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Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 4th, 2012, 8:44 pm
by Mira
Okay, I'd like to respond to you guys, Hillsy and Cheekychook. I think you are saying similar things, which is that the poster's comments were not acceptable and reached a level of derogation that should not be tolerated.

If I am interpreting that wrong, please let me know!

I want to respond to that, but first, I want to say two things. First, I agree with Sommer about the discomfort of talking about a particular person, and I'll try to navigate that carefully. But I do think we are talking about some really important writing related topics on this thread - censorship, advocacy, the perception of erotic fiction, and other things. We are also talking about overall forum policy.

Second, I really like both of you and this is much harder for me than you guys may know. I'm not enjoying taking a stance here, and the last thing I would want is for you to feel personally hurt, Cheeky. I'm sorry if you felt I didn't care - I did and do! And I had absolutely no issue with either of your comments. My concern was that another person's comments were potentially wounding and (although motivated out of protectiveness) a personal attack.

I appreciate that you see me as trying to keep the peace, but I think I'm actually feeling protective of the poster, while also feeling concern for those of you she may have offended. It's an awkward place to be in.

In terms of the third post, and where it went to, and why I feel tolerant of it (although disagreeing, of course), it comes down to a couple things for me:

a. Intent. How was the original poster to know that her comments would be perceived as offensive? I could be wrong, but I believe millions of people would agree with her, and there are many forums where her post would have been applauded. Sad fact, but true. Many people equate erotica with porn and many people feel porn is...I don't know the word. Evil? Sinful? So, how was she to know that at this forum, people wrote and supported erotica? There is no sign on the door that says we are a liberal website and we support erotica. This is a really important point. I suspect she was caught completely unaware at the idea that she had been offending writers here. She may have been caught completely unaware at even the idea that erotica could be defended. I could be wrong, but that's what I think. That's why I've been talking about education.

b. On a related note, the fact that advocacy of erotica can also mean advocating the freedom of people to self-express their sexuality is not something that most people know. I live in San Francisco, but I've come to realize that most of the world does not. And most of the world has very different ideas about some of the things I believe, or has no idea what on earth I'm talking about, or may think some my beliefs are....wrong.

c. The primary thrust of the poster's message was a passionate appeal to protect children. I don't have an issue with advocacy, whether I agree with it or not.

c. People are entitled to their own opinion. They really don't have to like erotica, and they can speak about it passionately here. People should feel free on this forum to express their feelings, and if people disagree they can express them right back. Like I said, Cheeky, I had no issue with your response here, I got involved because of another person's comment, which took it off topic and made it personal. I don't think safety on a forum is about people agreeing or being careful, I think it's about the absent of personal attack. Leading to:

d. This is important: the original poster did not attack anyone on a personal level. I know you may have felt personally attacked, Cheeky, but like I said before, I think that was unintentional on her part. However, she WAS attacked on a personal level. And that really bothered me, and worried me, because the internet can really, really hurt people, and it's what got me involved.

I hope that clarifies things, and why I've been walking that line, Hillsy. I also understand both of you may see things differently, and that's okay, too.

Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 4th, 2012, 9:45 pm
by cheekychook
Mira-- I truly appreciate what you are trying to do here and I know you're now in a difficult position but you're still failing to understand what I see as the main point here.

Let's remove the "erotica" part of this discussion.

This is a forum for writers. A poster on this forum was advocating the idea of leaving multiple phony negative reviews for a book she hadn't read. I do not see how that can be viewed as anything other than inappropriate no matter how you look at it. Perhaps that's me being dense.

Again, leaving genre out of this discussion, the book in question is a best-seller. Not just one book, the whole trilogy. All three books best sellers all at once. Someone who has not read the book presuming to know more than all those people who bought the book and made it a best seller in the first place, not to mention the publisher who bought it or the movie production companies who fought over the rights to it is...not working on a premise that is conducive to open-minded discussion.

I know I've seen Nathan blog many times about having zero tolerance for people who bash best selling books, because regardless of your opinion about the writing, the style, the topic, the genre or anything else, clearly the author has done something right or it wouldn't have appealed to so many people. I'll reiterate, I didn't particularly enjoy the books. I still don't think they should be bashed by anyone who hasn't even bothered to read them. And even then my personal preference is for writers to be more respectful and supportive of one another.

If the inflammatory posts had been about protecting children from inappropriate material I'd have been very much in favor of that. That was not, in my opinion, the sole or even primary intent of the posts on this thread. My opinion.

Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 4th, 2012, 11:21 pm
by Claudie
OK. I've watched this thread without posting since it was born. And until now I had nothing to add to what either Margo or cheeky had said. Now I do, because we're not talking of the original topic anymore, but also of what is acceptable on these boards. And if we're to trace a line, then I feel the need to participate.

The Bransforums are a place of respect. We welcome others, no matter their genre, their age, their current level of craft. We welcome diverging opinions and have had many heated debate without personal attacks or inflammatory comments. More than once, I have heard other posters say this is why they love these boards. Because of the respect. Because there's no flaming. Because you can ask anything and if you do it with respect, you'll be answered in kind. We do no bash other writers. Negative opinions are expressed as opinions, in careful sentences and clear wording. No attacks.

We do not talk about locking up other writers and handcuffing them. We do not call millions of readers twisted pervs. We do not flame other books. We never have, and the one thread that resembled that (books I hated or something?) was locked by Nathan. Despite the fact people just named the books and stated why.

So yes, I think Rachel crossed a line. By A LOT. That she is young doesn't excuse it. There are younger posters here that have showed perfect respect. Heck, I'm barely a few years older! That she might've thought it was ok doesn't excuse it. First she's been told it wasn't before. Second, because you think it is doesn't make it so. If it is elsewhere, then she is welcome to post in that elsewhere. And I am sorry, but if you attack a group, I belong to (not even a group's ideas, but the very people in it, as she did) and strongly identify to, you attack me on a personal level. You tell me you think all French Canadians are crazy stupid, and I'll feel attacked.

So yes. I'm getting off my original point here. My point here is that a key element of the Bransforums' fantastic atmosphere is the intrinsic respect shown by and to all posters. Rachel broke and spat on the respect on multiple occasions, in this post worse than many others. Once she can express her ideas with care and respect for everyone else, she will be welcomed again.

There. This is my piece. My opinion.

Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 5th, 2012, 6:19 am
by Hillsy
[OK – time to add some much needed levity methinks]

####Intro music heavy with brass and gravitas####

Hello, and welcome back to Bransforum’s Big Issues where we have been discussing what is an appropriate level of backlash against someone who displays and offensive level of ignorance. Joining me on this panel are Margo, a fledging writer. Claudie, a biochemistry student who also maintains the blog “A Novel Experiment”. CheekyChook, an author of erotic fiction. Mira, a social worker from San Fransisco. Sommer Leigh, considered one of the leading lights in online writing. And Hillsy, a data analyst from England with too much time on his hands. I’m your host, Holden McGroin. Please welcome our panel….


So welcome back, and as we do after every Ad break, we will begin with a Paraphrasing Play. This is where each post is taken and boiled down to a couple of sentences representative of the essential thrust of the well considered and well written entries. This time our lens through which the content and intent will be filtered is Hillsy (Largely because he’s quite useless to the panel otherwise). So you have been warned: this is not an objective representation. Without further ado we move to our re-cap and we begin with a question from Rachel Ventura (who couldn’t be with us tonight).

~The lights dim; the crowd is hushed, covered in a silence fecund with anticipation~

Rachel: You read this 50 shades of grey everyone’s banging on about? I heard it’s a bit saucy. Begs the question: time for e-book age verification?
Hillsy: Not read it myself, but yeah that’s a good point. What safeguards are out there at the moment for e-books?
Rachel: NONE! I mean seriously we have to make sure kids don’t get hold of this because of its content. Oh, and people who practise BDSM are paedophiles. That’s right! Those 4 friends you’ve got, yeah? Kiddy Fiddlers. (P.S. Sigmund Frued was probably a rapist)
Hillsy: WTF? I’m outta here – need to see a man about a dog (who may or may not be on a leash out of his own personal choice)
CheekyChook: Woah! Did you really just say that, Rachel? Really? That’s wrong on sooooo many levels. Have a verbal whack upside-da-head. THWAACK!
Margo: Too right, a load of us thought best to just ignore her.
Mira: Hey, guys, easy now. Look, she’s young and a bit stupid. Cut her some slack, OK? Freezing her out like the outcast girl in college is a bit mean. She did raise a fair point on age verification.
Margo: Seriously, check what she said. You can’t say that stuff and not get whacked upside-da-head. There’s no excuse - and it’s not the first time either. She’s a blithering idiot and perhaps a verbal whack will help. THWAACK!
Mira: Margo, stop hitting her! Give me a minute - I need to think on this.
Margo: Go ahead, but I'm bailing. [Leaves]
Mira: Look, Rachel just holds different opinions and, being young and a bit strong-headed, shouts about them too loud. It’s just an opinion, and everyone’s got a right to one of those, haven’t they? Going all Sorority Sisters on her is wrong.
Sommer: *Taps desk* Ahem. People, people, people. This is a book discussion, not a morale battlefield. I know what Margo said, and it could’ve been a lot worse.
Mira: Sorry. Just felt everyone was being a bit unfair – she just doesn’t like erotica, BDSM specifically. We just need to educate her that it’s not all bad.
Hillsy: Yo, Dudette. That kinda isn’t what everyone’s pissed about. It’s the stuff about a perfectly nice bunch of people being rapists and paedos. So while I appreciate your tolerance, make sure you’re not mistakenly defending the wrong point. Also worship John Scalzi’s liberal invective – tres funny.
CheekyChook: It’s also the stuff about destroying a book SHE HASN’T READ. We’re all book lovers here – we know that’s anathema at the very least. That’s pretty bad, and it’s also small change compared to child molestation stuff. Ugh – I feel icky.
Mira: Ok. I’ve schooled my thoughts and I’ve got some answers. A) She didn’t know it was offensive. It wasn’t like she walked into a Harlem school in a KKK costume, was it? B) Everyone believes different things anyway. C) She was trying to protect children, which is always good. C) (again?) People are entitled to their opinion which means…D) You shouldn’t attack her personally because she didn’t attack you personally.
CheekyChook: This is getting no where. Fine, ignoring “opinion”, Lord Nathan of the Bransford Boards himself has decreed that book bashing through the medium of the amazon review system is unacceptable. There, something we can all agree on.
Claudie: I Can’t take it anymore! Line. Sand. Crossed. No Excuse. THWACK. Double THWACK. Earned. (P.S. I love you guys….Group hug?)
Rachel: [Conspicuous silence]


Thank you, thank you. So that’s where we are at the moment. As you can see it’s quite a heated debate, albeit tainted with a wretched bias by Hillsy. There’s no point apologising now, Hillsy. You disgust me, you….ahem, moving on. As you can see there’s no clear resolution in sight and so we’ll pick up where we left of after Claudie’s point…..[Long Pause, finger in ear, staring vacantly over the heads of the audience]….Oh dear. I’ve just been informed we’ve run out of time......
Audience: AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!
So we’ll have to leave that there for another time. Join me next week where our panel will be: Justin Beiber. The entire cast of The US Office. The Hindu God, Vishnu. And a half-chewed scrag of corned beef. The topic at hand will be: Jam – is it really a food?

I’m Holden McGroin, and you could be to. GOODNIGHT SEATTLE!!!

[Right – think that’s sorted it.]

Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 5th, 2012, 8:30 pm
by Mira

The poster wrote: "I feel like flooding the Amazon page with pseudonymous zero-star reviews". I guess I took that to mean she was just venting and not really planning on doing that. If you interpreted it correctly, though, I can understand your point. Flooding amazon with reviews of a book you haven't even read yet is absolutely unethical! And I'm certainly not defending anyone talking about books they haven't read. I want to be clear - I'm not defending the posters content. As for the primary purpose of her posting this thread, I could be wrong about that too.

Edit: I also want to add - I said this before, but I have zero issues with any of your posts arguing with her content. Good for you. That's what this forum is for. What I took issue with is another poster's comments.


I love the atmosphere of the forums too! I love how Nathan sets a tone of respect and thoughtful sharing. But, in fairness, I think it's important to mention there are no written rules and guidelines here. There are unwritten guidelines, and I think it's perfectly fair to mention that to people who may be doing something differently. I also think no one should have to engage in a dialogue with someone they don't feel respects them. I don't actually have a problem with the idea that people decided not to respond to the poster, of course people can avoid posters they don't want to talk to! What I took issue with is how that was handled.

Also, in terms of Nathan - Nathan not only didn't censure this thread, he linked to it on the main Blog. I could be interpreting that incorrectly, and Nathan can certainly speak for himself, but I took that to mean that he thought people might find this dicussion interesting - and that he might want to encourage discussion of controversial and complicated topics on this blog, which usually does become a bit heated.


Ha! Thanks. When I woke up this morning and read your post, it was a bit of a relief to smile alittle. I also thought you were eerily accurate, overall. However, I have some corrections in terms of how you represented my position:

a. I don't believe I said I thought the original poster was a bit stupid, in fact I believe I said I thought she was quite bright.

b. You forgot to mention my bowler hat. My bowler hat is quite dashing, and I believe it dominated the conversation in a subtle but powerful way.

c. I am only putting a c. here so I can move onto the next point about diabolical tactics.

c. All the best debators have two c. points. It's a secret, extremely diabolical tactic designed to overwhelm their opponents with not just one, but TWO c. points. Who can stand up to that?

d. You can be pretty funny sometimes.

Okay, there you go.

Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 6th, 2012, 2:29 pm
by Claudie
1) I don't think it is fair to interpret what Nathan might've wanted or done. We don't know.

2) Yes, he has always encouraged discussion of controversial topic. The key term here is discussion. Rachel's second post is not a discussion, it is an all-out, vitriolic bashing of erotica writers. In a civilized discussion (even a heated one), there is no room for insults, slurs and threats.

3) You need to clarify "how it was handled", here or in PM, because I am unsure what you refer to.

4) Watch out, I'll sneak in your house and steal the bowler hat. ;)

Re: Fifty Shades of Grey: what do you think?

Posted: April 6th, 2012, 8:03 pm
by Rachel Ventura
I'm very sorry that I've offended anyone. :( I know it came across as a rant. But this is just how I've seen it. It scares me, and I caught part of the Today show when Dr. Drew was on, with my mom, and she was so disgusted by what was being described, that she actually felt sick and got up off the couch, and shut off the TV in haste. I could see her welling up before she got up to leave And I've seen nothing but defense of what I and a lot of other people still do regard as a disturbed sense of normal intimacy.

I asked her about it; turns out she was nearly raped in college in the '80s, and she found out her roommate was into this sort of thing, and that the guy turned out to be someone from the roommate's kink circle. They were big into cocaine too, and the roommate's response was that my mom was too uptight and that she, too, should loosen up a bit. So something like this gets me enraged because of what I see as a general degradation of society. She ended up taking leave for an entire semester and transferring closer to home because she was so traumatized. And some years ago, some guy in, I think, Boston or thereabouts went to some woman's apartment where she provided S&M services for her clientele, and he ended up dead because she tied him up too tight and he suffocated as a result.

My mom has never been the same since college and she's raised me to stand up and holler when there's something I see that's wrong. I do apologize if it came off that I was accusing anyone here of being a monster. I wasn't; I'm just basing what I know of this sort of thing on the horrible personal experience of someone I know and love. :cry: My mom is probably PTSD from what happened almost 30 years ago, and it's a trigger for her as well as it is me, just imagining how she must have felt powerless with that creep latching onto her. It does worry me that they might end up in the hands of kids, or of strange people like the guy who went after my mom. :cry: I get overly excited and upset when I hear about or see someone getting a high off of inflicting pain. Because I just can't see it as anything but abusive. Not after what happened to my mom and the attitude displayed by her supposed friend.

I didn't mean to cause anyone else pain or be degrading to other people. I try to avoid it as much as I possibly can, although sometimes I do go way off the handle, and I admit that, but it does worry me about the direction things are going nowadays.

EDIT: I have deleted the offending posts and marked the title as [Deleted by author]. The second in this thread is a heartfelt and "graphic" apology that I hope you'll accept. :oops: I wish these emoticons could be printed in 72-point font. Because the lump-a-dump I laid out here wasn't justified, and I realize that in retrospect, and I am truly sorry. :( :oops: :cry:

EDIT 2: I'm so ashamed I've gone into hiding and can't show my face. (AKA deleted my avatar and the location field.)

Re: [Deleted by author]

Posted: April 6th, 2012, 9:34 pm
by cheekychook
Thank you, Rachel, for coming back to the thread and apologizing for your rant.

I am truly sorry to hear about what your mother experienced. That is, indeed, a horrific thing for her to have gone through, and I can thoroughly understand why you would feel protective of her and hyper-sensitized to the topic. Thank you for sharing that and explaining your reaction.

I am also sorry that Dr. Drew's rant brought forward that pain for your mom. Unfortunately Dr. Drew's rant was largely the same as what I've been complaining about on this thread. He went off on a wild tangent about abuse toward women based on what he pretended was a conversation about the best selling book series 50 Shades of Grey, when in fact at the time of his first appearance discussing the book he'd yet to read it. He pulled random out of context quotes from it that really had little to do with what the story was about. He was attempting to make a point but it was a misguided attempt and it stirred up a lot of issues for a lot of people---as it did with your mother.

Even in later shows Dr. Drew had read only book one of a series where, in spite of the fact that there are three books, all three of them really need to be read to see the full story arc. It was highly irresponsible of him and that's why so many people, including his wife, publicly took issue with what he was saying. It's dangerous business to take a stand for or against something when you don't have all the facts.

Having read the book series I can assure you that there is NOTHING in the books that in any way advocates violence toward women, disrespect of women or anything else negative and they MOST CERTAINLY don't encourage ANYTHING that is not consensual. BDSM, at least in the context of this story, has very strict rules and guidelines, and is very much a detailed, loving agreement between two people. No one is ever forced to do anything he/she doesn't want to do. And the characters in this series are not only monogamous, but are very much in love with one another. THAT is what is making this series so popular---not that it encourages depraved behavior (which it doesn't) but because these characters love one another and would do anything for each other. It's about trust and being wanted in spite of your flaws. It is not about violence.

Again, thank you for coming forward to explain your position. It is much appreciated. And I am truly sorry about what happened in your mother's past.

Re: [Deleted by author]

Posted: April 6th, 2012, 11:45 pm
by Mira

I just want to tell you how deeply I admire what you just did by posting on this thread and to tell you how brave I think you are. I so deeply respect you for coming back, for listening with an open mind, which would be difficult for me to do if I were in your place, and for sharing from such a vulnerable place.

I am so sorry that happened to your mother. That is terrible. And in that context, your comments make alot of sense.

You are probably not aware that erotica writers recently felt under attack because Paypal threatened Smashwords, and said they would withhold their service as long as Smashwords sold erotica. There was a huge gathering of writers who protested this, and PayPal backed down, but the timing - well, right now erotica writers may be feeling abit beleagured. I suspect what happened on this thread may have been connected to that in some ways.

I think if I were in your place, I would wonder if I were welcome at these forums. I want to tell you that I definitely welcome you here absolutely, and I hope you continue to be the strong and intelligent young woman I've come to know here.

You would not believe the kinds of things I've done on the internet. Some make me cringe, some make me blush, some make me want to hide under my table for the rest of my life - but ultimately, I'm coming to find out they eventually all make me shrug and even laugh. That's me, and I frequently say things that I later re-think - so okay, then. That's what being human is all about, we're all learning, we're all just stumbling around doing the best we can.

If this thread was hurtful in any way, which I suspect it was, I hope it heals quickly. Your intentions were admirable, and if this was a learning experience there is nothing in this that does not allow you to hold your head high.

I want to tell you that I think you are bright and a very gifted writer. I applaud your passion and ability to champion a cause. Please don't ever lose that. I think it's part of what makes you Rachel, and it is a wonderful and powerful gift.

Re: [Deleted by author]

Posted: April 7th, 2012, 2:15 am
by Mira
Oh my. I hadn't read your second edit when I posted, Rachel. I'm so sorry you're so hurt.

People this needs to be healed. No one should be so wounded here!

Re: [Deleted by author]

Posted: April 7th, 2012, 11:18 am
by Falls Apart
Rachel, you don't need to feel so bad :) It got pretty tense (I'm relieved I didn't see the thread until today) but now that everyone understands where you're coming from, I'm sure no one's going to be angry. Lots of people who aren't familiar with BDSM confuse it with abuse, and the line between the two can be pretty blurry from a distance. Lots of people who practice it are perfectly nice, though, and wouldn't dream of abusing or raping someone. In fact, that's why "safe words" exist--so a person knows if they're going to far, and so, if a game stops seeming like a game to one of the involved parties, it can end right there. And if you're not comfortable with it, you can totally avoid the subculture. And that's fine. It's definitely not my thing, so I certainly wouldn't get involved with it. Just remember that there are plenty of perfectly good people involved in it, and comparing them to sick, disgusting criminals will offend them and their friends.

But like I said, it's an understandable mistake from someone who isn't familiar with the BDSM subculture, especially with your experiences. I'm so sorry your mom went through that! :( But the point is, you recognized your mistake, apologized for it, explained where you were coming from, and deleted the offensive material. I don't think anyone could ask you to do more. Don't go into hiding!

Re: [Deleted by author]

Posted: April 9th, 2012, 10:03 pm
by Mira
Okay, so I need closure on this, so I'm going to type a last post.

For what it's worth, this is my analysis of what happened on this thread. But it's my analysis, so I understand people may not agree.

To my mind, everyone here had the same good intentions, and maybe made the same mistake. Everyone was trying to right a wrong. But they did so without completely understanding the other side of things.

Rachel was trying to right a perceived wrong in terms of books she felt were hurtful. But she did so without completely understanding the genre or the books.

Others here were trying to right a perceived wrong in terms of what they felt was an unfair attack by Rachel. But they did so without completely understanding Rachel's motivations.

So, I think as humans, it's messy. And the best thing from a mess is to learn from it. Here's what I learned: it's important to understand things more deeply. That's not to say it's not important to stand up for yourself or your beliefs, but it's good to have a clear understanding of the whole thing before raising the flag into battle.

So, if we all did the same thing, then I hope everyone will forgive each other, if needed, (and themselves, if needed), dust themselves off, know that every experience we have will make us both stronger people and stronger writers, and come back and talk about writing again.

If that works for you.

And I actually appreciate this post. I'm so sorry that people got hurt, and I truly hope they feel better, but I have to say, I learned ALOT from this.

Okay then. As cheeky said - I'm out.