I’m in the process of reading a trilogy of fanfics about a Dominant/submissive relationship. They are really well done, and I am enjoying them immensely (so much so that I’m actually reading three books at a time right now, because I can’t choose which one I like best). I walk a fine line with enjoying these types of stories. My favorite books are the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. The heroine in the first three books (Phedre no Delauney de Montreve) is a masochist.
I am decidedly not.
But Phedre is far different from the submissives in all the other stories I’ve read/watched. Anne Rice wrote a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story (under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure) called The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty that I literally couldn’t force myself to finish. It disgusted me. I was telling someone about my reaction to that book and they asked me how I could love and re-read 1000x the Kushiel’s Series, when a lot of the same actions were taking place in both books. The difference is most definitely choice.
Phedre, like the submissives in other stories that I enjoy, choose to take part in their lifestyle because it brings them sexual pleasure. No one decided it for them. They don’t submit in every aspect of their lives. They had selected periods of time where their Doms lord over them and when those times are over, they shed their submissiveness and take back control of their lives and actions.
In the stories that I can’t stomach, like The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, the women are forced into these roles. And usually, they learn to love their place under the heel of their oppressor. It really just smacks of patriarchy and misogyny. I have definite knee-jerk reactions to these themes that I will get into later….but suffice it to say, I don’t find these types of books entertaining. They actually kind of infuriate me. I think they tend to normalize these types of abusive relationships whether they mean too or not. We need look no further than the patriarchal religious ideals of “Husband as the Head” and the wife submitting to the husband as the church submits to Christ to see just how easy it is to convince someone that they can and should be happy in their own oppression. But that’s a subject for another day (oh, but I will get to it, rest assured).
So I’m enjoying this trilogy, but it once again reaffirms that I will probably never really understand these relationships.
(That is not to say that my lack of understanding equates into judgment on my part…your gig is your gig, and I don’t understand a lot of things.)
(Or rather, I should say if you’re choosing this for yourself, I’m not judging you. If it’s being dictated to you, and you submit because you feel you have to for religious or safety purposes, I pity you. If you are simultaneously trying to push your oppression onto me through religious dictates or by changing societal mores….I am probably judging you and pitying you at the same time.)
|I'm so thankful that I've finally found a use for my massive random picture collection.|
PS. I watched The Tourist last night. I don’t know what all criticism was about; it was great!