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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Spotlight: Michelle Polaris

Got BDSM? A Look at Why I Write It

I love to write strong characters. Yeah, it’ s a genre trend. Tough as nails women and men fighting the good/bad/ugly fight against evil. The days of the fainting heroine melting into the hero’s arms are mostly gone. Unless she’s doing it to have him drop his guard and then deliver a one two sucker punch. Ah, true love.

What I adore about writing BDSM stories is that they allow me to redefine the idea of character strength in a very explicit manner. A contract between a Dominant and a submissive involves an overt discussion about needs and limits on both their parts. A discussion that acknowledges the very basic core of who they are and how they’re wired and pushes aside the moral judgments of the world. It involves forming a bond of trust, even if it’s for a short period of play. A submissive gives away their control, trusting a Dominant to provide them with what can be described, if it’s done right, as a perfect freedom. The freedom from needing to make any decisions, judge themselves or worry about anything other than pleasing their Master or Mistress. And getting out of your head that way, just accepting what is happening to you, experiencing the sensations of the body, can lead many to what is described as almost a spiritual high. I admire any person who is able to put his or her needs so clearly on the table. That’s strength.

It’s been said that ultimately it is a submissive that has the control in a D/s (Domination/submission) relationship. Without a sub’s permission to allow the Dominant to take power, the Dominant has nowhere to go. My recent story, Bound Odyssey, can be characterized for the most part as a FemmeDomme. Meaning the heroine is the sexual Dominant and my heroes, two of them in this case, are the sexual submissives. Although in truth one of the heroes of my story, Roman, is a switch, someone who is able to move back and forth between Domination and submission based on the circumstances and his desires at the time. Not as much FemmeDomme has been written for the erotic romance market as its counterpoint. The reason being quoted to me is often that women, the primary audience, do not like to read about weak men. They want strong alpha heroes in their stories. But I believe the definition of strength is askew in this case. Strength does not always come in beating your chest and pummeling your adversary into giving you what you want. Strength can also be found in letting go. The wisdom of the tree bending with the wind instead of fighting it and snapping in two. It takes great personal strength to be willing to let go of all control.

More to the point, people are not simply one thing or another. What is lost in this preference to read about the tough alpha male is how men may be in charge and commanding in many aspects of their life, but still feel a deep need to give up control, move away from the stress of running the show in other aspects of their lives. The stereotype of weak submissive male characters is something we need to leave behind. A true to life male submissive character is not a wuss. He’s a lot like most guys in life we know and sometimes love. I give credit to erotic romance author Anne Douglas for talking about this a lot recently. The wisdom to be willing to honor this part of himself makes a man very strong in my book given the messages our culture throws at guys about what it means to be male.

Ironically, what I believe many female readers like about the dark, brooding alpha males in so many romance stories is the nugget of vulnerability that lies inside these characters. The wounds of the psyche that the heroine touches as the relationship develops between them. The woman’s love that proves to help heal that wound. (Or a man’s love of another man. Just saying.) It’s my belief that a well-told Femme Domme love story is about the same dynamic. Or at least that’s what I was attempting to write. If you end up reading my book, you’ll have to drop me a line and let me know how I did.

In the meantime, I will try very hard to write more stories where strength does not just mean one thing and characters are the same wonderful, complex mess we all are as we struggle through our lives.

Michelle Polaris

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