My interview on People of Kink podcast is now up. Nice to see some Canadian kink podcasts out there. This interview is more about my BDSM career and less about my research.
While the fifteen-minutes of this story have apparently passed, I want to bring up an editorial post on Canadian alternative news site Rabble.ca about the RCMP case: Private fantasy, public reality: The RCMP, BDSM and violence against women, by Meghan Murphy.
How could a man who so clearly enjoys degrading women fairly assess a case that is explicitly about violence against women, about dehumanizing women, and that played out as it did (in that the disappearances of women from the Downtown Eastside were ignored by the police for years) because the women who were going missing were viewed as worthless?
Being Canadian, I’m always interested in Canada’s contributions to the sexual edge of culture. I was delighted to stumble across the story of Justice Weekly, a true crime tabloid newspaper published in Canada that frequently included fetish letters. “…popular topics were discipline, punishment and humiliation of males (especially ‘errant husbands’ and spoiled post-adolescent children) by authoritarian/domineering females, transvestites and authority figures such as school principals, judges and law-enforcement officials.”
The Montreal by Words podcast interviews me on my Maria Monk “nun porn” story in MaisonNeuve magazine. It starts at about the 15 minute mark.
A newspaper in Vancouver, BC, ran a story yesterday on complaints, or rather a complaint, about noise from a swing party in the suburb of Delta.
The story itself is pretty thin, but what really interests me is the comments. Most of them are people saying “What’s the big deal?” or defending swinging, but many of which display a virulent hatred of the sexually deviant (swinging, in this case) combined with a presumed knowledge about the truth of swinging.
I worked for a swinger. He was a bit of a deviant. His second wife joined him for a while, then divorced him because she couldn’t stand the lifestyle. We got all sorts of pornographic mail at work. I quit my job when he said I should try it. Creepy.
PS: Most of the photos of the men were really ugly.
Have fun with those festering , infected, bleeding sores…down there…hope you don’t get them on your face!
If you have this kind of lifestyle, you have a 75% percent chance of having genital herpes. You may not have symptoms In fact most people don’t.But they are still randomly infectious.
And, your kids will find out about your lifestyle eventually.You are living in a dream world if you think this won’t effect them.You could keep this a secret which is really hard to do.But if you are successful, are you prepared for the day when your son shows up to one of your parties?
Condoms fail. How many women do you know who got pregnant because a condom broke? And, you can still get STDs with perfect condom use. Check it out yourself.
I would love to tell you that there is a sexual utopia. I would love to tell you that you can have sexual adventures galore without getting your heart or body broken. Who doesn’t want that? I would love to tell you that your kids won’t take huge sexual risks that endanger their health because they see you doing it.
But that, would be a lie.
My wife and I wanted to try this lifestyle out, and now we too are divorced. I am trying to hold together the pieces of innocence for our children, while she is claiming to them her friendships with 20 somethings make them look cool. Its a sick sick World.
I’ve been around the block more than a few times.These things were around in the 60s.And all the people I knew who did this stuff-all eventually divorced.Disbelieve me if you like & find out yourself.Respect and communication aside, when you do this stuff, your marriage is not an exclusive relationship. Someone almost always winds up getting hurt. Usually, it’s just a matter of time. As for being uneducated as you claim, seriously, educate yourself about STDs. Condoms fail 10 % of the time across the board. You can get herpes, HPV and syphilis with perfect condom use. You can also get these from oral sex.The risks are real and include serious long term consequences including head and neck cancer from HPV.The rates of which by the way are rising rapidly.Go to any government website on STD information and get the facts.
What people do is their own business. And honestly, nobody cares in this day and age. But the truth is, there are consequences which was my point.
yawn…swingers are just immoral deviants that are not even worth discussing..let them rot from their various STD’s and continue running away from the truth of what they truly are, which is too ugly to even contemplate
Anyone I’ve known, and I’ve known lots, who get into that lifestyle, almost always divorce.
In the end you don’t have a real marriage, you have an “arrangement” Once the guy hits midlife, he has absolutely no reason to be faithful to you, nor to honour your marriage vows. Think about it; they meant nothing. You talk about your kids being well behaved, but so what.They are learning things that will ultimately harm them.
Your talk about the facts of life with your daughter will, of course, now have to include how to deal with the constant herpes outbreaks and then there is the tender moment when your child realizes she has genital warts. She decides not to worry about HIV because you didn’t. Then there will be the heartbreak of seeing men just use your daughter and then dump her. Your lifestyle has a price. By the time most people figure this out, it’s too late. They are old, alone with their many lovers long gone and their kids seriously messed up and an
So, the attackers claim to know the dark side of swinging, though they don’t cite anything to support this. They even presume to know more about it than the swingers themselves. I think this supposed expertise is similar to the junk science that gets trotted out by homophobes.
Anti-Catholicism has always been the pornography of the Puritan. Whereas the anti-Masons had envisaged drinking bouts and had entertained themselves with sado-masochistic fantasies about the actual enforcement of grisly Masonic oaths,* the anti-Catholics invented an immense lore about libertine priests, the confessional as an opportunity for seduction, licentious convents and monasteries. Probably the most widely read contemporary book in the United States before Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a work supposedly written by one Maria Monk, entitled Awful Disclosures, which appeared in 1836. The author, who purported to have escaped from the Hotel Dieu nunnery in Montreal after five years there as novice and nun, reported her convent life in elaborate and circumstantial detail. She reported having been told by the Mother Superior that she must “obey the priests in all things”; to her “utter astonishment and horror,” she soon found what the nature of such obedience was. Infants born of convent liaisons were baptized and then killed, she said, so that they might ascend at once to heaven. Her book, hotly attacked and defended , continued to be read and believed even after her mother gave testimony that Maria had been somewhat addled ever since childhood after she had rammed a pencil into her head. Maria died in prison in 1849, after having been arrested in a brothel as a pickpocket.
Richard Hofstadter, The Paranoid Style in American Politics
Brian Busby also has some posts on Maria Monk, alleged author of the anti-Catholic classic Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, calling it “the best-selling work of fiction ever set in Montreal”. More likely it was written by American anti-Catholics who knew how to appeal to a nation steeped in Gothic/sentimental literature.
This book used common Gothic tropes: virtue in distress, murdered children, imprisonment, underground passages and chambers, arbitrary authority, cruelty and claustrophobia. It didn’t stint on describing and depicting the abuse of the nuns:
Most 19th century editions feature the same 38 engravings, all depicting characters and scenes in the book. There is, for example, the ‘inhuman priest’ Bonin in action pose. According to the book, it is he who, with an undisclosed number of nuns, trampled Sister St. Frances to death. Many of the images feature tormented nuns, women who have endured rape and torture, such as the ‘melancholy’ Sister St. Martin and ‘Mad Jane Ray’. In the illustration below we see Maria herself, recovering from ‘the cap’, an instrument of punishment described as ‘small, made of a reddish looking leather, fitted closely to the head, and fastened under the chin with a kind of buckle.’ The reader is told that it was ‘common practice to tie the nun’s hands behind, and gag her before the cap was put on, to prevent noise and resistance.’
Bondage, flogging, branding… it’s no wonder that the ‘awful disclosures’ found readers amongst those attracted to the works of Sacher-Masoch, Sade and Mirbeau. Indeed, the book has at times been packaged to attract just such an audience.
The book had a long life, with many legitimate and pirated editions. More than a century later, Monk’s book was still being used, turning up in leaflets opposing John F. Kennedy’s US presidential campaign. It still turns up cited on anti-Catholic kook websites.
Has this particularly anti-Catholic brand of pornography been rendered obsolete as fantasy material by the assimilation of Catholics in North American society, the diminishing power of the Catholic church and the general secularization of society? A cursory search of Imagefap revealed a fair number of “nun” galleries, and searching for “nun” on Literotica produced one page of stories, so perhaps this particular kink still has some life in it.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Awful Disclosures bear a lot of similarities: highly political works which used the language of Gothic sentiment to make their point and involved audiences who might not have been involved in other discourses. One was progressive and humanitarian, the other was xenophobic and bigoted. One was inspired by truth, the other by paranoid fantasy. It indicates just how powerful a discourse this is.
Brian Busby’s tour of the seamy side of Canlit brings us to the work of Danny Halperin, who wrote under the name of Neil Perrin.
This was Joanna (1949) begins like Twin Peaks: a beautiful woman, Joanna, is found murdered in water. One of her beaus delves into her life and turns up a sexually dysfunctional husband and a kinky lover:
On the walls of the room were hung all sorts of gadgets of torture; long needles, small, hairy whips, knouts, knives sharp as razors, silken threads of unbelievable length. Over the mantlepiece were afixed two large peacock feathers; the end of one was a rubber stopper, the end of the other a handgrip. I dared not ask the significance of these feathers for fear of being told.
Suspended from the ceiling were two long cords, obviously used to hold a person up from the floor by his (or her) thumbs. On the floor, as if alive, lay the stuffed corpse of a sinuous cobra. The most unspeakably evil paintings adorned the walls and, in one corner of the room under a blue light, sat the grinning statue of Priapus, the phallic symbol of the ages.
Another Perrin work was The Door Between (1950), about a damaged WWII vet who stalks the vamp who lives in the next room in his boarding house.
From another post:
Moving past the well-scrubbed, antiseptic couch romps shared by Bruce and Sheila we find relationships in which sex and violence are invariably entwined.
The first glimpse we’re given comes courtesy of Clara, Bruce’s downstairs neighbour, who gets off on being knocked around by her husband. The morning after Bruce’s arrival, the nightgown-wearing battered wife corners Bruce in the rooming house hallway, teasing: “Bet you’d like to beat the hell out of me, wouldn’t you?”
Jump to Vera, who shares a loveless sex life with Jake, one of the three men in her fawning entourage. “It is zee glandular love”, she sighs. “I suppose it will have to do until zee real love comes along. Some day he vill come to me, zee lover I need. He vill be strong and filty; he vill beat me and kiss me and feel everything – everything!” When one of her lapdogs dares describe her as a masochist, she responds: “I am not to be labelled. You can say I am zee masochist, I am zee sadist, I am zee pervert – anything that pleases you. But all I really am is zee voman. How do you explain zat?”
This novel ends with the hero beating the bad girl in a jealous rage, right in front of the good girl, who persuades him to stop so they can go get married. Charming.
As to viewing this a piece of BDSM history, there’s certainly a lot of sadism and masochism in The Door Between, but it appears to lack the formalism of the interaction that characterizes the dungeon in This Was Joanna. I’d categorized them more as “rough sex” stories than BDSM fiction.
Brian Busby’s blog is proving to be a cornucopia of Canadian literary BDSM history.
Science fiction writer AE van Vogt wrote The House that Stood Still (1952):
Nine men and four women were standing in various tensed positions. One of the women, an amazingly good-looking blonde, had been stripped to the waist; her ankles and wrists were tied with thin ropes to the chair in which she sat sideways. There were bloody welts on her tanned back, and a whip lay on the floor.
Speaking of Canadian’s with a kinky attitude towards sex, check out this trailer for director David Cronenberg’s next feature, a film about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung and their masochistic female patient, featuring a fair bit of costume drama and kink.
Cronenberg’s had an interesting career trajectory. His early films, such as Shivers (aphrodisiac parasites spread through a Montreal apartment complex) and The Brood (people start externalizing their psychologies through literal bodily transformations), were far more experimental and visceral and political, in the best traditions of 1970s horror films.
Over the decades, he’s become a lot more respectable. He complains in interviews that he is still listed in IMDB as “Dave ‘Deprave’ Cronenberg”. While I still consider myself a Cronenberg fan, and I respect his career decisions, I also feel that his latest films just aren’t as gripping as his earlier works. If I wanted to sell people on the idea that Cronenberg is a great director, I’d show them Dead Ringers or Crash, not Spider or Eastern Promises.
You can see the same concerns in his latter works like Eastern Promises or A History of Violence as in his middle period The Fly: a man struggling against his transformation into a monster. I still maintain The Fly is the superior work.
My hope is that this story will allow Cronenberg to loosen up a little and not understate his themes.