Anyone who aspires to be a novelist has got to wonder at the success of E. L. James, the author of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy that has sat at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for nearly two months and sold more than 30 million books.
This middle-aged, middle class mother of two teenagers who lives in an attached house in West London has written a love story you wouldn't want your teenager to read about a college student's attraction to a 27-year-old billionaire (Christian Grey) with decidedly BDSM proclivities.
Local demand for the book is evident in the multiple, ongoing requests for the many copies of the book that Greenwich Library has. (Surely the fact that the library has invested in so many copies is testament to how far we've come in intellectual freedom.)
When a rash of articles began appearing in the New York press recently about a new wave of single girls from Manhattan frequenting high-end Greenwich bars in search of rising hedge funders with McMansions, Ferraris, private planes and helicopters, I began to wonder if they weren't all looking for a Christian Grey.
I've found myself in certain settings asking hip young women what they think of "Fifty Shades," and their response is immediate: "We are so grateful to E.L. James for writing these books! They are the fantasy we need!"
Some said they know married couples that read the books aloud to each other to reenergize their sex lives. A recent e-mail at work had the subject line, "Fifty Shades Baby Boom." The content was a fertility counseling firm, reporting, "Many couples are turning to these steamy novels in efforts to have children and take the stress and struggle out of it."
And now those couples can add a musical component to the written work with E.L. James's new CD . . . "Fifty Shades of Grey - The Classical Album," . . . made up of selections (including Bach, Chopin, and Debussy) she listened to while writing her books -- to best drown out the noise of her teen aged sons.
Interviewed at the recent Manhattan release of her CD, James threw off one of her rare and offhand remarks on the state of her success. "It's nice," she said, "that people who don't normally listen to classical music are listening to classical music -- and that people who normally don't read are reading."...
Kinky has gone mainstream with the popularity of the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy as sales of sex toys have skyrocketed. But there’s a fine line between kinky and criminal – and it’s called consent.
That important distinction may get lost with a federal court case in Kansas City that would make criminals of Christian Grey, the fictional hero of “50 Shades of Grey,” and real-life followers of the BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, Sadism/Masochism) lifestyle.
Defense attorney Susan Dill has filed a motion to keep the private bedroom behavior of Edward Bagley Sr., 45, and his wife Marilyn, 47, out of court in his upcoming federal case. The couple, from Lebanon, a small town in southern Missouri, admit to what many would consider violent sexual habits (pierced genitalia and flogging, anyone?), but both say it’s consensual.
The U.S. attorney’s office claims that Bagley’s sexual activities with his wife constitute a history of sexual assault, despite its consensual nature, and that it should be admissible as evidence in its case accusing Bagley of grooming a young woman as a sex slave and holding her against her will.
Bagley has been charged with multiple counts that include sex trafficking, and if convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. His wife has also been charged, and so have four men who are associates of the couple.
But Dill is not convinced. “Edward Bagley is one of the few clients I have had in my career as a defense attorney that I truly believe is not guilty,” Dill told me. (She represents Bagley, while another Kansas City attorney is Mrs. Bagley’s defense lawyer.)
Dill’s motion to the court to prevent the admission of the couples’ sexual activities lists 10 categories of behavior with explanations as to why each is not assault. In the discussion of “binding,” Dill wrote, “Edward Bagley takes care to position the ropes and bindings carefully to avoid inflicting injury on his wife.”
For another activity, Dill pointed out, “In fact, the videos depict Marilyn clearly enjoying (it).”
Dill also mentions the “prejudicial” nature of such evidence – let’s face it, there’s a serious “ick” factor for a lot of people – and that the 14th Amendment allows behavior in the bedroom to remain private (Lawrence v. Texas struck down sodomy laws, for example).
Although Dill could not reveal details about the case, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which included interviews with Marilyn Bagley and several residents of Lebanon, tells the story of a young woman, possibly mentally deficient, with a troubled past who moved in with the Bagleys in 2002.
Known in court documents only as FV, or female victim, she eventually posed for a photo shoot in Los Angeles for Hustler’s Taboo magazine, worked as a stripper in a local club in Lebanon and got involved in violent sexual activities.
Was it her choice? Or was she sex slave to Bagley?
According to many of those interviewed for the Post-Dispatch, she chose to engage in those activities. But according to the findings of a grand jury, she was held against her will, tortured and sexually assaulted repeatedly; a former U.S. attorney called it “horrific.”
After “FV” suffered a heart attack in 2009 at age 23, law enforcement became involved.
Whether Bagley is guilty or not is up to a jury to decide in February.
Of more immediate concern to the BDSM community is the idea that consensual kinky sex could be considered a crime, which would be the case if the Bagleys’ sexual history is used as evidence of assault, said Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in Baltimore.
“It could retroactively criminalize consensual behavior,” Dill said.
Consent is considered a defense against assault unless “serious bodily injury” occurs. But what constitutes “serious bodily injury” is open to argument, Wright said. “The courts have found it’s the use of a riding crop and use of candle wax, and those sorts of things don’t cause serious injury.” ...
The details of consensual sex that occurred between a man and his wife should not be used as evidence that the man sexually abuses women, a defense attorney in a southwest Missouri sex slave case said in court documents filed this week.
Susan Dill, attorney for Edward Bagley, filed a motion Monday asking U.S. Magistrate Richard Larsen to preclude the government's use of evidence regarding consensual sex between Bagley and his co-defendant wife, Marilyn.
"Because the government will allege these are bad acts committed against Marilyn, it will cast Edward Bagley as a bad actor and Marilyn Bagley incorrectly as a victim," Dill wrote.
Ed Bagley, 45, and Marilyn Bagley, 47, are scheduled to stand trial in February on several charges, including sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking, document servitude and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity. The charges involve a woman who prosecutors say was 16 years old when she moved into the couple's trailer near Lebanon, Mo., in 2002 and was forced to be Ed Bagley's sex slave.
He is accused of giving her drugs, sexually abusing her while she was a minor and torturing her after she turned 18.
The Bagleys claim the woman came to them and asked to be part of their kinky lifestyle, while the government says Ed Bagley started grooming the woman to be his sex slave while she was still a minor, which would be illegal.
In August, prosecutors filed a motion indicating they plan to introduce evidence of "sadistic sexual assaults" committed by Bagley against his wife. While acknowledging those sex acts were consensual, prosecutors cited Missouri law that says consent is not a defense against abuse when serious bodily injury is involved.
The Bagleys were involved in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, in which extreme or even bizarre sex acts are part of the lifestyle. Federal prosecutors contend many of the acts amount to torture, especially when performed on the girl.
The case is being closely watched by BDSM advocates, who argue that the government has no business telling people what they can do in their bedrooms, no matter how shocking some of the acts may be to non-practitioners.
"The government must stay out of the bedrooms (and all other private places) of mutually consenting adults, no matter how violent or shocking the activity," said John Katz, a Silver Spring, Md., defense attorney whose law office specializes in sexual freedom issues. "Lawrence v. Texas underlines that the government may not penalize consensual sodomy between adults, no matter how much such activity offends many people on religious grounds. Once we let government restrict our neighbors' sexual activity, it is just a matter of time before government sticks its nose further into our otherwise private lives." ...
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/02/3844396/attorney-wants-evidence-excluded.html#storylink=cpy
Robert Dunlap, a certified sex educator from California, gets three or four requests a day from couples expressing an interest in and even seeking coaching for the latest trend in kink -- BDSM, an overlapping acronym for bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; sadism and masochism.
"It's such an explosion," said Dunlap, co-founder of the online site, Sex Coach University. "It's happening now because of the book."
"It's absolutely been astounding how many students we get inquiries from on a daily basis," he said. Dunlap is also getting requests from sex educators to learn proper coaching in the practice.
Devotees say that even though the popularity of the book "normalizes" what used to be a fringe sexual practice, they worry that a piece of fiction gives BDSM a "bad" name.
"On the one hand if you are looking at it as a formulaic romance novel, it fits the formula perfectly," said Emily Prior a BDSM/Kink/Fetish teacher at Sex Coach University and director of the Los-Angeles-based Center for Positive Sexuality. "But if your audience is people who already are in a lifestyle or are being introduced to the lifestyle, it starts to give misinformation."
"It perpetuates the ongoing idea that people who do this are broken in some way," she said. "And this is not true."
Dunlap, who has chronicled the practice of BDSM, interviewing hundreds of fetishists for his 2001 film, "Beyond Vanilla," said that the practice demands strict rules of safety.
"When two people want to get involved, their negotiation is up front," he said. "They are going to have a safe word: 'When I say, it ends. Period.' Most use a stop sign. Green means 'go.' Yellow means 'caution' and 'red' ends it."
"Play is also negotiated," said Dunlap. "For example, if you are doing flogging or whipping, 'Tell me during the process if you want to be hurt. Is it too hard? Is it too soft?'"
The BDSM craze has hit Britain, as well, according to Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist and sex advice columnist who is writing an academic piece on the trilogy for the Journal of Family Planning as well as running an exploratory workshop for the British couples. ...
During a pivotal scene in The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s engrossing psychological drama based (in part) on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the charismatic mystic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is gazing at himself in the mirror. His cunning wife, Peggy (played by the oft-bubbly Amy Adams), has been sensing an animal-like attraction between her husband and an unstable drifter, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). In order to mitigate his urges, she unzips his trousers, locks eyes with his reflection, and gives him a furious hand-job. “Cum for me,” she says.
And this masochistic sex act, delivered by none other than the princess from Enchanted, is just the tip of the … iceberg.
Whereas last year, amid all the priggish costume dramas, the only film during awards season that got movie-going audiences all hot and bothered was the NC-17-rated Shame, which featured its star Michael Fassbender urinating on camera and engaged in a raunchy three-way sex scene that included a rare “tossed salad,” this year’s batch of Oscar hopefuls boasts a plethora of sex acts ranging from the impressive to the downright bizarre. Call it the Fifty Shades of Grey effect.
Over the summer, audiences gagged at the sight of Gina Gershon forcibly fellating a chicken leg situated in the crotch of a psycho killer, played by Matthew McConaughey, in William Friedkin’s impressive dark comedy, Killer Joe. And in another McConaughey film, the male-stripping extravaganza Magic Mike, randy viewers were treated to a close-up shot of Big Dick Richie (True Blood hunk Joe Manganiello) inflating his gigantic penis in a pump.
This year’s crop of fall film releases courting Oscar can be divided into two distinct categories: hand-jobs and the handicapped. ...
Advocates for people who engage in rough but consensual sex say they fear an abuse case unfolding in Missouri ultimately could criminalize their lifestyle.
Ed Bagley faces a federal trial early next year on 11 counts of abuse against a woman authorities say he groomed to be his sex slave. Now prosecutors plan to present consensual, though violent, acts between Bagley and his own wife as evidence that Bagley has a history of sexually assaulting women.
The case will include evidence of "sadistic sexual assaults" committed by Bagley against his wife, Marilyn, prosecutors say.
"Marilyn Bagley's 'consent' to the sexual assaults by Defendant Edward Bagley does not change whether the acts legally constitute assault or not. Pursuant to the Missouri state assault statute ... consent is not a defense to assault resulting in serious physical injury," prosecutors wrote in court documents filed last month.
Some worry the government's assertion could open up people who practice bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism — or BDSM — to criminal charges for consensual acts they're already performing, said Susan Wright, founder of the Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.
"We are following this case specifically because we were hoping this issue would not come up," she said.
Ed Bagley, 45, of Lebanon, Mo., is accused of grooming a young woman to be his sex slave starting in 2002, then keeping her captive for years while making money from her images on fetish Internet sites and forcing her to work as a dancer at strip clubs. Marilyn Bagley, 47, is charged with five counts, including sex trafficking and forced labor trafficking.
Both have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial in February.
Prosecutors claim Bagley, known as "Master Ed," tortured the young woman and made her available to other men who came to his trailer, either to torture or have sex with her. Four men, who said they visited Bagley's trailer to watch or take part, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.
The case came to light in early 2009 after the woman, then 23, was hospitalized after what prosecutors said was a torture session. Then-U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips called the case one of "the most horrific ever prosecuted in this district."
Advocates for the BDSM community say even the most brutal acts detailed in Bagley's federal indictment are not criminal acts, as long as there was consent. But if the woman was too young or not intelligent enough to consent, as prosecutors allege, or if she initially gave consent and then changed her mind, most who spoke with the AP said that would be criminal sexual abuse.
It's the inclusion of Bagley's acts with his wife in the case that concerns BDSM advocates and Bagley's attorney, Susan Dill.
"Like many people from all walks of life, my client and his wife engaged in what some might term alternative, but nonetheless, consensual sexual activity that they both enjoyed," Dill said in an email to The Associated Press. "The assertion that their consensual, marital sex life is evidence of prior criminal activity is nonsensical." ...
There may be a less obvious reason so many women are swooning over 50 Shades of Grey. A speaker at last week's adult toy show in Las Vegas described how women may not be so interested in the sex in 50 Shades of Grey, but instead in the titillating example of a man (Christian) giving a woman (Ana) such an unusual amount of attention.
Christian dotes on Ana, seemingly drunk with her very essence. He often arrives unexpectedly, surprising her with gifts and exciting excursions, and is always thinking of her. (If he weren't so rich or good looking, Ana might have issued a restraining order. But that would have made for a different story.)
At times Ana is not sure how she feels about Christian or the relationship, but what she does know is that getting so much focused attention from a hot, rich man turns her on. And apparently reading about it turns on the reader as well.
Despite the demanding, power-hungry sides of Christian, it is not hard to imagine heeding his every whim. But, let's face it, in the real world, while love can last a lifetime, that obsessive attention that we lavish on another human being when we are first together ("new relationship energy") inevitably wanes within the first year.
And real-life men will never, no matter how wealthy or good looking, live up to that extreme level of attention-giving (or getting, for that matter) year after year.
We all miss the time when we had all of our partner's attention. At the beginning of the relationship he/she listened intently, we talked until the wee hours of the morning and he/she disclosed how much we were cherished. It was HOT.
But every relationship gets only one "new relationship energy" kick. Christian and Ana will inevitably fall into routine domesticity too after a couple of kids and a number of trips to the renovation store.
If we believe that 'being seen and valued' is the real attraction of 50 Shades, perhaps the solution is simple: Polyamory. Polyamory is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.
If women are seeking attention (and hot sex), then having more than one man paying attention to them may be just the answer they have been seeking.
Carrie, a 39-year-old polyamorous woman, believes that polyamory is the solution to getting the attention that she craves. She has been married to Craig for over nine years and also has had a boyfriend for the last year. ...
Although media coverage of the Fifty Shades series has died down, the book remains at the top of bestsellers lists. But the readers driving the series' popularity may surprise some. While shopping in a bookstore recently, one of us watched a mother and her young teenage daughter giggle secretively together as they placed something in their baskets... two copies of Fifty Shades of Grey. The expected demographic for the Bondage Discipline Sadomasochism (BDSM) series was married women over age 30. However, given the intense media coverage and the books' immense popularity, they have found a fan base in a much younger demographic.
Much of the media attention thus far has focused on the BDSM relationship between the two main characters. What's missing, though -- in the media, probably in our book clubs and certainly in our conversations with our teenage daughters -- is a discussion of a serious and dangerous aspect of their relationship.
Let's be clear: We're not talking about BDSM. Our concern is that the interaction between the characters outside the bedroom has been ignored.
From the beginning of the series, Christian Grey's need to control Ana Steele is unmistakable. He gives her a laptop and BlackBerry so she can be instantly available and shows up at her house when she doesn't respond quickly enough. He flies thousands of miles to her mother's house, unexpected and uninvited. The examples go on and on. These events are explained away as romantic, as products of Christian's intensity, his wealth, his need to control, his childhood abuse. But they are not romantic, nor are they justifiable. They are hallmarks of intimate partner violence (IPV).
Christian's actions exemplify two specific types of IPV: intimate partner stalking and coercive control, both common forms of violence against women. Intimate partner stalking includes repeated and unwanted contact or attention that causes the victim to fear her own safety or the safety of others. Over 16 percent of women have experienced stalking during their lifetimes, and two-thirds of those have been stalked by an intimate partner, such as a boyfriend, spouse or girlfriend. Although alarming, these rates likely underestimate the actual prevalence, as most instances of IPV are not reported to the police. The most common form of stalking is repeated and unwanted phone calls or text messages; Christian's first gifts of a laptop and BlackBerry may not be coincidental. Ana responds with a combination of negative and positive feelings and ultimately accepts his behaviors. This ambivalence can be common in victims of IPV, and it in no way makes the behavior acceptable.
While the series is replete with examples of stalking, Christian's other method of IPV is coercive control. The purpose of coercive control is to gain power in the relationship, to assert dominance, or to change the behavior of others. Christian is forthcoming that control -- including control of Ana -- is of utmost importance to him; it is impossible to find a chapter in the series that does not include an example of coercive control. ...