Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Impressions of O

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I have never read The Story of O. I realize this is requisite reading for a budding, or even veteran, player in a D/s dynamic, but I simply have not put it on my reading list.

That has changed and it's going to be the next thing I read.

Last night I watched a film called The Writer of O. A biopic of Dominique Aury, the author of the Story of O.

A French writer who was highly respected and afforded a position of honor in the French literary community, she successfully crafted this tale of love and submission, perhaps the ultimate submission, as a gift for her lover. And as a dare. Her lover and employer, Jean Paulhan suggested that a woman could not write erotica. That they were not capable of envisioning such tales. She set to, and did, prove him wrong.

The film itself did not, I suspect, give the author her due. There were wonderful segments of interviews with her many years after she came out as the author. She had a sharp and visionary mind. She strongly, and rightly, believed that women had the capacity to be as immoral as men. That their imaginations and fantasies could easily wander towards scenes both loving and tempered and brutally erotic.

There were some contradictions in the film that confused me as to the position the filmmaker was taking towards the prose in The Story of O. Specifically, enactments of scenes from the book, where O is being made into a slave, would be cut with scenes of butchery (and I mean that literally - of animal slaughter) and images of slaves, shackled and led along. I couldn't understand if this meant the filmmaker did not approve of the Story, and so this montage was meant as a criticism? That's how it appeared. And yet, in the interviews with Aury, as well as interviews with other players in her life - publishers, biographers, friends - we're led to see the author as a strong, smart, courageous and immensely creative woman.

Contradictions aside, I found the film illuminating. I believe it will set a groundwork, a reference, for me as I read the book. Knowing the authors intentions, to write both a love letter and a polemic on women's ability to be as licentious as men will, I believe, inform my impressions as I read The Story of O.


Shon Richards said...

'O' was given to me as a gift by a submissive who was driven up the wall by my questions about how can women enjoy being humiliated. O fixed a lot of my preconceptions and it's one of the first things I recommend to doms who have 'concerns' about what submissives want.

What makes 'O' so fascinating was that O just takes it for the entire book, with very little introspection. She just likes it. There is no attempts at psychology, no attempts to dress things up and none of this safe,sane consenual babble that seems to choke a lot of BDSM erotica. O takes it, she likes it and she wants more. The fact that you know a woman wrote it gives the story a stark power. This is her fantasy and what she wants.

ATLLG said...

Honestly, I'm quite surprised at how women are seen. I suppose it only those in the "public eye" so to speak the Pamela A. and Jessica S. types that the mainstream public feels represents women in general. How stupid. More people should get out and enjoy the REAL world they are within.

ATLLG said...

Oh and I've tagged you by the way

Eve in Chains said...

Shon - your comments make me want to read it all the more. It was written at a time when there was no discussion of BDSM (was it even called S&M in the 40's?), or rules, or safety. It was all desire and whim.

LG - I'm with you. Women are seen in such a narrow light. And, when we are seen as equally immoral and depraved, we are NOT rewarded for it (well, by the general population, that is). We're seen as sluts, and not in the good way.

Tagged me? I'll go look at your site. I've never been tagged. Thanks.