I just finished reading a novel that I never dreamed in a million years I would download and read in nearly one sitting, let alone purchase and know that I owned. And as soon as I'm able, I'll probably make this an annual re-read, much like I do with various other favorites.
The novel in question is The Coldest Winter Ever, by Sister Souljah. It was suggested to me by my friend Josh.
What does a novel set in Brooklyn focused on crime, poverty, and incarceration written by a former hip-hop artist and community activist have to do with dominance, submission, and BDSM? Well, ok, there's some freaky sex in it, and Winter does make a sex movie while on a date, but that's beside the point, and furthermore, the freaky sex and aforementioned tape have nothing to do with D/s or BDSM.
The characters in this novel are dealing with their own servitude--to drugs, to the cops, to the streets. But it isn't servitude that they CHOOSE to participate in. Some do, but most don't. At least, as long as the money's rolling in. And oh, how the money rolls in this novel!
But it's how Sister Souljah inserts herself as a character into this novel, and what she has to say about women, that impresses me the most. OK, there are other things that impressed me too--no typographical errors, completely believable situations and action, raw dialog, a storyline that makes no apologies and pulls no punches, prose so tight it could make diamonds--but the following quote, delivered by Sister Souljah herself to a group of incarcerated women in an HIV wing, was what really got me to thinking:
"But really, we women don't have to do anything to be beautiful. It's a gift from God, the Woman is. Every right decision brings us blessings. Every wrong decision brings us pain. And then, when times get hard, our struggle and our pain shows on our faces and our bodies. When people see our pain and weakness in our face, they say, 'She used to be fine, she used to be this, she used to be that.' When men feel our beauty has faded we become shocked at how well they ignore us and forget us. We'll do anything to get their attention, money, love. Can I suck your dick? Can I do anything? Can I, can I? What is a community without you, the mothers?. . . If we plan well, we will be in control of our lives instead of being controlled for the rest of our lives."
I included the entire quote because I feel it doesn't just apply to "vanilla" folk. It's those first 2 sentences that really did it for me. It's also the last sentence--about planning, being in control rather than being controlled--that also struck a chord within me, and got me to thinking.
Now, much of the plot line really is directed more through action, and I have a feeling that Sister Souljah may not be all that familiar with Our World of D/s and BDSM. Completely ok, I dig that. But that is one of the more beautiful quotes from the story. I especially liked that she stated that Woman is a gift from God. I believe that more women need to find and get into deep, intimate contact with their inner Domme. Now granted, there's a lot that's out of control in this world, and especially within this novel. The ones who do control everything seem to be the men--the dealers, Santiaga, Bullet, the bodyguards for the rappers, and yes, of course, the cops who are on some local gangster's "protection payroll" for the neighborhood. It is when Sister Souljah herself shows up, proves that she has control of any given situation, and shows true, feminine strength that is the shining light in this book. She only apologizes when she needs to. She is honest. She puts up with absolutely no bullshit and she handles herself with grace and dignity. I just wish her main character in her novel, Winter, could have handled herself the same way.
I also know many women who are a lot like Winter--shallow, demanding, and thinking the world owes them and some man can work for them to give them these things, rather than going out and doing it for themselves. The women in this novel have men at their feet--but at what price? Sure, Santiaga buys his wife whatever she wants--hell, she doesn't just ask, she demands it. but it's her demanding attitude that becomes her undoing as Santiaga gets sloppy and begins losing control. But it's the false idea that she controls him--with hot sex, insane demands, and greed--rather than the other way around. When Santiaga the drug kingpin goes to jail on federal charges, The Feds take everything--the house, the car, the nice neighborhood on Long Island, and even what cash was in the family's safe. Because Santiaga made his money through other people's servitude through addiction, everything the family had--wasn't even theirs to begin with, according to the US Marshals. Winter tries to give the illusion that she's in control behind the scenes, but it's really her man controlling her. When she's arrested on accomplice to conspiracy charges, the real criminals get away scot-free. But she was there, with her name on the credit card that rented the car where the cops found the guns and drugs when she got into a street fight, and it was her ass they locked up.
So--who controls you, and do you give this freedom willingly?
This is a definite must-read, if you're so inclined. Enjoy!