Copyright 2003-2020 by Richard J. Ballard -- All Rights Reserved.
I can visualize a person reading this webpage periodically wrinkling their nose and thinking Discussing this issue is not politically correct! My goal is not to offend; instead my goal is to understand. IMO understanding is good.
This webpage is a 07/29/2020 update to my Internet newsgroup periodic messages titled "A neo-Tantra Reference List (Part One/ Two of Two Parts)" that I provided until 11/2004. I stopped providing these (Western) neo-Tantra messages after 11/2004 primarily because AOL dropped their Internet newsgroup coverage, but also because IMO neo-Tantra activities (and women's expectations) have become more commercial and less friendly. It's just a job! (shrug) does not engender warm feelings or individual commitment, and IMO it is difficult to include commercial sexuality (Pay!) within a sustainable lifestyle.
US history books' future discussion IMO might begin It all started with Hurricane Katrina and FEMA debit cards; from there the path was all downhill ... A 2018 Zillow real estate study comparing rents to homelessness found a specific correlation between rent affordability and the rate of homelessness at a certain threshold: Communities where people spend more than 32 percent of their income on rent can expect a more rapid increase in homelessness. And over the last five years, the U.S. median rent has risen 11%, with renters earning the national median income spending 28.2% of their earnings on rent. As a nation we're not far from the housing plateau's edge.
In the mean time, college recent graduates are credit-blocked by educational loans (averaging a little over $35,000 for Class Of 2015 graduates) that can not be cleared through personal bankruptcy. The US military offers educational benefits to service members, but these benefits don't eliminate the problem: an April 2014 article states that over 40 percent of all current American service men and women are repaying student loans; and military borrowers who have graduated since 2008 each owe an average of $26,000. Roughly half of all student loans currently in repayment are either past due, in default, in forbearance or being accommodated by one of the government's many relief programs. As of July 2015 almost 3.9 million former students were enrolled in Obama administration income-based repayment plans that generally limit struggling borrowers' educational loan payments to 15 percent of their incomes after expenses for necessities, such as housing; the remaining debt is forgiven after 20 or 25 years. (Debt can be canceled after 10 years for people who work in public service jobs or at nonprofit groups, employment possibilities that do not offer Social Security retirement credit.) The Obama administration's income-based repayment plans help struggling borrowers, but the repayment period resembles a period of indentured servitude.
Educational debt is a heavy burden that opens career possibilities: almost 97% of the good jobs created since 2010 have gone to college graduates. And the referenced article indicates that high-end career creation has recovered and that low-end job creation has recovered. But moderate-paying job creation (often permanently due to computerization) remains atrophied creating the possibility of underwater educations: students (with diplomas?) leave school owing more educational debt than their career salary possibilities ever can repay - it was fun while it lasted, but the educational ride is over. People burdened with underwater educations IMO increasingly will view occasional sex work as an economic mundane opportunity.
Desperation does not breed good companionship: desperate people sometimes react badly when a brooding significant other (or even a burdensome insignificant other) stands in the shadows waiting for cash to restore residential water discontinued service, to reclaim an impounded / repossessed vehicle (leased cars are a prosperity short-term facade), or even to purchase a hot meal. Occasional on-call drivers with formal employment contracts already complain publicly about their working environment; informal sex work IMO is a sure prescription for bitterness and discord. Walt Disney's full-length animated color cartoon Peter Pan clearly predicts the end result of monetary relationships: When men stop believing in fairies, fairies disappear. Commercial sex is a commodity business whose value is difficult to quantify: the marketplace (i.e., supply and demand) dictates price. Commercial sex is non-essential entertainment; annoyed potential customers can shift their interests (and resources) elsewhere; and it is difficult to force participation using a competition-discouraging organized monopoly (e.g., the homeless shelters' ROTC corps providing so-called security on the street, a situation reminiscent of Mom and her boys in the 1983 film Doctor Detroit starring Dan Ackroyd and Howard Hesseman). No participant should expect long-term commitment, compassion or even empathy within a monetary relationship; these omissions build no foundation for a future lasting relationship, and these omissions IMO reduce the monetary relationship's present value. The omissions also eliminate future civility guarantees: deliberate indiscretion can perpetuate bitterness and discord during the twilight following a monetary-based relationship, while kiss and tell the media has become an increasingly popular strategy among modern Jezebels.
Some women are more ambitious: on several occasions different women have said I'll play you for real estate. I purchased my house in 1978 and over the years I have done informal gardening; each Spring I get a new crop of flowers. When a woman says I'll play you for real estate my polite smile is noncommittal: being told I'll play you for real estate does not inflate a fellow's (a-hem) ego. Humor reflects reality; perhaps a classic joke provides better perspective:
A guy meets a hooker in a bar. She says "This is your lucky night. Let's play a game. I'll do absolutely anything you want for $300, so long as you can say it in three words." The guy replies, "Hey, why not?" He pulls his wallet out of his pocket and, one at a time, lays three 100-dollar bills on the bar and says slowly, "Paint ... my ... house."
Another classic joke:
A man was shocked to see his beautiful divorced
neighbor knocking on his door one Friday evening.
"I'm so horny that I can't stand it," she said. "I want to go out, get drunk and get laid. Are you free tonight?"
"Yes!" he replied enthusiastically.
"Wonderful," she said. "Would you watch my kids?"
IMO resourceful people have better options: Friends make the best (and safest) neo-Tantra partners. And friends strengthen friendships by sharing neo-Tantra's best aspect: complementary mutual growth. Sharing mutual growth with compatible friends IMO always is better (and usually co$ts less) than lookin' for love in all the wrong places.
This webpage has two sections. The first section is a neo-Tantra and Sexuality Overview that discusses 21st Century United States sexuality; my own heterosexual perceptions and experiences both define and limit this section's discussion. The second section is a Sexuality Books and Films list; friendship notwithstanding, this list goes beyond neo-Tantra to better reflect IMO The Great Recession's effect upon 21st Century sexuality: fewer employment opportunities results in diverse sexual opportunities at less co$t. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware), however: first we serve you, then (a-hem) ...
neo-Tantra describes modern Western adaptation of Eastern Tantra (a combination of Hindu yoga practices and oriental Taoist practices). The adaptation sometimes is called sacred sexuality and acknowledges that exercising the human body's sexual wiring is one approach to experiencing divinity. In any case, neo-Tantra emphasizes the sensual over the sexual. neo-Tantra has gained 21st Century popularity IMO because its sensual approach equalizes the genders. (I.e., macho sh*t is not appropriate and bulging muscles can be cumbersome.) neo-Tantra also has gained popularity IMO because it can offer social sexual possibilities to timid people seeking spirituality within a structured group (and neo-Tantra usually stops short of cultish obsession).
Otherwise, neo-Tantra is not clearly defined; individual gurus (or even studied individuals) have great freedom to define their own practices. One neo-Tantra categorization is structured according to ejaculation: White Tantra emphasizes spirituality and avoids the loss of sexual energy (i.e., avoids ejaculation), while Black Tantra always includes ejaculation and Grey Tantra sometimes includes ejaculation. A related but different categorization orients White Tantra towards a spiritual approach and orients Red Tantra towards sensuality and sexuality, while Black Tantra is obsessed with power and its permutations (e.g., siddhis, manipulation, control, etc.). Finally, tantric sex ritual categorization describes the right hand path as those practices where sex rituals are viewed as meditation or as monogamous rites, while the left hand path describes those practices where dozens or hundreds of couples engage simultaneously in the ritual sex act (sometimes lead by a pair of teachers). Perhaps not coincidentally, satanism (which includes sexuality and hedonism within its own rituals) calls Judaic / Christian religious philosophy The Right Hand Path and calls its own satanic religious philosophy The Left Hand Path.
Coitus can be included within neo-Tantra rituals, but neo-Tantra offers other sexual options that avoid pregnancy-related fears. Novices interested in neo-Tantra might have difficulty obtaining good information about the subject. A wealth of (Western) neo-Tantra and (Eastern) Tantra information is available on the Internet -- too much information (and Eastern flowery metaphors sometimes hinder clarity). A simple Google search on the word neo-Tantra gives over 89,000 entries, while an Internet search on the word Tantra gives over 6,850,000 entries. This is a remarkable explosion of available information in recent years and reviewing that much information is akin to taking a drink out of a fire hose: it does not necessarily quench your thirst. I hope this webpage helps novices understand the difference, because most United States novices IMO are interested in sensual (Western) neo-Tantra, not in (Eastern) Tantra with its sometimes painful discipline (e.g., kundalini).
Some people trivialize neo-Tantra: they say Why read neo-Tantra books when real Tantra books are available? neo-Tantra emphasizes the pleasurable aspects of Hindu yoga and of oriental Taoism. IMO neo-Tantra assists Western couples to strengthen their relationships, while Tantra with its physical (self-)discipline is less appropriate and less PALatable to most Westerners. Some people say that I trivialize Tantra and neo-Tantra. These people say that if a person seeks increased intimacy, healthful exercise and increased body flexibility, why not just exercise, do some stretching and have a private dinner with your partner? I have three answers to this question:
My first answer is that exercising, stretching and having cocktails while your partner prepares dinner does not build intimacy between partners; mutual shared activity builds and reinforces intimacy between partners. neo-Tantra is a friendly activity that should be shared between partners.
My second answer is that while fitness (especially leg exercises like jogging or cycling) enhances neo-Tantra pleasure, a novice need not be able to run a mile in order to enjoy neo-Tantra. Some neo-Tantra exercises can be performed by novices having limited fitness and limited flexibility. As novices' fitness and flexibility improve they can progress to neo-Tantra exercises requiring additional fitness and additional flexibility. Please use caution when trying neo-Tantra new exercises (or a new partner); consider Jennifer Tilly's stretching scenes in the film The Big Chill.
The third answer reflects my personal philosophy. People engaged in neo-Tantra are enjoying their bodies, and they desire additional fitness and firm muscles for additional enjoyment. This is powerful motivation that the bathroom scale or a sobriety pledge just cannot provide.
I can not overemphasize the importance of physical exercise's stress reduction function. IMO Take a lap! is an excellent safe phrase for use both within neo-Tantra and also within mundane activities. Just don't run your partner to death during domestic prolonged arguments.
Some neo-Tantra practitioners believe that reading is not sufficient to learn neo-Tantra. These practitioners believe that tutelage by an accomplished neo-Tantra instructor is necessary. Everyone does not live where well-known neo-Tantra instructors are available, everyone can not afford neo-Tantra tutelage, and some individuals choose to reserve neo-Tantra contact to close friends. I have had tutelage and I have read texts. Anybody reading well-written texts and practicing with a friendly partner IMO can obtain most of neo-Tantra's benefits: increased closeness from sharing an intimate experience, healthful exercise and increased body flexibility. In a lighter vein, Reading the directions is the last refuge of the competent.
Some people question why obtaining neo-Tantra experience requires practice, they say Just read the book. neo-Tantra is not virtual reality, most neo-Tantra is not solitary meditation where you take care of yourself, and most neo-Tantra exercise requires a partner. [Achieving self-regulated breathing, heartbeat and brainwave activity; and developing new pleasurable epidermal neural pathways makes your body the proverbial well oiled (non-alcoholic) machine. Achieving these healthful states requires physical discovery and repetition to establish desired conditioned physiological behavior. Some paths we walk alone, but at journey's end (advantageously) we can share our benefits with others.] Like most sport or meditation activities, many neo-Tantra exercises include repetitive actions meant to be performed semi-consciously and without distractions. Novices should be concentrating upon their partners, not concentrating upon body mechanics and not struggling frantically to achieve inner bliss.
Developing muscle memory and mental serenity requires a certain amount of physical fitness. Some neo-Tantra exercises do not require a great deal of fitness, but physical strain will destroy neo-Tantra's intimacy, enjoyment and serenity. Excess physical exertion also could damage a person's health. People should follow their Physician's recommendations concerning physical activity. IMO individuals should consult their Physician prior to beginning neo-Tantra (or any other form of significant physical exercise) if personal health or fitness questions exist.
Acquiring the muscle memory and mental serenity necessary to achieve this semi-conscious performance state requires practice practice practice with a friendly partner, not frantic reading. In particular, novices might be both physically and socially clumsy until their fitness improves. Friendship and a sense of humor overcome potential embarrassment when clumsiness is experienced during new exercises: IMO friends with a sense of humor make the best neo-Tantra partners. neo-Tantra should strengthen partner relationships by eroding those shared annoyances. And neo-Tantra should be fun -- nobody should complain about the need to practice practice practice.
It is not neo-Tantra music, but the music CD backstreet boys performed by the backstreet boys played at appropriate volume is suitable background music for neo-Tantra. Many of Robert Palmer's music CDs ( Rhythm and Blues, Ridin' High and Woke Up Laughing) also are suitable neo-Tantra background music. Other musical genres [e.g., Middle Eastern (e.g., Arabic Groove) and perhaps Tom Jones] that have bass / percussion sequences approximating regular heartbeat IMO are appropriate neo-Tantra background music.
Please utilize prearranged safe words / phrases. Safe words / phrases are easily memorable, short distinctive words and phrases not likely to be spoken during neo-Tantra. Either partner voicing the safe word / phrase signifies STOP and DISENGAGE IMMEDIATELY! and usually signifies that the partner is experiencing acute discomfort. Please do not assume that a new partner will recognize your personal safe word / phrase without prior discussion; misinterpretation can be painful.
neo-Tantra creates a ritualistic environment, a fragile environment that can be shattered by crude shouts of GET OFF ME, DAMMIT! A word or phrase can be chosen that either preserves the ritualistic environment [we will rearrange ourselves and then continue the ritual] or is funny [if we need the safe word / phrase we also will need some humor].
Both partners exercising and stretching prior to performing neo-Tantra is shared intimacy. Exercising builds each partner's self-confidence while reducing individual stress, and exercising reinforces the physiological factors that neo-Tantra partners seek. With practice and proficiency neo-Tantra partners can achieve a close and enduring physiological union between partners. Exercising helps neo-Tantra synchronization by regularizing and strengthening breathing, heartbeat and brainwave activity. (Contrary to Chinese / Indian macrobiotic diets, my personal experience is that high-protein carnivorous diets facilitate increased fitness and increased brainwave activity: e.g, beef is better than pork is better than chicken is better than fish.) Jogging, cycling and neo-Tantra low stress repetitive exercises are similar to the yantra / mantra meditation used to focus and calm the mind (and to regulate brainwave activity) within Zen yoga. And exercise is a healthful alternative to bored munching on junk food while sitting on your sofa. The fly in this healthful ointment is that children can (and often do) interfere with adult healthful exercise.
Safe words / phrases are not exclusive to neo-Tantra. Regularly I encounter partners who have attended formal counseling and who transparently utilize safe words / phrases to derail socially awkward situations. IMO safe word / phrase selections should be non-inflammatory. I like Take a lap!, a phrase that works on several levels. Other suitable safe phrases include: Never kid a kidder!; Lift off Rockitboy!; Dead End!; and (excuse the deliberately poor English) Things that ain't gonna happen! or That ain't gonna work! Turning and walking away (instead of using scripted safe phrases) IMO is appropriate behavior when (inadvertently?) insulted by casual companions or total strangers. And if a person receives continual insults from companions, IMO they need better companions.
A frown can be a mild alternative to safe words / phrases. In an intimate situation with attentive partners, a (truly nasty?) frown can discourage uncomfortable actions without resorting to memorable wounding words. But intimacy with a perpetually frowning partner (or the ice princess) is not fun or encouraging, and grim warlike visages as your partner contemplates neo-Tantra battle are not attractive. IMO ignoring a partner's perpetual frown is not wise: becoming not attentive is a signpost on the path to new partners.
Rituals have value and safe words can be embroidered into ritualistic behavior; a respectful and / or loving forgiving ceremony can be included in the response to safe word utterance.
One safe gesture I have witnessed is a hand placed gently on the back of the offender's bare neck. I interpret this gesture as Baby, you are misbehaving! (similar to a mother dog grabbing a puppy by the neck scruff prior to carrying the puppy away). IMO this gesture is friendly when performed by a friendly partner. And IMO this is an extremely unfriendly, arrogant and not consensual gesture when performed by casual acquaintances.
Occasionally I encounter group situations where inappropriate behavior is frowned upon formally. Specifically, the group designates a cop (an individual who group members feel is physically daunting but who has self-control). When another person behaves inappropriately the cop intervenes, walking over and frowning directly (and intimidatingly) into the offender's face. This frowning cop ritual (usually) squelches inappropriate behavior within group meetings, but thought police presence does not promote free exchange within social gatherings. FWIW, frowning cop repeated episodes (In my face? Again?) are insults suggesting the apparent offender should find a better group. Some groups frown themselves into extinction.
The cop function IMO is totally not appropriate at private residence friendly gatherings: guests have behavioral (i.e., good manners) obligations to their host. In The Great Recession's Wake only an unwise host IMO cedes control of their private residence to an imported cop having unknown priorities. I have experience with commercial establishment house cops [including somebody inflating all four of my parked car's tires to 70 PSI pressure, and after sunset on an unlit two lane country highway encountering an abandoned derelict car parked in my lane (no lights, no license plates, know nothing)]. When visiting commercial establishments I follow house rules, but private parties are not commercial affairs; why is a cop necessary at a private party? [FWIW, the house party cop role is especially volatile when filled by the non-resident former spouse / divorced father who is behind in his spousal maintenance / child support payments.] A person who controls their own social circle does not need cop functionality. Adding cop functionality to one's social circle IMO is an admission that one cannot control one's own social life.
When uninvited cop escorts (similar to John Travolta escorting Uma Thurman in the film Pulp Fiction) appear at my private gatherings, I politely remind them they are not invited guests and I ask them to leave. If the escort cites security responsibilities and refuses to leave, I ask them to take their escort(s) and leave. If pressed for a reason, I politely reply Sir, you are a crashing boor. Please leave. And if an invited guest needs a personal cop to feel safe and secure, that guest probably is attending the wrong party.
Kundalini sometimes is called the most efficient grounding technology yet known. After much thought, my 21st Century not mystical and not magickal interpretation is that an individual whose physique gets damaged is efficiently grounded physically, while an individual who joins a group and whose good reputation then is threatened (get the picture?) is efficiently grounded socially. I recognize that ordeals often are included within cultural rites of passage [rites that grant individuals entrance into a group, and that often include ordeals discouraging (others' or later) exit from the group]. 21st Century homelessness and high un(der)employment pose real problems for some groups and for some individuals. In The Great Recession's Wake IMO resourceful individuals benefit by avoiding being grounded efficiently.
Kundalini IMO is a difficult topic to pin down cleanly. Kundalini discussions employ flowery vague phrases such as: relaxing into, or surrendering to the experience; and simply surrender to the movements of my body; and one needs to know when to let go, to surrender the ego’s agenda; and first you feel like you are going forward then it engulfs you and you go backwards and fall into it. Kundalini discussions emphasize: removal of muscular armoring; and (achieving) emotional release / transmutation; and some pain and confusion as our egos are quickly challenged ... is counterbalanced by teachers and students surrendering to their Gurus and lineage, accepting the wisdom of the sages and consenting to be "mentored" by them; and this approach has a certain built in aggressiveness and does require surrender to the teacher's guidance to be safe and effective.
FWIW, I do not practice or recommend kundalini [anal intercourse (as depicted in the film Deliverance starring Ned Beatty)]. I recognize the legal concept of consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes and I control my private residence. Nevertheless, because the anal orifice did not evolve for kundalini and is not designed for kundalini, IMO the anal orifice has greater susceptibility to physical damage (tissue tearing) than the female vagina. (So-called butt plugs were invented to solve a sanitary problem, not invented as sensuous devices.) And intestinal microbes can cause health problems; e.g., some forms of hepatitus can be transmitted when food servers do not thoroughly wash their hands after using the toilet. I reject kundalini (a path that often leads to obsessive domination / submission relationships). Others considering this path IMO should investigate non-constipating diets and their state's laws (if any) concerning sodomy.
I consider kundalini an awkward subject; kundalini interest IMO reflects male sour reaction to increasingly popular radical feminism. IMO men often want to avoid pregnancy issues and (gender neutral) kundalini avoids pregnancy. [Skeptics should read The Story of O by French author Pauline Reage (discussed again later) and consider that fiction mirrors reality.] And IMO under many Traditions, a virgin woman who participates in kundalini technically still is a virgin. Also, if spouses choose kundalini instead of vaginal coitus IMO a marriage has not been consummated and can be annulled. The flip side of this angry coin is that a feminist with a dildo can initiate kundalini on a drunken man.
Tantra sometimes employs physical pain as a means to achieve or to prolong orgasm. For the record, I do not employ and do not recommend physical pain as a means to achieve or to prolong orgasm. Some tribal societies [both Native American (as depicted in the film A Man Called Horse starring Richard Harris) and Hindu (as depicted by PBS documentaries)] employ(ed) physical pain [piercing of (sometimes non-muscular) soft tissue areas with (later weighted) pencil-thick wooden skewers] as a means to reach and to prolong a worshipful (drug-free semi-delusional) state of nirvana. The Internet contains graphic evidence that contemporary pierced jewelry sometimes is utilized similarly. Another example: most people have viewed graphic depictions of a sailor wearing a large brass pierced earring, and Colonial ship captains often were called Yankees.
neo-Tantra recognizes physical orgasm and recognizes (nonphysical neurological) mental orgasm (sometimes called the acme). I have experienced both physical orgasm and mental orgasm in painless drug-free environments. IMO pain is not necessary to achieve or to prolong orgasm. Inflicting pain can become not consensual discipline if safe words / phrases are disallowed or are ignored deliberately, and misunderstandings can be permanently damaging. I choose not to travel this painful path.
Serious bondage / dominance / sadism / masochism (BDSM) environments employ so-called cops / observers / bouncers who control the environment and who break up altercations and harmful excess enthusiasm among BDSM participants. These so-called cops themselves usually are physically-inclined and their role often is a paid position: the cops work for the BDSM proprietor, not for the participants, a fact that corrupts the social environment when money questions arise.
Witnesses increasingly replace so-called cops in the neo-Tantra noncommercial scene. Acting somewhat like a non-drinking designated driver, the witness is a nonparticipant; e.g., a witness partner might accompany a female practitioner. Bringing a witness to a neo-Tantra noncommercial session is less aggressive than bringing a cop, but the situation still is not friendly. From my perspective, witnesses should not be necessary in a neo-Tantra noncommercial environment. Setting aside the issue of voyeurism discomfort, friends with a sense of humor should not require witnesses; IMO these witnesses merely come between friends. Especially in The Great Recession's Wake I prefer no companions to unreliable or to bad companions.
I do not want to glorify BDSM relationships, but I admit being puzzled about dominant master / submissive slave social relationships. The dominant master role is personally empowering, but why would any person accept (physically abusive and sometimes psychologically abusive) discipline as a submissive slave? BDSM serious novels [e.g., Secret Submission by Diana Hunter and Sweet Discipline by Bonnie Hamre] depict women becoming fascinated (enthralled) with ultra-masculine dominant men who lead the women into BDSM relationships. And in author Abby Lee's Girl with a One Track Mind curious Abby joins her professional dominatrix girlfriend in a dungeon scene where the dominatrix physically abuses a male customer and orders the man to sexually pleasure Abby. I do not consider these submissive role models believable.
Seeking understanding I read several WIITWD [i.e., What It Is That We Do, formerly expressed WWDTTTWD (i.e., Why We Do The Things That We Do)] BDSM documents: the soc.subculture.bondage-bdsm Internet FAQ; COME HITHER: A Commonsense Guide to Kinky Sex by Dr. Gloria G. Brame; Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon; Sensuous Magic: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couples by Patrick Califia; and SM101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman. These WIITWD texts depict the BDSM community as a carefully controlled environment where slaves accept BDSM in exchange for social acceptance and for sexual nirvana. And the dominant masters are idolized like popular music rock stars who are burdened with maintaining a rewarding and fulfilling BDSM social environment.
Due to uniformly bad literary reviews (e.g., slow moving mommy porn) I deliberately avoided reading author E. L. James' popular novel Fifty Shades of Grey. I read the novel after the film's release somewhat eclipsed the novel's bad reviews. IMO the novel is well written with adequate character development even though a first person accounting of a young woman's sexual awakening gets tedious. And at times Fifty Shades of Grey reads like a BDSM recruitment campaign packaged inside a charismatic prosperity wrapper. I credit E. L. James' candor: conflicting goals between a male dominant and a female submissive is a novel major theme.
I was not eager to read the entire trilogy, but later I purchased and read the trilogy's second and third volumes. The second volume Fifty Shades Darker lacks the first volume's pace and utilizes external threats to maintain the plot's momentum. The third volume Fifty Shades Freed has an even slower pace despite external threat continuation and IMO justifies the slow moving mommy porn earlier literary review. Much later I viewed the Fifty Shades Of Grey R-rated film version and the Fifty Shades Darker unrated film version. Both films faithfully follow the novels' plot lines, both films IMO impressively depict opulence, and the films minimize the texting cute dialogue between Christian and Anastasia. Yet I preferred the novels: IMO the richly graphic films don't develop the characters [particularly Christian, Anastasia and (in Fifty Shades Darker) Leila].
After copious reading I concluded: 1) Conceivably there are people so guilty about sexuality that they can enjoy sex only by suspending moral judgment and agreeing to submit to a dominant master's sexual orders, but I recognize nobody like that; 2) Conceivably there are people who are so physically insensitive (i.e., jaded) that they require BDSM intense stimulation in order to experience sexuality, but I recognize nobody like that; 3) Conceivably there are people so socially desperate that they would accept physical and psychological discipline in order to be accepted within a pairing or a grouping, but I recognize nobody like that (director Steven Spielberg's 2002 film secretary starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal depicts such a dysfunctional dependency workplace relationship); 4) Some people earn their livings through BDSM and other sex-related work (e.g., in past decades the Playboy bunny uniform always featured collar and cuffs).
Dominant masters being idolized like musical rock stars IMO is significant both at a BDSM pairing's beginning and ending. The dominant masters' charismatic depiction resembles the cult recruiting practices described in author Steven Hassan's c1990 book Combatting Cult Mind Control and in author Margaret Thaler Singer's c1995 book Cults In Our Midst: cults seek emotionally-insecure recruits and cults employ charismatic practices to bind recruits (and their resources) to the cult. The charismatic practices include initial instant acceptance into physically-attractive but ideologically-structured social groupings; deliberate discussion of each new recruit's emotional insecurity under the guise of self-betterment ritual; and using the resulting emotional insecurity knowledge to intimidate and to dissuade cult members when they deviate from the cult's approved ideology.
And maintaining a vanilla (i.e., non-BDSM) long-term pairing is difficult enough; how does a master maintain a rewarding and fulfilling BDSM charismatic long-term relationship? Does a physically-insensitive slave require continuously escalating discipline to avoid BDSM boredom? [E.g., (yawn) Been there, done that!] And do masters tire from the continuous mental effort required to maintain a rewarding and fulfilling BDSM long-term relationship?
I concluded that many BDSM participants play musical chairs; i.e., periodically they require BDSM new partners in order to refresh their BDSM interest. And (as most vanilla divorcees learn) partnership break-ups often are followed by social indiscretion bouts where an unhappy former partner blabs anything and everything negative that occurred in the broken relationship. Cinema provides examples of self-destructing abusive relationships: director Mike Nichols 1971 film Carnal Knowledge starring Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margret, Arthur Garfunkel and Candice Bergen is one example; director Roman Polanski's 1994 film bitter moon starring Peter Coyote, Emmanuelle Seigner, Hugh Grant and Kristen Scott Thomas is another example. In the poor economy of The Great Recession's Wake, one BDSM partner being told You don't please me! I don't need you! Go home! and losing their lodging would not implement a mutually agreeable BDSM pairing dissolution.
Quantifying the emotional impact of being tossed out of a BDSM pairing is difficult, but the financial impact is predictable. The 01/2016 US apartment average monthly rent is $1,180 (plus utility monthly payments), up 4.6% in the past twelve months; and monthly rents in selected cities (e.g., New York City and San Francisco) are appreciably higher. A BDSM former slave whose first priority long has been serving a BDSM dominant master probably has neglected their vanilla social network (i.e., potential apartment roommates) and also probably has neglected their vocational skills. The 1992 film Single White Female starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh suggests that troubled BDSM former slaves are not the best candidates for apartment roommate. And runaways who enter the BDSM scene after fleeing a morally- or religiously-intolerant upbringing might consider themselves unwelcome prodigal children.
From a managerial perspective I observe no upward social path for a BDSM slave: the slave ages in the role but acquires few new skills. Some BDSM authors depict the slave submissive role as a BDSM apprenticeship in which the slave learns the BDSM scene's etiquette and techniques, an apprenticeship that prepares the slave to become a BDSM dominant master. I agree with those BDSM other authors who say there are other possibilities for learning the BDSM scene etiquette and techniques (e.g., lurking as a voyeur at BDSM clubs and public events); and mere scene knowledge does not equate to the charismatic personality that a BDSM successful master exhibits. I view the BDSM slave's social life as a series of peaks and valleys accompanied by externally-imposed emotional mood swings: as the slave ages the slave's physical and emotional dependency increases while the slave's overall mood drifts downward. The use of psychiatrist-prescribed medication IMO only complicates this situation.
Some players (i.e., participants in BDSM scenes) probably would ridicule my concerns, saying "We are fantasy role players who have taken fantasy gaming the next step beyond video games. And our BDSM scenes are consensual: we negotiate limits before staging each scene" [although slave long-term contracts (i.e., consensual indentures) and no limits are possible negotiated results within a BDSM trusted pairing]. But role playing (like video games) is impersonal: participants assume impersonal roles; the play is not tailored to individual personalities or designed to create physiological or psychological enduring changes; and play creates no enduring vulnerabilities. BDSM is different: BDSM play often encourages pushing your limits (i.e., developing insensitivity to physical and emotional cruelty). Having one's limits pushed too far and too often IMO can cause emotional impairment and social insensitivity (e.g., BDSM Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
The recent popularity of BDSM literature (e.g., Fifty Shades Of Grey) convinces me that BDSM dabbling might be both stimulating and costly. But I doubt that the BDSM community constitutes a friendly long-term social environment. And I find that I have traveled full circle: IMO friends make the best (and the safest) neo-Tantra partners.
neo-Tantra also can strengthen lesbian relationships. [I know no examples of (Western) neo-Tantra between men partners.] neo-Tantra partners achieve much stimulation through chest-to-chest contact during rocking. In heterosexual neo-Tantra the woman's breasts usually brush across the man's comparatively flat chest, stimulating both partners. While it might be mechanically awkward, nothing prevents two women partners from enjoying the same chest-to-chest contact during neo-Tantra rocking. Women usually weigh less than men, a characteristic that reduces strain during neo-Tantra. Women have no fragile external genitalia to crush during neo-Tantra exercise. And an overexcited lesbian couple cannot cause an unwanted pregnancy.
I understand lesbian neo-Tantra from an ergonomic (human mechanics) viewpoint. I also understand that women sometimes find women friends more PALatable than men friends. And while I doubt this issue is a youthful priority, IMO longstanding lesbian couples probably are less concerned about aging (mutual) effects than longstanding unmarried heterosexual couples.
I do not want to unduly glamorize lesbian sexuality. IMO sexual activities such as neo-Tantra can strengthen friendship but need not constitute friendship. A neo-Tantra relationship with no other shared interests IMO probably is a profe$$ional relationship instead of a friendship [from a man's perspective the difference between Leisure Suit Larry (I'm only in it for the sex, myself!) and a friendly long-term relationship]. Perhaps men need to reconsider neo-Tantra professionals from a Buffy The Vampire $layer adversarial perspective: men understanding what they share with their women friends IMO is both good citizenship and good discipline.
IMO the following text is particularly worthwhile:
The Art of Sexual Ecstasy: The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Lovers by Margo Anand
When I first read Margo Anand's non-trivial text I read it from cover to cover, I pondered it for six months, then I reread it from cover to cover. Ms. Anand's text contains some neo-Tantra exercises that healthy partners can perform with little or no contemplation or preparation. Ms. Anand's text also contains some exercises that partners might reject.
Ms. Anand is a therapist. One section of Ms. Anand's text deals with neo-Tantra-related non-sexual play [e.g., dances similar to traditional Hindu dancing, aroma therapy, and non-sexual tactile sensation (feathers)]. For a long time I dismissed this section as fluff, then I reconsidered: the c1995 film 9-1/2 Weeks starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger also features non-sexual tactile sensation. And I learned that traditional Hindu dances are an art form: Indian Maharajahs at great personal cost maintained private dance troupes, and traditional Hindu dances (analogous to ballet) contain very precise and stylized movements. There are over fifty expressive eye movements within traditional Hindu dancing, and spectators must sit very close to view and to appreciate the subtle eye movements. I drew conclusions concerning traditional Hindu dancing and its presentation from these facts: properly performed, traditional Hindu dancing is extremely sensual.
IMO former sexual partners who have drifted out of physical touch might have lost (deliberately?) their awareness of others' sensitivity to smells, to rough touching and to prolonged eye contact. I am a (divorced) single man, but I observe others' family life. Couples with children invest tremendous time, energy and resources in their children; the children become the focus of the parents' lives. Then the children mature, go away to college and / or to jobs in other cities, and their exit creates a void in their parents' lives and in the spousal relationship: the parents often have little else in common. Ms. Anand's non-sexual play discussions are a lighthearted path for unfocused parents to rediscover each other, a path that can lead to later relationships with increased intimacy.
Modern medicine gives most people the potential to live long healthy lives. In the mid-20th Century, Professor Alfred Kinsey [Indiana University], and Dr. William Masters and Ms. Virginia Johnson [Washington University (in Saint Louis) School of Medicine] did pioneering research documenting human sexuality. Their work indicated that humans can enjoy intimacy throughout their lifetimes, and that humans (health permitting) can enjoy sexuality throughout their lifetimes. IMO humans enjoy the mutual intimacy that results from shared sexuality. Ms. Anand's play recommendations include activities that might help older people recover their intimacy and their lost sexuality.
Ms. Anand's c1989 text includes an Appendix discussing Safe Sex. This well-written discussion suggests different techniques for new partners and for long-term partners (a sensitive and a sensible approach, respectively). The Appendix does not discuss human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8, transferable by oral contact) and does not discuss human papillomavirus (HPV, a sexually transmitted infection well known for causing genital warts, cervical cancer, and in 2013 a more common cause than tobacco for throat and other oral cancers).
IMO the following text is worthwhile for its commercial sexuality insight:
Rites of Pleasure: Sexuality in Wicca and NeoPaganism by Jennifer Hunter
Author Jennifer Hunter's c2004 description of Pagan sexual rites and practices is sprinkled with Pagan interview excerpts; the reader gains insight both into Pagan sexual activities and into Pagan personalities. Ms. Hunter discusses sexuality's center stage position within Pagan activities and discusses the sexual practices that the polyamorous (multiloving) Pagan community embraces: practices ranging from self-masturbation to group orgies to BDSM and sex work. It's not like watching director John Boorman's film Excalibur (an earthy interpretation of the Arthurian legend) but you'll get the picture. In some respects Ms. Hunter's text is a Paganism effective commercial, but if you are easily offended you will not enjoy this candid text.
FWIW Pagan pairing practices apparently propagate during The Great Recession's Wake. Pagan rituals revolve around the year's eight sabbats (i.e., Pagan sabbaths). The Pagan High Priest/ess often specifies Pagan pairings in advance of each sabbat; these pairings endure the six weeks between sabbats. In the poor economy of The Great Recession's Wake increasingly I observe non-Pagan unmarried couples choosing to pair temporarily. These pairings often endure from full moon to full moon, the couple is a social pair during this period, and the male partner underwrites the female partner's expenses (beyond dating expenses) during this period. When the next full moon approaches the couple can decide jointly to extend their pairing arrangement (including social and financial negotiated obligations), or the couple can decide to dissolve the pairing.
This pairing arrangement reflects financial stress during The Great Recession's Wake: some men cannot afford to get engaged and / or married; and some women need financial assistance. I have no direct experience with these month-long arrangements, but (shortly after my second divorce) my paid escort dating experience makes me leery of a month-long financial arrangement. Paid escort dates (and temporary partners) are chosen primarily for attractiveness; the couple might have little mutual interest and the pairing might be culturally not compatible. A person shrugs it off when a mismatch occurs on an evening's paid escort date, but a month-long mismatch (with financial accompanying obligation) IMO could be devastating. (An outbound partner has no motivation to economize.)
The following Internet FAQ provides a different perspective concerning Tantra:
alt.magick.tantra FAQ by firstname.lastname@example.org (nagasiva)
The Frequently Asked Questions document (FAQ) for Internet newsgroup alt.magick.tantra (AMT) formerly was issued periodically on UseNet and now is archived at www.faqs.org. The FAQ concentrates on newsgroup netiquette and (Eastern) Tantra rather than (Western) neo-Tantra. email@example.com (tyaginator) [sometimes luckymojo.com@nagasiva (tyaginator)] maintained the AMT FAQ.
The following Internet discussion group provides a different perspective concerning Tantra:
Tantric Gems Yahoo discussion group
Dharmadeva had a long history of Tantric discussion on Internet newsgroups. As of 03/2008 he operated the Tantric Gems Yahoo Internet discussion group and appeared to operate another Tantric Gems Google Internet discussion group. My knowledge of Dharmadeva's Tantric philosophy is not extensive. Dharmadeva appeared to promote an Australian version of Eastern Tantra (self-)discipline influenced heavily by Hindu practices. Dharmadeva was a prolific author; people joining Dharmadeva's discussion group received over the Internet a large quantity of Tantra instructional materials.
Curious readers can access the Tantric Gems Yahoo discussion group webpage. As of 01/2016 that webpage still exists, but the Tantric Gems discussion group of 813 members apparently is inactive with the last group message posted in 08/2012. That webpage references an group external (unreviewed) website but no longer mentions Dharmadeva.
Closing comments: neo-Tantra emphasizes the sensual aspects of Hindu yoga and of oriental Taoism, and neo-Tantra offers sexual options that eliminate pregnancy fears. Men and women IMO have different perspectives concerning infants. Some women (including women military veterans) view motherhood as a second career, a new beginning after leaving their first (workplace) career. Taken to extremes (as chaotically depicted in the film Raising Arizona starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter), motherhood can be viewed as a twenty-plus-year career with financial tenure.
neo-Tantra can provide a healthful affordable shared interest for partners with or without children. neo-Tantra can maintain spousal relationships without causing the lifestyle permanent changes that pregnancy brings.
Older peoples' sexuality IMO remains a confusing topic: with advanced age a person learns the answers, but other people often stop asking questions. (Somewhat ironically) IMO the ABC television culturally-diverse comedy Modern Family reinforces cross-generational marriage weakness: Modern Family emphasizes situation comedy instead of intimacy (including between spouses Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara). Ed O'Neill's earlier Al Bundy role in Married With Children included intimacy, but Modern Family's cultural diversity foundation is prosperity and real estate: diverse households in three separate residences. Prosperity and real estate IMO are the main differences between Modern Family and the earlier television show All In The Family.
IMO nonemotional commercial neo-Tantra inevitably becomes not satisfactory because clients increasingly crave emotional commitment. And in The Great Recession's Wake IMO benign avoidance is the affordable solution to personality problems and to cultural incompatibility issues. [E.g., divorced couples learn the benefits of benign avoidance; Internet spam filters routinely implement benign avoidance; and most people honestly have at least one name on their no RSVP social spam list.]
Life's trials have predictable outcomes. Divorcing couples expect a reduced living standard because maintaining two separate residences costs more than sharing a marital residence. After 20 years with the military a woman might be voted Miss Congeniality but she won't be voted the prom queen. Caregivers prefer mobile healthy seniors; nobody enjoys caring for truly ill people. And not supporting others during your retirement is a financial blessing.
Similarly, playing The Dating Game has a limited shelf life: attractiveness fades with age, while repeated disappointment makes healthy older people increasingly self-reliant. IMO wise players remain conscious of their intended destination.Back to Sections list
Fantasies Made Fresh by Scott Eden
River cities are predictable: polite society lives on one side of the river; the other side of the river is industrial, lacks a strong tax base, and often welcomes businesses shunned elsewhere. These shunned businesses generate dependable revenue that can be reinvested on either side of the river. Gambling came to Saint Louis Missouri with the Casino Queen when East Saint Louis Illinois was revenue-starved; Metro East smaller cities (Sauget, Brooklyn, Washington Park and Centreville Illinois) fund themselves by taxing strip clubs. Already I have expressed my skepticism concerning commercial sexuality. Scott Eden's essay is the best overview discussing the Metro East sporting life that I have found.
The Art of Sexual Ecstasy: The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Lovers
by Margo Anand (ISBN 0874775817, c1989)
Discussed earlier. A well-written, well-illustrated introduction to (Western) neo-Tantra.
Rites of Pleasure: Sexuality in Wicca and NeoPaganism by Jennifer Hunter (ISBN 0806525843, c2004)
Discussed earlier. Recommended despite reservations. Novices jumping into unfamiliar waters can get eaten alive; or can be caught, and left high and dry.
Sexual Energy Ecstasy: A Practical Guide To Lovemaking Secrets of the East and West
by David and Ellen Ramsdale (ISBN 0553372319, c1985)
A well-written, well-illustrated detailed guide to (Western) neo-Tantra.
Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy
by Nik Douglas and Penny Slinger (ISBN 0892812664, c1979)
A well-written, well-illustrated detailed discussion of Hindu contributions to (Western) neo-Tantra.
Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving
by Charles and Caroline Muir (ISBN 0916515869, c1989)
A caring approach to sexuality that emphasizes interpersonal psychology and attitudinal counseling.
Tantra: The Cult of the Feminine by Andre Van Lysebeth (ISBN 0877288585, c1995)
Recommended despite reservations. An academic history and philosophy of (Eastern) Tantra. [IMO some not pleasant Tantra disciplines (seeking trance-like mental experiences through physical stress) can be hazardous to your health.]
Fetish Sex: An Erotic Guide for Couples by Violet Blue (ISBN 2134843882, c2006)
Author Violet Blue has written an explanatory introduction to fetish sex, explaining why people have sexual fetish interests and discussing sexual fetish types. The book includes serious discussion about how to suggest that (unknowing) partners join one's sexual fetish play, and about acceptable interaction when attending fetish public events. Fictional short monographs depicting fetish role play punctuate the discussion; the monographs often feature female-dominant roles and IMO are designed deliberately to help entice shy partners into exploring fetish sexuality. The book ends with a chapter listing fetish resources; the Internet FAQ Archives is another source for fetish information and resources listings.
The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice (writing as A. N. Roquelaure)
This lavishly written trilogy starts with a manly prince waking Beauty and her father's kingdom from a magical slumber; the prince claims Beauty as his prize. Ms. Rice's tale is an embroidery of Beauty's experiences in hedonistic medieval kingdoms that utilize bisexual BDSM both to maintain social order and also for sport. All three volumes are extremely well written, but IMO the first volume is better than the second volume which is better than the third volume. (FWIW, I would have condensed this material into one very long novel.) I find this trilogy's psychology remarkable but I recognize that other people might find the trilogy offensive. Faced with a sufficiently large flood of (even exquisitely written) nonviolent pornography, IMO any person's palate inevitably becomes jaded and the nonviolent pornography degenerates into silliness. [BTW, I stress nonviolent because IMO the activities depicted in Ms. Rice's trilogy are consensual (artificially?); i.e., the majority of Ms. Rice's characters are conscripts from nobility who expect to be restored eventually to their kingdoms and who expect to resume eventually their noble status.]
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (ISBN 0452281423, c1983)
Beauty's Punishment (ISBN 0452281431, c1984)
Beauty's Release (ISBN 0452281458, c1985)
I feel obliged to highlight a language ambiguity: The word Release can denote free or can denote lease again (to another). The latter definition is not inconsistent with the Beauty's Release story.
Exit To Eden by Anne Rice (writing as Anne Rampling, ISBN 0440123925, c1985)
This well-written novel revolves around The Club (a late 20th Century Pacific island resort where well-heeled guests enjoy hedonistic sexuality), around Elliott (a sexual slave recruit), and around Lisa (one of The Club's principal trainers). The novel's contemporary sociology is interesting, and Lisa's sabbaticals both in service and also in old New Orleans are wonderful reading. The novel has a human emphasis different than the same-named comedic film version starring Dan Ackroyd and Rosie O'Donnell.
Story of O by Pauline Reage (ISBN 0345301110, c1965)
This novel tells the story of O, a beautiful fashion photographer who obsessively adores her lover Rene. Rene introduces O to an opulent chateau at Roissy where O is to serve, and Rene later introduces O to his mentor Sir Stephen whom O is to serve. O's service is a debasing and demoralizing downward path; the referenced novel edition omits the last chapter but the novel's introduction includes sufficient description to predict the outcome. (Think about candles.) IMO this novel's major flaw is psychological: Why does O, an adult career woman, sufficiently value social acceptance that she submits to dysfunctional treatment and to destructive abuse?
The Story Of O: Passion's Slave starring Claudia Cepede (84 minutes, R-rated)
The 1994 film version depicts O as a bisexual loving fashion photographer who deeply adores her lover Rene. This R-rated film elaborates on Rene's opulent seduction of O, but the film glosses over O's initial service at the Roissy chateau and the film ends with O's verbal submission to Rene's mentor Sir Stephen at his home. The film suggests that O's love for Rene plus O's desire for blameless passion motivates O's submission. But in the 21st Century things have changed as depicted in US director James Toback's 2003 remake When Will I Be Loved starring Neve Campbell.
Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman
Director Stanley Kubrick's 1999 R-rated (last) film revolves around a society physician's curiosity about an opulent, attractively erotic cult.
Night Shift starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long
Michael Keaton's comic debut. Director Ron Howard's (inexplicably R-rated) 1982 comedic film is charming, but reflects real problems underlying the sporting life (e.g., no long-term goals during Life In The Fast Lane).
Doctor Detroit starring Dan Ackroyd and Howard Hesseman
Director Michael Pressman's (inexplicably R-rated) 1983 comedic film is charming but the comedy reflects real problems underlying the sporting life (e.g., dealing with the Moms and their boys).
The Wicker Man starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland
A 1975 R-rated Pagan classic film that depicts Pagan sociology and fertility festivities on a remote Scottish isle.
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