Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Nonfiction Review: 'Cuffed, Tied, and Satisfied' by Jaiya
Cuffed, Tied, and Satisfied: A Kinky Guide to the Best Sex Ever is a nonfiction book written for men and women who want to add some kink to their sex lives. Content Warning: This review mentions issues of consent and sexual abuse that some people may find disturbing.
What is kink? Author Jaiya says it's whatever "outside the box" sex is for you. We all have our own comfort levels.
Jaiya is a "somatic sexologist"/couples counselor whose preparation for this book included spending time as both a dominant and a submissive with her partner, while both of them received training from more experienced practitioners. I can imagine she's probably quite educated about her subject and probably a knowledgeable counselor. The first few pages/first chapter or so are actually a bit clinical and dry. At first I thought, "How can a sex guide be this boring?"
On page 16, Jaiya quotes Esther Perel, "the author of Mating in Captivity," as saying, "I do believe that the emphasis on egalitarian and respectful sex - purged of any expression of power, aggression, and transgression - is antithetical to erotic desire for men and women alike." Taken out of context, statements like this could easily be misinterpreted as saying that there's some kind of "natural" hierarchy in which one sex is dominant and aggressive and the other is passive. I don't think Jaiya means to imply that; I think she's using this quote in the context of how erotic it can be - for some people - to use role-playing of power dynamics. But I don't think this is explained very well in this chapter. I'm pretty sure there are some people for whom egalitarian sex in which there is, consciously, no mismatch of power is the ONLY erotic sex for some people.
Chapter Three is about consent. This is probably the most important chapter in the book, because no truly erotic activity can take place without honest, informed consent. On page 49, Jaiya writes about "The Many Shades of Being Willing" and ends the page with, "There will be some activities that you want to do, some activities you are willing to do, and some activities you are certain you don't want to do." The next page launches into a detailed explanation of "understanding turn-ons" without returning to the topic of how to handle the things you don't want to do.
This is problematic for me. I felt frustrated because I wanted Jaiya to make a strong statement along the lines of, "Always make sure you gain your partner's clearly-communicated and enthusiastic consent before any sexual activity, and make sure your partner does the same for you. Sexual activity without consent is assault."
It's not that Jaiya isn't aware of the issue of sexual trauma. She writes about having a childhood trauma of her own and about sexual situations that are triggering for her, and about how to help a partner who has triggering issues surrounding sexuality. I'm a little confused that she's well aware that there are issues around power imbalances in sexual relationships, yet her writing often seems to be quite wishy-washy around consent. I do not like this. I want strong statements that empower human beings to have control of our own sexual activities and that fight rape culture.
On page 125, Jaiya shares that she gave her partner a list of words and asked him to choose the ones that turned him on. One of the words he chooses is "rape." She never addresses this or mentions it again. I understand the adults are perfectly entitled to role-play and act out whatever fantasies they care to have with their consenting adult partners, and I don't have a problem with that. I don't consider myself overly "vanilla" and I'm not usually uncomfortable around discussions of sexuality (erotica writer here), but I am uncomfortable with this book skirting around issues of nonconsent without strongly addressing them.
We're not at that point in our culture yet when we can just assume that everyone reading the book will know the rules of consent in a healthy way. I'd rather we talked about it too much than not enough.
Furthermore, I don't love the authorial voice she chose to write this book in, which puts the reader in the place of the submissive and the author in the place of the dominant partner. In some places, the writing is just a little silly, and I also object to this authorial tone on the grounds that I have very, very little desire to be sexually submissive. I prefer to be the dominant one, and the idea of another woman trying to be my alpha turns me off. Jaiya, you don't know me like that. Don't assume that's the kind of relationship I want to have with you.
That said, I felt from Chapter Six onward, Jaiya gave a lot of practical tips that are well-written and fun. If you read BDSM literature (as I sometimes do, although it's not my preferred genre) and want to know more about how you can incorporate it into your own life, this book will help. It has some ideas that are genuinely creative and sexy. You just have to pick out the ideas you like and disregard anything you don't like.
More Information From the Publisher:
About the Book
BANISH BORING SEX AND UNLEASH ORGASMIC ECSTASY WITH POWER, RESTRAINT, AND SENSATION PLAY!
Are you ready to expand your sexual boundaries? If you’ve ever fantasized about being taken by your man, dreamed of playing with handcuffs, ropes, and paddles, or been turned on by the thought of wickedly wielding power over your lover, you’ve found the right book!
Award-winning Sexologist and author Jaiya will be your Mistress in this fun-to-read handbook that will transform your sex life. CUFFED, TIED, AND SATISFIED leads the kink novice and pro alike on a shame-free personal journey to sexual empowerment, including your full plan for safely playing on the edge, setting boundaries, and communicating with your partner about your deepest, darkest, untapped desires.
Jaiya will teach you how to make your sexual fantasies a safe reality through:
• SENSORY PLAY - Blindfolded and tied to the bed; you’re helpless as every inch of your skin is awakened with your lover’s hot breath and a delicious feather…
• POWER ROLES - You’ve drawn up your own sexy contract detailing every moment of how you want your lover to take you to full surrender; he looks into your eyes and pulls you to your knees…
• IMPACT AND TOYS - Just the sound of your wicked crop sends your lover into ecstasy; the anticipation has you both on the brink of extraordinary pleasure…
• ROLE PLAYING - Standing naked in front of your lover, they admire your black thigh-high heels. You’ve empowered your inner Dominatrix, and you’re ready to take control…
CUFFED, TIED, AND SATISFIED is all you need to bring kink out of the dungeon and into your bedroom.
About the Author
Jaiya is an internationally recognized sexologist, speaker, and author of Red Hot Touch and Blow Each Other Away. She helps men, women, and couples to learn more about sexuality so that they can experience deeper connection and unlimited sexual ecstasy! www.mistressjaiya.com
"Jaiya's friendly and accessible introduction to kink is perfect for those seeking to spice up their sex life." --Publisher's Weekly
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.