Apr 272022
 

CSI S09E05 “Leave Out All The Rest” IMDB Aired November 6, 2008

The discovery of a dead body (what else?) with the marks of S&M leads Grissom back to Heather Kessler. 

In this case, it’s a set of markings from needle play around the man’s nipples, out of place next to all the corpse’s other injuries. 

Grissom: “S and M?”

Willows: “Gone very, very wrong.”

ME: “These stab wounds are brutal, random and postmortem”, 

Willows: “Which is inconsistent with S&M.”

ME: “Well, it’s hard to take pleasure in someone’s pain once they’re dead.”

Willows: “Which is the ‘gone wrong’ part.”

After the low point of the last episode, in which Heather was offering herself up to be murdered for money to provide for her grand-daughter, she’s somewhat recovered. No longer a dominatrix, she’s finished a Masters in psychology and is a practising therapist. 

Heather’s transition to therapist from dominatrix who acts like a therapist makes a degree of sense. It’s consistent with the trope of pro-dominatrix-as-caregiver that turns up so often in mainstream media. (E.g. Going Under, Personal Services). It further desexualizes an already desexualized character. In this episode, Grissom is grieving his beakup with Sara Sidle, and his emotionally stunted interactions with Heather are with her as a caregiver, not a lover.

Also note that after being much more mobile and active in the previous two episodes, Heather reverts to being stationary in her home. 

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Mar 142022
 

Love and Leashes is a 2022 Korean romantic comedy, currently streaming on Netflix, about two office workers who begin a dominant/submissive relationship, based on a webcomic.

Note: I do not speak Korean, and I’m going entirely by the dubbing and subtitles. There are likely many cultural and linguistic nuances I am missing. E.g. “Master” is frequently used, but not “Mistress”. 

Jung Jihoo transfers to the public relations department of a corporation, where he meets a woman with a nearly identical name, Jung Jiwoo. She’s highly intelligent and competent, but ignored or belittled by the department’s sexist boss. Jihoo is actually her superior in the hierarchy, but he tries to listen to her and compromise. 

Jiwoo is attracted to Jihoo, but is reluctant to act on it. Her mother and friend both urge her to act on it, but in a stereotypically “feminine” way, which is at odds with her direct personality. 

Because their names are so similar, Jiwoo accidentally picks up a personal package delivered for Jihoo, and finds a studded leather collar and leash with the nameplate “Miho”. Jihoo tries to cover for this, but she figures it out, and says nothing. 

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Mar 092022
 

I discuss the BDSM-themed Korean romantic comedy Love and Leashes with my friend and colleague TammyJo Eckhart, a historian and author.

Currently on Netflix, Love and Leashes follows a submissive man and and a dominant woman as they learn about each other and deal with a prejudiced society. You can also read the English translation of the original webcomic.

Dec 122021
 

Shooting of season 5 of Billions was interrupted by COVID, and the second half of the season didn’t air until 2021. Of the various plot threads picked up, the only one that concerns us is Chuck’s sex life. We last saw him involved with the sexually adventurous Cat, but as of S05E08 “Copenhagen”, it’s over.

Chuck: “I liked it. Of course I liked it. Give me pistachio ice cream, I’ll eat it and smile, as Diamond David Lee Roth would say. But it was uncomfortable. Just too many limbs. Too many questions. Oh, what to do? Give me rum raisin, on the other hand, I’ll inhale the whole point and root around the fridge to find another one. Then that’s what I was missing.”

Other guy: “Cat seems pretty liberated. Have you broached the subject of what you really want?”

Chuck: “As you said, she’s smart and she’s sensitive and she saw, she saw that it would never work, not all the for me, not without, you know… [clicks tongue] And so she said something along the lines of, ‘We’ll always have Paris.’ Only the words she used were harsher, and all about wasting her time.”

Earlier seasons of Billions made Chuck’s masochism a major part of both his personality and his relationship with Wendy. Now it’s been demoted to the same importance as his taste in ice cream. Apart from snide comments from other people, Chuck’s sex life doesn’t come up again.

Note that trailers for season 6 suggest that Chuck will continue to practice kink and he may even see Troy the pro-domme again.

Nov 112021
 

Fifty Shades of Black (2016) (IMDB) is a comedy/romance film directed by Michael Tiddes and written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez. Obviously, it’s a parody of the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. 

Beyond just parodying Fifty Shades, Black derives comedy from juxtaposing sadomasochism, long seen as a “white thing”, with blackness. 

Moon Charania’s essay “The Promise of Whiteness: Fifty Shades of Grey as White Racial Archive” in Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media (Issue 8, January 2016) hypothesizes that the book and film’s story can only work because the two leads are extremely white and heterosexual. It presents a kind of hetero-white utopia in which all the cultural anxieties of the 2000s and 2010s are almost entirely absent. Almost no non-white people means no racial violence and inequality, and almost no queer and no trans people means no challenge to the primacy of heterosexuality. 

The significance of Grey’s emotional torment, Ana’s romantic attachment to Grey, and the familiarity of white heterosexual domestic love render this (attempted) violent domination both palatable and melancholic. [Pg. 84]

To excite and placate the audience, Ana and Christian as lovers and antagonists could only be white. The sudden excitement found in a powerful white man beating an empowered white woman for sexual pleasure establishes an inextricable link between racial formation and sexual subjectification. [Pg. 85]

In Charania’s view, whiteness excuses everything: Christian’s domination and sadism, Ana’s infatuation and naivete. Remove Christian’s whiteness, his wealth and privilege, from the narrative, and he’s just an abuser. Remove Ana’s whiteness, and she’s just a helpless victim. It’s not a love story anymore. 

So what happens if the analogs of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, “Christian Black” (Marlon Wayans) and “Hannah Steale” (Kali Hawk), are black?

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Sep 182021
 
Mimi (Emmanuelle Seigner) meets Nigel (Hugh Grant) in the company of her husband Oscar (Peter Coyote)

Bitter Moon (IMDB) is a 1992 erotic/romance film, directed by the notorious Roman Polanski, based on the novel Lunes de Fiel by Pascal Bruckner

Nigel goes on an ocean cruise with his wife, Fiona, where he becomes fascinated by a beautiful, mysterious woman named Mimi. Her husband, a paraplegic would-be writer named Oscar, demands that Nigel listen to his story of his obsessive love with Mimi before Nigel has an affair with her. Like another tale of twisted love, Nabokov’s Lolita, we shouldn’t take the narrator at face value. Mimi privately tells Nigel: “You musn’t believe all he says. He’s a sick man. He imagines things.”

In Oscar’s story, he is a self-consciously literary archetype, an independently wealthy young American living in Paris to become a writer. On a bus trip, he becomes smitten with Mimi, a young French woman. 

Mimi is a cipher, with almost nothing more to her than being a beautiful French dancer, at least in Oscar’s telling. The early stages of their romance go from sweetly romantic to an adolescent’s idea of eroticism. 

Oscar: (to Nigel) “I’m only going into such detail to show you how completely enslaved I was, body and soul, by this creature whose dangerous charms have made such an impression on you.”

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Jun 242021
 
Krista Kosonen as Mona

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Koirat eivät käytä housuja) (IMDB) is a 2019 Finnish drama, directed by J.-P. Valkeapää and co-written by the director and Juhana Lumme, based on a story by Lumme. 

A depressed widower finds relief in breath control sessions with a pro dominatrix. 

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Jun 072021
 
Ariane (Bulle Ogier) and Olivier (Gerard Depardieu)

Maîtresse (IMDB) is a 1976 French romance film, directed by Barbet Schroeder and written by Barbet Schroeder and Paul Voujargol. (All dialog quotations are from the subtitles.)

Maîtresse concerns Olivier (Gerard Depardieu), a young petty criminal, who tries to burgle an apartment and instead enters the dungeon of a professional dominatrix, Ariane (Bulle Ogier). They start an unlikely and troubled romance. 

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Jun 062021
 
Alana and Philip

“You should not work to make the audience comfortable with what they are witnessing at all.”

Notes on style, Pg.4

Slave Play by Jeremy O Harris is a 2018 three act stage play. Three modern interracial couples (two straight, one gay) attend a retreat to work out the issues in their relationships via slavery-based roleplay. This reveals and strains various faultlines in their relationships and their psyches.

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May 212021
 

Growing Up Femdom: Mass Media Reflections I

By TammyJo Eckhart, PhD

When I was a little girl, I was already dominant leaning. TV shows, books, movies, and even the stories I made up, that were girl-led, woman-led, or populated by Amazon-like societies, were filtered by my mind, so I only remember what strongly appealed to me. Today I’m a published kink author who has a PhD minor in the History of Gender and Sexuality. I know that I will still filter what I see and hear through a personal lens, but I have the tools to try to be objective. I’m glad that I’m finally able to write about some of the mainstream images of kink I remember liking when I first encountered them. I’m going to talk about some of the TV shows, TV clips, and TV movies from the tape you see a photo of, though this is an artificial limit for this post and not even close to everything I could write about. It has been over two decades since I last recorded on this tape. Do I think these are still examples of woman-led relationships, or do they play into stereotypes that harm women, relationships, and kink in general?

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