Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, February 14, 2015

50 Shades of You’ve Got to Be Kidding




I live in what has traditionally been considered a very conservative area of the USA, both in terms of politics and social values and when I, a flaming liberal, find myself on the prudish side of an issue I have to wonder if I’ve changed or did West Michigan when I wasn't looking. The other night on the local nightly news they did an interview with an adult bookstore owner---you know the kind of business that sells sex toys, X-rated movies and all the parking is around back so your neighbors won’t see your car parked in their lot. I haven’t been in one of those kinds of places since a bunch of us did it on a lark 50 years ago and back then they had the “peep shows” where girls danced half naked in front of glass windows while guys in trench coats fed quarters to a timer to keep the curtains open.

Anyway, the interview was a long one and it was all about how people are flocking in to buy bondage and S&M kits for Valentine’s Day. The book, 50 shades of Grey, it seems has mainstreamed tying up your partner, whipping and spanking butts and who knows what else…I didn’t read the book and I don’t plan on doing so, thank you very much. Apparently, I’m from the Dinosaur Age where a candlelight dinner, a red rose and soft kisses on your neck were considered foreplay---not putting a mask and pair of handcuffs on your partner. It was surreal seeing reporters in conservative West Michigan talk about bondage kits like they're DVDs of Marvin Gay singing Let’s Get it On. What I find fascinating (and repugnant) about the whole thing is how a generation of young people, who mostly grew up in an age where spanking kids was (and still is) a no-no, can find bondage and sadism/masochism something they want to explore.

The store owner who was interviewed was talking smack about how it brings couples closer together and makes their marriages stronger when they test the boundaries of sex and erotica. Okay, but what if your partner’s boundaries are different from yours and you find yourself chained to a post in the basement for weeks at a time? Call my crazy but when something could lead to a prison sentence if you do it to a stranger it has no place in a marriage, in my prudish opinion. Ya, I know there’s a difference between jumping off a curb and jumping off a cliff but a lot of couples can’t even agree on how they like their eggs cooked so what makes a woman think a guy’s going to stop when she uses the so-called safe word? Trust? Roger that Captain Obvious. Trust is a wonderful thing but, in my book trust and chains don’t go together like peanut butter and jelly. And in case, that isn’t clear enough, I’d trust a guy to pick me up outside of the Piggly-Wiggly Grocery Store at an appointed time, but shoving who-knows-what up my butt while I'm wearing a blindfold? No way! The next thing you know your partner will bring a gerbil home from a pet store and you’ll be making a trip to ER with an embarrassing story to tell. (I'm not making that up. It's happened in the Department of Weird Sexual Antics.) Oops, I understand from reading movie reviews that Mr. Grey actually asks for permission before escalating each episode of inflicting pain. What a peach of a guy he is. I didn't kill-kill her, officer. She was suicidal and she signed a permission slip for me to help her die.

When I was younger I read the entire two-volume set of The Encyclopedia of Abnormal Human Behavior. It still sits on my bookshelf. It’s not like my "Victorian-like" sensibilities would be shocked by anything I’d find in 50 Shades of Grey and while I know it's wrong to write a review of something I haven't read---sue me!----I also think it's playing with fire to mainstream S&M and bondage. It also makes me feel old, prudish, and judgmental and exactly like every stereotype ever captured by a cartoonist’s pen. All I need now is a rocking chair and a front porch. Am I the only person on earth who doesn’t get the gravitational pull (or push) towards 50 Shades of Grey?

Speaking of books, I went to a lecture titled Midwinter World Tour. The speaker was a librarian who has a gift for making books come alive. She highly recommended nine books and I sorely needed the recommendations. Why? Because I’ve had the worst luck picking books lately. Four books in a row I didn’t want to finish---but I did and they weren’t worth the time invested. Then I tried a fifth book that was marketed as another Marley and Me, which was a sweet story about a family dog that made me laugh through his puppy-hood and cry when he died at the end. How could I go wrong with another book like that? I thought. But it was nothing like Marley and Me! The dog was a pit bull that had been used to fight and the guy who ended up with him didn’t even want a dog and wasn’t a very likeable character. And I honestly did not need to know the details of how dogs are trained to fight, how they use heavy chains to build up their neck strength, how they tape the mouths shut on the bait dogs and, well, 50 other shades of cruelty and abuse. Dogs and people do not belong in chains while being whipped into submission! There, I said it and I’m not sorry I did! ©

20 comments:

  1. I'm so sick of the whole 50 Shades phenomenon! Like you, I'm not a prude and consenting adults can do whatever (BOTH or ALL? of the adults need to be enthusiastically and not just going along -- that's not really consent in my book). But I did read 50 Shades of Grey and was mostly appalled at the damaged, narcissist Mr. Grey, handsome, rich and obsessed with a young, naive sexually innocent young woman who he introduces to his "Play Room". She becomes intrigued and goes along, but I never get that she is 100% thrilled with it all. Sex feeling good is one thing; a person feeling good about it all afterward is another. I hate that teens are looking at this as an erotic, romantic romp. Ugh! So wrong! Such a bad representation to those of a budding sexuality. The feminist in me wants to scream at the WOMAN who wrote this drivel -- for the content. The writer in me wants to scream at her for writing the absolutely worst piece of writing I've ever read! I mean really, really bad writing. Laughable. But there ya go....sex sells.

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    1. Thanks for weighing in! This last week every talk show as been on the 50 Shades of Grey thing and I haven't heard a single person express any doubts about feeding S&M and bondage to young people. The feminist in me hates the idea of telling young women it's okay to let someone tie you up! We worked too hard to get stranger rape out of genre romance books as an acceptable form of meeting a man you supposedly can fall in love with by the end of the book. This phenomenon seems like a step backward.

      I read a ton of reviews at Amazon and got the impression you had about it not being a very well written book. Professional reviewers claim the movies is better written. One talk show I saw claims the leading characters absolutely can't stand each other in real life. The emotions of acting out those scenes got to one or both of them is the insider gossip.

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  2. I refuse to read this drivel even though I'm a bookaholic. Smut is smut no matter how much it is dressed up or made into a movie. We gone from the 60s free love to what? Are we enslaving our young women to a lifetime of shame, guilt and unnatural sexual feelings to satisfy someone's perversions or sell merchandise. Sorry if I'm going off on a tangent here - Will we condone similar behaviors with children? I've seen the realities / effects of sexual abuse on the young students I taught.

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    1. Hey, I went off on a tangent when I wrote this post and I more than welcome you doing the same. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

      The woman who cleans my house---she's 38---plans on seeing the movie, but didn't read the book. Her husband refuses to go with her. So far, she's the only person I've talked with who has bought into the hype.

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  3. Oh our puritanical society and how many ways we find to discuss sex while pretending to be outraged by it. Media can justify their interest in this because it is a book and a movie and the more they discuss it, the more it creates interest that can be discussed.
    I live 22 miles from the Canadian border and listen to CBC radio often. There has recently been a situation of a host of a popular arts program who was first fired and then arrested for his engagement in sexual acts that women claimed were not consensual. Keep in mind, though, that the only thing that is new is that the media have made this news. In past years, bondage was kept in individual bedrooms and most of us who enjoyed a candlelight dinner were blissfully unaware of the perversions behind other closed doors.
    Maybe that is why most of my reading these days is non fiction!
    Regards
    Leze

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    1. One of the things that I think is so dangerous about the very deliberate movement to mainstream bondage and S&M is the whole thing about consensual vs. non-consensual. At some point people are going to cross seriously over the line and claim it was consensual when is wasn't and then it's a he said/she said thing that can ruin young lives.

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  4. I've not read this book and I don't intend to. It's just not my cup of tea. I've noticed that we are all supposed to just let whatever anyone wants to do to just go with the flow. Well that applies to some things and not others. It depends on which side of the political aisle you're on.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

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    1. I really don't believe that politics has as much to do with it as you believe it does. I think it's more age related as to whether or not someone believes we're supposed to just "go with the flow" of changing values. We older people get to a point where we quite voicing our opinions because we're afraid we'll get made fun of for being "old fashioned" or whatever which just gives the people on the other side of a values issue more power.

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    2. My 20-something "children" and their significant others agree with us and they are anything but old-fashioned and prudish. This book/movie is an equal generational offender.

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    3. Your kids are a good example of why we shouldn't stereotype in such black and white terms as age and politics.

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  5. I have not read the book & not intend too. these kind of movies disgusts me. I believe love is more than just physical attraction but its much deeper than that. for being there for each other in thick & thin & having respect for your partner kind of lovestory I would like to watch

    Asha

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  6. My 78 year old neighbor read the book--she liked it and wanted to know if I wanted to read it. I said, "No thanks." Last night on FB, some women were at the theatre, watching the movie. You don't get more Conservative than the County I live in. One of them was the band director at our high school. In my day, if the School Board had known that, she would be fired on Monday. I have read every book Harold Robbins ever wrote and I thought they were pretty racy. Back in 1958, we thought "Peyton Place" was smutty. They all pale in comparison to what this book and movie is about, or so I have heard. I would be embarrassed to go to the movie--even if I knew no one there. I don't think the movie has a thing to do with love, it's all about domination--by a man. I am not a Feminist and yet I am appalled. I AM a Christian and to me, it's just smut and seems to show the way our whole society is going. You want to read about male domination and sexual perversion--read the entire Old Testament sometime. :-)

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    1. The 50 shades movie trailer was on TV tonight and it said there were 800 million books sold. That is mind boggling to me. They also said there was something like a dozen whippings in the movie and 7 or 8 spankings. The author was interviewed, too, and she was complaining because all the media talks about is the sex and, she said, "It's a great love story." Give me a break! Love doesn't hurt people. The actress who played the leading part was in the same interview and talked about how they had to have specialists on the set to make sure no one got hurt during the "sex" scenes. Ya, that's love all right---wrong.

      One of the best comment I've seen was written by a man on the official movie trailer site. He said, "When people hear about this in real life and/or in the news, they're horrified, but they'll flock to see it in the movie theaters as entertainment! And to release this movie on Valentine's Day..........what a slap in the face to real romance/genuine love."

      Another guy there brought up an interesting question, asking if it was a poor black man doing the raping and bondage instead of rich white guy would people still be flocking to see the movie and raving about how good it is.

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  7. I wonder how many of those bondage kits will end up gathering dust on the closet floor. I can't imagine the mainline thrift stores accepting them. This post hits too close to home. I had a nut case propose this, and that nut case was my husband. Needless to say, the paraphernalia headed to the trash and the husband stayed. But it sure made for an untidy marital crisis!

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    1. I wouldn't even want it on the closet floor for fear I'd die and someone would find it and think I liked that sort of thing. LOL But you bring up an interesting point. Now you've got me wondering how many woman (and maybe even men) will count a VD gift like a bondage and S&M kit as the worst gift they ever received. Kind of makes my gas tank gift pale by comparison.


      Since writing this post I've been online reading comments on the movie review sites. Thankfully there are a lot of people who are also appalled at the mainstreaming of S&M and bondage and marketing it as if it should be an acceptable part of a couple's love making. To me, it's setting the Woman's Movement back, to teach young women it's okay to give a guy the right to whip or spank you into submission, to tie you up, etc. Some people on the review sites said it wasn't abuse because Mr. Grey always asked for permission to escalate to the next step and to that I say, "Oh, give me a break!" If a woman's self-esteem is so low that she feels she needs to be punished or that she deserves it, then the last thing she needs is to have that feeling "validated" by a man who is clearing taking advantage of her. Unfortunately, they are going to be making two more sequels because the box office sales blew off the roof. I keep thinking about those three girls in Cleveland that were held captive. How can we teach young men it's okay to use bondage in one situation but not in others? They get it in writing on a check off sheet? Ya, sure, "sign it bitch or I'll beat you some more."

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  8. Jean,
    I couldn't agree more. I can't really add more than others already have. I haven't read the book and will not see the movie. I think the operative word here is "mainstream." It isn't that we're prudish or naive. We've all been aware of this proclivity forever, but dressing it up and bringing it down from the attic to sit in the living room with regular company is a little too much.

    I too have made several lousy book choices recently, and I finally hit on a pretty good one last week. Now it's time to get a few more, and I'm not sure what I will get. I am sure what I will not get - "Fifty Shades of Grey."

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    1. Mainstreaming and labeling the book and movie a "great romance" is what bugs me the most. As one person put it on another site, "If the guy was poor and ugly they'd call the book 50 shades of Horror. I'm all for freedom of the press but labels send out a judgement that young people buy into and that is just plain wrong.

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  9. Okay-so just to capitalize on the book thing-I read the "Art of Racing in the Rain" and loved it. Have not read Fifty shades, and have no plans to alter that.
    I am an avid reader now that I have put aside my "widowed brain syndrome".
    There are lots of good choices out there.

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    1. I read that book, too, and I really liked it. Books with a dog as one of the characters is always a fall-back book genre when I want something heart warming.and/or predictable.

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