[identity profile] millefiori.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] the_comfy_chair
Take Clothes Off As Directed by [livejournal.com profile] helenish is NC-17, BDSM themed, and an unauthorized homage set in the alternate universe created by [livejournal.com profile] xanthelj in General & Dr. Sheppard and Coming Home.

I read Helen's story both as a sly, clever reflection of male/female relations in Western society, and a look at the potential pitfalls of a society with an institutionalized BDSM lifestyle. And it's an interesting contrast to Xanthe's stories and style.

First off, I have to say I feel kind of cheeky posting about this, because I've only read parts of General and Dr. Sheppard, and I haven't yet decided whether or not to read Coming Home. I have some strong feelings about BDSM, and (of course) that colors how I read stories with that subject matter. I think BDSM in the bedroom is a kink, and I take a live and let live attitude toward kink. BDSM (and Domestic Discipline) as a lifestyle is something else, and it's something which for personal reasons makes me uncomfortable.

Having said all that, I think I read enough of General & Dr. Sheppard to get something of a feel for the writing, and I think it's an interesting contrast. Xanthe's writing feels lush and emotional, sweeping the reader along like a fictional Tchaikovsky. Helen's writing is more spare, quirky and at times almost uncomfortable, more like, say, Erik Satie. And I think these different styles suit the different stories very well. I can see these two styles/stories existing in the same universe, the lush, operatic story told of people who are happy and suited to their lives in this society, and the quirky, sadder story of people who don't quite fit and aren't quite as happy.

I found Helen's story to be very sad, the only hopeful part being that John had finally found in Rodney a partner who loved him and would treat him the way he wants/deserves to be treated. I'm not sure if it was Helen's intent, but I read this as John not really being a sub per se (nor Rodney being much of a top), but both of them forced into the roles by the rigid hierarchy of their society, and going along the best they could. I read it as John being the sort of person who wants to play BDSM games in the bedroom, not live it as a lifestyle, and the only reason he wasn't crushed by this society is because he's a stubborn, contrary bastard.

I was almost nauseated by the way Elizabeth so obviously and earnestly felt she was doing the best, right thing for John with her inappropriate 'discipline', when in actuality she was more of a hindrance, just one more thing to be ignored/overcome in John's attempts to be himself and to do his job. Because being routinely beaten, undermined and humiliated is just the downside of being a sub who's trying to do his chosen job. (And, of course, he wouldn't have these problems if he hadn't got above himself and stayed in his proper place.) It felt very realistic, and therefore very unsettling, to see just how easy it was to strip John of his dignity and humanity, and turn him into a second-class citizen, essentially a slave. And perhaps it's all the more unsettling because there are still people in the world who are slaves, and who are routinely treated in degrading, disrespectful ways, and they too have no choice but to suck it up and endure.

Although it's a bit of a slap in the face to overlay this dynamic on our society and see the sub=women angle, I think (I hope) things are not quite that bad for women anymore. At least not in first world Western societies. It's also good to remind myself that fantasy universes aside, most of the people living rigid BDSM lifestyles are doing so because they want to, not because they have no choice. Nevertheless, I think this story is going to stay with me for a long time.

Date: 2006-11-16 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com
I've read all the stories and I think you should read Coming Home to understand where some people are having issues with D/s and how Xanthe portrays it. To me, her series is about romance with a capital r first and foremost. I think the notion that Helen's story is about how women were treated (and some could argue still are in certain political viewpoints) throws me. To me, Helen's story is how no matter how much we want equality in relationships, it takes work and usually hard work in real terms. It also takes both parties in a relationship willing to work at it. The fact John and Rodney in Helen's story can't talk about it says more about men than about women.

Date: 2006-11-16 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com
I probably am responding to someone saying that John is a woman and I don't particularly see him in this story as being a woman.

The problem with saying that subs = women and tops = men is really not understanding D/s relationships.

I was more intrigued how John/Rodney couldn't talk about their relationship comfortably expresses how failures occur in most relationships vanilla or otherwise.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 12:52 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 01:07 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 01:03 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mecurtin.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 01:11 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 01:29 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] thepouncer.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 09:38 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:46 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mutecornett.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 02:00 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] corinna-5.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 02:20 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] corinna-5.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:36 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cesperanza.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:11 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mutecornett.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 01:51 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cesperanza.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 05:05 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 05:12 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mikotokun.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] queenofhell.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-12-18 10:14 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-16 12:24 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (Default)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
mm. To me, this story isn't set in the same world as Xanthe's stories, though it's clear that it is inspired by them; it's argumentation through fiction in one of its cleanest forms, primarily as helenish credits Xanthe's work. To me, both authors spin the characterizations of John and Rodney to extremes: one extreme Romanticism, the other extreme Common Man.

What I enjoyed about Helen's story was that it was a rip-off of our world, with the civil rights issues about being a woman in America at the end of the last century and then mapping that onto the world of Doms and Subs. It's clear that the John Sheppard character undergoes the Tailhook harassment, and issues with when women first went to West Point--including the hair issue--are brought up again and again. To me, it's impossible to read this as anything other than straight SF, rather than Atlantis fan fiction, as it's not tied into the Atlantis Universe or the characters in any way. It's just as removed to me from Xanthe's original stories, as those were big-R romance, a BDSM utopia, and the plight of the everyday man isn't a part of that. What's cool to me is that I got such good stories out of it, Xanthe's to sooth my soul and Helen's to make me think, but they are not similar to me outside of the vague power-structure setting.

Date: 2006-11-16 12:44 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (Default)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
Yes, exactly. The setting is the only thing that makes them similar, giving them common names for ideas, social structures, and the like. But a Romance novel isn't an anti-slavery novel, just as a Wagnerian opera isn't Ibsen's "The Doll House".

Date: 2006-11-16 01:06 am (UTC)
ext_841: (Default)
From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com
LOL...I just commented above before reading yours, but you're making the mapping so much clearer and more succint...

I like the idea of looking at it as different generic treatments, differnt tones, so to speak...

Though as Im' reading Coming Home for the first time, now, I'm not sure the universes are utterly and completely dissimilar; in other words, you're saying they're not set in the same world, but could we possibly argue that they *reference* the same world with their generically influenced differnent modes and tropes and tone?

Date: 2006-11-16 01:18 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (Default)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
Oh, god, I'm back at plato's cave and the reflections on the wall as interpreted by different authors. Yes, in a sense, there is a generic "dom/sub" universe that both stories take their information from, just as Anne Rice and, wow, Gor stories, used that same world in their creation. As milliefiori brought up, it's like using the Civil War era American South--there is an uber setting that authors use in many different ways.

no plato...but

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 02:13 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:20 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:23 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:30 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:37 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 12:41 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Duh...

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:46 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] corinna-5.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:52 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:55 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] flambeau.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 10:13 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [personal profile] copracat - Date: 2006-11-16 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [personal profile] copracat - Date: 2006-11-16 08:57 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] flambeau.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:00 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:10 pm (UTC) - Expand

sidebar

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: sidebar

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [personal profile] copracat - Date: 2006-11-16 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [personal profile] copracat - Date: 2006-11-18 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 11:40 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 11:48 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [personal profile] copracat - Date: 2006-11-19 01:23 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: no plato...but

From: [personal profile] copracat - Date: 2006-11-19 01:24 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-19 01:30 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:10 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:47 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mamoru22.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 12:19 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fiamaya.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:30 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 07:07 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fiamaya.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 01:27 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] moojja.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fiamaya.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fiamaya.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-16 04:47 pm (UTC)
jadelennox: Judith Butler: gender is a sex toy (judith butler: gender sex toy)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
It's interesting -- before this post in the cutting board, I was going to make a post on this topic in my own journal.

I see these as two fundamentally different worlds. Xanthe created a fantasy world, which, for the purposes of the fantasy, presupposed that openness about sex and near-blindness to gender would remove many of the interpersonal problems that are present in our world. Helen's story does something very different -- it uses Xanthe's story as a jumping off point for a story which questions our society's gender roles, gender politics, and general tendency to sexually-related bigotry. In Helen's story, openness about sex and blindness to gender just shifts human bigotry to another topic. I think it's very possible to read Helen's story as an exposé of gender politics in our world, as science -fiction stories so often provide such exposés by changing subtle details about reality. But I don't read the story that way. I read it more as an exposé of human bigotry in general.

Moreover, I see it as another look into our conception of gender itself. She has a society in which people are either tops or bottoms (I don't recall if she brings in the switches that exist in Xanthe's story). And yet two characters, John and Rodney, clearly have personalities that don't fit so neatly into that binary. Even the existence of the "switch" role assumes that people still at any given point in time fallen to one line of the binary or the other. To me, this clearly exposes a dysfunctionality with any assigned binary labeling -- including the assigned binary labeling which, in Xanthe's story, isn't presented as nearly as dysfunctional as our society's entanglement of gender with sex.

So here I'm about to make an incredibly dysfunctional binary labeling: Xanthe's story can be seen as more a pure fantasy, where Helen's takes on more of the role of speculative fiction, using a fantastic premise to shed light on society.

Does that make any sense?

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:03 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 12:46 am (UTC) - Expand

Chiming in late...

From: [identity profile] zyna-kat.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-22 10:56 pm (UTC) - Expand

Debate by fiction

From: [identity profile] taverymate.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 02:08 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Debate by fiction

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 06:09 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 05:17 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 06:47 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 07:57 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 08:32 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 09:02 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mutecornett.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mutecornett.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 11:38 pm (UTC) - Expand

Re: Another thought

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 05:04 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] missmolly9.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-26 08:19 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] carolyn-claire.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-26 09:17 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:17 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-16 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com
I don't know the author's intentions but if it causes harm or concern from the original author then I would say that yes, a woman's work that whether intentionally or not, reflects badly on another woman's work, it does make me think it isn't being reflective of a feminist purpose.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:40 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dkwilliams.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:38 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 07:31 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 06:25 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-16 04:50 pm (UTC)
jadelennox: Senora Sabasa Garcia, by Goya (Default)
From: [personal profile] jadelennox
I don't think Helen's story reflects badly on Xanthe's -- I think they're doing two very different things, and some prefer one, while others prefer the other.

Additionally, it's plenty easy to be feminist while reflecting badly on another woman's work (even though I don't think that's what's going on here). If I write an essay that exposes Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin as working against the cause of women in America, and in doing so, reflect badly on their heavily flawed journalism, then I am most certainly being reflective of a feminist purpose. Though like I said, that's not what's going on here.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-16 05:10 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] jadelennox - Date: 2006-11-16 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-16 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com
Hm, I thought that Rodney and John in Helen's story weren't communicating and therefore, they were having severe issues making it work. They were just going along with the problems they had - which is what a lot of people do because they either lack the tools or the ability to work things out or help themselves find happiness. That is what fascinated me about the story.

Xanthe's story is overriding a romance but it also brings up issues that have to be worked out. Not everyone was all happy with the Dom/sub thing - even Rodney was having issues (that's where we found Rodney at first in the story.)

Date: 2006-11-17 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thepouncer.livejournal.com
I'm not sure if it was Helen's intent, but I read this as John not really being a sub per se (nor Rodney being much of a top), but both of them forced into the roles by the rigid hierarchy of their society, and going along the best they could.

I read a fair amount of BDSM, because it's one of my kinks, and one thing I noticed about Helen's story was that there was *nothing* in the sex scenes that led me to believe John was actually submissive. Maybe because they were a straight-forward accounting of actions, with minimal description of how John *felt* at any time, but the relief at giving up control, the shifting power dynamic, that's typical of the genre just wasn't there (I had many issues with Xanthe's stories, but that's one thing she did very right). That made it difficult for me to evaluate the romance aspect of the story. I thought the commentary on feminism was brilliant - incredibly well done, and every snippet of John's past experience explained who he was in *this* story. I'm still confused about what John and Rodney got out of their sexual relationship, though.

Obviously, both of them were bad at it, John probably more so than Rodney. Why then did John keep coming back to Rodney? John was labelled a certain way, as a submissive. But there was nothing behind that label, no substance to convince me that he got anything out of being beaten by Rodney as punishment or even the sexual games. And given the feminist agenda, which used the dom/sub roles to explore how gender politics have disadvantaged women throughout history, and John's determination to succeed in his career, I needed a compelling reason for him to continue this relationship that had to be hidden, that would damage his authority if made public. That lack keeps me from endorsing the story wholeheartedly.

Another issue I had was Elizabeth's behavior, which came off to me as demonized. Her punishments of John lacked any sympathy, and she was portrayed as repellent. Maybe this was just to drive home the inherent injustice of this BDSM-structured world and further the feminist agenda (and I agree with that agenda - BDSM world is a nasty, nasty place and I wouldn't want to live there), but Elizabeth is a character I like and it was difficult to read her as The Enemy. (I was probably influenced in this from reading Lenore's recent BDSM-themed story first - Elizabeth in that one was really horrific, and I was primed to dislike the more subtle use of the same trope in this story)

For those reasons, I'm unable to say that I *loved* this story, but it was very well-written and explored ideas that I think are important. I know I'll think about it for a long time to come.

Date: 2006-11-17 02:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moojja.livejournal.com
I had the opposite reaction to you. I think John is a sub, who enjoys being a sub in bed. His first sexual encounter before the military (and the issues that started with it) was with his girlfriend. Who tied him up with her socks (great detail).

I think the military, and the long string of bad one nightstands killed/dampened his ability to enjoy sex. He also cuts his hair, dresses plainly just so people could take him seriously. He tries to hide his sexuality. I think that carried into the bedroom. He is not able to enjoy being a sub, because it comes with so much baggage.

After all he enjoys the normal sex he has Rodney, which in this world is getting tied up and fisted.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] mutecornett.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:03 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] ladyagnew.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 11:16 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-17 02:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moojja.livejournal.com
I also don't think Rodney was bad top in the bedroom. But as part of a relationship, he just doesn't fit John's idea of a traditional top.

Date: 2006-11-17 03:32 am (UTC)
ext_1611: Isis statue (weir)
From: [identity profile] isiscolo.livejournal.com
I read Elizabeth's behavior as an ironic comment on canon, where John generally does what he wants and asks forgiveness later.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] thepouncer.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 04:41 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] isiscolo.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 07:43 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-17 03:35 am (UTC)
ext_1637: (Default)
From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com
I'm still confused about what John and Rodney got out of their sexual relationship, though.

Man, me too. I had no clue why they were ever together or what they were getting out of it.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] thepouncer.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 04:44 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-17 12:49 pm (UTC)
ext_150: (Default)
From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Um...John repeatedly mentioned how he fantasised about someone giving him permission to come when he wanked, etc. He talked about how he liked being ordered about and tied down. So how did you read that? Did you read it as him being brainwashed into only thinking he wanted those things? I'm really curious, because while I at first wondered the same thing (was he really subby or just labelled that way and trying to conform?), it soon became clear that that's what he wanted, what he got off on.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] wickedwords.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-17 04:55 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2006-11-17 02:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangst.livejournal.com
I didn't read Elizabeth as the enemy. I read her as misguided. Others were punished in this world that were not subs, we just didn't see much of it. I think she thought she was correcting his behavior, helping him relieve guilt, and helping him grow. She didn't know that he didn't feel particularly guilty for what he had done, and therefore the punishments were pointless. If he had opened a discussion with her things might have gone differently, but I think he was too trained to keep his opinions to himself (because no one would listen to him before). I believe that Elizabeth was meant to represent those men that were sympathetic to women entering the work force, were trying to be helpful, but were blind to their own prejudices.

Date: 2006-11-17 04:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caorann.livejournal.com
Yes, that's exactly how I read her in this story. Someone who was sympathetic and trying hard to be liberal and tolerant, and unfortunately came off as condescending and unable to acknowledge her "dom privilege" (as equated to "gender privilege"). I do think that some of that was colored by the fact that we saw Elizabeth from John's perspective, and he's a biased narrator, who's take on people is slanted because of his past experiences.

Date: 2006-11-17 01:23 pm (UTC)
ext_1246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] dossier.livejournal.com
Interesting! I totally agree with your comparison, Xanthe's stories are on the hardcore Romance end of the spectrum, but Helen's is a bit more realistic--the flip side of Xanthe's coin.

Although it's a bit of a slap in the face to overlay this dynamic on our society and see the sub=women angle, I think (I hope) things are not quite that bad for women anymore.

I think Helen's story is a social commentary on the insider's view of the USMiltary complex. I definitely remember the sexual harrasment issues at VMI not even a decade ago. Tailhook, anyone? I seem to recall AFA problems, but no details.

John's dad, the career counselor's attitude towards John just leaving to find a top are barely stylized examples of the glass ceiling that still exists; I believe there's a rule that disallows women from serving in active combat. I think also that you have to think of time period that the story is describing and make it equivalent to the mid 1950's. Now, the glass ceiling is so much thinner or non existent in the rest of American society, that's it's a little shocking to know that we've only come so far.


I think that John as a sexual sub but not a lifestyle sub is a really effective metaphor for with his interaction with Elizabeth. The question of Elizabeth's intent (outside of being a plot device) is a fascinating one. Is she making a not-so-subtle statement about how the military is subservient to the ends of the expedition? Is she indulging in a personal, misogynistic (wow, what a twisted way to use that word) mindset that subs don't get to have initiative? It's difficult to make any real call here, Elizabeth barely exists, a few lines of dialog and John's colored perception of his treatment.

I've read all three stories, the BDSM in them doesn't bother me, because it's so over the top. I know there's a subsection of society that does indulge, but I don't correlate that with the fiction--as Xanthe says repeatedly--it's fiction.


(no subject)

From: [identity profile] september1967.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 05:12 am (UTC) - Expand

Re: Style

From: [identity profile] dafnagreer.livejournal.com - Date: 2006-11-18 11:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Page generated Jun. 29th, 2017 03:49 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios