Peacast VIII: A Pocketful of Cum

by Wardog

Wardog has read 50 Shades of Grey so you don't have to...
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listen to podcast
(MP3, 57:31, 112 kbps, 45.20 MB)
This is a slightly off-format Peacast because it's mainly me burbling and Dan asking helpful questions - I just couldn't bring myself to write words about 50 Shades of Grey. We try very hard to be fair, wonder who the hell this book is supposed to be for, and fall prey to helpless giggling. Hard.

Also an image accompanies this peacast but will make no sense out of context.
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Comments (go to latest)
Michal at 04:51 on 2012-05-16
The image of Harold rising from the waters brings to mind of the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey .

If they ever do make a movie, as there apparently IS a bidding war going on for the rights, I might watch it for that scene, and that scene alone.
Furare at 10:13 on 2012-05-16
I had a conversation with a friend the other day that somehow ended up with me saying: "Sorry, I just had this mental image of you whipping it out and going, 'And *this* is my dick.'" Apparently the dialogue in this book is on a par with my inane late-night conversation. Good to know. (As far as I know, my friend does not *actually* introduce people to his penis as a matter of course.)

And I have on at least two occasions seduced men who were several years my junior, so after listening to this peacast I'm slightly worried that I will turn out to be evil in a later chapter of my life.
Arthur B at 10:38 on 2012-05-16
Sing a song of E. James
A pocketful of cum
Four and twenty buttplugs
Lubed for a bum
When the sub was fucked hard
The dom began to sing
"Look at what you made me do
You kinky little thing!"


Ahem.

Re: Dan Brown - yeah, I agree with respect to his prose that whilst it isn't glorious it's suitably melodramatic for a pseudohistorical conspiracy thriller. I think I might have voted to keep going with him in TF1 in a sort of lol-tastic Matt Reilly sort of way if his story wasn't stuffed with really unapologetic and blatant racism/Islamophobia, and if he didn't botch the whole mixing fake history with real history thing by proving himself incapable of getting the real history straight. (The latter of which I think is a bigger fault than it sounds like - the most fun and convincing pseudohistory needs to rest on a solid foundation of real history and exploit the cracks and gaps and ambiguities in real history to the hilt, simply ignoring the facts wholesale is just a cop-out.)

Re: the book you were actually talking about - you were talking about the sex scenes and I was thinking to myself "Wait, this dude doesn't have a refractory period?" and then you pointed out that he apparently doesn't.

I can sort of understand why this might be a point where a sex book might want to depart from reality because obviously the fantasy of a partner who can keep going and going and going and never needs to take a break or slow down like some sort of dongtastic Energiser Bunny, but it seems really odd to me here because it's a totally needless departure from reality. Surely one of the big advantages of writing about BDSM is that there's a world of things Grey can do to Steele which keep up the pace whilst at the same time letting his penis have a breather?

Re: buttsex - I'm amused by the fact that you went straight from discussing my 8 week waiting list to suggesting that Christian auctions his used condoms, because for the moment I thought you were suggesting I auction places on my waiting list for mad cash. (Which would be a terrible slur on my ethics - resumes are considered in the order in which they are submitted, thanks very much.)

Re: the podcast - I was listening to this on the train to work when I became very, very conscious that the woman sat next to me was in fact reading 50 Shades. Then I had to work hard to maintain a straight face.
Wardog at 11:28 on 2012-05-16
@Michal
I kind of image it like this. Err ... image IS safe for work. Bizarrely.

Also, now, whenever I read about Grey and Ana fucking each other in their typically banal, badly written way I will be imagining the Blue Danube playing... heh, it does do her hard to Thomas Tallis so O.o

Apparently the dialogue in this book is on a par with my inane late-night conversation. Good to know.

Pretty much - the sexy talk is kind of based on the notion that just saying the word 'fuck' is, in itself, taboo and wild and kinky. I suppose we can read something (else) deeply odd about the fact that Grey is all like HEY MEET HAROLD AND STICK HIM IN YOUR MOUTH NOW and Ana still doesn't dare think of her cunt as anything other than there. Yes, in italics. Her pronoun :/ I've never heard it called that before...

Also, yes, sorry. You are evil. As am I. As is any woman who is not the direct heroine of a book.

@Arthur
Yes, I agree Brown Prose Does The Job, and therefore I don't think it's necessarily 'bad' writing, even if is not, err, good writing. Unfortunately the rampant racism thing was a bit of a dealbreaker for all of us I seem to recall.

Basically, I think the sex scenes of Grey could end up making you feel really bad about yourself, regardless of what bits you have. I guess for me it's like your point about pseudo-history, I need enough reality in my fantasy to make it stick. And essentially you have hero whose wang literally never goes down and a heroine who orgasms at the drop of a hat, and since (in my experience at least) sex doesn't work even remotely like that, and it's complicated and intricate and interesting and erotic because of being complicated and intricate I just find it a profoundly unsatisfying fantasy. Also being all, y'know, sex-positive and wossname I kind od feel that sex that is so very focused on WANGs and THEREs is sort of harmful, especially because it implies the "skillz-focused" version of female sexuality, y'know deepthroats like a pro and comes like a geyser with no effort. Blah. I mean heaven forefend you could give a decent bj without stuffing it down your face, or that it takes slightly more than "I'm going to fuck you now" to immediately start orgasming. Blah blah blah phallocentric heterenormative blah blah blah.

They also do very little actual BDSM - mainly they fuck like particularly unimaginative bunnies, occasionally while she's tied up... and the main "point" of Grey's DOMTASTICNESS is because he doesn't like to be touched, not because he's actually genuinely into kinky sex... because that's only for WEIRD people.

:( :( :( :(

I was listening to this on the train to work when I became very, very conscious that the woman sat next to me was in fact reading 50 Shades.

Heh, you should have leaned over and been all "Hello, my name's Mr B and this is my penis..." Or not.
Arthur B at 11:53 on 2012-05-16
And essentially you have hero whose wang literally never goes down and a heroine who orgasms at the drop of a hat, and since (in my experience at least) sex doesn't work even remotely like that, and it's complicated and intricate and interesting and erotic because of being complicated and intricate I just find it a profoundly unsatisfying fantasy.

I can only imagine she was going for a fantasy where she's so perfect for him that he stays ramrod-hard for her in defiance of biology, and he's so perfect for her that he can make her cum at the drop of a hat. But then again unless the book includes scenes where they have sex with other people and it isn't so utterly convenient we can't really tell whether that's the case or whether James just doesn't understand how sex works at all.

Heh, you should have leaned over and been all "Hello, my name's Mr B and this is my penis..."

I am shocked and appalled that you have even suggested that. Talking to strangers on public transport? I'd be lynched. The proper etiquette would be to remain absolutely silent and then post one of those hilarious "missed connection" adverts which people seem to believe will work.

"Central Line train, you were heading to work reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I was wearing headphones and occasionally smirking to myself. My penis has been asking after you so drop us a note and I can make the introductions."
Furare at 13:27 on 2012-05-16
"Central Line train, you were heading to work reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I was wearing headphones and occasionally smirking to myself. My penis has been asking after you so drop us a note and I can make the introductions."


I would totally reply to a "Missed Connection" like that. >.>

If someone actually *did* try to introduce me to his penis, I think I would laugh him out of bed. I don't think I'm capable of keeping a straight face around someone who is waving his dick in my face and telling me it has a name.

As to the sex, from what I heard on the peacast it sounded pretty risible and not at all hot. It's just so stupid.

I did actually once date a guy who was quite a bit more kinky than I am. It didn't work. That's what happens when you want different things out of a relationship, usually - or so I've tended to find. He didn't convince me that being his 24/7 sub was totally my thing, and I didn't convince him that he only wanted to dominate people in that way because he was broken. We just played for a bit and then went separate ways. I guess that's not exciting enough for the plot of a book, though.
Arthur B at 13:39 on 2012-05-16
I would totally reply to a "Missed Connection" like that. >.>

ZOMG IT WAS YOU!
Wardog at 14:48 on 2012-05-16
"Central Line train, you were heading to work reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I was wearing headphones and occasionally smirking to myself. My penis has been asking after you so drop us a note and I can make the introductions."

I double dare you with extra olives....

As to the sex, from what I heard on the peacast it sounded pretty risible and not at all hot. It's just so stupid

The sex is pretty terrible. It's not even "these people are into things that I'm not into" (unless you count boring sex) it's just it's written in such a bizarrely flat way that it's hard to stay awake, let alone get aroused. As I said in the podcast I'm wary of critiquing writing techniques or falling into cliched ideas of what 'good' writing is supposed to be but it seems to me to be a kind of show/tell problem. I mean, the way I personally believe one would effectively communicate the desirability of one's partner would be demonstrate that person being desirable - not just repeating "he's so freaking hot. I was so wet" all the time.

But hey what do I know?

And, yes,the kink/non-kink thing is portrayed very oddly indeed. I have some kind stockholm syndrome going on because I actually started to book two (WHY GOD WHY WHAT AM I DOING TO MYSELF) but in this incarnation of the same damn story she has essentially convinced him to go-vanilla for lurve of her or whatever. Which strikes me as basically on par in offensiveness as "he is kinky because he is broken" - since I think there's an argument to be made that one's preferences are, to an extent at least, and I know I'm on shaky ground here, integral to who you are. And although I don't want to get into uber-doming since it feeds into all sorts of nasty ideas about 'inherent' sexual roles, which are often associated with massively gender-essentialist concepts, but I kind of feel that if you're a dom then you're kind of, um, a dom. Or a sub, or a switch, or whatever you want to call yourself. And somebody who can't/won't accept that is treating you really badly.

But equally there doesn't seem to be any understanding of the mind blowing notion that one can enjoy kinky stuff in the bedroom without it automatically requiring you to behave like an arse the rest of the time.

We just played for a bit and then went separate ways. I guess that's not exciting enough for the plot of a book, though.

Actually that is basically the plot of book one. Except without the self-awareness. And more angst.
Arthur B at 15:01 on 2012-05-16
I double dare you with extra olives....

When you next see me I will require olives.
Wardog at 15:03 on 2012-05-16
I.

Wow.

I don't know what to say.

My hat, Sir, it is doffed.
Michal at 17:24 on 2012-05-16
Arthur, you should've totally mentioned what you had in your pocket at the time.
Arthur B at 17:39 on 2012-05-16
My phone?
Dan H at 18:10 on 2012-05-16
Handses?
Melissa G. at 18:36 on 2012-05-16
I haven't had a chance to listen to the peacast yet, but someone told me that this book started out as Twilight fanfiction. Does anyone know if that is in fact the case? Because it might explain the writing....
Arthur B at 18:59 on 2012-05-16
Furare at 19:06 on 2012-05-16
I should change the names in the fanfiction I wrote when I was 19 and try to get it published. Okay, it was pretty bad, but it wasn't this bad. Of course, it didn't contain cringeworthy sex so maybe there wouldn't be a market for it...

Kyra: I thought you said all the sex in the book was pretty vanilla? :P

I think I may be in love with Arthur's sense of humour.
Arthur B at 19:07 on 2012-05-16
My sense of humour doesn't make love. It jokes. Hard.
I can't get the image of that tied-off condom out of my mind. I don't think it'll ever really go away, like a gas stove I can never go back home and turn off.
http://vonnemattheus.livejournal.com/ at 20:43 on 2012-05-17
Are there any masochists on this site who can tell us what happens in the two sequels?
Wardog at 21:29 on 2012-05-17
*puts hand up in shame and mortification*

I, err, I may have started reading the second one :( :( :(

I think I have Stockholm Syndrome, but I can't stop. And, believe me, it's not safe, sane nor consensual that I am continuing to read these books.

So far, they got back together after about 5 minutes of BEING SAD, she whinged him into disregarding his sexual preferences for WUV of her, they had boring sex and then boring sex again, he bought her shit ... as in her bought her expensive things, not that he ... err anyway. I just thought I'd better clarify because, y'know, after the pocketful of cum...

He acquires a crazy-arse stalker chick who once subbed to him and is now having a psychotic break. Incidentally, she looks just like the heroine because, as we know, people always prefer to date carbon copies of their exes.

There is a gay Italian hairdresser.

Oh and we meet Elena who so far seems like by far the most awesome character in the book. Given that is a haircut based personality system, she is platinum blonde which, given the heroine is brunette, makes me suspect EVIL.

Also both the hero and the heroine have behaved like absolute nutters - him by forcing her to LIVE WITH HIM FOR HER SAFETY and her for FREAKING THE FUCK OUT for daring to take her to a beauty salon he had once visiting with somebody-who-isn't-her...

I am at 7% of book.

PLEASE GOD SOMEBODY HELP ME. I CANNOT GET OUT. THE WALLS ARE CLOSING IN.
Arthur B at 10:09 on 2012-05-18
Question: how is sex her way distinguished from sex his way? Because from what you've described of the first book it sounds like their BDSM is barely BDSMy and mostly consists of him saying naughty words and very occasionally tying her up whilst they have more or less mainstream sex. Conforming to her sexual requirements would seem to involve leaving the rope out of the equation and incorporating a swear jar into their bedroom activity.
Wardog at 11:29 on 2012-05-18
Well, it's kind of icky actually - heh, big surprise. Basically she doesn't like the sadistic aspects of their interactions, despite getting off them anyway.

I think it's supposed to be about her not wanting to be subbie outside the bedroom, which is fair enough.

But it's also about the fact he doesn't bare his bleeding soul to her ON DEMAND and about her wanting to trample over his boundaries. He doesn't like to be touched because of *angst* which she has major major issues with - and is ALWAYS trying to sneak-touch him or whatever, despite the fact he gets all panicky and describes it as a hard limit... But ultimately not respecting someone's sexual or emotional limits is a form of abuse, but I think perhaps the author doesn't think it "counts" because touching your loved one is NORMAL whereas tying them up and beating them is ABNORMAL. Therefore although the heroine is perfectly within her rights to want input into the kinky shit, Grey isn't....

SIGH

Arthur B at 11:41 on 2012-05-18
Do we even know what the angst is about yet? Does he have a skin allergy to Wet? Was he in a tickle-fight which went tragically wrong?
Wardog at 12:08 on 2012-05-18
HIS MOTHER WAS A CRACK-WHORE! AND HER PIMP WAS MEAN TO HIM.
Arthur B at 12:35 on 2012-05-18
Was it, by any chance, his observations of the interaction between his mother and said pimp which made him think dominating women was what a man did?

Because if so fhuerfdnfwonfeouinoasfenwfonn
http://lokifan.livejournal.com/ at 23:17 on 2012-05-20
This was hilarious! I hope the second book produces a peacast at some point. Make sure you stay risk-aware if not safe or sane, Kyra!

The viewpoint on the kink does sound... eesh. Especially the stuff about him being a sub because he did not believe he deserved love and all he deserved was being punished and beaten and etc. And 'levelling up' into a dom.

I suspect the audience for that stuff is, basically, 'the people who read a certain kind of fanfic, but judge people who read the kinkier shit as terrible. And would never do kinky stuff themselves'. As a big fanfic reader I've seen *so many* iterations of 'and then they have angry/aroused/possessive sex where only the dom/top comes because they're that sort of dom'. The tropes that come up in fanfic tend to be similar-but-different from the tropes of romance, but it doesn't surprise me at all that they've obviously hit the id of lots of people who've likely never heard of fanfic.
I suspect the audience for that stuff is, basically, 'the people who read a certain kind of fanfic, but judge people who read the kinkier shit as terrible. And would never do kinky stuff themselves'.

The majority of the "sexy" fanfic I've read, regardless of fandom, seems hilariously tame and adorably impressed with how edgy and hardcore it is, like a twelve-year-old who's just discovered porn. Maybe it's because I happen to have friends who enjoy loudly oversharing details of their sex lives in public, but there's not a lot I'm likely to read in a fanfic, or in a book like Grey, that isn't going to strike me as trying too hard. I'm much more likely to be impressed by sex scenes that aren't trying to floor you with omg can you believe I'm writing about sex isn't that so dirty.
Arthur B at 20:29 on 2012-05-27
I GOT A RESPONSE TO MY MISSED CONNECTIONS AD.

It's someone making a series of photographic portraits of guys who post on Missed Connections sites looking for women. They want to photograph me and interview me about my ad.

WHAT DO I DO, FERRETBRAIN?
Melissa G. at 02:46 on 2012-05-28
I GOT A RESPONSE TO MY MISSED CONNECTIONS AD.

It's someone making a series of photographic portraits of guys who post on Missed Connections sites looking for women. They want to photograph me and interview me about my ad.

WHAT DO I DO, FERRETBRAIN?


This may be my favorite thing that has ever happened ever.
Jules V.O. at 03:41 on 2012-05-28
WHAT DO I DO, FERRETBRAIN?


I think you owe the story of that ad to the world. Or at least the readership of whoever these people are. *Do it.*
I would read the shit out of that interview.
Arthur B at 10:41 on 2012-05-28
So in the event that I go through with this insane plan, should I be honest and be like "hey, I was trolling with that ad, you're welcome to interview me but it'll mostly be me talking about how I find the whole missed connections thing incredibly silly and being faintly disparaging about the concept, which doesn't sound like it'd fit your project"?

Or should I pretend to be Christian Grey and see if the photographer-interviewer notices?
Shim at 11:35 on 2012-05-28
I would probably tell the photographer before you even decide whether you'd be up for it. I mean, the ad was for comedy value, but it seems a bit harsh to be trolling a photographer in person, to my mind, and they'd likely be pretty ticked off about wasted time when they work it out. Besides, your story would be a much more interesting gem in the middle of a set of real Missed Connections stories, they might go for it regardless!

I would really love to see the played-straight version, but I'm sure I'd feel guilty about it...
Arthur B at 13:15 on 2012-05-28
Fair enough. I let them in on the joke. I suspect I will never hear from them again but you never know...
Arthur B at 13:44 on 2012-05-28
They don't want to interview me. :(

I guess it's lucky they didn't since they'd have got sick and sent their completely unqualified friend and I'd have been obliged out of politeness to introduce them to my seedy underground practices (Warhams fiction and RPGs).
Shim at 14:55 on 2012-05-28
Aww, I feel mean now.

Ferretbrain should interview you instead :)
I'm surprised if they actually thought you were sincere and then decided not to interview you when they realized you weren't. Unless there are enough talking penises showing up in missed connections ads that the presence of one isn't enough to set off anyone's bullshit detector.
Arthur B at 22:53 on 2012-05-28
Well, at least now that ad can be a super-secret message drop for Ferretbrain readers to shoot me e-mails.

I should give the URL out to people when they ask for my contact details.
Alasdair Czyrnyj at 02:30 on 2012-06-01
Oh dear me, Kyra, that sounds as bad as I expected. Your comments have also led me to the conclusion that you have an addiction to terrible erotica and that Dan is enabling you. Speaking on behalf of everyone here, WE LOVE YOU , KYRA! DON'T THROW YOUR LIFE AWAY!

I'm also finding the whole "rails her in public and keeps his jizzy condom in his pocket as some sort of trophy" thing really disturbing. I admit that I'm as prudish as all fuck, so I don't really know how this all works in real life, but all that strikes me as the actions of a man who is losing control of himself. What happens in private between consenting adults is one thing, but once you start acting like that in public without any sort of hesitation or embarrassment...you have a problem.
James D at 16:41 on 2012-06-01
I guess it's lucky they didn't since they'd have got sick and sent their completely unqualified friend and I'd have been obliged out of politeness to introduce them to my seedy underground practices (Warhams fiction and RPGs).

"I'm going to geek you now. Hard."
Arthur B at 17:27 on 2012-06-01
The interviewer thinks she has mortally offended me by asking a completely inappropriate question:

"Do you play Tau?"
Michal at 05:45 on 2012-06-02
While we're still here, can someone please explain the whole misplaced hymen thing in romance fiction? First time I encountered it was in a popular fiction class, and it appears to be a Thing, but I just find it really odd. What's it doing way up in her there?
Wardog at 12:22 on 2012-06-02
Re hymen - I don't know but it drives me nuts. Like what the fuck do people think the hymen is? In romance, it's fairly regularly portrayed as an adamantium barrier located deep within the vaginal passage.

But I remember reading some random praise of Tricia Sullivan’s Maul way back when on Everything is Nice - and it opens with a girl masturbating with a gun having slipped it past her hymen...Needless to say this is totally like shocking and awesome, man.
Arthur B at 12:47 on 2012-06-02
Could it be catering to a more general and widespread mutant genitalia fantasy in the general public that's so suppressed that most people haven't been able to exploit it fully? Storm Constantine's Wraethththththththu thingies have flower-shaped penises, for instance, and those books seem to do pretty well.

Or is it a reflection of people's ideas about virginity, and people who strive to keep theirs? Is it some sort of David Cronenbergy mind-shaping-the-body thing where the more chaste you are, the more impenetrable and inaccessible your hymen becomes?
I would imagine that in cultures where many people have simply never had sexual encounters with women with intact hymens, or don't realize when they have, they continue to imagine that the hymen must be an awesome and terrible wall that you have to breach, because they don't bother to look the subject up.

If you're part of one of those nasty cultures that tortures and murders women for not staining the sheets on their wedding night, you might have a clearer understanding of what hymens would look like, or what it might look like when one is separated. Not much clearer, obviously, if you still think an intact hymen is a reliable test of virginity in women, but a step up.
valse de la lune at 16:25 on 2012-06-02
I would imagine that in cultures where many people have simply never had sexual encounters with women with intact hymens, or don't realize when they have, they continue to imagine that the hymen must be an awesome and terrible wall that you have to breach, because they don't bother to look the subject up.


Except women often write about hymens like that, too. See romance novels.

If you're part of one of those nasty cultures that tortures and murders women for not staining the sheets on their wedding night


Like... which cultures? Also, how does that logic work?
Except women often write about hymens like that, too. See romance novels.

Yeah, that's the part I don't really get. Romance novels are written by women for women, and I don't think that many women can be ignorant of their own biology or believe that other women are. It's complicated by the fact that women are so pervasively encouraged to doubt our own experiences, to feel as if we're statistical outliers or just abnormal if our experience doesn't match some bullshit stereotype, and to accept male "authority" over our knowledge of our own bodies. But I don't know the answer there.

Like... which cultures?

I was thinking of Muslim countries under sharia law, since that's what I'm personally familiar with. (I'm an American citizen, but I have a good number of relatives, friends, and colleagues living in Muslim countries.) To be fair, some countries, like Turkey, have moved away from traditional methods of virginity testing to things like having a girl's virginity certified by a doctor. They still use virginity as a way to discriminate against women and deny them human rights, so I wasn't all that eager to be fair to them.

Also, how does that logic work?

If you're obsessed with female virginity, you've probably spent more time scrutinizing what it looks like when a woman loses hers. If you're not obsessed with the subject, you might not experience or notice as many circumstantial details. Maybe I've missed something here.
valse de la lune at 17:55 on 2012-06-02
You'd have a good point if the west weren't obsessed with virginity and many of its cultural norms built around slut-shaming.

If you're obsessed with female virginity, you've probably spent more time scrutinizing what it looks like when a woman loses hers. If you're not obsessed with the subject, you might not experience or notice as many circumstantial details. Maybe I've missed something here.


...no.
Slut-shaming doesn't necessarily involve virginity. Many western men who hold double standards about acceptable sexual behavior in men and women don't expect the women they have sex with or marry to be virgins, as long as they haven't had "too many" partners. Virginity and hymens don't necessarily come into play.
And in that last paragraph you quoted, I was strictly talking about the male experience of female virginity, not a woman's experience of losing her virginity.
I should probably add that my unfairness towards Muslim patriarchy comes from growing up in a Muslim family and being served a good whack of the misogyny and homophobia I've experienced by my former fellow Muslims. It's personal, and I feel no need to sugarcoat my hatred. If the swipes I'm taking at Muslim patriarchy are less than coherent, I'll just have to find better ways to express them.

However, I certainly don't want to let western patriarchy off the hook, or encourage anyone else who might want to.
http://cheriola.livejournal.com/ at 19:50 on 2012-06-02
Well, Western culture is still obsessed enough with the idea of "taking" a woman's virginity, "breaking" a hymen (are there any expressions for this that aren't implicitely violent?), and the whole concept of sex as a form of conquest and male achievement, that most girls expect their first time to be painful as a matter of course. The idea that, no, in most cases there's no physiological necessity for it to hurt or bleed, often comes as a surprise even to women who are fairly well educated about their own body. (Good point about the toxic culture of being made to doubt one's own experience, fishinginthemud. Before watching the above linked sex ed video, I always thought I must have broken my hymen as a young child, or be one of those rare cases born without one, because I couldn't remember it ever hurting...)

There's even the strange phenomenon in slash fiction that female writers don't seem to be able to imagine a first time that doesn't hurt like hell for a few minutes, even though there are no hymens involved at all and the scene is supposed to be read as consensual and gentle lovemaking. It's like they think it doesn't count if the receiving partner doesn't pay a price for the pleasure. Or maybe it's some kind of internalised fetishizing of the usually "bodice ripper" type power differences in Japanese porn (where the passive partner, no matter if female or male, has to be shy and/or struggle and have the pleasure forced on them, in order not to be slut-shamed by the reader), considering most of these writers start out by reading yaoi (written mostly by and for women), not watching gay porn intended for male viewers.

(Though to be fair, even among gay men in western culture the idea that it's normal for penetrative sex to hurt for the receiving partner seems to be disturbingly pervasive. At least enough that I've seen a gay sex ed vid covering a topic analogous to the Hymen 101 vid above, with similarly grateful comments from viewers. The creator felt the need to get very blunt: "If a top tries to tell you that it's alright, it will only hurt a couple of minutes, you tell him to go fuck off! That's not how it works.")
http://cheriola.livejournal.com/ at 20:21 on 2012-06-02
As for the original question of misplaced hymens... I've never read something like that (I don't read professional romance), but if I had to make a guess, I'd say that perhaps these authors (who I assume are adults who have had sex and not just utterly clueless teenagers) have heard all their lives that the hymen is a strong, closed barrier that takes some force to breach, and which hurts a lot. But they never experienced it happening that way at all, because they never felt such a closed barrier over their own vagina and they were already stretched sufficiently before having sex with a partner the first time. So they assume it must be located further in, perhaps confusing it with the cervix, which can hurt a lot when pushed against too harshly, or opened by their gynecologist to put in an intrauterine coil. Obviously there's still a lot of anatomical ignorance necessary for this, but it's the best explanation I can come up with.
Wardog at 22:00 on 2012-06-02
I ... what ... did I start?

Well I read a fair bit of romance, to my shame, and I suspect the phenomenon I would like to call Dude, Where's My Hymen can probably be blamed on the 1970s - y'know, the much maligned bodice rippers wherein virgin heroines were non-consensually sexed 'til they got to like it by rough pirates, so there was often much agonising tearing and sundered frail femininity but I would personally have attributed this to this to the non-consensual rather than virgin element. After all, having sex tends to hurt only when you're, uh, not ready for it.

And I don't want to sneer at bodice rippers because, y'know, they were doing what they were doing... and just writing explicitly about sex that women could conceivably enjoy was kind of a big step in itself, though obviously tangling it up with rape was not so sensible, but you can actually see a similar 'theme' of coercion being necessary for guilt-free enjoyment even today, in 50 Shades right there, 'cos heaven forefend anyone could straight forwardly indulge in a bit of kink because they like it. But it annoys me that much of the STUPID (like the whole implied guilt, slut-shaming thing of a heroine/reader getting off on whatever it is they're getting off on) and hilariously impenetrable hymens continues to persist.

And, yes, terms for the, ah, de-virginisation process are uniformly vile. My favourite remains deflowering - since that implies the presence of a flower in the first place and I ain't found no flowers down there.
Arthur B at 22:03 on 2012-06-02
My favourite remains deflowering - since that implies the presence of a flower in the first place and I ain't found no flowers down there.

That's because you're not a Wraeththththththththththththththththththththththththththththththththththththththththu.
Furare at 23:18 on 2012-06-02
I ain't found no flowers down there.


Surely you mean there?

(Sorry, I find the fact that she uses the word 'there' in italics all the time instead of a more sensible term pretty hilarious.)
I always thought I must have broken my hymen as a young child, or be one of those rare cases born without one, because I couldn't remember it ever hurting...

Same here. I would guess most romance novelists have had similar experiences themselves that don't match the stereotype of the "adamantium barrier" hymen, but they assume they're outside the norm.

they never felt such a closed barrier over their own vagina and they were already stretched sufficiently before having sex with a partner the first time. So they assume it must be located further in, perhaps confusing it with the cervix, which can hurt a lot when pushed against too harshly

I think that's probably it.

My favourite remains deflowering

I like that one a lot too. "Cherry-popping" is a little too straightforwardly gross, but "deflowering" has a creepy Nice Guy faux-gentility to it that appeals to me.
Michal at 03:20 on 2012-06-03
...adamantium barrier located deep within the vaginal passage.

So what exactly happens when a person with said adamantium barrier has her period? Does she explode?

That's hysterical.
valse de la lune at 05:54 on 2012-06-03
I'm reading this chapter-by-chapter dissection of the YA novel Wither and--along with a bunch of other YA novels--I'm pretty sure you can make a case for the prizing of virginity: the average YA heroine is a virgin until she meets her true love, who's the only person ever she has sex with or will have sex with ever after. And has anyone read Rhapsody, where the protagonist literally has her hymen restored so she can be a virgin again for when she finally reunites with her one true love after years as a prostitute?

Maybe it's not so much about breaking the hymen per se but to insist that the west doesn't value virginity is pretty bizarre. I mean, maybe my sources are out of date but last I heard Christianity continues to be the religion of majority in the west. Perhaps purity pledges are fictional and abstinence-only ed is a thing of the past, because the west is the best fuck yeah America.
valse de la lune at 06:22 on 2012-06-03
@Cheriola: about slash fanfic--butt hymens. They turn up with an alarming frequency.
Arthur B at 09:10 on 2012-06-03
Maybe it's not so much about breaking the hymen per se but to insist that the west doesn't value virginity is pretty bizarre. I mean, maybe my sources are out of date but last I heard Christianity continues to be the religion of majority in the west. Perhaps purity pledges are fictional and abstinence-only ed is a thing of the past, because the west is the best fuck yeah America.

I think here in the west we're profoundly conflicted about this stuff. Some people loudly promote purity pledges and abstinence-only sex ed (the loudest of said people tend to be in the US but you can find them everywhere). Many others think that is ridiculous but still carry around this "one true love" idea in our heads, often whether we like it or not because it is so, so heavily pushed that it's hard not to buy into it on some level even though logically speaking you know it's a load of bullshit. (Which of course leaves you emotionally unprepared for when circumstances in your life confront you with the falseness of this mythology. If you're lucky/a super-genius like me you then finally let go of the idea and re-evaluate your stance on relationships, if not you can get crazy-bitter.)

butt hymens. They turn up with an alarming frequency.

D: HOW DO THEY POOP?
valse de la lune at 09:20 on 2012-06-03
By delicately hiking the butt-hymens out of the way? By C-section? Ass-babies happen in some slash fanfiction too now that I think about it.
Arthur B at 09:42 on 2012-06-03
On reflection I suppose it's only reasonable that people's highly idealised fantasy figures don't necessarily produce any waste at all. GOD FORBID THAT THEY BE IMPERFECT HUMANS.
Maybe it's not so much about breaking the hymen per se but to insist that the west doesn't value virginity is pretty bizarre.

You're right; it does. I was focusing too much on literal hymen-breaking, so my previous comment was poorly phrased.
Some people loudly promote purity pledges and abstinence-only sex ed (the loudest of said people tend to be in the US but you can find them everywhere).

"Purity balls" are my favorite, because first of all, balls, and second of all, let's make sure we never forget that your father is the original owner of your vulva and he'll always have a claim to it, if only a nostalgic one.

I really wonder how the godbags who participate in these disgusting rituals feel about them as human beings. I really hope it's like weddings, where you just enjoy the party and don't think about what the rituals mean.
Arthur B at 11:48 on 2012-06-03
Given that purity balls are a) a recent invention as opposed to an old tradition and b) are transparently creepy I can only assume that people are sincere about purity balls and what they mean.

Urgh.
I figure there's probably hope for the younger kids who don't understand what's going on yet.
Arthur B at 12:35 on 2012-06-04
Oh, naturally. I was referring to the perpetrators of purity balls as opposed to the victims.
Yeah, I kind of lumped everyone together under the godbag label. Kids get a pass until they start filling their own bags.
Cammalot at 18:40 on 2012-06-05
Quick drive-by posting: I suspect that there's a lot more nonconsensual first-time sex (or, varying degrees of sexual activity) happnening than many people think, at younger ages than many suspect, and that the "first times must hurt by default" idea might partially stem from this.

Also, possibly, a lack of first-timers really knowing what they're about. I would hope that the Internet being around nowadays would improve that some, or at least more than when I was little, but with a wealth of information also comes a wealth of misinformation, so...
Michal at 19:44 on 2012-08-19
There's criticism of 50 Shades of Grey, and then there's criticism of 50 Shades of Grey.
Arthur B at 23:20 on 2012-08-19
The followup article highlights as being particularly insightful along the lines of "It's all a conspiracy by the New World Order global elite to normalise pedophilia!" and "THIS IS WHAT OBAMA WANTS TO DO TO OUR CULTURE", which is a shame because that was a good article but seems to have landed on a website with a mildly odd crowd.

Not read the book so can't comment on how much there might be something to the original article, though if 50 Shades does come across that way I have to wonder whether this is an upshot of its fanfic origins. As Twilight fanfic it needed to present Bella as being recognisably like Bella from the books, Bella in the books is a high school student of a fairly goody-two-shoes and unworldly stripe, I can imagine a writer aiming for "slightly naive teenager" and hitting "pre-teen". Which isn't to excuse any ick-ness but it might be a reason why ick-ness arises without necessarily having EL James be a covert pedophile for Obama and the New World Order.
Alice at 17:43 on 2012-08-21
if 50 Shades does come across that way I have to wonder whether this is an upshot of its fanfic origins. As Twilight fanfic it needed to present Bella as being recognisably like Bella from the books, [...] I can imagine a writer aiming for "slightly naive teenager" and hitting "pre-teen".

I haven't read 50 Shades, but that seems pretty likely. Apart from anything else, one of the things the article took as evidence that 50 Shades is 'really' about pedophilia is Anastasia's childish language - "Holy cow", "jeez", "double crap", etc. But that's how Bella talks in Twilight (I think the worst "swear" word she uses is "dang"), so it's not surprising that a piece of Twilight fanfic would use similar language for its version of Bella.

And you can see how Edward's controlling behaviour towards Bella in Twilight led a fanfic author to write them into an overt AU D/s relationship. But it was creepy in the original and it's still creepy and wrong in the AU version. Though I wouldn't be surpised if the same people who are up in arms about 50 Shades praise Twilight for its supposedly moral (i.e. pushing the teen abstinence message) qualities.

(Incidentally, I suspect that Bella's use of childish swearwords is more due to Stephanie Meyers' Mormonism than because she wanted her to sound like a twelve-year-old, but that's a whole other discussion.)
http://roisindubh211.livejournal.com/ at 21:47 on 2012-08-24
I realise I'm way late to the party, but I feel I must inform you that I actually had to use the emergency stop button on the gym treadmill today because I was laughing too hard to run any more.
Cressida at 14:45 on 2012-09-03
On the fanfic thing, I wonder if that also explains the constant repetition of descriptors (long fingers, messy hair, etc.)--Meyers does that all the time as well, so perhaps it was some kind of weird homage?

BTW, I still haven't read this book myself (and don't particularly wish to), but I did talk a friend of mine into reading it by mimicking bits of your peacast. She's keeping me updated with all the silliest bits.
http://alula_auburn.livejournal.com/ at 19:25 on 2012-10-16
Law and Order: SVU recently did a thinly-veiled "inspired by" Fifty Shades episode. Right down to the character referring to her "inner Venus." (ahahaha see what they did there?) The plot, as a whole, was quite icky, since the case hinged on the book being dum-dum-dum PLAGIARIZED, so obviously the (fake) author (Anna Chlumsky from My Girl!) didn't really want to be dominated and assaulted, twice, by a talk show host she had just met, which, hey Unfortunate Implications, much? Also it wasn't thinly veiled fanfic, it was written by a middle aged professor who hired the fake author to promote it because 1) no one in Fake NYC knows about ghostwriters or pseudonyms and 2) no one wants to hear about middle aged lady sex fantasies. But I was really disappointed it wasn't set up for there to be a major forensics coup about, you know, a pocketful of cum.
Arthur B at 19:52 on 2012-10-16
Law and Order: SVU recently did a thinly-veiled "inspired by" Fifty Shades episode.

For a moment I thought you meant "inspired by the plot of 50 Shades" instead of "inspired by the media phenomenon of 50 Shades". Which wouldn't take much work at all.

Except if they were being true to the text Ice-T wouldn't have anything to do except walk out of a door, nod to someone, and wander off.
http://scipiosmith.livejournal.com/ at 20:41 on 2012-10-16
Except if they were being true to the text Ice-T wouldn't have anything to do except walk out of a door, nod to someone, and wander off.


Is that not basically his part in the show anyway by this point?

Or has it gotten better for him and Munch since Elliot left?
http://alula_auburn.livejournal.com/ at 21:43 on 2012-10-16
Is that not basically his part in the show anyway by this point?

Or has
it gotten better for him and Munch since Elliot left?


Not noticeably, although I only see the episodes when they run randomly to fill holes in the NBC schedule. I vaguely remember them being in about two scenes, and Munch is the one who first thinks the book was plagiarized because it was full of supposedly high-brow references, while her tweets were full of teh dumb. (Really!)

But there is a blonde female detective now, who I think is not evil? And the fake author was also blonde, so--ahaha--maybe that was the real logic, because Blondes are kinda Evil, iirc.

There was a throwaway line from Olivia that I think was meant to suggest the best-sellerness of 50 Shades either was responsible for or explained at least some sex crimes, but maybe Olivia was just appalled by the crappy writing.
Robinson L at 12:15 on 2012-12-24
I was at a one-hour workshop on teaching feminist sex and relationships in October, and somebody brought up the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon as an example of what a sorry state we're in. A couple of other people spoke up in response, not to defend the books' quality or politics, but to say that a lot of young women in their workplace and classes are reading them, and it's gotten them to start talking about sex (and I guess BDSM). So even if the books' sexual politics are bad, these people reckoned they're still good for starting that conversation.
Kit at 19:52 on 2013-03-22
Finally delurking (even though this comment is rather out of date), because I've just found an awesome chapter-by-chapter recap of Fifty Shades, which I stumbled upon after wanting to go into more detail after listening to this peacast. For anyone interested in having the full, unvarnished and fucked-up fail of this glorified fanfiction (it's even scarier when it's picked apart minutely), here it is: http://das-sporking.livejournal.com/242338.html
I do very much enjoy the other sporks of that comm, incidentally; the Twilight recaps are excellent.
Wardog at 14:38 on 2013-03-23
Hi Kit - nice to see you disengaging the cloaking technology.

Those look awesome.

*bookmarks*
Kit at 13:53 on 2013-03-25
Yeah, I keep meaning to comment and then don't, for...reasons, I guess :)
Anyway, thoses recaps really are quite interesting because one of the persons doing it actually knows what BDSM is and has experience in being a sub. And Fifty Shades is *full* of red flags for people who actually have a clue about those things (which I don't, so it was quite enlightening to read that).
Dan H at 20:20 on 2013-03-25
I think that link sums up everything I love and everything I dislike about sporking communities. On the one hand they highlight some very valid and important problems with the text (like the fact that Anna's relationship with Christian is not only unhealthy but also dubiously consensual) but on the other hand there's a lot of utterly weird fandomish obsession with minutiae.

There's a particularly weird bit where they complain because it's raining when Anna leaves Gray's office, and it apparently didn't rain on any Mondays in Seattle in May in 2010. Now maybe I'm missing something and Seattle is an especially arid part of the world but seriously that is *not* something to complain about unless you're so caught up in your own nerdview that you can't countenance any counter-factual events in a work of fiction.

The sporker in question goes on to explain that "(A note to authors out there? Yes, you WILL have readers who are this picky—and sometimes simply because we can’t help it.)" - perhaps I'm being churlish, but I can't help but feel that most authors could do *without* readers who were that picky. E.L. James clearly can - she's made more money than most of us will make in a lifetime and for some unfathomable reason her failure to research the weather in Seattle down to the exact day, or her tendency to write "Vancouver Washington" instead of "Vancouver, Washington" hasn't stood in her way.

I'm only on chapter two so far, but it's full of these sorts of bizarre criticisms. Like apparently it's not appropriate for a first-person narrator to say that they flushed, because they wouldn't know because they can't see their own face. And the construction "as an exceptional entrepreneur ... his time is precious" is wrong because it implies that it is his time that is the exceptional entrepreneur despite the fact that the sentence is perfectly unambiguous standard English. And it seems that the sporkers feel that they're being generous for *not* minding that Claytons isn't the name of a real hardware store.

Sorry, I appreciate the irony of spending so much time laying into a sporking site (although I suppose if there's anybody who *can't* complain about having their writing nitpicked it's sporkers), it's just that this contains a lot of the things that really annoy me about fandom, like the tendency to judge everything by the standards of how you would have written or edited it, instead of how you actually react to it as a reader. If there's on thing that I *do* blame fanfiction for, it's for making people forget that reading and writing fiction are two different activities.

It's a shame because there's a lot I *like* about it it's just, like I say, it pushes my buttons.
Melissa G. at 22:02 on 2013-03-25
I actually used to follow that sporker quite closely. I loved her Twilight stuff, but she does literally pick on EVERYTHING. Like, she is looking for stuff to criticize so she goes into a lot of weird details and issues that I would have overlooked. But it was totally worth it for the way she would rip apart the stuff that was worth ripping apart.

I'm excited she's sporking Fifty Shades...I might need to start playing catch up....
Cammalot at 00:45 on 2013-03-26
Mostly on-topic -- I read this recently. (Apparently there are a lot of books with this title floating around?)

Aside from a few amusing homophone typos, I kind of liked this one, though there seems to be an attempt to pass it off as a roman a clef, a little, sort of. I liked that both characters come out of it with their dignity, and seem to have a grasp on what BDSM actually is and how it works.

Oh, and the reason dude is into BDSM is that he likes it. Not being warped or twisted or angst and abuse.

(You have no idea how many times I tried to spell "angst" correctly just now.)
Kit at 08:36 on 2013-03-26
Dan - yeah, I quite agree with many of your points. The nitpicking can be weird, especially since there is SO MUCH other fail in the series they spork; you'd think there was enough to rip apart without focusing on details like "was it raining in Seattle that day or not" (*some* kinds of lack of research in books *do* bother me; this certainly doesn't). I guess I can overlook that extreme nitpicking because I don't really care, and just skim it until is gets to a point that is really important, like the absolute rapetastic fail of Ana and Christian's relationship, or the blatant manipulation and emotional abuse, or the fact that this BDSM relationship isn't a real BDSM relationship at all.
But you're right, the sporking is partly done from the perspective of an editor/writer - but I guess that comes with the fact that this particular comm is very much involved in sporking and writing fanfiction, so maybe that's a reason they're kind of sensitive to that...? I don't know.
Anyway, as Melissa said, the reason I keep reading through everything is that I know that what really needs to be analyzed (ahem, sorry, taken a flamethrower at) *will* be, and it very often will be well done. So I guess I feel kind of generously disposed towards the rest.
Arthur B at 10:35 on 2013-03-26
I just find I don't have time for sporking, as in spending the time to sit down and actually read a spork would eat too much into time which I need to devote to activities I either enjoy more, can't responsibly skip, or both. The line-by-line nature of most sporks I've seen is interesting but it's the sort of methodology where a) the sporkers could well end up missing the forest for the trees (not saying that's happened here, just saying it's structurally very easy to do when you are picking things apart sentence-by-sentence) and b) it's not necessarily going to be obvious the sporkers have missed the point until you have already invested a heap of time reading through the spork.

Sorry, that looks like a slam against the very concept and it isn't meant to be, just musing about how the narrow window in my life when I might have had time for sporking has passed me by. Hell, maybe when I retire there'll be some way cool hypersporkings I can spend my brain-in-a-jar twilight years musing over.
Wardog at 12:19 on 2013-03-26
I'm kind of with Arthur on the sporking thing - again, not meaning to come across as some kind of anti-sporking douche or anything. And I totally get it's a skill and valuable and entertaining and all this sort of thing, and can be an illuminating way to look at texts etc. And it's not trying to be a review or an essay, it's its own thing.

But I just kind of feel that if you took ANY text and took it apart line-by-line it would end up looking like a pile of crap.

Also because the mindset is very much CRITICISE EVERYTHING BECAUSE YOU CAN, you end up with the stuff Dan points out above. Like there is SO MUCH horribly wrong with 50 Shades, like the misogyny and the kink fail, a lot of which is deeply offensively wrong, that having someone obsess about the weather on a Monday feels like you're reduce all criticisms to the same level.
Danielle at 12:53 on 2013-03-26
Of all the things to motivate me to get an account, I should probably be ashamed it's 50 Shades. But I basically want to share a link to some recaps that are very insightful regarding the BDSM and abuse in the series, without too much pettifogging. I think it really helps that Jenny Trout is a writer of erotic fiction herself.
Wardog at 14:18 on 2013-03-26
Oh these are great! I am amused and not sporked out.

Ana drinks the orange juice:

It's thirst quenching and refreshing. Nothing beats freshly squeezed orange juice for reviving an arid mouth.

This message brought to you by the California Citrus Grower's Association.
Kit at 18:13 on 2013-03-26
Oh wow, I just started on these too and I'm thoroughly enjoying them.

So young - and attractive, very attractive. He's tall, dressed in a fine gray suit, white shirt, and black tie with unruly dark copper colored hair and intense, bright gray eyes that regard me shrewdly.

That... is one hell of a tie. I'm going to have to ask someone, please, look into the kindness and the goodness of your soul and photoshop me a picture of a black tie with Robert Pattinson's hair and eyes stuck on it, gazing at me shrewdly.
Melanie at 21:09 on 2013-03-26
I'm going to have to ask someone, please, look into the kindness and the goodness of your soul and photoshop me a picture of a black tie with Robert Pattinson's hair and eyes stuck on it, gazing at me shrewdly.


I don't know about "kindness", but here it is! :D
Wardog at 09:36 on 2013-03-27
I have suffered san loss.
Kit at 13:22 on 2013-03-27
To paraphrase Miss Steele, "This is so freaking awesome."
Dan H at 19:31 on 2013-03-27
ike there is SO MUCH horribly wrong with 50 Shades, like the misogyny and the kink fail, a lot of which is deeply offensively wrong, that having someone obsess about the weather on a Monday feels like you're reduce all criticisms to the same level.


Pretty much this.

I actually stuck with the originally linked spork for a bit longer and it *did* get better for a while, I think because it got into the more utterly failtastic bits of the book, and so the sporkers had more things to complain about than comma placement.

Then two things happened.

The first was that Gehayi started editing the quotes to "correct" the "errors" in the original, which included such things as editing the line "I thought if I kissed you, you would see we were meant to be together" (or something like it) to "I thought that if I kissed you, you would see we were meant to be together." Because good writing means everybody following archaic non-rules that you learned in primary school. And these rules should be followed even in reported dialogue, because you shouldn't write a line the way a character would say it, you should write it "correctly". Obviously.

The other thing they started doing was spamming Supernatural macros (even going so far as to cite the show, particularly the season six episode Live Free or Twi-Hard as "the perfect antithesis and antidote" to Fifty Shades). Now I appreciate this is very much a matter of personal taste, and I understand that a lot of these sporkers find Christian Gray's behaviour disgusting, offensive and triggering for some very good (and often very personal) reasons. But does it really make sense to hold up a show which is *chock full* of women being terrorized, brutalized and indeed literally slaughtered just so two heterosexual white men can bromance about it as a shining beacon of entertainment Doing It Right?

They seem pretty into The Dresden Files as well.

I should stress that I'm really not trying to play the "but the thing you like is problematic AS WELL" card here - the fact that these people like TV shows with strongly misogynistic elements doesn't invalidate their criticisms of Fifty Shades, but the whole thing makes me uncomfortable.

I've got to about chapter ten and it feels like they're sporking this weird fanon version of Fifty Shades where Christian Grey is literally a serial rapist and murderer, rather than the actual book, where he just acts like one.

The recaps on Jenny Trout's blog, on the other hand, are excellent.
Melanie at 23:00 on 2013-03-27
My work here is done!

it feels like they're sporking this weird fanon version of Fifty Shades where Christian Grey is literally a serial rapist and murderer, rather than the actual book, where he just acts like one.


Could be because they seem to have read the book ahead of time; it gets worse and more rapey as it goes on (at least up to the point I reached). I know when I reread/rewatch something, my view of a character and their actions is heavily informed by things that come later in the work. E.g. knowing they'll change sides at the end affects how I see their actions from before that happens.
Danielle at 00:59 on 2013-03-28
Well, Jenny Trout read the books ahead of time too. If I remember from the long ago days of HMS STFU, these particular sporkers do have a tendency to get caught up in things that are, as Dan says, counter-factual and not necessarily helpful or relevant. I have a feeling gehayi did something quite similar with the first chapter of City of Bones when it came out?
Dan H at 11:49 on 2013-03-28
Could be because they seem to have read the book ahead of time; it gets worse
and more rapey as it goes on (at least up to the point I reached).


That could well be it (although as far as I understand it he never literally murders anybody). There's a bit around chapter seven when they try to make the case that E.L. James *literally* based Grey on an *actual real life serial killer* and seem to get *genuinely offended* about it (do they honestly think that a woman who was too lazy to work out that pedestrian crossings in America don't use the green man symbol would really place *meticulously researched* refrences to a real-life killer in her suefic?).

It was the Supernatural comparisons that broke me, because I know quite a lot of people who've given up on the show because they found its use of sexualised violence against women genuinely unbearable after about season two (which ends, I seem to recall, with the Winchesters having sex with a possessed woman, then beating her up, driving the demon out of her body, and having her *thank them* as she lies dying). Obviously Supernatural is an action adventure series rather than BDSM erotica, so its rapey elements are usually "violence with a sexual undertone" rather than "sex with a violent undertone" and different things are upsetting to different people, so ... yeah, it's complicated.

I think a lot of the time the problematic elements of 50 Shades are exascerbated by the more mundane issues with the writing. Ana Steele is so poorly articulated and stereotype-tastic that it's very, very easy to read abuse into her relationship with Christian simply because Ana's feelings are so utterly inconsistent, and so completely incompatible with her behaviour. From what I've seen of the book, Ana never actually wants to do *anything* and is pretty much afraid of *everything*. Ana basically isn't capable of having a healthy relationship with anybody, because she's prevented by authorial fiat from having a healthy attitude to anything at all.

Basically it feels to me like a lot of Christians rapiest behaviour comes about because E.L. James steadfastly *refuses* to let Ana admit - even to herself - that she wants to do half of the things that she wants to do. I understand that there's a really skeevy bit later on where Ana insists that she doesn't want to do anal, but Christian refuses to accept it as one of her hard limits because he likes it too much and he thinks she'll like it too. Now obviously this situation is awful and disgusting because Christian shows no regard whatsoever for Ana's wishes or consent, but he basically *has* to because Ana lives in a world she is not allowed to admit to any sexual desires whatsoever.

It all creates this massively problematic situation where, textually, Grey *literally does* know what Ana wants better than she knows herself, because James seems to think that if Ana had any opinions about sex whatsoever it would make her a prostitute. Curiously, for somebody so domineering, Grey's desires don't actually feature very much in the book at all. It's almost as if he's just another one of the people in Ana's head (like the subconscious and the inner goddess).
Arthur B at 17:28 on 2013-03-28
Curiously, for somebody so domineering, Grey's desires don't actually feature very much in the book at all. It's almost as if he's just another one of the people in Ana's head (like the subconscious and the inner goddess).

And then the camera pans out and it turns out the whole thing was just a story Number Six (recast as a woman in this remake, provoking furious eruptions of nerdrage) was spinning out to the Village's Naughty Book Club and the audience are all overcome with boredom and squick to ask any leading questions which might prompt Number Six to reveal why they resigned and then the episode ends and people go online to complain that The Shade That Was Grey isn't a patch on The Girl Who Was Death from the original series, right?
Melanie at 21:39 on 2013-03-28
It was the Supernatural comparisons that broke me, because


I would also really prefer not to see Fifty Shades become some kind of... standard of comparison that can be used to make other things look more okay because they're arguably not as bad as that. That's setting the bar incredibly low!

Basically it feels to me like a lot of Christians rapiest behaviour comes about because E.L. James steadfastly *refuses* to let Ana admit - even to herself - that she wants to do half of the things that she wants to do. [...] Now obviously this situation is awful and disgusting because Christian shows no regard whatsoever for Ana's wishes or consent, but he basically *has* to because Ana lives in a world she is not allowed to admit to any sexual desires whatsoever.


Well, ultimately all the blame is on the author, so I'm not sure how useful it is to blame the author for creating the situation in the first place, here. I think as soon as you start getting into "character X has to do Y because otherwise the story wouldn't happen" stuff, you're (usually[1]) abandoning the idea of analyzing the character and their actions as though they're like a real person with coherent motivations. I understand what you're saying here is that the problem is they really aren't like real people with coherent motivations, but it's a little too handwavey for my tastes--like it's less important that his actual actions are completely appalling, because the author set it up like that.

[1]Possibly there's an exception when the character knows they're in a story or is deliberately using some kind of story-based magic--you know, all that delicious fourth wall stuff. That's not the case here, though.
Dan H at 23:26 on 2013-03-28
Well, ultimately all the blame is on the author, so I'm not sure how useful it is to blame the author for creating the situation in the first place, here. I think as soon as you start getting into "character X has to do Y because otherwise the story wouldn't happen" stuff, you're (usually[1]) abandoning the idea of analyzing the character and their actions as though they're like a real person with coherent motivations.


I think that's a reasonable concern, but I think analysing a character and their actions as though they're like a real person with coherent motivations isn't something I do very much anyway (and it's something you basically *can't* do with Fifty Shades because the characters are paper-thin) - I tend to be far more bothered by things authors do than things fictional characters do.

As far as I understand it, the fantasy presented in Fifty Shades is more or less the one articulated in this Oglaf strip - it's not really about BDSM at all, it's about having somebody else take responsibility for all the hard, scary stuff. Within the very specific context of this fantasy, you can't judge Christian Grey's behaviour as if he was a real person, because he really does exist for no other purpose than to fulfill Ana's secret desires.

If you *do* judge Christian Grey's behaviour as if he was a real person, then it's as scary as all fuck and Ana should stay the hell away from him. And I appreciate that for a lot of people the real-life interpretation is more important than the fantasy interpretation.

What freaks me out about Fifty Shades isn't the way Grey behaves, it's the assumptions that underly the narrative structure that requires him to behave that way. E.L. James seems to think that it would be *genuinely wrong* for Ana to just straight up *want* to do the things that Christian (effectively) coerces her into doing. Within the moral framework of the book, the *only* way she can be allowed to do these things is for Christian to push her into them. Christian Grey is basically a plot device who exists to allow Ana Steele to have sex without the audience or the author judging her for it.

Basically I see Christian as very much a non-person, what creeps me out is the way the book seems to think that a failure to consent represents some kind of moral virtue.
Kit at 13:19 on 2013-03-29
Well, I *was* going to post a reply to Dan saying that this analysis of Christian's role as a plot device and the very disturbing connotations about consent and female virtue and so forth was really interesting and that I hadn't thought of it before but it made *so much* sense. Adding, maybe, something about how I sometimes can't help judging characters as if they were real persons (especially when it's something as potentially triggering as Fifty Shades - abusive relationships, emotional manipulation, been there, done that, can't stand reading about it anymore), but that it's true that I probably shouldn't do that here, because the characters *are* kind of non-entites...

But by now I'm well into Jenny Trout's recaps of Fifty Shades Darker, and...something happened, and I couldn't think about that moderately well-constructed and maybe slightly relevant comment anymore because:

GUYS, BLACK EXIT MAN IS BACK. HE IS.

And still saddled with a few adjectives too many, poor guy. It was, nonetheless, a glorious moment.

(I apologize for this random and completely irrelevant comment, but I just couldn't resist)
Melanie at 17:10 on 2013-03-29
Christian Grey is basically a plot device who exists to allow Ana Steele to have sex without the audience or the author judging her for it.

Basically I see Christian as very much a non-person, what creeps me out is the way the book seems to think that a failure to consent represents some kind of moral virtue.


Yeah, I guess that's fair enough.
Melissa G. at 05:19 on 2013-03-30
(which ends, I seem to recall, with the Winchesters having sex with a possessed woman, then beating her up, driving the demon out of her body, and having her *thank them* as she lies dying)


I...do not remember this. O_O
http://scipiosmith.livejournal.com/ at 10:03 on 2013-03-30
I...do not remember this. O_O


While I won't say that it never happened on the show, it certainly didn't happen at the end of season two which is all about Sam's death and killing the Yellow Eyed Demon.

Though given the number of times they torture demons, or have sex with women who turn out to be monsters, I'm not surprised that its become a blur for Dan, whom I get the impression is not a fan.
http://scipiosmith.livejournal.com/ at 13:36 on 2013-03-30
Sorry to double post, I'm sure there used to be an edit button but never mind.

I just remembered there was an episode in season 2 where Sam slept with a werewolf and then shot her at the end of the episode because they couldn't find a cure, and I can't remember how she took it but you may be thinking of that.
Dan H at 09:55 on 2013-03-31
@Melissa G

I...do not remember this. O_O


I've exaggerated a bit, but there's that whole sequence with the possessed blonde girl with the pixie-cut in which she's all evil and sexy, and then they have to drive the demon out which I seem to recall involved some inappropriately sexualised violence, and then she's unpossessed and dying because they (amongst other things) threw her out a window, but at the end she's all "it's okay, I'd rather die in agony than be possessed by a demon".

I'm vague on the details but I remember it being bad enough that Kyra and I gave up on the series.

Obviously I'm *not* intending this in any way as a defence of Fifty Shades (which just gets *worse* the deeper I get into the recaps - she really never stops talking about how much Christian scares her does she?).

@Kit

Adding, maybe, something about how I sometimes can't help judging characters as if they were real persons (especially when it's something as potentially triggering as Fifty Shades - abusive relationships, emotional manipulation, been there, done that, can't stand reading about it anymore), but that it's true that I probably shouldn't do that here, because the characters *are* kind of non-entites...


I should probably stress that I was talking very much about my personal reactions here - I'm absolutely not suggesting (or intending to suggest) that other people are wrong for reacting differently - particularly to something which, as you say, is so triggering.
http://architeuthis.dreamwidth.org/ at 16:46 on 2013-04-01
I've left two comments on Ferretbrain to date and they've both been completely off-topic nonsense, and now I'm going to entirely outdo myself by defending Supernatural. Kind of.

I've exaggerated a bit, but there's that whole sequence with the possessed blonde girl with the pixie-cut in which she's all evil and sexy, and then they have to drive the demon out which I seem to recall involved some inappropriately sexualised violence, and then she's unpossessed and dying because they (amongst other things) threw her out a window, but at the end she's all "it's okay, I'd rather die in agony than be possessed by a demon".

Supernatural makes a firm distinction between the agency of possessing entities like demons and the agency of their hosts. With a specific exception who explicitly subverts the expectations of the audience and the other characters, plus some generalized authorial failure as the show has changed hands and the handling of recurring issues has gotten increasingly messy and half-assed, hosts are depicted as victims of the beings that possess them (and sometimes of the Winchesters), not accomplices.

So what happens is not a woman doing bad things because she is possessed and then being grateful to die, but a demon using a woman's body to do bad things, while the woman watches from inside (blah blah recurring motif of the psychological damage incurred by people who are forced to do horrible things against their will), and the woman being grateful to be exorcised, and finally the woman dying of various injuries sustained (often at the hands of the Winchesters) over the course of her possession. She doesn't express "dying is way better than that possession business", the sexualization of the exorcism sequence is debateable, and the demon never has sex with either Winchester (though she is a highly sexualized character generally [in a way that is less "one of the many dirty bad evil things about this woman is that she likes the sex" than "one of the reasons this woman is scary is that she's planning to rape you", which ... I still can't decide whether that's refreshing or worse or both] and is on the receiving end of sexualized violence later in the series).

All that said, it's a horribly problematic show in just about every way a show can be problematic without flat-out being unironically about how awesome systemic oppression is as long as you're on top of the heap. (Actual conversation with a friend a couple of days ago: "Hey Squid, are there any black characters in Supernatural who don't turn [out to be] evil?" "Well, there was the recent episode with a black woman in it who could turn into a dog and wore a collar all the time and was the slave and lover of a white man. She was played very sympathetically!") So I'm nitpicking you because the basis on which you're offended by Supernatural contains some factual errors, not because you're wrong to be offended by Supernatural (in fact you don't know the half of it).

GUYS, BLACK EXIT MAN IS BACK. HE IS.

Why am I so happy?
Cammalot at 20:43 on 2013-04-01
" Well, there was the recent episode with a black woman in it who could turn into a dog and wore a collar all the time and was the slave and lover of a white man. She was played very sympathetically!"

WOW. Fucking wow. And I thought the "dead black man of the week" paradigm in place when I stopped watching after season three was something.
http://architeuthis.dreamwidth.org/ at 21:03 on 2013-04-01
It was fucking astonishing. She spends the entire episode calling him her master over and over, plus another fifteen layers of horrible shit that I couldn't fit into a pithy summary. I don't want to say it's the most stunningly racist thing I've seen on television, but top five, at least. And yet a bizarrely good performance; I hope the woman who played her gets lots more work, because if she could make me even grudgingly like anything about that episode, she is a fucking genius.
Cammalot at 21:29 on 2013-04-01
They did that a lot on Supernatural, if I recall. They had *fine actors* acting out stuff I wanted to slap somebody for. I *liked* that zealous vampire hunting guy they had on towards the beginning, he was flawed but interesting before the fridge of no return.

Ultimately it was the visuals that drove me away. I understood there were demons, and the boys were mad at them and not the hosts, but the show was still asking me to watch Dean, our golden angsty hero, beat up and smack talk physically smaller actresses who all played "evil" as synonymous with "level up in sexitude" one time too many for me.
Dan H at 22:13 on 2013-04-01
So I'm nitpicking you because the basis on which you're offended by Supernatural contains some factual errors, not because you're wrong to be offended by Supernatural (in fact you don't know the half of it).


That's cool, nitpick away (it's been *years* since I saw Supernatural and my recollections are extremely wonky). I don't actually have a major axe to grind with the show - I was just confused and mildly disturbed by the sporkers who seemed to be holding up Supernatural as 100% non-problematic.
http://architeuthis.dreamwidth.org/ at 22:37 on 2013-04-01
Gordon Walker. He was a victim of the format as much as anything else. There's nothing intrinsically bigoted about the idea of a show about two heterosexual white men and their mayfly acquaintances except that in a racist, sexist, etc culture and industry, that's the only kind of paranormal detective buddy roadtrip show you ever get. As a consequence of their centrality, when one of the central heterosexual white men fucks up beyond the telling, he gets a redemption arc spread over a full season, and when anyone else on the show fucks up beyond the telling, they have to die by the end of the episode to resolve the story and so that they don't have to pay the actor anymore -- and when "anyone else" includes all the women and people of color and queers and just, you know, the rest of us, a message emerges.

Of course what happened to Gordon was going to happen, he might as well have been wearing a sandwich board saying "THE ABYSS LOOKS ALSO INTO YOU" in his first appearance, and on another show with more than one brown person at a time it could have been awesome. And maybe not ended with a white man cutting off his head. And not been followed by another five seasons of black men just kiiiind of having a tendency to be and/or turn into monsters. Also, shallowly, Sterling K. Brown is just a really beautiful guy and should be on TV at all times for my personal viewing pleasure.

Seasons six and seven gave us the original vampire, played by Rick Worthy, who has one of those, like, Avery Brooks velvet-made-of-spun-sex voices and screen presence for days, and also ... keeps white children as pets. I mean, I guess at least he wasn't white? /pours whiskey, weeps into it

the show was still asking me to watch Dean, our golden angsty hero, beat up and smack talk physically smaller actresses

Dean is an amazing character when I just block out my knowledge of everything he has done on the show ever.
http://architeuthis.dreamwidth.org/ at 22:44 on 2013-04-01
(Sorry for double posting.)

I was just confused and mildly disturbed by the sporkers who seemed to be holding up Supernatural as 100% non-problematic.

Oh yeah, of course. It boggles my mind and makes me question, deeply, their ability to evaluate a text for problematicity. You were just walking around with your rhetorical fly open and I felt the need to inform you, longwindedly.
Robinson L at 15:02 on 2013-08-08
According to a recent NPR program I heard, ever since the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey, there's been a spike in emergency calls to the London Fire Department involving couples getting stuck in handcuffs and other such gear with amorous secondary uses. They even played a clip of a fire chief reminding people to keep the keys to the handcuffs within easy reach when embarking upon such activities.
Arthur B at 16:14 on 2013-08-08
Additional data point: there are official Fifty Shades of Grey sex kits advertised proudly to anyone strolling past a particular shop on Oxford Street. Selling those things to people whose only exposure to this sort of thing is Fifty Shades is like handing a loaded gun to a monkey. A rubbish, tacky, not especially exciting or dangerous gun to an unimaginative and unambitious monkey. I would be interested to know how many of those kits have been involved in those incidents; perhaps they should include a user's guide.
http://alula_auburn.livejournal.com/ at 05:43 on 2013-08-09
Hee hee, I heard the same program--it was part of the quiz on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," in the portion where the caller has to choose which one of three stories is true; the other two are fake stories written by the panelists.
Michal at 05:54 on 2013-09-09
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Fifty Shades Generator.

"My birth cannon was trembling like an epileptic at a Pink Floyd concert."

Strangely accurate, no?
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