|Available on Amazon|
Celeste Jones has been hosting a book discussion over at her site of Cara Bristol’s latest Body Politics. The book is about the clash between a feminist and a man who wants a domestic discipline relationship.
It might be my own clash, except that my husband doesn’t want a domestic discipline relationship, it’s just some part of me that does. So it was with great anticipation and curiosity that I read Body Politics. How would Cara treat the subject closest to my heart?
For the most part, she nails it. I could be Stephanie – a liberated career woman. I didn’t take my husband’s name when I married because, like Stephanie, I already had established a name for myself in the press and community as the founder and director of a non-profit (arts not feminist). I have marched on Washington for women’s rights. I believe in equality and I am grateful to the women who paved the way for me to have it.
And Cara gets it – the attraction to submission for Stephanie is sexual, not political. Sara at Finding Sara wrote about this recently, confirming what I already firmly believed. She said that after her surgery and resulting hormone dip, DD held absolutely no interest for her. Being spanked for swearing at her husband? Not a deterrent.
Cara does poke a little fun at feminism. Stephanie’s hero is Gloria Steinham and so instead of thinking things like “Oh God,” or even “Oh Goddess,” as many of my friends phrase it, Stephanie thinks “Oh Gloria.” It’s hilarious, and also slightly offensive to me, because I don’t want Stephanie’s feminism to be over the top, where it can be laughed at. Feminism isn’t funny. Nor are the things that feminism seeks to correct: Inequality isn’t funny. Lack of rights isn’t funny. Domestic and sexual abuse aren’t even remotely amusing.
Then again, Cara treats the Rod and Cane Society with humor as much as she does the feminists. The organization is over the top creepy, so much so that it becomes downright silly, which is good, because otherwise, it’s downright offensive.
I am of the generation that came after the bra-burners. I was once scolded by an older woman in my office when I said I didn’t mind traveling with the CEO, even though he only wanted me along because I was a pretty young thing. “My generation worked hard for equality in the workplace so that you don’t have to think about it,” she snapped. “You did, and I am very grateful for it,” I answered sincerely. I didn’t mean to be taking a step back for my gender by allowing myself to be objectified. But I also couldn’t help being a pretty young thing and I had career aspirations that would be promoted by traveling with the boss. I was certainly of the lipstick feminists.
So how does feminism reconcile with domestic discipline? Cara does a good job of keeping it in the sexual arena. Does Mark think Stephanie deserves to be spanked? Yes, but he’s also quite clear that he desires to spank her. It turns him on to be a leader, just as it turns her on to relinquish control. Without that piece, it would offend me, even with consent. Because we ARE talking politics here – and this book will necessarily bring to question – what are the politics of domestic discipline? Are they about a man being better equipped to make decisions and therefore inflict punishment? Are they about a relationship in which one person must choose to be with the other knowing that other person spanks? So consent is given, but it’s reluctant– the choice is abuse or losing the person you love? I am saddened by this scenario and I know it exists in fiction and real life.
Honestly, my teeth get set on edge when it’s the spanker who brings the DD to the relationship and the spankee doesn’t like it but goes along with it anyway. And of course, it all turns me on at the same time. Because non-con is hot. That first spanking scene in Body Politics, where she doesn’t think she likes it, is thinking he’s a misogynist pig, but still submits is HOT. I got off. (TMI?) But, what if, like Sara experienced recently, my hormones were zilch and it didn’t turn me on? Then it would still work for me, because Cara showed that the characters got off too. Even as Stephanie’s mind rebelled, her body said yummy.
That’s how it was for me until I understood and embraced my kink. I berated myself for liking to defer to my man, for wanting him to take charge, for dreaming of being turned over his knee and spanked like the naughty girl that I am. Until I was able to tease out the differences between politics and sex, it was terribly confusing to be me.
In Body Politics, Stephanie thinks: “She shouldn’t have have wanted a man who claimed entitlement to spank her because she was female and he was male.” I actually don’t think I could ever ever go there. There is no entitlement accorded men to spank women and even though I LOVE submission, spanking and being dominated, I don’t think I could submit to someone who actually believed they had a right to spank or make decisions. It’s gotta be a choice that works for both parties because they each prefer their role – and embracing the base sexual attraction of wanting a particular role is what makes it empowering, regardless of whether it’s the dominant or the submissive position. I had posted this on the Facebook Spanking Fiction site – I don’t believe power is out of balance in a DD relationship, or perhaps I should say, it shouldn’t be. It’s the twist of the yin and yang symbol – a giving and receiving that swirls the power, but the balance should remain equal.
There’s one other political issue that’s touched on in Body Politics where our intelligent, educated feminist Stephanie fondly imagines that Mark will spank their children. WHAT??! Sorry, I can’t go there, either. ’nuff said.
As Anastasia Vitsky titled her review of Body Politics on Amazon: “I may not like the Politics, but Body Politics is a great read.” I concur. Cara Bristol is a top notch writer. I teared up at Stephanie’s challenges, got wet at her turn-ons, and enjoyed every minute of the ride. This book is not to be missed. Well done, Cara!