Because when submissive women are called passive and bdsm is likened to some "matryric" abuse and flagellation, then i have a lot to say.
"Woman as Victim:
Story of O
The Story of O, by Pauline Reage, incorporates, along with all literary pornography, principles and characters already isolated in my discussion of children's fairy tales. The female as a figure of innocence and evil enters the adult world--the brutal world of genitalia. The female manifests in her adult form--cunt. She emerges defined by the hole between her legs. In addition, Story of O is more than simple pornography. It claims to define epistemologically what a woman is, what she needs, her processes of thinking and feeling, her proper place. It links men and women in an erotic dance of some magnitude: the sado-masochistic complexion of O is not trivial--it is formulated as a cosmic principle which articulates, absolutely, the feminine."
O already has a cunt, the story is about the fullfillment of her cunt. I will talk more later about this.
I agree the complexion of O is not trivial and that's why I am writing this. Whereas the critic is writing from one side, I hope to bring another side.
"Also, O is particularly compelling for me because I once believed it to be what its defenders claim--the mystical revelation of the true, eternal, and sacral destiny of women."
I personally although I know there will be women into bdsm who are from a different point of view, do not care for the anything mystical. Whether Story of O is a mystical revelation, is beyond me. I simply read it as a story of one woman's journey and although I am a fan, I'm not O and my journey will be quite different because no other woman but O herself is O. All women in O although they are slaves, they are all different personalities, none of that disappears so I don't believe Story of O to be any comment on women's destiny of any sort. To me that would reading too much into it.
"The book was absorbed as a pulsating, erotic, secular Christianity (the joy in pure suffering, woman as Christ figure)."
Oh please. I remember in the movie Dead Poets Society, the character Neal wears a wreath on his head and some people said oh he's a matyr, a Jesus figure. No he wore a wreath because we just saw him in a play where his character wears a wreath and he loved acting as much as living and wanted to hold onto that. I know some people get joy in pure suffering but what if some people do not get joy from THAT? When O suffers, that's part of her bdsm journey, it's not because her motivation was to suffer. Again, I think this is reading too much into it. The story reads as a journey, I don't even get how you can see the author making a comment about O as a Christ figure.
"I experienced O with the same infantile abandon as the NEWSWEEK reviewer who wrote: "What lifts this fascinating book above mere perversity is its movement toward the transcendence of the self through a gift of the self . . . to give the body, to allow it to be ravaged, exploited, and totally possessed can be an act of consequence, if it is done with love for the sake of love." 1 Any clear-headed appraisal of O will show the situation, O's condition, her behavior, and most importantly her attitude toward her oppressor as a logical scenario incorporating Judeo-Christian values of service and self-sacrifice and universal notions of womanhood, a logical scenario demonstrating the psychology of submission and self-hatred found in all oppressed peoples. O is a book of astounding political significance."
If a book is "merely" perverted, why can't that just be the case? If we are not allowed to even write out our perversions, which are not politically correct, there are many grey areas, then that's sad.
The book is about love but I also believe it's also about conditioning. Love is a feeling but being captive and possessed can lead to feelings for the captor and the Dominant and Master. You give your body to them, you're sharing your soul with them. I actually don't believe you're giving away your soul to them. I don't think the Dominant is the oppressor, I think they're the opposite of that word unless they are a bully and there's a line between acts of bdsm and bullying which a true Dominant will understand fully no matter their emotions and hardships as human beings themselves.
Self hatred? Picture this. A woman with passions in her life and in love with her boyfriend. Same woman decides to explore bdsm. Boyfriend is not an abuser. Simple as that.
It's not about saying hurt me. Whip me because you want to treat me like SHIT. It's about saying I will take on anything for you. I will explore the whipping because I want to know. I want to know more than the sexuality I am experiencing at the moment. I don't understand it some times but I believe in experience, exploration, knowledge. I also believe in giving myself fully not as some form of dead meat to be sacrificed because I'm a human with a living, beating heart but because I believe in giving my body to my Dominant fully.
"This is, then, the story of O: O is taken by her lover Rene to Roissy and cloistered there; she is fucked, sucked, raped, whipped, humiliated, and tortured on a regular and continuing basis--she is programmed to be an erotic slave, Rene's personal whore; after being properly trained she is sent home with her lover; her lover gives her to Sir Stephen, his half-brother; she is fucked, sucked, raped, whipped, humiliated, and tortured on a regular and continuing basis; she is ordered to become the lover of Jacqueline and to recruit her for Roissy, which she does; she is sent to Anne-Marie to be branded with Sir Stephen's mark and to have rings with his insignia inserted in her cunt; she serves as an erotic model for Jacqueline's younger sister Natalie who is infatuated with her; she is taken to a party masked as an owl, led on a leash by Natalie, and there plundered, despoiled, raped, gangbanged; realizing that there is nothing else left for Sir Stephen to do with her or to her, fearing that he will abandon her, she asks his permission to kill herself and receives it. Q.E.D., pornography is never big on plot."
O is asked if she wants this, she's also warned, she's asked are you sure. She says yes. Of course if she is hell bent on self destruction, she would say yes but you have to differentiate between a victim bent on self destruction and a woman who WANTS bdsm. O is going to cry at the whippings and say no when they're hurting her, what would you expect her do? Laugh like she's posessed, brain washed? Again, bdsm is not brainwashing and the condiotioning element is not brainwashing. O is not saying yes, whip me harder because like I say it's not about "hurt me please."
O is a sexual slave, not an abused junkie, a sexual slave who has given her body to be possessed by as Dominants and Masters see fit. She's not a woman who is walking down a dark alley metaphorically and literally. And she's not pushed to a wall and raped by a gang and if she happens to enjoy it that makes her more of a dirty slut to those men. She is taken because she is a slave. Her enjoyment comes from the fullfillment of her purpose, what she signed up for; to become a sexual slave.
And when Sir Stephen is to leave her, and he is her Master, as a slave, she WILL ask for consent to her death. It's not ultimate sacrifice, it's ultimate posession and now that Sir Stephen is leaving her, she is not posessed by him and therefore no more. This is a philisophy of bdsm and O is a book which is fiction and fantasy but anyone in the real world training to be a slave will know why O asks for consent to her death, it's as I have explained. This does not mean it's happening now as we speak all around and neither does it mean that men want to kill women.
I thought you said Story of O is more than pornography? You can't just call it pornographic when it suits you.
"Of course, like most summaries, the above is somewhat sketchy. I have not mentioned the quantities of cock that O sucks, or the anal assaults that she sustains, or the various rapes and tortures perpetrated on her by minor characters in the book, or the varieties of whips used, or described her clothing or the different kinds of nipple rouge, or the many ways in which she is chained, or the shapes and colors of the welts on her body."
Well you have just done it and in a very trivial way. Sure, if O sucks 100 cocks, then she sucks 100 cocks talking about it in any way doesn't change that but in the book it's not written like that nor was I counting the number of cocks. She is pleasuring the men.
At Roissy, the place where is she training to be a sexual slave, there are numerous men so of course she is to suck their cocks and the minor characters in the book have different personalities and the tortures are applied to them fittingly in the sense of if they have done something wrong or they are to be whipped as part of their training.
I will describe her clothing it is graceful, flowing and easy access. The clothing of a submissive and a slave girl.
Why so many different whips? They all have different strengths, stings, lengths.
O is chained in different ways as as her Dominant, Master sees fit. It's not about mutilation. It's about being bound and yes there will be helplessness in that. Vulnerability is not evil in my opinion. There is a line in bdsm between praying on vulnerability like a bully and testing the woman, pushing her.
"From the course of O's story emerges a clear mythological figure: she is woman, and to name her O, zero, emptiness, says it all."
If so, it's because she's being remade. Remade into a slave. She's not going to be punished for say a passion for photography, she's going to be punished if she doesn't follow her training obediently. Differentiate between losing one's personality and sexual slavery.
"Her ideal state is one of complete passivity,"
I disagree completely. We're talking about O.
And a true Dominant doesn't want a plastic blow up doll. They want a woman of complexities and a woman who can completely submit. O is that type of woman.
"..nothingness, a submission so absolute that she transcends human form (in becoming an owl)."
I thought that was about having wings and being a creature of the night?
"Only the hole between her legs is left to define her, and the symbol of that hole must surely be O."
Yes. O is her cunt. O is a cunt. She is her woman genetalia. But she's her Master's cunt.
"Much, however, even in the rarefied environs of pornography, necessarily interferes with the attainment of utter passivity. Given a body which takes up space, has needs, makes demands, is connected, even symbolically, to a personal history which is a sequence of likes, dislikes, skills, opinions, one is formed, shaped--one exists at the very least as positive space. And since in addition as a woman one is born guilty and carnal, personifying the sins of Eve and Pandora, the wickedness of Jezebel and Lucretia Borgia, O's transcendence of the species is truly phenomenal."
I think this is running with one argument. If you want to believe that about the book, if I can'r read into it like that but you can then that makes us different as people and readers and I won't criticise that but I think this argument is sort of running with one theory really and not having time for other sides. Some will say yeah but, K, isn't that what arguments kind of are.
"The thesis of O is simple. Woman is cunt, lustful, wanton. She must be punished, tamed, debased."
Punished for being lustful or wanton? Tamed and debased for having a high sex drive? Or, exploring her lusts and desires and wants? And punished, tamed when she is not obedient in the training she signed up for as being a slave girl. That's how I see it.
"She gives the gift of herself, her body, her well-being, her life, to her lover. This is as it should be--natural and good. It ends necessarily in her annihilation, which is also natural and good, as well as beautiful, because she fulfills her destiny:
As long as I am beaten and ravished on your behalf, I am naught but the thought of you, the desire of you, the obsession of you. That, I believe, is what you wanted. Well, I love you, and that is what I want too.
Then let him take her, if only to wound her! O hated herself for her own desire, and loathed Sir Stephen for the self-control he was displaying. She wanted him to love her, there, the truth was out: she wanted him to be chafing under the urge to touch her lips and penetrate her body, to devastate her if need be. . . . 3
. . . Yet he was certain that she was guilty and, without really wanting to, Rene was punishing her for a sin he knew nothing about (since it remained completely internal), although Sir Stephen had immediately detected it: her wantonness. 4
. . . no pleasure, no joy, no figment of her imagination could ever compete with the happiness she felt at the way he used her with such utter freedom, at the notion that he could do anything with her, that there was no limit, no restriction in the manner with which, on her body, he might search for pleasure. 5
O is totally possessed. That means that she is an object, with no control over her own mobility, capable of no assertion of personality. Her body is a body, in the same way that a pencil is a pencil, a bucket is a bucket, or, as Gertrude Stein pointedly said, a rose is a rose. It also means that O's energy, or power, as a woman, as Woman, is absorbed. Possession here denotes a biological transference of power which brings with it a commensurate spiritual strength to the possessor. O does more than offer herself; she is herself the offering. To offer herself would be prosaic Christian self-sacrifice, but as the offering she is the vehicle of the miraculous--she incorporates the divine.
Here sacrifice has its ancient, primal meaning: that which was given at the beginning becomes the gift. The first fruits of the harvest were dedicated to and consumed by the vegetation spirit which provided them. The destruction of the victim in human or animal sacrifice or the consumption of the offering was the very definition of the sacrifice--death was necessary because the victim was or represented the life-giving substance, the vital energy source, which had to be liberated, which only death could liberate. An actual death, the sacrifice per se, not only liberated benevolent energy but also ensured a propagation and increase of life energy (concretely expressed as fertility) by a sort of magical ecology, a recycling of basic energy, or raw power. O's victimization is the confirmation of her power, a power which is transcendental and which has as its essence the sacred processes of life, death, and regeneration.
But the full significance of possession, both mystically and mythologically, is not yet clear. In mystic experience communion (wrongly called possession sometimes) has meant the dissolution of the ego, the entry into ecstasy, union with and illumination of the godhead. The experience of communion has been the province of the mystic, prophet, or visionary, those who were able to alchemize their energy into pure spirit and this spirit into a state of grace. Possession, rightly defined, is the perversion of the mystic experience; it is by its very nature demonic because its goal is power, its means are violence and oppression. It spills the blood of its victim and in doing so estranges itself from life-giving union. O's lover thinks that she gives herself freely but if she did not, he would take her anyway. Their relationship is the incarnation of demonic possession:
Thus he would possess her as a god possesses his creatures, whom he lays hold of in the guise of a monster or bird, of an invisible spirit or a state of ecstasy. He did not wish to leave her. The more he surrendered her, the more he would hold her dear. The fact that he gave her was to him a proof, and ought to be for her as well, that she belonged to him: one can only give what belongs to you. He gave her only to reclaim her immediately, to reclaim her enriched in his eyes, like some common object which had been used for some divine purpose and has thus been consecrated. For a long time he had wanted to prostitute her, and he was delighted to feel that the pleasure he was deriving was even greater than he had hoped, and that it bound him to her all the more so because, through it, she would be more humiliated and ravished. Since she loved him, she could not help loving whatever derived from him. 6
A precise corollary of possession is prostitution. The prostitute, the woman as object, is defined by the usage to which the possessor puts her. Her subjugation is the signet of his power. Prostitution means for the woman the carnal annihilation of will and choice, but for the man it once again signifies an increase in power, pure and simple. To call the power of the possessor, which he demonstrates by playing superpimp, divine, or to confuse it with ecstasy or communion, is to grossly misunderstand. "All the mouths that had probed her mouth, all the hands that had seized her breasts and belly, all the members that had been thrust into her had so perfectly provided the living proof that she was worthy of being prostituted and had, so to speak, sanctified her." 7 Of course, it is not O who is sanctified, but Rene, or Sir Stephen, or the others, through her.
O's prostitution is a vicious caricature of old-world religious prostitution. The ancient sacral prostitution of the Hebrews, Greeks, Indians, et al., was the ritual expression of respect and veneration for the powers of fertility and generation. The priestesses/prostitutes of the temple were literal personifications of the life energy of the earth goddess, and transferred that energy to those who participated in her rites. The cosmic principles, articulated as divine male and divine female, were ritually united in the temple because clearly only through their continuing and repeated union could the fertility of the earth and the well-being of a people be ensured. Sacred prostitution was "nothing less than an act of communion with god (or godhead) and was as remote from sensuality as the Christian act of communion is remote from gluttony." 8 O and all of the women at Roissy are distinguished by their sterility and bear no resemblance whatsoever to any known goddess. No mention is ever made of conception or menstruation, and procreation is never a consequence of fucking. O's fertility has been rendered O. There is nothing sacred about O's prostitution.
O's degradation is occasioned by the male need for and fear of initiation into manhood. Initiation rites generally include a period of absolute solitude, isolation, followed by tests of physical courage, mental endurance, often through torture and physical mutilation, resulting in a permanent scar or tattoo which marks the successful initiate. The process of initiation is designed to reveal the values, rites, and rules of manhood and confers on the initiate the responsibilities and privileges of manhood. What occurs at Roissy is a clear perversion of real initiation. Rene and the others mutilate O's body, but they are themselves untouched. Her body substitutes for their bodies. O is marked with the scars which they should bear. She undergoes their ordeal for them, endures the solitude and isolation, the torture, the mutilation. In trying to become gods, they have bypassed the necessary rigors of becoming men. The fact that the tortures must be repeated endlessly, not only on O but on large numbers of women who are forced as well as persuaded, demonstrates that the men of Roissy never in fact become men, are never initiates, never achieve the security of realized manhood.
What would be the sign of the initiate, the final mark or scar, manifests in the case of O as an ultimate expression of sadism. The rings through O's cunt with Sir Stephen's name and heraldry, and the brand on her ass, are permanent wedding rings rightly placed. They mark her as an owned object and in no way symbolize the passage into maturity and freedom. The same might be said of the conventional wedding ring.
O, in her never-ending role as surrogate everything, also is the direct sexual link between Sir Stephen and Rene. That the two men love each other and fuck each other through O is made clear by the fact that Sir Stephen uses O anally most of the time. The consequences of misdirecting sexual energy are awesome indeed.
But what is most extraordinary about Story of O is the mind-boggling literary style of Pauline Reage, its author. O is wanton yet pure, Sir Stephen is cruel yet kind, Rene is brutal yet gentle, a wall is black yet white. Everything is what it is, what it isn't, and its direct opposite. That technique, which is so skillfully executed, might help to account for the compelling irrationality of Story of O. For those women who are convinced yet doubtful, attracted yet repelled, there is this schema for self-protection: the double-double think that the author engages in is very easy to deal with if we just realize that we only have to double-double unthink it.
To sum up, Story of O is a story of psychic cannibalism, demonic possession, a story which posits men and women as being at opposite poles of the universe--the survival of one dependent on the absolute destruction of the other. It asks, like many stories, who is the most powerful, and it answers: men are, literally over women's dead bodies."
Self hatred and wounding on O's part is because she loves Rene so why is she able to get pleasure from another man? It's because the man is training O and thus treating her is his sexual slave, her body to get pleasure when HE says and wants, that's what giving your body away fully, having it possessed is about.
The book is yes about posession and power exchange but I don't believe it's about evil or abuse although there is evil and abuse in the book but that is not the main concept of O. The main concept- bdsm. Sir Stephen and Rene are neither the perfect heroes nor the conventional ones, O is not conventional Erotica. Does bdsm only have room for perfect men as Dominants or Masters? No, but it does allow them to evolve into perfect Doms and Masters.
Implying Story of O is some kind of wicked candy luring women is the kind of bullshit where you just can't believe in anything you don't understand. Yes it is provacative and controversial but I see things in the story and in bdsm that once I read about them, talk about them, live them I grasp an understanding.
O is NOT a prostitute. She is not prostituiting herself and neither is she giving her cunt away for a price, though there is a price to pay in a lot of things, she's not asking for her death when she signs up at Roissy.
The critic is going with her argument and running with it and talking about matyrs, demons and religion. I don't agree with this side. So I will leave this at my final point, addressing freedom and objectivity. Freedom for O comes from choosing to submit to Rene. She is also attracted to Jaquline and through her training, gets the courage and method to explore that,to be able to be powerful enough to explore it. O's freedom comes from exploring sexuality through her Dominant's terms which are also her terms. There are things new to her and when she is branded and the initialof her Master, as someone who is going through bdsm, I know what is like to feel something AFTER you feel the pain. When I hit myself on a table, I don't smile later on. When I submit to Sir, I know what has gone on, I know what I have given, what Sir has taken, I know why, I know how he sees me, we're in constant communication, I have full knowledge. I have been taken somewhere. I could be in chains and I am free.