Published online:I'm on the train and the person across from me is reading That Book; the religiously repressed treatise on misogyny packaged as a risqué rebellious romance with ropes.
The Sydney Morning Herald
The Canberra Times
In that moment I manage to subjugate the urge to evangelise safe, sane, consensual orgasm techniques to them, a stranger on the train. But if you wanted to play the lead role of Stranger On The Train, maybe we could see where this takes us?
Much has been written by practitioners, participants and detractors about the sexual practice called BDSM, as explored in Fifty Shades of Grey. I have been an avid reader of such discussions. After all, train-riding missionaries who urge strangers to "branch out from missionary" need to keep up with the literature.
I have found it interesting that most critiques of the portrayal of BDSM in the book have preserved the idea that BDSM is "alternative" or "kink" sexual practise. In fact, when practised without social stigma and mythos, the sexual techniques included in BDSM and kink encompass a full range of physical and mental sexual practice that can meet even the most specific of orgasmic needs.
The culture in which Fifty Shades of Grey was written grew out of religious roots that value virginity, misogyny, monogamy and compulsory heterosexuality. Our currently repressed culture has progressed to active exclusion of the erotic pleasure and desire of the majority of society from public discussion.
Thank goodness for the meteoric sales of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that effectively thrust our limited sexual practice right into the public spotlight.
Extricate yourself, just for a moment, from the Hollywood/Pornography Sex Homily of kissing-as-foreplay, penetration-with-a-penis-shape, male-orgasm-whoops-finish that is the secular version of what celibate Christian dudes over the millennia have thundered down upon us from the pulpits.
I urge you to ignore the legislation of how we orgasm and with whom by committees of politicians and lawyers from a homogenous gender and social class, most of them now dead for decades.
I particularly encourage you to ignore the stylised and passionless bodies and techniques in visual culture that are created by the camera-wielding acolytes of those legislative and religious men. Be free of both Hilarious Hollywood Sex and Banal Pornographic Banging!
You know, as well as I, that real-world sexual practice, whether yours alone, yours with one person, or yours with many people, is always more interesting than anything dreamt of in their philosophy of rules and fears.
Once you are free, you will see that what is literally legislated as "alternative" sexual practise encompasses homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, pansexual and asexual practises. These include means for those with limits to their physical sexual capacity through illness, injury or trauma to enjoy erotic play and sexual release.
For those who have limits to their intellectual or emotional sexual capacity, expanded techniques allow for their particular erotic needs outside the strictly physical. As people age, their erotic and sexual requirements change, no one escapes the ravages of time. Open discussion of all techniques mean personal sexual practise can change whether it is out of choice or necessity.
So essentially, darling Stranger On The Train, possibly holding Fifty Shades of Grey and definitely intrigued, sexual technique not centred around the penis is not "alternative". Sexual practise not concerned with penetration is not "kink". Sexual desire not centred on touching a physical primary sexual organ is not "BDSM".
Fifty Shades of Grey manages to both uphold and tear down the sexual status quo, as all good sexual fantasies do. It would behove you to Google your favourite technique from the book and learn it from a few professionals, more than one guru is always best!
I guarantee you'll be talking to Strangers On The Train about your own personal road to orgasm before long. And I'd love to be there, if that is OK with you?
Claire Bowen is a Perth-based blogger and dramatist who studies the impact of popular culture on the historical record.
Real People and Sex
Separation of sexual provider and customer by perceived morality is problematic because the negative morality is projected onto the provider by the population that supplies the customers. This results in my two least favourite prevalent social concepts; that sex workers aren’t real people from the real world with partners/families/friends who love them and that the people who pay for sex with sex workers aren’t real people from the real world with partners/families/friends that love them.
The C Word
Why is it the ultimate insult for anyone, male or female? Because it speaks about the least desirable, the most unwanted, the ultimate source of fear: the vagina. It’s not enough to liken someone to a woman as a whole; the reference must be to what is biologically perhaps the most identifying aspect of being a woman, her very essence summed up in a body part. To a large proportion of men, the vagina is at best a mystery, at worst, a source of disgust. To have linked the most vulgar word in the English language to the most essential part of femininity is no mean feat.
The Language That Kills
If in everyday language we can talk of drunk drivers, burglars and arsonists without restriction, but not abusers without excuses, is there any wonder there is an epidemic of criminal violence in domestic and intimate relationships? As a society we must change the words we use to reflect crimes of violence back on the perpetrator.