Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where the heck have I been?

Ahmagerd, I can't even tell you.

I've been adjusting to the Graveyard Shift and not having weekends (I get off during the week now), and I've been here, there and everywhere.

I feel like Mr. Rogers because I have so much to share!

First things first. I've been thinking about the retort "Ur jus jellus!" a lot because I think sometimes something happens and if you have a negative reaction to it, people think you're just jealous about it.

Case in point, I broke off a relationship at the beginning of the year and it was sort of sad and ugly, but I've been better since it happened. I wonder every now and then if my former friend thinks I was just jealous of her when in fact, I'm not. In fact, I really think our lives took different paths and we just could no longer be compatible at all.

It made me think of EL James and how I'm tearing apart her Magnum Opus: Ode to a Narcissist AKA Fifty Shades of Grey. I'm sure there are people out there that see that and think, "Oh, she's just jealous."

As with my dissolution of my friendship, my issues with EL James don't stem from a place of jealousy. I'm not jealous about her piss-poor writing, characterizations, or even the fact that she got published. These aren't goals that I have. My goals are to read good literature and to enjoy it. I didn't enjoy reading her, but I sure am enjoying tearing her work apart.

Speaking of both bad writing and EL James, I found out that a blogger called The Slactivist has torn apart the Left Behind series in the same way I'm going at Fifty Shades. Now, I'm not even going to pretend that a work of heresy such as Left Behind has anything in common with a work of heresy like...wait. Wait.

Left Behind is dangerous because it paints an unreal picture of what Christianity should be.

Fifty Shades is dangerous because it paints and unreal picture of what relationships should be.

Neither work is actually representative of any sort of reality other than an abusive one...

Both works are held up quite often as being important cultural phenomena that people are using to shape themselves and their decisions regarding the way they react to those around them...

Hmmm. I don't know, it's up to your interpretation.

Anyway, all that to say that I feel a grateful energy towards The Slactivist for going through these books (long ago, but never mind) so that I don't have to. I've wanted to read them just because I'm a Christian and I wanted to see what the hooplah was about, but then Kirk Cameron was in the movies and I said, "No way, Jose!" Jose said, "Dios mio!" (Just kidding. There's no Jose.) So, I'm not going to read the books, but I am loving the commentary on Left Behind and the sound orthodox Christianity behind The Slactivist's comments. I think with the election and the Republican Party being what they currently are, it's important to remember that there is a fringe sect of Christianity that is trying to make itself more mainstream and take over the nation. They are the people who read books like Left Behind, but never question the fact that they're trying to turn the country into a Christian Theocracy so that...what? The Antichrist can take over? I mean, what's the goal? There's no reason to do what they're doing. It's so very odd and weird, and I can't get their doctrines to mesh with each other.

Speaking of BDSM....

When I started with Fifty Shades, I made sure to say that I do not know much about the lifestyle, and that I did a little bit of research to understand what is considered an acceptable norm when it comes to BDSM. Now, I acknowledge that BDSM is not considered a cultural norm, though I do think it's more pervasive than some people realize, and that as human beings, we should be more open and honest about our sexuality and accept that there are things that we do that we like and that we shouldn't have to apologize about them. I think that if BDSM were considered more normative and if there were more knowledge about it, then this horrible book would never have been written.

So, to that end, I did publish in the early chapters of Fifty Shades of Grey some "norms" that I found according to my research, and that one of the norms was that people who are BDSM don't necessarily always mix sex with BDSM. I'm sure that this is not true with everyone. I'm sure that there are people out there that always combine the two. I'm also not saying that I think the two things are separate or different. I think, from my limited outside point of view, I see them as both means to the very same (or maybe similar?) end. Just because you don't engage in traditional PIV sex, that doesn't mean to me that you didn't have a sexual experience or a sexual release. And I do totally acknowledge that someone could want to have totally "typical" sex after a BDSM episode, or even during (which starts getting into grey areas anyway because PIV obviously doesn't fly with all GLBT partners) a BDSM episode, but I'm trying to debunk a really stupid and frankly dangerous book, not start a political debate.

So, I wanted to give you guys someone to turn to who is being open and honest about her sexuality and her experiences with BDSM. Clarisse Thorn blogs, and she wrote an excellent piece on BDSM Vs. Sex, and here is part II which I particularly enjoyed because I felt like I could really hear her "voice" for this one more than the first one.

I particularly liked this:

Although Part 1 was all about how the divide between “BDSM” and “sex” is often nonsensical, or purely political, or socially constructed … that doesn’t mean that the divide does not exist. I once had a conversation about ignoring social constructs with a wise friend, who noted dryly that: “One-way streets are a social construct. That doesn’t mean we should ignore them.” Just because the outside world influences our sexuality, does not mean that our sexual preferences are invalid.
Her insights are great, and I did read other bloggers, but her voice was the one that really spoke to me.  She goes into detail about times that she was and wasn't turned on, and she also talks a great deal about ending BDSM relationships, which as I understand (again, this is my understanding, from the outside), are way more intense than "typical" sexual relationships. And that makes sense to me. The thought of allowing someone to hurt you for mutual pleasure would take a great deal of trust to me. I couldn't imagine doing it myself, mostly because of the huge trust factor I would need. When I take this into account with Ana and Christian's relationship, I am always struck by how much neither of them really knows the other very well, or seems to trust the other very well. This is especially glaring to me in light of the most recent chapter post where Ana kicks herself for not using the "safe word" and Christian similarly is pissed off at her for not using it, but neither of them bring up how wrong Christian was to not look after Ana more carefully as he was punishing her.

I'm not even going to touch on the fact that if Ana had used the safeword, Christian would still be a sociopath and Ana would still be stupid.

So...there you go. That's what I've been doing.

Oh, and I've been sending my friend little short stories and getting some back in return. It's been a lot of fun.