A Pseudonym, Story of ‘Story of O’
O is being driven into a chateau by her boyfriend, blindfolded, being tortured without any explanation. Histoire d’O is a novel portraying violence, sex with whips, chains and furs.
The significance of Histoire d’O is the fact that it had been written by a woman. When it was published in 1954, the French female writer Dominique Aury (a.k.a Pauline Reage, a.k.a Anne Desclos) kept her identity secret. The book was considered to be written by a man, won the prize Prix des Deux Magot and was adapted into a film in 1975. There have been controversies; some say Aury created it as a challenge to her boyfriend, publisher Jean Paulhan, the others point out that it was a love letter.
I started to read the book just a week ago by the curiosity of Sontag mentioning the main character O as active, although being under bondage. On the contrary, the main female character of Bataille’s Story of the Eye, Simone, is much more vibrant by having joyous moments of/by/with forms, rather than reclining with her back whipped in furs and thinking as O does. Concurrently O is acknowledged to be active by fulfilling her sadomasochist desires.
Last week in Kino Central Berlin, in Virtual Realities Film Week, there was an interesting documentary about queer feminist porn, Sisterhood by Marit Östberg. It is also another way of women/feminist women/lesbian feminist women dealing with the issue of gaze, the issue of who is watching who. Although I observed sadly that people avoiding prototypes may create new prototypes by trying to gather as communes, it is essential for women to write about their body and their sexuality; generate a ‘female gaze’ through their own lenses.