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Exploring Radical (And Kinky) Idealism: “Wonder Woman Earth One Volume Two” Review

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When “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 1” came out in 2016, it was groundbreaking in how it re-imagined Wonder Woman while reconnecting her with her kinkier roots. For years, she’d been moving away from the unique brand of feminism that her creator, William Moulton Marston, had once defined her. This culminated in her 2017 movie in which all the BDSM connotation were purged from her persona.

While many creative forces over multiple decades turned Wonder Woman into someone very different from her creator had intended, Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette went in the opposite direction. They dared to embrace the kinks and reshape Wonder Woman’s story in a way that works while retaining Marston’s original themes.

That story remains one of my favorite Wonder Woman stories of all time and one I’ve gone out of my way to praise. Finally, after a two-year wait and a prolonged absence of kink from superhero comics, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” has arrived. Fans of warrior women, feminist utopias, and not-so-subtle bondage themes can rejoice.

Like any sequel, it faces the inescapable challenge of matching the high bar set by its predecessor. On top of that, it also has to dig deeper into an aspect of Wonder Woman that generations of writers have tried to overwrite or ignore. Even with an elevated profile, thanks to her movie, this is a part of Wonder Woman’s persona that is largely unknown or undeveloped.

The greatest challenge of Volume 1 was to reintroduce Marston’s radical concepts of love, submission, and domination in a way that didn’t feel like bad fan fiction. Morrison and Paquette succeeded by building the story around this dazzling, techno-feminist utopia on a mythology built on ideas that seem antithetical to the world dominated by lies, mistrust, and cynicism.

If the goal of that story was to affirm the potential of these ideas, then “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” is built around how those ideas are challenged. It’s one thing to defend them on an island paradise populated by immortal warrior women of unyielding compassion. It’s quite another to defend them in a world where gay frogs inspire conspiracy theories.

Wonder Woman’s situation is considerably different this time around. She’s not insulated on her island paradise. She’s well-known public figure, an established superhero, and a vocal proponent for her radical ideology. She presents it as a viable way of achieving peace and justice in a world full of suffering and hatred. Unlike other wide-eyed idealists, she comes off as entirely genuine.

Not surprisingly, the world isn’t eager to sign up for her novel approach of peace through submission to a loving authority. It doesn’t just come from grumpy old men who only want women to make babies and sandwiches, either. Even among other women, her ideas are challenged and deconstructed throughout the story.

What does it even mean to submit to a loving authority?

Why is she so sure that it’ll work in the world outside her idyllic homeland?

How are men supposed to approach this concept?

How far is she willing to go to implement her ideas?

These are all difficult questions that get asked throughout the story. Wonder Woman doesn’t avoid these questions, but she doesn’t get a chance to answer them either. Even though she is celebrated by many, nobody seems capable of embracing her ideology as completely as her.

To further complicate this challenge, Nazis enter the picture. Trust me, it’s not as shallow as it sounds. The story isn’t built around Wonder Woman acting like Captain America, traveling the world and punching Nazis. In fact, the way she handles her enemies in this story is very different to the methods she used in the “Wonder Woman” movie. However, that’s where the story gains both complications and nuance.

Through a few flashbacks and side-plots, we get to see how Wonder Woman’s ideology confronts something that’s completely antithetical to everything she stands for. Initially, it looks like her approach works. She’s so compassionate and so empathetic that she can take violent, hate-filled Nazis and redeem their souls. That’s where the complications come in.

In both the events that unfolded in the past and those that play out in the present, we see shortcoming of Wonder Woman’s ideals. It’s not that someone taints or disproves them. As the conflict plays out, we see how the components necessary to make her ideology work aren’t as abundant as they are in her homeland. As a result, Wonder Woman pays a price for her idealism and it’s a steep, heartbreaking price.

Not all of it is a direct result of her ideology, though. Wonder Woman also deals with a devious adversary in Dr. Psycho, who effectively turns her ideals against her. He doesn’t just question or deconstruct the merits of submission to a loving authority. He manipulates them to his own ends, which plays right into the hands of her critics.

It’s tragic in that it leads to heartache for Wonder Woman and her friends, but it stops short of breaking her. This is Wonder Woman, after all. Loss, defeat, and criticism do not break her. No mortal or God can break her. Those are her words, not mine. These challenges, however, put her in a difficult position where she has to confront unpleasant truths.

Without spoiling too many plot points, I’ll note that Wonder Woman comes to realize that there are grater complexities to loving submission than she ever could’ve realized. She sees first-hand how difficult it is to get someone to willingly submit in a world where weakness can invite harm, exploitation, and injustice. Just preaching her message isn’t enough. By not doing more, it costs her and those she cares about.

In terms of the larger narrative, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” is a wonderfully effective evolution of the world that Morrison and Paquette created. Along the way, the story continues to embrace the unique principles of the original iteration of Wonder Woman that Marston crafted in 1942.

Not entirely, that is.

If there’s any shortcoming to the narrative, it’s how incomplete it feels at the end. It’s not a cliff-hanger, but there are many lingering plot threads that don’t get resolved. Granted, it says on the final page that there is a Volume 3 planned for this series. Given the two-year gap in between this book and its predecessor, the wait seems nothing short of agonizing.

Even with those dangling threads, “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” is still a complete Wonder Woman story that’s unlike anything you’ll get in the movies or comics. If I had to score it, I would give it a 9 out of 10. The lack of resolution at the end is the only thing keeping it from a perfect score. It still gets so many things right about who Wonder Woman is and why she’s so endearing.

The fact that she can be endearing while retaining the radical spirit that Marston had envisioned helps make “Wonder Woman Earth One: Volume 2” all the more remarkable. She’s not just a fierce warrior woman. She’s the personification of a different approach to gender, power, and love. It may seem bizarre and kinky to us, but it has powerful implications for people of any gender.

It doesn’t go overboard with the BDSM undertones, nor does it focus heavily on gender politics. They are mentioned, but not forced into the plot. There are things Wonder Woman does that feminists, conservatives, and BDSM fans can get behind. At every turn, she carries herself as someone who is willing to embrace everyone. It’s that unconditional, universal compassion that makes her Wonder Woman.

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Why Sex Addiction (Probably) Doesn’t Exist

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When it comes to human psychology, addiction is like quantum physics in that few understand it and Hollywood constantly gets it wrong. I know I say it a lot on this blog, but it’s worth belaboring. People are complicated. One person may watch “Star Wars” and think it’s the greatest piece of cinema of all time. Another may watch it and say it has no redeeming values.

That’s an important context to consider when discussing topics of addiction, which affects a significant portion of the human population. According to Addiction Center, there are approximately 20.6 million people over the age of 12 struggling with an addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 200,000 people have died since 1999 from prescription drug abuse alone.

Addiction is a serious issue. I know people who have struggled with addiction. I think everybody knows someone in their lives, be they a friend or relative, who has struggled with an addiction of some sorts. Addiction is real and there’s actual biology behind it. As such, it stands to reason that the rising instance of sexual addiction is real.

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Before I scrutinize this sexy, yet unsexy phenomenon, I need to preface this by acknowledging that our collective understanding of these issues is still developing. What we consider a psychological dysfunction today may end up just being a healthy variation within the diversity of human thought. That’s why homosexuality is no longer considered a disease.

That context is important to establish because the term “sex addict” has been thrown around a lot lately. It’s not quite on the level of “fake news” or “soy boy,” but it has been cropping up, especially in wake of the recent scandals in Hollywood. Both Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey claimed to be sex addicts after their scandals.

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Needless to say, not everybody buys that excuse. Given my propensity to bemoan excuses, I count myself among them. These men claiming that sex addiction caused their deplorable behavior comes off as a pitiful attempt to gain sympathy, trying to paint themselves as sick. It also assumes a lot about the complex nature of addiction.

It’s true that we can become addicted to damn near anything, but it’s not just a matter of one particular activity flooding the pleasure centers of our brain more than others. Alcoholics don’t get the same orgasmic release from a cold beer that a sex addict gets from a quickie in the shower. There are other psychological forces behind it.

Since we can’t yet read the minds of an individual person, we have only a cursory understanding of those forces. However, there is an established criteria for addiction within a medical context. The American Psychiatric Association, describes addiction as follows:

Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will causes problems.

At the same time, it establishes a clear difference between just being addicted to a certain activity, like sex, eating, or playing World of Warcraft for 29 hours straight, and the addiction caused by drugs. They don’t even call it addiction. They have a more official label called Substance Use Disorder. Their description of this condition is a lot scarier than just someone who has more orgasms than most.

People with a substance use disorder have distorted thinking, behavior and body functions. Changes in the brain’s wiring are what cause people to have intense cravings for the drug and make it hard to stop using the drug. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behavior control.

These substances can cause harmful changes in how the brain functions. These changes can last long after the immediate effects of the drug — the intoxication. Intoxication is the intense pleasure, calm, increased senses or a high caused by the drug. Intoxication symptoms are different for each substance.

I bring up this distinction because more than one person has described sex like a drug. In doing so, it’s easier to accept that those claiming to suffer from sex addiction have a real ailment. Sex is a powerful drive that evokes pleasure that some brain scans have compared to heroin. Does it not stand to reason that sex addicts are in the same boat as heroin addicts?

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The short answer is no. Sex addicts and heroin addicts are as different from one another as an arm-wrestling contest and an underground fight club. Addiction to heroin has a strict criteria for diagnosis. Sex addiction doesn’t meet that criteria in that alleged addicts don’t respond the same way that those suffering from Substance Use Disorder respond.

According to research done by UCLA, the reactions of those claiming porn addiction did not mirror those addicted to other activities like drinking, smoking, etc. Within that same research, it was also uncovered that sex addiction lacks one of the most important features of an addiction, namely that of diminished response from the pleasure centers of the brain.

That’s key because one of the most damaging factors of an addiction is that over time, the addictive behavior doesn’t light up the pleasure centers of the brain like it used to. That’s why alcoholics need more alcohol and crack addicts need more crack to get the same high. Brain scans show that in drug abuse. They don’t show it in sex addiction.

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In fact, the conclusions of the researchers on sex addiction were somewhat mundane. According to the data gathered from the brains and experiences of real people, the idea of sex addiction is nothing more than having a high sex drive and poor impulse control. That’s not an addiction. That’s a personality quirk. If anything, the very term “sex addiction” undermines the suffering of real addicts.

I know those conclusions is not going to convince those who genuinely believe that they’re struggling with sex addiction. I don’t doubt that these people are struggling and it’s negatively impacting their lives, their families, and their relationships. However, I believe putting it in the same category as drug abuse only skews our understanding of addiction and sexuality.

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Some people are really just a lot hornier than others. In the same way some people have a bigger appetite for food, some have a bigger appetite for sex. Unlike food, though, those suffering from eating disorders don’t blame the entire concept of food. There are often other psychological factors behind it.

Sex also has another complication that food and eating don’t. Our culture has an established set of sexual norms that idealize some forms of sexuality and shame others. Even though we’ve accepted more diversity in recent decades, we still idealize monogamous romances where those involved only have sex to make babies or explore the kind of passion reserved for a scene in “Titanic.”

As a result, anything that deviates from that narrative, be they an open relationship or just wanting to hump for the sake of humping, is subject to scorn or shaming. I’ve noted the flaws in this sort of narrative before, but on a much larger scale, it creates a situation where certain manifestations of sex become less a variation and more a disease.

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Like homosexuality, though, treating those variations as flawed or damaged doesn’t make them go away. It’s possible for a drug addict to get treatment to repair the damage those drugs have done to their bodies and minds. It’s not possible to complete reshape and remold someone’s baseline sexual desires without causing serious damage.

To really get an idea of how this can motivate self-professed sex addicts to engage in such erratic behaviors, imagine for a moment that you’re a heterosexual person in a world where only homosexuality is accepted. As such, you’re expected to enter a homosexual relationship with someone and remain in that relationship indefinitely.

That means you have to ignore or temper your basic sexual desires in order to operate in that society without shame or scrutiny. You have to pretend that the relationship you’re in is sufficient when you know it’s not. Since you can’t turn off your brain or your basic desires, it’s going to mess with your mind and inspire erratic behavior.

It’s for that reason that sex addiction, as it’s currently understood, probably doesn’t exist. I say probably because, as I pointed out earlier, our understanding of sexuality, psychology, and the human experience is still limited. For now, though, our conclusions are fairly simple. You’re not an addict. You’re just really horny and you live in a society that doesn’t afford you the opportunities to explore those feelings.

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Professor Marston & The Wonder Women Trailer (A Non-Traditional Love Story)

When we look back on 2017, I think it’s safe to say that many will see it as the year that Wonder Woman shined and the year that the “mic drop” officially became overused.

There’s no doubt about it. This has been a damn good year for Wonder Woman. Her movie was a hit with critics and fans alike. Her comic raised the bar for female heroes while also letting her get laid. She’s on a winning streak right now that we don’t usually see unless the New York Yankees and the New England Patriots are involved.

However, 2017 isn’t done with Wonder Woman just yet. It’s not enough that her movie may have single-handedly saved the DC Extended Universe, established Gal Gadot as an A-list actress with A-list sex appeal, and raised the bar for female directors like Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman, being the iconic female hero that she is, just has to go the extra distance.

That brings me back to the man who created this sexy female icon, William Marston. In a sense, Wonder Woman is one of those characters that could never have emerged from a traditional mind looking to create a traditional hero. For her to become the icon she is now, she needed an unconventional mind and William Marston was definitely that.

I’ve talked a bit about the origins of Wonder Woman and the not-so-secret BDSM elements within that origin. A lot of that is a direct result of the non-traditional thinking that William Marston used in creating Wonder Woman. It was also the product of a very non-traditional life, some of which had some very kinky connotations.

The story behind that kinky life is now about to get some overdue attention and at the best possible time. Wonder Woman’s star couldn’t be flying higher. Why shouldn’t the man behind the sexy icon get a little attention? It’s 2017. Kink is already mainstream, thanks to internet porn and best selling novels based on Twilight fan fiction. The timing couldn’t be better.

That leads me to the upcoming quasi-biopic on William Marston, “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women.” Admit it. You probably didn’t know that a movie like this was being made. Even ardent Wonder Woman fans probably didn’t know.

It’s happening, though. This is not some weird fan film or parody to poke fun at Wonder Woman’s BDSM origins. This is a real movie starring Luke EvansRebecca Hall, and JJ Feild. It’s even being directed by a woman, Angela Robinson, who was a writer/producer on the sexy bloody spectacle that was “True Blood.” This movie is coming out later this year and last week, the trailer dropped.

It’s a very different trailer compared to “Wonder Woman.” It’s supposed to be different. It might not have as many warrior women. It might not have a naked Chris Pine. However, it does have some sexy, but kinky connotations.

Unlike Stan Lee, Bob Kane, or Jack Kirby, who are icons in their own right for the characters they created, William Marston kind of gets forgotten. Granted, he didn’t create nearly as many iconic characters as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. However, it was his non-traditional views and the non-traditional life he lived that might have made it easier for people to dissociate the man from his creation.

As the trailer shows, Marston was an unusual voice at a time in history before the modern feminist movement and before the sexual revolution. He believed in peace through submission, seeing submission as an act of love. He also believed that women were more honest than men in certain situations. He never said they were superior, but he made it a point to highlight female strengths, as often revealed in Wonder Woman.

On top of those unusually progressive views at a time when women were still seen as nurses, teachers, and baby-makers, Marston had a non-traditional view of love. He was married to Elizabeth Holloway Marston, but theirs was a somewhat open marriage in that he also had a relationship with a woman named Olive Byrne.

It was not at all akin to the kinds of open relationships that make for raunchy TV shows about Mormons or the kinky softcore porn series that used to play on premium cable. It was a real relationship and, as the trailer showed, it was very different in terms of substance and approach. In a sense, you can say that Marston had a non-traditional relationship to match his non-traditional views.

Even today, his views on men, women, and the ways they relate to one another would be odd. Chances are, he would evoke protests from the overly politically correct crowd. That probably wouldn’t dissuade him, though. If anything, those protests would prove a part of the point he was trying to make, which was reflected somewhat in the trailer.

He claimed that there was peace and happiness to be found in submission. To the ardent individualist, which is very much at the heart of western culture, that sounds abhorrent. That sounds like something slave-masters would say to keep their slaves content, which was a thing, sadly. However, that’s not the kind of submission Marston was talking about.

In Marston’s kinky world, to submit to someone willingly is an act of love and to accept that submission with love is the apex of human connection. He sees the endless struggle to dominate everything around you, be it a person, a job, a pet, or World of Warcraft, as the source of conflict.

He also labels that kind of dominating persona as a very masculine trait. While it’s not exclusively masculine, he sees it as a common thread among male-driven narratives. Conversely, he sees women as having a greater capacity for that kind of loving submission. Wonder Woman is, in his point of view, embodies the greatest capacity for that kind of love.

Wonder Woman loves and embraces everyone around her. Her capacity for love, regardless of gender, is well-documented over her 70-year history. Sure, the kink has been largely filtered out with a few notable exceptions, namely “Wonder Woman: Earth One.” That only makes the elements Marston used in creating her all the more profound.

In some ways, William Marston was ahead of his time in creating a female hero that emphasized what he saw as female traits. He never tried to make Wonder Woman as strong or as capable in the same way as Superman or Batman. She wasn’t supposed to prove that women could be as strong as men. Just being a woman gave her a unique strength all her own.

You could also say he was ahead of his time, with respect to how he conducted his personal life. He didn’t bother with the ideal of monogamy, one man and one woman being in love until the day they died. He and the two women in his life forged their own brand of love and family. They followed their own romantic path.

They never claimed their non-traditional brand of love made them superior. That would’ve defeated the point. In Marston’s kinky world, any effort to dominate others through force, shame, or debate was pointless. In the end, the best way to bring peace is to conduct yourself in a way that makes others want to submit to your loving authority.

That’s not just my interpretation. When he was once asked by The American Scholar in 1943 about why Wonder Woman would appeal to men, he said this.

“Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves!”

As a comic book fan, a fan of beautiful women, and a fan of female strength in general, I whole-heartedly agree. The success of the “Wonder Woman” movie, over 70 years of comics, and a top place in the pantheon of iconic female heroes says a lot about our willingness to submit. Perhaps “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women” will help us appreciate that even more.

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Wonder Woman And Sex Positivity

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I know I’ve been talking about Wonder Woman a lot lately. No, I’m not going to apologize for that. I’ve had a perfectly valid reason and no need for excuses. It’s not unreasonable to say that Wonder Woman is having the best year she’s had in her 75-year history and that includes the era in which she made Lynda Carter a sex symbol.

The “Wonder Woman” movie is an unabashed success. Just this past week, it surpassed both “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” to become the highest-grossing DC Comics movie to date on the domestic front. It managed to do all this with a female director in Patty Jenkins, a strong female lead in Gal Gadot, and a naked Chris Pine. I think ladies everywhere deserve to flex their ovaries this year.

As great a year as she’s had, there’s been another major development with Wonder Woman that will likely slip under the radar. That’s a shame too because it’s an important development, which is another way of saying it has very sexy implications. Given the nature of this blog, it would be a professional failure on my part if I didn’t talk about it.

In this case, it has to do with what’s been going on with Wonder Woman in the comics. Now, I don’t deny that a very small percentage of the people who saw the “Wonder Woman” movie actually follow the current comics. Most have probably read Wonder Woman comics in the past, seen her in various cartoons, or watched the old Lynda Carter TV show.

The current comics, however, are kind of an afterthought. That’s understandable in some cases. If you only saw the “Captain America” movie, you might be a little confused to find out he’s a Hydra agent in the comics. If you only ever saw the “Iron Man” movie, you might even more confused to find out that Tony Stark is in a coma and Iron Man is a 15-year-old black girl from Chicago.

The comics are confusing, convoluted, and frustrating to say the least. I say that as someone who has been closely following comics for nearly two decades. There are so many different interpretations, alternate universes, and re-launches that most reasonable people would decide it’s not worth the aggravation. I like to think I’m reasonable in most instances, but I guess my love of comics is just that strong.

For those Wonder Woman fans who do follow DC’s iconic comics, they got an overdue, but extra-satisfying treat. As part of DC’s ongoing Rebirth initiative, Wonder Woman’s comic was re-launched and revamped in a way that helped streamline a mess of conflicting continuities and scrambled timelines. Trust me, it’s much more complicated than it sounds. Just look up something called “Flashpoint” to see what I mean.

If you’re a Wonder Woman fan, though, you don’t need to know the cow shit to appreciate the flowers. Under the pen of Greg Rucka, an accomplished comic book writer who has written Wonder Woman in the past, and Liam Sharp, an equally-accomplished comic book artist, Wonder Woman’s entire story underwent an overhaul.

That story is one that I cannot recommend enough to Wonder Woman fans. If you loved the movie, then you’ll love these comics. They cover everything that makes Wonder Woman great. Her heart, her compassion, her warrior spirit, and her sex appeal is all on highlighted in all the right ways for all the right reasons. It may very well be the most balanced she’s ever been as a character.

However, it’s the conclusion of that story, which culminated just last week with the release of Wonder Woman #25, that introduces an important element to Wonder Woman’s story. It goes beyond simply capping off a successful run on an iconic comic book series in a satisfying way. That alone is pretty remarkable, especially at a time when comic companies can’t resist killing major characters for a sales boost.

Specifically, it has to do with Wonder Woman’s sexuality. I know that’s a favorite topic of mine and for good reason. Her sexuality is actually pretty broad compared to other male heroes who simply want to bang supermodels all day. Her origins have strong ties to the world of BDSM and in recent years, she has been revealed to be bisexual.

Despite these details, Wonder Woman has been one of those characters who has been sexually nullified, so to speak. For a good chunk of her history, she’s never been allowed to be overtly sexy. Sure, her attire is sexy and she’s not exactly shy about showing off her body. When it comes to having an actual sex life, though, it might as well be on par with the Hulk’s penis. We know it’s there. It’s just not something we talk about.

Sure, she’s allowed to have love interests. Steve Trevor, who was played by Chris Pine in the movie, is her most famous. She’s had others, including Batman in the Justice League cartoon and Superman in the comics at one point. However, the sexuality in all those relationships is severely muted, if not outright ignored.

That changed somewhat in Wonder Woman #25. Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp actually acknowledged that Wonder Woman can be sexual and it doesn’t have to be some big, shocking ordeal. She’s a powerful woman and she has sex. That should not be shocking on any level.

On top of that, Rucka and Sharp make it a point to mix Wonder Woman’s sexual inclinations with her romantic inclinations. Remember, Steve Trevor? Well, now he’s not just the man who managed to get Chris Pine naked in  the “Wonder Woman” movie. He’s the one who makes love with Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman #25. I’m sure both Chris Pine and Gal Gadot would approve.

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It was a sweet, beautiful scene that mixed both romance and sexuality. After a long journey that had many heart-wrenching moments, Wonder Woman returns to Steve, who prepared a romantic night for them. She opted to skip most of it, head into the bedroom, and make love. I’m not going to lie or apologize. That moment made me shed tears of joy and gave me a boner.

It may not seem like a big deal, Wonder Woman getting frisky with her oldest and most well-known love interest. Trust me, both as an erotica/romance writer and a comic book fan. It’s a huge deal and it adds a critical dimension to Wonder Woman’s character that tends to get censored way too often, which is sex positivity.

I’ve talked about sex positivity before, namely how it stands in contrast to sex negative feminism. I’ve even talked about distinctly sex positive superheroes like Starfire. Given Wonder Woman’s status as a feminine ideal, you’d think she would be naturally sex positive. That thinking wouldn’t be dead wrong, but it wouldn’t be right either.

It may be a result of her having not-so-subtle BDSM origins. It may also be a byproduct of the heavy censorship comics endured for most of its history, thanks largely to a bullshit moral panic from the 1950s that nearly killed the industry. Whatever the reasons, Wonder Woman’s BDSM origins were purged and her sexuality was effectively ignored.

She was still a woman, but her sexuality was about as prominent as her appendix. Her entire persona, even into the modern era, emphasized her warrior woman status. She only fought and looked good while doing it. That was pretty much the core of her character.

Now that’s not to say she had no other appeals. She most certainly did. However, her sexuality, and even her attitudes towards sex, were either ignored or circumvented. That’s why this new development in Wonder Woman #25 is so critical.

In this case, Wonder Woman actually did something even Starfire struggles to accomplish. She created a perfect balance of sexuality and love. Starfire may have a very healthy attitude towards sex and nudity, but she tends to be too casual when it comes to romance. She’s perfectly comfortable having sex, but expressing love through sex is a bit trickier.

For Wonder Woman, it’s a natural manifestation of her loving, compassionate personality. She has love for her friends, her fellow heroes, and Steve Trevor. Rucka and Sharp just let her express it through her sexuality in a way that was sincere, meaningful, and perfectly appropriate for the context of the story.

That kind of sex positivity is exceedingly rare these days. I’ve said before that the world needs more of it. There are ominous signs that society is becoming more sexually uptight. Sexuality, especially of the female variety, is still very much a taboo. Men and women alike seem to have conflicting attitudes that can manifest in unhealthy ways.

How fitting is it that Wonder Woman, the most iconic female hero of the last century, finds a way to achieve a beautiful balance between sexuality and romance? It’s a powerful element that I hope DC Comics doesn’t censor once more. A female hero knows how to fight, love, and make love in a meaningful, compelling way is a beautiful story in its own right. You could even say it’s a true wonder.

Yes, I know that sounds cheesy as hell. No, I’m not going to apologize for that either.

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“50 Shades Darker” And The Future Of Erotica/Romance Movies

What can we say about the state of sex in movies that hasn’t already been said by radical feminists and Christian fundamentalists? That’s not an entirely rhetorical question. Sex in cinema is as old as cinema itself. Like every major advancement, we kinky humans just love to take great technological advancements and wonder how we can have sex with it. Why else would sex robots be a thing?

It’s also a very relevant question to ask. Earlier this month, “Fifty Shades Darker” came out in theaters. It’s the sequel to 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.” In terms of erotica/romance in movies, this is basically the alpha dog of the pack. This is the big gun and, in some respects, the only gun with any bullets in the chamber.

Why is that and why does it matter? Well if, at this point, you don’t know about the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon that started out as Twilight fan fiction, then you’re either just waking up from a coma or are too shy to ask your parents about why they keep ropes under their beds. It shouldn’t be too shocking. It’s not like E. L. James invented erotica literature or BDSM fiction. That has been around longer than movies, TV, or whatever else priests and mullahs thinks are corrupting society.

What makes “Fifty Shades of Grey” so important is that it achieved such staggering success. This wasn’t some niche title that a couple horny housewives read while their husbands were busy fucking their secretaries. This book sold over 5.3 million copies. That’s more than the last Harry Potter book.

For reasons that still baffle and frustrate many, especially in the Catholic Church, this book struck a nerve, among other things. It tapped into our collective libido like few things haven’t outside of Barry White music. The fact it’s finally manifesting in movies should shock no one. Like any form of successful media, Hollywood is going to milk that tit until it’s bone dry.

Now, I’m not going to gloss over some of the obvious here. I know that both “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Fifty Shades Darker” have been eviscerated by critics. At the moment, “Fifty Shades Darker” has a pathetic 9 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. For some context, the much-maligned Fantastic Four movie that came out in the same year also got a 9 percent. The sequel to that movie was promptly cancelled.

It doesn’t help that the first “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie scored only a 25 percent, but at least that movie can say it made a decent profit. According to BoxOfficeMojo, the first “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie made over $571 million worldwide on a $40 million budget. That’s nothing to scoff at. Even Roger Ebert would admit that.

As a rule of thumb, movies typically need to make double their budget at the box office to turn a profit. By that measure, “Fifty Shades of Grey” succeeded. At the moment, “Fifty Shades Darker” has grossed over $284 million on a $55 budget. It’s not exactly “Avatar” numbers, but it is a profit. Rotten Tomatoes can bitch about it all they want. If a movie makes a profit, then that counts as a success.

It’s the fact that movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey” are turning such a profit that the prospect for erotica/romance in movies is changing. It used to be that if a movie had too many erotic themes on it, it would be doomed to an NC-17 rating or left to whither in late-night time slots on Cinemax.

As a result, not many studios put much effort into these movies. There’s a reason why all those unrated movies or MA-TV series on Cinemax are just glorified softcore porn. Maybe that sort of thing had its place in the days before the internet, but now any 13-year-old can whip out their phones and look up the most hardcore sex acts this side of a German brothel.

Now, thanks to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” studios have a precedent. They now know that there is a market for movies with heavy erotic themes. Unlike cult classics such as “Showgirls,” it can be profitable. It can have a place in a market currently dominated by movies about superheroes and Legos.

That said, being profitable and being good aren’t the same thing. Just ask Michael Bay. Profitable movies that are not well-received will make some short-term profits. In the long run, however, audiences will catch up to the lack of quality and lose interest. Again, just ask Michael Bay.

It’s in the best interest of a studio and a genre for a movie to be both well-received and profitable. That’s how one good X-men movie or one good Iron Man movie can turn a franchise into a full-fledged phenomenon that culminates in a billion-dollar blockbuster.

In some respects, erotica in movies is in a similar place compared to superhero movies. While it’s hard to imagine now in an era where a talking raccoon can benefit from the superhero craze, but there was a time when superhero movies were box office poison.

In the mid-90s, thanks to the misguided efforts of Joel Shumacher, superhero movies and comic book movies were right up there with Paulie Shore in terms of things studios avoided. The idea that superhero movies could be so profitable was just ludicrous. It would only take away vital resources from making more Die Hard rip-offs.

It took a few studios with the balls to take risks, as well as some actual effort beyond just giving Roger Cormen a few bucks, to make superhero movies work. I’m not saying erotica movies can follow the same path, but there is precedent.

There’s also one other factor that’s working in favor of erotica movies and that’s demographics. According to census data, the population of major industrial countries is getting older. That means the market for more adult-oriented media is growing. Sure, kids still have their Disney movies and princess toys, but an older population isn’t going to be content with remakes of old cartoons and “Frozen.”

At some point, a standard PG-13 movie where the blood is CGI and all the boobs are covered just isn’t going to do it for some audiences. They’re going to want something else. The softcore themes of movies like “Showgirls” just doesn’t work anymore, thanks to the impact of internet porn. Tits and ass alone just aren’t enough. For erotica movies to grow, it needs both story and sex appeal.

I say this as someone who is trying to do that with his novels. However, there are already plenty of erotica novels out there that also have rich, engaging stories. I hope to write a few of them in the future with “Passion Relapse” being a stepping stone. For movies, however, the road is a bit longer.

Right now, I get the sense that Hollywood doesn’t know how to make a good erotica movie that doesn’t devolve into softcore porn. While “Fifty Shades of Grey” turned a profit, it’s poor critical reception does not bode well for the long-term prospects of the genre. However, that can change with only one movie. Just ask “Die Hard.”

What kind of movie would that be? Well, if I knew, I’d be working in Hollywood right now scheduling dates with Jennifer Lawrence and Megan Fox. Hollywood has a lot of problems right now and not just because of things like “whitewashing.”

Many Hollywood movies still are somewhat uptight when it comes to certain themes, especially those involving sex. Just look at slasher movies for proof of this. In those movies, characters who dare to be too sexual are often killed or are the villains. It’s extremely sex-negative, albeit indirectly.

For an erotica movie to work on a large scale, it needs to be more sex-positive. Movies like Deadpool were rare exceptions in that it was extremely sex-positive. The fact it was such a successful movie definitely helped.

It also needs actors and actresses who are just as sex-positive in spirit. That means those who rely on body doubles for nude scenes probably wouldn’t fit the role. That may be challenging because collectively, our culture still reacts like school-girls around a sick puppy when celebrities dare to show a nipple. However, I do believe that with demographics and more movies like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” this attitude will evolve.

At some point in every movie genre, there’s a moment where the situation is just right to get it going. The current situation isn’t quite there for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” but I do believe it’s much closer than we think. I, for one, intend to have plenty of loose pants handy for when that day finally comes.

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Will Our Future Robot Overlord Be A Dominatrix?

Take a moment to think about the most prominent authority figures in your life. We all have them in some form or another. For most, it’s a parent or spouse. For others, it’s a boss or a partner. For some, it’s whoever controls the wifi password in a house.

What do these authority figures have in common? What do they do that compels you to submit to their authority? Is that submission willing? Is it forced? Is it some twisted combination that keeps you up at night and makes for awkward family dinners?

These are all important questions that don’t get asked too often. We tend not to think too much about the authority figures we submit to in our day-to-day lives. We don’t even think about the people over which we ourselves wield such authority. For many people, this isn’t the kind of overt domination/submission we see in BDSM. It’s just what we see as normal.

Now let me ask a question that’s going to sound like a complete non-sequiter coming from a guy who reads too many comic books and saw Star Wars one too many times as a kid. Bear with me because it is a serious question that just happens to have crazy/sexy/disturbing implications. Here it is:

Will an advanced future robot be a dominatrix?

Take a moment to stop laughing and questioning my sanity. Then, think about that question seriously. Every year, we’re creating more and more advanced robots. On top of that, AI assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are becoming more integrated into our lives. At some point, these technological forces will converge. When that happens, just how much will we submit to it? How much will it dominate us?

Make no mistake. An advanced robot/AI will dominate us on some levels. It’s more a matter of when rather than if at this point. Robots are already more capable, efficient, and durable than our frail, fleshy bodies. Hell, some of these bodies can’t even process gluten. How are we supposed to compete with robots that can survive outer space, build a fleet of cars, and make George Lucas billions of dollars in merchandising?

The creation of advanced robots and AIs isn’t a matter of authority or domination. It’s a matter of pragmatism. Human beings are just so limited, both physically and mentally. Many human beings can’t even sit through an economics lecture or an hour of C-SPAN without falling asleep. We’re just not equipped to process the world outside our caveman instincts.

Robots and AIs are necessary and not just to help organize our FaceBook friends or email. They will help process, maintain, and manage the increasingly complex world that is bound to emerge when you put 7 billion people on a crowded planet, two-thirds of which is covered in ocean.

It’s already happening. Ray Kurzweil, a visionary and writer I’ve referenced on this blog before, has calculated that, based on the accelerating returns of information technology, computers will be as smart as humans by approximately 2030. Then, a couple decades later, they’ll be billions of times smarter than humans.

Think about that for a moment without your head exploding. How can we, with our feeble caveman brains, contemplate anything that’s a billion times smarter than us? It’s one thing to discount smug, intellectual Dr. Phil types who think they know why a woman’s kid can’t stop wetting the bed. It’s quite another to discount something that’s so much smarter than you that you might as well be a retarded ant.

This brings me back to my original question about robots and the possibility of a robot dominatrix. This is the part where I diverge with the doom and gloom we see in movies like The Terminator or The Matrix. I prefer to think that the future has much more sex appeal than we care to admit.

Think back to the basics of BDSM. It involves a strict, clear understanding of who is dominant and who is submissive. Ideally, the submissive willingly (and in some cases eagerly) submits to the dominant. The dominant exercises their authority in a manner that rewards the submissive for their submission.

Sometimes that reward takes the form of rough sex. Sometimes it takes the form of spankings, whippings, or whatever else may involve latex/leather accessories. The key here is the dynamics of having a dominant authority over a willing submissive.

With respect to robots and AI, you can’t get much more dominant than a machine that is a billion times smarter than an average human. That kind of dominance is not arbitrary. It’s the basic differences between a butterfly and a grizzly bear.

In this situation, voluntary submission would be a moot point. When something is that superior, such submission is usually implied. Sure, there are some that may resist, but we would see these individuals the same way we see two-year-old boys who think they can beat LeBron James one-on-one.

That said, this wouldn’t imply that a super-intelligent robot would be cruel or tyrannical. Cruelty and tyranny are traits that often stem from flawed, unintelligent humans who cringe at the idea that somebody’s palace might not be as big as theirs. That’s not a dick joke by the way.

If an intelligence is truly that smart, then it would be far above cruelty and tyranny, which require some level of pettiness and insecurity. Again, these are non-quantifiable human traits. A robot wouldn’t have such burdens. If they did, then they wouldn’t be that super-intelligent to begin with.

So if a robot/AI is that intelligent and we humans are still stuck at a level of intelligence where we struggle to keep up with the plot of Lost, the dynamics for a dominant/submission relationship aren’t just there. They may be inescapable.

As I’ve said before, we humans are wired to seek some form of authority with which to organize our collective lives. Part of that instinct is what leads us to ascribe maternal or paternal traits to authority figures, be they are President or our BDSM partner.

That’s why it’s no coincidence that AI assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana all have adult female voices. In this voice, they come off as non-threatening, maternal, and authoritative. As research has shown, female voices inspire more trust and emotional attachment than a stern male voice.

We hear an angry male voice telling us what to do and our first instinct is to rebel like a child. We hear a stern, but assertive female voice and suddenly we’re a bunch of adorable children obeying our mother while we help her bake pies. Yes, it’s a direct hijacking of our caveman brains, but you can’t argue with results.

Due to those results, I think it’s very likely that our future robot dominatrix will be a female. It will evoke ideas of a female face, a female body, and a female presence. Even among women, this intelligence would evoke the same loving submission that our mothers inspired in us. That would make it an authority that was easy to submit to. Some of us may even submit eagerly.

Now I’m not going to claim my vision of a future where a sexy robot dominatrix rules us all will come to pass. This is just my personal assessment on what the future will entail with respect to advanced artificial intelligence.

The Terminator, The Matrix, and even Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey had the resources it needed to dominate feeble humans. If they just used some sex appeal with some light BDSM, then there would’ve been no need for such conflict. We all would’ve willingly and lovingly submitted to their authority. We may still submit one day. It’s just a matter of how eager we’ll all be.

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What BDSM Tells Us About Authority And Our Future

Let’s face it, we humans need some semblance of order in our lives. As a species, we just don’t function well in chaos. We’re a species that will riot in the streets because we’re glad our favorite basketball team won the championship. If aliens landed tomorrow, we’d have a very hard time explaining that to them.

Order and authority is a big part of what makes society function. It’s a big part of what helps humanity survive. As caveman logic tells us, our brains and bodies are wired for only two things: survival and reproduction. They’re wired, designed, and maintained poorly, as I’ve pointed out many times before, but there are over 7 billion of us surviving and reproducing on this planet right now so we must be doing something right.

This leads me to the wonderful world of BDSM. Yes, I know that sounds like a non-sequiter. Yes, I know that sounds like an excuse for me to talk about overtly sexual topics again. No, I will not apologize for it. I don’t think I need to explain myself at this point, nor should I have to.

In reading and writing about BDSM, I’ve picked up on a few underlying themes. Since my brain works in elaborately perverse ways, I often find myself applying those themes to the world around me. BDSM is no exception. If anything, it’s the basic standard.

Earlier this year, I completed a draft of a book called “The Big Game.” It’s a book that explores various forms of BDSM, but not just because I think readers enjoy the mental image of a star male athlete being whipped in the ass by a sexy female librarian type, although I’m sure that has its own kind of appeal.

In this story, I try to apply the principles of BDSM to a bigger picture. That bigger picture has a lot to do with how we function as a society and how we see authority. Some people inherently flaunt authority. Some people desperately need it. Human thought is incredibly diverse on the subject, but whatever our sentiment, it still affects us.

At its core, BDSM cuts through all the chaff, uncertainties, and formalities. When you read about BDSM or practice it, you know who’s in charge. You know who has the authority and who doesn’t. It’s an extremely simplistic scenario that requires little thought. The fact it often involves sex is just a bonus and a damn good bonus if done right.

In many respects, BDSM takes advantage of the biological wiring that’s already in place. There is actual science behind our inclination to obey and conform. A large body of research shows that humans have a genetic and psychological predisposition to obedience and conformity.

When you look at it through the lens of caveman logic, it makes sense. In our caveman state, we can’t dedicate all this mental energy into deciding whether or not we should trust or obey someone. That would be like holding a jury trial just to determine who gets to pick the restaurant on a date night. It’s a wholly inefficient use of our time and energy.

We need to use those resources for more vital issues like securing meat for the winter and doing enough humping to ensure our tribe has enough people to continue. Natural selection does the rest. That’s why nature instills this in our collective psyche. It helps us get along, work together, and survive long enough to get frisky.

However, like most other natural forces within our biology, it’s not that fine-tuned. Nature is a blunt instrument and not a scalpel. If our brains and bodies were computers, then they we’d say they had been wired by a drunk office temp with a bad attitude and a knack for laziness. As a result, this vital programming for obedience and conformity lay the foundation for BDSM.

It’s in this context where our biological programming for obedience goes to an extreme. The fact those extremes bring some people to orgasm only makes it more powerful. When there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, we naturally look for whatever certainty we can find. As I said before, you can’t get much more certain than who dominates who in BDSM.

Submission, dominance, obedience, and authority are all streamlined in BDSM. You don’t need to dedicate a lick of mental energy to scrutinize the situation. Everything is perfectly structured. Everything is perfectly laid out. For many perfectly healthy people who are concerned about an unhealthy world, there’s a lot of appeal in that situation.

At its core, BDSM acknowledges that we human beings aren’t built, physically or mentally, to be complete independent. We need to submit or dominate certain aspects of our lives. It’s the only way we can make sense of the world and ourselves. That’s a big reason why BDSM experiences are so powerful for some people. It’s also a big reason why it has such appeal.

So what does this mean for our future? Well, that’s a bit trickier to answer. We like to think we’re progressing to a point where we can meet all our physical and emotional needs through technology. That’s not entirely wrong, but a big part of those needs is to have some form of stable authority.

As kids, that authority is our parents. As young adults, that authority is our teachers, law enforcement, and fellow peers. As adults, that authority is our spouses, our bosses at work, or our friends. We built our lives around authority. A part of us needs some kind of authority to submit to. Some need it more than others. Most of us need it more than we care to admit.

The future will create all sorts of new uncertainties. With over 7 billion people with countless (often conflicting) needs, we’ll need some form of authority to make sense of ti all. I don’t know what form that authority will take, but it’s an idea I intend to explore.

It’s also an idea I intend to make sexy in some strange way, but that should be a given at this point. After all, if BDSM can give authority so much sex appeal, then why not embrace it along with our future as a species?

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