Friday, February 27, 2009

Further Domestic Discipline Links

This is by no means a comprehensive list (and neither is my first post on the subject), but it might prove useful anyway. In case you...have a sudden need to read spanking fic. Or you're writng a research paper or something. I don't know.

Vicki Blue's Spanking and Domestic Discipline is a site dedicated to real spanking in adult heterosexual relationships
. Well, you can't say it clearer than that. The site has essays, fiction, recommended reading, and you can sign up for an OTK (over the knee) newsletter. There are links to "sister sites," too, such as RetroSpank and Bethany's Woodshed. Those seem to be part spanking, part time travel; there's a tinge of nostalgia to a lot of spanking sites, actually. (See? You SO COULD write a paper about this.)

Elizabeth Burns' Domestic Discipline offers sound effects: In this site I have a number of things available to give more information about different types of DD relationships, as well as the ability to hear actual scoldings, spanking stories, letters and thoughts about DD relationships and details of actual DD relationships. I offer things in both written and audio clip format.

There is a Yahoo group for Domestic Discipline Personals, apparently still active.

There are books of DD stories; I'm just linking to one, because the "customers who bought this also bought" feature immediately produces a bunch more.

And Seek Discipline covers a broad range of things, including domestic discipline.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Was it good for you? ...okay, so WHY was it good?

Just for fun--okay, for procrastination, if you really want to know--last week I started googling to see what I could find about the effects of romance novels. Wow: there are a lot of dire predictions out there. I get the impression many people still believe we romance readers are melting our brains, jacking our expectations regarding relationships to unhealthy heights, and compensating for some dire lack in our own lives.

I don't feel particularly brain-melted myself, and I've very content with my life and relationships, so I'm just going to ignore that and move on to a more fun, and infinitely more sensible, question: what are romance novels good for?

A quick list of my own reasons for loving them:

1. They're an inexpensive mood-boosting treat for when I crave some fun, frivolous distraction. They have no calories, they aren't tested on animals, and when I buy them in ebook form I don't even have to dust them or recycle them.

2. Far from distorting my expectations about real life romances, they can, if I'm in the right mood, remind me of how much I appreciate real-life, down-to-earth, flawed human beings like myself. (Let's be honest here: any impossibly handsome man who rides up on a horse would just make me fall over laughing, and further down the road I'd probably end up strangling him in his sleep. Perfection would not actually be any fun to live with.)

3. Well-written romances can keep alive that small, hopeful spark of "there are good people out there, capable of love and commitment" even in the face of endless dreary statistics about divorce, dishonesty, infidelity, and ennui.
Maybe they even promote real-life romance. After all, it's been argued that appreciation of the athletic male form used to be considered an inducement for young women to marry. No, really: In the all-Greece Olympic Games there were restrictions for female spectators (even under penalty of death execution). Some authors state that all women were banned from watching the games whereas others insist that the ban was only for married women but unmarried women were allowed to be present. And in trying to find quotes on that, I just found one suggesting appreciation for female beauty was also used to lure men to marriage: The contests were restricted to unmarried girls, who competed either nude or wearing only skimpy dresses. Boys were admitted as spectators, a practice intended to encourage marriage and procreation.
So, there you go: maybe swooning over men-in-fiction (or women-in-fiction) could have the same effect. *grins*

4. Just having novels with women as main characters, and which treat women's desire/sexuality/romantic impulses as something worth thinking about, writing about, and discussing is a good thing, in my opinion. Or to put that in academia-speak, here, have a quotation from Dr. Virginia Lyn Neylon, Reading and Writing the Romance Novel: Popular romance novels provide images of women struggling in a patriarchal society and overcoming its obstacles and limitations to achieve happiness and fulfillment. They illustrate a female ideology where women and men form loving partnerships and work together in mutual support and understanding. They often rejoice in female sexuality and validate women’s wants and desires."
I especially like how the conversations that surround romance novels can end up being quite serious. What can start as a simple discussion of whether plot elements like rape, dubcon, or alcohol-as-disinhibitor are on your personal SquickList or Bullet Proof Kink List can spiral off into whole conversations about why women desire what they desire, whether desires should be catered to or regulated, and how culture reinforces certain desires, or possibly even creates them, while suppressing others. I love that.

So what about everyone else who reads them? What are romance novels good for?

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Friday the Thirteenth AND tomorrow is Valentine's Day

I'm not entirely sure how best to celebrate that. 'Romantic horror,' maybe?

The depression recession will be very romantic? The sheer stress of money worries in general, and fear of redundancy in particular will, she argues, elevate levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain - and dopamine is associated with romantic love. I love the idea of people clinging to each other as the economy crumbles; be nice to think that when 'money' isn't making us happy, we all have the sense to remember people are more important anyway. Although the line Equally, respect drops for a partner who is economically less successful makes me want to throw things at peoples' idiot heads.

Another prediction that romance novels will do well. Even though the romance industry continues to grow, these authors don't think the haze of mockery surrounding the industry is going to go away anytime soon, even if the genre is poised to expand in rough economic times. Actually, the best thing about that article is the way it kicks a few cliches in the teeth, and introduces some very cool authors. Although possibly by now it's time to move on from 'debunking the cliches about romance novelists by repeating and then refuting them,' to 'considering the cliches too stupid to even mention.'

In a lecture before the Utah Humanities Council's Book Festival last October, Thayne told her audience that while romance novels may not always incorporate feminist tenets, they never forsake the core conviction that not only can women enjoy the love and attention of men, they deserve it as well. That rings very true. It also reminds me of something I've always wondered: why don't men read romance novels? I don't mean all the time, or as their escape reading; I mean, why don't more men read them just as a hint to what's stuffed into women's subconscious-attic-space?
Maybe that sounds like too much work, but seriously, if a nine year old's book of dating advice can get published, there is obviously a lot of bafflement between the sexes. Wouldn't it be easier just to borrow a few things from a friend's escape-reading pile, and scan for clues? Bearing in mind that it's fiction, and needs to be translated, not just applied directly to real life.

And one other question, this time inspired by Cupid’s Arrow: A Letter to My Daughter . I know there are Mormon/LDS romance novels, and I've seen Harlequin Inspirationals, which are Christian (possibly a specific denomination? I don't really know, I haven't read any); do other religions have tailored-to-their-needs romances? I would expect they do. Anyone have any good links or recommendations?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A few things that are entertaining me now:

1. Susan Kay's Phantom. I have been sucked into this thing so hard. I keep trying to maintain critical distance, but no, in a few more chapters I'm going to be sighing over Erik like someone with the worst case of phangirl-ism ever. Damn it, he has a cape and a mask and an angelic voice and he does magic; how can I resist? It goes straight to my hindbrain like a sweet velvet drug.

Okay, the seduction process falters whenever he murders someone. But other than that, he's dreamy.

2. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this specimen from that Why Women Hate Men blog: I can make you tingle all over and you'll climax repeatedly until you don't want me to put my junk in you any more. And they say romance is dead!

3. From the Guardian, horror stories: Saturday is Valentine's night - the peak time for very public marriage proposals in restaurants. You can probably imagine that doesn't always end well.

4. *lusts* The new Kindle.

Monday, February 9, 2009

ISO masks

Huh. When you google mask fetishes, most results seem to be sites about masked women. I would not have guessed that, given Tuxedo Mask and The Phantom of the Opera, and the number of romance novels with "masquerade" in the title.

Googling "masked lover" brought me a lot of references to Venice, more romance novels, and a thoroughbred horse. Oh, and a lot of myspace profiles and blog-pseudonyms.

I did find a collection of Masks in Fiction, though.