Friday, April 15, 2011

About This BDSM Stuff . . . Reflections and Thoughts

OK . . . didn't think I would EVER read a BDSM novel just like I didn't think I would ever read a M/M novel. (Josh Lanyon changed that!!) Just goes to show that we all get an education if we are willing to have our literary comfort zones expanded.

Now I have to admit that it wasn't a journey that I started intentionally. But I read a few of the Ellora's Cave novellas that I was reviewing for The Book Binge and Second Chances by Lauren Dane, and I found that it was surprisingly tolerable. Now that's not to say that I am really into the whips and chains exclusively in any way. It's not for me. But there are a few authors that I have encountered that have changed my understanding of why this is a way some people relate to themselves and others that these folks seem to really need. There is no doubt that society in general thinks BDSM kinds of people are slutty, dirty, going straight to hell. But then, society thinks that about lots of ways of relating and thinking.


Light Switch by Lauren Gallagher was a surprising read for me as I had been exposed to the writing of Cooper McKenzie, Cherise Sinclair, Desiree Holt, Tymber Dalton, Sophie Oak, Jennifer Cole et al and had learned a great deal about the BDSM lifestyle as it was practiced by different individuals, both in their private lives as well as in a club setting. I guess I was not prepared when I began reading about BDSM to acknowledge that such a way of relating met some needs in people that often needed to be kept "in the dark" because of society's bias. That it met those needs in ways that nothing else could was part of my own surprise and learning curve. I found the following quote in Light Switch that seemed to sum up the BDSM perspective, no matter at what level or within any relational configuration:


". . . I was left alone in this world that was slowly becoming familiar. We'd been here a handful of times, and I didn't see the bizarre clothing as much anymore. My attention was drawn now to the way the Doms and subs interacted. There was a time in my life when I thought there was a degree of cruelty to dominance and submission. What kind of person willingly surrendered to someone who hit them, punished them, even humiliated them?


But I saw this world through different eyes now. There was gentleness among the whips and collars. Tender caresses and fond looks, protective Doms and protected subs. More trust, communication, and affection existed between these people than there ever was in my socially accepted vanilla relationship with Alec."


I have also been impressed with the author's note at the beginning of all of Cherise Sinclair's novels--a plea for those who either have participated in or are thinking of participating in the BDSM lifestyle to exercise thoughtful care in choosing who will be a part of that experience with them. Her desire to see people cared for, given what they need without harm or injury--physically or emotionally--was of great value to me. And in her "Masters of the Shadowlands" series it is evident that all the characters, especially the Shadowlands Masters are caring and respectful of their own humanity as well as those with whom they share their Dom/sub relationships, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. As she puts it: " . . . safe, sane, and consensual at all times." Each of these heroines has deeply held fears and emotional injuries, some of long standing. Seeing them cared for and given the freedom to change as they gave themselves into the care of their Doms was quite revealing.


The Reluctant Dom by Tymber Dalton was a book that I got and read almost slack jawed the entire time. It was the first book that I found myself reading while weeping openly, not just a few tears running down my face, but sobbing as I read this very emotional story of a ma

n who knew he was dying, who had recognized his wife's deep emotional hurts, and who was prepared to do whatever he needed to do to protect her after his death by enlisting the aid of his b

est friend to become her Dom after he died. It is a very different story in many ways, but one that helped me to more fully understand that there are people for whom physical pain is the only was for them to process deep emotional pain. Doesn't sound like something I would do in my own personal experience, but as a helping professional I can understand the psychology behind this and have grown to appreciate it. This is one of the most heart-rending books I have read, but one that gave me such insight into how this lifestyle can be necessary for many.


This lifestyle is not for me and is not one that my hubby and I have made a part of our relationship in any way. But the encounter with these fictional characters has opened my eyes to the fact that for many it is a deep need that cannot be met any other way, often allowing old scars and deep wells of injury to be explored and made right. I have learned that for some the physical pain makes it possible for them to acknowledge and let go of emotional pain that is so deep and so awful that they are being chewed apart internally.


Just some thoughts about my own journey. For many, there will be a big "don't want to go there" about this and other aspects of human sexuality. For me, I don't want to ever stop learning and growing in my awareness of what is needed legitimately by other people whether that is for me or not.


Until next time . . .


4 comments:

Tracy said...

I can take very lite BDSM in my books but more than that I just don't get. I know that some people dig it and it's a healthy part of their relationship but for me I just don't care for reading about it for the most part.

Glad you liked these books - some sound intriguing.

Cherise Sinclair said...

I hadn't started writing BDSM- themed romance with the intention of widening horizons, but from the letters I receive, that's been a wonderful side effect. I'm delighted you're enjoying the books and honored by my inclusion with other excellent authors. Thank you!

Tiger said...

This is a very thoughtful review. I wish everyone wrote reviews like this!

Dr J said...

Thank you, Ladies, for your thoughful comments. Tiger: I know that this one of those topics that people have very mixed feelings about. Just seemed that no matter my own preferences, one has to own up to the fact that we are all different and respect each others' needs, no matter how extreme they may seem to someone else.

Cherise: I have found all your novels that include BDSM to be thoughtful as well as highlighting heroines that are needing to be freed from some long-standing and deeply held fears. It was truly an important part of my personal education.

Tracy: I know that both of us have had to struggle with lifestyles to which we had not been previously exposed. It is truly a testimony that we are both 21st century women that we have come so far. Thanks for walking so much of that journey with me.