Today I was reading an article from Mic about why Fifty Shades of Grey is good for America and I thought made some interesting points.
I absolutely agree with the article, that Fifty Shades of Grey has allowed real conversation about sex and BDSM in the american culture. But I think it missed the mark on some points, like the representation of BDSM. Though I did appreciate how they didn’t dwell on that point, but used it as a point to better educate.
Those who engage in BDSM also haven’t necessarily been abused themselves. In Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey tells Anastasia that the reason for his sexual desires is because his childhood left him “fifty shades of fucked-up.” But that’s not generally the case for those in a BDSM relationship.
Christian at times plays it off to Ana that his interest in BDSM is related to his abuse and it is implied in some parts of the series. However, Christian himself states that some people like it and some people don’t, just like cheese. Saying that it isn’t necessarily due to his abuse. Every single person I know is able to separate Christian’s character development from real life and knows that abuse and BDSM do not necessarily go hand in hand.
As for what BDSM actually consists of, critics of Fifty Shades noted that Christian doesn’t demonstrate model behavior as a dominant (or “dom”), not fully explaining techniques and risks to Ana. Others have pointed out that limits and consent were not properly respected throughout the book.
While I agree with this, if this was real, it’s not real life and misses two important points from the books.
- Christian has always dealt with experienced subs who know what they’re getting into, he may not realize that he’s not explaining things. Just like when you show someone how to do something and miss steps because you don’t even realize you’re doing them. It’s a human thing.
- This is written to allow the story to move and to put the characters in a place to evolve.
I will say that these points are brought up to bring in the reality of BDSM: that it’s not just abused people and that you need to communicate. Both great points, but also points that feed into the misconceptions of Fifty Shades of Grey, that it’s just a book about abuse.
But Fifty Shades of Grey is a love story with some good sex, it’s a good introduction to people about the world of BDSM in a safe way. While it may not explore the most common aspects of BDSM, it has allowed many to start a conversation about sex and about woman’s sexual desires. Acting as though woman are then unable to safely enter the world of BDSM because of these misconceptions is demeaning to woman. Woman are able to differentiate between fantasy and reality, and if they’re truly interested will figure out how to navigate the world of BDSM. They’ll make some mistakes, just like those who entered the community from a different route.
I appreciate that the article’s mission was to really point out the positive of the series, the opening up of dialog about sex, from there the conversation changes and allows the education to happen naturally.