Wicked Wednesday #199–The best “bad” book I’ve ever read

I am paralyzed by the idea of sharing my favorite book, because I am incapable of picking a favorite. So instead, I’m going to plagiarize a post I wrote for my book blog about Prom Dress by Lael Littke, one of the most epically, wonderfully, equisitely bad books I have ever read.

I had a vague memory of reading this book in late elementary/early middle school and procured a second hand copy because it is sadly not on Kindle. I was an addict of the uber melodramatic scary/cursed item/ghost story that was so ubiquitous in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I even wrote part of a short story called “The Curse of the Silver Teddy Bear Necklace” in high school. I’ve devastated that my story doesn’t seem to exist anymore. (I’m holding out hope I’ll randomly stumble over it in a box of papers one day).

prom dress

Prom Dress by Lael Littke

Originally Published 1989

Robin is too poor to buy a new dress for the prom.  Then she finds a perfect, beautiful dress in the attic of her mysterious employer’s house.  She “borrows” it to wear to the prom…and dances into her worst nightmare.

Then Felicia finds the dress.  The price she pays for wearing it is more than any girl should pay…

But Nicole is too smart to be caught by the dress.  Isn’t she?  Poor Nicole!

And then there’s Gabrielle, Robin’s little sister.  Did she find the dress?  Or did the dress find Gabrielle?

Can anyone stop the fatal attraction of the…Prom Dress?

OHMIGOD you guys—could this book BE any better?  Maybe, but only if it were longer.  I LOVED it.  So much love I can’t stop with the CAPSLOCK.!!!!111!!!!111!!!!1!!

I hope you guys were all fans of soap operas back in the day because this plot has a lot of convoluted plot points that only work if you’re willing to pretend we’re in Salem/Pine Valley/Port Charles. Strap in for caplock and run-on sentences like I’ve never capslocked or run-on before.

Robin is a new-to-town gold digging social climber dating the hottest/richest boy in school–Tyler.  Tyler drives a red Trans Am, which I think is supposed to compensate for him saying things like “Between your dancing and your working, I hardly get to see you.  Where do I rate on your list of priorities?”

Alas, Robin must work because Daddy’s dead and college tuition doesn’t grow on trees.  Apparently, though, new houses DO grow on trees.  Right around when Robin’s Dad died, her mother inherited a house from a family member who also died at the same time which is great because they couldn’t afford the mortage on the old house they’d lived in with her dad, and so they moved because this house was free and there are no inheritance or property taxes and who the hell knows—just go with it.  Dad died, they moved, they’re broke–but they live in a mansion next to an even bigger mansion.

prom dress gold diggerHe’s talking about you, Robin

How very lucky for all of us that Tyler ‘s girlfriend needn’t slum it at McDonalds.  In the mysterious mansion next door lives Miss Catherine.  She’s an elderly recluse with a scarred cheek from when her twin sister Rowena threw acid on Catherine’s face because Rowena was jealous of Catherine’s hot boyfriend Michael who never looked at Rowena even though Rowena lusted after his bod.  Robin is Miss Catherine’s lackey, and her job duties seem to consist of keeping Miss Catherine company and talking about how hot Miss Catherine used to be before “the accident.”

One day Miss Catherine and Robin get to talking about how Robin is going to be in some dance show doing the Charleston and there might be college scouts there to give out college scholarships.  She has to find her own costume–and Miss Catherine has the perfect dress.  All Robin has to do is go upstairs, find the secret closet, and take out the flapper dresses—being certain to NOT TOUCH the white prom dress that JUST HAPPENS to be the only other thing in that closet.  Don’t even LOOK at it, Robin.

Duh, of course Robin looks at it, and instantly wants it. She’s going to be Tyler’s prom date and if she shows up in anything less than the perfect dress, he’ll dump her because she won’t be worthy of being seen with him or something.

The dress was made of deep scallops of creamy lace.  It had long sleeves and a high lace collar.  Like the flame colored dress, it had a dropped waistline, but the two dresses were worlds apart.  While the red one called out blatantly for excitement and dancing the braying of horns, the lace one spoke softly of elegance and muted music and romance.

prom dress puffed sleevesWhat girl wouldn’t want to sport this while dancing to Milli Vanilla and New Kids on the block

Robin asks Miss Catherine if she can borrow the Prom Dress.  HELL NO, Miss Catherine says.  She got the scar on her cheek while wearing that dress–it’s BAD.    Robin decides that the ends will justify the means and when she borrows the flapper dress, she “borrows” the prom dress.  Did she see a shadow on her cheek when she took it?  Nah, it was just a trick of the light.

Apparently Robin looks smokin’ in the red flapper dress at the Charleston contest.  Tyler tells her that his dad thought Robin was so hot that he’s sending them to a top shelf restaurant before prom, and is going to throw a limo their way.  Robin says she could get used to this lifestyle, and I contemplate that she’s chasing the wrong man–it’s Tyler’s dad who controls the purse strings.

They go to Prom and are crowned Prom King and Queen after many more mentions of how the dress is so gorgeous that every girl there is jealous of it and that Robin is so bodacious in it.  But just as Robin is about to take her throne and accept the pinnacle of high school success, the stairs crumble and she falls.  The throne she was about to sit on falls too and lands on her legs and feet, crushing them.

No more dancing for Robin.

Robin is taken to a hospital, where her nurse is a woman named Felicia.  Felicia is a reformed slut who is now in love with a divinity student named Mark.  She wants to grow up and be Mrs. Mark, future minister’s wife.  The first major hurdle in reaching her goal is impressing Dean Goudy at a special dinner he throws for his divinity students.  Apparently the dean evaluates all potential spouses, and if the spouse doesn’t measure up the marriage isn’t going to happen and the student will be penalized for even thinking about dating such an unworthy candidate.  No pressure.

If only Felicia had the right dress…

It was to be a dress-up affair, and the only fancy dresses she owned were bare backed or off the shoulder or spaghetti-strapped.  What she needed was something sweet and demure.

Something like Robin Wilson’s dress.

prom dress slutty nunSadly, this little number will need to stay in Felicia’s closet.

Felicia asks Robin if she can borrow the dress.  Robin says no.  But during a drugged out dream, Robin’s eyes flicker open and she sees Felicia holding the dress up to herself.

Felicia is looking in the mirror–and thinks she sees a smudge on her cheek.  Gee–is it shadowing or FOREshadowing?  Felicia steals the dress.

Felicia goes to the dinner and is all demure and shit.  But the dress keeps feeling tighter and tighter.  So tight she can’t breathe.  But when she looks in the mirror, the dress looks just like it did–it’s not too tight at all.  But she can’t breathe.  Finally, she excuses herself and goes upstairs to the “bathroom.”  Felicia goes into the Dean’s bedroom and rips the dress off her body.

Oh noes!  Now she’s in her underwear and the dress HAS to get back to Robin tonight because otherwise she’d be a bad person or something.  So instead she steals some clothes from Mrs. Goudy to wear.  But why stop there?  She steals a bag to carry the dress back to Robin.  She tries to sneak out, but Mrs. Goudy shouts that someone is fleeing the house with her BLUE BAG!

Felicia runs for the bus stop and the RIGHT bus just HAPPENS by at the RIGHT MOMENT.  What luck!  She hops on the bus and feels so lost and upset.  Now what can she do?  Telling the truth is clearly out of the questions–it is a FAR better solution to change back into the dress, sneak back into the house, and go back downstairs saying that she had glimpsed a man running off with a blue bag.  NO!  NO!  What she should REALLY do is go to the hospital and return the dress and throw out the clothes and….I don’t know, say that God had taken her from the house to the hospital because she was more needed at the hospital?

Before she can get off the bus, Felicia needs her shoes.  She reaches into the bag for her shoes…and discovers a velvet bag with pearls in it.  I know I leave my expensive jewels in a random bag in my closet instead of a jewelry box or a safe.  Oh NOES!!!

People get onto the bus–and it’s Mark and another guy from the party.  Rather than confess and do penance or say some Hail Marys or whatever, she says

“Mark.  The man with the cap….  He took it.  He made me take the dress off at the house and he put it in a blue bag that he found in a closet….  He got off a few stops back.  ….  He made me come with him.  He said he’d hurt me if I didn’t come.  He threatened all sorts of awful things.  I didn’t dare call out or anything.  I just did what he said.  I’m sorry he got away.  But I was afraid.  See, I’m still shaking.”

Mark is incredibly dumb and believes her.  He escorts her from the bus, while she plays sad maiden.

The bag is left on the bus.

No more integrity for Felicia.

Nicole is a genius.  Her high school academic decathalon team is taking the exact same city bus to a rival high school for a major competition.  Her foot bumps something under the seat, and she finds THE BLUE BAG.  Inside is the dress and some gorgeous pearls.  It’s just what she needs for the dance that night.  Maybe then her teacher will notice her and become her boy toy and they’ll live happily ever after.

prom dress 394I will open to page 394 any day of the week, Professor Snape….

That night she goes to the dance, and she looks totally gnarly.  She thinks she sees a shadow on her cheek momentarily, and only the dullest reader can’t see what kind of karma is heading her way.

Mr. Waring asks her to dance and they flirt.

School would be out soon; that would end the student-teacher track they were stuck in right now, which of course would never allow dating.  Mr. Waring’s strong code of ethics would never allow it.  But, after graduation, they’d be free to date.  Nicole could help him get over the terrible pain of losing his wife and child, and they could be married.  She wondered if he’d mind if she went to college after their marriage.  Very likely he’d insist on it.  Maybe he’d go back for more graduate work.  Maybe they’d both go to college.

Nicole was thinking happily of a wedding gown very much like the dress she was wearing.

Just then, Nicole sees her frenemy talking to someone and pointing at her.  Proving she’s the “Girl Computer with the giant brain,” she makes the obvious intellectual leap that the cops must be here for her.  They must have figured out….somehow…that the dress and jewelery weren’t hers.  She runs away and bumps into a very tall pedestal.  The bust of Einstein falls off and smacks her in the head.

Poor Nicole, no more brains–it’s amnesia town for you.

Luckily for Felicia, Nicole is brought to her hospital.  She’s able to put the dress back into Robin’s closet.  She confesses everything to Mark and surrenders the jewelry back to Mrs. Goudy.  Mark dumps her lying ass.

Felicia and Robin have a heart to heart about the evil of the dress.  Felicia thinks they should destroy it–her first smart choice of the book.  Robin persists in being a moron and says it must go back to Miss Catherine.

Robin tells her little sister Gabrielle to take the dress back to Miss Catherine, which is clearly a great idea.

Did I mention that Gabrielle thinks that Tyler is totally choice?  Gabrielle loves to play piano and Tyler sometimes accompanies her when he’s waiting around for Robin.  So she jumps at the chance to get a ride home from him so she doesn’t have to take the dress on the bus, and asks him to come play piano with her.  They could even do a duet FOR ROBIN when she finally comes home.

prom dress boyI’m just saying if you really loved me you would share him…

Robin gets out of the hospital and it’s so sweet how Gabrielle and Tyler have clearly practiced playing together over and over and over and over.  In fact, they’ve gotten so used to playing together that they’re going get paid for playing together.  Playing PIANO—stop with your filthy minds.

Robin takes the garment bag with the dress inside it back to Miss Catherine and confesses.  Miss Catherine begins to laugh hysterically and confesses that it was her evil plan all along!  BWAHAHA–she’s not even Miss Catherine….she’s ROWENA.

“I cursed every stitch of that dress.  I started it for myself, you know.  I thought Michael was going to ask me to the prom.  But I had the birthmark, you see, and Catherine was the beauty.  That was the most important thing in the world to her, just as Michael was to me.  I saw them sneak around together, and when he asked her to the prom I finished up the dress for her, because I knew it was the last time she would ever be beautiful.”

Rowena jiggled up and down.  “When they came home, I threw acid on her face.  But not on the dress.  I didn’t want to ruin the dress.  She was wearing a cloak, so it didn’t get on the dress.  I didn’t want to hurt the dress.  I did it right there, in the foyer, on our little stage,” Rowena gave her a mirthless laugh.  “And after that she was even uglier than I was.”

And just look–there goes Gabrielle to her job, with Robin’s boyfriend….WEARING THE DRESS!!!  Rowena taunts Robin to just let her go, that the dress will punish her sister just as it did Rowena’s so long ago.

Robin suddenly develops a backbone and ethics and struggles to her feet, even though they’re both in casts and she’s supposed to be in a wheelchair, and even standing hurts with the fury of a thousand suns she struggles to the door, screaming even though Gabrielle and Tyler can’t hear her.  As she gets to the door, throws it open, and screams her sister’s name one last time just as Gabrielle is about to get into the Trans Am, and passes out from the sheer pain of it all.

She wakes up in the hospital—her fall stopped whatever tragedy was about to befall Gabrielle.

Rowena was taken away and the full story comes out.  After her stay in a mental hospital post-acid throwing, she was released into Catherine’s custody.  The two women went away and were recluses.  “Rowena” died in a fire, tragically.  “Catherine” came back to the hometown and the old house.  But “Catherine” was really “Rowena”–and the scar was from her gouging out her own birthmark so that it would scar and look like the acid burn.  She was the EVIL TWIN!

prom dress evil twinEVIL TWINS….EVIL TWINS EVERYWHERE.

The book closes with an epilogue all in italics.  A woman buys the dresses for her second hand store.  A girl named Natalie goes shopping at said store, and sees the dress.  She’s an aspiring actress and it’s perfect for the upcoming audition.  But it costs too much.  So she slips it into her bag and steals it.

Tomorrow she would wear the dress!

The book ends, and I stand up and applaud.

This.

Was.

AWESOME.

 

Click the link below to see everyone else’s Wicked Wednesday contributions.  And speaking of books, Capturing the Moment is now on sale exclusively at Totally Bound for the next month, and is now available for pre-order from Google Books, Kobo, and iBooks (release date April 26). It is not yet available for pre-order on Amazon or Nook.

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Wicked Wednesday–Things Get Better With Age

I am thirty-seven years old, and will turn thirty-eight this fall. Despite the fact that my breasts are no longer perky, nor am I up for having sex twelve times in a weekend, I would argue that my sex life has improved dramatically with age.

I had sex for the first time at eighteen. My motivations were a mixture of fear of being left behind (I’m the last virgin in the world), being newly single, general horniness, and no small amount of let’s get this over with. My partner was someone I’d only gone out with once or twice, and when he invited me back to his parents’ house to “watch anime,” I was still naive enough to think he actually meant we would watch anime. When we started making out, it was fine. Then he wanted more, and I decided fuck it, why not. He got angry because I’d gotten blood on his sheets and his mom would be suspicious. He was in his twenties.

evangelionThanks for ruining anime for me, bro

I spent eighteen to twenty-five having a lot of sex with a lot of people. While not every choice was a smart one, nor was every experience a safe one, I ultimately have no regrets. Lots of indiscriminate sex allowed me to explore my sexuality. I came to terms with my bisexuality, although it wasn’t as simple as that statement might imply. Through AOL chat rooms (a/s/l?) I played around with identities and talked to people of all ages and kinks, which allowed me to explore things I never could have before the internet.

Although not universally true, the biggest theme of my first decade of sexual experience, though, was validation. I had experienced a lot of rejection growing up, and the appeal of acceptance–particularly from men, was a way to see myself as worthy. This was especially true after I graduated from college, and after my first attempt at grad school blew up in my face. I was no longer receiving grades for my academic scholarship, so I needed a new way to rate my own worthiness.

please clapSort of, but not as sad as Jeb!

Around the age of twenty-six, though, I hit a breaking point. I had spent so much time trying to mold myself into the person my boy/girlfriend of the moment wanted me to be that I was losing myself. Why did I pretend to like sports/cars/nature? Why did I hide my geeky side with some partners, and my girly side with others? Did I want to keep fucking partners indiscriminately (which is a totally a valid choice) or did I want something more long term and monogamous-y? I stayed single for about a year, which at that point felt like forever. In that time I began to come to terms with who I was and what I wanted out life.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after that year(ish) I met Mr. Night. He was the first partner with whom I was truly myself, and with whom I didn’t play mind games. I said this is who I am and what I want, take it or leave it. To his credit, he was approaching our relationship the same way, which cut through all of the typical early relationship bullshit.

In short, we both came to our relationship with the same mindset.

im-getting-too-old-for-this-shit-quote-2You tell ’em, Detective Murtaugh

This is not to say that our relationship has been all rainbows and unicorn stickers. Marriage is hard, and adding kids to the mix is like inviting a nuclear explosion into your life. There have been times when we have more frequent sex, and we have also had droughts, sometimes long ones.

So what makes sex better at thirty-seven than eighteen? Not because my husband has the biggest penis or the tightest body of all the men I’ve been with, nor is he better at oral than most of the women I’ve been with. No, sex is better today because of confidence and self-knowledge.

I know what I like, what I want, and I’m direct in asking for it. I’m not going to expect my partner to be a mind reader, nor does he expect me to be one.  I don’t play I don’t fake orgasms.relationship games.

This isn’t just true inside the bedroom. I think I’m a happier person overall at thirty-seven because I’m just not interested in pretending to be something I’m not.

I am what I amLa Cage Aux Folles said it best

I’m looking forward to growing older. While I’m not excited about the hormonal insanity of menopause, I do look forward to the spike in sex drive and the loss of my fertility and period.

I’m looking forward to my daughters growing up and moving out.

I’m looking forward to retiring with my husband.

I’m looking forward to continuing to grow as a sexual person until the day I die. Preferably of a massive orgasm.

wicked wednesday

Wicked Wednesday–Keep the Shoes On

After a long day of teaching, all I want to do is collapse on our bed and take a nap. Yawning, I unlock the door to the house. I’m too tired to put anything where it belongs–my keys, purse, shoes, and bag full of the night’s grading land in a drunken pile at the bottom of the stairs.

I stumble up  to the bedroom and stop short.

 

DSC_1051

Laid out in a silent order are a black lacy bra and panties, a white men’s dress shirt, and a pair of black stilettos I’d never seen before. On my bedside table is a tube of a lipstick far redder than anything I’d ever consider buying, and a note.

Put it on and send me pictures.

I contemplate taking a nap before following your command. I can always obey in an hour or two. I often stay late at the high school to grade, so it’s not like you’d know I’d been a bad girl. Your side of the bed is uncluttered. I shed my work clothes and stretch out on top of the white and green duvet.

I can’t fall asleep.

The gnawing guilt over ignoring an order from you is not unlike the sound of the Tell-Tale Heart from the Edgar Allen Poe story I dissected with my sixth period class a few hours before. I look at them and wonder if it’s possible for inanimate objects to glare back. My nap is never going to happen if I don’t put the damn things on and do what I’ve been told.

Grumpily, I dress, leaving the shoes for last. I’d worn flats all day, and my feet are already sore. Stilettos are a one-way-ticket to limping for the rest of the night. But I know better than to think they’re optional.

“Let’s get this the fuck over with,” I mutter and put on the clothes, leaving off the shoes for now.

DSC_1066

I carry the instruments of torture, the lipstick, and my cellphone into our bathroom. I paint my lips, and am surprised by how much I like the color. I hold up my cell and snap a photo and immediately delete it–you won’t accept the sullen look on my face, that the shirt is hiding the bra and panties, or the lack of shoes. I undo all the buttons of the shirt, and admit that my reflection looks sexier. I take down my hair, and shake it out–better.

Time to step into the shoes. Despite all my whining, I have to admit that they change the entire look. The stilettos take me from girl next door cute to sultry siren. I lift my phone, and my expression is one of deep satisfaction. I send it to you and walk back to the bed. No, I don’t walk–I strut.

My phone beep with an incoming text.

You can do better than a bathroom selfie, Sarah.

You’re right, I can.

I’m not tired anymore. When I lay down on the bed, I have no thoughts of sleep. I sprawl on the bed and try to take a selfie, but I can only get sections of my body.  I lay on my stomach and hold the phone over my back, hoping to get the black lace of the panties peeking out from the bottom of the shirt, and my crossed legs. It’s not a success, either.

I decide to channel my inner forties pin-up girl. I lay on my back and scoot toward the head of the bed until my butt is almost against our headboard and my feet are up in the air, resting against the wall. I arrange my shirt artfully, and set up the photo. I’m confident you’ll like this one.

DSC_1064

Despite my original intentions, all I want to do on this bed now is you. You have a case in the city today, so I’ll have to wait hours for your touch. Looking up at the fuck-me heels, I decide to pass the time in the most pleasurable way possible, and reach into my panties.

“That’s my girl.”

Startled, I turn my head. You were in the house the entire time.

You’re wearing a black mesh gown that leaves nothing to the imagination, and a pair of stilettos identical to mine, except in silver. My mouth waters in anticipation.

“I knew you’d be too tired to fuck me when you got home. But I also knew that once you put on those heels, it would be all you’d want to do,” you smirk.

“Come here,” I say, before adding “and keep the shoes on.”

wicked wednesday

Wicked Wednesday:The challenge of writing a threesome

I’m a little late for Wicked Wednesday (it’s just after noon on Thursday here in Singapore, but it’s still Wednesday in many parts of the world), but I still want to talk about threesomes.

The first time I remember imagining a threesome, I was still a teenager. I was really into Nelson (the band with the twin brothers fronting it) years after they were a mainstream success. Much as teens today are #teamwhoever in a YA love triangle, I found myself struggling to figure out which of the twins I liked more, basing my opinion of the day on whatever teen magazine I read.

after the rain

It was the first time I thought “maybe I don’t have to choose,” and proceeded to make out with my pillow (as one does) pretending it was one and then the other or not caring which one I was kissing. I didn’t have the language to say I was fantasizing about a threesome because the pre-Internet world was a very different world.

With twenty-odd years of experience, I can see the evolution of my interest in threesomes as well as my understanding of all the various permutations of acts and bodies. However, I’ve yet to incorporate one into a story since making the shift to professional author, and that’s because it’s very hard to write a good threesome.

 

When you write an m/f sex scene you can use their names or the pronouns he/she to make it clear who is doing what at any given moment.

Things get a little more tricky when you’re writing a 2 person sex scene with people who identify as the same gender. Pronouns are much less useful–which s/he? Body parts become ambiguous–who’s dick is that? In writing Love is a Virus I learned that you end up using character names in same-sex erotica a lot more frequently than in m/f sex scenes.

Threesomes take the difficulty of writing a same-sex erotic scene and dial it up a notch. Either two or three of the participants will identify as the same gender. You now have three mouths, six hands, six nipples (and possibly some number of breasts) and three sets of genitalia. It is a delicate balancing act to ensure that the reader is keeping track of the participants, even if the characters themselves are not.

Is your threesome your character and their partner with a “guest star,” or are you writing a polyamorous relationship, or a triad? This affects the chemistry and the interaction each person has with the others.

Writing erotic romance with two characters is hard, but with three you have to contend with issues of jealousy, whether someone’s family can know about the relationship, the relationship dynamics of three people, and so forth.

One of the authors I’ve seen execute this well is Alisha Rai in Glutton for Pleasure (which also features male twins).

This is not to discourage you from writing threesomes–people enjoy them in life and in fantasy–but rather to get you thinking about how to write a threesome scene that works on all the levels.

wicked wednesday

Wicked Wednesday–Advert “Don’t Get Rubbed the Wrong Way”

Very little bothers me when it comes to using sex to sell things. Yes, I often find it annoying and pandering to the male gaze, but I have bigger battles to fight. Objectification is a microagression that is worth calling out, but it doesn’t make me so mad I can’t see straight.  However, several years ago there was an advertisement here in Singapore that got me very angry.

Singapore Ad

I was minding my own business, walking through a mall, when I saw the poster above taking up an entire wall. I stopped. I gaped. I tooka picture of the poster and sent it to the Facebook chat my two closest friends in Singapore and I have going 24/7 with the following comment:

What the actual fuck?

I wasn’t the only person who noticed and got mad. The ad went viral, showing up in US and European media. Slutwalk Singapore complained to the relevant government agency and got the following answer in return

Many thanks for taking time to read our NCPC adverts developed for our festive season crime prevention campaign.

In response to SlutWalker Singapore x Kuala Lumpur’s comment on the outrage of modesty (OM) poster, we would like to share that the messages were crafted to address the public in general. Through this advertising campaign, we hope to
remind people to take extra precaution so that they do not become victims of crime during this festive season. This same approach is taken for our other messages – burglary, pickpocketing & housebreaking.

We hope that we have addressed your concerns.

We wish to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy New Year.

Regards,
NCPC Administrative

source

(emphasis mine)

The reductive message that getting groped is somehow the victim’s fault for wearing the wrong thing in public is unacceptable. Nor is using  “humor” to make light of what it’s like to be groped. Being groped can be anything from an unwanted pat on the ass or touch on your breast to full-fledged sexual assault. It’s not something to make light of, or blame the victim for.

There are many things I like about Singapore. But the entrenched sexism and victim blaming isn’t one of them

On the microaggression level, when I was giving Ms 7 her practice spelling test for this week, these were the following example sentences given for the words prince and princess. I’m from Massachusetts, which is one of the more progressive states in the US–as a former teacher I can tell you these example sentences would not be considered acceptable.

Prince—The prince saved the princess from the fire-breathing dragon. (I changed princess to prisoner.)

Princess–The princess screamed helpless form the tower. (I drew a line through it and changed it to “The princess saved herself.”)

But in Singapore, we have so many big issues that the microagressions are the least of our problems.

In Singapore, it’s not rape if it’s forced oral, anal, if anything other than a penis enters a vagina, or if the person doing the raping is your husband. Men/boys can’t be raped under the law.

This week a fourteen year old boy was accused of raping a girl. The police questioned him at length (at which point I learned that in Singapore a minor may be interrogated without a parent/guardian/representation) until he finally said he did it. That night he told his mother he only confessed because the police made him feel as though he had no other choice. Then he committed suicide by jumping out of his window on the fourteenth story of the building. The coverage and comments either paint him as an the victim of a slutty girl or an evil rapist or her as a slut as either a virgin or a slut who “wanted it”. There is no understanding that there could be two victims in this case.

Singapore is a conservative patriarchy. As a liberal feminist and the mother of two girls, I often find myself at odds with the establishment here. I’m fortunate that many of my friends are activists, so I see the grassroots resistance that is growing with each year. As a Permanent Resident (the equivalent of a green card holder in the US) I have the right to join with my friends at events like Slutwalk Singapore, Pink Dot, and the like. I am trying to be a good ally to Singaporeans resisting the dominant culture. But there are days and moments like this that I wonder if I’m making the right choice in raising them here as opposed to Boston. (Disclaimer, the US is hardly awesome on women’s issues, but by comparison…)

When I see an advertisement that uses sex to sell a car or beer or an ISP, I could care less.

But advertisements like this one? Ads that warn me not to get groped, or raped? These are worth getting furious over. These actively reinforce rape culture. Those make me outraged.

wicked wednesday

I went into a condom store in Japan. Here’s what I found… (Wicked Wednesday)

I started to write this in September 2015, after we’d visited Tokyo, Japan, but as you guys know, 2015 sucked and I mostly retreated into myself/was dealing with my health issues. So when I saw that the prompt for Wicked Wednesday this week is condoms, I knew it was time to finish and publish this post.

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Yesterday we wandered around the Harajuku area of Tokyo, which was the one place I’ve been where my newly turquoise hair fit right in. That said, later that night, an elderly woman would turn the corner in a subway station, look at my blue hair, gasp and put her hands over her mouth, and shriek in horror at the sight of my blue hair. Bearers of crazy hair colors–your mileage may vary in Tokyo.

Toward the end of our day, we saw Condomania. I’ve checked out sex stores in London (England), Auckland (New Zealand), Singapore (Singapore), and throughout the US. Much like I enjoy checking out grocery stores as I travel to see the differences, I also like to see how sex toys and condoms are marketed differently in new places.

Here are some of my favorite things

condomania 6Condoms packaged with Haribo gummy bears for a post coital snack

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Ms. 7’s favorite stationary store sells erasers that look identical to these condoms.

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Super cute condoms with teddy bears on them

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I bought Mr. Delilah Night one of these. He says he *lost* it. Which is sad because it looked so fascinating, I wanted to know what it was like to use it.

Given that we live in a world where Donald Trump is very likely going to be a serious presidential candidate, I feel the need to caution readers not to jump to conclusions about Japanese sex toy stores–American sex toys stores are full of equally wacky and wonderful products. I cherry picked these examples from a wide range of products.

wicked wednesdayClick the button to find links to other Wicked Wednesday posts about condoms!