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"The Christian Backlash Against "50 Shades Of Grey""

on Saturday, 09 June 2012. Hits 2372

The BDSM bestseller has been a much-vaunted hit among women, but there's one group who's not convinced. Some female Christian writers say the BDSM bestseller corrupts minds and destroys marriages, and they're urging the faithful not to read it.

Buzz Feed

"I wouldn’t drive my Envoy into the front of an oncoming semi-truck any more than I would open the pages of Fifty Shades of Grey," writes Christian author Dannah Gresh. She's urging her readers to avoid E.L. James's bestselling erotic novel, and she's not alone. While secular critics have focused on the book's questionable literary merit (or what it says about women's fantasies), in recent weeks there's been something of a movement among female Christian bloggers who say the book is sinful, twisted, and even dangerous.

Gresh says reading the novel is a form of adultery: "anything other than my husband creating arousal in me would be missing the mark of God’s intention." She also argues that over time, reading 50 Shades and books like it will render women unable to enjoy sex with their husbands, because "erotica robs you of real sex."

This is much the same argument many have used against Internet pornography — and indeed, Crystal Renaud, who founded Dirty Girls Ministries and has made something of a name for herself advocating that Christian women stay away from porn, has also spoken out against 50 Shades. She told BuzzFeed Shift she believes Christian and non-Christian women seek out the book for the same reason: they want "the passion that exudes from the pages to happen in their real lives, especially if their emotional needs and even sexual needs are not being met in their real life relationships." But she says women should turn to God instead: "without a genuine relationship with Christ, it's our belief that women will continue to seek satisfaction for their emotional needs in places that just won't ever fully satisfy."

But its similarities to more conventional porn aren't the only complaint against the book — there's also the BDSM element. Christian blogger and professor Mary Kassian writes that "the relationship between a man and wife is to mirror Christ’s relationship to His Bride" and "Christ is not into domination, control, abuse, and humiliation." She also objects to heroine Anastasia Steele's submissive role: "the Lord doesn’t want His daughters to be wilting, weak-willed, wimpy women who welcome and enjoy abuse."

Julia Stronks, a professor of political science at Whitworth University who has written about Fifty Shades of Grey, says the backlash is no surprise: writers who have criticized the book tend to come from "denominations that believe that faith impacts all of life," and when anything becomes as popular as Fifty Shades, members of these denominations tend to examine what it might have to do with their religion. She likens the book not just to porn but to romance novels, which she says normalize relationships in which "women resist and men overcome" and thus can contribute to sexual violence.

Not everyone agrees that Christian women must avoid Fifty Shades. Christian blogger Jonalyn Fincher says what really matters is why they read it — if they're doing so to escape their marriages, that may be "unhealthy." But she also believes the book can help women think about important issues, like sexual abuse. She adds that she read the book as a "cultural exploration" into something that's extremely popular, which she says is also a valid reason: "it's like walking in the shoes of your neighbor."

Kassian might take a dim view of such exploration — she writes, "'curiosity' has led to the downfall of multitudes who have been trapped in the destructive, downward vortex of sexual sin." Numerous commenters on her post agree and pledge to spread her anti-Shades message. Says one, "my heart breaks that young women can get so engrossed in such horrible entertainment. I will certainly forward this on to many many others."

Some Christian women, though, don't need special prodding to avoid Fifty Shades. Writes one of Gresh's readers, "A few years ago, God asked me to give up all fiction reading. To this day I have had no regrets."

"'Fifty Shades of Grey' whips up business for local adult shops"

on Saturday, 09 June 2012. Hits 1265


The handcuffs are flying out the door. So are the floggers. Whips and rope? Forget about it.

"Things that were selling out in a week are selling out in a day," said Nick Smerecki, manager of Adult Playtime Boutique in Edison, where sales are up 400 percent over last year. "I’ve never seen anything like it."

Adult shops across the region have seen a boom in business in recent months thanks to the publication of "Fifty Shades of Grey," an erotic novel by British writer E.L. James. The book, which details the relationship between naive college literature student Anastasia Steele and a dark but brilliant billionaire Christian Grey, dabbles in BDSM — or bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism.

"It’s definitely done wonders for the adult industry," Smerecki said of the book, published in May 2011 and mainstream now, but initially hard to get.

Diego Rivera, manager of Essex Adult Emporium in Fairfield and Pleasure Plus Video in Saddle Brook, said the book has been a gift to shops like his.

"The adult industry took a hit with the internet, but now that the book came out, nobody wants to wait," he said. "They come in the store to buy everything in the book." ...

"'Fifty Shades of Grey' spurs sales of sex accessories, bondage material"

on Friday, 08 June 2012. Hits 2059

The NY Post

There’s a run on rope — and not the camping kind.

White-hot read “Fifty Shades of Grey” has left unassuming New York women so feverish, they’re snapping up all the tools and toys that bondage and S&M hunk Christian Grey introduces to “unexplored” young heroine Anastasia in the book.

They’re even slipping into hardware stores and demurely asking for bondage material — the very type of natural-filament rope in the trilogy.

“Oh, we’ve been selling rope to women,” says Clifton Kahn, owner of Lexington Hardware on the Upper East Side. “I’d say tenfold more rope than usual in the last six months. The women are definitely buying, and it’s still continuing.”

The store’s most popular item is the soft-cotton “clothes line” rope, which retails at a bargain $5 for 50 feet.

Tarzian Hardware in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has also seen a rash of rope sales. “It’s usually men buying rope, but the women, they’ve been coming in the last few months,” cashier Christina Davila told The Post. “I’ve actually read the book. So when the women buy rope, it was kind of like, ‘Hmmm, that does seem a little unusual.’ ”

Nathaniel Garber Schoen, co-owner of Garber Hardware in the West Village, says customers eager to get tied up rather than secure lumber have a telltale sign: They request softer nylon material. In which case Schoen recommends the 12-gauge, non-braided nylon — “Anything skinnier is too small. You might hurt yourself,” he says of the rope, $18 for a 50-foot spool. “For those purposes, 12-gauge is a reasonable choice and the most popular.”...

"Hitman Absolution game director apologises for controversial trailer"

on Friday, 08 June 2012. Hits 1575

PC Gamer

As reported by IGN, Hitman Absolution game director Tore Blystad has apologised for the controversy caused by the Attack of the Saints trailer, which featured Agent 47 brutally killing a group of assassins dressed – as Tom put it at the time – as BDSM nuns.

“We’re sorry that we offended people” Blystad told journalists at E3. “That was truly not the intention of the trailer.”

“We’ve been reading as much as we could of the articles and responses” Blystad continued. “We were surprised that it turned into such a huge topic. Something similar happened with our Sniper Challenge pre-order bonus. We just wanted to make something cool, it wasn’t the intention to stir up anything.”

Blystad then went on to explain that the nuns are enemies from the game – assassins from The Agency – and that the trailer was designed to show off a scenario that players will encounter in Hitman: Absolution.

“It’s a level from the game called Attack of the Saints, and this trailer I guess you could say represents one possible outcome. As you know with Hitman games, you can go about it any way you want.”

Aside from the hard-to-watch spectacle of a group of hypersexualised women being killed in slow motion, many commenters also pointed out that ultraviolence on this scale isn’t something that has ever been associated with the Agent 47 character. Blystad said that this is symptomatic of the broader problem of presenting an open-ended game in trailer-friendly form. ...

"A Draught of Hemlock: Sandcastles, theater and art "

on Friday, 08 June 2012. Hits 651

The Daily Astorian

I would be remiss as a bookseller if I did not mention the phenomenon of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy currently abroad in the land.

Yes, it is a BDSM opus which has sold over 5 million copies in 37 countries.

I think that BDSM covers bondage, domination, sadism and masochism – for starters. Everybody says that’s not their cuppa tea, but we can hardly keep the three volumes in stock, so one has to wonder who’s reading it.

The other two books are Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. One is not enough for the fans of E.L. James. The London author started writing fanfiction, changing the names of the characters but parodying the “Twilight” series.

Then, it took on a life of its own. Says E.L.: “It’s my midlife crisis; all my fantasies are in there and that’s it.” It is heralded as “mommy porn.” Many people who carry it to the counter insist that it’s for a friend, a sister, someone who is too shy to buy it … and they are sometimes Fifty Shades of Red as they hand over their money. We have never been censors and have no intention of starting now. We know it’s naughty and we don’t mind.

Since this is a family newspaper, we will not titillate you with the details of the story. The paper would simply curl up in your hands. I haven’t read any of them yet, but the description is as follows: “When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant and intimidating.” He is also off-the-charts wealthy, has to be in control and has secrets of his own. What a combo. Then, the fun begins. We dare you to read just one. We will happily ship them to you in a plain brown wrapper. ...

"Hellraiser Horrormeister Clive Barker Accused of Giving Former Lover HIV"

on Thursday, 07 June 2012. Hits 1244


How's this for a scary situation?

Horrormeister Clive Barker has been slapped with a breach-of-contract suit by a former male lover, who, among other accusations, claims that Barker gave him HIV amid a salacious backdrop of sadomasochism and drug use.

According to documents obtained by E! News, David Armstrong, who reportedly lived with the Hellraiser filmmaker from 1996 to 2009, contends that Barker disclosed in 1996 that he had tested positive for HIV and that Armstrong was diagnosed with the disease afterward.

He also alleges that Barker later admitted to dating his own cousin, who later purportedly died of AIDS, and that the filmmaker had, in previous relationships, "engaged in forms of sadomasochism that involved syringes." ...

"Harford librarian drew the correct 'Grey' line"

on Thursday, 07 June 2012. Hits 1705

The Baltimore Sun

All the fuss about the Harford County Public Library's director, Mary Hastler, choosing to keep "Fifty Shades of Grey," an erotic novel with generous gobs of sadomasochism, by British author E.L James, from off the shelves has met with condemnations of censorship. But library heads have broad decision making powers about what books they will or will not stock. The novel has become a sensation and other libraries have long waiting lists of eager readers who want the book. But some reading materials are simply not suitable for adolescents, and once a book is on the shelves it cannot be kept out of the hands of kids who shouldn't be reading it without parental guidance or consent.

"Fifty Shades" is no more than pornography masquerading as literature. It has no redeeming value for kids between the ages of 14 to 18 years. This is a country where sexual trafficking, child pornography and sexual exploitation of young girls and boys are of grave concern. Campus rapes, date rape drugs, sexual abuse and unequal relationships are pervasive and problematic here. Novels about kinky sex may be perfectly fine for adults, but when middle school and early high school age children line up to borrow such books, then libraries are placed in the unsavory position of becoming purveyors of smut to the young and the impressionable. Those who defend sadomasochism as acceptable among mutually consenting adults and those who comment that the popularity of the book among moms exemplifies that women are now less inhibited or guilty about their own sexuality and hence are prepared to read, discuss and incorporate taboo sexual content in their own lives, miss the point.

At what age is this kind of subject matter appropriate for reading and discussion? Will the moms who are so taken with this novel be happy if their tweens borrowed this book secretly and read it or practiced what was written there? Where do we draw the line? Do libraries have the right to defend their own right to keep materials off the shelf that are unfit for young readers, or should libraries stock them anyway and keep them out of the hands of certain age groups? Dominance, submission, physical pain and pleasure in relationships, are issues that trouble grown-ups and can be unresolved even for sexually experienced adults. A head librarian has every right to call a spade a spade. If she chooses not to order a book because its content would be considered universally unsuitable for certain age groups that frequent the library, then she has made an ethical and appropriate decision. Adults who want to read such a book can always get it through other venues.

How do you block pornography once it is on the shelf in a library? And who decides what is pornography and should be kept out of the hands of children? Doesn't that job fall on the shoulders of the head librarian and her staff? To say that kids could and will read this book anyway or to contend that a library that works at the behest of taxpayers should submit to popular demand and opinion, is to take away all responsibility from librarians about deciding what is suitable exposure for their young and vulnerable patrons who have no voice in the matter. If such a decision should rest with the parents, a library still has the right not to participate in the questionable ethics of misguided parents who don't care what their children read. A library is not allowed to be a purveyor of child pornography.

"Stockroom Responds to 'Fifty Shades' Fever"

on Tuesday, 05 June 2012. Hits 1500


Twenty-four-year-old BDSM and fetish gear manufacturer The Stockroom is reporting a surge in business inspired by “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

"In recent weeks, we've received literally hundreds of calls thanks to this book," Stockroom President Mike Herman said. "About 90 percent of them are middle-aged 'soccer mom' types who never imagined themselves calling a fetish sex toy company.”

The Stockroom offers advice for BDSM beginners making their first purchase. Blindfolds, Herman says, are a safe, simple, yet profound way to begin.

"Take away that one sense, and others are immediately heightened,” he said. “We are happy to see how brave and eager many women are to try some more advanced toys and deeper experiences," Herman says. "We start out discussing blindfolds, and within minutes we're talking about more esoteric topics, like bondage gear, whips, electrical stimulation, and chastity play."

Since the 1980s, Stockroom has built its reputation not just on whips, restraints and fetish clothing but also on education and community building. The Stockroom University series of workshops and lectures covers such topics as Bondage 101, Flogging, or Electrical Play.

According to Midori, a sex educator who teaches Stockroom University classes, many newcomers turn to the Internet for instruction, but "there's such a glut, including some terrible information." To spot the bad advice, Midori lists the basic things to watch for: "Does it seem like practical, reality-based information for people who lead actual lives in the real world? If it seems too absolute or too rigid, or lacks compassion, then it's probably garbage. And always remember that this is about pleasure and play, and everybody must respect everybody's humanity."

Stockroom also fulfills its commitment to education and community building via contributions to assorted organizations and causes, and its stewardship of Daedalus Publishing, which specializes primarily in non-fiction books by authors who address the philosophies, ethics and how-to aspects of alternative sexuality.

Stockroom founder Joel Tucker started the company in 1988 as a 21-year-old college student.

“Regardless of the taboos,” Tucker says, “I knew that an otherwise normal, sane person could be attracted to this form of eroticism, because I had these interests myself. I found a small community of people in Los Angeles who pursued these interests in safe, healthy ways. I saw a need for a company that could provide quality, affordable gear with intelligence and discretion, and so I created it.” ...

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