Speaking as a man (and I am qualified to do that) I enjoy reading anthologies like Please Ma’am.
Please Ma’am, as the title suggests, is a collection of short stories devoted to the theme of male submission. Powerful women are the focus of interest, and the male protagonist’s overwhelming desire for a powerful woman drives the story.
Of course, all stories need conflict to make them work and the conflict within the stories in Please Ma’am is most often the central character’s internalised processes. Desire drives him to want the dominating female, and want to please her, but the transgression of societal norms makes it difficult for him to acknowledge and accept these desires.
Under less judicious editorial control this could lead to a pattern of similarity that might be repetitive. But Rachel Kramer Bussel is too canny to court such accusations. The variety of approaches to this theme are broad, varied and wholly entertaining.
Take, for instance, Sommer Marsden’s ‘Thrift Store Whore.’ Sommer Marsden is an accomplished short story teller and ‘Thrift Store Whore’ is replete with her trademark combination of quality fiction set sizzling by detailed, delightful sex. The central conflict in this story is the narrator’s need to be obedient to his partner, even when his partner makes demands that go beyond being reasonable.
Then there’s Craig J Sorensen’s ‘Modern Major General.’ Craig builds the dynamics between his protagonist and antagonist to a credible and practical level. If an employer physically chastises an employee there are rules and protocols that can be followed if the employee isn’t happy with that discrimination. And Craig, in blistering form, shows that there are also procedures that can be followed if both parties are content with the arrangement.
‘Inside the Pride,’ by Remittance Girl, takes the action onto a university campus and a team of devoted doctorates. Again, the central conflict comes from the clash between desire for a central female character and the male protagonist’s unfamiliarity with such relationships. And, again, the story is vibrant, interesting and amazingly sexy.
For anyone who harbours a love for strong women, Please Ma’am is this summer’s essential reading material. Go out and buy it, before the domineering lady turns that suggestion into a command.
© 2010 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.