A Kiss With A Fist Is Better Than None

The topic is: what do you fantasize about?  Or, rather, whom?  The reason I ask is because of this new series of books now available, the first of which is called Fifty Shades of Grey.  Heard of them?  Apparently, the series started out as Twilight fan fiction by this English woman, E. L. James.  It’s an erotic novel (her first) that centers around this young, inexperienced girl who falls in love with a somewhat older, wealthy gentleman with very specific tastes.  Let me begin by saying I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey and everything I know about it is from word of mouth, internet articles and Entertainment Weekly.

Actually, allow me to back up a bit and first say that I disliked the Twilight series.  I read it and felt the story would have been compelling were it not for the characters in it.  I disliked the series not because it was teenage fantasy but because I was entirely unable to relate to the main character, Bella Swan, and I did not like her love, Edward Cullen.  Nothing about the cold, stone-like description of him appealed to me but, even putting all that vampire stuff aside, he seemed to me a jealous, possessive boyfriend with serious stalker potential.  I know that all teenagers, when first in love, would like to spend every waking minute of their lives together.  On paper, I understood why teenaged girls loved Twilight and adored Edward.  But why the fuck did their mothers love him?  If I were a mom, I would not want my 17 year-old daughter dating a boy who told her whom to talk to, watched over her while she slept and treated her like a breakable toy – like a porcelain doll incapable of surviving without his watchful eye upon her.  In fact, those are the kind of guys I was always told to steer clear from, as they are the ones we see on the news – you know the stories: “Man shoots ex-girlfriend after she gets restraining order against him, says he’d rather see her dead than with someone else.”  Guys like that are scary, not sexy.  I know that the Twilight series was written for a Young Adult audience, so naturally the characters in it would be chaste and virginal.  Not exactly realistic in today’s world, but whatever.  And author Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon, undeniably a patriarchal community, so sure, her female characters are likely to treat their men as stronger and wiser that they.  Fine.  But the fact that millions of adult women loooooved Edward Cullen shocked and, kind of, disgusted me.  The response to this new book, Fifty Shades of Grey, is even more appalling.

Back to the matter at hand.  Here’s what I’ve gathered from reviews and articles about Grey: the main character is a 21 year-old virgin who falls for an older billionaire who offers her a contract that clearly states he has control over her.  She signs said contract and then becomes something of a sex slave to him (of her own free will), engaging in bondage and pretty hard core sado/masochism.  He tells her what and how much to eat and watches her like a spy as she goes about her life, becoming so irate when he sees her speaking to any other men that he goes into jealous, rageful fits.  This book is hugely popular and has been dubbed “mommy porn,” because its audience is about 98% women and the sex scenes are pretty graphic.

Look, I’m not against bondage or sado/masochism.  Everyone is free to do anything they choose with a consenting adult – that’s not the issue here.  But it surprises me that, apparently, millions of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s want to be controlled by a man.  I get that there is a certain freedom in not making your own choices but I thought that applied more to letting your guy pick the restaurant or the movie, not exactly what and how much you are allowed to eat or with whom you can speak.

The truth is, I think people should read whatever the hell they want.  If you’re into harlequin romance novels, fine.  And if this book is something that appeals to you, that’s fine, too.  I just can’t help but wonder what it says about American women today that these possessive, controlling men are the ones they lust after and day dream about.  Are they bored and simply enjoying the excitement?  I wonder if, in their actual lives, they’d prefer a man like that over one who treats them with trust and respect, as an equally valuable and free human being.  I’ve had a few “bad boy” boyfriends and I get the appeal.  But after a very short period as the girlfriend of the bad boy, the shine wears off.  The jealousy thing stops being cute because it’s much less about their affection for you and more about their need to control and manipulate another person.  And they’ll lie and cheat and exaggerate to get what they want.  And if you won’t be the person they want you to be, they quickly pick up and move on.  They are okay to rebound with or have a fun, summer fling with.  But these are not the men you want to marry or be fathers to your babies.  Because, as you should be able to guess, they’ll want to control and manipulate their daughters, as well, and raise them to be docile, submissive women because those are the women they like.

100 years ago, female authors wrote about men who treated their women as equals, who were inspired and enlivened by their women.  Men like the beloved Mr. Darcy who fell for Elizabeth Bennett because she did not blindly worship him for his money and power, as most other available women around him did.  Or Robert Lebrun who loved another man’s wife – a married mother of two (not an untouched virgin) for her passion and independent spirit.  And the hardened Mr. Rochester whose soul was stirred by the conviction and integrity of the poor and plain Jane Eyre.  Back when women literally were oppressed and controlled by the men in their lives, they dreamed of a man who valued them for their minds and willfulness.  Now that we have achieved relative equality, the modern woman’s ideal man is obscenely rich and ties his lady to the bedposts, violently penetrating her while she gags on a chokeball.  Oh, how far we’ve come.

It shocks me that there are so many submissive women in today’s society.  Or women who fantasize about being submissive, about being dominated by a possessive man.  I don’t want to get political, but seriously, are women advancing or regressing?  Is this what the generations of women who fought so hard for suffrage and equality fought for – the right to choose to be dominated by a man?  I may be in the minority here, but give me a Mr. Darcy over a Christian Grey any day.

VS.

Seriously?

~Nikki

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10 thoughts on “A Kiss With A Fist Is Better Than None

  1. Pingback: Eyes On Fire – Nikki’s 2012 Book List (Part 2) | ravingmadscientists

  2. Well, I’m back having read the first book of the trilogy. Ug. What a lousy fucking book. I’m semi-curious to know what goes on in books 2 and 3, but I think I’ll wait for the Cliff’s notes- I can’t bear to force my way through them. Of course I only have myself to blame- no one ever tried to say these were genius, but I was hoping for *something* interesting about them. My issues: The characters are uninteresting. How can you manage to make a good looking s&m billionaire uninteresting??? Oh, and about his success?? He’s a 27 yr old billionaire with a start up company feeding the poor??? Really?? How does that work exactly?? Ok, whatever. She’s equally uninteresting. I will say I was surprised to find the basic assumptions I had about the book were untrue. I thought that they entered a contracted agreement to have this dom/sub relationship. Not true. It’s what he wants, but she never signs and she is anything but submissive. She gives it a try here and there, but pretty much fails in the sub department. The whole sex thing was meh. “I shuddered as he got close to my sex.” Um, your what??? I’ve heard more dark and depraved dialog on an episode of South Park. *yawn* There was way too much “he loves me, he loves me not” bullshit going on. “I’m in love! I’m not! I can do this! I can’t! I’m confused! He’s confused! We’re not confused!” Jesus.

    Back to the original premise about women who enjoy this rubbish; I guess I can’t say for certain what they want. If you swoon for an Edward or a Christian (or even a Don Draper) does that mean you really want that sort of man in your life? I maintain that it doesn’t necessarily. I think that fantasy and reality are separate and can coexist, and that the power you might want to give away in your fantasy multi-media world of books/music/movies you will fight to maintain in the real one. (You might even want to pop that pussy and shake yo ass to a little hip hop without really wanting to be someone’s ho haha!). For those women who truly want to give away power in this way, well, I guess I say to each his own. Power is an interesting topic, for all of humanity it has and will continue to be, and it’s confusing when someone achieves power and then gives it away.

  3. I skipped Twilight and have no desire to read it. Romance usually just doesn’t hold my interest, nor do vampires- lose/lose for me. Grey, however, IS on my list. A number of years back I read an s&m blog. I (who can be kind of a wimp from just getting a splinter) was interested in understanding why someone would want to be in pain, and why someone would want to be submissive- two very confusing concepts for me. The author was extremely eloquent, and chronicled her s&m journey in a way that I could wrap my head around the motivations of both (or more) parties involved. Interestingly, it is more about control on the sub’s part than one might initially think. I’m curious to see if Grey comes close to what I think I understand on the subject. I find a major flaw in your logic on this post however. Your basic assumption is that if a woman reads about domineering men then she wants to be dominated. I’ve been a fan of the horror genre my whole life, yet I can assure you that I NEVER ONCE wanted to be hacked into a million pieces by a wayward hitchhiker! I do not want to meet a supernatural clown creature in a dark alley. I don’t want to have a leg hacked off by a stalker. I don’t want to be trapped in a deserted forest lodge with a madman. Et cetera. For the vast majority I do not believe that watching/reading something translates into a desire to experience it in any form. With that, don’t be too quick to lose faith in womankind- we got this!

    • Oh monkey, I totally get that people enjoy reading about things they’d rather not experience. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the millions of women who think Edward is the perfect man and swoon for him and now pine for a guy like this Christian Grey, lamenting that they know no man in their lives like him.

      The bondage and s&m have nothing to do with it – I could give a shit about people’s sexual preferences. It’s that so many adult women seem to desire a possessive, controlling kind of guy. Outside of the bedroom, I mean. Have you seen any footage of the Twilight movie premieres? Grown women cry and faint over Edward! I’m simply saying that I don’t get it.

      The s&m thing is interesting to me, only because I also don’t get what is appealing about physical pain. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll read Fifty Shades. When you do, come back and tell me what you think!

      Thanks!
      ~N.

  4. I just read the three of them last week for an upcoming Trashy Tuesday.

    They. Are. Horrible.

    Seriously, so bad. They’re poorly written (it’s OBVIOUS that they were fanfic and haven’t even been gone over by a professional editor, that I can tell), the male lead is a complete asshole, and the girl is completely clueless with her “oh, I CAN CHANGE HIM!!!” ways.

    It made me so mad when I was reading them, because I can not understand what it is that so many women are finding so appealing about these books.

    • I saw on facebook the other day that a girl I know wrote that she wished she could meet a guy like Christian Grey. Reading your comment makes me sad for her. And just plain sad for women.

      I guess it’s true that girls like assholes. 😦

      Thanks for reading & sharing!
      ~Nikki

  5. I love this post so much! You make so many great points, my favorite of which being how the male hero has changed from Darcy to Edward (UGH). Also, you ask really good questions about why mothers are swooning so hard over Edward, who is at the most basic level, really possessive and creepy. This is a really fantastic post and a great insight into why women, specifically, are interested in reading this stuff. I, too, have seen the countless articles about the obsession with Fifty Shades – apparently someone bought the movie rights, as well? Let’s see how that goes.

    Great post! 🙂

  6. Really fantastic topic here. Sometimes I wonder if the line between attention and domination is blurred for some people. Like, you crave attention so badly (and with the state of the Y chromosome these days, it’s not completely surprising…I swear that as society generally declines, the decency of the male majority just…woof), that the psycho-opposite on the spectrum–being controlled–ends up being what girls look for…or not LOOK for so much as find, and willingly accept.

    Also, I think that reading about it is different than experiencing it. When people read about being dominated, it can be a sparkly fantasy for them, without any of the real consequences.

    The other day, my mind went on a little trip and literally ended up at, “MAN, equality is sexy!” so I guess that is where I stand, personally. Also, I guess as I am UNYIELDING (says Pottermore), I would not accept someone telling me what to eat or who to see.

    • I guess I, too, am unyielding, as the very idea of someone telling me what to eat or who to speak to is laughable.

      I agree with your comment about fantasizing not being the same as experiencing, or even wanting to experience something. Still, the manic response of ADULT women to Twilight and now this new series surprises and somewhat disappoints me.

      ~N.

  7. I want to tie this post to a bedpost and penetrate it. Because I love it.
    Damn girl, EPIC!!! *thumbs wayyyyyy up* You know I fully believe womenkind are regressing.
    I agree with this all, 100% – even if I kind of do want to read Fifty Shades! Only to see what the fuss is about. >:)
    ~Annie

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