Those of you who follow my blog know that I am not one to buck the trend – preferring as I do, on most occasions, to skirt the trend entirely.
This was my intention with respect to 50 Shades of Grey, released for the silver screen this past Valentine’s Day weekend. Not having read the book, I decided long ago I had few contributions to make to ongoing discussions of the novel’s style or content. It’s also true that I’ve been a strong proponent of a more open approach with respect to sexuality in our stories. For whatever reason, 50 Shades seemed to be providing an important release for a lot of women across the country. Who was I to complain?
Still, I’ve been unable to work up any interest in reading the book, and I’ve found myself strongly averse, on a very instinctive level, to seeing the movie. When Rosie Waterland’s review of 50 Shades of Grey started circulating last weekend on the internet, I felt myself vindicated. More than vindicated, I’ve been moved to share a few thoughts of my own.
Sexuality, especially women’s sexuality, has been a central theme of Eolyn’s story since I started the series. So important is this idea in the tradition of the Magas that I invented a word solely for this aspect of the sacred feminine: Aen-lasati.
Literally translating to “the fire within”, Aen-lasati captures the deep mystery and intense power of one of the most revered rites in the life journey of a practitioner.
Aen-lasati is about sensual pleasure, but it is also very much about respect. Why our society should ever foster a disconnect between these two, pleasure and respect, is beyond me. Like Rosie Waterland, I find it deeply disturbing that sexual freedom would be coupled in any way with an emotionally abusive relationship, as Waterland has judged it to be in the movie 50 Shades of Grey. A woman cannot experience freedom with a man who is emotionally abusive and dangerously possessive. Any argument to the contrary is simply delusional.
The Magas of Eolyn’s world (and, in the best of their traditions, the Mages) understand this. From the time they are children, aspiring practitioners are taught to respect Aen-lasati as a gift from the Gods. “Respect” does not imply prohibition, denial, or abstinence. On the contrary, to respect Aen-lasati is to live one’s sexuality to its fullest, even to take on multiple partners if one is so inclined, but above all, to experience intimacy in an environment free from emotional abuse and psychological manipulation.
That’s not to say all the characters of Eolyn’s world are able to achieve this ideal. Indeed, the subculture of the Magas exists inside a strongly patriarchal society that strives without ceasing to keep women under tight control.
Yet setting up a healthy and open approach to Aen-lasati as the ideal from the beginning makes an important difference for Eolyn and all the women she comes to love and teach. When abusive relationships manifest themselves in Moisehén, there are no shades of grey. There is only the tragedy of a woman misused, and the insidious dark magic that taints everyone because of it.
If you’d like to know more about Aen-lasati, please visit my guest post “The Magic of Love and Desire” on author Tracy Falbe’s blog.