21 yr old academiphile with a love for vegan junk food, diy, and pups. born and raised in the appalachian mountains.
Fifty Shades of Domestic Abuse
50 Shades of Damaging Stereotypes
Fifty Shades of Wanna Guess How Many People Will Be Hospitalized Due To Flesh Wounds From Improper Knots After The Movie?
50 Shades of Glorified Abuse
50 Shades of Kidney Damage from Incompetent Crop Use
Fifty Shades of Pathological Violence Due To Past Trauma Isn’t Kink
[TW/advisory: rape culture/porn culture, fetishization of violence against women - explicit!]
In writing my new book, I experienced the most intense isolation I have known as a writer. I lived in a world of pictures— women’s bodies displayed, women hunched and spread and hanged and pulled and tied and cut— and in a world of books— gang rape, pair rape, man on woman rape, lesbian rape, animal on woman rape, evisceration, torture, penetration, excrement, urine, and bad prose. I worked on the book for three years. After the first year a friend entered my room and remarked that she was more at ease in the local porn stores. A half a year later, the friend with whom I lived asked me quietly and sincerely to refrain from showing him any material I might be working on and also, please, to keep it out of any room other than my own. I have good and kind friends. Their nerves could not withstand even the glimpses they got. I was immersed in it.
Under the best of circumstances, I do not have pleasant dreams. I work while I sleep. Life goes on, awake or asleep. I spent eight months studying the Marquis de Sade. I spent eight months dreaming Sadean dreams. Let the men joke: these were not “erotic” dreams; dreams of torture are dreams of hate, in this case the hate being used against female bodies, the instruments of hate (metal or flesh) being used to maim. Only one woman understood me. She had worked as an editor on the collected volumes of Sade’s work at Grove Press. After completing the editing of the first volume, she attended an editorial meeting where plans were being made to do a second volume. She explained that she couldn’t stand the nightmares. “We should start making movies of your nightmares, ” the chief editor told her. They did.
But the nightmares were the least of it. The reading itself made me physically sick. I became nauseous—…The President’s Commission on Pornography and Obscenity (1970) reported this as a frequent effect of pornography on women and then concluded that pornography had no harmful consequences. Personally I consider nausea a harmful consequence, not trivial when the life involved is one’s own. I became frightened and anxious and easily irritable. But the worst was that I retreated into silence. I felt that I could not make myself understood, that no one would know or care, and that I could not risk being considered ridiculous. The endless struggle of the woman writer to be taken seriously, to be respected, begins long before any work is in print. It begins in the silence and solitude of her own mind when that mind must diagram and dissect sexual horror.
My work on Sade came to an end, but not before I nearly collapsed from fatigue: physical fatigue because I hated to sleep; physical fatigue because I was often physically sick from the material; mental fatigue because I took on the whole male intellectual tradition that has lionized Sade; but also moral fatigue, the fatigue that comes from confronting the very worst sexual aspirations of men articulated by Sade in graphic detail, the fatigue engendered by sexual cruelty.
The photographs I had to study changed my whole relationship to the physical world in which I live. For me, a telephone became a dildo, the telephone wire an instrument of bondage; a hair dryer became a dildo— those hair dryers euphemistically named “pistols”; scissors were no longer associated with cutting paper but were poised at the vagina’s opening. I saw so many photographs of common household objects being used as sexual weapons against women that I despaired of ever returning to my once simple ideas of function. I developed a new visual vocabulary, one that few women have at all, one that male consumers of pornography carry with them all the time: any mundane object can be turned into an eroticized object— an object that can be used to hurt women in a sexual context with a sexual purpose and a sexual meaning. This increased my isolation significantly, since my friends thought I was making bad jokes when I recoiled at certain unselfconscious manipulations of a hair dryer, for instance. A male friend handed me a telephone in an extremely abrupt way. “Don’t you ever push that thing at me again, ” I said in real alarm, knowing whereof I spoke. He, hating pornography, did not.
I had to study the photographs to write about them. I stared at them to analyze them. It took me a long time to see what was in them because I never expected to see what was there, and expectation is essential to accurate perception. I had to learn. A doorway is a doorway. One walks through it. A doorway takes on a different significance when one sees woman after woman hanging from doorways. A lighting fixture is for light until one sees woman after woman hung from lighting fixtures. The commonplace world does not just become sinister; it becomes disgusting, repellent. Pliers are for loosening bolts until one sees them cutting into women’s breasts. Saran Wrap is for preserving food until one sees a person mummified in it.
Again, the nausea, the isolation, the despair. But also, increasingly, a rage that had nowhere to go, and a sense of boredom through it all at the mindless and endless repetition in the photographs. No matter how many times women had been hung from light fixtures or doorways, there were always more magazines with more of the same. A friend once said to me about heroin: “The worst thing about it is the endless repetition. ” One can say the same about pornography, except that it goes beyond anything that one can repeatedly do to oneself: pornography is what men do to women. And the mundane world in which men live is full of doorways and light fixtures and telephones, which may be why the most pervasive abuse of women takes place in the home.