The Huffington Post, Salon, New York Post and San Francisco Chronicle, and is an editor at Penthouse Variations and a columnist for SexIs Magazine. She's also edited more than 40 anthologies devoted to erotica. In other words, she's an expert.
Joyce: Welcome to HEA, Rachel! What's your take on the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena? It seems awfully tame to me, overall — but maybe that's why it's become so popular? It's like a mainstream (light) version of erotica?
Rachel: I think it's not that unconventional for romance, both the BDSM scenes and the storyline, but it's obviously struck a nerve, and with the print and audio versions and movie deal, will surely be reaching more people. Maybe the average reader just hasn't known where to look to find romance with a kinky twist, because there's plenty of it, from Megan Hart to Maya Banks to Emma Holly (and many more). Romance and erotic romance have both gotten much kinkier so people who are used to reading this type of material have been, on the whole, nonplussed by Fifty Shades of Grey, but I believe the appeal is the overall fantasy of giving up control and getting sexual satisfaction and love, not so much the specifics of how that happens. ...
Poorly written. Utterly ridiculous. WTF. These are just a few of the choice phrases unhappy readers are tossing around in response to the astoundingly best-selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
Others insist the story is flawless, heartbreaking and deep despite the pornographic prose.
And whether you love it or hate it, there's no doubt this Twilight fan fiction has created a sex-crazed frenzy and made BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism ) the hot topic of discussion after kindergarten play dates (hello, mommy porn).
So what's the real story behind the appeal of this deliciously dirty novel?
Let's start with the taboo factor. There's no question Fifty Shades is dirty, raunchy and sexually charged—some critics even call it "exploitative, sadistic porn." But ultimately, the secretive factor is part of the appeal. ...