RS: The ‘D/s’ In #BDSM – Part Five, *sigh* Fifty Shades of Grey


I suppose it would be kind to leave a warning here before you start. Many, if not all, of the links in this series of posts are totally NSFW. If you want to have a look, do, by all means, but don’t be surprised if you find naked boy bits at the other end . . . or girl bits.
Happy? Let’s go.

line break, swirling graphics, from openclipart

It had to come. Those books and that relationship between those people. It has to be covered if we’re talking about BDSM and D/s relationships.

So . . . Fifty Shades of Grey. Given that I write erotica, know a lot of people in the kink scene and have strong views myself, it’s no surprise that I’ve talked a great deal about the books, the film and my thoughts on both. If you’re new to the blog, or just need a refresher, you can find some of those thoughts here, here and here.

For those of you living under a rock or somewhere equally remote, Fifty Shades of Grey and the two three books after, follow Anastasia Steele, a university graduate who meets super rich, super arrogant (but obviously super hot and desirable) Christian Grey. He pursues her relentlessly across several weeks (months? Can’t even remember now) until she agrees to a D/s relationship with him. Madness ensues.

Now . . . I don’t have enough time to talk about all of my issues with the way BDSM is portrayed in these books, so I’ll give you my top three.

Three: BDSM Requires Pen And Paper Contracts And Legalese

Really? I mean seriously? Sure, in Christian Grey’s situation, he has a reputation and public image to uphold, but would any other relationship begin with one party drawing up an agreement of what is expected of the other? And expect them to sign it and treat it legally binding? I sure as hell wouldn’t and I don’t believe many others would either. Not only that, but from what I recall—and I may be mis-remembering, so I’ll write this with care—there were no items in that contract regarding Christian’s behaviour, just what he required of Ana. Things like looking after her body and eating healthy aren’t unreasonable—everyone wants that for their significant other—but the way he attempts to micro-manage other aspects of her life (that didn’t even appear in the contract) rub me up the wrong way.

BDSM and any facet of it, is an agreement of mutual trust and respect. It doesn’t need contracts. It needs communication and a genuine desire to be with another person and explore physical, emotional and spiritual experiences with them that you might not otherwise find in a vanilla relationship.

Two: BDSM Is For Broken People

Christian Grey was abused as a child. He grew up feeling broken and bad. He relieves himself through hurting/controlling others and that’s just what he is: he needs to do it.
-_-

I won’t lie; there are people with horrific experiences in their pasts who enjoy the BDSM lifestyle. There are people who have been beaten, raped, controlled to the point that they lose their own personalities and abilities to make decisions. Yes, I acknowledge that. And for these people, perhaps BDSM is a way through which they work through those issues and come to terms with them. But (!) there are also people with perfectly happy childhoods behind them, no history of abuse (physical or emotional), no history of anything that might require therapy.

My issue with these books is that they utterly neglect to make clear the fact that Christian Grey and his personal demons are not the norm.

One: It’s Okay To Be A Dick Because You’re ‘Dominant’

This is my biggest one. If this book hadn’t been labelled as romance, there is not a single person on earth (I believe) who would have called Christian’s behaviour ‘romantic.’ If you strip away the hype and the fabulous PR job surrounding the (good-looking, super rich) character, you find a manipulative, controlling, sociopath preying on a naive and vulnerable young woman.

He showers her with gifts she finds difficult to refuse, he stalks her, he inserts himself into her life so firmly that she has little space for existing friends or family. He gradually coerces her into trying things she explicitly told him she had no desire to try then makes her feel guilty for not liking it. He does this all while painting a picture of himself as wounded and vulnerable which appeals so much to Ana’s gentle, loving nature that she just can’t get away without feeling awful. After all, who wants to dump someone who’s in such obvious pain?

line break, swirling graphics, from openclipart

In short, I dislike these books because of how they portray BDSM.

However—and this is incredibly important—I don’t believe EL James ever intended that her books represent anything. I believe she wrote the story she wanted to tell and that she got lucky in that highly fickle sweepstake us author-types call publishing. There are thousands, if not millions of books that inaccurately portray all sorts of lifestyles, habits, cultures, religions and historical events. They just have less publicity than these ones.

It’s important to remember that the Fifty Shades trilogy is a story for entertainment and should be read (and enjoyed?) with a pinch bucket-full of salt.

Raven's Signature In Black

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About Raven ShadowHawk

I take great pleasure in writing erotica and am merely one side of the proverbial coin. My other half, 'Ileandra Young' writes fantasy and the occasional comedy piece. My six-part series 'Meeting Each Other' is available in full, through Amazon and Smashwords while my debut novella 'Sugar Dust' is now re-released (!) available through Amazon via Little Vamp Press.
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