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We Saw Fifty Shades Darker So You Don’t Have To

11 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur & Madeline Iva

Happy Weekend! We’re here to share with you all our thoughts after seeing FIFTY SHADES DARKER at the movie theatre last night. fifty-shades-darker

Madeline: I loved seeing that group of women who all came into the theatre wearing masks. In fact, my role here is to see the film with eyes of love.  To understand why women love it, why it’s so ridiculously successful.

Elizabeth: This blog post also could be titled, Fifty Scenes of Dakota’s Boobs. Or Fifty Shades of Mixed Messages.

Madeline: You’re in a mood this morning.  I can tell.

Elizabeth: I don’t hate the Fifty Shades franchise. I don’t love it either. I’m neutral, though I was really hoping Hollywood did a better job of portraying the lifestyle than they did previously. Of course, I recognized this story, from the get-go, isn’t a BDSM erotic romance at all.

Madeline: I mean, I agree.–But what is it then?

Elizabeth: It’s a story of a man with PTSD from his childhood who channels his angst by engaging in supposed sadism (I don’t think he’s really a sadist, by the way) with submissives. He meets an ordinary girl who sends this man mixed signals. But she would. She’s in her early twenties and still figuring herself out. But, Jesus, the back and forth!

All that chest--and no touching it. I would go mad.

All that chest–and no touching it. I would go mad.

Madeline: Yes, she’s still figuring it all out.  Jackie and I talked about that with the first movie. This is a strong message that’s getting out into the world these days and I applaud it.  You hear that men? Women are not playing games.  They’re not f**king with you.  They’re trying to figure it out, okay? And sometimes it’s not easy.

Elizabeth: I get why people love 50 Shades. Billionaires, mild kinky scenarios—

Madeline: Yay to mild-kink! Or, as I like to call it, Kinky-lite.  We need t-shirts.  I’ll get my people right on that.

Elizabeth: –especially if you’ve not been exposed before. People also love the luxurious settings, a man changed by the love of a woman. That trope is old as the hills.

Madeline Iva: As old as the hills–and yet there are real haters out there.  Haters who love romance, confoundingly.

Elizabeth: I get why people hate it. Bad BDSM benchmark set, a weak(er) story structure and did I mention the mixed signals from both characters?

Madeline: One thing about the mixed messages: I think that the movie makers had to do it the way that they did. They had to be true to the book and in the book, she’s walking away from kink.  On the other hand, what do we want? We want hot sex scenes in the movie! Like we had in the first movie, only different.  They delivered both.  Could they have delivered a movie that had a lot less sex? I don’t think so.

Elizabeth: The PR/Marketing person in me also thought they missed an opportunity to make the movie the best possible thing ever. No excuse! I mean, built-in audience, Hollywood! We had a row of women behind us who came as a group all wearing masks. You can’t buy this kind of loyalty.50-shades-darker-teaser-mask

Madeline: You think they should have really dug in and changed things, deepened the script, the plot, etc?

Elizabeth: Yes! So, sadly, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars.

Madeline: So, here’s what I say — is this even really a movie? I mean, I thought of it as something in film form that was an homage to the book.  I think we’re in the early days of a whole new medium. We need to come up with a jazzy name for it.  I mean, that whole weird section with the helicopter crash? “Real” movies don’t actually work like that.  Which is okay–but comparing this to a movie is like comparing apples to…an apple flavored jolly roger candy.  You know?

Elizabeth: It will certainly please the 50 Shades crowd, but in equal measure that it will tick off the real-life BSDM enthusiasts. (I can’t help but think of how this mirrors our very-politically-divided country right now.)

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn't getting old.

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn’t getting old.

Madeline: Aren’t they already ticked off? I mean, by this point, I can’t imagine real-life BDSM enthusiasts going see this movie for sheer love.  Me, I was frankly relieved that it was so kinky-lite in the first movie.  FIFTY SHADES DARKER’s little play-time scenes were icing on the cake.  Besides, I brought my husband to see the movie, and was hoping to placate him with all the sexy biz.

Also, as Jezebel writers said: “What was good: basically nonstop puss eating.”

Elizabeth: !

Madeline: So sez Jezebel, so say we all. On the other hand, people kinda wanted to see Christian’s dick.  Not me, just…people.  #dickparity is a thing, I guess.

Elizabeth: What I liked about the movie: Dakota Johnson has got acting chops.

Madeline: I agree.

Elizabeth: She’d better than most people probably realize given she had to develop that character herself. Anastasia Steele’s clothes. I want that La Perla bustier garter set she’s wearing.

Madeline: We all want that La Perla bustier garter set.  And the body to go with it.

And it looks even better from the back...

And it looks even better from the back…

Elizabeth: –Ya know, for sitting around my home office so I can pretend I’m about to be whisked to a ball. Also, her lips. M and I agree – she had the best lipstick. And it stayed on no matter what they were doing like sucking face, which they did often.

Madeline: I liked the sucking face.  Jamie Dornan sucks face well.

Elizabeth: Christian Grey’s boat. Niiiice. Jamie Dornan’s buffness and scruffness – just the way I like it. Oh, and his neck! I just wanted to bury my face in it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

Madeline: I did not need him so buff.  But I am obsessed.  (Posting on that later.)

Elizabeth: The general eye candy was great. They live in a beautiful world.

Madeline: I was going through eye candy withdrawl. This movie definitely helped.

Elizabeth: But I can’t get over the mixed signals: “Christian, I can never, ever give you what you need.” Ten minutes later, “Christian, spank me.” “Take me to the red room.” Make up your mind, lady. You’re either into the kink or you’re not.

Madeline: Okay, here’s my take on that — at first in their relationship he wanted total control.  Even to the point of saying he didn’t “do relationships”.  Gah.  It’s like a dance, and he was always leading.

In FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she takes control.  It’s not about consistency.  It’s about her leading. In the past, with all his interactions the dominant dynamic was about them pleasing him.  Now he has to keep up with her, follow her lead, and prove to her that he can please her.  It’s all about her, people! (Which is catnip to us romance ladies.)

She's steering the ship now.

She’s steering the ship now.

Elizabeth: His admission that he’s not a Dominant, but a sadist really bothered me.

Madeline: It was certainly abrupt.

Elizabeth: And they acted like being a sadist must be a very, very, very bad thing. It’s not!!

Madeline: She’s getting on her BDSM soap box people.

Elizabeth: If you’re truly a responsible sadist, you play with consenting adults, and you never harm anyone.

Madeline: Which is different from causing them pain

Elizabeth: Right.  Pain is temporary, and some masochists get an endorphin rush off controlled pain, which registers as a kind of pleasure…so they like it.

Madeline: Yes, yes, yes!

Elizabeth: Harming someone is completely different.

Madeline: Noted.

Elizabeth: I had an issue with the symbolic kink. The movie brings out the usual kinky props, but clearly for symbolic reasons. There’s the blindfold and the cuffs but within one minute they’re having sex. They bring out the spreader bar and within one minute they’re having sex.  He gives her four spanks and then they’re having sex. I get it. They’re young, full of hormones and hot. But don’t expect any real BDSM. The movie had tons of sex and a little slap and tickle.

Madeline: I didn’t mind that at all. Huzzah to symbolic kinky sex!

Elizabeth: Speaking of the spreader bar. People…please DO NOT go to Amazon, buy the first spreader bar you see and do that flip move that Christian did to Ana without a lot of practice.

Do not try this at home...

Do not try this at home…

Madeline: It did look…quite…gymnastic.

Elizabeth: I’m not quite convinced that spreader bar exists in real life.

Madeline: A retractable spreader bar.  Yeah, that was a new one to me too.

Elizabeth: So don’t risk spraining an ankle or wrenching a back.

Madeline: Her breasts were like a third character in the movie.

Elizabeth: If there was an opportunity to show them off, the movie did.

Madeline: It’s actually in her contract–she must be topless or naked at least every fifteen minutes of the movie. (Joking.) But reading interviews, I think the actress has made this her thing.  And if an actor is a bit of an exhibitionist, who are we to complain? (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom.)

Elizabeth: Why couldn’t we get his glory to be the third character? Equal rights, man.

Madeline: #DickParity — starting that hashtag right now

Elizabeth: This movie was more sex positive than the last — and Ana wasn’t as big as a doormat as she was in the first movie.

Madeline: Amen to that!

Elizabeth: Oh, and for grins you really must check out this post from a Redbook writer, I Tried All the Sex From Fifty Shades Darker In One Weekend. Hilarious.

Madeline: I can’t believe Redbook did that…that is awesome.  Final comments?

Elizabeth: Bottom line: If you are a 50 Shades fan, you’ll love this movie.

Madeline: Durh.

Elizabeth: If you are a real-life BDSM lifestyler, you’ll probably stay away anyway. Christian is someone who needs to be “cured.” Yeah, right.  But what he needs (IMHO) is help with his PTSD, not his BDSM proclivities (though I’m not convinced BDSM even really is his thing).

Madeline: What is his thing?

Elizabeth: Okay–Growing up, Christian discovers how to use kink to channel his anger from his childhood trauma.  And so maybe when he gets together with her, and they bond, that anger starts to go away? And that’s why he walks away from it all.

Towards the end of the series, he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  In the third book he doesn’t want a red room in the new house.

A Dominant, meanwhile, that’s their main thing–being in control.  If he actually can be happy without being in control, yeah, he’s not a Dominant.  And a sadist — I’m sorry, but you don’t just actually decide not to be someone who gets off on pain.  It’s like trying to pray your way out of being gay.

Madeline: So if this was real life–which it’s not–Elena would be right.  Ana and Christian together as a couple would be a compromise for him.  A compromise most couples don’t survive.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie--which makes it all very meta.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie–which makes it all very meta.

Elizabeth: Right.  If it was real life.

Madeline: Which it’s not.

Elizabeth: I don’t care if this story is fiction, that idea should be sorted out. Okay, Hollywood, can you do that for us? So we’re ALL happy? See built-in audience above.50shadesshouldersleeping

And don’t forget out V-Day Giveaway.  Subscribe to Lady Smut — push the pink bottom at the top right of your screen and you’ll be entered to win. 

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Bed Dance – Not Your Ordinary Lap Dance

11 Feb

…AS TOLD TO LADY SMUT BY SASHA SNOW

Sometimes you're in the mood for some lap dance action...only more horizontal.

Sometimes you’re in the mood for some lap dance action–only…more horizontal.

SASHA SNOW: I’ve been teaching exotic dance for the last seven or so years in a professional dance studio with curtains drawn, and the doors locked.  The idea behind these classes is to help ordinary women reclaim a part of themselves they often lose to years of child-rearing, stale marriages, and general malaise from living in the ordinary world.  I help them reclaim their sensual side to use however they see fit. One of the most popular offerings are lap dance workshops.

In the ninety minute workshop, you learn how to move seductively and give your partner a semi-choreographed dance on and around him while he’s sitting in a chair or on a couch. In the last few years, however, I made up a bed dance workshop. If you can seduce a man with dance and movement while he’s sitting in a chair, imagine what you can do with him lying in a bed.

This idea isn’t new. Bed dance has long been a staple in strip clubs. Female strippers charge big money to give a man a dance in a bed in the back room. But you can give your partner one at home.

LADY SMUT: There are good reasons to bring some movement and action into your bedroom.

“In fact, a recent science article suggests that instead of lying still in bed, women are actually much more aroused by moving around. University of Texas Dr. Cindy Meston reported this to the BBC:

‘For years we were told, ‘Have a bubble bath, calm down, listen to relaxing music, do deep breathing exercises, chill out before sex,” she says.

‘But my research shows the opposite, that you actually want to get women in an active state. So, you can run around the block with your partner and get them to chase you around the block, or watch a scary movie together, ride a rollercoaster together, even a good comedy act. If you really get laughing, you’re going to have a sympathetic activation response.’

Meston is talking about the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for subconscious muscle contractions that get us ready for the flight or fight mode, like heart rate and blood pressure. She has found that if this system is activated before sex it will help women respond more intensely and more quickly.

It’s quite the opposite for men.”

In other words, git up and dance! Sasha Snow has some helpful tips to offer.

TIPS FOR TRYING OUT A BED DANCE AT HOME:

Set some rules.  You need to do this so it doesn’t delve into sex right away:

  • no heels
  • no touching (this is a fun one to play with–how close can you get?)
  • no talking, no laughing
  • BE SAFE — hang onto the head board or hang onto the wall.
  • Move however feels good to you. 
  • Put on some music you like — not what he likes — what you like. (Cause he’s not really listening to the music.)
  • Spice it up! Remember — practice makes perfect.

And don’t forget — if you subscribe to LadySmut.com you are automatically entered in our V-day giveaway this weekend (2/10/17 to 2/14/17)

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Kinky F*ckery in 50 Shades: Interview with Jackie C. Horne

11 Feb

Ladies—Jackie from ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS is here with me today to delve deeply into the core themes of the 50 Shades phenomenon. We focussed on two questions:

Why do women love this fantasy?

Two reasons I love this fantasy--and they're big and blue.

Two reasons why I love this fantasy–they’re big and blue.

Does 50 SHADES represent a step forward in women’s sexual freedom—or a step back?

If you like 50 Shades and smart discussion – you’re in for a treat!

MADELINE IVA: I’m very interested in focusing on what it is that draws women to the 50 Shades fantasy…

JACKIE C. HORNE: To answer that, you first have to answer the question “what is the fantasy” that these books and films hold out to us? And that fantasy may be different for different readers and viewers. As a literary critic, I see three different fantasies at play in books 1 & 2. First, the fantasy that an ordinary girl (ordinary in both looks and intelligence) can catch the attention of a wealthy, handsome man (the cornerstone of much romance writing).

Second, the fantasy that said ordinary girl can rescue/save an emotionally messed-up man (again, a foundational trope in romance).

And finally, the fantasy that indulging in “kinky fuckery” is something to take pleasure in, rather than something to be ashamed of, even for an ordinary girl. The latter fantasy is the most progressive one, the most positive one as far as women’s rights and women’s sexual freedom goes. But the two former ones are what makes it safe, I think, for readers to accept the latter one. It’s the combination of all three that made the books such a phenomenon. Romance tropes as the life preserver, if you will, that allow readers to imagine themselves swimming out into the less familiar waters of sex with a touch of kink.50

MADELINE IVA: I’ve never heard it stated so well, Jackie! We’ve touched upon this topic before: I see the role of BDSM in the romance genre as representing a fundamental evolution in the role of consent.  Women are now asking for the sex they want and negotiating with their partners for sex that they want –or don’t want!–tons more than they used to.  I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts about this after watching the first movie.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I think this depends on the reader’s relationship with BDSM and the BDSM community. In the book 50 Shades Darker, when Ana is talking about Christian’s sexual needs with Christian’s psychiatrist, Dr. Flynn explains that “of course there is such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a non-issue” (412). If you are a reader who is a sexual sadist, or who is familiar with the BDSM community, then you’re probably going to find 50 Shades problematic when it comes to consent. The reason why I didn’t read these books until you asked me to participate in this discussion was because I had heard from romance writers who write erotic & BDSM romance that the books aren’t an accurate depiction of BDSM or of the BDSM community.

MADELINE IVA: True, but there’s a crap-ton of fantasy in BDSM erotic romance already. Inaccuracies abound and many fans want the fantasy—not the reality. (Esp. when it comes to sex clubs.)

JACKIE C. HORNE: If you’re not familiar with BDSM, though, if you read the consent to kinky sex not as a realistic possibility but as a metaphor, then yes, it can definitely be a metaphor for female consent.

It takes Ana a while (all the way to the end of book 1) to figure out what she wants, and doesn’t want, out of her sexual relationship with Christian. She’s up for bondage, up for spanking, up for lighter sexual pain, all things she never would have imagined she’d liked before she met Christian.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! And in the movie — what we see dominates what we hear. What we SEE is Ana enjoying lite kinky play…In the book, which is so much internal, her confusion and ambivalence take center stage.first-kiss-50

JACKIE C. HORNE: But in the book’s climactic scene, she realizes that she is not up for being punished, for being the object upon which Christian takes out his anger. Refusing to consent to the linking of love and male anger, the idea that male anger is always a part of male love—that may be the key shift from Old Skool romance novels to contemporary romances.

MADELINE IVA: This is a great interpretation, and I agree that if the fundamental message is not to accept male anger as a part of male love, that it’s a good one.  But I don’t know….(more on that later.)

What I saw as I watched that final scene in the first movie was her seeing his emotional pain and wanting to take on his pain — like a martyr.

Meanwhile, Cara McKenna is my touchstone for an author who shows consent VERY well without bogging down the plot or making us fall out of the fantasy.  50 Shades maybe does this less well, but it might be interesting to contrast how consent is carried out in the movie vs. the book.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Did you think there were major differences between book and movie in this regard? I didn’t notice any myself, but if you have specific scenes you can point to, I’d be happy to go back and re-watch the film again.

“Please, Ana, let me make love to you.”

“Yes,” I whisper, because that’s why I’m here. (50 Shades of Grey, 113) 

MADELINE IVA: I’m thinking of the contract stuff.  In the movie she was actively negotiating with him face to face and crossing out elements she vetoed. It seemed like there was energy to this exchange. To me this showed strong female agency — and have we ever seen a woman in a film before negotiating over sex so thoroughly? (Excepting scenes with sex workers–and even then not so much.)

In the book, meanwhile, the contract seemed (this is my interpretation) a packet of doom.  It seemed to make her cringe, and the details dwelt upon had to do with total control over her as well as painful sex acts.  It dragged her down into a pit of (again my take)  “No, no, no, no, OMG. Am I going to have to do this stuff? Gah!

JACKIE C. HORNE: Oh, yes, the contract scene is so great in the film! It shows Ana being far more empowered, and really enjoying the negotiating with Christian. Many film reviews cite that scene as the best thing in the movie.

In the book, the language of the contract appears not just once, but four times (at least in part). Is it just sloppy writing, that repetition? Or is there something really important in that legal language to James? The idea that this is a business relationship, rather than a personal one, to Christian? Which is an idea that Ana ultimately cannot accept.

MADELINE IVA: I’m interesting in talking about Jamie Dornan as a man/actor who was a kind of reluctant participant himself in the movie.  Yes, he did it for his career, and didn’t have long to think about his choice.  Also he is most definitely NOT a fan of the life style.

Dakota Johnson seems to have adapted a bit more (maybe because it’s the corner stone of her career?)

There are interviews where Dornan apologized profusely to Dakota Johnson before each take.  Do we care as much about male consent as we do about female consent? Is this going to be a problem? (Is it one already? Can men refuse sex without having their sexuality challenged, or facing aggressive repercussions –even if not physical violence?)

JACKIE C. HORNE: Your questions make me think about 15-year-old Christian, at the start of his affair with Elena. Did he consent? He says he did, but Ana is consistently appalled by the mere thought of an adult woman inviting a 15-year-old boy to have (kinky) sex with her. Ana never asks Christian to tell her more about his experience; she instantly assumes that he had no agency, no ability to consent, that he was molested and abused.50-shades-shower

I was disappointed that the books, which initially reserve judgment on this issue (was Christian abused? Or was his relationship with Elena a positive, even life-saving one?) end up coming down hard on the side of abuse by the end of book 2. Rather than presenting Ana’s intense jealousy of Elena as misguided or immature, the end of book 2 reinforces the idea that Ana is right to be wary of Elena. I thought this a very sexist move, complete with bitch-slap for the erring woman (not by Ana, but by Christian’s adopted mother).

I wished we could have heard more about Christian’s experience with Elena, that Ana had been more curious rather than judgmental about it. In some ways, you could say that Ana is infantilizing Christian by refusing to grant that even as a 15-year-old, he might have been capable of making informed decisions about his sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: And this goes back to the core fantasies.  What you saw as the ordinary young woman saving/healing the wounded man I saw as a kind of mothering thing — the power of soothing.  “Let me make the hurt go away” kind of actions.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

JACKIE C. HORNE: The larger issue—about male consent in general—is an interesting one. Yes, a man who turns down a chance to have sex is still likely to have his masculinity, or his heterosexuality, called into question, even in this day and age. But a man who turns down BDSM sex, or feels squicky about it, there’s something different going on there. BDSM sex isn’t as widely accepted, as widely admired, as straight heterosexual sex; there’s a taint attached to it for many people. Wanting to dominate women is a big no-no in our purportedly post-feminist age. So not consenting to participate in Dom/sub sex, or expressing uneasiness or discomfort with having to act as if you enjoy it, can be read by many as a positive thing, an endorsement of more equal power during sex between partners. A women’s rights kind of thing, no?

MADELINE IVA: Well, I actually know men who say “whatever she wants sexually I kinda have to do” and that with one man it’s kinky stuff with his wife. He’s okay with it, because she enjoys it.  With another man it’s about his incredible discomfort playing out semi-rape fantasies with women he’s having sex with…I think part of his discomfort involves reinforcing the perception that in some way he LOOKS predatory, etc.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I haven’t heard similar stories from any of my male friends or acquaintances. But your friends’ experiences do show how men can be subject to (or even victims of) sexual stereotypes. (I’m in the midst of reading a book about a gay asexual man, and he feels quite similarly, that he is surrounded by the imperative “men always want sex”). No man, or woman, should feel like they HAVE to do anything, sex-wise, that they don’t want to do. Ever. I hope your latter friend can find women to date who won’t push him to play the semi-rape game.

MADELINE IVA: Yup, I agree. The singles world of dating, hook-ups, etc, is a jungle—the price we pay for more sexual freedom seems to be more social pressure about sex and displaying sexuality in increasingly artificial ways.

Part of the conundrum of playing up one’s sexuality is that some men I know have that bad boy vibe, but at heart they’re good guys. They draw women to them, but eventually hit an impasse when looks and who he is just doesn’t match her expectations.  In this film the bad boy is gradually revealed as a ‘good boy’ on the inside. So maybe there’s hope for my friends…fifty-shades-ball-1486048963

Moving on! Has Trump ruined billionaire romances? Or put a significant dent in them? I remember thinking: “Consent all you want young woman from a poor family. Once you’re in handcuffs in his home he could do anything he wanted to you and probably get away with it…” and I know this is a direct line of thinking from the news/publicity about Trump during the election…

Yet there’s always one side in the romance world shouting “IT”S JUST A FANTASY!” Is there a problem with saying it’s all just a fantasy? And what are we to do with the constant  demand from women for forbidden sexual fantasy? Should we be pragmatic and accept this?

OR for instance, (as one who grew up watching male fantasies of women in the media), do we understand that this has deeply impacted and harmed our culture?

JACKIE C. HORNE: I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Village Voice, who asked if I thought the billionaire romance trend had contributed to the acceptance of Trump by many women. Rather than ruining billionaire romances, Trump might be the logical outcome of this romance trend. Because billionaire romances paper over the trouble that actual billionaires present, don’t they? Unlike saintly Christian, whom we only ever see engaging in business that is meant to help the powerless (donating food to Darfur; developing solar technology; donating money to the university to develop sustainable food programs), most real-life billionaires make their money through capitalistic competition, competition that often relies on shortchanging the average Joe (or average Ana) worker. To fantasize about a powerful billionaire falling for them, women have to forget or ignore all the other women (and men) upon whom his billions were built, and upon whom his continued wealth still relies.

And they also have to keep imagining that the only path to power is an indirect one, by being in a relationship with a wealthy man, rather than imagining that they could gain power themselves. Those are both fantasies that limit, rather than empower, women.

So I don’t buy the “it’s just a fantasy” explanation/excuse. What is the fantasy, and why are we having it? That’s a far more productive question, and avenue for exploration.

MADELINE IVA: I have no problem with this, only sometimes the liberal peeps can be as judgmental and shaming as conservatives without exploring the needs, frustrations, and context of those who are very different from them in terms of race or class.  If we could explore all of these issues without a dose of shaming, it would be nice.

But you know, scientific research on sexuality seems to indicate that what sexually turns us on seems to be fixed.  Maybe the “Why” of the fantasy and the turn on go back to that slushy mix of our evolution and what we were exposed to in our youth/teens and that’s that…Which takes us right back to your point about Christian’s first sexual experiences…

Let’s turn to talking about the differences between the first book and movie.  Some things just not translate well from book to movie? I don’t recall when in the book he showed up in Savannah that it was as big a deal to me.  But in the movie I had an involuntary “Stalker!” reaction. He seemed so much creepier in the movie.  Or is this just that I’m coming off watching him in THE FALL where he played a serial killer? ; >50shadesbathrobe

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I had just the opposite reaction!

MADELINE IVA: — Okay, I hang my head and accept that I am having a post-The Fall Dornan experience.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I thought he was far creepier in the book than he was in the film. Dornan just smiled too much to feel like the controlling Christian of the books to me! (Must say I’ve never seen The Fall, though). The film cut out many of book-Christian’s more stalker-y/controlling moves—no mention of him moving her to first class on the plane without asking her, and he’s not so insistent about her eating all the time—so he didn’t come across as quite so control-freakish in the film as he does in the book.

MADELINE IVA: The eating thing.  Ugh!  It also made Ana seem SO PASSIVE and waify/victim-y.50-touching-lips

JACKIE C. HORNE: On the other hand, in book 1, when Ana teases Christian in an email “Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?” he tells her (and us) that “I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies” (290). This reassured me; I had thought from what people had told me about the books that they normalized stalkery/über-controlling male behavior. That Christian is actively seeing a psychiatrist about his issues sends the opposite message: that stalkery/über-controlling behavior is psychologically problematic. I was disappointed that Christian’s shrink did not make it into the film.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! Anastasia seemed to enjoy most of what they did a whole lot more in the movie than her internals showed in the book.  And did that tilt the scales of problems some people had with the book?

ana-shirt-2JACKIE C. HORNE: For all that we get so much of her internal thoughts in the books, Anastasia of the novels is a pretty empty character. That’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just a way of telling a story, a way that allows the reader more easily to project herself into the novel than if Ana’s character had more individuality, had been more fully developed. Ironically, though we get little of her internal thoughts in the film, seeing Dakota Johnson up on the screen made her more of a person to me, an individual with thoughts and emotions different from mine, rather than just an empty placeholder for me to project myself onto.

The lack of access to Ana’s thoughts makes her wishy-washy-ness re: the kinky sex less apparent. I agree that in the film, she seems to enjoy the kinky sex more than she does in the books. And that made the story more interesting to me—the story of a woman exploring the boundaries of her own sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: I agree that Dakota Johnson did a great job of seeming vulnerable and kinda raw in her own skin, but also very fluid and interesting in the kinky scenes.  She also just seemed older, which I found reassuring…

Going back to how this series explores typical/conservative romance values side by side with the more progressive idea of a young woman exploring kinky sex—Ultimately, Ana rejects kinky sex.  Do you think that this is on par with the other more conservative values of the book’s romantic tropes and again, makes it more safe for more conservative romance readers to accept it?  (Noting that this move seems to enrage many BDSM erotic romance authors more than anything else.)

Are we back to the “forced seduction” sexual tropes of the 80’s? In those romance novels it was okay for the woman to have sex in those situations because she didn’t ask for it… In the 50 Shades franchise, is it okay for Ana to explore BDSM-lite because ultimately she rejects it and therefore is still ‘a good girl’?

Meanwhile, what are we in the audience doing throughout the movie if not enjoying Ana’s engaging in forbidden kink?

weredoingwhat

We’re doing WHAT? Everyone seems to agree that both actors are much more comfortable filming together now. Not surprising, given the success of the franchise, and the boost to their respective careers.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I was thinking about what title I would give this discussion and came up with “Having your kink and condemning it too”!

I agree with you that Ana’s disgust with and rejection of the punishment aspect of Dom/sub play does dovetail with the more conservative values of the book’s romance tropes. Her rejection gives readers an “out,” a having your cake and eating it too safety valve. Which does undercut the progressive message to a large degree.

But on the other hand, Ana doesn’t rejects ALL kink (at least by the end of book 2). As I noted above, she enjoys being tied up, being restrained, being spanked. And in DARKER the book, she’s bugging Christian all the time to go back to the Red Room of Pain. Which doesn’t seem to me to be just about serving Christian’s needs; it seems to be a deep curiosity of her own about kinky sex.

Ana’s rejection of Christian’s sadism (and the book’s rejection of that label for him) enrages many BDSM erotic romance authors because Ana’s decision at the end of book 1 has a larger ideological weight: it tells the reader that the power dynamics in ALL Dom/sub relationships are both shameful AND are signs of psychological damage that needs to be repaired. Which is exactly the opposite message of current psychological thinking, as Dr. Flynn explains. Someone is a sadist just because he (or she) is one, not because he or she was traumatized as a child.

Perhaps Ana should pay Dr. Flynn (or another qualified psychologist) a visit to talk about her own ambivalences about BDSM?

MADELINE IVA: Perhaps!

Thank you Jackie SO MUCH for chatting with me! And readers, don’t forget our KAMA SUTRA giveaway.  All you have to do is hit our pink subscribe button above and to the right.

kama-sutra-giveaway

This giveaway includes massage oil, candle, soap, and lip balm.  (Continental US only!)

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

 

 

Fifty Shades Darker Celebration & Valentine’s Giveaway

9 Feb

by Madeline Iva

Are you going to see FIFTY SHADES DARKER this weekend? We are!fifty-ball

Well, Elizabeth SaFleur and I are. We’ve already got our tickets and we’re taking our spouses.  Not only that–we’re holding a celebration event on Facebook to chat with y’all about the FIFTY SHADES DARKER movie.  We hope you join us!50shadesshouldersleeping

Go to our event on facebook, press the *interested* button, then tell us what you thought about the movie:

  • What did you love? The actors, characters, settings, costumes, plot?
  • How did FIFTY SHADES DARKER compared to the book and the first movie?
  • Do you love billionaire romance themes in general? Or BDSM romances in particular? ; >

We’re also blogging about fascinating aspects of the movie here.  (Don’t worry, we’ll post everything over at the fb event too.)

  • Reasons Why Billionaire Romances Are Never Going Away
  • My obsession with Jamie Dornan
  • 5 Ways In Which Real Life Millionaires Aren’t Like Us
  • Jackie Horne from ROMANCE NOVELS WITH FEMINISTS will stop by. We’re discussing where young women are going with BDSM and how this is or isn’t reflected in the movie.
  • Joey Hill shares with us how to get kinky with her 10 favorite kitchen items.

50-shades-take-2

Admittedly, not all of us at the blog are 50 Shades lovers.  You might not be either — that’s why we have other smexy Valentine’s Day posts to offer you this month.  pantiesCheck out our posts on:

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

This Valentine’s Day weekend, we’re offering a Kama Sutra giveaway from Lux Aromatica that includes massage oil, soap, a candle, and lip balm.

To enter the giveaway, hit the SUBSCRIBE button on our blog now–it’s the pink button up at the top on the right–and fill out the form.  One random winner will be chosen from central Virginia where Kerensa’s stores are located and one random winner from the nation at large. (Continental US only, please!)

We look forward to seeing you all this weekend, even if you’re just stopping by to say hi. — xoxo

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

 

One Hot Zombie Husband, Please!–And Other Lustful Zombie Stuff

2 Feb
santaclaritadiet

Let that repressed manic side out, Timothy Olyphant.

by Madeline Iva

On Friday night I’m watching a new show called THE SANTA CLARITA DIET on Netflix. Why? Two words: Timothy Olyphant. The guy has a kind of restrained mayhem vibe that makes women purr. He’s good when he’s a bad boy, and I like it when he does the humor thing, but really underplays it. Let’s hope he gets to do both in this new TV show.

What’s unusual is for Olyphant to be part of a duo, for he often plays the lone wolf.  Yet he’s a supportive husband (awwww) as his wife’s body goes undead and her twisted feral id coming to life. (Peeps, this could be my own marriage we’re talking about—esp. when I’m on deadline.)

As for the rest of the show–we shall see.  I lurv Drew Barrymore and early reviews say the supporting cast is excellent.  The creator is Victor Fresco who did the short lived but great (!) show BETTER OFF TED, which walked the line of absurdism and also had a supportive, understanding, and munch-a-licious lead.

But hey, let me be your zombie pimp and recommend some other zombie joy you may have overlooked. My preference is for zombie comedy/satire. Take R in WARM BODIES.  So cute and so protective in his own teenage, shuffling, groan-y way.

Click to buy the DVD

Click to buy the DVD

 

There’s also a wonderful funny little book call BREATHERS.  Subversive and with a sexy element that I quite enjoyed.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Have you seen the movie SEAN OF THE DEAD? It’s a bit like The Office meets zombies. Quite surprisingly daffy and satiric all the way through.

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD...

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD…

Meanwhile, let us not forget some serious Zombie smut, like what you’ll find with our own Isabelle Drake’s SERVANT OF THE UNDEAD along with Daisy Harris’ mix of not-quite-human stuff.  I lurved Hariss’ “Steins” and sex bots.  In BUILT FOR IT Harris discovered M/M erotic romance and never looked back. (Can you even get these books anymore Daisy?)

 

557e4e368babb5e201b7f2d2b531d8cbOnce upon a time, Lexi waxed philosophical on the ethics of sex with an undead body. I, dear readers, completely understand.  Who really wants to kiss decaying flesh?  On the other hand, a zombie is nothing if not a metaphor.  Give me your metaphors–satiric, comedic or full of pathos and killed by societal excess and ennui.  Sometimes we all seem a little rotten to the core.  Zombies get to wear their decay on the outside where it’s all embarrassing and visible.  Ultimately, they’re monsters and I dearly love a monster-hero, even if his heart is dead and cold.

That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy zombie horror.  Lexi has traced the path of an end-of-the-world romance on the Walking Dead that I’ve followed probably with more enjoyment that I took in watching the actual show.  Check out her posts:

LIFE AMONG THE DEAD: IS MICHONNE READY TO LOVE AGAIN?

THE DEAD DELIVER: IS THIS THE SEASON FOR RICHONNE? 

DEAD ON! REJOICING FOR RICHONNE

If you do like your zombies with a lot of blood splatter, there’s a movie coming out called THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

You'll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

You’ll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

The book was gripping–I stayed up all night reading it.  I’m sure the movie will be excellent too, but check out the book first. It’s post apocalyptic, British, and I liked how the balance of characters in the book were female.  They seemed to have deliberately switched around the race of the characters in the movie.  Hmmmmmm.

There’s also World War Z — not your typical zombie genre book.  It’s totally different and only about a thousand times better than the movie. (Sorry Brad Pitt.)

Another book I've read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Another book I’ve read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Well, time for me to do some groaning and shuffling myself as I sign off to go jog, shower, and write. Follow us at Lady Smut.  We give you reasons to live.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

Would You Like Me To Ravage You?

23 Sep
Click to buy.

Click to buy.

by Madeline Iva

She’s baaaaaaack! You liked her Madame X post so much that we’ve asked Thien-Kim Lam to come back for another guest post.  Happy Friday!

A couple of months ago, my husband interrupted my animated retelling of the sex scenes in Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do. (The scenes are quite creative, and the power dynamics between the main characters heighten every movement.)

“It sounds like a fun book. Can we read it together?”

I was shocked. He had never expressed interest in reading any of my romance books.

We’ve read books together before, in audiobook form. Most of the books we’ve listened to have been thrillers: Girl on the Train, The Girl with All the Gifts, and The 500. Books with action and adventure that move quickly. Books that mirror his favorite kind of movies. Coincidentally, those three books are being made into movies.

For the past year or so, we’ve been listening to the same audiobook in tandem. Even though I listen at faster speeds, we try to stay within a chapter of each other. He has more time during his commute and work day to listen so I’m usually the one playing catch-up. After the kids go to bed, we talk about what’s happened so far in the book. It’s become our couples book club.

Reading together has given us something to talk about that isn’t related to work or our children. Our television habits are different, save for handful of shows. We didn’t use to read the same books. I read widely across genres, while he gravitated towards graphic novels, his magazines, and Neil Labute plays.

After my shock wore off, we agreed to read Dare’s first Spindle Cove book A Night to Surrender since I was almost done listening to Any Duchess Will Do. I still couldn’t believe he wanted to read a historical romance book with me!

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

I was nervous the first day we started A Night to Surrender. Outside of the a couple of scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey that I read aloud to him, he’s a newbie to romance and erotica. Would he like it or hate it? What would I do if he hated one of my favorite sub genres?

Earbuds in hand, he kissed me goodbye and left for work. Time to queue up the audiobook. As I listened to the first chapters, I analyzed each scene. Would my husband think the main characters’ meet cute too contrived? Would he understand the nuances of clothing in this period? How could he react to the arrogant alpha male hero?

As soon as my husband stepped through the door that evening, I attacked him. No, not that way. I asked him what he thought about Tessa Dare’s book. “It’s cute. I like it.” He was actually grinning! I was relieved.

Over dinner we discussed the attraction between feisty, independent Susanna and arrogant but adorably clueless Lord Rycliff. He compared the novel to the romantic comedy movies we love to watch. Over the next several nights we discussed the comedy of errors of the couple’s first kiss and the first time super sexytimes. He even quoted seductive lines from the book–partly in jest, but partly to try get in my pants. Try keeping a straight face when your husband gives you a seductive look and says in a British accent, “Would you like me to ravage you?”

Ladies, my husband has still got it. And he’s all mine.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Since then, we’ve listened to other romance books, most recently Maya Banks’ Forged in Steele. Her KGI series contains everything we like: suspense, action, explosions with plenty of romance and sex. Forged in Steele’s high drama and cheesy dirty talk has elicited a flurry of texts between us throughout the day. Mostly us cracking up over the dirty talk.

After fourteen years of marriage, I’m glad that we can find new mutual interests. I should not have assumed that he wouldn’t be interested in reading romances. The past year I’ve forced him to listen to me as I debate on which sex toy I should pair with certain erotic romances when I curate my Bawdy Bookworm Boxes. I guess I finally made him curious enough to jump into the romance world.

Now we need to pick our next romance audiobooks. Please share your recommendations!

Do you read romances with your partner?

Thien-Kim Lam cut her teeth on historical romances and they will always have a special place in her heart. She is the founder of Bawdy Bookworms, a subscription box that pairs sexy reads with bedroom toys and sensual products. Batteries included. Check 5 Steamy Book & Sex Toy Pairings for Your Pleasure Chest for buzzy recommendations.

 

 

My Girl Crush on Gong Li & Why Miami Vice Is The Crime Film of the Future

8 Sep gong-li

miami-vice-008by Madeline Iva

I was thinking the other day, i.e. doing the dishes, and watching MIAMI VICE (the movie, not TV show) staring Gong-Li, Colin Farrell, and Jamie Foxx.  [SPOILERS abound below—you’ve been warned.]

FIRST LET US DISCUSS THE OUTRAGEOUS HOTNESS FACTOR OF THIS MOVIE: I mean really. Jamie Foxx. Damn. Colin Farrell–mullet, mustache and all, with those big brown eyes—damn. And Gong-Li. I’m a little gay for Gong-Li. If I had to sleep with one of them, I think Gong-Li would be my first pick, but I wouldn’t say no to a foursome.

The love story in the center of MIAMI VICE is like the rich gooey filling at the center of a chocolate bon-bon.  So good, and then it’s gone.  Whenever I finish watching the movie on DVD, I walk around afterwards a little dazed, still living in the movie, still clinging to that mood of desperate longing.

gong-liThe film has many wonderful aspects, yet MOSTLY I’M OBSESSED OVER GONG LI’S CHARACTER. Which is not to say it’s a perfect movie. Do I believe she’s Cuban-Chinese? Nah. Do I care? Not really, because while her accent isn’t so great, she is helping to eradicate the role of “the girl” in crime film movies.  Her role transcends decades of stereotypes.

SHE’S PART OF THE GANG – NOT JUST A TOY  So many of the small female roles in crime films are accessories—these women characters are there to lounge about on couches looking bored, sexy and rich. I cannot stand these women roles.  They are trophies, an equivalent to a car or designer piece of furniture and with about as much personality.

No, in this film, Gong Li is the number two in command. When the undercover cops meet face to face with the representative of the cartel, Jose Yero, and his instincts start to pick up on Colin Farrell—that something’s not quite right about him—It’s Gong Li’s character, lurking in the shadows who tells Jose to the cut the shit, stop wasting their time. She’s an integral part of the plot—the cartel’s white collar money manager, and she helps call the shots in collaboration with the king pin.

biz-womanHER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BAD GUY: It’s got some murky corners, admittedly. Michael Mann doesn’t take the time to spell things out from A-Z. She’s with the bad guy, yes as his business partner/employee, but not just that.   They’re involved.

montoya

Montoya, the drug king pin, has brown bedroom eyes, and there are little flourishes to this small role that are compelling.

However, she points out to Colin Farrell that they’re not married. She says doesn’t need a husband to support herself or to own a house. And we’re left to fill in the blanks however we want. Open relationship? It’s okay if it’s just physical? Later, she strait up tells king pin that she’s slept with Colin Farrell. Not to hurt the bad guy—she tells him to clarify her actions, and to avoid secrets as they discuss their path forward in doing business with the team.  Yet neither does she explain her reasons why to him.  He’s free to interpret it however he wants.

Me? I’m just thrilled to death that our bad-girl-good-girl is not drawn along that false dichotomy of worthy monogamous partner/slut.  And her actions are pivotal to the plot. Towards the end, it’s her emotional betrayal that determines everyone’s fate.

WILD CARD!  Jamie Foxx’s character Ricardo Tubbs, warns Colin Farrell’s character, Crockett at one point that “she’s may be many things…but in the end, she’s with them.”

And she is with them – until she and Colin have such hot chemistry that she’s with him too.miami-vice-movie15

They meet in a business setting. They trade just one long look that no one sees the second time they meet, and when the time comes he goes for it. He offers to talk to her about business, one on one. Instead of answering, she says she wants a ride on his boat. Then she asks him what he likes to drink. He’s a fiend for mojitos so off they to Havana Cuba (her home ground, not his) where they dance and dive deeply into one another until Sonny is not sure which way is up.

But in their short time together, whether it’s business or personal–and they go back and forth between the two with extreme fluidity—they are peers. They are collaborative. It’s written into the script with a bit of clunky-ness, but they play it out better that it’s written—and I LOVE IT!   Their doomed relationship—the hotness—the there’s-no-way-this-can-end-well desperation: I just wiffle that sh** up.

sad-endI am also left with another kind of longing. I want to write stuff as diverse as this movie. I want to show a couple (though perhaps a pair that’s a little less doomed) who lose nothing of their smexy twisty factor from the characters being on an even plane. Sigh.

OTHER REASONS WHY I LOVE THIS FILM: the characters—the multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, hot, and mostly very rational characters are what I totally fall for. Yes, visuals are lush and grand—Miami at it’s stormy, dramatic best. The soundtrack is full of moody feels that adds to it all. But it’s the characters—always the characters that I come back to.filmboatrace

CRIME FILMS OF THE FUTURE: Michael Mann provided a diverse cast in a setting that calls out for diversity: Miami. He made a crime film that’s a convincing mixed stew of race and gender. In painting his cast with a melting pot brush, he doled out a heaping portion of the power, the action, the leadership, and the romance to the POC’s and the women.

The result is that all of the characters have agency—not just the leads, not just the white people, not just the men.

Jamie Foxx may be a supporting role, (i.e. he gets a bit less screen time than Colin Farrell), but he’s not a side kick. He has a relationship as well—and if you think they’re all set from the beginning, you’d be wrong. His girlfriend plays a major role in the plot—and yes, her life is at stake at one point, but she is not in any way a victim. She’s part of the team, she has a job, and she is the one who determines the way forward in the face of threats they face.

"That's not what happens. What will happen is... what will happen is I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won't even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?"

“That’s not what happens. What will happen is… what will happen is I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won’t even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?”

THEN THERE’S THAT ONE SCENE — MY FAVORITE SCENE: It coulda been a guy doing the scene. It could have been Ricardo or Crockett rolling under the building, drilling a hole, inserting a camera, and going into the bad guy’s lair first. Instead Michael Mann gave this role to a woman on their team. The next moment is a tense stand off as Gina goes up against a guy with a bomb trigger ready to blow them all up. It’s such a bad-ass scene. It’s definitely on the level of the best Dirty Harry moment—but it’s underplayed, explosive and elegant all at once. In other words–it’s the BEST EVER!!!! My favorite moment in the movie, truly.

THE BAD GUYS HAVE DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY:

The bad guys are Hispanic, Chinese, and White supremacists. They work together as bad guys do when they’re focused on making mega amounts of cash. And while the white bad guys are completely repugnant, the POC bad guys are almost as hot and interestingly complex as the main characters are.

EVERY SINGLE MINOR ACTOR WAS SO CRAZY GOOD:

I feel like I could hold an Oscars award just for the category of best supporting actor in this one film. There are so many contenders: Gina, the team member whom I described above. The police commander, Martin Castillo, who gets some great lines. (My sweetie and I will occasionally quote his lines to each other from time to time.) There is no one in the entire cast who is not brilliant.

John Ortiz -- the most unsung brilliant actor in Hollywood today.

John Ortiz — the most unsung brilliant actor in Hollywood today.

However, the standout performance for me is John Ortiz who plays Jose Yero. This guy is a tremendous character actor with an enormous range. He is sadly unsung in Hollywood. You’ve probably seen him in the Silver Lining Playbook, and if you have, you’d have a hard time recognizing him in this movie. He takes a repugnant role and makes it so compelling, interesting, and charismatic. He brought a depth of emotion to a psychopathic pig. And!!! He did it with no words, just looks–just in the way he interacts with people.

So check out MIAMI VICE if you haven’t already.  It’s a movie you can revel in over and over again.

Meanwhile, if you want some desperate hotness in your life, follow us at Lady Smut.

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be available for pre-order Oct 1st and out November 1st, 2016.

 

Playing Our Own Game … and Keeping Our Headphones On

6 Sep
Ovid actually wrote about game many, many years ago. He'd have mentioned headphones if he could have.

Ovid actually wrote about game many, many years ago. He’d have mentioned headphones if he could have.

By Alexa Day

Long ago, I would have been able to tell you the number to the pay phone in the center of the local mall, in the town where I grew up. This was back when there was such a thing as a group of pay phones in the center of the mall. In fact, I think the mall itself is gone now. But at one point, I had that number memorized.

Why?

At that point in time, long ago, I had a lot of people rolling up to me to ask for my phone number. It’s hard for me to say that; it sounds kind of immodest. I don’t think I was getting any more attention than any other woman moving unattended through the world. I do have a fairly high opinion of myself, but I don’t think I’m so hot that dudes are running across the street for my number.

At any rate, men were at that time coming up to me to ask for my number and then not leaving me alone until they got a number. So I gave them the number to that pay phone. They wrote it down — this was in the Dark Ages, so everyone had papyrus but not a cell phone — and then they’d go about their merry way. Most of these guys wouldn’t ask for a name, just the number. Sometimes, just to screw around with them, I would give them the number and then ask who they planned to ask for when they called. But most of the time, they would take that phone number and go, and I’d be free to go to the bookstore or wherever I was headed.

A few things have changed since then. I’m older, so I’m not getting as much attention. (Don’t feel bad. It’s nice to go to the bookstore uninterrupted.) Guys are using their cellphones to validate your number, so if you give them the mall phone, they’ll find out before calling. (I do still have a throwaway number, though. I wish I could say more, but for now, it’s enough to say it exists.) And a few women have paid with their lives for refusing male attention, which is a sad commentary on our modern society.

On top of that, the pick-up artist has become more visible.

I was introduced to the cult of the PUA, thankfully, by a male friend, with whom I had an arrangement. He knew I was dating, so he loaned me his copy of The Game, a book that looked like the Bible and which he treated with similar reverence, and told me to read it. “I just want you to know this is out there,” he said.

The world of the PUA has changed a little since The Game, but its essence is simple. The PUA appeals to the man who has so little confidence in his ability to attract the women he’s after that he needs to rely on tricks (called “game”) in order to fool women into sleeping with him. The success of the PUA stems from a few factors, one of which is that there is no shortage of men lacking in confidence. I do think the PUA community is overlooking a couple of important things, though.

1. Women can — and often do — read.

2. Women tell other women about the bizarre, pitiful, and downright abhorrent behavior they observe in men. We love doing this. We name names. We assign nicknames. We build a rich oral tradition. This has always been true of women. Somewhere out there, an archaeologist is about to discover an ancient text entitled The Song of Julia and the Nameless Dipshit Who Said He Would Give Her a Chocolate Every Time She Pleased Him, as if She Were a Dog and Not a Woman.

I’m grateful to my friend for telling me about the world of the PUA, especially because he had to know I would be angry when I read The Game. He put himself at risk to make sure I knew the PUA existed, and he didn’t have to do that. Because of his generosity, I know enough to keep the PUAs on my radar. That isn’t hard to do because, as I’ve suggested, they don’t seem to think that we are capable of reading about Game, silly creatures. They don’t even lock their forums down, so if a girl wanted, she could absolutely Google the stupid little chocolate game I mentioned above and find out exactly how it’s supposed to work.

Game doesn’t make me angry anymore, though. For one thing, it helps that I can see Game coming from miles away. But ultimately, the real problem is not Game itself.

It’s Wack Game. Wack Game is a problem for women and the men who employ it.

The Chocolate Stupidness is a prime example of Wack Game. In it, a dude is supposed to show up on a date with a bag of chocolates. When you ask the predictable question, “Why the hell did you bring a bag of chocolates with you?” the response is that he’s going to give you a chocolate every time you please him.

That used to make me really angry. Because seriously, what the hell is that? Does that ever work on anyone? And what’s to stop me from really making a scene over how ridiculous this is?

Now I see that it’s not my fault this person’s game is pitiful. It would only be my fault if I lowered myself to that level.
Into this environment rises The Modern Man, Dan Bacon, with his advice about how to get a woman to remove her headphones and subject herself to game.

I personally am unfazed by this, but then I’ve seen some incredibly wack game in my time. Still, I’m not surprised by the backlash to Bacon’s advice. I’m a little saddened that he’s edited the article under the negative pressure, but I understand negative pressure.

I’m not here to yell at Bacon, though. Because honestly, his advice is the same advice I would give to both men and women in this situation.

Let’s be objective about this for just a second.

Yes, the article does suggest that these men walk up to us and make a little gesture indicating that they want us to take our headphones off. Bacon recognizes that the presence of those things in our ears sends a message: I do not wish to interact with you. I myself have worn headphones connected to nothing at all just to send that message.

But you know what? If I’m wearing my earbuds connected to the inside of my jeans and some dude comes up to me with wack game, I just make get-away-from-me gestures and keep it moving. No problem. It works just as well as the number to the pay phone in the middle of the mall.

Indeed, Bacon himself advises men that we might decide to leave those headphones in. “If you notice that she doesn’t want to take off her headphones and doesn’t seem interested in talking to you at all,” he writes, “just respect that and leave the interaction without trying to talk to her any further. While it’s perfectly normal for a man and a woman to talk to each other, it’s not appropriate or fair for a guy to annoy a woman who doesn’t want to talk to him at all” (emphasis mine).

By the time we reach that place in the article, Bacon has made this point three times, and that was before he edited it.

Bacon makes another important point: if I actually take those headphones off, DO NOT BRING WACK GAME INTO THE SILENCE. Your continued presence is now an imposition on my free time. You have to be ready to add value to this interruption. The man who cannot do that, Bacon writes, shouldn’t even start.

Hallelujah. I can’t count the number of times I’ve advised male friends about not wasting our time. We have other things going on with our lives. Just don’t even start if your game is pitiful.

Let us be clear. I am not endorsing the use of PUA game to fool one’s way into another’s pants. I merely recognize that I cannot stop it. Because I can’t stop it, I’ve chosen to focus on avoiding or deflecting it. In other words, I can’t stop the fledgling PUAs of the world from waving their hands and making their headphones-off gestures. But I can absolutely make the decision to keep my headphones in and keep it moving.

Women moving through the world by themselves have always had to defend their spaces from unwanted male attention. I shouldn’t have to prepare myself to deal with annoyance (or physical danger) just to get from my couch to the bookstore. But sadly, that’s been a constant in our society for a pretty long time. I wonder if we’d get better results if we focused more on our own boundaries than on the erratic behavior of others. After all, I can’t control what other people are doing to and around me, but I have absolute control over my response to it.

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Who Wants a PERFECT Hot, Sexy Spanking?

25 Aug
Click on image to buy!

Click on image to buy!

by Madeline Iva

Time for some research, folks! I’ve been thinking about Elizabeth SaFleur’s latest book PERFECT, which has a fair amount of suspense, but also focuses on some smexy spankings.

Here are things I know:

Our Lady Smut followers lurv spanking–or at least reading about it.

Many of my girlfriends shrug when it comes to spanking, don’t get it at all, or totally love it.  I’d say it’s about a third each.  These are women over thirty, who are comfortable with sex, with themselves, and with men.

There’s an assumption (when one looks at the internet at least) that a lot of men out there are dying to spank women — if not spank them, then slap their ass during sex.

This assumption–that being a man means you are driven to dominate women I think is just like the assumption that all men are secretly/not so secretly dying to have anal sex.  I don’t buy it.  It probably reflects more the general ass-hattery that crops up on the internet.  The asshats are a significant population, sure, but probably half the size of the majority of absolutely clueless and the much smaller slice of thoughtful relationships put together. It’s the thoughtful relationships that *I’m* talking about, btw.

In terms of men and women in relationships, I’m not sure that it’s really true all men across the board want to spank.  (I know of no males who want to be spanked, but maybe I’m just hanging out in the wrong social circles.) Based on a very, very small statistical sample of men who I know about–cause it’s not something one wants to ask strangers–I tend to get the idea that the men are more complicit partners when it comes to this kind of stuff–it’s the women who are leading the charge.  But if it makes her happy….

So for the people who shrug or don’t get it, here’s what I found out from my research:

  1. Spanking is a gateway erotic sex act.  It’s pretty basic, very safe, and yet involves some of the elements of more advanced BDSM: power, infantilization, hurting/caring dynamics, and trust issues. It’s kinky lite for the beginner, the uninitiated, the uninhibited.  It still requires communication with your partner–a key element to happiness in all sex.
  2. Spanking can release endorphins in the body, stimulate pressure points, and even cause vaginal orgasm.  Or not.  It depends on many factors–but with a “good” spanking–and there can be some skill involved here–and pain can melt into pleasure.
  3. Spanking pleasure is built as much upon the pleasurable nervousness of anticipation as it is upon the actual act.

Which brings me back to Elizabeth SaFleur’s book PERFECT which involves a domestic discipline relationship.  There’s a ruler with teeth marks in it in the book that I can’t get out of my mind.  I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what I’m talking about. <wink>

In contemplating domestic discipline, and why people might get off on it, I would argue that domestic discipline aims to amp up that anticipation factor.  The man (usually) sets up the rules of the house.  Violations are punished with spankings.  Rewards can be spankings too.  So the tension involves how the submissive decides to play with power.  Does the submissive want to strive to please her partner or violate the rules? Either way, she is in control of the anticipation; first while she contemplates being compliant or defiant, and afterwards when she takes action.  Then she gets to wait–and desire is all about the art of waiting.

Want more spanking? Here are some popular Lady Smut blog posts about it:

Outlander A Spanking A Spanking!

Getting Comfortable Over the Knee: An interview with Lee Savino

How to Have an Orgasm From Being Spanked

The Art of the Spank

A Little Spanking With Room Service, Please

Brand Spanking New

Spanking the Princess, Pt. 2

And here are some other blog posts to explore if you’re thinking about how to get started:

Why do men like to spank in bed?

How to get started with spanking.

Go git you some...click to buy.

Go git you some…click to buy.

But don’t forget to check out Elizabeth SaFleur’s new book PERFECT— it’s going bazonkers over at Amazon right now–join the stampede.

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes the perfect man is the one who’s most forbidden.

After her husband’s death, Isabella Santos fled Washington and its bruising memories. But estate matters force her to return and fate gives her a chance to connect with a man she’d always secretly longed to call Master—Mark, the brother of her late husband.Mark, retired from his black ops career, grabs the second chance Isabella’s sudden appearance in D.C. presents. He’s never forgiven his late brother’s neglect of Isabella, a woman he’s loved from afar for ten years. Now reunited, he’s determined to earn her heart and submission.As their forbidden love blooms, they forge a perfect domestic discipline life that provides a feeling of oneness and completion. But her family’s opposition and demons from her late husband’s life intervene. In the end, the only way to have the future they’ve dreamed of, is to come to terms with the past.

Looking for the perfect blog to follow for smexy intelligent fun? Click on the follow button to your right.

 

Fantasies and the Married Woman: A Guest Post by Karen Booth

22 Aug

by Karen Booth

Note from Kiersten: It’s theme week here at Lady Smut as we celebrate the release of Lady Smut blogger Elizabeth Sa Fleur’s novel Perfect, the newest installment in her Elite Doms of Washington series.

Click on image to buy!

Click on image to buy!

Isabella Santos married the wrong man. After her husband’s death, fate gives her a second chance to connect with her perfect Master—Mark Santos, the brother of her late husband.

To herald the arrival of Perfect, we’ll be talking this week about second chances, committed relationships, venturing into new (sexual) experiences, and lots of other tasty treats served up Lady Smut style. Author Karen Booth was game to join us this week and delve into the fantasies of married woman–because they’re married, not blind or dead. Welcome Karen!

If you read and believe Cosmo magazine, even we married women spend our day sitting around, mulling over our sexual fantasies, and then when nighttime comes, we just say, “Hey, honey. You know what I’ve always wanted to do?” And our partner says, “Hell yes. Let’s do THAT. Now.” And he takes off his clothes and has perfect abs and we do it in the front yard in front of the neighbors and start a sexual revolution in the suburbs.

Except I know for a fact that it doesn’t work like that.

A few years ago, I wrote an erotic novella called Love Plus One. It’s about a couple that decides to start pushing boundaries in the bedroom after nearly a decade of marriage. Olivia, the heroine, is frustrated as hell. Between kids and career and the house, sex has taken a back seat. Being a sex kitten, a wife, and a mom is hard—I don’t know that men realize what a difficult mental shift that can be. A little help, please. Sex with her husband, Brian, used to curl her toes. Now he’s hardly mussing up her hair.

I wrote the book in part, because I have lived this frustration. Lots of people have. Let me just put KIDS in all-caps because that’s where things really started to go south for me, as much as I love the (now not-so little) buggers. It’s next to impossible to feel sexy when you’re exhausted. The only thing you want happening in bed is sleep. Your body is mushy in new places. Your spouse has seen your body do amazing, impossibly unsexy, things. Things like breasts, which used to be strictly for fun, become utilitarian.

Making things new and exciting after that is not easy. We want to connect with our partner. Walls have been torn down. We have a new closeness. I know how to fix this! Talking! Now is the time to really tell the other person what you want, quite possibly the thing you’ve always wanted but never had the guts to admit. You love each other. You care about each other. This will totally work.

Yeah. Not so easy. Especially if you’re like me—shy.

But Karen, you write sexy books.

Yep, yep. I know. Still shy.

Unless I’m writing a book or over-sharing with my girlfriends after one too many cocktails, being verbal about sex does not come naturally to me at all. I’m a writer. Show, don’t tell. Show me what you want. I’m not talking. Much. Dems da rules.

I know for a fact that I’m not alone. And it’s not just women who have a hard time asking.

Which led me to the second reason I wrote this book. Brian has a fantasy he’s never shared, something he has kept locked up in his handsome head for years. He might never have shared it, but Olivia has forced the issue. That’s what we do, right? She wants him back in charge and she told him so. She wants to know what he wants. The answer? He wants to watch Olivia with another man.

Now, I wouldn’t describe Brian as shy, but there’s a real reason why he never brought it up and I think it’s one that a lot of us can relate to. What happens if you divulge your deepest, darkest fantasy and your spouse or partner is abhorred? Disgusted? And you have to look at them every morning over coffee for the rest of your life?

The other part of the equation is that he doesn’t quite understand why he has this fantasy. Luckily, Olivia has reached the point where she just wants to tear down walls left and right. You can only push a woman so far. They talk about it, and he eventually sorts out what it is about this scenario that is such a turn-on, and it’s not what Olivia thought.

Fantasies are like snowflakes. Most of us don’t know why we’re turned on by certain scenarios or situations, we only know that we are. It’s one thing to acknowledge these fantasies in the first place. Oh wait, I do want to do it with four guys at once. For example. It’s quite another thing to be vocal about it.

It’s tough to admit a fantasy, especially in the context of a relationship. At what point is it okay to bring it up? At the beginning, when you really like someone, you’re worried about looking bad or bringing about the end of your time with this amazing person you found. You know what she wanted? She wanted to do it with four guys. For example.

As things get more serious, well, they get more serious. There’s more on the line. You’re terrified you’re going to mess up. And then there’s just the practical side of things—after ten years, you’re telling me you want to try THAT? Where did you even learn about that? Have you been thinking about this the whole time we’ve been together?

It’s a Catch-22 unlike any other. The closer you get, the more time you spend together, the more you trust and (hopefully) love each other. It should get easier to share your deepest, darkest desires. But at that point, you love this person more than anything, and it feels risky. What if this is the one thing that crosses the line for them?

It’s scary stuff. And if it’s not scary for you, and you are the Sir Edmund Hillary of sexual exploration, that’s awesome. The rest of us are still figuring this out. The point is, the person we love most might not be as open as we need them to be. Or…they might be. So, maybe it’s best to take the leap, hope to hell that love gets us through it, and try to get what we want. The rewards might be pretty spectacular.

Click on image to buy!

Click on image to buy!

Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ‘80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. She writes sexy contemporary big-city romance. Love Plus One is one of three erotic romances included in her new erotic bundle (not a euphemism), Hot Nights, Big City. Learn more at her website http://www.karenbooth.net and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you, Karen, for joining our theme week here at Lady Smut! Be sure to check out Karen’s new novella Love Plus One in the erotic romance novel bundle Hot Nights, Big City.

Love Plus One
Eager to reclaim a passionate past, Brian Saunders whisks his wife, Olivia, off to Manhattan to pursue the fantasy he’s never revealed—he wants another man to pleasure her while he watches. Olivia never imagined her husband was concocting this scenario in his handsome head, nor did she imagine he’d choose Michael, their mutual, smoking hot friend, to help him out. Venturing into uncharted waters, Brian must contend with a heady mix of envy and arousal while Olivia surrenders to a man who’s fired up to have his chance with her. When three becomes two again, Brian’s only desire is to reclaim his stake on his wife and Olivia can’t wait to give him everything that’s his.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll give you all the fantasies you can think of…and some you never would.

 

 

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