Monday, May 14, 2012

Open your mind before your mouth.


Since when does the “women’s movement” equate to closed minds that want to send women back to the Stone Ages in terms of how they express their sexuality? I was stunned yesterday by a Facebook post by a NYT bestselling ROMANCE author who claimed that the “50 Shades” trilogy was setting the women’s movement back by espousing BDSM.

*face/palm* o.O and any other emoticon you want to insert there.

WTF? Of course, I couldn’t let that one sit and I, as well as other writers of BDSM, and readers of it, waded into the fray.

I’m sorry, but isn’t the ability to express our sexuality the way we CHOOSE to express it, consensually, one of the basic goals of the “women’s movement?” Instead of chastising women for expressing themselves freely, closed-minded individuals, and individuals who obviously know nothing about BDSM, should educate themselves about it.

This is a hot-button topic for me. Because I am actively involved in the BDSM lifestyle as a switch. That means I am both a Top as well as a bottom. Not only am I a bottom, I am a collared slave to both my husband and my Sir. In their submissive modes, they both submit to me, and I have to admit I’m a pretty sadistic Top when I’m in that mode.

This is a totally consensual relationship the three of us have. Nobody does anything without it being negotiated in advance.

Nobody has the right to tell me that what we do is “wrong.” Maybe it’s different than what someone else does, but am I supposed to limit myself to vanilla expressions of myself (and this isn’t just about sexuality, it’s a part of who I am) just because someone else doesn’t like it, or it doesn't fit in their neat and tidy version of how the Universe should work?

What I don’t get is how that author, who writes ROMANCE, can diss an entire population of people, as well as readers who might or might not be involved in the lifestyle but enjoy reading about it. Where does this person get off moralizing about what we do, when she obviously is clueless about the topic?

There is an expression commonly used in the lifestyle: YKINMK – Your Kink Is Not My Kink. It’s basically a live and let live philosophy. It doesn’t matter what two – or more – people do, as long as everyone involved is a CONSENTING ADULT. Consensual BDSM is NOT abuse. It might not be your thing. It might not be something you enjoy. That’s okay, because I don’t enjoy embroidering tea cozies or reading mushy, sweet, inspirational romances. But it’s okay if you do. It’s just not MY thing. But I’m not about to tell you you’re wrong for doing it. If it’s your thing, and you’re doing it consensually, great! Enjoy!

I think what sets civil rights back, regardless of whether it’s the “women’s movement” or if it’s gay rights, is small-minded, ignorant views that it’s okay to do something if it fits inside a neat little box.

Wrong.

I’d be willing to bet there were people involved in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s who personally had problems with interracial marriage, but they still did their part to fight for civil rights because it was the morally right thing to do.

Well, babycakes, let me tell you what. Consensual BDSM is a logical outflow of the women’s rights movement. We have the RIGHT to choose how we want to live our lives. And if that means that for part of our life we want to submit to someone else, then dammit, don’t tell us we’re wrong for it.

Let’s not leave out the fact that there are men who are submissives or switches. Are they also “wrong” for wanting to give up control sometimes? One thing I know personally is that many submissives are, in other areas of their lives, very dominant, Alpha personalities. Submission is like a mental vacation. And like I said, it’s not all about sex. I know some people whose submission doesn’t involve sex at all. For some, it’s an integral part of their sexuality.

But regardless of how they practice it, NO ONE has the right to tell them they’re “wrong” for doing it if it’s consensual. That’s akin to telling gays they’re “wrong” for being gay, or telling interracial couples they’re “wrong” for getting together.

Just because it’s not your thing doesn’t make it wrong. The only thing “wrong” in the equation is the small-minded ignorance of some people who don’t know how to educate themselves before opening their bigoted mouths.

Edit for clarification: I'm NOT saying the author in question (whom I'm not going to name publicly, and would appreciate it if no one else does either) doesn't have the right to not like the books. Sure, don't like them. I don't agree with her slamming them publicly, because it's highly unprofessional and shows a total lack of class, but whatever. My beef with the author in question is that she slams BDSM as a lifestyle choice and ignorantly and erroneously claims that it sets women's rights back. Just to make sure everyone understands what I'm saying. She has a right not to like the books and express her opinion of them -- even though she also claimed not to have read them -- but when she insults my lifestyle choice in an ignorant way, I have the right to rebut her opinion with my own.

Another Edit: Now the writer in question is backpedaling and saying her comments ONLY related to "50 Shades" and she didn't mean it about BDSM in general. Uh-huh. Sure. (That wind you felt was her backpedaling at the speed of light as she realized how many people she pissed off with her comments.) She neglected to admit she was wrong for making that judgment call in the first place about the book.

(Tymber Dalton is proud to admit she's active in the BDSM lifestyle, which is why she enjoys writing about it so much. Her website is http://tymberdalton.com )

18 comments:

E. Jamie said...

Absolutely fantastic post! These people seem to think feminism is only about women being 'better' than men or being more powerful than men. It's not.

A woman who decides to stay home and raise her children is JUST as much a feminist as the woman who chooses to go out and work. Feminism is the right to choose how we want to live our lives.

Personally, I'm such a control freak, but the idea of being a submissive is sooooo tempting to me because it would involve trusting someone that much to give up that control. How exciting. What freedom. Does that mean I'm not a strong woman. Frak anyone that says so as they don't know shit about shit.

Tymber Dalton said...

@E. Jamie - Exactly. I'm not putting down her dislike of the series - she's free to feel whatever she wants and express her thoughts on the matter. But when she tells me and others that we're "wrong" for what we believe, and that we're "setting the women's movement back," that just really pisses me off. She has no right to pass judgment on us for how we live our lives.

Basia Rose said...

Great post!

I had my say over there earlier on – just could not stay quiet, especially as there were plenty of others commenting, saying all that garbage about setting the women’s movement back.

Hmmm, perhaps it would help if they read a BDSM book, or maybe found out what BDSM was before condemning it!

Fifty was a book I wish I could un-read, and it makes me sad that’s the one everyone’s holding up as THE BDSM book, when it really isn’t a BDSM book at all. But for people to comment on a lifestyle they hadn’t even HEARD of until a couple of weeks ago… I don’t understand how they can do it!

RoseRaven said...

Great post, Tymber. I have found that poeple that put down others are either uneducated to the other point of view or afraid that they might be like that. Either way, it's no way to live your life or in any way gives another a right to put someone else down.

I can't read "Shades of Gray". I tried, I just could not get into it. I didn't care for the writing style and I'm probably the only person I know who cares nothing for Twilight or the whole "Sparkly" vampire thing.

Tymber Dalton said...

@Basia Rose - Exactly. And I don't even know if I'm going to read the series or not. I downloaded the free preview of the first one. She's even free to slam the books if she wants, although I think it's highly unprofessional for another author to do that. But for her to slam a lifestyle she obviously doesn't know a damn thing about ... that just pissed me off. LOL

@RoseRaven - Thanks! And I agree, very true. She's obviously ignorant about BDSM or she wouldn't have made the totally clueless and erroneous statements she did.

SusieJ said...

Great post Tymber!
I've read so many negative reviews (mainly from people who understand the lifestyle) that I'm not even going to try to read the Fifty series.
However, I won't stop anyone else reading them, that's their right.
I used to be a rabid feminist..no more...as the mother of a son I've seen how far the pendulum has swung..now it's all "girl power" and their path in life has to be easy...it's their right..or so they think. Not so - an individual's gender should not determine anything.
Freedom of choice is what it should be about.
Personally, I can't stand asparagus...but I don't object to others eating it. I don't like vanilla historical novels...but I don't stop others reading them. And so what if I like being spanked occasionally? I don't ask/force others to do it. I'm old enough to make my own decisions and to not be bothered by what others think.
Hugs xx

Willa Edwards said...

Great post Tymber, I completely agree. Feminism is about choice not being superior.

And 50 Shades seems to be really confusing people. I know they were talking to some moms about it on the radio last week (talking about mommy porn in honor of mothers day) and one of the women said she hadn't raised her daughters to be subservant to a man like the woman is in the book. Know I haven't read 50 Shades but if you know anything about the lifestyle you know being a submissive in a scene or in the bedroom doesn't make you a submissive in everything, but I couldn't help but think while she was talking about it, if that's what gets your juices flowing, and no one gets really hurt, then who cares if she wants to be submissive.

KcLu said...

Gret post Tymber!! To slam a whole lifestyle because you are ignorant and judgmental is rediculous. The over the top women's lib-ers have always gotten on my nevers. Because they tend to be judgemental of women who don't want to do the samethings as men.
It was totally unprofessional as an author to slam another author's work publicly. Quite frankly the more books I read about the lifestyle the more intrigued I get about it.

KcLu said...

Gret post Tymber!! To slam a whole lifestyle because you are ignorant and judgmental is rediculous. The over the top women's lib-ers have always gotten on my nevers. Because they tend to be judgemental of women who don't want to do the samethings as men.
It was totally unprofessional as an author to slam another author's work publicly. Quite frankly the more books I read about the lifestyle the more intrigued I get about it.

Kathleen C said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Lesli.

Tymber Dalton said...

@SusieJ - I completely agree with you on the girl power thing. I had several jobs where I was the only woman working with men, including as the store manager for an auto parts store, and I never had problems with them. I held my own. I'm not saying harassment doesn't exist, because it obviously does. But we damn well don't need it from those of our own gender who want to put us in a box of their choosing just because they don't like our choices.

@Willa - I know submissives who are only submissive in the bedroom or in the dungeon. In every other area of their life, they're totally Alpha. I feel sorry for girls raised to believe they have to be one way and can't feel free to tap into their vulnerability however they choose. It's a very freeing feeling to have trust enough to just let go when I want to. And that's what BDSM is about at its core -- trust.

@KcLu - Thanks! Me too, they have swung too far in the other way. Fight for equality, sure, but don't slam people for their choices when it's CONSENSUAL. And I agree it was totally unprofessional of her to slam the books in the first place. As authors, we shouldn't do that, because you never know what readers you'll alienate in the process. There's more than enough differences in books and readers to go around, we don't have some zero sum game going on where readers need to pick either/or. Readers should feel free to read whatever they want, regardless of what it is.

@Kathleen C - Thank you! :)

The Heimster said...

Lesli I must admit I kinda love it when you get upset, rant and put ppl in their place (so eloquently too). Same thing when you slammed the person with their one twue way of thinking.
Now I read the 50 Shades trilogy, right after reading Cherise Sinclair's and she writes some amazing BDSM novels.I loved the books when you put the ok writing and repetitiveness aside. But why i loved them had nothing to do with the BDSM elements in them. The Shades books are a 1.5 on the scale of kink, and they def should not be used as a measure of what the lifestyle is about. But You can't read one book, esp a BDSM-lite one like 50 shades and claim to know everything on the lifestyle. Ugh, Narrow minded people is my biggest pet peeve.
Side note- Love YKINMK, I think I might just put that on a t shirt, keep ppl guessing. Lol

Courtney said...

I have to admit I have purposely stayed away from 50 Shades simply because it just (for lack of a better descriptive term) feels wrong to me. Not the subject of BDSM, a topic I have enjoyed reading about and reading romance with BDSM elements. From the reviews, snipits, and conversations I have heard about 50 Shades, BDSM seems to be a "shock factor" element to get people talking, and not necessarily disseminating informed opinions.

I just don't appreciate people who have read this one book and make wide sweeping assumptions based upon one book, one perspective. As if it is the end all to all erotica. To me it is very narrow minded to only consider one source of information and basing your entire opinion on that one source.

As for people criticizing others' lifestyles choices, everyone chooses how they live their life, based upon what is best for them; whether that is living a BDSM lifestyle, a vegan lifestyle, or a Buddhist lifestyle, we should judge people by their actions and deeds and not someone else opinion.

I know I wouldn't want someone judging how I live my life so I try not to judge others.

Tymber Dalton said...

@The Heimster - LOL Thanks, sweetie. :) When I rant I do rant, don't I? And yes, that would make a fantastic shirt!

@Courtney - Worse, the author in question had NOT read the books and was spouting her opinions without any basis in fact. And exactly, it should be live and let live. If it's consensual and only involves adults, who cares?

Basia Rose said...

Oh, and one more thing:

What makes her so mad about vampires? She ranted about them too. I couldn’t believe how many comments her anti-vampire stance generated!

Honestly, Fifty Shades of Grey is a fad, which I hope goes away soon. But I also hope that it encourages people to seek out better BDSM books. This time next year they’ll all be reading great kinky books and saying, “Wow, what in the hell was I thinking before?!”

jenreader said...

Great post. Totally agree with @The Heimster, I have read them as well and agree with your rating. Just noting that Amazon put in the contemporary romance category which where it belongs.

Pauline said...

As always, a terrific post Lesli. I love all of the dialogue opening up on the subject of BDSM, it's an ongoing learning experience for me. I also want to say how much I admire your courage, conviction and integrity for standing up for who you are and the lifestyle that you embrace.

I read the following excerpt from a much longer post on the internet recently, and the author has remained anonymous. I thought it summed up the subject at hand quite well.

"In the case of a Dom male and submissive female, the relationship is often interpreted as sexist and/or anti-feminist; portraying women as objects to be subverted. On the contrary, sexually submissive women who choose this path consensually are some of the strongest-willed and intelligent women to be found anywhere. Ironically, a submissive in a consensual D/s relationship wields much of the actual power because she only gives what she wants to her Master, which is often quite a lot, but nothing more. And her Master does not take anything that is not willingly and freely given, though the sub may not be aware she was capable of giving so much until it actually occurs. Limits are set and respected, but boundaries are tested and at times expanded. It is a complex, empathic and beautiful dance between a Dom and a sub."

I've always called myself a "die-hard feminist", but what it really comes down to is what everyone here has said, and that's my strong belief in freedom of choice.

I loved 50 Shades (you knew I had to do it, didn't you Lesli LOL) for reasons other than the BDSM also, and I believe it deserved much better treatment than it got by the media, which has so many people hating it before they read it.

MJ said...

Loved loved loved your comments.
I don't live anything like a BDSM life style but I love to read about it. However I also loved Fifty Shades. I wouldn't have called these BDSM books, more a falling in love romance.
There are some fabulous books out there and some fabulous authors, who deserve much more recognition.

I must admit even I get angry when people think they have a right to tell me what I can and can't read - they'll be burning books next outside Barnes & Noble a bit like back in the bad old days.

Live and let live is my motto.