Thursday, October 20, 2011

Don't dis the kink.

"If you are going to mock me, at least get your facts straight." -- Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory (episode "The Einstein Approximation")

I want to state up front this is NOT an "author behaving badly" kind of reactionary post to a less than stellar review. I'm using this as an illustration to show how it never fails to amaze me how someone can "dis the kink" when they were the ones who didn't pay a whit of attention in the first place and probably don't know anything about it. And keep reading, because I do have a destination in mind for this rambling journey. I also know that to many of you, I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, so thank you for indulging me.

One of my books has the following disclaimer clearly included (by my publisher) in the blurb:
Content Warning: Contains subject matter that might offend some readers—graphic language, explicit sex, mf sex, mmf ménage, mm sex, anal sex/play, sex toys, Femdom and Maledom BDSM practices, bondage, Domination/submission, Master/slave, spanking, impact play, humiliation, cuckolding, public exhibition, public sex, and piercing sarcasm.
I'd say that's pretty clear, no?

Here's a section of a reader review (and which the reviewer gave the lowest ranking available on the site):
 ...every one had certain needs that are not necessarily the "norm" in society but this just made me totally uncomfortable, threesomes OK, at little BDSM OK, role playing OK, but Master/slave, impact play and humiliation - no thanks.
Umm...okay. Sooo...why did you buy the book then? They ranked the book based on their personal prejudices, not on the quality of writing/editing or on the story. I use this illustration to make the following point, that just because someone else has a kink you don't like or agree with, as long as the participants are all consenting human adults, who cares? Would they have read the book at all had they known I was an active participant in the BDSM lifestyle?

A lot of people who participate in the lifestyle, willing participants and nice people who don't bother anyone, have to live in fear. They have to live in fear of being outed because of their family situations, jobs, school, or some other reason. This fear is driven due to people who, despite not understanding or agreeing with something, make no effort whatsoever to try to make allowances for people who have different interests than them.

That's what it boils down to, right?

What if I told you a man liked to go out every weekend, without his wife, and got together with a bunch of his friends. They got all hot and sweaty, piled on top of each other, grabbing and pulling at each other, then ended with a group naked shower.

Would that shock you?

What if I told you they were playing football.

Oh, so that's okay then?

It's the same kind of double standard some men have that two women together are hot, but two men together are an abomination against nature.

Um, WTF? Why is that? Why do some people close their brains?

What if I told you that one couple I know, who've been married for about fifty years, have also been involved in the BDSM lifestyle for almost the entire time? Obviously, they're happy doing what they're doing. They're happily married. They balance their kinky and vanilla lives. Should they be looked down upon for the fact that they have a D/s dynamic just because it's not someone else's gold standard?

Obviously, this kind of discrimination isn't unique to people who are into BDSM. The GLBT community has dealt with it forever, as have religious and racial sectors. Having to hide a part of who you are, regardless of the fact that it doesn't hurt anyone, just because of fears of how others will react.

Isn't it time that people learn to take a "live and let live" approach to life? Are we not adults?

Here's the truth of the matter: people into BDSM are no different than people who enjoy golfing every weekend, or people who enjoy going to NASCAR races, or people who build ships in bottles. They are doing something that they enjoy that's not hurting anyone. (Well, not hurting them without their permission.) It's not abuse if it's consensual. It's not sick or twisted or demented, any moreso than spending thousands of dollars collecting Beanie Babies or basket weaving supplies.

There are people out there into some kinks that are definitely NOT my own kinks. But that's okay, because I don't have to choose to play with them or even associate myself with them. No biggie. How they practice their kink in no way impacts my life anymore than some duffer hitting the links every Saturday at holy-crap-thirty in the morning. It doesn't make them less able to do their job. It doesn't make them bad parents or horrible people.

It just makes them different than me. Just like I'm different than you, and you're different than someone else.

Did you know in some countries, women can be beaten (or worse) for driving? They can be killed for leaving their houses if they aren't covered head to toe in fabric.

So isn't it kind of silly to look down on people who willingly participate in something that makes them happy? Especially if you don't even have all the facts straight about what you're judging them for? Maybe if everyone felt free to pursue their happiness without worrying about someone judging them, perhaps the world would be a happier place.

Something to think about.


  1. To me, it says more about the reviewer and their own prejudices rather than reflecting on the author's skill set when a book is given low marks for being exactly what it promised to be.

    To bring the aggravation level even higher, I have a distant relative (but not distant enough) who is part of a large Fundamentalist Christian Group. The women of the group go through the descriptions of books on Amazon and without buying or reading them, for fear of being sullied, leave one and two star ratings to any books they deem to be erotic or unacceptable. No kidding! They do this to an assigned number of books every week. I would think requiring a reader purchase a book before a comment could be submitted might slow that down a bit.

    I have been happily married to the same guy for over 30 years and we live a wonderful D/s life. I have come to believe that some of the ugliness expressed about our lifestyle as well as the lifestyles of many others, has something to do with the fact that we are happy people and sexually fulfilled. Jealousy is a terrible thing.


  2. As always, lots of good points up there. Fun to read too. Right, I'm off to play golf in my underwear at midnight with my penguin suited neighbors. Joking, but hey, it might be fun.

  3. Oh and Donna, they sound like someone else I heard about who went and left a few hundred one star reviews on Goodreads over about 4 days. They got booted off, but it makes me wonder who else does this.

  4. I so agree.Your books do have clear warnings and the reader who gave the bad review should have stopped reading if she was that uncomfortable. Same with TV - don't like what you're seeing...use the OFF button.
    I presume she was talking about "Safe Harbour" - to me that is a very well written, emotionally complex book. Sure there's some kink but that adds to the story, it isn't "the story".
    Hugs xx
    p.s. I haven't heard from my SBF (supposed best friend) since I told her about being involved in BDSM. She said she wasn't going to judge, then promptly did. :( We've been friends for over 20 years and I'm still the same person. Sad.

  5. I just found your books through a written recommendation. I was obviously attracted to your book descriptions, but wow I loved your statement above! I started reading books with the bdsm theme because I was attracted to the idea of a strong, independent woman letting a man or however many partners she chooses, take care of her sexually, push her boundries all while truly putting her needs first. I feel that as a woman/mom I am always handling everything, appointments, the house, raising my sweet boy, etc. I love it but I also want to let go of all the control. I happended to mention that to some friends and oh my, what a response. I was told that I must be going through a midlife crisis (I'm 38), I'm perverted, how can I think such a thing because I am the mother of a 4 year old, etc. I couldn't believe how close minded people were about this. And the fact that I like reading M/M books, I was actually told that I was sick! For me, as long as those involved are fully aware and consenting, I believe they should enjoy their lives as they choose. I have learned quickly that while I am deciding to take the step of making my fantasy of BDSM into a possible reality, I need to be true to my thoughts and feelings, and realize there will always be those who judge. For a newbie like me, any recommendations from anyone here about learning more about BDSM or even being able to visit a location, etc. is appreciated :) PLEASE keep writing and I promise I'll keep reading!

  6. This is an important topic. I'm brand new to the lifestyle but felt drawn to it all my adulthood. I actually "came out" to my best friend first. She's really more like a sister. But she's also a marriage therapist and I wasn't sure if she would say there was something wrong with me. I told her I wanted my husband to tie me up. She said, "Cool."

    I was like, "No really. I even like a little bit of pain."

    She said, "Mm hmm...that doesn't surprise me."

    I was like, Whaaat?

    Lol! But it was awesome. She made me feel normal. Then when my husband didn't over react either I was like, well, maybe there are more open minded people out there than I thought.

    Oh, and I don't get why people would read a bdsm themed book if they weren't intersted in bdsm. Doesn't make any sense other than they are just looking to cause drama or controversy by leaving poor reviews.

    Naya Walker

  7. Hi im reviewer my self and when you read a book and then are going to write about it,rember that it's you that have choosen to read this book.And if you don't like to read about bdsm then dont choose that kind of books because then you can't be open to the book and get the right review the book deserve.And i think if the person can't read a book with a open mind,then you are not unprejudiced and i really hate does people.because no one has any thing to do what you are doing behind your own doors.

  8. I've read all you books and love them! I have always been open minded but reading your books opened my mind to a whole different lifestyle. Now I know I'm not a pervert, just someone who wants to learn and grow.

  9. Well said, Tymber! go girl! I totally agree. My DH and I have been together for 35+ yrs & am someone who is not living any of these kinks however I do quite enjoy reading your books and authors of similar books so I must have an interest, right? I can be heard saying these sorts of things often. My relationships are based on how I am treated, respected etc and I will defend someone elses's right to live their life the way they wish... to set their relationship boundaries where they want to, together, with out any need to explain or defend, to anyone. I have been amazed at what peope feel they have the right to comment on about someone else. be they family, friend or stranger. I frequently turn to my husband with raised eyebrows with a message of 'what the....?'. Knowing me so well, He just smiles & nods in return. But Tymber, you write I will read AND enjoy! :-)

  10. As I've been pretty vocal about this habit of some reviewers, you know my opinion on this matter pretty much matches yours.

    However, I do have to say that my biggest thought while reading this was "What book is that??? Where can I get it??" :)

    rianeholt at gmail dot com

  11. What does it say about me that your content warning totally makes me want to buy your book?

    I think it's hilarious when people are into one kink, but then abhor another, as if their kink is more "righteous" or whatever. I once read a story about a Christian BDSM couple that were engaged and abstaining from sex. They thought their BDSM relationship was great but looked down their noses at BDSMers that engaged in pre-marital sex. What?! Seriously?

    Being active in the lifestyle gives you a great opportunity to open your mind. You learn to look beyond the kink and labels and see people as people.

  12. I'm guessing the book in question was Cardinal's Rule? The one that I cried and cried and cried over? God I loved that book and yet I hated it too. I hated the choices made and how clear the "what could have been" was pointed out. ARGH! Thinking about this book just gets my emotions all rolling and boiling. I'm so sad about the situation and yet it was justified. The cuckcolding part nearly broke my heart. BROKE.MY.HEART I tell you. GAH! I can't be reasonable when discussing this book. It moved me so much. Oddly enough, I don't recall the warning on the book. I bought it because I read a couple of your other books and though, huh, why not?

    Anyway, I'm always baffled by people who pick up a book and ignore the warnings then complain about it. Pussies! That's what I call them.

  13. I think anyone reading that comment would be more likely to judge the reviewer than the book. I've read a lot of reader reviews on Amazon. There are many that don't make sense in the context of the book's description and what the other reader reviews say. Perhaps the reader just feels ashamed of what she really wants. In that case, we should all feel sorry for her lack of personal acceptance.

  14. Excellent post. I'm a reviewer and read what the book is about before I decided to read it. Hell even before I started reviewing I read the warnings. It sounds like this reviewer should not be reading anything BDSM and stick to vanilla only. It irritates me when someone rates something low just because it wasn't their cuppa. I am also open to trying books that aren't my norm with an open mind. I just had someone send me a F/F short story, I've never had interest in reading F/F before, but the story isn't bad at all and the sex is written well. Will I go out and look for F/F to read..maybe not there are so many more sub genres I enjoy reading, but my eyes have been open to F/F and I realize I can read it with out preconceived notions. And I will not turn away a review request just because it is F/F.

  15. I get that BDSM wouldn't be everyone's lifestyle. They may love it, hate it, disagree with it or embrace it. But isn't it ok to just not like a book. I'm not even sure what book started the subject but I've read books I just didn't like and is it bad for me to say I don't like it? Maybe it was the subject, or the characters or the writing style or whatever it was. Can't I voice my opinion assuming I'm being respectful. I like BDSM books but I haven't liked all BDSM books or paranormal or military. We don't all have to love every single book we read right? Just one readers thoughts.

  16. Well, my first thought was I have to read that book ;-) lol

    Seriously though, I have to agree with you completely. The world would be a much better place if we just lived and let live.

    I used to be one of those people that thought all BDSM was just weird, but that's because I didn't know anything about it. Having had some BDSM books recommended to me by friends, I certainly don't think that anymore. I rather enjoy reading them and elements are even finding themselves into my own writing.

    Don't think I'd ever participate in the life style - think hubbie would run a mile, lol - but kudos to those that do.

  17. Ok, I have to just ditto what Tara said. But,that was a great post. I agree - read the dang warning...I mean, did you look at it just a little before picking up the book? And the disclosure just makes me want to curl up with the book anyway! LOL

  18. I couldn't agree more ... and I have to second Riane, as I read the "warning" I was thinking, "Damn, at least mention the title. I need something to read!"

    Yes, it is a shame that people can't get beyond their prejudices to be objective. I think its the reason the world is in such decline.