(Part of the series that continues from here.)
The progress of O's training over the course of Story of O is reflected at certain key points directly in the state of her anus. Indeed, I'm reasonably sure, though I've never seen confirmation of it, that Réage named O herself after the tight little ring that is Sir Stephen's preferred way to enjoy her, as well as after the word objet (object).
As I think I've already written somewhere else on this blog, one of my many favorite moments in the book is when Anne-Marie topples O over a table, outside, and verifies without O saying anything that Sir Stephen uses "the narrower passage" with greatest frequency.
Reading that scene, at age 18, still a virgin up front, let alone in back, I had of course grown very wet, blushing furiously there in the bookstore, willing myself to put the book back on the shelf but unable to stop reading. (This was perhaps the fifth time I had returned to that shelf, still unable to face the cashier holding Story of O, with its white cover that pulsed scarlet in my imagination.) The precise nature of my arousal deserves some attention, for I think I can discern in it the beginning of the process so familiar to me now both from my many, many readings of Story of O and from my undertaking a real, corporeal form of it at the hands of my husband.
I flooded my modest blue underwear (probably it was blue; no, of course I don't remember exactly which panties I was wearing that day, but if I recall the make-up of my top drawer at that age correctly, the law of averages favors light blue) reading that scene at the thought that my own anus might someday bear the signs of my Master's use of it. That thought was then, and has continued to be over the years, a nearly perfect crystallization of the condition to which my erotic--not my ethical--self yearns to be called, over and over: every night, in my husband's bed, used for his pleasure and precisely not for my own, degraded but made worthy by that very degradation, marked out most shamefully as his property.
Note: my desire was not to be taken, but to have been taken. When I do lie over the bolster, and yield my ass up to Charles, what's hot about it for me is not actually the feeling of him there, or even the unique, breathtaking fullness that I and other writers seem to return to again and again when we describe the act of anal sex (though certainly that's not without its hotness!). What's really, searing hot about it is the (for me) unbearably arousing fantasy that my Master has by taking me that way transformed me into something new--his ass-wife, who will from henceforth bear the signs of that new status.
The extraordinary paradox of anal training is that it enacts a transformation that, every time you undergo it, is both complete and incomplete. "Training" implies a regime, an ongoing process that progressively prepares you to do something better and better. On one level, anal training only prepares you to undergo more anal training: Emily can take the widest part of her butt-plug now, so it's time to buy a new butt-plug--maybe with ridges, or something.
On a deeper, more important level, though, anal training prepares you to fulfill yourself erotically. To live from the center of your submissive soul. When you have been trained that way by your Master, you bear his signs, but you are also worthy to bear more of them, and better. That's why O is branded at the end of her stay at Samois, Anne-Marie's chateau, and it's why, in another memorable scene there, on the night before O's branding Anne-Marie can't stop fondling the smooth, tender skin on the incurving of O's bottom-cheeks, the places that will receive the brands, and takes dominant delight in showing O the spot in the mirror.
I say in EXPLORATIONS that branding isn't a turn-on for me (it's my rationalizing justification for my watersports material, actually--which is one of the few areas where I actually seem to have fantasies that don't come from Story of O), but the brief scene in Anne-Marie's bed the night before the branding is desperately arousing for me. If I can be forgiven for assimilating O's branding to anal training (and I think I can, because O is branded in the place on her body where she's branded precisely because Sir Stephen has decreed that his favorite path of pleasure be marked that way forever, as his property): both Réage's account of Anne-Marie's cherishing the unmarked, tender spot, and the remarkable piquancy of that moment in the text for me, originate in the very essence of submission, translated to the register of the anus: submissive pleasure arises in the moment of being possessed, whether that possession comes in the form of penetration (of any orifice) or of beating (with any given implement, on any given erogenous zone) or of any of the many other acts of signification a Master might wish to impose (branding, tattooing, certain kinds of jewelry). Here's the strange, important thing, though: The moment of possession bridges the time-gap between the anticipation of being possessed and the state of being possessed; the moment of possession exists only in that bridging--in terms of a spanking-scene (perhaps the easiest and most familiar sort of example) it exists in the bridge between "lay yourself over the [bed, chair, lap, ottoman, etc.]" and corner-time; the delicious, panty-wetting dread of "I'm going to be spanked" and the delicious warmth of "he spanked me, and now I'm his, and he's going to exercise his rights, and now he's exercising his rights, hard, so as to tell me that I am valuable to him in my submission; and now I'm ***COMING***" (caps, bold, stars, because as far as I'm concerned, this is the only fantasy-moment that produces the kind of orgasm that makes me feel like I've touched as much of the hem of God's garment as mortals are allowed to touch).
The time-gap I mean is really a fantasy-gap--a gap in the imagination that is always open, I think, between innocence and experience, between purity and degradation, and (in the feminine register) between virgin and whore. Being claimed and possessed--that is, being forced from one side of the gap to the other, is the crystalline structure of BDSM, on the submissive side of the coin. We submissives, after all, have always been both virgin and whore: "treat me like a princess and fuck me like a whore" hasn't become the odd sort of rallying cry it has for nothing.
That moment of possession, when it comes in the form of anal training, bridges that gap by demonstrating--sometimes very forcefully demonstrating--that our tiny, innocent rosebuds can be opened, and made experienced, and that we, no matter how hidden those rosebuds are between our bottom-cheeks, yearn to have them opened--that we really are whores, and not virgins. And the way our tiny, innocent rosebuds become all tiny again, and are once more hidden in their secret valleys, and under our panties, and under our skirts--that means that we really are virgins, too.
The gap itself is the pain of the violation. I'm with Réage on that, in a memorable passage where O realizes that she doesn't like being whipped, but she does like waiting to be whipped, and having been whipped. Perhaps I'll write more about that sometime soon, but I think Réage there uncovers something that otherwise might be hard to locate, or describe, because our minds are so very good at putting the layer of fantasy over the reality of what's happening. When my Master is stretching my poor little rosebud around something much too big for it, I don't think I can be alone in really not enjoying the actual sensation of it (in this characteristic, at least for me, anal training is unlike much of the experience of spanking, in which, until the real pain starts, the mild sting of a spank comes through almost as a kind of caress). What I enjoy to distraction, though, and what makes me desperate to touch myself, or squeeze my thighs together, or rub my clit against something, anything, is the fantasy I automatically lay over the sensation: I am being trained for Master; Master is leaving his mark upon me; Master is possessing me.