Episode 28 - The Story of O
Post date: Sep 15, 2017 9:12:14 PM
The Story of O (1975)
www.imdb.com/title/tt0073115 - Internet Movie Data Base
https://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/60020532 - Netflix
http://amzn.to/2eZ4Dbw - Amazon
I think the big problem I have with stories like the Sleeping Beauty saga and Story of O is because they never establish the main character's personal interest in BDSM. In many of these stories, she's a timid, passive sort of girl, with an air of innocence that suggests that she knows nothing of sex or kink. This means that she can't have chosen it for herself. She goes along with the punishments because she is told to, by someone who has authority over her, or by someone she wishes to please, but not because she has fantasies of being spanked or some desire to give up control to someone else. Stories like these seem to imply that all you have to do is introduce a woman to the submissive role, and she will automatically find the pleasure in the pain, or that the desire to please is inherent and makes the pain pleasurable.
Sometimes there are side characters who knew what they were getting into and went joyfully, and sometimes you even find side characters who are submissive men or sadistic women. But the main character is just some girl who is told to submit, and she does so with no real motivation given other than she's "s'posed to". Maybe she internalized the "love, honor, and obey" bullshit, or maybe she's afraid or overwhelmed at the newness and strangeness of the situation, or maybe she doesn't know how to exert her own wishes, or maybe she doesn't even know her own wishes because she doesn't know herself at all. These stories lead me to believe that this was not her choice, but once there, she magically discovered a taste for submission and pain.
As someone who likes pain and resistance play naturally, I call bullshit. I'd love to see a story of a girl who is inexperienced, maybe she had Abstinence Only education and is completely unaware of any sexual behaviour other than missionary position for procreation, an inexperienced girl who meets a worldly and charismatic man who wins her trust and awakens in her a sexual desire. Gradually, he gets her to relax and experiment and, one day he convinces her to visit a BDSM club with him. Only, instead of walking in and her lover ordering her on her knees to service the other patrons, she gazes in wide-eyed wonder and longing at the tall, statuesque woman in head-to-foot leather, impatiently tapping a riding crop against her thigh while her male subbie grovels at her feet.
When the lover introduces our protagonist to the local Florentine expert, she inquires not how the whips feel, but how he spins them. Instead of blushing prettily and baring her breasts to be bound, she surprises herself by suggesting, in a halting voice, that the rope master try a particular weaving pattern that she learned at summer camp when they made little plastic bracelets and keychains, on a rather fetching older lady who is bouncing eagerly, awaiting her turn at the hands of the rope master. And then the lover hands our budding young kinkster over to be trained, not as his slave, but as his master because it is HE who craves the whip and the rope and the desire to please.
I'd like to see* some girl be introduced to kink in a story and have her gravitate towards the top or Dominant positions, or even as a bottom but not a sub. I'd like to see a girl in a submissive position in fiction negotiate her own boundaries with a top, to show that she wants the role she is about to be put in. And I'd LOVE to see a fucking dom actually care about what the subbie wants, and to take the time to discuss and negotiate with them what the subbie wants and how to create the scene for the subbie's benefit. That'd be a nice change. And it might help those poor subbies who get into kink with no experience but a few books read, to understand that THEY are the ones in charge and THEY are the ones who set the rules. Being a sub does not mean being a doormat.
The Story Of O seems to be about as poly as The Ethical Slut. Which is to say, not at all. Both stories are only tangentially related to poly by way of having lots of sex partners. I do wish people would stop recommending both as poly.
Throughout this movie, the characters kept using the word "love". I do not think it means what they think it means. O is that innocent young girl who gets dropped off at a submissive training house by her boyfriend, Renee, with no explanation and no backstory and is immediately gang-raped. She spends her time there being whipped and raped and ogled and talked about as though she had no hearing and no feelings. After a while she falls in "love" with her master. With no conversation, mind you, nothing that tells each other anything about each other - she only knows how hard he whips and how hard he fucks.
Then her time is up and she goes back to her boyfriend, whom she "loves", and it is the love for him that prompts her to "love" every man she is given to. Eventually, we find out that Renee has a twisted, co-dependent relationship with his much older step-brother, Sir Steffan. They share "everything", she is told, which implies that she is now to be given to Steffan. She is to obey him exactly as she would obey Renee. Although, the only real difference between this order and every other time she was given to someone, is that Steffan is to become her regular master, not a one-time gift to someone Renee deems worthy of bestowing O's charms on.
Over time, O falls in love with Steffan and, I believe, is the only time she actually loves anyone, in a sense that at least resembles the way that I use the word "love". So, it would seem that her relationship with Renee and her growing love for Steffan make this a poly movie, right?
Well, except that her feelings for Renee dwindle at about the same rate that her feelings for Steffan grow. After a while, she stops thinking of herself as belonging to both Renee and Steffan and thinks of herself as belonging only to Steffan. She even tells him, at one point, that she never knew love before she met Steffan, which negates all that "love" she supposedly had for all the men she was given to, her training master, and even Renee.
Soon, O falls in lust with Jacqueline, a model that O photographs for magazines. Steffan lays out the plan for O to seduce Jacqueline & get her into their kinky underground subculture. Everything O does with Jacqueline is scripted by Steffan and done to make Steffan happy, even though it was O who first desired Jacqueline for herself. Finally, O delivers Jacqueline into the tender care of the same training house that she was brought to, and O spends the evening gloating with Steffan over the success of their plan and how much Steffan loves O more than any woman, more than he thought was even possible to love a woman, followed by O puffing up with power over having conquered the man who conquered her. To symbolize their mutual ownership of each other and no other, they bear brands of each other's initials.
Tell me, where is the poly in that? Well, now that I think about it, ownership, couple-privilege, a primary pair-bond, confusing sex for love, and using a hot bi babe for their own selfish desires without concern for the emotional torment she goes through DOES sound like the unicorn hunters that plague the poly community. So, I guess if I wanted to be snarky, I could call it a poly movie for that reason.
I wouldn't say this is a bad movie. To be honest, the fantasy submissive story that doesn't take into account things like periods and moods or how unhygienic it is for everyone to sit bare-assed on leather couches, and that doesn't give us a clear personal motivation of the submissive isn't my cuppa tea. So the movie could be a really good example of a fantasy submissive story and I wouldn't get it. So don't decide to see or not see this movie based on my own total lack of enjoyment of it. Just don't watch it as an example of polyamory. It's not. It's BDSM, it's erotica, it has plenty of female nudity, and it's non-monogamous. But it's not poly.
You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!
To subscribe on iTunes or leave a review, visit https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/poly-ish-movie-reviews-by/id994404536?mt=2
*Exit To Eden is an exception to this, although it's clearer in the book. The main characters *did* seek out the training houses on their own: the female character, after thorough training as a submissive, eventually became one of the most famous and cruel dominants, and the male character was forced to give up his ego and bravado to accept the submissive side of himself that he kept denying. Whatever else you say about Exit To Eden (and there is plenty negative to say about it, particularly the movie version), the story did not fall into the stereotypes of the girls-are-all-subbies-men-are-all-masters or the girls-just-need-to-be-exposed-to-pain-to-awaken-natural-desire-for-it tripe.
The best movie out there that shows a female submissive actively choosing her role is The Secretary, which has absolutely no polyamory whatsoever, so I won't be reviewing it. But the whole story is about the submissive finding herself and choosing her role, and it's a mainstream movie with big name actors, not a porn, so you should be able to find it readily.
As for books, my favorite books that include a young, innocent woman who does not yet know that she is submissive, and her worldly male lover who sees the submissive buried inside of her and who takes it upon himself to train her into what she truly wants to be but does not yet know, who values consent and who also *does* know her better than she knows herself, is the Training of Eileen series by William Vitelli, which you can find on Amazon. But, as they're books and not movies (and also not polyamorous), I won't be reviewing these either. I just wanted to let y'all know that I am aware of some exceptions to my complaint and to give y'all some titles if this is something you're interested in.