Monday, April 29, 2013

Can A Submissive Be A Feminist?

And, likewise, can a feminist be submissive?

I know what you're thinking and I can see you all whispering to each other: "Oh my god," you whisper, "she's using the F word!! What's wrong with her? Doesn't she know this is a kinky book review blog?? Why would she say the F word? That F word??" 

Well, I promised you social commentary in my About Me section and I don't lie! So, social commentary you shall receive. Brace yourselves.

This topic has come up for me repeatedly over the last few weeks – how feminism relates to BDSM or Domestic Discipline or any kink that puts the male and female into what appears on the surface as traditional gender roles. You know, where the man leads and the woman submits. Is it a contradiction to say that the woman is a feminist if she allows the man to lead? This applies to both relationships that are mostly egalitarian but have the power imbalance in the bedroom and relationships that are completely structured on power exchange in all areas of their life and any combination thereof.

For me, the answer was always no, it’s not a contradiction at all. Not when the women who engage in such relationships are CHOOSING to be there and enjoying the ride. Let me explain. This might get lengthy. You’ve been warned.

Excuse me while I take off my bra and pull up my soapbox.


When I was in college I wrote the sex column for my school’s paper (surprised? me too) and my very first article addressed this exact question. It’s a personal question for me, because I happen to be submissive and masochistic and very perverted in many ways and I was already involved in the BDSM lifestyle by that time. I also have very strong opinions on the Women’s Rights Movement (and really all Civil Rights)... I identify as a feminist. I’d like to see a society where any person has the opportunity to pursue their dreams, whatever they may be (you know, excluding the sociopathic types… I’m not into their rights at all and wouldn’t shed any tears if their dreams of being crazy evil were dashed).  

I find that the reason for all this confusion about how a feminist can possibly be happy to submit to a man, to be spanked, sexually objectified… whatever the kink, hell washing dishes and staying home to raise the kids while he (manly man that he is) goes out and hunts for bacon… it’s because the definition of feminism has been partly lost or maybe muddied. People mostly associate feminism with the Redstocking’s Manifesto of 1969, which is very extreme and started the 1970s movement that promoted equal rights for getting women into the workforce and such. Unfortunately, it also promoted the idea that men are the enemy. That’s where the idea that all men oppress all women came from. It’s very black and white. No discussion of race, class, age, sexual orientation, etc. It reinforced the binary system it rebelled against, i.e. man has power, woman does not. And so now there’s a backlash. It’s understandable. It’s also very frustrating.

I minored in Women’s Studies in College and so I have read enough feminist theory to last me a lifetime and happen to know that there isn’t one school of thought that unites all feminist thought. Everyone’s got an opinion. Thankfully, this isn’t a paper on feminist theory. I just might poke my eyes out if it were. The point in discussing the differences in feminist thought is that the one underlying thought that DOES, in fact, unite most feminist thought is that feminism is about equality in Civil Rights, equal opportunity, equal value, and the freedom to make CHOICES about how to live life in a way that is most fulfilling to each individual woman (or man or transgendered or however the person identifies) without being shamed for it.  

That means that if a woman chooses to act on her submissive cravings and explore unequal power dynamics in her sexual relationships and maybe even extend that to other parts of her life – choosing a subservient role in the relationship, then that means she is fulfilling HER desires. This makes her strong and powerful in a way. She is actively seeking out the fulfillment to her desires. That is empowering. That is feminism. At least to me that is what feminism stands for.  

I reconciled this ages ago for myself and I hope that this post might help other women, who may not have been sure how to deal with these seemingly conflicting paradigms to come to terms with their cravings and not worry that it’s going against what is expected of them by society.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Alien Embrace by Tracy St. John

Book: Alien Embrace
Clans of Kalquor #1
Author: Tracy St. John
Erotic Romance, BDSM (light), Sci Fi/ Futuristic


Amelia Ryan fled Earth's fanatically religious government to live quietly among the aliens of Plasius. Her life of peace shatters when a three-man clan from the planet Kalquor kidnaps her and holds her prisoner.

With their people poised on the verge of extinction, the Kalquorians are determined to have Amelia for their mate. Amelia is equally determined to escape. But when her body thrills to the ruthless domination of her captors, she finds herself surrendering to desires she never imagined possible.

Things I love - seven foot tall Alpha Aliens who don't take no for an answer. Yes, I love that. What do I love more than seven foot tall Alpha Aliens? Three seven foot tall Alpha Aliens who don't take no for an answer! Yes, three of them. I love futuristic, dubious consent alien stories, especially when said aliens are beautiful male specimens and have a shortage of women on their home planet and will do whatever is necessary to gain the Earthling female's consent (in a show of male prowess and caring all at the same time). 

The concept is quite titillating. If there were really such a place as Kalquor, I'd totally volunteer to go there. No forced consent needed! But no one asked me and I don't live in the same reality as Amelia Ryan did - an Earth that is ruled by a fanatically religious government that is TERRIFIED of any kind of sexuality, especially female sexuality. It's a very repressed society and there's lots of hate and fear reserved for Kalquor. Presumably because there is some kind of weird history between Kalquor and Earth and the government spreads all kinds of propaganda to encourage ignorance, hate and fear in order to protect against Kalquor's unsavory morals. And really any and all unsavory morals. Except for the corruption of the government officials, of course. Their unsavory morals are okay, because ... they said so.

Amelia Ryan is an artist living on Plasius (a friendly planet). While at a party she has an encounter with a Kalquorian clan. The Kalquorians are looking for mates who can reproduce with their species to protect their people from extinction, since, of course, there's a shortage of females on their planet. The story is all about their seduction of Amelia. There is lots of hot alien sex with some surprises. There is a little bit of [hot] dubious consent and angst for Amelia, since she is still struggling with her sexuality and dealing with the teachings of the repressed religious government.

I really enjoyed the story, the interactions between Amelia and her clan of Kalquorians, and the alternate world that Tracy St. John created with all the worst case scenarios for Earth (fanatical religious government, repression, censorship, leading through fear and hate... propaganda, etc.). It might be a somewhat cliche storyline, but it was well done and (as I said in another review) cliches work for a reason... they appeal to many people and I'm no exception to that.

Having said all this, I need to also mention that I had to start skipping the sex scenes. After a while they started to get in the way of the story for me and I skipped ahead because I wanted to know what happened next. Unfortunately, this issue followed me throughout the rest of the series (I read up to Alien Slave). I had to skip over many a sex scene.

Another sex issue that I would like to note is that there was a lot of drugging involved in gaining Amelia's compliance and at times I wanted them to let her consent without being drugged. You know, get her to take some responsibility for her own sexuality, use her body's responses against her and get her to acknowledge her feelings without being able to hide behind the he-bit-me-and-I-wasn't-in-my-right-mind excuse. I understand that the Kalquorians bite their sexual partners to create a sense of euphoria and enhance the sexual experience and that's cool. I just wanted them to save it for when she was already into it or, at least, not use it every time...

But I enjoyed the story and continued to read the books, so I'm, obviously, not complaining too much. Just was kind of hoping for better placement of sex scenes, maybe less in quantity and more in quality (more personal responsibility for everyone involved). Better integration into the storyline, so it doesn't take away, but add something... That was just my opinion on that matter.

I'll provide you with an example of where the sex scene placement [and quantity] got a bit out of hand... SPOILER ALERT! You've been warned. You'll probably need to highlight to see the next part clearly.

So, Nobek Breft is in the middle of rescuing Amelia from an enemy ship. She's battered and bruised, he finds her on a medical table being readied for some kind of very unpleasant medical research/torture procedure. Breft knocks out the doctor and drugs the nurse (though she's very much still conscious). Then, instead of getting the hell out of there, he proceeds to take the time to FUCK Amelia, his very battered mate, while the shocked nurse looks on (not that I have a problem with voyeurism, just wanted to set the scene for ya). 

Here is where I had to stand up and have a moment of silence. I needed to have this moment of silence for Common Sense. See, Common Sense had died. In fact, it was brutally murdered at that moment by Nobek Breft and it was being buried along with Breft's genitalia in the warm... get the idea, I think I need not be that explicit. Did he really need to stop and make fuck at that point? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say FUCK NO. Get the fuck out of enemy territory. Get her to safety and give your lady a freaking bath and massage her sore muscles. Rub some soothing lotions on her cuts and bruises. Ravage her later. Seriously. It. Can. Wait. But, again, I skimmed past that scene and kept on reading, cause I did like the rest of the story.  

Even with some of the sex scenes being unreadable, it was overall a worthwhile read and I give it 4 burning books.

Purchase Link:

Skye Warren's Beauty Series Covers Reveal

Beginning in May, there will be a series of sequels to BeautyTouched the Beast. Since so many readers have asked for a sequel, Skye Warren has been most generous and accommodating and is giving us exactly what we asked for - a full story for Erin and Blake and closure for us, the readers!

Erin cleans Mr. Morris’s house twice a week, soaking up every moment with the reclusive ex-soldier she secretly loves. Blake Morris knows he’s scarred both inside and out and is no good for the beautiful young woman who cleans his house to pay for college. But when Erin walks in on Blake touching himself and moaning her name, all bets are off.

In the long anticipated sequel to Amazon Erotica Bestseller Beauty Touched the Beast, Erin and Blake explore their new intimacy and encounter old enemies.

Read the story that started it all now for free on Amazon or All Romance.

Beneath the Beauty releases May 2013.

And now for the reveal of the Beauty series covers: 

About the Author: Skye Warren writes unapologetic erotica, where pain and sex and love collide. She has been called “a true mistress of dark and twisted erotica” and her dark erotica series has reached the bestseller lists at Amazon and been a Night Owl Reviews Top Pick.

You can find Skye Warren on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Check out Skye Warren in The Hot Seat and my review of Wanderlust.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: On His Terms by Sierra Cartwright

Book: On His Terms
Mastered #2
Author: Sierra Cartwright
Erotic Romance, Contemporary, BDSM


It was business only… Chelsea Barton is terrible at the whole submission thing, and she wants to snare the Dom of her dreams. She seeks out the renowned trainer Master Alexander. Alex has his hands full with Chelsea, especially when he realises he doesn’t want to turn her over to another man…

Damn, damn, and double damn. This was so not supposed to happen.

Chelsea Barton always gets what she wants, and she wants the up and coming rocker Evan C to accept her as his sub. But her performance always disappoints him.

Determined to have her way, she begs Master Alexander Monahan to train her.

Alex has given up training submissives, and no matter what, he would not work with someone as bold, headstrong, and stubborn as Chelsea.

But there’s something about her that intrigues and impresses him, an enthusiasm that is missing from his too-dull life. Under very strict guidelines he agrees. She has to try her best. She has to submit uncomplainingly to his punishments. And there’s a two week obligation, after which they will part ways. Being a trainer is a very different relationship than a D/s, and despite his intentions to remain aloof, he starts to care deeply for the headstrong Chelsea.

Chelsea unhesitatingly agrees to Master Alexander’s rules, after all, he’s going to give her the skills she needs to get what she wants. But, damn it, the longer she trains with him, the more she is attracted to his rugged good look as well as to his firm, but relentless ways. She reminds herself of her goals, but that becomes more difficult every day.

For Alex, falling for a sub who will belong to another man was never part of the deal.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of anal sex.

Reader Advisory: This book can be read as a standalone, but is also part of the Mastered series.

Let me just preface this review by saying that I really enjoy Sierra Cartwright's writing. I've read everything she has out with the exception of the Hawkeye series (it just somehow escaped me). I like Sierra's overall style and her ability to write good BDSM that is realistic and safe, yet is still hot and engaging. My favorites by Sierra Cartwright are Bound and Determined (it's capture fantasy with some dubious consent and a hot Irishman), In The Zone, and, of course, Doms of Dark Haven 1 & 2 (that includes Belinda McBride's and Cherise Sinclair's stories as well) they're all great and I'll put them on my Recommended Read List (once I create it).

Okay now on to On His Terms. The story is about Chelsea, an ambitious professional woman who has her sights set on Master Evan C as both a Dominant and a potential client for her PR firm. Since he prefers his submissives already experienced, she seeks out Master Alexander to train her how to be a proper submissive. Master Alexander is reluctant at first, but she is relentless in her pursuit and wears him down. Most of the story is about the training and it's very informative in BDSM terms. Master Alexander always described his intentions, his next move and the why and the how. There were times I wanted him to stop talking about it and just do it. But I do understand that his intention in full disclosure was to create anticipation and sometimes inspire dread in his submissive (Chelsea) and still gain her consent, i.e. informed submission. Sometimes that's harder and since his goal was to teach her about submission, this made sense. And he always got to the doing and the doing was always panty-melting.

The sex between them was definitely hot. Though, again, sometimes I wished for less talk and more action. They always got to the action, so maybe I should just say less talk, cause the action itself was perfect. Some of their dialogue felt a little dry and clipped and, possibly, too formal, even during their intimate encounters. That could be a cultural difference, since the author is English. I wouldn't comment on this if the story was set in Europe because it would feel more authentic (to me) that way. However, since the story was set in Colorado... it just would have felt more natural if the dialogue had a more casual or relaxed feel. Having said that - it didn't detract from the story.

I liked the overall feel of the book - it was well written and I enjoyed the story. I loved the dynamic between Master Alexander and Chelsea. The D/s dynamic was well written and conveyed all those conflicting emotions that a submissive would go through while coming to terms with her desires. But then I knew that Sierra Cartwright would get those things right and she didn't disappoint. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a hot read with lots of well written BDSM and an alpha male lead. And I'm looking forward to the next installment in the Mastered series.

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