Monday, May 09, 2022

Women and Racy Fiction

The Quillette article (subscription only) What Explains Women's Fascination With BDSM Fiction? - "Every generation or so (i.e., roughly every 25 years) a woman (it’s always a woman) writes a book about kinky sex—and a very specific type of kinky sex..." is on my sidebar.

I don't think I have ever commented on this, but I thought about this years ago, and the simplest answer is that it is not about a desire to be controlled, or quasi-raped, no matter how handsome and dashing the Duke is. Quite the opposite.  When one is reading a book, even more than when going to a movie, one can put it down at any time. Unlike a husband, boyfriend, or even a date. One can choose an author whose works are similar but safer if it's too hot. The woman is in complete control of the experience. I mean, if you get to choose your rapist and pretty much write his dialogue and direct his actions, relying only on the descriptive talents of a sister who you have already vetted for being in your range of artistic enjoyment, it's not really rape, is it?

Too steamy, too rough? There are things available one level gentler or ten levels gentler.  Or you can take the spice in small doses. Everything is a la carte. Like women misunderstanding what men's pornography means, men misunderstand what this women's pornography means. Or feminists misunderstanding what girls' fantasies about princesses (or Barbie) means. Princesses do whatever they want and order everyone around.  If they have a prince, he is decorative and mostly silent and obedient. He is the proper reward for being a princess. Write his dialogue, script his actions. Barbie buys whatever she wants, wears whatever she wants. That's what they like.  

I'm not saying any of it is especially healthy, I'm just saying it's different from what is popularly supposed.


Christopher B said...

I didn't read them and don't quite remember where I read this but for all the hoopla about 50 Shades at least one reviewer noted that by the time you got to the last book Mr. Grey turned into a bog standard suburban husband, slightly richer then average. It wasn't much more than a racier version of Disney's take on Beauty and The Beast

Grim said...

Many years ago when my son was young, at one Scottish Highland games he was running around with a girl about his age. I asked him what he was doing; he said that they were playing Knight and Princess.

"That sounds nice," I said.

About that time she showed up, pointed at him, and said: "Princess game NOW!"

He told me, "I gotta go."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Grim - yeah, that sounds about right.

As Lewis notes in so many places, most sins are inadequate virtues, swollen virtues, or bent virtues - good things that have been ruined.

Mike Guenther said...

That sort of stuff used to be written anonymously during the Victorian era, so one couldn't tell if a man or woman wrote it. The Pearl, besides being a book by John Steinbeck, not related in any way to sex, was also a bunch of serial and short stories printed in a monthly "magazine" of the period.

As much as people rag on how virtueless society is today, it's always been thus. The Victorians just stayed in the closet, so to speak, and didn't flaunt their predilections for everyone to see.

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

Despite what each successive generation firmly professes, "There is nothing new under the sun."

Assistant Village Idiot said...

This comment of James's got deleted. I don't think by me, and he doesn't think by himself, but now it's gone.

"When Lewis was trying to explain "headship" in The Four Loves he touched on the theme of submission, but I suspect he didn't feel competent to explain it. Just that bit about the crowns: "the one is of paper and the other of thorns".

Although, now that I think of it, Ransom tried to assert the necessity of it when counseling Jane in That Hideous Strength.

That women's erotica puts the real woman in charge seems correct, but it doesn't really explain why the erotica should take that particular form--nor why (I gather--sorry, research is too risky) large categories of erotica meant for men _also_ involve women as submissives. (along with every other imaginable or unimaginable fetish) I would think that enthusiasm would be sexier, but maybe that's just me.

Unless "Ransom" was right, and for at least some fraction of us the game of chase/be chased is an important pleasure in sex--one that BDSM twists."