Once a month a small group of submissive women friends get together to here in NYC to review a work of erotic literature. This month and the previous month we did two classics; The Story of O by Pauline Reage and this month was The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, by Anne Rice. Just like last month the story was very easily divided into the loved it and hated it groups. There were a few common themes in the discussions for the past two meetings. This month we took a little more time to discuss why the two camps might happen.
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is not the fairy tale you may remember of your childhood years. One of the girls talked about when she first found the book at a local book shop and picked it up and bought it. She said when she picked up the book she had no idea what she was getting into and what she thought she was buying was the more common variety of romance smut. She said if she had known she would have at least blushed a bit and been embarrassed when she took it to the counter to buy it. She also recounted that when she got home and started reading it she found the book disturbing, but yet she couldn’t put it down and was excited. One thing we all agreed on is Beauty and all the other prince & princesses spend a lot of time getting spanked. The spankings are never ending. I am fairly sure there is spanking in every chapter. Another consensus was that Beauty cries a lot and was very whiny. Some of the women were annoyed, “I wanted to tell her to shut up. Nothing had even happened to her yet and she would be crying!” Another person was quick to point out most the whining and complaining was actually happening in her head and not out loud. That we were privy to her thought processes. All agreed to that and understood how we do that ourselves. This book is filled with sex, spanking, crying, more spanking, pony play, exhibition, paddles, dildos, humiliation, voyeurism, more spanking. What it didn’t have and the big topic of discussion was the lack of consent. This is a adult fantasy book.
This month we found our little group again divided in the discussion of consent in the book. People had issues all over the map regarding the questionable ages of the characters and lack of consent period. My argument for this both times was to look at the dates that these books were published and that this was fantasy writing. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty was published in March 1, 1983. It is exactly at that time, in 1983, that David Stein was writing a statement of identity and purpose for the now defunct New York group Gay Males SM Activists (GMSMA) and it was most likely the first time the future mantra of Safe, Sane, & Consensual was penned. I tried, perhaps not too well, to tell them about the difference in the times between then and now. We had conversations on consent, but it wasn’t like it is now. I can’t even hug someone now without asking consent. Is that good or bad I am not sure, but I digress. I tried to tell them that SSC, and now RACK, PRICK, or whatever mantra people are using… well SSC came to be some type of creed or slogan that slave david stein ever meant it to be. Here david writes,
“In the beginning, however, ‘safe, sane, and consensual S/M’ wasn’t a slogan
but simply the preamble to a statement of purpose that goes on to talk about
such things as community, responsibility, tradition, education, and gay
liberation.” … “The ‘safe, sane, and consensual’ formula was put forward as a minimum
standard for ethically defensible S/M, because that must be the basis for any defense
of S/M rights. Today, however, and especially in the hetero and pansexual
communities, S/M itself (or “BDSM,” which some find more palatable) is
frequently defined in terms of SSC, while the SSC slogan is treated with quasireligious
reverence and even explicitly referred to as a “credo” or “creed.” Instead
of asking people to think about what it means to do S/M ethically, and to make
the hard choices that are sometimes necessary (if only between what’s right and
what’s right now), many organizations today act as if these issues have all been
settled, assuring us that sadistic or masochistic behavior not deemed SSC isn’t
S/M at all but something else — abuse, usually, or domestic violence or poor selfesteem.”
It was during this long conversation about consent one of the women asked a question and made a point that I think resolved why we were so split on the liking or disliking of the book and also on our issues of consent. One comment was the observation that most of the other books we have read so far in our Smut Club were not fantasy and this book and O were both fantasy based. You have to be able to apply suspension of disbelief. I’d say it’s likened to believing in fairies! Just for a moment you must be able to believe the unbelievable. Those who enjoy fantasy books, like this one woman, will be more likely to enjoy the Beauty Trilogy. The other question and observation was regarding to when we read the book in reference to when we entered the S&M scene. Myself and a few others read this book before or near the beginning of their journey in BDSM, while others had been involved in the scene long enough that they don’t think of themselves and novice per se, but having some experience. We didn’t get much of a chance to even get into character discussion, but I think the favorite character from what I recall was Prince Alexi. The least liked character was the Prince. The impression was he turned out to be too much of a mamma’s boy. He wasn’t dominant enough *gasp*! Overall this book was not hated as much as O, but I think the majority of women in our group do not lean toward fantasy writing.
As much as we women enjoy the discussion about our smut the truth is we love to be around people who make us laugh, smile, and feel welcome as we are. Each month our Smut Club moves around the city and this week we were on the Upper East Side. This month our host, who is a vegan, asked we keep her home a meat free zone. I have to admit that it was great. Usually we all bring the unhealthiest gluttony of baked goods and preserved items anyone can imagine. I hope everyone enjoyed the snacks as much as I did and that we start bringing more yummy goodness. So gathering together over smut although it stimulates are minds in a laid back way is really just a very good reason to munch out and socialize. At this moment the Smut Club is probably the best female social group for submissive/slave/bottoms in NYC.
Along the lines of good smut, next month I’ll be doing a book review here as part of a virtual book tour of author Xan West‘s newest book, “Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica” Its a book filled with 24 short stories. The book will become available is eBook and old fashion paper on October 2. My review for the tour is scheduled for October 12th. I’m looking forward to checking out all the good girls, bad girls, fierce girl and the Daddies in this newest release of queer erotica!