The desireto explore the limits of power and submission is not a male compulsion but ahuman one.

—Erica Jong


[This electronicdocument was produced with optical-character-recognition software. Asindicated, it consists of portions of Chapter 7 of Princess at the Window--FC ]





Our Secret Garden


The man,whose name is Warrick, is six-foot-three with broad shoulders and ripplingmuscles, He is naked except for a towel draped over his hips, and he is flat onhis back on a bed. Iron cuffs attached to lengths of chain encircle his wristsand ankles.

Rowena, the woman, is young and slender, with waist- lengthblond hair. She stands over him and shakes her head when his eyes implore herto remove his gag. She strips the towel from him and tries to climb astride hisbody, but he struggles violently and she falls back. She tries again, and thistime his resistance is so strenuous that the entire bed moves along the floor,and his wrists and ankles become smeared with blood. “You stupid man,” she saysto him. “Why cause yourself pain over something you cannot prevent?”

She removes her clothing and tells him that, while he mayfight her, it will do him no good. She begins to caress




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him andsweat breaks out on his brow as, despite the outrage he feels, his body beginsto respond to her. The sight of her breasts swaying above him, the sound of herpanting, and the feel of her hair on his skin all arouse him. He wages a bitterinternal battle as she slides his erect penis into her vagina. He continues tostruggle and strain. But all his willpower, all his conscious effort, is notenough. Finally, she brings him to orgasm.

A. servant is sent to minister to Warrick’s injuries, tobathe him, feed him and help him with his bodily functions while he remainschained. The next night, his struggles start his wounds bleeding again asRowena visits him three times, coaxing an ejaculation from him on eachoccasion. The following evening, she returns another three times. She examineshim closely, remarks on his body, uses him. Despite the fury that burns in hiseyes, he is powerless to stop her. Not once is he permitted to speak to henLater, Rowena will recall how exhilarating it was to have him completely at hermercy.

On the fourth day, he is released, given a set of clothes andthreatened with death should he ever show his face in the vicinity again. Butthe year is 1152, and Warrick, kidnapped from an inn by bumblers unaware of hisidentity, is an English lord who does return—with his army. He orders Rowenatransported to his castle and locked in the dungeon. Before he leaves, he setsfire to the bed on which he had been confined and gathers up the chains.

After spending three weeks in the dungeon, Rowena is taken toWarrick’s room. He threatens to beat her if she faints and informs her heintends to repay her in kind. After warning her never to interrupt when he’sspeaking to her, he orders her to strip. He assures her that, should he notfind her sufficiently arousing, there’s nothing stopping him from having asmany as ten of his men rape her while he looks on. As she undresses, shewatches him positioning




the chainsand pleads with him, promising not to resist. But to no avail. She lies down inthe centre of the bed and he orders her to spread her legs. She’s told tospread them wider, and he then chains each to a post. He secures her wrists andpushes a gag into her mouth.

Gradually her trepidation subsides as he begins to coax asexual response from her. He caresses her gently, persistently. She begins toarch against him. His touch becomes rougher. When he enters her, her eyes flyopen to see the triumph in his. “Now you know how it feels to have no controlof a traitorous body,” Warrick says to her. “You made me want this, despite myfury, so I have made you want it, despite your fear.”2 Soon she is screaming inorgasm. Afterward, she thinks it inconceivable that she found anythingpleasurable in such an experience.

Hours later, Warrick returns to the room where Rowena hasremained bound and gagged. When she closes her eyes to block him out, he ordersher to look at him. “Whenever you are in my presence, wench,” he says, “youwill look at me unless I tell you otherwise. Do not make me repeat it.”3 She isforced to do so as a servant feeds her and attends to her other needs, but shemanages to look through him rather than at him. He punishes her by havingintercourse with her again.

The next morning, he takes her before she is fully awake.Twice more he returns. The following day, its the same. On the fourth; she isreleased from the chains, but Warrick has a reputation for exacting revenge inexcess of the crimes committed against him. Rowena, who belongs to. the upperclass, is now dressed in the clothing of a servant. She is told that she is torefer to him as “my lord” and will be whipped if she fails to comply. She isnow his personal attendant, required to wait on him during meals in the dininghall, clean his room and launder his clothes.

She is ordered to prepare Warrick’s bath and told to


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undress him. When she recoils against removing his lowergarments, he threatens to chain her to the bed again, and so she sinks to herknees as commanded. “‘Tis quite satisfying, seeing you in that tumbledposition,” he says. “Mayhap I will have you serve me at table just so.”4

She is forced to wash and then dryhim. “On your knees again,” he says. “And take care, wench, that you do notmiss a single drop of moisture. Do I catch a chill because of your negligence,I will beat you for it.” While she isperforming these tasks, however, it becomes clear they are both sexuallyaroused. When she balks, he tells her it’s his right to have sex with hisservants “at any time, in any place.”5

       Hedrags her to the bed and uses his superior strength to keep her there. Then hekisses and caresses her ‘relentlessly until, overcome with sexual hunger, sheshames herself by obeying his command to beg him to take her.

Afterward, Warrick taunts her by remindingher of her capitulation and she thinks, “All the power was his. He had controlover her body, control over her emotions, control over everything she did. Shecould not even get angry without his leave, for he knew well enough how tofrighten the anger out of her,”6 He pulls her onto his lap in the dining hailand, in front of everyone, touches her intimately and then orders her to waitfor him in his bed. He humiliates, her by giving his daughters the fine gownsthat had once belonged to her. He tells her she is stupid. Even when she comesto him willingly, he restrains her hands during love-making.

The above narrative isn’t found ina pornographic video produced by chauvinists and then rented from seedytriple-X outlets by male sex offenders. Nor has it been stopped at the borderand examined by customs agents before being allowed into Canada, despite itsblatant domination and’ submission theme. Rather, all of the above takes placein a romance novel written by a woman for other women.




As we’ve seen earlier, feminism has been heavily influencedby people such as Catharine MacKinnon, who insists that “pornography, in thefeminist view, is a form of forced sex.”27 According to the Violence Panel,pornography is one of a number of under-acknowledged “forms of violence”against women. This report says that while




“Canadianfeminists have been working toward recognition of this strong link betweenpornography and violence, harm and degradation of women and children,” “civillibertarians and some arts groups” equate anti-porn measures with censorship(the implication being that no feminists have concerns about censorship, andthat one cannot be both a feminist and a civil libertarian).28

[This passage often speaks just of"porn(ography)", but the chapter is specifically on violentpornography.]

The feminist anti-pornography lobby has been so adamant in this respect thatmany people now believe it’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt thatthere’s a direct connection between porn and rape. It hasn’t, and there isn’t.If you put a group of young men in a room and show them videos containing violent sexual material, their adrenaline levels willincrease and they will demonstrate a propensity to behave more aggressivelythan usual. But anything that causeshigher adrenaline levels will produce the same result—including twenty minuteson an exercise bicycle, or watching violent material with no sexual contentwhatsoever. Unless we’re prepared to ban exercise bicycles, jogging and largenumbers of mainstream films, there's no reason to scapegoat porn.29

Other people considerthe fact that sexually explicit material has been found in the home of serialrapists—or that a few of these criminals have declared, in a new twist on"the devil made me do it" defence, that porn caused their horrificbehaviour—to be evidence of a link between crime and porn. But that overlooks the millionsof people who use pornography and don’t turn into rapists. It also ignores thefact that some criminals blame the Bible for inspiring their crimes. If we’regoing to hold porn responsible, there can he no reason not to indict the HolyBook as well.30 [The e-mails from Ms. Malenfant contain various condemnationsof pornography and sexual liberalism in general--but never a word against Ms.Laframboise's views on any such. That fact is just one of many revealing howselective and self-serving is the righteous indignation of these two people.]    [Back]

According to feminist anti-porn activists there’s only oneway to interpret a photograph depicting a woman restrained and gagged. Thenotion that it might be harmless


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sexualentertainment, produced and consumed by consenting adults who understand thedifference between fantasy and coercion, doesn’t even make it into thediscussion. Rather; such an image is viewed as part of a training manual formisogynists who, according the Violence Report, force their wives orgirlfriends into similar poses once such ideas have been implanted in theirheads.31 (In Only Words, a collectionof anti-porn lectures, MacKinnon says that permitting men to view porn is liketelling a trained guard dog to “kill.”32)

Such thinking extends beyond feminist circles, In whatis known as the Butler decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1992 thatpornographic materials that place Women “in positions of subordination, servilesubmission or humiliation” violate “the principles of equality and dignity ofall human beings.” It further proclaimed that “[c]onsent cannot save materialsthat otherwise contain degrading or dehumanizing scenes” since, in its opinion,“[s]ometimes the very appearance of consent makes the depicted acts even moredegrading or dehumanizing.”33

Referring to the findings of the controversialAmerican Meese Commission investigation into pornography, among others, thecourt said that since “a substantial body of opinion” considers such materialto be harmful to women, it isn’t necessary to actually prove this. In thecourt’s view, not just feminists but the Canadian public in general considersthis sort of porn dangerous.34  As aresult, such material (when it appears in gay publications, men’s magazines orexplicit videos-but not elsewhere, apparently) is illegal in this country.

In order to come to such a decision, though, Canada’shighest judicial body first had to arrive at a moralistic judgment. There’s nolaw against tying up another consenting adult and having sex with them. There’sno law against role-playing sexual fantasies in which one partner kisses the


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other’sfeet. Therefore, when the court called depictions of these perfectly lawfulactivities “degrading” and “dehumanizing,” it was making a statement about whatkinds of sex it thinks are healthy and what kinds it thinks are pathological-inthe same way that some people still declare gay sex to be “abnormal.”

Next, the court accepted the argument put forward bythe feminist Legal Education Action Fund (whose brief was co-authored byMacKinnon) that this is an issue of male freedom of speech versus female safety.35 In the name ofpromoting female equality, then, the court chose to believe that men and womenare fundamentally different with respect to what turns us on-a profoundlysexist doctrine.

Such ideas should give any thinking woman pause,because underlying them is the notion that no self-respecting female would havethe slightest interest in sexual fantasies that involve power struggles. Thecourt seems convinced that no healthy woman would fantasize about chaining agorgeous man to the bed and having her way with him for seventy-two hours. Itclearly cannot conceive of any woman in her right mind day-dreaming about beingkidnapped by a tall, dark and handsome stranger who finds her so alluring hecan’t keep his hands off her, who is so overcome by desire that he rips theclothes from her body, pins her down and drives her wild with sexual pleasure.

Not long ago, “pure” women - the sort that men broughthome to their mothers - were expected to view sex as nothing more than anunpleasant duty. Those who acknowledged their ownlibidos were considered aberrant. In 1858, for example, a British surgeon named Isaac BakerBrown introduced clitoridectomies as a “cure” for female masturbation. Whilenineteenth-century medical and religious authorities also condemned malemasturbation, girls weren’t simply warned that such activity would cause themto go insane; there was concern they’d end up in brothels. 36 [Not only fear that they'd "end up in brothels",but horror at the general prospect of female "unchastity", was thereason for desperately wanting to stop them from masturbating. (The reporter'sword 'girls' above is unclear, but the discussion in her source for thisinformation, Alex Comfort's The AnxietyMakers, contains many details of these efforts as directed at very youngfemales far from puberty.)]   [Back]


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Today, women are being told - by mainstream feminismand the Supreme Court of Canada - that “good” girls aren’t interested in sexualfantasies that involve domination, submission or bondage. We’re told that onlymen (violent, nasty ones) get turned on by such things. We’re told that weshouldn’t look at these sorts of images, think these sorts of thoughts orparticipate in these sorts of activities, since they lead to a wide range ofsocial evils. We’re told that, if our sexuality isn’t as strait-laced as thecourt assumes it to be, we should feel ashamed, dirty, perverted, abnormal.

But thetruth is that women do find porn -kinky or otherwise - arousing. In 1987, Timemagazine estimated that women were renting as much as 40 percent of X-ratedvideos.37 A British women’s magazine readership poll published in 1993 foundthat 83 percent of women acknowledged being aroused by porn, while a joint Details and Mademoiselle readership survey that same year determined that 21percent of female respondents enjoyed explicit videotapes and that one in fourhad been tied up during sex.38 More to the point, no one remotely familiar withthe sort of contemporary women’s romance fiction I’ve described above canpossibly deny that plenty of women are interested in sexual fantasy materialthat involves overt or implied bondage. Despite what anti-porn feminists wouldlike to believe, many women are also turned on by scenarios in which femalesare kidnapped and threatened with rape.

Let’s be clear about this: female consumers are the reason the $855-million (U.S.) per yearromance industry exists.39 While men purchase most of the material we normallythink of when we talk about pornography (such as Playboy, Penthouse and explicit videos), and while we may quibbleover who reads other types of erotic literature, there’s no question that womenbuy the vast majority of romance novels. If domination and submission held no


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allurewhatsoever for women, if every last one of us was interested only inunmistakably consensual sexual fantasies, the kinds of novels I’ve describedwouldn’t be readily available in every general interest bookstore.




Elizabeth McNeill’s 9 1/2 Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair appeared in 1978. We’re told thatMcNeill is a pseudonym for the “New York career woman” who experienced theseevents. The book begins, “The first time we were in bed together he held myhands pinned down above my head. I liked it. I liked him.” The intense,obsessive, extreme relationship that follows includes blindfolding, bondage,spectacular sex, beatings, and public humiliation-all of which end when shesuffers a mental breakdown. The book remains popular and has engendered amovie, suggesting that large numbers of people find such ideas arousing.

But it isperhaps the Beauty trilogy, by American author Anne Rice, first published underthe pseudonym AN Roquelaure between 1983 and 1985, that demonstrates mostclearly that the female erotic imagination is as varied as the male one. Thefirst book, The Claiming of SleepingBeauty, based roughly on the fairy tale in which the entire castle fallsasleep for a hundred years, begins with the prince taking fifteen-year-oldBeauty’s virginity prior to kissing her awake. What follows is a novel of “tendernessand cruelty,” in which Beauty is one of a number of young men and womenrequired to complete a term of sexual servitude in the kingdom of a powerfulqueen. Tormented




by femaleas well as male masters, the slaves are routinely slapped, spanked, paddled andlashed in these novels, which feature both heterosexual and homosexual sex.They are required to perform demeaning tasks and are subjected to ritualhumiliations.

Women have been dealt a full share of all those qualitiesthat make us human-the ones we are proudest of as well as those that mostdisturb us. Each individual possesses these qualities, although they may differin strength from person to person and ate affected by the way other tendenciescombine and interact within our psyches. That there are people-both male andfemale-who are left stone cold by the above sorts of explicit material isbeyond dispute. - Noting the enormous variety of sexual responses amongindividuals, anti-censorship feminist Carole Vance has formulated what shecalls her “One-Third Rule.” She says:

“show anypersonally favored erotic image to a group of women, and one-third will find itdisgusting, one-third will find it ridiculous, and one-third will find ithot.”51.

Among those who are turned on by such material, thereis infinite variety as well. Many people are titillated by specific elementsand repulsed by others. Some individuals are so discomfited by their positiveresponse that they’re barely able to admit to it. Others happily imagine, readabout or look at drawings, photos and videos of dominance and submissionscenes, but stop there. Some enjoy play-acting these sorts of scenarios withconsenting adult partners, while others push things even further byparticipating in activities that approximate the real thing-as the author of 91/2 Weeks did. Aswell, there are a minorityof individualswho step over the line from legal to illegal activity, who force unwillingsexual partners, or children, into taking part in this sort of activity. It isat this point that such behaviour becomes morally objectionable, that the term “violence” becomesappropriate. [Sadly, the fact that it isso easy to misstate oneself, and even easier to be misread by others, does notdeter a person who is determined to accuse someone.]   [Back]                                       

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Although raised as a Roman Catholic, I abandoned theChurch during my teen years because I wasn’t prepared to accept its view that Ishould feel guilty shout impure thoughts as well as actual deeds, While murderis a terrible crime, I don’t view murder mystery writers--who think about thesematters a great deal--as having sinned. Nor do I believe that an actor who goesthrough the motions of killing someone is guilty of any transgression. There isa difference between thinking about something and actually doing it. There is adifference between fantasy, play or pretence and the real thing. In the wordsof one of the men interviewed by Wendy Dennis for Hot and Bothered: Sex and Love in the Nineties:


...I find the ideaof overpowering a woman sexually and taking her against her will extremelyerotic. That’s rape, and I would never dream of acting on that desire inreality because rape is vicious and horrible. There’s a difference, though,between having an erotic desire and acting on it. A fantasy is a pretendstory...52


Dennisbegins the first chapter of her book with the following: “I won’t divulge allthe dirty details of my sexual fantasies here, just a few choice tidbits. Iwill confess up front, however, that they’re not even marginally politicallycorrect [original italics].” She goes on to explain that, over the years, she’shad difficulty reconciling the content of her submissive fantasies with themodern, assertive woman she knows herself to be. “In the juiciest variations, Iwillingly submit while Mongol hordes of broad-shouldered, masterful, slaveringmen do unspeakable things to my body,” she writes. After interviewing hundredsof people in cities across the United States and Canada, Dennis reports thatwhat we humans find sexually arousing runs the gamut:


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            .what’s “interesting” to some isconventional - beyond words to others. If I tell you, for instance, that somecouples revitalize their sex lives by lighting candles in the bedroom andtaking baths together, some of you are going to think that’s baby stuff. If Itell you that some couples watch porn regularly, or make their own dirtymovies, or make dirty movies with other couples and watch them together, someof you are going to say that’s disgusting while others will say, “Yeah, triedthat...what else have you got?”53


When Dennisasked people specifically about their sexual fantasies, she found no less variety:


I heard female fantasies that involved a womanmasturbating in a roomful of guys, being tenderly caressed by two adoring men,being the only woman on a plane hijacked by Iranian terrorists and beingsavagely “taken” by them in the cockpit, having her pussy licked by a Germanshepherd, seducing an uninitiated teenage boy who was hired to clean out thegarage, servicing a hundred guys in a hotel room, all of them eating beer andpretzels and waiting for their turn. “I assure you,” she hastens to add, thatthe people “having these fantasies are solid citizens and contributing,productive members of society.”


As a rebellious teen, I was also disinclined to feel guilty about being sexually active before I was marriedjust because the Catholic Church said I should. There are a great manythings in this world that are unjust or otherwise unacceptable, that are worthgetting upset about, but

(assumingthat people take precautions against disease and  ---->


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areresponsible about birth control) in my view sex isn’t one of them. We all do enough things in ourlives that we should rightly feel ashamed of, there’s no need to add con-

sensual sex that harms no one to thelist--regardless of how bizarre it might be.                  [Back]

Some of us like spicy food and exotic flavours, whileothers prefer simpler fare. Similarly, people who abhor horseradish no doubtfind the slogan on the label of one brand that talks about enjoying “tears ofhappiness” incomprehensible. Why would anyone want to eat food that practicallycurls your hair, they might ask? How could it possibly be a pleasurableexperience? I suspect the answers to such questions have much in common withwhy some people enjoy being spanked or fantasize about having another person attheir mercy in a sexual context.