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Strange Attractions

on Sunday, 22 April 2012. Hits 532

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 770

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 621

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. ...

"“Fifty Shades of Grey”: Dominatrixes take on Roiphe"

on Saturday, 21 April 2012. Hits 571

As usual, Katie Roiphe misses the point. Women aren't the only ones who find escape in submission

Salon

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? ...

In International News...

on Thursday, 19 April 2012. Hits 392

Bondage girl jailed for rape lies

The Sun

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. ...

"Katie Roiphe's perversion of feminism"

on Wednesday, 18 April 2012. Hits 325

Roiphe casts feminists as moralising killjoys policing women's fantasies of sexual submission. I'll submit – that she's way wrong

The Guardian

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....

"Roiled by Katie Roiphe: Why her BDSM essay is BS"

on Wednesday, 18 April 2012. Hits 921

NY Daily News

Katie Roiphe's Newsweek cover story "The Fantasy Life of Working Women" hit the web yesterday, prompting a collective facepalm from sex-positive feminists everywhere.

If you're not familiar with Roiphe's other work, which includes gems such as "My Newborn Is Like a Narcotic,” then lucky you! Just like many of her previous writings, this spurious screed on BDSM's link to women's economic success is nothing more than anti-woman puritanism parading as feminism – with a healthy dose of privilege.

But there are a lot more problems with Roiphe's essay. Her treatment of women's sexual choices is condescending to the point of being borderline chauvinist.

Let's start, though, with Roiphe's "thesis." She uses BDSM scenes in E.L. James’ novel "50 Shades of Grey" and the new Lena Dunham series "Girls" to advance the argument that a "watered-down, skinny-vanilla-latte version of sadomasochism" is "in."

She makes the claim that the popular portrayals of the kinks so thoroughly described by James and Dunham – along with Psychology Today findings that women indulge "rape fantasies" –are a result of women's economic achievement. We want to be dominated sexually, Roiphe claims, because we dominate in other aspects of life.

This sounds like a load of BS about BDSM – and I'm certainly not the only person who has taken notice. ...

"On Feminism and Sadomasochistic Sex"

on Tuesday, 17 April 2012. Hits 599

The Nation

Katie Roiphe has written a link bait-y Newsweek cover story making an interesting claim: that the pop culture appearance of submissive female sexual fantasies, in shows like Lena Dunham’s “Girls” and pulp fiction like Fifty Shades of Grey, is somehow a backlash against women’s increasing economic power.

I think this is generally wrong. It’s true the advances of feminism mean women today are freer than ever to explore their sexuality in art and in their personal lives, without worrying too much about negating their power at work, in relationships or in the political sphere. In fact, it is a basic contention of sex-positive feminism that asking for what you want in bed is a feminist political act—whether you want to tie your partner up, be spanked by him/her or be tenderly made love to with lots of kissing.

Taboo-breaking sex is culturally prevalent right now not because of macroeconomic trends like the decimation of the male manufacturing sector but because we live in an age in which all sorts of sexual practices are incredibly visible and talked about. In particular, easy access to online pornography allows people, at a younger age than ever before and with more privacy, to explore non-vanilla sex, whether low-key spanking and restraints or much kinkier stuff. Female-authored erotica and sexualized fan-fiction are burgeoning genres online, as well, and e-readers have made it possible for consumers to purchase and read this material with perfect privacy. This is the world from which Fifty Shades of Grey emerged.

But these desires are as old as the human race; in every century and decade, sadomasochistic erotica has broken into the mainstream, from de Sade to Swinburne to Anais Nin to Anne Desclos to Anne Rice. Why assume, as Roiphe seems to, that some authoritative brand of feminism was ever supposed to lead to human beings losing their curiosity about power play during sex, which is, after all, a physical act? And while more women than men may tend toward submission—in part because Western culture fetishizes male strength and female fragility—one certainly can’t generalize. People of all genders harbor the fantasy of, as one sex researcher put it, “the wish to be beyond will, beyond thought”—thus surrendering power to a trusted partner. And there is anecdotal evidence that publicly powerful people of both sexes are especially prone to these fantasies, as a release from the stresses of their day-to-day work lives. Here’s how one professional dominatrix describes it: ...

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