SEXPO, FSOG and Twilight


In previous posts I have mused on why I have ended up writing FSOG FanFic.  I have also mused on the dilemmas and delights of living a double life as both Sasha and Dr J.  What I haven’t quite got to musing about is what is happening in my life alongside this addiction to all things FSOG.  Part of my resistance to writing this particular blog post is to do with the highly personal.  I am not sure that I am ready for y’all to become some kind of voyeuristic sexperts sitting on the sideline of my life, coaching me through every move the Sex Guru.   Nor do I particularly want to wind up like the poor teacher in North Ohio being punished in my work for writing FanFic of an erotic nature or for writing about FanFic.

However, I am encouraged by some of the research that goes on in and around the FanFic world and the ways in which we are learning about ourselves through this deep connection with erotic literature.  That is not to say that Twilight is erotic – as Stephen Snyder MD reminds us in the documentary Into the Twilight Haze – there are three books of foreplay in the Twilight before we get to the deed.  That is a hell of a lot of sexual tension.

 

Into the Twilight Haze: a documentary about the allure of Twilight (and how it can help your love, sex and relationships) created by Dr Niloo Dardashti is my latest find in terms of research around the impact of these novels.

She is currently turning her attentions on FSOG and I can see the reason why this would be necessary.  If Twilight can be considered as a serial foreplay novel based on the nostalgia of chivalry (with a whole heap of stalker tendency thrown in) then FSOG could be seen as a polar opposite with a heavy reliance on sexploits and dominance (throw in stalking and powerplays).  And for each of those lovely, informed and literate people (terms used loosely) who have found the negative, mundane or the ridiculous of FSOG (Becca, Jason, Dave – you know who you are) – there are millions of (mostly) women who have totally fallen under the FSOG spell, including yours truly.

So if the books are so badly written (yes, although the same could be said of a range of bestsellers – Dan Brown, you know who you are) and have such negative themes that set feminism back a hundred years or so, why are they responsible for making women feel empowered in the bedroom (and in their fiction writing if the number of FSOG related fanfics, blogs, digital curation sites are to be believed)?

The women and sexperts in the documentary speak about how these books have tapped into a desire for women to ‘have everything’.  Apparently we are realistic enough to know that we can’t have everything (really? bugger!), but that doesn’t stop us from wanting.  We want (desire) romance, chivalry, dominance, complete focus on our desires, open communication, honesty, emotional security and trust all wrapped up in a hot bod preferably.  Of course, if we got all of that we would be exhausted and intimidated (which explains some of Bella and Ana’s characteristics and insecurities).  For those women who are feeling the benefits though, there are things that we are now requesting/demanding of our partners that we may not have been confident enough to request/demand before.  There are possibly more women sharing their fantasies in the bedroom and out of it. Claiming their right, not so much to have those fantasies fulfilled, but to simply have fantasies in the first place.

So where does SEXpo come into all of this?  SuperGeek fulfilled one of my fantasies by taking me to my first SEXpo a couple of weeks ago.  And while I was pleasantly surprised by what I encountered there, I think that sitting at the back of my mind ever since is this memory of how attentive and wonderful he was during the whole experience.  He was watching me a great deal – I think checking my discomfort levels on some occasions but also to see what interested me and what turned me on.

It wasn’t overly sexual in that sense but more a case of asking ‘is that something you have always wanted or might want for us’?  We did buy a few things and he would have been happy to buy a few more if I had wanted.  He was quite okay to stand and discuss sex toys with the vendors, asking pertinent questions about the benefits of different materials and features.

He sat through the seminar on BDSM with me – not that we want to go beyond anything more than sensory deprivation – but as a FSOG fan I was interested to hear someone who lives the lifestyle speak about it with some authority. 

He discussed the construction of lingerie, specifically corsets, with me, telling me what colours and styles he liked to see on me.  He sat through, and critiqued with me, the aerial hoop act that then became a feature of Creating Kate.


In short, we seem to be at a point where we have the most open communication about sex that we have ever had in our twenty plus years of marriage.

There were other things that SG did that were more directly related to my desire to read and write erotica.  Like trying to read FSOG even though the writing caused him physical pain.  However, he has dipped back in to some of the scenes to understand what Christian brings to the bedroom or simply because I highlighted the best bits on his kindle.

Then there was a long haul flight spent reading the first draft of Investing Elliot before I posted it to FanFic.net.  This is becoming a pattern for us since he has had to read drafts of academic papers and even my PhD thesis while sitting trapped on planes.  Hence his fear of flying.  He thought the PhD was a riveting read compared to IE but again this may just be a genre issue.

Of course, the benefits have gone the other way.  We recently had to replace his car and for reasons I cannot quite understand he had gone to a car show and fallen for (a relative term) the Skoda Superb.  A Skoda for God’s sake!!  Who falls for a Skoda!! I dutifully spend a weekend trekking around car yards looking at a range of cars, trying to talk him into another Ford Falcon because I didn’t think I could suffer the humiliation of owning a Skoda or the drive across town to go to the only dealership in Melbourne.  My tune soon changed when the nice man showed us the engine.  Now I don’t know much about car engines beyond the understanding that if you open the hood and one isn’t present then the car probably isn’t much good to you except as emergency housing.  But when the nice young man pointed to the badges lined up on the engine – Skoda, VW, Audi – my heart did a wee flip.  Christian and Edward both drove Audis.  While the body might say Skoda, the engine will say Audi and that was enough for me.  We are now the proud owners of an Audi/Skoda Superb.  And that is kind of a nice metaphor for SuperGeek himself.  All of this sexpertise that we have been gaining through, talking, playing, having new experiences, being open and honest about our fantasies  – oh, and the reading and writing of erotica/romance – have made him (and me) a lot braver in the bedroom.  My man might be a Skoda on the outside but on the inside he is all Audi.

Skoda Superb II

Skoda Superb II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Audi Driving Experience

Audi Driving Experience (Photo credit: Autoblog Uruguay)

Sasha Decodes: How Did We Get Here


Twilight movie poster.

Twilight movie poster. (Photo credit: …♥…Chicky Kawaii…♥…)

 

Sorry for the terrible play on words.  Nah! Suck it up.

 

Christmas was approaching, Mini-Me was 11 going on 12 years old and I was looking for advice on stocking fillers from friends with daughters who read, avidly.  The big craze that year was dah, dah, dah – no surpises – Twilight.  The movie had just come out but no one in my household was rushing to see it.  The books had been out for a while but when you live in the arse-end of the world (BIG disclaimer – Melbourne is still officially the world’s most liveable city!) – it is easy to miss the big trends, just through general apathy.  Besides, Slug Boy had skipped from Harry Potter straight to Stephen King by this stage and Mini Me looked on track to do a similar thing.  She was already reading Jodi Picoult.  In my naive brain I thought this Twilight thing will never last.

 

So I go to the discount book store – this is how long the books had been out – and bought the first two books.  I looked at the size of them and in my head went…’good economics, this should take her through the summer break’.  Gentle reminder for Northern Hemisphere readers that Xmas is in the summer here and sits firmly in the middle of the 5 week school holiday.  It is less about eggnog and turkey and more about beer and prawns.  No we don’t actually ‘throw shrimps on the barbie’, we do however, bbq the very large prawns.  I like to suck the juices out of something long and firm.

 

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the books lasting her a few weeks.  She finished the first book on Boxing Day – didn’t come up from the swing seat in the back garden.  Then devoured the second book in time to beg us to take her out to the January sales to buy the third book with her xmas money.  I remember standing inside the house with my mother as we peered out at her lying in her chair flipping pages.  “Do you think she will want to eat any time soon.” says Mum.  “Mmm…I wouldn’t want to get my head bitten off asking her.”  says I.

 

Birthday Present

 

We sent her grandfather out to bother her instead.  It only took three days for the bruises to fade and the swelling to go down.

 

Less than 24 hours after she had finished book 3 the begging and whining started.  “Pleeeease…..can I pleeeeease have the last book.  I’ll clean my room, I’ll feed the dog, I’ll mow the lawns….pretty please Mummy, I love you!!”  In my wisdom as a mother I did the sensible thing, I made her wait three weeks.  Three whole weeks.  Interminably long,hot, whingey, whiny weeks!!!

 

Eventually I caved and we went off to Borders to get the next book which was, surprise, surprise, devoured within a couple of days.  Book vampire, that is what she had become.

 

What was all the fuss about!  I got concerned as she went into a second reading of all four books.  So I started to read….and read…..and read.  I have no idea what my life would have been like if these books had existed when I was her age.  I would never have gotten out of bed.  Oh, hang on a minute, I didn’t.  And once I  began reading about the sparkly vampire and his bumbling mate I wasn’t getting up for anyone.  Cos that is the kind of hard core chick I am.  Disney princess movies have nothing on me.  I cry at every sad and sappy ending (including when Leah gets thrown down the cracked abyss in the Breaking Dawn II fight sequence).  These books spoke to my eternal happy ending monster.

 

I just want to qualify the whole happy endings thing here by saying I believe in soul mates as being people (men or women) who you just connect with immediately on a deep level and know you want them to be in your life forever.  That is not the same thing as waiting for the perfect Prince Charming or Sparkly Bloodsucker to sweep you off your feet.  If you want to get swept off your feet you need to give a guy a hand.  After 20+ years of marriage to my best friend I can honestly say that you have to put effort into happily ever afters and be prepared to love and fight fairly but passionately.  Make up sex is definitely worth it!  Read More

 

 

Breaking Dawn Pt 2


Breaking Dawn Pt 2

Took Mini Me to see the final Twilight movie today. Neither of us were particularly looking forward to it but this has become a tradition so we battled through. Much to my surprise I really enjoyed it. The dialogue wasn’t great and the pacing off in many ways. However, the special effects were great so it was worth it to see it on the big screen.

 

Once we get started…


I have to admit, I bought the FSoG bundle on kindle, long after all the books had come out.  Long after I had walked past them on shelves at the local shopping mall for months.  It then took me another month or so to start reading them.  I tried, but like many before me I was expecting something different, in Ana’s words ‘more’.  It took two more goes before I got into them.  By then I had heard the hype on radio and television about how Ana could come on command and how totally ridiculous that was.  I had also come across stories of under 18 year old students who were reading the books in their free time at school (yes, I am writing under a pseudonym because it is not worth the hassle trying to justify this to the other side of my life).  Mini Me is 15 years old and the reason why I ever started to indulge in YA fiction like Twilight. I was concerned that FSoG might be next for her so I read it as research (LOL).

Two days and three books later when I climbed out of my pjs and faced the world again, I was flushed and let’s face it, just a little bit excited by the whole experience. SuperGeek was away travelling that weekend, hence the extended pj time.  Boy was he in for a surprise when he got back.

I started to have sly discussions with select colleagues.  Of course, most of my colleagues would want to buy the books just so they could smack me over the head for reading them.  Feminists, especially post-structural feminists, can be a feisty lot.  So there are only a couple of people who know about my secret life as Sasha J Cameron.  Thank goodness they are supportive, confident and forgiving women.  Now this is not to say that I think FSoG has set us back 50 years socially.  In fact, I don’t think I have felt so empowered in my life. But it is a hard sell when people want to pick FSoG apart on the technicalities without understanding the cultural world it has opened up for many of us  (and no, I have not suddenly found out that I have BDSM tendencies).

Since that first reading frenzy (let’s face it, if you are blogging about it you didn’t stop at one pass, right?), I have slipped out of my preoccupation with YA and historical romance (I don’t mean to be unfaithful to Stephanie Laurens, Karen Hawkins, Virginia Henley, Mary Jo Putney and the rest of those wonderful authors who have been rocking my world for the past few years) and slipped into erotica (see the WickedWriters link).  I love EL James but Shayla Black /Shelly Bradley brought me to my pre-orgasmic knees and when I grow up (it was a joke) I want to write just like her.  Hot, hot, hot steamy scenes.

I was into my second reading of FSoG when I started to really recognize the parallels with Twilight – the food, the music, the power exchange – so when Mini Me asked why I was so obsessed and I started to discuss the themes with her she did a Kate – petulant, hands on hips, “You know that it started of as Twilight FanFiction, don’t you?”

While I had heard of fanfic, it wasn’t something I was particularly interested in.  Wasn’t it all for trekkies?  Well, that started off a whole new line of inquiry for me.  All my life I have been a secret writer.  I have talked about writing a great romance novel for years.  I always thought I would begin and end with historical romance.  Suddenly all my desires were converging in one golden opportunity.  FSoG Fan Fiction.  I will tell you about the convergence in a different post because it is a long and detailed story.  Needless to say, this is as much a process of becoming for me as it is an exercise in self study.  There is every chance that no one will read this blog and that is fine – pointless – but fine.  What I am hoping is that by creating it I can explore how a participatory culture like Fan Fic might improve my learning and process as a writer.  I may still never publish anything of my own but I do want to know what this could offer from an educative standpoint for any one of any age.

I have thrown in some research terms here so in some ways I want to come clean.  While I have been plowing through erotica at a rate of knots (no pun intended), I have also been reading FanFic, Fandom and Digital Literacies research by people like Henry Jenkins, Rebecca Black, Colin Lankshear, James Gee. My latest purchase is by Tanya Erzen Fanpire: The Twilight Saga and the Women Who Love It.  Anyone who wanted to, heaven forbid, trawl through my kindle library at the moment would be stunned by the mix.  It also includes books on how to write steamy sex scenes, but I digress.  I am not a literacy expert – anyone who tries to read my writing can tell I don’t quite have those skills – but I am a pedagogy and curriculum expert so I am interested in the ways that taking part help us to learn and grow.

Eventually, I will delve into why I think FSoG is great in terms of service to the world.  For all those who want to put these books down and tell us why they are robbing our souls, I blow a great big academic and literary raspberry.  I have never had so much fun in my life as this last month when I wrote Investing Elliot.  It was a wonderful release (from marking 6000 word essays) and something I will be repeating soon.  I, for one, think EL James is amazing for what she has done, just by opening up the conversation for women to take back their sexual power, and for what she allows us to continue to do as writers through fan fiction.

BTW – Mini Me still hasn’t read, nor does she have any desire to read FSoG, and that is okay by me.  She might come back to it when she is older and ready for it.  And no, she does not read any of my fan fiction, even though she is already a better writer than me.  She was last seen in her room reading Little Women.

See you on the flipside,

Laters,

Sasha xox