A Date Night for the Gawds
Last Friday, Hubby and I finally had a date night. We attended the book release party for Feminista Jones’ first novel, Push the Button. Trust me when I say, it was worth paying for the baby sitter and the trip to Harlem.
If you’re looking to stretch your boundaries, stimulate your imagination, put some spice into your love life and/or hook your boo up for Valentines or Black Love Day—all while supporting Black business—then this review may be for you. (And even if none of that applies to you, if you’re just interested in a well written kinky novel featuring Black characters then you should keep reading too.)
It was clear from the moment we walked in the door that the book release party was not going to be your ordinary release party. But then Feminista Jones is not your average author and Push the Button is most certainly not your average novel.
These are both good things. Very good things.
Feminista Jones: A Breath of Fresh Air
Jones is a self-described “post-modern, sex-positive, Black feminist woman” who promotes the “positive aspects of sex, sexuality, and sexual liberation.” She’s a social worker, writer, blogger, activist and speaker who holds three degrees and is a brilliant wordsmith and storyteller.
Feminista is also the brains behind social movements like #YouOKSis, a movement to address street harassment and #NMOS14, “a national moment of silence to honor victims of police brutality, show solidarity with their families, and allow communities to come together in a moment of mourning and support.”
In short she’s not one to just talk about issues; rather her work seeks to identify and implement concrete solutions that can help elevate our condition.
She’s also a damn good writer and just released her first novel, the previously mentioned, Push the Button, an erotic story featuring Black love the likes of which you may not have seen before.
Once we entered the event it took a minute for our eyes to adjust to the dark. We were standing near the top of a dimly lit staircase and the stairs were lined with candles that lead us down to the main event. There was a warm and sultry sense to the décor and we were met at the door by a sista who gave us the run down.
We were escorted to our table by a PUSHer—one of several stunningly gorgeous, seductively dressed Black women who served drinks and attended to guests throughout the evening. The room was packed and we chatted with folks near by as we waited for the program to begin. While the audience was diverse, it felt great to see so many other Black couples who were excited to explore topics often seen as taboo, in a safe space.
Sis, let me tell you: there were no taboos allowed that night.
Because once the program started, it was clear that Feminista was planning on pushing everyone’s buttons…in all the right places.
As she read excerpts from her highly acclaimed erotic novel, my husband and I looked at each other and nodded. This was the perfect way to start date night. Let’s hear it for the babysitters who help keep happy marriages poppin.
Like I said, Push the Button (PTB) is not your average novel. My knowledge of erotic lit is limited and I don’t know much about the BDSM life style. But one thing I do know is a damn good story. It just so happens that this particular good story comes with a disclaimer that says:
“PTB contains themes of an adult nature and is intended for a mature audience.”
You should take that disclaimer seriously. PTB is not for the young nor the faint of heart (and if you trigger easily you should proceed at your own risk). You could also add an #NSFW warning while you’re at it because this novel deals head on with topics that are probably best explored from the comfort and privacy of your home…
Believe me when I say this story lives up to its name. It is indeed designed to push your buttons…even the ones you may not have known you have.
Meet Nicole and David
As noted on FeministaJones.com, PTB focuses on the lives of Nicole and David and their experiences in “The Life.” According to the book’s summary:
Nicole and David are two 30-something, professional, Black Americans chasing their dreams and accomplishing their goals while investing in a romantic future together. On the surface, they appear to be just like any other couple—they travel, work hard, and spend quality time with family and friends. Behind their masks, David and Nicole live an erotic, intense dynamic based on the complements of domination and submission and the peaks of pain and pleasure known as “The Life”. They have their boundaries, they play by the rules, and they seek to ascend to the highest level of connection a couple can achieve by indulging in their deepest fantasies and exploring the darkest corners of their minds.
Life for the couple is not without obstacles, however. What happens when a force from the past threatens to destroy everything David and Nicole have built together? Can their devotion to each other withstand the trials they are forced to endure? Push The Button explores a side of the BDSM Lifestyle that often goes ignored—the “normalcy”. Like any other couple, these two have their ups and downs, and they must decide if their love is enough to keep them together.
As intended, Feminista powerfully writes the story of Nicole and David in a way that makes them curiously familiar. They are in fact, very normal. So normal that the average Black American 30-something professional will be able to see a piece of themselves in these two characters. But it is Nicole and David’s normalcy that makes it so pleasurably jarring to see how they slip almost effortlessly from the mundane predictability of everyday life into the erotic world of BDSM.
And this is where their story gets…informative.
If you don’t know anything about the BDSM Lifestyle before you read this book, Hunnay you most certainly will once you are done. But be clear. This is not the urban version of 50 Shades of Meh Gray. (For a thorough breakdown of why 50 Shades is too damn shady, check out Awesomely Luvvie’s breakdown.) This is not a story about an abusive man who seeks redemption through his dominance of “weaker” women.
As Feminista stated:
“…When I read Fifty Shades of Grey, I found myself very angry. It was not BDSM. It was abuse. The story is about a man who is abusive and has an appetite for rather violent sex. He’s an abuser who can’t seem to get it together and he’s trying to find redemption through this young woman who he kind of forces into this position, to redeem him from whatever abusive tendencies he has… I was really troubled that so many people were thinking that this is what BDSM was about, so I decided that I was going to provide a counter-narrative.”
And when she says “counter narrative” she means a very counter narrative.
Feminista centers the onus of the relationship on Nicole. Which I found simultaneously awesome, a bit scary and quite frankly exciting. Nicole is an empowered Black woman who finds pleasure through submission. And no, I’m not talking about the wives-submit-to-your-husband type of submission your church elders were referencing in the pulpit…this is a slightly different game folks (although just how slightly may be a question of degrees)…
Nicole is a dominant force to be reckoned with in her professional life and yet she seeks to be dominated in her bedroom and private life. It is Nicole who teaches David how to assume the dominant role in their relationship. It is she who teaches him how she likes to be dominated.
That this empowered woman would use her own power to train her partner on how to properly dominate her for their mutual pleasure is a bridge that may be too far for some. For many others, however, PTB is a love story that literally turns traditional notions of feminism and sexual liberation on their heads… The story presents a powerful juxtaposition between power and pleasure; consent, trust and honoring that consent.
Now Chiiiilllle, believe me when I say you may be clutching your pearls by the time you’re through with this story…but if you’re like many, you will be glad you gave it a chance.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of the scenes were challenging to get through. In addition to some very well written sex scenes, PTB does not pull any punches and describes the pain, pleasures, punishments and rewards that form part and parcel of Nicole and David’s relationship. Even though Nicole teaches David about the rules of The Life, it was at times difficult to see why Nicole would choose that life for herself.
PTB reminds some (and teaches others) that (as in any relationship) the role of consent is key. As brilliantly noted by BattyMamzelle:
[W]hile I intellectually understand that BDSM is not abuse, I am unfamiliar with the intimacies of BDSM in practice, and there were definitely scenes in the book that left me a little uneasy because the lines of consent seemed blurred to me. But Jones, an established voice and advocate for sex positivity clearly prepared for this effect. For every scene where I questioned whether Nicole was being taken advantage of, there was another that reminded me that her relationship was something that she entered into willingly with eyes wide open…Jones makes sure to remind us that being sexually submissive is Nicole’s choice and not something that we should pity her for. While it is easy to reactively connect some of the situations in the novel to emotional or physical abuse, it’s important for us to remember (and for Jones to remind us) that consent is key, and that voluntarily relinquishing control is entirely different from having it forced from you; a situation that Jones also deals with in detail.
Yaaaassss Hunnay. Clutch your pearls. And read on…
A Release Like No Other
In addition to hearing excerpts from the novel, guests at the book release were entertained by Ms. Ivy League, a fantastic burlesque dancer who is also a graduate of Yale, Harvard and the New York School of Burlesque. The event was sponsored in part by “b condoms,” a Black owned condom company (folks looking for another opportunity to support Black business can check out their website here).
The drinks were delectable, the audience was fully of beautiful Black and Brown faces and the atmosphere was a perfect way to start date night.
BDSM may or may not be a sexual preference or practice for you. But reading this book with your loved one however…may help provide just the jump start you need to put some of the kind of passion that is right for you back into your love life.
And if your love life is moving along just fine, then take a few nights to read this with your boo. It is sure to take a “perfectly fine” love life to a whole other level. You can thank me later.
To order a signed, hard copy of Push the Button, you can order here.
For a digital version you have options:
1. You can download your copy here.
2. You can order from Feminista Jones directly, here, and you will receive a personalized email from me with your book file, within 1-2 days.
3. You can buy it from Amazon and have it sent immediately to your Kindle (and if you have Kindle Unlimited, it is FREE).
Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Looking for more thoughts from an Afro State of Mind? Check out my book Afro State of Mind: Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl now available on Amazon.com in paper back or available here for e-book download! And if you want to stay connected follow me on Twitter, “like” Afro State of Mind on Facebook or catch up on my latest youtube videos!