â€œScrew the Roses, Send Me the Thornsâ€ was not the first book I have ever read on BDSM.Â When I first started getting interested in BDSM, the internet was my guide, some of it useful, some of it ridiculous, everyone had an opinion.Â I then read â€œDifferent Lovingâ€ and â€œSensuous Magicâ€, both excellent books relating to power exchange, the first being a series of â€œcase studiesâ€ of real lifestylers by Brame, Brame and Jacobs, and the second a more subjective, yet open look into the BDSM lifestyle by sex radical, educator and writer Patrick Califia.
â€œScrew the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochismâ€ by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon is very subjective, written by a male dominant and submissive female couple and first published in 1995.Â It has been hailed as the go-to guide into power exchange relationships and even the BDSM bible.Â Today, the book is fairly dated as both the images and the text will attest, yet there is still a lot of relevant information inside.Â It is written in first person as both Phillip and Molly write various parts of each section, each relating it to their personal experience and power dynamic.Â The tone is friendly and tries to use humor quite a bit which tends to be a bit kitschy at times. The book is also a bit sexist, as Phillip seems to have his own ideas of male and female roles, including sections entitled: “Phillip’s Treehouseâ€”No Girls Allowed” and “Molly’s Quilting Bee,” in which only the males or females in each relationship are supposed to read each part.Â No doubt these dynamics work well for this couple and many others, but I found the tone, the sexism and the sometimes tasteless humor to be sometimes off-putting and found myself rolling my eyes a lot while reading it.
Having said that, this is a good introductory book for those searching to learn the basics of BDSM relationships, but it is by no means the BDSM bible.Â It does teach many different aspects of the power exchange relationship, but bear in mind that it is subjective so to get a full education, read many books on the subject, learn from your own personal experiences and get a mentor if you can and come to your own conclusions.
What you will learn in Screw the Roses
Page from Screw the Roses
Chapter One defines the BSDM terms and roles, which is fairly basic, yet sometimes confusing.Â It states the difference between a Top/bottom and Dom/sub and the interchangeability of these roles.Â Chapter Two talks about communication and trust as well as the psychological aspects of a relationship, all practical advice and Chapter Three gives resources on where to find play partners (the internet!). Chapter Four discusses negotiations, levels in the power exchange (including unrealistic situations), and limits and has a sample negotiation questionnaire which has now become the standard.Â Chapter Five delves deeper in the male/female roles and how men and women should connect with alternate aspects of themselves, ie: their anima and animus.Â Chapter Six introduces the reader into various types of sensation, pain and edge play, whereas Chapter Seven and Eight are all about bondage.Â Â Chapters Nine and Ten focus on percussion play and discipline, while Chapter Eleven deals with endorphins, pain as pleasure and sub-space.Â Chapter Twelve talks about the more psychological elements of BDSM play such as verbal abuse, humiliation, and degradation.Â The final Chapter gives you ideas on how to furnish your play space and the end of the book features a Glossary and several Appendixes with resources, many of which will be now obsolete.
Most of the sections are fairly comprehensive and most people, even advanced players will no doubt find useful information in it.Â I especially enjoyed the part that described the Doms and subs you should avoid with monikers like: Divina Nolo Mentis, Autoerotico Fabula, Neandrathal Vulgaris, and Femme Desparata.Â While these caricatures are tongue-in-cheek, it is amazing how you can find their likeness in â€œrealâ€ scene players so easily.Â Another myth the authors discount is the 24/7 lifestyle Master/slave relationship which they say is too much pressure, unrealistic and unhealthy, and for the most part Iâ€™d have to agree. Â I have rarely seen people live these roles constantly in a relationship and last very long.Â Not to mention that relationships evolve and dynamics change.
So, there are some great pointers in this book, lots of useful info and plenty to read, if you can get past the POV, kitschy humor, and sometimes egotistical sexism.Â And, donâ€™t forget there are a lot of varying perspectives, so read other books on the subject, join your local BDSM group when you feel ready, and find a good mentor to help you learn the ropes.
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