Saturday Afternoon- Brainwashing, Wolves, and Culture

It’s been  a very long time since I wrote anything here. I’ve kept reading though, and noticed I’m not the only one who seemed to need some down time-separate from, in addition to, the holidays.  I know what my reason was (psychotic editor/family member), and I’ve read other semi absent bloggers explanations.  Since many of us had something– I’m of course tempted to believe something lunar, something astrological, took place.  Yes, I know. Somewhere out there  someone who is very good at logic, or the scientific method, is shaking their head and buffing up a comment about the difference between correlation and causation. Save it.  I like to think I’m swayed by the moon.

Giving Way, Book I:  Reluctant Consent came out on Blushing Books in early November and a few weeks later, on Amazon.  I asked a friend to read Book II. I figured it would be a good way to see where I needed to slip in back story since she hadn’t read Book I.  She loved it. She hated it. Early on she found the alpha male stuff -including the discipline arousing, but later in the book she worried about Denise (my heroine) and thought maybe she was being brainwashed.  And abused.  Is this stuff a cult, she asked me?  Are there people really doing this stuff?

File:VIRGINIA1-popup.jpgYes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause. And he spanks.

I understand the question and it’s one that is raised and re-raised all the time. I think that’s ok.  We bloggers would love to believe that every word we ever wrote is read by each new reader. But let’s face it-it’s not. So addressing the old questions is not a bad idea at all.

When I first stumbled over anything close to ttwd I was horrified and certainly ready to believe these folks were suffering from something.  As I read more, I became more comfortable, more accepting. Then that bothered me.  Did I want to become more comfortable with the idea of spanking grown women?

Raised in the culture I was, when I was, by educated parents and a professional working mother I was expected to be independent, strong minded, and respect authority once it had been earned. (That last bit I recognize now was a family thing)  It went without saying I was the equal to any man. And more than mostCertain people received respect for their authority because of their position-police, the military, the prime minister (what was Justin Beiber thinking?)Justin Bieber shakes hands with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (PM ...    but if they didn’t live up to their position it was ok to tinge your compliance with a thin veneer of skepticism (another family thing).  (And we wondered why teachers despised us. We’re lucky we weren’t all beaten up regularly.)  I was raised this way.  It would be correct (I think) to say I was acculturated in this manner.  Granted there was no water-boarding, but surely we could say it was a benign brainwashing.  There was criticism and some punishment for failures-needing too much help. Crying. Not standing up for oneself. Having a crush on a boy who was not my intellectual equal. (!!! Again, why did no one kill us?)  And rewards (hugs, kisses, praise, attention) for achievements: beating up a bully, standing your ground, taking the moral high ground, dating young men from the National Honor Society.

Somewhere-in fact, in many some wheres–at that time–other women were raised to keep their eyes lowered, submit to males and other behaviors that would have been horrifying to me but were totally correct in their culture.  They were acculturated in that manner.  Better? Worse? Different? All  I can say for sure is:  I’m really glad I wasn’t born into those cultures. I do believe that genetically I would have been in trouble.  All I have to do is look to my  Grandmother-born in a very different time than me, being driven almost mad by her submissive, passive, role in life.

As an adult, I slowly came to question all of the  attitudes and beliefs I came up under. I looked at them. Talked about them. Read books.  Tried various alternatives. Kept some. Rejected others.  Modified a few:  I’m a feminist-and a heterosexual- whose knees happen to weaken in the presence of an alpha male. And despite the fact that my natural carriage immediately marks me as a  strong leader, I also instinctively recognize and submit to  a woman more alpha than  me.

When an adult independently reaches a conclusion, makes a free choice about a lifestyle I don’t think we can consider it brainwashing.  I do get a little nervous when very young people enter into a relationship quickly that will feature some level of dominance and submission.  Geez, people. Shouldn’t you know someone really, really, well before you invite him/her to spank you to tears or tie you to the bedpost?

And what about my friend’s question: Is this a cult?  I got very interested in the fact that a word we see as fairly benign– culture– has as it’s root a word which in common use  we see as a negative: cult….. I googled

(Granted, one can go berserk with definitions. I didn’t.)

Definition of CULT (http://www.merriam-webster.com)

1: formal religious veneration : worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>
5a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
  b : the object of such devotion
  c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion
And here’s one for culture:

Definition of CULTURE (http://www.merriam-webster.com)

1: the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
2: expert care and training <beauty culture>3
3: a) enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training

    b : acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills

4: a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations

    b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group;
    also : the characteristic features of everyday existence shared by people in a place or time  <popular culture> <southern culture>
    c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line>
    d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

We think of the word ‘cult’ as negative-but obviously-by definition,  it isn’t.

What would my granny say:  I am in the company of a cult!