Here’s why Fifty Shades of Grey is not good BDSM.

Via elephant journal
on Nov 8, 2014
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shades grey

Sexual Abuse, and Rape is not BDSM.

We all love to read (and do?) titillating power stuff. I guess. But this is not BDSM. This goes beyond, and isn’t a healthy example.

Update: a review of the movie: “Today Australia’s Lisa Wilkinson’s review destroys 50 Shades of Grey – with her crew hyping her up in the background.”

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“With Fifty Shades of Grey being made into a movie, I’ve tried to raise awareness how this book is not about BDSM, but rather domestic and sexual abuse. Many women argue that the relationship in the book is BDSM, but that paints BDSM in a bad light.

BDSM is a community that believes in safety & comfort. Consent is always necessary, and partners take care of each other. After acts and roleplays, partners comfort each other to help transition out of that zone. FSOG does not include any of this. Mr. Grey gives Anastasia (a then-virgin) an ultimatum; to sign a contract or leave. She is sexually inexperienced (being a virgin) and he manipulates that to push her boundaries to make it seem like the sexually violent things he is doing to her are okay. There are instances where after an act, he is mad at her for being upset, but does not comfort her. He uses alcohol to sway her consent – this is by law rape. There is also an instance where she uses the safe word, yet he continues. That is consent being retracted, and Christian ignores the retraction of consent. That is sexual assault.

Those are not the only problematic instances. Anastasia begins to hide things in fear of Christian’s anger. He becomes jealous and easily angered. Anastasia fears for her safety. Experts have even matched her behavior with that of abused women, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s description of partner violence.

This book completely throws people who participate in BDSM completely under the bus by misrepresenting BDSM as a whole. Bad people do sneak into BDSM to find a way to escape persecution for their violent ways, but the majority of those in BDSM are not abusive, like this book would have you believe.

This book romanticizes and fetishizes abuse, and painting abuse in a ‘sexy’ and ‘fun’ light is really dangerous for women. 1 in 5 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime—that’s why this book should not be defended. Making this behavior seem okay to accept from a man is dangerous, and people will be influenced to dabble in ‘BDSM,’ but not have an actual idea of what it is, and they will get hurt.

It is up to every individual what they read, never anyone else. The point of this post is to point out how FSOG is problematic, not to police anyone’s reading habits. I know many women (and men) defend this book and don’t understand how it can be seen as abuse, but it is. And I hope more awareness will be raised so this does not influence others.

“Women aren’t toddlers, they can decide what they like for themselves.” or “Who are you to decide what women should read?” I never once implied women (or men) are toddlers and can’t decide what they like, and I never once implied that I am the ultimate decider telling people what they should or shouldn’t read. It is up to every individual what they want to read, never anyone else. The point of this post is to point out how FSOG is problematic, not to police anyone’s reading habits.

“It’s just a book, jfc!” Yeah, it’s just a book…that perpetuates the idea that women love being dominated. A book that perpetuates and romanticizes domestic abuse, which is already incredibly high, under the guise of ‘fun’ and ‘sexy’ BDSM.

“There are movies about murder, wanna censor those too, you facist??” There is a difference between a book that can be written without abuse and get the same point across, but still includes abuse that is romanticized and fetishized to the Nth degree, that perpetuates a problem that is already way too normalized, and a movie about murder. If you think this, you don’t seem to understand where the line is drawn. People don’t leave the Purge thinking, “Damn! I want to go on a murder spree!” But women (and men) will leave a FSOG showing and think, “Damn! I want to try BDSM!” When it was never BDSM.

“So what if women like to read about/act out rape?? It doesn’t matter!!” Kinks and fetishes do not exist within a vacuum. They have real life effects on the real world. Rape play creates demand for rape porn. Rape porn gives people Here’s a link about how porn in general shapes the ideas of sexuality: http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/arpornography/arpornography.html#idp7024288 with included quote: “There are limits to what research can tell us about the complex interactions of mass media and human behavior. But from both laboratory research and the narratives of men and women, it is not controversial to argue that pornography can: (1) be an important factor in shaping a male-dominant view of sexuality; (2) be used to initiate victims and break down their resistance to unwanted sexual activity; (3) contribute to a user’s difficulty in separating sexual fantasy and reality; and (4) provide a training manual for abusers.” If you aren’t convinced, here is another link on how porn shapes the sexualities of those under 18 with included sources:http://pornharmsresearch.com/2013/12/talking-points-pornography-and-criminal-behavior-and-attitudes-research/ There are studies that prove rape porn decreases the amount of rapes that actually happen when mass consumed (the same happens when a violent movie is just released; violent crimes decrease. It’s satiating the potential perpetrator) but at the same time, these sources show that rape porn also creates new demand for rape, and new potential rapists. It’s more important to stop the cycle.

“It’s not my/their fault they like (insert kink)! I’m/They’re just born that way! It’s a part of sexuality!” No, it isn’t. No one is born with kinks or fetishes. Those are learned behaviors, usually by something in the childhood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_fetishism Refer to ‘Psychological origins and development.’ (If you want to complain about it being wikipedia, click the citation, it takes you to the URL for the source.) Fetishes and kinks are most likely either conditioning and socialization, or events that shaped your sexuality. If you liken it to sexuality, you’re no different than those who liken pedophilia to sexuality, when it in fact has nothing to do with sexuality.

“Using alcohol isn’t rape! (Insert definition of rape) That’s rape!” Thank you, I know what rape is. But there’s a difference between having a few drinks, than having sex, and the way alcohol is used in the book, which was the main point. For reference, in the book, Christian gives Anastasia 30+ oz of alcohol while staying completely sober. After they have sex, he admits he gave her so much alcohol to stop her from “over thinking” so much. Manipulating someone into getting drunk while you stay sober so that you can sway their consent is not actual consent. If you have to manipulate the situation to gain consent, because you wouldn’t have received it originally, that is not consent. And that is the point of that.

Source.

~

Another:

“The entire relationship is based on him having all the power and never actually giving her a decent chance to say no. She, meanwhile, is a Too Stupid To Live archetype, despite the occasional witty comeback. The book, given how much of an asshole he is, should be extremely short and end with her telling him “no.” They never really talk in a meaningful way about what is happening, how they feel about each other, and how their deal is going to work.

Even when he professes to give her control, he immediately takes it back, even/especially in bed. He has her sign a contract that forbids her from seeking help from anyone or asking questions about what she’s getting herself into. He controls what she eats, who she can spend time with, and tries to buy her with expensive gifts. She, meanwhile, says herself that she’s never been in a real relationship and is inexperienced. Yet he constantly pushes the envelope and some of the things they do, like advanced temperature play and rough anal, really aren’t feasible without any preamble.

It’s a pretty toxic relationship, with at least one scene that is played as erotic but when you come down to it, is rape. He isn’t a dom, he’s just an ass and a manipulator. He shows up at her apartment unannounced and forces himself on her while her roommate is there. He talks down to her, something she has never said was a kink of hers, cajoles her, and generally shows her almost no respect. He breaks out some pretty advanced equipment without her really being prepared for it. Fancy cars and helicopter rides don’t equal giving a damn.

Though I’m not a member of the BDSM community nor do I wish to be, I have read enough critique of 50 Shades from within the community that I feel pretty confident saying “this isn’t how it really is”.
Edit: I’m not sure where I heard it- it might’ve been on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books- but the best summary I’ve read said something to the effect that the sub is actually the one with the power in a BDSM relationship, because they always have the power to say “no”, however the couple has agreed that “no” will be said. The Dom absolutely cannot infringe upon that power if they want to be accepted and not charged with assault. The sub always retains the right to refuse.

As perscitia below has pointed out:

It is incredibly important that both (or more) parties taking part have the right to refuse consent for any act. Many people fail to appreciate that Dominants can also suffer from abuse and negative mental side-effects from bad BDSM practice. “Dom drop” is absolutely a thing.

So thanks to perscitia for setting me straight. Just because someone is a Dom doesn’t mean they cannot be abused.”


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Comments

14 Responses to “Here’s why Fifty Shades of Grey is not good BDSM.”

  1. debaumer says:

    While I generally agree that 50 Shades is a very poor example of a true D/s relationship, there are many aspects of the story that are true to bdsm in general. I ended up skimming much of the above article, because it is clear that the author has absolutely no idea what it means to be in a D/s relationship (I'm not even sure s/he knows what that is) and is not able to look at the book in any sort of objective way. I didn't think the book was very well-written and I certainly take issue with the many instances in the story in which the male character, or Dom, manipulates or coerces the female character, or submissive, into doing something she clearly doesn't want to do. Mutual consent and trust is the foundation of the majority of good D/s relationships. Having said that, there are successful and happy relationships that exist on consensual non-consent (or blanket consent) and also where it is understood that the submissive has (as per her agreement) no limits. There are all different kinds of "play" and activities in bdsm – whether outside folks agree with them or find them acceptable or not – and they can include rape play, signing and maintaining contracts, and a whole host of other things many people would shudder to read. This book – or trio of books – is fiction. There is an element of truth, though. D/s and bdsm do exist, and some of the things that happen in this book, do happen. But generally, this book is not a good example of a healthy D/s relationship. I have a million more things to say about this but…I won't.

  2. To the author of this post,
    I'm writing a book that addresses the blur between BDSM and abuse in Fifty Shades of Grey.
    Please get in touch
    Rosen

  3. Lynn says:

    So I will try to be brief. As a member of BDSM community there are as many ways under the sun to imagine how one uses the control given by a submissive to a dom- but it is always to secure the submissive's pleasure. So controlling what a submissive eats, is legit. Most of what the dom choreographs for the enjoyment of the submissive is NOT cringe worthy. Usually- it is pretty palatable even if it's not your thing. That ALL said- in a BDSM relationship the submissive is always the one in control. It is a gift to the dom- one a good dom will deeply appreciate as the foundation of the pleasure he returns to the submissive for giving it. It is about safety and trust. While many people engage in BDSM without realizing it- I understand the concern. There is just not enough intelligence in our culture right now to decipher/understand power and consent. So this book is doomed to be read wrong; as a representation OF BDSM instead of what this story device IS: a representation of Christian Grey's character as a person with abusive tendency.

    Personally, I would love an author's note that more accurately and deliberately spells out that this IS NOT in fact an accurate BDSM relationship. But that might ruin the profits :p. Like Stephen King apologizing for all his swearing in the book "It".

  4. ndawk says:

    Its just a story. Even if the author, fans, or anyone that sees the movie disagrees…its still just a story. You want to know who really is destroying what bdsm is all about…write about the disgusting rape culture of pornography. An industry that actually has the power to negatively alter millions of peoples perception of domestic or sexual abuse, how people react to the abuse, and it promotes dominant behavior that can ruin their lives.

    FSOG makes people happy. Not homicidal victimizing rape cultists.

  5. Arroyo says:

    Sex Advice Inspired by “Fifty Shades of Grey” [for Her] http://youtu.be/Xblg8i_ZMw0

  6. Louise says:

    I have to agree with most of the responses here. But have to add, the writer of this article or anyone that wants to write about a movie or book (any movie or book) should really do some personal research. I’ve been following the ranting about FSOG and most of the people who constantly or noisily crying out or making a statement haven’t even read the book, seen the movie, and definitely don’t know what the BDSM community is all about. Point here do your research yourself, form your own opinion, not someone else’s, even if the person that they copy are experts.

    Again this is a fictional book base on the writers feeling, opinion, whatever. This isn’t real, innuendos relating to real situations can be said of the majority of books out there. This book just happens to be in the spot light, so now we get the bandwagon effect of the different interest groups capitalizing on its publicity (those for and against). All saying they are out to protect the innocent, but yet capitalizing off mob that they have incited.

    Here’s a fact for ya, EL James is laughing all the way to the bank and many others have jump on the band wagon to gain their share of the profits. Like the video Arroyo listed, its uses the FSOG title to capture people’s attention. Also the reporter Mrs. Wilkerson uses it to bring attention to herself as a news anchor, broadcaster (can you say spotlight on me).

    Just love the movie for what it is “a love story,” even a rich, narcissistic control freak like Christian can change, and if it gets a few people off, yippee.

  7. Louise says:

    I have to agree with most of the responses here. But have to add, the writer of this article or anyone that wants to write about a movie or book (any movie or book) should really do some personal research. I've been following the ranting about FSOG and most of the people who constantly or noisily crying out or making a statement haven't even read the book, seen the movie, and definitely don't know what the BDSM community is all about. Point here do your research yourself, form your own opinion, not someone else's, even if the person that they copy are experts.
    Again this is a fictional book base on the writers feeling, opinion, whatever. This isn't real; innuendos relating to real situations can be said of the majority of books out there. This book just happens to be in the spot light, so now we get the bandwagon effect of the different interest groups capitalizing on its publicity (those for and against). All saying they are out to protect the innocent, but yet capitalizing off mob that they have incited.
    Here's a fact for ya, EL James is laughing all the way to the bank and many others have jump on the band wagon to gain their share of the profits. Like the video Arroyo listed, its uses the FSOG title to capture people’s attention. Also the reporter in the video Mrs. Wilkerson uses it to bring attention to herself as a news anchor, broadcaster.
    Just love the movie for what it is "a love story," even a rich, narcissistic control freak like Christian can change, and if it gets a few people off, yippee.

  8. aingealiciawrites says:

    And now the book has become life, with the first case in Chicago of a young man and a young woman whose lives will forever be changed by acting out an "artist imagination". He is facing 30 years in prison and she will be scared for life.

    Like many who have responded above, this is my lifestyle that I choose to live. I have never nor will I ever read the books or support them. They leave a bad taste in my mouth. I won't support this artist and her actions of not properly presenting the BDSM world and what it really is.

    The reality is as people we are responsible for our actions, participants and artist. We are responsible for what we put out in the world. It is unfortunate that there are now 2 people immediately damaged by acting out a book/movie, a University that will have a black eye for a bit and an artist who does not care.

  9. Rogério says:

    It's just a story. Even if the author, fans, or anyone who sees the film disagrees, how people react to abuse, and promotes the dominant behavior that can ruin their lives.

  10. As has been said before, I agree the author seems as though they did not read the book.

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