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Fifty Shades of Epstein

Hope Kesselring

I’ve never been a big fan of the genre, but when someone recently told me I could self-publish erotic romance novels for money, I did check out the situation.

A few weeks ago, half the top ten Amazon best sellers in romantic erotica were based around the trope of the BDSM billionaire, with Grey by E. L. James holding firm in the top ten.

In the world of erotic romance, the 50 Shades of Grey series has been a continuous presence for over seven years. Thousands of riffs on the sexy and sadistic billionaire exist: Russian billionaire, billionaire blackmailer, billionaire stepbrother.

I’m not trying to kink shame, but it would take a lot of money to convince me to write detailed descriptions of torture sessions in a gilded dungeon.

This is especially true in the shadow of financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death. Mental and sexual abuse by an obscenely wealthy man now just seems, well, obscene.

I should point out that James’ character, Christian Grey, strikes me as more a domestic abuser than a real BDSM enthusiast. He is a billionaire in the tech industry who fixates on Ana, a 21-year old virgin. He puts surveillance software on her phone. He harasses her to sign a submissive’s contract, and even though she never signs it, he still treats her like a sex slave. He manipulates Ana into doing sex acts for which she doesn’t give consent.

Blatant consumerism sits on the page in stark contrast to real life. 50 Shades of Grey eroticizes money and abuse. The writing is universally panned and mocked by critics, yet it’s sold 125 million copies. How in the world of publishing did it even come to be?

Let’s go back to 2008.

That year the economy was melting down, Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to a felony sex offense, and the Twilight series of vampire romance novels for teen girls were bestsellers.

Twilight was a young adult twist on the long-popular vampire romance, which had flourished in that market since Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire appeared. Probably some of Epstein’s victims read the Twilight books.

50 Shades of Grey marks a shift in the erotic romance genre from vampires to billionaires. In 2009, E. L. James started publishing her version of Twilight on fanfiction websites, churning out a chapter every couple of days.

Master of the Universe, as it was called then, was popular but criticized for being too racy, so she moved it to her own website and renamed the characters.

James didn’t know it yet, but she was about to be catapulted to international fame by some upper middle class moms in the suburbs of New York City.

In the autumn of 2011, news about Occupy Wall Street, a movement that began in reaction to the deeds of the predatory class, dominated headlines. Posters portrayed the 1% as greedy Monopoly men, far from sexy. Occupy protesters had the media’s attention for a short time before the idea was squashed.

That November, Jeffrey Epstein registered as a sex offender in New York after completing his jail term and moving back into his Manhattan mansion, free to continue abusing girls.

2012 was E. L. James’ year. A prominent lifestyle blog (started by an NYU communications graduate married to a talent manager) promoted James’ fanfiction novel as sexually liberating to fashion-conscious moms in upscale suburban New York. James got a book deal and “mommy porn” was born.

Paperbacks with necktie covers appeared on bookshelves and in beach bags everywhere. Moms weren’t the only people reading it, though. In the same way mothers had read their daughters’ copies of Twilight, daughters read their mothers’ 50 Shades of Grey novels.

Imagine Jeffrey Epstein’s thoughts if he’d seen that book in the hands of one of his trafficking victims. Billionaire sadism. How convenient.

I’m not saying that people who read 50 Shades of Grey or similar books want to be sexually abused in real life. It’s just a fantasy. The romance genre has a long history of eroticizing non-consent, as shown by the “bodice rippers” of the 1970s and 80s.

I do wonder, though, if this theme of non-consent is only a reflection of the hidden fantasies of women and girls, or does the media create them? Could a romance novel trend play a part in manufacturing society’s consent to billionaires abusing their power?

I think so.

We are living in a time of extreme inequality. The ultra wealthy who profit off gambling our mortgages away and human trafficking also own most of the media we see. After Epstein got out of jail the first time, websites like the Huffington Post and Forbes published articles praising his philanthropy. Now, why would they do that?

The CIA has a history of working in publishing to control culture. I’m not saying E. L. James was working for the agency, but that kind of thing has been known to happen. Even one of my favorite authors, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, apparently worked with them.

Many people have noted Epstein’s ties to intelligence. His girlfriend/partner in crime, Ghislaine Maxwell, is apparently the daughter of an assassinated Israeli spy. Recently, the New York Post published a picture of Maxwell with a book, which their source claimed was The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives.

It has since become a bestseller on Amazon.

The Post story is an example of the many rabbit holes of Epstein disinformation you can find in the media these days. The picture of Maxwell seems to have been staged. Who knows if she was really at that In N Out Burger when they say she was?

A person calling herself (or himself) G. Maxwell left a review of the CIA book on Amazon. I don’t think it was Ghislaine because she’s English and the reviewer used a “z” instead of an “s” in the word “realized.”

I thought it was interesting, however, that when I checked out G. Maxwell’s profile page, I discovered that prior to The Book of Honor, the account mostly reviewed romance novels and goes all the way back to 2012. The first review calls the 50 Shades of Grey series by E. L. James a “Good tale.”

I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, though.

Winner of my high school's citizenship award.

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Badger Down
Badger Down

What is this? Fiction? I couldn’t understand any of it.

uncle tungsten
uncle tungsten

Thank you Hope Kesselring, the fact that Ghislaine Maxwell is not being closely interrogated and nor is Les Wexner speaks heaps for absolute complicity of the upholders of law in their evil crimes.

‘In N Out Burger’ being a metaphore for what part of the anatomy? See how Ghislaine mocks us all. That New York Post story was very revealing of the gross arrogance of the Deep State and its scumbag operatives.

Vierotchka
Vierotchka

I do wonder, though, if this theme of non-consent is only a reflection of the hidden fantasies of women and girls,

I have yet to meet a woman or a girl who entertains such fantasies (I am soon to be 72 years old). It certainly is not and never has been one of mine.

pablomillerunit
pablomillerunit

50 shades of grey to 50 shades of greys anatomy – the journey, from deviant to serial killer? Ha!

ust that case i
ust that case i

You’ve had 50 shades of grey; now get ready for 50 shades of greys anatomy

Frank Speaker
Frank Speaker

50SOG and similar are merely scratching the surface of an increasingly perverse, degenerate western liberal society where “anything goes”. From history, it’s a clear sign of the collapse of this particular civilisation.

The question for everyone else is whether they will destroy the rest of the planet as they sink into their own cesspit.

bevin
bevin

Capitalism breeds prostitution. Imperialism: sado masochism. Both are ancient perversions, now they are central to the morality of a society in which sexual repression is emblematic of the alienations built into exploitation and class domination.
Our old friend Blake noted that “To desire and to act not, breeds the pestilence.” And that

“Abstinence sows sand all over
The ruddy limbs & flaming hair,
But Desire Gratified
Plants fruits of life & beauty there.”

And all manner of the puzzles that drive people to bodice rippers and nastier fantasies dissolve before his

“What is it men in women do require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.”

Maybe the Epstein case is just a reminder that, for America which inherited the Old England that Blake hated

“The Harlot’s cry from Street to Street
Shall weave Old England’s winding Sheet.”

mark
mark

There is a long history of bodice ripper novels of this type, often in an exotic historical setting, a sort of downmarket Mills and Boon, with titles like “Savage Surrender.” A beautiful virgin is swept off her feet by some square jawed, dashing and often slightly villainous, handsome beau, a Rhett Butler type, and at the end of a series of somewhat improbable adventures they find true love and live happily ever after.

Epstein apart, you could criticise this sort of thing for encouraging unrealistic expectations on the part of girls and young women. It has long been suggested that the ladies tend to target only the top 20% of men (in terms of wealth, status and achievement) as partners, unnecessarily rejecting or neglecting a lot of perfectly decent but slightly less exalted possible male partners. These rejected men may end up as sullen and embittered MGTOW type misogynists devoting their lives to football and fishing. The girls may end up as lonely cat ladies. Of course that is probably a gross sexist oversimplification, but it contains an element of truth.

A young lady who sets her sights on a billionaire may end up being disappointed. There are only 2,300 of them in the world, a lot of them already married, some no doubt gay, many elderly. Young, square jawed, dashing ones are in even shorter supply.

Hugh O'Neill
Hugh O'Neill

But would you let your servant read it? Perhaps to counter all those poor rich men being pursued by wealth addicted females, we ought to start producing (and promoting?) more rough old gardener types to satisfy M’lady? How about the private yacht deck boy, or the masseur’s assistant. There is a rich seam (or seamy riches) to be mined – as in “It’s all mine!”
Seriously though, I quite agree with Hope’s thrust: minds can be too easily controlled. If not, we are long overdue a Revolution. Was 1969 the last chance, since 2003 anti-war ought to have been a springboard, or the GFC of 2008….

pablomillerunit
pablomillerunit

Hugh, I would let my servant read it but I wouldn’t let my slave read it.

lundiel
lundiel

Believe me, young women don’t devote much time to fantasising about, or chasing billionaires. Apart from never being likely to meet one, they aren’t taken with gold-diggers. For most young women the fantasy only goes as far as getting on Love Island.

Kathy
Kathy

There is a song by the {Poison Girls} that has the lyrics,
State control and rock and roll,
are run by clever men.
Its all good for business,
its in the charts again.
Things so promoted as James book was, always make me think of this song. It is very interesting how things do become so elevated. Just at a particular moment in time a manipulation of minds is required. As discussed in a response to a previous article and subsequent posts, in communications with {George} about Orwell and Golding. Conformism to the view required is it would seem. Always elevated and rises to the surface when required. We are all being played, in truth. Its propaganda disguised as great art. Under the guise of the popularizing lies the hype. The hyping of James work was so total and so perfectly executed it seemed totally transparent and so, so cynical. It was as if BDSM as a subject had never been written about ever before and all the other erotic books on the subject never happened. it crossed continents in days. Promoted by images of rich female clebs clasping copies as they jetted off on their exotic holidays. It seemed to me to attempt, and accomplish. A form of mass herding of the female brain. Of course he had to be rich to feed into the fairy tale. It would never have had the desired effect had he been some underclass nobody. That would have just made it pervy!!!! and broken the spell.

Kathy
Kathy

I also meant to add that a lot of these same clebs were also part of the reawakening to exploitation as part of the Me too movement a few years later.

pablomillerunit
pablomillerunit

” It seemed to me to attempt, and accomplish. A form of mass herding of the female brain”

Yes you are right Kathy. This is just the first mass selection of self selection -rest assured, there will be more – and then, corporate propagandists and corporate psychologists will acclaim “…..and that’s how we made the mind of the post – industrial female consumer. “

Brian Steere

S&M is roleplay played out consensually for gratification in the role.
But taking it to the edge so as to live the experience while holding a codeword or gesture for release – as long as the partner(s) honour the agreement.

Does this sum up the world of victim and victimiser – excepting in nonconsensual experience of violation against the will and of willing violation of another’s – the mutual agreement is to the body as our Self.
And to then seek its pleasures and protection as our private gratification, and see others as bodies to manipulate or get power from pleasing, or power from limiting..

I saw the propagation of the initial meme as social engineering and its franchise is just like Climate Change. The bandwagon effect.
Thanks – but no thanks.
Acting out private fantasy upon the body – of another or by proxy of another, is by definition, private.
While a fantasy can be released to a greater truth than one may have imagined – this is when truth is stumbled upon or tripped into on the way to what we thought we wanted.

The idea that Reality is lacking, is the mind of its replacement and displacement.
There’s a lot could be said about the use of pornography as a marketising weapon, of setting and framing fantasy as a escape that captures while seeming in its moment to free.

But beneath the human world or even the underbelly of our world are fantasies of possession and control and of being possessed and controlled. Regardless the form of the presentation, the giving up of responsibility to something ‘greater than and OTHER than our self’ is a negative creation or thought reversal in which the movement of love operates through a lens of sacrifice or compulsive necessity.

I am not moralising to your freedom to your own unfoldment of experience – but the idea of acting without consequence is a fantasy that truth does not support and so to have the fantasy must deny or wall out awareness of truth. Persistence generates pathways of habit or unconscious reactive choice that leaves awareness of truth like the plaintive and futile cries of Echo to Narcissus in his own reflection.

To persist in seeking experience at war with the true mover and supporter of Life is to choose death – or have the experience of the intent.
Fantasy is a realm in which to play out alternatives and learn through their emotional feedback. But the difference between ‘what if’ and what is, is always clearly held.

To say ‘choosing death’ seems perhaps heavy and dramatic – but every moment is an opportunity for making or accepting choices in alignment with who you are – or who you have come to think and believe you are as a result of a personal and social context of survival in terms of enacted and enforced roleplay set over unspoken or unspeakable emotional conflict.

My sense is that everything denied is coming up into the open – as like the ‘Beast rising from the Deep’. Does it come up to ‘claim its own’? or to be released of its role?

This depends on the active and current purpose of your acceptance by given response. You are free to persist in what you don’t want as if you do want it as long as you choose to maintain the belief against a rising awareness that no longer agrees to hide and protect it.

Addictive identity is of a sense of self-lack.
The lack of the feeling and knowing of Life within is the drive or compulsion to get it without – in forms of substitution – and seeking their sustainability against the very nature of our world being change.
Taking back into ourself a sense of separation that demands expression or release is releasing the feeling from the mind of lack-definition.
Everyone here has addiction to their thinking – excepting they owned it to release it.
Part of the nature of disowning or denying self is of giving it a negative charge that has all the power you and society give it – to underlie and undermine the mind of the attempt to cast it out – and act it out in the body and the world.

The ‘deceiver’ offers an education to any mind that no longer wholly invests allegiance in its fantasy.
‘…Fool me twice, shame on me’ – is still an opportunity for awakening, but to be fooled every time by variations on the same old theme is to be so fragmented in identification as to be unable to recognise the pattern.

marijo1951
marijo1951

I was working in a large open-plan office in 1968 and I remember feeling something close to despair seeing most of the younger women engrossed in FSOG during their lunch breaks.

marijo1951
marijo1951

Don’t know where ‘1968’ came from. Of course I meant 2008.

George
George

“1968” may have been serendipity. Wasn’t that the year of almost-revolution?

marijo1951
marijo1951

Well, I was 17, carefree and hopeful. I feel that way vicariously these days when I’m with my grandchildren.

Badger Down
Badger Down

For Shame On, but what’s the G?

Barovsky

Ghislaine Maxwell, is apparently the daughter of an assassinated Israeli spy. Recently, the New York Post published a picture of Maxwell with a book, which their source claimed was The Book of Honor: The Secret Lives and Deaths of CIA Operatives.

Apparently? What it is? Robert Maxwell was a notorious millionaire publisher who died after falling, jumped, pushed, off his luxury and apparently, a Mossad agent and Ghislaine is his daughter.

pablomillerunit
pablomillerunit

Barovsky things are getting hazy or things are getting hazed. “Apparently” ha!

John A
John A

Maxwell, was a bit like Trump in being a forever money shuffling from company to company and loans to loans ‘millionaire/billionaire’. At the time of his death, he was about to be unveiled as having embezzled hundreds of millions from the pension fund of the newspaper he ‘owned’. I suspect one of the reasons Trump doesn’t want his tax returns and finances investigated because his millions/billions are a paper fortune and all his assets are hocked to the eyeballs. One spinning plate away from being found to be swimming naked as the tide goes out.

Barovsky

And more than a bit like yet another ‘billionaire’, Rupert Murdoch, who apparently went through the same gyrations viz a vis his empire, fiddling the books, borrowing up to the hilt. In other words all the usual gyrations of gangster capitalism.

Wilmers31
Wilmers31

When Acosta was asked about Epstein in that pre-employment hearing and said he was advised ‘leave him alone, he is intelligence’, the interesting aspect was also that he was not asked about all the cases he had in Florida.

He must have had hundreds of cases, why ask about that one? The woman who is waved goodbye by Prince Andrew is Katherine Keating (grew up with security as PM daughter) who has had so many links to so many organisations that it is difficult to see how she makes a crust. Now she is linked to the Berggruen Institute, which masquerades as an independent think tank but looks more like a secretive US manipulation organisation like the German Marshall Fund in Washington.

(The Guardian nixed my comment of this matter and also did not like my mentioning that NGO’s consume an awful lot of money for their manipulation activities.)

pablomillerunit
pablomillerunit

Wilmers31 have you come across any information about just who exactly, told Acosta that ” eipstein belonged to intelligence “? It seems to me that this is one of the keys to the riddle. Acosta should be put under media and social pressure to divulge this persons identity. If Acosta denies this persons existence or is unable to name the person, he then is solely responsible for the disgusting outcome ( Plea bargain, joke jail time where one can leave the jail and go home when you fancy it etc. ) to the charges brought in 2008 in Florida.

Yarkob
Yarkob

assuming you believe that “fact” came out by accident. nothing has come of it, and i very much doubt anything will. we are supposed to know it. much like everything with this case, nothing is really as it seems

ust that case i
ust that case i

Wilmers that is a remarkably shrewd point – asking about just that one case – how conspiritorial, I haven’t seen your point raised anywhere else so I’m not suprised the Guardian did its patriotic duty . What did the pentagon and Poindexter call it, TIA – total information awareness – seizing control of the information battlespace – a set of network connections to every data entry point and every data exit point to allow real time monitoring and instant two way communication to allow for correction. To be imposed everywhere they could get their cables plugged in. The guardian has fell in with bad company – but on the plus side, the Fuhrerprinzip is well established at the paper and there is NO chance that some upstart journalist or snotty subeditor might actually might try and deliver some actual news.

Antonym
Antonym

50 articles about Jewish Epstein (and his accomplice Jewish too) but zero about “Asian” grooming rings with thousands of poor white English girls victims.

George
George

Perhaps you should start up your own website on those Muslim bastards. Oh – hang on – there’s already a million such sites.

George
George

Oh and I see you’re the first to mention the word “Jewish”. Nice try.

George Cornell
George Cornell

Now my dear Antonym. Do you think it might have had something to do with the perversion of justice? With Clinton and “Prince” Andrew being involved up to their hilts? Maxwell? Woody Allen? Theft of ?billions etc etc.
Not to say the gangs of Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford etc. aren’t suitable fodder, but what is more alarming is why the police to whom these girls took their complaints and ignored them, aren’t seeking other employment, or picking up soap bars in the showers of Belmarsh.

mark
mark

Strange how Jewish folk are sometimes so eager to claim the Einsteins and the Mendelssohns and so eager to deny ownership of the Madoffs, Weinsteins and Epsteins.

George Cornell
George Cornell

Vide what went on in NYC when David Berkowitz was found to be the serial murderer of young adults. Hint: he was adopted.

George Cornell
George Cornell

So Epstein sexually abuses young girls, pimps them out, corrupts the Justice system but was a convicted sex offender, and you’re saying he was a victim? Why aren’t you railing about the poor homeless runaways preyed on by the gangs instead of batting for a billionaire pervert?

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar

I think the test of 50 SOG is actually what women think about it. As a man, expressing admiration of a story (even if I wanted to) where a man is controlling a woman sexually is a bit of a no-no in female company, unless they first suggest they really like the story. And I have to say, I have talked to plenty of women who have read the book and really like all the subtleties of plots and sub plots. These are not 16 year olds, they are woman in their early 30s who know their own minds, are more than capable of engaging with men as equals in the big bad world.

So my primary take on why SOG has sold so much is that a lot of women like the story, many many more than those who are outraged by it.

My personal view is that it is a fine exposition of the intense passions of a BDSM relationship, which is not a comment on my own views of BDSM. It is a review of an author, in effect.

I happen to believe that in an age of emancipated equality, women are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves ehat they think about it. Some will be outraged, some disgusted, some amused, some aroused, some even emancipated by it.

The interesting test will come if there is ever a role reversal novel where a successful woman seeks a submissive male sex slave fresh out of college. Then we will find out what women really think about sex.

I fancy there will be plenty out there who will absolutely love the thought of dominating a young man in bed, tying him up, using him sexually, organising a gang bang with her girlfriends etc etc.

I would really love to hear the unguarded comments of Jess Phillips and her ilk…..

See if she thinks ‘men as meat’ are just wimps who deserve everything they get….

Chris Rogers

I don’t mind pulp fiction, I’m the first to admit I listen to a load of junk, and often find myself laughing aloud at how much propaganda is contained within said fiction, I’ve never read one of these romance novels, or anything connected with BDSM, what actual reading of tangible books undertaken has always been serious stuff on history, politics and political theory, or classic literature and poetry I missed in my youth, so, much of this stuff is beyond my personal comprehension, however, one mention of Jess Phillips is sufficient to get me projectile vomiting, and that’s before even touching upon Epstein, who’s behaviour would appear truly reprehensible – thank God I reside on a very small island where my daughter is insulated from such predators.

eagle eye
eagle eye

It is obvious that many commenting here have not read all 3 books in the series. There is a female BDSM protagonist and Grey is her pupil who ultimately rejets her, and mousey miss gets to hold grey’s heart in her hands, her’s to crush or not at her whim.

So many puritans getting their knickers in a bunch is rather pathetic, especially when there are so many far more important things to get pissed off about

lundiel
lundiel

My take on it, as a woman who read two random pages in W H Smith’s is that it was so badly written, I couldn’t force myself to read anymore.

Robbobbobin
Robbobbobin

Should have read your two random pages at Waterstones.

JTMcPhee
JTMcPhee

Powerful people do what they have always done, and always will do. No deep socioeconomic or sociopsychologicsl analysis needed. Victims, powerless victims, we have always with us. Not going to change. And how many poor people rape and abuse their bits of power over others? And if they happen to become rich and famous, they’ll run true to form. We’re more chimp than bonobo. The arc of humanity bends not toward justice but toward anomie and Ragnarok

Seamus Padraig
Seamus Padraig

The arc of humanity bends not toward justice but toward anomie and Ragnarok

Or towards Kali Yuga.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

What does one want when one has ‘everything’ ?
More.

wardropper
wardropper

The worst of them – the terminally greedy, stupid and corrupt – desperately want relief from boredom.
Which means going where others do not go.
Somewhere on YouTube Jordan Peterson mentions that Dostoievsky considered mankind to be pretty much unique in being dissatisfied with comfort, once it is achieved.
Then there is also Nietzsche, who, in “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, fixes his glare upon the meme of “wretched comfort”, the pursuit of which ruins the potential of mankind to pull itself together and live a worthwhile life.

For what it’s worth, a rule-of-thumb which has always worked for me is to see the point of life in work, actively pursued.
By work, I don’t mean slavery to a boss, but in taking up an occupation which has meaning for oneself as an individual and which uses one’s talents to the greatest extent possible, while hopefully also aiming at producing or creating something which others can enjoy.
Which is perhaps nothing more esoteric than an old-fashioned idea of what it is to be an artist.
I have sometimes thought that an energetic and highly-motivated person could aim higher than that, but, in the absence of any clear push from life into other directions, I have to say that so far, as a rule-of-thumb, it has at least worked for me.
I also realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have many choices in that respect, but I suspect that most people have more choices than they think they have, if they really look at their lives.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum

Wise words wardropper.

wardropper
wardropper

Thankyou kindly FD.

Yarkob
Yarkob

somewhere to put it all?

George Cornell
George Cornell

‘S’ or ‘z’ is often a result of spellcheck plus or minus disinterest. For me the Epstein case covers so many seminal issues of our times and you rightly highlight its relevance to contemporary literature. I hope its importance will transcend the vigorous efforts to hide what really went on.

0use4msm
0use4msm

Yep, I wouldn’t read too much into the “s” vs “z” spelling. Being an English expat, I find myself constantly switching between “s” and “z”. Sometimes it’s conscious and I let it depend on the audience I’m writing for. And sometimes I just let my spellchecker decide for me, which, depending on which application I happen to be using at the time, may be set to British or American English.

John A
John A

Exactly. Whenever I relaunche MS Word, it defaults to US English, for some reason.

John A
John A

Plus the photograph of G Maxwell reading the CIA book was allegedly staged. Nothing is accidental when it comes to celebs and paps.