“Push The Button” is not an antidote to “Fifty Shades of Grey” fever, but this BDSM book will leave you longing for something much better.
Author Feminista Jones says she wrote and self-published her first novel to counteract the irresponsible ways in which BDSM was portrayed in “Fifty Shades,” by the book's protagonist Christian Grey.
“He’s trying to find redemption in this woman who he forced into this position,” says Jones. “I was troubled that there were people consuming this and thinking this is what BDSM is all about.”
“I wanted to tell a story of people just like all of us… who happen to like to snuff each other with pillows,” says Jones.
The story finds it’s rooting in the relationship between Nicole and David, two 30-something black Americans with corporate jobs and average lives. They indulge their sexual and emotional selves in a relationship that’s built on honesty, consent and acceptance of one another’s kinks.
“I’m interested in showing black women being loved. As black women we have been through so much historically that it’s trendy to hate back women.”
“Push The Button” is a unique take because it provides a healthier illustration of BDSM lifestyle and explores the dynamic between a black man and a black woman engaging in this type of love.
Nicole introduces David to “The Life,”—the BDSM lifestyle—and invites him to dominate her. Having the woman introduce the man to “The Life” was an intentional decision for the author—tales of dominant men picking up and turning out submissive and unsure women saturate BDSM erotica, films, and narratives.
“I was pushing some buttons of standard writers of BDSM literature because I'm trying to challenge all of that. To have a woman, a professional woman, choosing to submit to someone she introduced into this lifestyle, I think it was something we don't see very often. And I want to represent those women who do.”
Nicole doesn’t have to choose between her dignity and her feminism. She doesn't have to substitute her consent for his comfort. She is loved, celebrated, and intimate.
“For me, writing a story in which a black woman, a professional, a feminist, is sure of herself—confident—is being loved and adored by a black man…that to me is resistance because I think black love is revolutionary,” says Jones.
Jones was very intentional about displaying black love, in a social climate where black lives and black love are seemingly dismissed and attacked. “I’m interested in showing black women being loved. As black women we have been through so much historically that it’s trendy to hate back women.”
Yes, David dominates her. His domination is an expression of his love for her, his willingness to give her what she wants and needs to feel fulfilled.
At the release event for “PTB” Jones asked the fans and friends, “When you think of black feminist, sex positive, kinky—who do you think of?” No question—it’s Feminista. The writer is widely known for her online persona, but Jones also worked as the Love & Sex editor at BlogHer and a mental health social work administrator.
“You read the tweets and don't know I'm fun. And I'm nasty. I wrote the book to show that it's not as alternative as you think,” she joked during her book release event in a Harlem restaurant -- complete with waitresses wearing collars and a burlesque dancer performing to Prince.
Feminista anticipated “newbies” coming into the BDSM scene due to the popularity of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and wanted them to know how to know abuse and manipulation when they see it. Before Nicole found David, she was in a loving yet abusive relationship with her previous dominant boyfriend, Marcus. Nicole loved Marcus, and relished his sadistic side, but she grew afraid of him and he lashed out at her and crossed her line of consent.
Jones’ work with domestic violence informed this decision as she carefully crafted this image of an abusive relationship, and the necessity of a light at the end of a tunnel of abuse—a light that too many black women never get to see. Love doesn’t mean you can’t still have an abusive situation.
“For my own spiritual happiness, I needed to show a happy, loved black woman who endured that but escaped. So many of us don't get away. I wanted to show a woman who can get away from that and not have it rob her of her joy, could make her happy.”
“Push The Button” came to life in a roundabout way. In 2012 Jones decided to write a counter-narrative vignette to “50 Shades” on her blog, feministajones.com, employing her deep and intimate knowledge of the BDSM scene. The sexy one-shot featured Nicole and David, a submissive and Dominant couple respectively, having cybersex via Skype at his command, and her pleasure.
After she finished the short story, Jones washed her hands of it and walked away from the keyboard. But people read it, and they wanted more.
A few months later, the story had amassed thousands of fans. From that point forward, on every major holiday, Feminista released a chapter. The anticipation mounted over two years, and chapter 11 had 2,800 downloads on the first day.
“You read the tweets and don't know I'm fun. And I'm nasty. I wrote the book to show that it's not as alternative as you think.”
“Imagine if I’d charged a dollar per download,” Jones mused at the book release. After over two years of releasing chapters, she removed it from the blog. If readers wanted more, they’d have to pay for it. Today she’s sold more than 1,200 copies as paperback and ebook.
With the popularity of PTB, Jones is working on a sequel. The first chapter is in the can and she’s pushing forward. Jones is ready for the next crop of new readers looking for sexy, creative, consensual escapist literature. She’s thinking outside the heteronormative box for her next installment.
“[The Lesbian sisters are asking,] ‘can we get something for us?’ Let’s address the needs of the queer women who have been craving something for them,” says Jones.
Jones is thinking deeper and darker stories for the next installment of “Push The Button,” but the spirit of black love, survival and consensual sex will remain.