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20 Sexy Poem Quotes to Tattoo On Your Body

May 27, 2015

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Forget angels and butterflies — the latest trend in tattoos is words. Check out Flavorwire’s roundup for the best literary quotes ever tattooed, for some awesome examples. We also love their feature on celebrities with literary tattoos — did you know that both Lena Dunham and Elliott Smith inked Ferdinand the Bull on their arms?

Anyway, we here at EMandLO.com decided that the world needs more sensual literary tattoos. After all, this is your own body we’re talking about. And we’re sure there are plenty of people who get a kind of kinky thrill from the pain of a tattoo. So, to balance out all those “Southern Comfort” tattoos in the crotch region, here are some highbrow sexy words to ink on your body…

 

1. “Whatever happens with us, your body will haunt mine”

– Adrienne Rich

 

2. “this is that taste”

Adrienne Rich

 

3. “lightly and you utterly will become with infinite care the poem which i do not write”

– e.e. cummings

 

4. “Lady, i will touch you with my mind”

e.e. cummings

 

5. “to break is to be sanctified. to find in the body a safehouse where all your monsters get to be raucous”

Marty McConnell

 

6. “The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones”

– Walt Whitman

 

7. “O I say now these are the soul!”

– Walt Whitman

 

8. “all falls aside but myself and it”

– Walt Whitman

 

9. “please master drive me thy vehicle, body of love drops, sweat fuck body of tenderness”

– Allen Ginsberg

 

10. “in your rhythm thrill-plunge & pull-back-bounce & push down”

Allen Ginsberg

 

11. “Eat me, drink me, love me”

Christina Rossetti

 

12. “Like a vessel at the launch When its last restraint is gone”

Christina Rossetti

13. “Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball”

Andrew Marvel

 

14. “You are the one I am lit for”

Lucille Clifton

 

15. “Licence my roving hands, and let them go, Before, behind, between, above, below.”

John Donne

 

16. “All fact contact, the attack and the interlock Of tongues, the charms of arms.”

W.H. Auden

 

17. “And when I left you, I was so on fire”

Catullus

 

18. “how they glowed, remember, in the eyes gazing at you; how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body”

– Constantine Cavafy

 

19. “Let’s shut up and dance. Let’s shut up and grind and get sore.”

– Krystal Languell

 

20. “You do shots of bourbon, I’ll pretend I’m Nick Cave.”

Krystal Languell

 

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photo via flickr


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The Best of #WifeBonus on Twitter This Week

May 21, 2015

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Earlier this week we posted our poem, “13 Ways of Looking at a Wife Bonus,” in response to the news that some Upper East Side stay-at-home moms, married to hedge fund managers and bankers and otherwise rich men, allegedly get end of year “wife bonuses” for good housekeeping (amongst other things). We’re not the only ones a little bit obsessed by the news. It turns out the wife bonus even has its own Twitter handle, @WifeBonus. Here are some of our favorite tweets on the topic so far:

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13 Ways of Looking at a “Wife Bonus”

May 19, 2015

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The Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is on sale now

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, it turns out that some Upper East Side stay-at-home moms, married to hedge fund managers (etc.), apparently get end of year “wife bonuses” for good housekeeping. Yeah. We know.

What these women receive bonuses for: domestic budgeting, getting the kids into the right pre-school, hosting the perfect dinner party, etc. And, one would have to assume — and Upper East Side mothers who don’t get wife bonuses certainly claim this — blowjobs. This bit of depressing, backassward news comes from Wednesday Martin, author of the new book Primates of Park Avenue. She calls these women glam SAHMs.

The Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is sometimes assigned to elementary school kids as a kicking off point for their own poems — poems about fall, or snow, or family, or their favorite blue, or whatever. As the mothers of elementary school kids ourselves, we are the proud owners of many of such works of clear GENIUS. Today we would like to use this poem as inspiration for our own what-the-fuck response to this news, with apologies to the truly genius Wallace Stevens:

I
Among twenty Botoxed faces,
The only moving thing
Was the husband’s hand on his check book.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a stay at home mom
Who has only false choices.

III
The glam SAHM whirled in the winds of her Flywheel class.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a wife bonus
Are something else entirely.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
A woman getting paid for good housekeeping
Or a woman getting paid nothing at all,
The blowjobs being recompensed
Or no blowjobs at all.

VI
A four-year-old gets into the right pre-school
Because his mother hired the right interview coach
And also maybe because her husband
Donated some money.
She will thank him
With Reverse Cowgirl
And a clean house.

VII
O thin women of the Upper East Side,
Why do you cosset yourselves at charity luncheons?
Do you not see how the men
Soar above you
While smoking cigars?

VIII
Ladies nights can improve relationships
And they can expand a marriage;
But if the ladies are always cloistered,
Then it is no longer a choice
And where’s the dancing-drunk-to-Beyonce fun in that?

IX
When the wife bonus was less than she had hoped for,
And smaller than other wife bonuses,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of glam SAHMs
Sweating their way through a Flywheel class,
Even the women who say they’re not feminists
Would cry out sharply.

XI
She rode across the city
In a luxury town car.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
The shadow of his fancy check-writing pen
For wrinkles.

XII
The hand is moving on the check book.
The wife bonus must be coming soon.

XIII
She never wears sweatpants,
She never looks her age.
It is a full-time job.
The glam SAHM sat patiently
and waited for her wife bonus.

The Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is on sale now

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5 Reasons Why You Should Read “I Take You” by Eliza Kennedy

May 5, 2015

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Have you met Lily Wilder? You should. She’s the seriously funny, seriously sex-driven, and seriously flawed protagonist of the novel I Take You by Eliza Kennedy, which is on sale starting today. Here are five reasons why you should pick up a copy right now…

1. I Take You is a straightforward look at female promiscuity, and the way that women can sleep around just like men. And while the book doesn’t gloss over the protagonist’s flaws, it never judges her for these flaws as a woman. Simply as a person.

2. It’s the smartest, sexiest, funniest (like, hilarious) beach read on the shelves right now.

3. It’ll give you a lot to talk about on your next ladies’ night: What it means to settle, what it means to be monogamous, what it means to be married. Oh, yeah, and whether or not you should sleep with your boss.

4. The protagonist Lily Wilder is no damsel in distress, nor is she a bubbly, slightly ditzy magazine editor, a la Bridget Jones. Instead, our heroine is a kick-ass corporate attorney.

5. The sex scenes are steamy, and, unlike with Fifty Shades of Grey, you don’t have to suffer through cringe-inducing cliches, cartwheeling inner Goddesses, and implausible plot twists to get to them.

I Take You by Eliza Kennedy is on sale now  |  Find out more at LilyWilder.com

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30th Anniversary of One of the Most Romantic Movies Ever Made

April 22, 2015

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This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Merchant-Ivory production, A Room with a View, which won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 1985 (along with best art direction and costume design) and introduced many of us to the possibility that mainstream movies could, in fact, have full frontal male nudity. Based on the 1908 novel by E.M Forster, it follows Lucy Honeychurch (a young Helena Bonham Carter) as she travels abroad to Italy and back home to England, as she denies her heart and resists the unorthodox advances of free thinker George Emerson (played by Julian Sands before he ruined everything with Boxing Helena) — perhaps not a ringing endorsement for taking women at their word about their own desires and preferences. But when taken in the context of the time it was written, along with the full confidence that we know Lucy’s true inclinations (even if she’s not yet permitted in uptight British society to admit them to herself), A Room with a View actually promotes the idea of women having the freedom to think their own thoughts and follow their own hearts, tradition and good manners be damned. We dare you to (re)watch it and not swoon a little.

Below are some of the best — and most romantic — moments in the film in chronological order, collated from IMDB and this copy of the screenplay:

Mr. Beebee (local English reverend): May I say something – rather daring?
Lucy: Oh, Mr. Beebee: you sound like Miss Lavish. Don’t say you are writing a novel, too.
Mr. Beebee: If I were, you should be my heroine and I would write: “If Miss Honeychurch ever takes to live as she plays, it will be very exciting – both for us and for her.”

Mr. Emerson (George’s fathter): I don’t require you to fall in love with my boy, but try and understand him. My poor young lady, I think you’re muddled, too — you’ve let other people muddle you.
Lucy: Is that what’s happened to him? Has he let other people -
Mr. Emerson: No, in his case he’s done it himself – with all this brooding on the things of the Universe. I don’t believe in this world sorrow. Do you?
Lucy: No. Oh no. I don’t, Mr. Emerson. Not at all.
Mr. Emerson: Well there you are! Then make my boy realize that by the side of the everlasting Why there is a yes! And a Yes and a Yes!

After witnessing a murder in a piazza together and George catching Lucy in a faint:
Lucy: How quickly these accidents do happen and then one returns to the old life.
George: I don’t. I mean, something’s happened to me… and to you.

Miss Lavish: …I have a theory that there is something in the Italian landscape which inclines even the most stolid nature to romance.

From the screenplay:
COACHMAN stops to pick some violets and presents them to LUCY. She takes them with real pleasure. They walk on. The view is forming — LUCY sees the river, the golden plain, other hills.
Coachman: Eccolo!
Lucy gives a cry — the ground has given way and she falls on to a little terrace, covered with violets from end to end. It is like a sea of violets, foaming down the hillside.
Standing on the brink of this sea, like a swimmer about to five, is Geoge.
Georg contemplates Lucy – who appears to have fallen out of heaven into this sea of violets which beats against her dress in blue waves.
The Coachman watches them from behind the bushes, a violet between his teeth.
George steps forward quickly and kisses Lucy (on the cheek).
[In the movie, there are no violets, the coachman is silent, he simply points to where she’ll find George contemplating the landscape, she approaches, doesn’t fall, George notices her, and briskly walks up to her, grabs her face with one hand, wraps the other arm around her and plants one long kiss squarely on her lips. Still, the screenplay description is quite beautiful to imagine.]

 

Mr. Beebee: Does it seem reasonable to you that she should play so wonderfully — play Beethoven with such passion — and yet live so quietly? … I suspect that the day will come when music and life will mingle, and then she will be wonderful in both.

Freddy Honeychurch (Lucy’s brother): How d’ye do? Come and have a bathe.
George Emerson: I’d like that.
Reverend Beebe: [laughs] That’s the best conversational opening I’ve ever heard. “How do you do? Come and have a bathe.”

 

George Emerson (to Lucy): He’s the sort who can’t know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn’t know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at, like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn’t want you to be real, and to think and to live. He doesn’t love you. But I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms.

 

Mr. Emerson: You love George. You love the boy body and soul, as he loves you.
Lucy Honeychurch: [crying] But of course I do. What did you all think?

 

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Sexing Up National Poetry Month

April 21, 2015

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April is National Poetry Month, which means that children across the nation will be forced to pen odes to the color grey, or to their pet, or to some other assuredly G-rated subject. Here at EMandLO.com, we prefer to steam up the windows a bit during National Poetry Month. Sure, poetry can rhyme, it can be couplet-ed, it can be beautiful, it can be impressive, it can be obtuse. But it can also get you hot under the collar, it can make you swoon, it can make you want to march for a cause, and it can make you long for something, or someone. Here is some of our favorite poetry we’ve published on our site:

photo via flickr



R.I.P. GĂĽnter Grass: A (Sexy) Excerpt from “The Tin Drum”

April 14, 2015

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photo via Wikimedia Commons

The German novelist and Nobel Prize winner GĂĽnter Grass died yesterday at the age of 87. According to the New York Times, “He was a pre-eminent public intellectual who had pushed Germans to confront the ugly aspects of their history. … Many called [him] his country’s moral conscience but [he] stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II.” He was also know for his poem “criticizing Israel for its hostile language toward Iran over its nuclear program.” And when awarding Grass the Nobel Prize in 1999, the Swedish Academy praised him for embracing “the enormous task of reviewing contemporary history by recalling the disavowed and the forgotten: the victims, losers and lies that people wanted to forget because they had once believed in them.” Oh yeah, and he happens to write a pretty decent sex scene, too. (If only Em had realized this back in school when she was a German major!) No surprise, that’s how we’d like to remember him here on EMandLO.com today.

Grass’s 1959 novel The Tin Drum features a severed horse’s head swarming with hungry eels; a criminal hiding beneath a peasant woman’s layered skirts; and a child who shatters windows with his high-pitched voice. The Nobel Prize peeps called it “one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century.” We chose the excerpt below because it’s a favorite of our old pal Jack Murnighan, of Jack’s Naughty Bits fame. Of this Grass passage, Jack wrote: “The excerpt is Oskar’s first brush with sexuality (told in both first and third person), but even more it is his flash recognition of what normally takes years to realize: that mingled in every moment of sweetest joy is an ashy tinge of finitude.”

From The Tin Drum by GĂĽnter Grass

translated by Ralph Manheim

It was quite beyond me why Maria . . . should whistle while removing her shoes, two high notes, two low notes, and while stripping off her socks. Whistling like the driver of a brewery truck she took off the flowery dress, whistling she hung up her petticoat over her dress, dropped her brassiere, and still without finding a tune, whistled frantically while pulling her panties, which were really gym shorts, down to her knees, letting them slip to the floor, climbing out of the rolled-up pants legs, and kicking the shorts into the corner with one foot.

Maria frightened Oskar with her hairy triangle . . . Rage, shame, indignation, disappointment, and a nascent half-comical, half-painful stiffening of my watering can beneath my bathing suit made me forget drum and drumsticks for . . . the new stick I had developed.

Oskar jumped up and flung himself on Maria. She caught him with her hair. He buried his face in it. It grew between his lips. Maria laughed and tried to pull him away. I drew more and more of her into me, looking for the source of her vanilla smell. Maria was still laughing. She even left me to her vanilla, it seemed to amuse her, for she didn’t stop laughing. Only when my feet slipped and I hurt her — for I didn’t let go the hair or perhaps it was the hair that didn’t let me go — only when the vanilla brought tears to my eyes, only when I began to taste mushrooms or some acrid spice, in any case, something that was not vanilla, only when this earthy smell that Maria concealed behind the vanilla brought me back to the smell of the earth where Jan Brodski lay moldering and contaminated me for all time with the taste of perishability — only then did I let go.

You can buy The Tin Drum on Amazon.com

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New Book: “Come As You Are”

April 10, 2015

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Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., speaks our kind of language. We read the first few pages of her new book, “Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life,” and we were sold. It tackles the tricky task of explaining women’s complex sexuality (which, hello, is different from men’s) so people can reconceptualize and recontextualize sex to unlock their pleasure potential. Why aren’t you having that much fun in bed? This book will give you the answers. Below is an excerpt from the introduction to give you an idea of Nagoski’s overall approach, which combines sound science with female empowerment to help promote positive sex education. It’s like looking in a mirror…except we don’t have the Ph.D. — so if you won’t listen to us, listen to her!
 

THE TRUE STORY OF SEX

From the introduction to “Come As You Are

After all the books that have been written about sex, all the blogs and TV shows and radio Q&As, how can it be that we all still have so many questions?

Well. The frustrating reality is we ’ve been lied to—not deliberately, it ’s no one ’s fault, but still. We were told the wrong story.

For a long, long time in Western science and medicine, women’s sexuality was viewed as Men’s Sexuality Lite—basically the same but not quite as good.

For instance, it was just sort of assumed that since men have orgasms during penis-in-vagina sex (intercourse), women should have orgasms with intercourse too, and if they don’t, it ’s because they’re broken.

In reality, about 30 percent of women orgasm reliably with intercourse. The other 70 percent sometimes, rarely, or never orgasm with intercourse, and they’re all healthy and normal. A woman might orgasm

lots of other ways—manual sex, oral sex, vibrators, breast stimulation, toe sucking, pretty much any way you can imagine—and still not orgasm during intercourse. That ’s normal.

It was just assumed, too, that because a man’s genitals typically be- have the way his mind is behaving—if his penis is erect, he ’s feeling turned on—a woman’s genitals should also match her emotional experience.

And again, some women’s do, many don’t. A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and experience “arousal nonconcordance,”  where the behavior of her genitals (being wet or dry) may not match her mental experience (feeling turned on or not).

And it was also assumed that because men experience spontaneous, out-of-the-blue  desire for sex, women should also want sex spontaneously.

Again it turns out that ’s  true sometimes,  but not necessarily.  A woman can be perfectly normal and healthy and never experience spontaneous sexual desire. Instead, she may experience “responsive” desire, in which her desire emerges only in a highly erotic context.

In reality, women and men are different.

But wait. Women and men both experience orgasm, desire, and arousal, and men, too, can experience responsive desire, arousal nonconcordance, and lack of orgasm with penetration. Women and men both can fall in love, fantasize, masturbate, feel puzzled about sex, and experience ecstatic pleasure. They both can ooze fluids, travel forbidden paths of sexual imagination, encounter the unexpected and startling ways that sex shows up in every domain of life—and confront the unexpected and star- tling ways that sex sometimes declines, politely or otherwise, to show up.

So . . . are women and men really that different?

The problem here is that we ’ve been taught to think about sex in terms of behavior, rather than in terms of the biological, psychological, and social processes underlying the behavior. We think about our physiological behavior—blood   flow and genital secretions and heart rate. We think about our social behavior—what we do in bed, whom we do it with, and how often. A lot of books about sex focus on those things; they tell you how many times per week the average couple has sex or they offer instructions on how to have an orgasm, and they can be helpful.

But if you really want to understand human sexuality, behavior alone won’t get you there. Trying to understand sex by looking at behavior is like trying to understand love by looking at a couple ’s wedding portrait . . . and their divorce papers. Being able to describe what happened— two people got married and then got divorced—doesn’t get us very far. What we want to know is why and how it came to be. Did our couple fall out of love after they got married, and that ’s why they divorced? Or were they never in love but were forced to marry, and finally became free when they divorced? Without better evidence, we ’re mostly guessing.

Until very recently, that ’s how it ’s been for sex—mostly guessing. But we ’re at a pivotal moment in sex science because, after decades of research describing what happens in human sexual response, we ’re finally figuring out the why  and how—the process underlying the behavior.

In the last decade of the twentieth century, researchers Erick Janssen

and John Bancroft at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction  developed a model of human sexual response  that provides an organizing principle for understanding the true story of sex. According to their “dual control model,” the sexual response mechanism in our brains consists of a pair of universal components—a  sexual accelerator and sexual brakes—and  those components respond to broad categories of sexual stimuli—including genital sensations, visual stimulation, and emotional context. And the sensitivity of each component varies from person to person.

The result is that sexual  arousal, desire, and orgasm are nearly universal experiences, but when and how we experience them depends largely on the sensitivities of our “brakes” and “accelerator” and on the kind of stimulation they’re given.

This is the mechanism underlying the behavior—the why and the how. And it ’s the rule that governs the story I’ll be telling in this book:

We ’re all made of the same parts, but in each of us, those parts are organized in a unique way that changes over our life span.

No organization is better or worse than any other, and no phase in our life span is better or worse than any other; they’re just different. An apple tree can be healthy no matter what variety of apple it is—though one variety may need constant direct sunlight and another might enjoy some shade. And an apple tree can be healthy when it ’s a seed, when it ’s a seedling, as it ’s growing,  and as it fades at the end of the season, as well as when, in late summer, it is laden with fruit. But it has different needs at each of those phases in its life.

You, too, are healthy and normal at the start of your sexual development, as you grow, and as you bear the fruits of living with confidence and joy inside your body. You are healthy when you need lots of sun, and you’re healthy when you enjoy some shade. That ’s the true story. We are all the same. We are all different. We are all normal.

From the book “Come As You Are” available on Amazon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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An Open Marriage Can’t Fix Something That’s Already Broken

March 26, 2015

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A new memoir called The Wild Oats Project: One Woman’s Midlife Quest for Passion At Any Cost is giving a lot of committed monogamists the chance to say “I told you so!” about open marriage.

Here’s the book in a nutshell: San Francisco-based magazine editor Robin Rinaldi felt like her marriage was in a rut, and convinced her husband to open their marriage for a year in an effort to save it. He said okay, and she went on to sleep with eight men and two women in a year, while he had a lengthy affair with just one woman. Then, soon after she returned to him, they decided to divorce. It turned out she’d fallen in love with one of those eight men, and she’s now married to him. It’s like a morality tale for the Nerve.com generation!

Except that what Robin and her husband were going through was a little more intense than a rut. Here’s Rinaldi writing in the New York Post:

Stuck in a rut — our once-a-week sex life was loving, but lacked spontaneity and passion — I was craving seduction and sexual abandon. I was having a midlife crisis and chasing this profound, deeply rooted experience of being female.

Before then, starting a family had felt like one route to this elusive state of feminine fulfillment. But Scott had made it absolutely clear he never wanted a baby, and even had a vasectomy.

I broke the news to Scott that I wanted an open marriage in early 2008, a few months after his vasectomy. “I won’t go to my grave with no children and four lovers,” I told him repeatedly. “I refuse.” [She'd had only three partners before marrying at 26.]

In other words, “once-a-week sex [that] was loving, but lacked spontaneity and passion” wasn’t even close to being the whole story. The inspiration for opening their marriage sprung more from a kind of deeply emotional and fraught tit-for-tat: If you won’t give me children, then you have to give me more sexual freedom. We’re not saying that this is a bad reason to want to open your marriage, — her reasoning actually makes complete sense to us — but the fact that Robin Rinaldi’s experiment failed to save her troubled marriage shouldn’t be considered a failure of open marriages in general.

Open marriages may very well be able to get you out of a rut — if that’s all you’re experiencing. Of course, as The Wild Oats Project demonstrates all too clearly, the risk you take when opening your marriage is that one of you will fall in love with one of the pinch hitters. (Rinaldi limited herself to three dates per partner, to keep things light and casual, but who hasn’t fallen in love within three dates before?!)

But what open marriage can’t fix is a marriage that is broken because one partner wanted children and the other didn’t. It’s the reason that most people discuss this subject before getting married, after all. Here’s Rinaldi talking about her experiment on British TV:

I got into my early 40s and my husband got a vasectomy and I knew the discussion of having a baby was over, which kick-started this experience. I looked forward to my death bed and thought, What will I have? I won’t have children and grandchildren. Will I at least have lived fully? If I couldn’t have one I wanted the other. Like a lot of women at that age I was hitting my confidence and sexual peak and suddenly realized very dramatically that I wasn’t going to have children. It was the perfect storm.

So, sure, maybe Rinaldi’s marriage wouldn’t have ended if she hadn’t opened her marriage — but then she would have been trapped in a marriage that had a lot more wrong with it than lackluster sex once a week. And you can’t blame the swingers for that!

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Top 10 Reasons Why “Secretary” Is Better Than “Fifty Shades”

February 18, 2015

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Okay, so yes, the Fifty Shades movie was better than the Fifty Shades book. But, like we said, the bar wasn’t exactly set high for that. And yes, the movie may help to make BDSM even more mainstream, just as the book did. (Now everyone and their grandmother knows what a safe word is!) It will also likely increase sex toy sales, and hopefully improve the sex lives of at least a handful of long-married couples who could use a little more kink in their lives. And lovers all over the world may now find themselves associating the smell of buttered popcorn with handcuffs and paddles. On the other hand, the movie may also create tension in relationships… a woman finds herself suddenly annoyed that her man doesn’t own his own helicopter… or a man is suddenly annoyed that his woman doesn’t bite her lip and say “sir.”

But none of this means that the Fifty Shades movie is even close to the best cinematic depiction of a BDSM relationship out there. In fact, the 2002 indie film Secretary, a Sundance favorite, blows Fifty out of the water, if you ask us.  Here’s why:

10.
Grey was here first. E. Edward Grey is the name of the dominant boss played by James Spader in Secretary. Almost ten years later, E.L. James names her dominant lover Christian Grey — and three years after that, Jamie Dornan gets the worst haircut ever to play Christian Grey on screen. Perhaps it was an homage.

9.
It’s actually good. The Fifty Shades books may be a record breaker (it’s the fastest-selling paperback of all time) and a crazy money maker (E.L. James’s net worth is apparently a cool $80 mil), but they’re never going to win any literary awards — and, likewise, while the movie broke all sorts of records for advance ticket sales and drunken women renting limos for screenings, we don’t see any Oscars in its future. Secretary was nominated for a Golden Globe (best actress in a musical or comedy) and three Chlotrudis Awards (best actor, actress and adapted screenplay), among others; and it won an Independent Spirit Award (best first screenplay) and a Gotham Award (breakthrough performance, Maggie Gyllenhaal), among others. Sorry, Jamie and Dakota, don’t start working on any awards speeches… unless it’s for the Razzies.

8.
More likable protagonist. Yes, Dakota Johnson is about a hundred times more likable than Ana-Steele-on-paper, with all her Oh my!s and the countless Holy shit!s and that irritating inner goddess. But Dakota Johnson’s Ana is nevertheless a bit of a lip-biting blank space who submits a little too easily to the whims of her controlling stalker boyfriend. (She doesn’t even ask him how he managed to break into her apartment!) The flaws of Secretary‘s Lee Holloway, on the other hand, are not only believable, but relatable (to a certain extent), and make her a sympathetic, grownup character.

7.
More believable love interest. A 27-year-old gazillionaire with impossible abs and a million obsequious employees who has time to get a pilot’s license and shop for his own hardware supplies? Who deflowers a virgin and wins her over with extravagant gifts like rare books, a new computer, and a new car? (Who does he think he is, Oprah?!) Yeah right. Much more realistic is the socially awkward, emotionally sensitive Lee and her creepy-seeming and ultimately conflicted love interest — both of whom are pretty normal looking. Plus, this Grey actually does sit-ups. And he has way better hair than Jamie Dornan in the movie.

6.
We actually see Grey working in Secretary. Over the course of the entire film, you see Christian Grey take a single “urgent” business phone call, and when he talks into his phone he sounds like a little kid impersonating his working father. Or like a trust fund baby who is allowed to pretend that he runs a business, while the real grownups actually get the work done. (Sure, we see Ana working in the hardware store, but it’s just a setting for her to blush and stammer.) Admittedly, it’s been a while since we saw SECRETARY, but we’re pretty sure some actual work takes place there, along with all the kinky dictation.

5.
More honorable origins. Secretary was based on a short story by literary power house Mary Gaitskill. Fifty Shades, on the other hand, was based on the cliche-ridden book of the same name, which in turn was originally online fan fiction, based on the Y.A. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers.  Yup.

4.
A sense of humor. Erotica and romance, almost by definition, have to take themselves extremely seriously. The sex is earnest to keep up the fantasy, and the Fifty Shades books are as earnest and unfunny as it gets. As an indie film, Secretary didn’t have those restraints, and therefore could wade into the waters of black comedy. Can you imagine a scene in Fifty Shades where Jamie Dornan covers his desk in hay and has Dakota Johnson kneel upon it on all fours with a carrot in her mouth and saddle on her back? Didn’t think so. But that’s the kind of scene that made Secretary awesome — and funny. There are a smattering of funny moments in the Fifty Shades movie, but most of the humor is unintentional.  Sadly, we have a feeling that director Sam Taylor-Johnson would have included a lot more humor, if it wasn’t for the heavy hand of “consultant” and earnest erotica peddler E.L. James.

3.
Better writing. Actually, there is something kind of funny about the Fifty Shades books — the writing! The repetition of phrases, the cultural anachronisms, the offensive overuse of adverbs, the misuse of the word “subconscious.” If you didn’t laugh you’d cry, because you’d be so sad about the fact that you couldn’t put down something so poorly written. And while, happily, most of those adverbs didn’t make it into the Fifty Shades screenplay, a lot of the bad dialogue did. You can almost see Jamie Dornan cringe when he has to utter the line, “I’m fifty shades of fucked up.” Secretary, on the other hand? It won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.

2.
BDSM is freeing, not the other way around. In Fifty Shades of Grey, both the book and the movie, Grey beats the shit out of women because he had a literal “crack whore” for a mom who didn’t love him enough — it’s an obsession that haunts him and that he feels great shame about (okay, so in the movie he calls her a “crack addict”… but still). In Secretary, Lee is a troubled self-cutter, but it’s the BDSM relationship that frees her. Production designer Amy Danger said of the story: “With this S&M material, we could go into a dark place… Steve [Shainberg, the director] and I wanted the total opposite: that the nature of this relationship freed [the characters] to be their natural selves.”

1.
Secretary didn’t need wealth to make the kink acceptable. One of the reasons, in our opinion, that so many millions of readers and, now, viewers find the Fifty Shades kink acceptable is that Christian Grey is a billionaire. It’s the same with luxury high-end sex toys encrusted with diamonds: for some people, the more they spend on a sex toy, the less dirty it feels. Sure, it’s okay for Christian to spank Ana and ask her to do unspeakable things, so long as he also takes her out in a glider and buys her a new car. Secretary, on the other hand, manages to make the BDSM totally relatable — romantic, even! — without a single helipad in sight.

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