The storm over the disappearance and apparent hijacking of Candace’s blog “Woman Rules Roost” has abated and now that Candace seems to have resurfaced on the FLR forums, the blogworld will eventually forget the tempest in a teapot – partly because the virtual world has a short memory, if not attention span; and partly because some of us are not going to dwell on our theories explaining her abandonment of not only herblog , but of the FLR/Femdom community. I confess to having had my own ill-founded explanation that proved just as wrong as the idea that she was masquerading as either another blogger, a man, or an academic researcher. Frankly, I’m glad that she proved to be just a person who realized that she was losing the focus on the relationship while letting the blog itself direct her attentions.
But that said, I don’t really want to write about Candace or her blog per se. Oh, I did want to a couple of weeks ago, but social obligations, marriage and family life, and the bete noir of actually needing to run a business have kept me from writing much of anything in the last month except a few sparse comments on other blogs. But since her reported appearance (and I want to note that I am not a member of that forum, but do not have any reason to doubt the several people who have purported to have read her posts), I’ve taken a step back to think about not Candace herself, but about the overall phenonemon. In the last three months I’ve seen posts and articles about Candace in which the tone has ranged from the high praise usually reserved for poet laureates, to outright scorn. She’s moving too quickly along the Femdom road to be real. She’s moving too slowly. She’s a model for all other women. She’s not a true domme. She should cuckold her husband. She’s obviously monogamous. She should put him in chastity. She should deny him sexually. Etc., etc.
Even more interesting have been the comments I’ve read since her blog was hijacked after a couple of weeks of inactivity. “Textual integrity” and “emotional realism” are the ones that have stuck in my mind over the last couple of weeks, probably as a result of some misspent youthful years in graduate school where such terms were bandied about regularly over late-night coffees. Additionally, a number of people who had probably not given it much thought suddenly found themselves wondering if they’d been duped or somehow cheated; as if a well-written blog implied a certain trust that had been shattered. Furthermore, the growing attitude of doubtfulness about her “reality” spawned a question that I don’t think anyone really asked:
What does it really matter?
While a few of us in the virtual world may interact with others in real life, the overwhelming majority of us will never see, hear, taste or touch one another. We are all real only in the virtual sense; and because the blogging and forum worlds are still essentially a print, i.e., textual medium, then we all have the “reality” of Madame Bovary, “O”, or by way of further example, Sherlock Holmes. That is, without any physical attributes to consider, we – out of expediency or otherwise – invest a certain amount of emotional reality into all of our online acquaintances. I don’t, however, see this as necessarily a bad thing overall. We, as a culture, have always imbued characters – real, historic, or literary – with qualities and characteristics that we ourselves idealize. We identify with them, or sometimes with the people who interact with them; but we process the stories about them with the assumption that they could be alive, perhaps sitting next to us.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes stories as serials in the Strand magazine for almost fifteen years. He grew tired of the detective stories, believing that they kept him from more serious endeavors, and so arranged to “kill” Holmes in an encounter with arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Immediately, he and the magazine were flooded with angry letters from people who were appalled, hurt, saddened by the “death” of so great a man. One woman wrote, calling him, Doyle, a “murderer.” Yes, on one hand it would be easy to dismiss this as the cognitive dissonance of the clueless, but who among us hasn’t had similar – albeit lesser – emotional reactions to books or films? Anyone who has read “The Yearling” or “Old Yeller” as a child must remember the sad scenes even today. Likewise, we’ve all probably seen films with very positive or upbeat endings which found us leaving the theaters feeling energized and motivated. At no time do we stop ourselves in the action to remind ourselves, “Oh, it’s only a movie, there’s no point in feeling anything.”
Over the last several months people – us – left comments on Candace’s blog, read and responded to comments she left on other blogs, and even discussed her, her blog, and her relationship in our own blogs. We acted as if she were real, because to us – the FLR/Femdom blogging world – she was real. As far as I know, up until a few weeks ago nobody suggested that she – or anyone else, for that matter – was actually a grad student working on a project, or that WRR really was being written by other well- or lesser-known bloggers . Then suddenly a mysterious disappearance and we feel… what? After reading some of the discussions and comments, for some reason I’m reminded of a passage from an old Kurt Vonnegut novel in which the author writes something like, “The people, having been promised nothing, felt cheated, having received nothing.”
I will admit to being sad, and maybe a little frustrated that Candace completely took the blog down. It is my contention that while there are plenty of resources for people already involved with the BDSM community, there are precious few that address the needs of those balancing on the edge of vanilla and peering over into the abyss. Woman Rules Roost is – was – one of the few examples of a woman writing about her own experience and exploration as she tries to make sense of an alternative sexuality, and indeed begins to come to grips with the concept of taking her own pleasure out of doing so, instead of merely catering to the whims of her partner.
Most of the blogs that I’ve read are written from perspective of the male submissive or bottom – perhaps because a desire to “submit” to pain, humiliation, orgasm denial, or other sexual domination seems to run counter to what we perceive as “normal” (or at least, “typical”) in our culture. I have also noticed that virtually any woman who blogs or posts to other forums populated by submissive men almost immediately will gain following, including half a dozen men who will ask her how they might get their own wife to be more dominant . I’ve often wondered about the economics of this, as it seems that there are many more submissive men than there are dominant women.
Regardless, there are all too few resources for couples wishing to explore these avenues that are written in a fashion that allows the readers to feel safe and comfortable. Candace offered up an example of D/s that was very safe; a Femdom “lite”; and for those who read her somewhat introspective tales, one developed the “feeling” that she was a real person. It was easy to imbue her with an emotional reality because she had qualities that one could easily imagine in one’s self. Real or not, with the demise of Woman Rules Roost, there is now one less resource, and those of us on that vanilla edge are that much more diminished.