Sixty Nine and Still Sexual
Shades of Grey Sequel Is Almost Upon Us
I recently saw in Publisher’s Lunch that E.L. James’ new book, GREY, will hit the bookstore on June 18th. The date was chosen to commemorate Christian Grey’s birthday. It will, I’m sure it will make a great Father’s Day offering on June 21st, for those hard to buy for dads who have everything.
This book is the sequel to the runaway hit trilogy, Shades of Grey, and is told from Christian’s point of view — affording anyone interested, the opportunity to get up close and personal with inner workings of his angst-filled, emotionally shut down, control-freak mind. So now, in spite of feeling that I’ve read quite enough of Ms. James’ prose for one lifetime, I am going to have to read this book. Particularly after having read and enjoyed, the inner workings of a top-man’s mind, in Master of O, by Ernest Green (see 5/3 posting, My Thoughts on Master of O), I simply have to see what makes Christian Grey tick. One can only hope we won’t be treated to dialogues with his inner goddess this time around.
My husband and I saw the film, Shades of Grey, not long after (see 4/23/15 posting). I recall saying I planned to wait to see it when came out on DVD, and there it was about five minutes later, available on TV for $4.99, and in the privacy of our home. So we watched it. Neither of us found particularly hot, although there were a few hot bits mixed in with the rest. I think this was partly due to some basic lack of chemistry between lead actors Dakota Johnston and Jaime Dorman. Remember Mickey Rourke and Kim Bassinger in 9 1/2 Weeks, or James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Secretary? Now there are some red-hot examples of what made our groins come alive.
All in all, my husband and I both shook our heads a lot at the stilted and melodramatic portrayal of a BDSM romance. But then, to us kinky seniors, these twenty-somethings seem far too young, immature, and ego-driven to be taken seriously. Surely, we thought, that tight-assed contract negotiation scene was intended as comic relief. And really, the whole idea of Ana demanding that Christian demonstrate the most severe pain she’d be required to endure — without having already generated the necessary endorphin rush to make a positive response possible, make us laugh out loud.
Having been a happy BDSM couple for thirty-two years this December, viewing the film did generate nostalgic remembrance of our own initial meeting and consequent negotiation process at a San Francisco cafe. How could I forget that zinging, high frequency excitement i felt when I gazed into his eyes, felt his energy — and realized the the submission fantasy I’d been rehearsing in my head for so long. was about to be lived out. And after watching Ana’s first entrance into Christian’s theatrically named, “Red Room if Pain”, my husband became positively sentimental recalling my introduction to his spare room turned dungeon — and my responsiveness to this new, fun form of play. But we weren’t kids when we met. We knew what we wanted, and when we found it, we thanked the powers-that-be that the chemistry was there. Still, between hot scenes we had our power struggles, like everyone else. We were ready to spit up five times during the first year alone, but somehow persevered.
So I never thought I’d say this but I’m interested in reading this new book and offering my review of it. I’m also interested in how 50 Shades Darker, the next film in the series will turn out. I hear that both director, Sam Taylor-Johnston, and scriptwriter, Kelly Marcel have resigned from the project and that E.L.James and her husband will have unbridled control of this next installment of Christian and Ana face life.
Still, schmaltz aside, looks to me like E.L.James has turned mainstream attention to the topic of BDSM, and the kink community owes her a debt of gratitude for that. @DorothyFreed1.
May Is National Masturbation Month
I’m a bit late saying so, but in case anyone doesn’t know, May is National Masturbation Month. It began as National Masturbation Day, first observed May 7, 1995 and was later upgraded to a month-long commemoration of what surely must be one of life’s simplest and most universal pleasures.
The day and then month was introduced by the San Francisco based sex-positive retail store, Good Vibrations, in the wake of the dismissal of U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, by President Bill Clinton, for suggesting at a World AIDS Day presentation, that masturbation, as part of human sexuality, should be included in sex education curriculum. Since Elders unjust firing, Good Vibes has held annual events to serve as public health education programs about the promotion of safer and healthier sex , and to increase awareness and de-stigmatize the practice of masturbation — which is, after all, the ultimate in safe sex. A Masturbate-a-thon will be held May 30th at SF’s Center of Sex and culture, as a fundraising and no partner sex event, providing participants an opportunity to enjoy one’s self, and one’s exhibitionist tendencies. The act, however, must be done alone, since assistance by another counts as partner sex.
Thinking about this takes me back to my own life as a masturbator. I recall fondly the time I spent fondling my girl-parts in the family bathtub — sloshing about in the warm soapy water until I was wrinkled all over — or until my mom broke my rhythm by rapping on the bathroom door, demanding to know what on earth I was doing in there for so long.
Interestingly, as pleasurable as the feeling were, I don’t recall bringing myself to orgasm back then. The first memory I have of experiencing a no-doubt-about-it, knock-my-socks-off orgasm was at sixteen, when I got off using the vibrator my mom kept by her beside, one day when she wasn’t home. It was one of those old-style, gun shaped instruments, with a thick, screw-shaped metal shaft fit over the metal part. It was marketed in those days as a neck massager, and knowing my mom, that may be what she used it for. But for me, somehow the the loudly buzzing instrument found its way between my legs, igniting a sweet, intoxicating heat greater than any positive sensation I knew existed. I almost passed out as an unexpected orgasm ripped through me. After that I recall some lengthy experimentation with the various attachments. They were all good but the broad flat one became my favorite. Back then, being young and bursting with estrogen, I came repeatedly until I was limp with satisfaction.
After that enlightening afternoon I had a new best friend for life — particularly after my teenage marriage and consequent discover that penile penetration, although highly pleasurable just didn’t get me off. Unfortunately, my first husband was rarely patient enough to bring me to orgasm with his hands or mouth. If not for the trusty vibrator I bought myself and used in secret, I might have gone high and dry. It wasn’t until the mid-70s after moving to San Francisco that I discovered Good Vibrations, the first sex-positive store for women I’d been to in my life. Back in those pre-HIV awareness days the store featured a tiny try-out room — and as long as female customers kept their panties on, we were free to discover the vibrator that best suited us. I remember entering the room with a possible selection and emerging weak-kneed and a Hitachi Magic Wand girl for life. I’ve worn out a number of them over the years, using them alone and with partners and have loved every moment of doing so. tweet @DorothyFreed1
My Thoughts on Master of O
I ‘ve finally finished reading Master of O, by Ernest Greene. This is no small commitment since the book is 763 pages long, but I found it well worth the reading time. The story, which resets Pauline Reage’s classic, Story of O, to glitzy contemporary Los Angeles is told from the Dom’s point of view, and Greene, a longtime pornography director and real life husband of porn star, Nita Hartley, based his lead character, Steven Diamond on real life experience. Greene is a skillful storyteller. His natural dialogue and great interplay between Dom and submissive, provides a keen insight into the inner workings of a hard-core BDSM relationship. Not only did his sex scenes sizzle on the page, they’re so well described, I felt I was watching a film inside my head as I read his words.
I love the fact that Steven, is an unapologetic sadist and libertine, who does not in any way blame his penchant for power, punishment, and pain on any disturbing childhood incidents. Instead, Steven, whose ideas of erotic play is not at all for the fainthearted, savors each command given and each stoke of the whip — because, simply stated, that’s what turns him on, makes him hard, and is part and parcel of who he is. All in all, Master of O, makes E.L James hero, Christian Grey seem like nothing more than an uptight, neurotic, wanna be Dom.
Steven’s new slave, O, is a gift to him from his brother, Ray, her current owner, who first proposes that they share her, later surrenders her to Steven when he realizes that her lust for pain and domination are greater than he can satisfy. And, as predicted, Steven finds in O, a talented photographer and heavy-duty masochist — with her acute appreciation of “quality pain”, in exchange for her submission — to be the perfect complement to his no holds barred brand of sadism. Steven and O are authentic characters, who come together form a place of mutual respect and understanding of each other’s needs and requirements. Together they embark on a high intensity, hardcore, BDSM relationship that continues to flourish until the story’s end, when Steven learns that O’s enslavement is not without its limits, after all.
As a kinky reader with an animal rights point of view, I found myself having to struggle a bit with descriptions of certain grossly decadent details of indulgences in the LA party scene — such as the wearing of endangered species shoes or the eating of pate fois gras, since such details unfortunately jerk me right out of the fantasy and into activist mode.
Aside from those discordant elements, I enjoyed reading about the inner workings of a kinky, high fashion magazine quite fascinating. And as one with a with a longterm familiarity with the scene, Master of O, with its quirky cast of desire driven characters reads like the real thing to me. I whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone with a genuine interest in the relationship dynamics of BDSM. Tweet @DorothyFreed1
My Two Cents Worth on the Shades of Grey Phenomena
I wasn’t planning to blog about this—my thought being that since the Shades of Grey Phenomena began a few years ago, and particularly since the movie version came out this past Valentine’s Day—everyone and her sister has already weighed in on the issue, so perhaps I should pass. But then I learned that in spite of all the murder, mayhem, and general madness going on in the world today on a minute by minute basis, there is a good reason for humankind to carry on—the next Shades of Grey film to be adapted from the second book of the E.L. James series, will go into production early next year. So it appears all is not lost after all.
Now I speak as one who has not yet seen the film and was thinking of catching it when it goes to DVD, but have read several reviews and articles with conflicting opinions about it. Certainly, one positive thing generated by both books and film is a spirited, out-in-the-light-of-day discussion about what BDSM is and isn’t.
I particularly liked Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Salon piece this past Feb titled “Christian sex activists warn against ‘dangers of mommy porn’ and ’50 Shades of Grey.’” The article mentions Julie Slattery, a Christian author and psychologist, who pans the film because she sees BDSM as degrading to women, in that it involves behaviors “normal”, mentally stable women with intact self-esteem wouldn’t consider doing—a pretty Andrea Dworkin take on it in my view, but there you are. I think Steven Elliot agrees from a different perspective by claiming he sees Christian Grey as a stalker, in the Rumpus, 2/23/15, and expressed that anyone with kinky desires should boycott the film.
I also enjoyed “50 Shades Confession” by Ti Chang and Michael Topolovac, co-founders of Cravings, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 2/13/15, who see the sexual conversation about both the books and the film as a good thing, but not the best possible image of BDSM. Also offered in the short piece is a link to praise from Vogue reviewer, John Powers, 2/11/15, who found the film surprisingly good — and looked favorably on what he saw as Ana’s erotic redemption of psychologically twisted Christian Grey, into some semblance of a normal lover by stories end. The piece also offered ridicule, by New Yorker reviewer, Anthony Lane, in a somewhat self-explanatory piece titled, No Pain, No Gain.
Personally, I think the key to Shades of Grey mainstream acceptability as “mommy porn,” is that Christian Grey is presented as a damaged individual who was seduced by an older woman at age fifteen, and left with a permanent neurotic need to act out his rage — sort of a modern day Heathcliff from Emily bronte’s romance classic, Wuthering Heights. But what, in my opinion, the average female reader may not realize, is that by the end of the third book—which I actually did get myself to read—Christian Grey has not been converted to near vanilla behavior, by the love of a good woman. Rather, he was topped from the bottom by a very determined and righteous young woman who wanted her erotic encounters, her way or no way—and more power to her for accomplishing her goal.
In the meantime, not only has Shades of Grey outsold J.K. Rowling’s, Harry Potter, but sales of soft cotton rope have shot up out of sight, handcuff sales are on the rise, and the popularity of Ben Wa Balls continues to grow —and erotica, particularly romantic erotica is in, bigtime, and I’m quite pleased about that. DorothyFreed1
I Used to Fake Orgasms, But Don’t Any More
My new life as a tweeter is connecting me with all sorts of interesting articles and blog postings I hadn’t known about before. I recently discovered Miss Ruby Reviews, a sex toy review site with some excellent articles about various aspect of sexual pleasure. One article in particular, posted on 2/6/15, @missrubyreviews, and titled, I Used To Fake Orgasms, But Don’t Anymore, resonated with me like you wouldn’t believe.
The reasons for all this resonation, in case you can’t guess, is because I used to fake them too. My years as a faker began in the bad old days of my first marriage in the early 60s — when as a girl of eighteen, I found myself unable to orgasm during penile penetration, although I often came close. Being an honest sort, I told my partner the truth, thinking this was an issue to be worked on together, with the mutual goal of improving our sex life. Needless to say, this information was not well received. Both this young man and I had been raised to view the male ego as a tender, fragile entity, that must at all costs be bolstered and guard from harm — and the penis as the be-all and end-all of sexual pleasure for all. Never mind that I came like a house on fire from oral sex or from manual stimulation of my clitoris; the message was clear. Women who stubbornly refused to orgasm from penis/vagina sex, were male ego wreckers for sure.
After that initial confrontation, I not only faked orgasms, I did so every bit as believably as Meg Ryan did in the iconic, faked orgasm scene in the film, When Harry Met Sally, in 1989. Unfortunately, I was so indoctrinated into lying to my husband about this issue, I continued to do so after divorcing him, in order to show my new lovers what a dynamite hunk of woman I was. “Did you come?” they’d whisper in my ear after their own orgasms subsided — and there I was, so conditioned to seeking male approval, I felt I had not other choice but to lie.
A few years later, in my early thirties, I got lucky and met a man with enough self-confidence to not be threatened by the truth. Instead, this memorable man and I entered into a mutually beneficial relationship, dedicated to the discovery of what made Dorothy come. And from that point on, I’m delighted to say I’ve never lied about orgasms again.
This particular sexual issue was so significant to me it because the basis for my book length, erotic coming-of-age story, PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through The Swinging Seventies, for which I am currently seeking publication
And this is why Miss Ruby’s article about how she faked orgasms, and how, like me, she no longer does, resonated so strongly with me. I have no idea what age she is now and how long ago she stopped faking. I’d love to think that younger women today have come a long way in claiming their right to full sexual pleasure and no longer agonize over orgasmic issues — although I suspect for some people, some ideas will die hard.
Social Media and Me
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one to easily warm to technology in any form. And, as an adult person in the 60s and 70s — when privacy not only still existed, but was held in high regard, I learned to eye social media with suspicion and mistrust. My initial responses to suggestions from others that a Twitter account could positively impact my career as a writer was to express my complete lack of knowledge of what it was about. But, in spite of my resistance, I finally set up a Twitter account a few months ago, and have been tweeting my little heart out since. I still can’t claim any significant understanding of how it works, but I dove in headfirst anyway, which has always been my style.
One thing I liked right away about this form of social media is that at 140 character maximum per tweet, it cuts straight to the chase with no chance of rambling. It was, according to Wikipedia, initially defined by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsy, as a “short burst of inconsequential information.” Okay, I got that, but still the whole concepts pretty well mystified me.
What really led me to an at least minimal understanding was the way my friend and fellow writer, Amy Butcher, explained it to me. “Tweeting is like standing on a street corner shouting,” she said, “And anyone who hears you may respond if they wish. Well, that makes sense, I thought, and the next day I sent out the message, “I’m standing on a street corner shouting. Can anyone hear me?” Amy heard me and responded by not only favoring my tweet, but following my account, as well, which I took to be expressions of approval. She also sent me an email with suggestions of Twitter accounts I might enjoy following. Inspired, I tweeted out a compliment about an anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, a sex writer, editor, and blogger that I’ve long admired. She responded by favoring and re-tweeting my tweet, and following my account, as well. Cool.
After that the thing began to snowball. I began getting all sorts of suggestions about who to follow, with more to come each time I began following a new account. Consequently, I’m now following a rapidly growing number of writer, editors, and publishers I admire, and am pleased to report that many of them are now following me. Hopefully they’re also logging on to my website and drinking in the word on this blog.
Yea! What a woman. First I conquered email, then forged ahead, not only to a website, but a blog as well. And now, onward to Twitter and who knows what else. I’m sure I’ll find out as I skip down the Yellow Brick Road of self-promotion, on my way to transforming my coming-of-age story, PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through The Swinging Seventies, into a published book.
My Twitter name is DorothyFreed1