But I Don’t Want to Burn My Bra…

There are 2 versions of this post. I wasn’t able to finish it on the day I started it, and since the topic is one that is very active right now, new things happened and when I went back to my post it turned into a long, rambling, TLDR post.

So I condensed it. But for those readers who might not be aware of either of the news items I mention, I left the longer version and a bunch of links at the bottom of this post. After all, in the virtual press, a longer post doesn’t actually take any more resources than a short post.

The Short Version

I’m getting mixed messages lately. Or maybe they’re not mixed; perhaps people are simply confused.

In a Today Show interview about the erotic BDSM novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James Savannah Guthrie made it clear she thinks that all BDSM demeans women.

First of all, why now? We’ve had BDSM stories for a long time. I suppose this particular novel appealed to a greater audience, and sold enough copies to grab the media’s attention. I haven’t read it, but friends who have (and who know the BDSM community) seem to hold the general opinion that it isn’t that good. It’s a great romanticized fantasy; not a great representation of BDSM.

Towards the end of the clip, Savannah Guthrie asks “Is this really where we’ve come?”

Yes. This is where we’ve come. In the Today Show video, sex therapist Laura Berman says “If we look at the history, we have the Women’s Movement, which really was about empowering women not to be submissive to men anymore.  Now we’ve moved on to a new generation where women are more empowered than ever before, the glass ceiling has been broken, and we have as much control as we want. And what are we longing for? A little bodice ripping.”

I totally get that. (Forgive me for letting my 1980’s teenage slang to show.) Yup! All that bra burning took place before I was born. I am grateful for it. Thank you, all you who came before me and gave me the freedoms I enjoy today.

Or not… No sooner had I seen the twitter-rage about the television host’s dismissal of the genre than I hear some self-important radio shock jock who shall not be named (He’s got enough publicity over this already) call a woman a prostitute because she wants insurance companies to cover a woman’s birth control medicine just like they cover most prescription drugs.

Walter…Tango…Foxtrot.

Really? I did a big doubletake at this comment, not just because it’s offensive, but because it’s such a giant stretch. And haven’t we come past this, long ago? Wasn’t that part of the bra burning? I’m 42, and until recently I did not even know that birth control was ever controversial at all. I thought the development of the pill was simply another nice leap forward in medicine, along the lines of “Yeah! We have a vaccine for Polio!” or “Finally! A safer anesthesia!” I just can’t imagine why anyone anywhere would have any reason to not want a safe, simple way for humans to prevent conception. Birth control was a huge leap forward in human health, not just women’s issues.

I don’t want to burn my bra. It’s comfortable and supportive. It’s not a symbol of oppression to me. This fight was fought and won by previous generations. If I want to read a kinky story, I will. And I can choose to use birth control or not and the only person who has any say in the matter is my husband.

The Long, Rambling Version

I’m getting mixed messages lately. Or maybe they’re not mixed; perhaps people are simply confused. Last week a furor arose around the novel Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Attention suburbia: Sexually explicit bodice-rippers are making a comeback. British novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” by author E.L. James (a woman in her 40s) is getting women talking — and fantasizing. But while some find this trend to be a healthy way for women to express their sexuality, others are disturbed by the kind of sex the novel involves.

The Huffington Post

I’m not talking about furor over how racy or kinky the book is. I missed that particular furor, if it ever happened at all. I’m talking about the furor over Today Show host Savannah Guthrie’s rather unprofessional and far from objective interview style. Dr. Drew Pinsky found the novel disturbing. Towards the end of the clip, Savannah Guthrie says “Is this really where we’ve come? After fifty years, women have the power…” It is obvious that she has little understanding for respect for the BDSM community.

Well, I don’t really get the appeal of BDSM either, but I do understand that many perfectly normal, decent people do get it. I also understand that the community has very explicit rules about safety, control, and consent.

Something else I’ve learned from my twitter friends who do enjoy BDSM stories is that these particular books are not a very good representation of the genre. I have no idea why 50 Shades stirred up a controversy when these stories have been around for a long time.

For anyone who is curious, but reluctant to delve into the popular trilogy, I recommend Tiffany Reisz. In particular, her novella Seven Day Loan is a well written glimpse into the complex relationship between the Dominant and Submissive. Tiffany also wrote a mini-sequel freebie called Daniel Part Two and put it on her blog.

In the Today Show video, sex therapist Laura Berman says “If we look at the history, we have the Women’s Movement, which really was about empowering women not to be submissive to men anymore.  Now we’ve moved on to a new generation where women are more empowered than ever before, the glass ceiling has been broken, and we have as much control as we want. And what are we longing for? A little bodice ripping.”

I totally get that. (Forgive me for letting my 1980’s teenage slang to show.) Yup! All that bra burning took place before I was born. I am grateful for it. Thank you, all you who came before me and gave me the freedoms I enjoy today.

What I found distasteful was Savannah Guthrie’s  rather rude insistence and generalation that all BDSM demeans women. In fact, my twitter feed was awash with irate tweets from Romance and Erotica writers of all inclinations.

Is this really where we’ve come? Well, yes. We’ve come to a place where women can feel free to express and explore their sexuality in whatever way pleases them. If they want to forego marriage and have as many sexual partners as they like, fine. If they want to marry their high school sweetheart and stay home to raise her family, fine. Or anywhere in between. Yes, this is where we’re come. We have the freedom and power now.

Or do we? No sooner had I seen the twitter-rage about the television host’s dismissal of the genre than I hear some self-important radio shock jock who shall not be named (He’s got enough publicity over this already) call a woman a prostitute because she wants insurance companies to cover a woman’s birth control medicine.

Walter. Tango. Foxtrot.

Really? I did a big doubletake at this comment, not just because it’s offensive, but because it’s such a giant stretch. Haven’t we come past this, long ago? Wasn’t that part of the bra burning? I’m 42, and until recently I did not even know that birth control was ever controversial at all. I thought the development of the pill was simply another nice leap forward in medicine, along the lines of “Yeah! We have a vaccine for Polio!” or “Finally! A safer anesthesia!” I just can’t imagine why anyone anywhere would have any reason to not want a safe, simple way for humans to prevent conception. (Except for those who, for religious reasons, believe that humans should be having lots of babies.) Birth control was a huge leap forward in human health, not just women’s issues.

Damn. Maybe I do need to burn my bra after all. But, you see, the thing is, I like my bra. It’s comfortable and supportive. No one is making me wear it. Nor is anyone forcing to have or not to have children. No one’s calling me a prostitute…

But apparently we aren’t quite there yet.

Following are a few random links I’ve gathered to other who’ve written a post related to 50 Shades of Grey:

Dr. Logan Levkoff Deconstructs the book http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-logan-levkoff/fifty-shades-of-grey-bdsm_b_1318169.html?ref=tw

Andrew Shaffer storifies “50 Tweets of Grey”

Roni’s book recommendations 

The shortlink to this post is http://wp.me/p1qnT4-EM

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
This entry was posted in Commentary & Musing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to But I Don’t Want to Burn My Bra…

  1. Eden says:

    Like you, I’m a 42 yr old who doesn’t want to burn her bra, feels pretty much the same about the BDSM movement, etc… Only difference? My mother and father never let me forget all the problems women still face (believe it or not, my FATHER is a member of NOW–though not my mother, because she finds them too radical for her tastes).

    In this post by Marc and Angel I think #2 explains a lot of what is happening now in the whole women’s rights arena. It served certain interests to “allow” and encourage women’s rights when it served their needs (for example: the whole “You’ve come a long way, Baby” campaign or when it became clear that by not targeting sales toward women, businesses were losing sales because mothers did most of the shopping…)

    But women have been asking/expecting to be treated as human beings and not just market shares for a while now, and the men (who equally have been abused by the markets and the stereotypes just in different ways) are saying “What?!!!” But instead of saying “this sort of stuff shouldn’t be a matter of policy beyond saying “yeah, we’re human beings and that yes, people should pay the same for gender as long as the work is the same, and that hurting someone, male or female, is wrong”… women are NOT men and neither is the reverse true…. we have a right to have different goals and still be treated with respect and courtesy and kindness.)

    And I won’t even get on the birth control issue, because the out-law just arrived and I can’t think for hours when they visit. 😦

  2. HI Amy. I’m really interested in everyone’s reaction to this book. Yes, BDSM has been around for a long time and those who write about it in the erotic romance genre are excited to think that mainstream may have finally discovered us. The majority of us build the romance first and the type of sex becomes an integral part of the story. I’ve been multipubbed for six years (more than 100 titles), my books have won awards and I’ve been reviewed and interviewed by USA Today. I’d like to invite you to take a tour through my web site http://www.desireeholt.com and see if you find anything that interests you. If you find a particular book and have an ereader I’ll be happy to send you a copy.

  3. Eden-
    My parents were quite different. My mother was and still is somewhat old-fashioned about her role as a wife. But she was a professional woman… she worked as a Registered Nurse most of her life. There were some years, she was home with us kids, but I can remember her putting on the funny hat and going off to the nursing home or hospital since I was little. Women’s rights were never really a topic in my house. There was just a general expectation of respect.

    That was a great link! I loved the 20 very simple things, even if putting them into practice isn’t always so simple.

    Desiree-
    I perused your site and you have a wealth of fascinating books! I’d love to interview you. If you’re interested, I’ll send you the pre-interview e-mail.

    The books I’m most interested in at the moment are ones that offer a segue into BDSM (not hard core… I had to cover my eyes while I read the fisting scene in Tiffany Reisz’ “Seven Day Loan”) and multiple partners, esp beyond Ménage à trois. “Riding Out the Storm” and “Swing Time” both caught my eye. I have a Barnes & Noble Nook if you’d like to send one That would be so very sweet of you! Of if you feel a different book better encompasses what I’m interested in now, that would be great. My e-mail is USNessie, and the domain is gmail.

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