10 Reasons Why Fifty Shades of Grey should never Tie any Self-Respecting Woman Down.

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Why are so many women turned on by dominance?

Excerpt, Fifty Shades of Grey:

“Christian is standing over me grasping a plaited, leather riding crop.

He’s wearing old, faded, ripped Levis and that’s all. He flicks the crop slowly into his palm as he gazes down at me. He’s smiling, triumphant. I cannot move. I am BLEEP and BLEEP, BLEEP on a large four-poster bed.

Reaching forward, he trails the tip of the crop from my forehead down the length of my nose, so I can smell leather, and over my BLEEP, BLEEP lips. He pushes the BLEEP, BLEEP BLEEP, BLEEP, BLEEP etc…”

Every month, elephant inherits a few angry comments from readers who hate the fact that we write about sex (a lot). We get nasty comments vilifying us for sins like “objectification.”

…And then, today, and yesterday, and last week, and the week before…I hear from my interns, Kate our editor, Kate our editor again, and—you know—millions of women that they’re all reading, loving, and—you know—getting off on some dehumanizing trashy bdsm “porn for mommies” novel called…

“Fifty Shades of Grey,” the erotic novel by E L James, features cliche characters, highly implausible plot turns and dialogue that alternately induces cringes and giggles. (Sample line: “ ‘Look at me,’ he breathes, and I stare into his smoldering gaze . . . cold, hard and sexy as hell, seven shades of sin in one enticing look.”)

…Another benefit of a book such as “Fifty Shades” is that it just may get your mind off work pressures, the laundry or having to make the kids’ lunches — and back into the bedroom.

Speaking of gagging…

So save yourself 10 hours: go have some mutually-respectful awesome sex with someone you love.

Or if you want to “read” some porn, god bless, go get yourself some Anais Nin. She’s amazing.

{drum roll}

But now it’s time for my list: 10 Reasons why Empowered Women should find something more Empowering to do.

Deflowering a Poorly-Written Opiate for the Masses: 10 Reasons Why Fifty Shades of Grey should never Tie any Self-Respecting Woman Down.

This list is too easy.

1. You’re a hypocrite: Shades of Grey is (I hear) a glorified airport romance novel that is so a cliché-ridden and poorly written, it gives Twihards fifty shades of self-respect.

2. By romance, I mean abusive sado-masochistic 100-years-of-feminism-f*cking fantasy.

3. Not having read the book, I’m out of ideas.


PS: to all you angry masochists ready to comment and say “don’t tell me what to do, young man,” don’t worry—unlike, say, Christian the Somehow-Sexy Abusive Billionaire, I’d never think of bossing a woman around. This is my kind of play.


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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.

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anonymous Aug 16, 2013 1:54pm

As a queer woman, a feminist, and a submissive, who read all three Shades of Grey books (along with plenty of stuff like the Story of O), all I want to say is: Fifty Shades of Grey is not really about BDSM (it's about a kinky person with some emotional issues who has a basically-vanilla partner in what seems to be a fundamentally sexually-incompatible relationship – part of the reasons women LIKE this series is because the protagonist is NOT embracing of her kinky interests – if any – she's doing it for her partner); it's nothing new (check out literotica.com if you want to know what women do instead of watching porn); BDSM is not inherently sexist and un-feminist (oh, and guess what? sometimes it doesn't even involve men! or hetereosexuals!); "so many women are turned on by dominance" [or submission] for the same reason that so many men are turned on by dominance [or submission] – it's hot, it's fun, and playing with power dynamics allows us to explore and connect sexually. If that doesn't appeal to you, don't do it, but don't tell other people what they should/should not find appealing and/or pretend it has anything to do with their morals or standing as "feminists" or thoughtful people. And watch "Secretary."

anonymous Apr 22, 2013 11:22pm

Thanks for your information on this blog. One particular thing I want to say
is that purchasing electronic devices items in the Internet is certainly not new.
The truth is, in the past decades alone, the market for
online gadgets has grown considerably. Today, you will find practically any kind of electronic system and tools on the Internet, from cameras along with camcorders to computer pieces and video gaming consoles.

anonymous Nov 7, 2012 3:53pm

S&M has nothing to do with abuse, empowerment has nothing to do with wanting to be submissive in the bedroom – GOD, people! Get your shit together!

anonymous Nov 2, 2012 2:29pm

Thanks for your thoughts. One thing I’ve got noticed is always that banks as well as financial institutions understand the spending patterns of consumers while also understand that a lot of people max away their credit cards around the trips. They prudently take advantage of this fact and start floodin

anonymous Oct 10, 2012 10:20am

[…] are, indeed, more likely to take on the submissive role in BDSM than males. Some feminists see this as evidence that BDSM is oppressive to women. I believe many women are taking on the submissive role as an escape from having to work so hard to […]

anonymous Oct 4, 2012 4:27am

How on earth can anyone presume to critique a book/books they themselves have not read? Fact is, the women that I know that have read the book are by no means bored housewives or shy of intellect. Without exception they loved, if nothing else the escapism of reading the "taboo" trilogy and again, without exception acknowledged that the writing was at best mediocre but the story-line captivating still. I have no intention of reading the trilogy since it does not intrigue me one iota, i also, however, will voice no opinion on the trilogy for the very reason that I have not read it. Let those who have read it do the critiquing, I think that would only be fair!

anonymous Sep 19, 2012 2:50pm

What is miss leading in the book is that you do need to trust and love the person who is spanking you!
I do think they jumped into BDSM a bit quickly with out knowing each other they just went off of pure sexual vibes.
Not healthy at all. However if you trust someone.. then being gagged or spanked or tied up is just fun! not fun when it's with people whom you don't trust. If you don't like that well i guess you don't have to live that type of life. Thus I will live my own life my way.! I really don't need to tell you that tho do i!!!
Take Care

anonymous Jul 18, 2012 4:43pm

[…] […]

anonymous Jul 17, 2012 6:44am

[…] never heard Tupac urging his male counterparts to respect women because we all came from a […]

anonymous Jul 3, 2012 1:51am

The writing in 50 Shades of Grey is terrible to the point of embarrassment, and it's also mildly entertaining!

I'm a (self-respecting) feminist yoga-freak as well as a kinkster. My long term D/s relationship is incredibly satisfying and healthy; surrendering to one man doesn't mean you become a doormat to all men. I doubt there is a soul alive that would describe me as having a submissive personality but I'm wired to respond to a man who can grab me by the throat and tell me what he wants me to do.

I tried dating vanilla men for much of my adult life, which is not unlike being gay and trying to date like a heterosexual. I was unsatisfied by these otherwise fantastic men and thought there must be something wrong with me.

I was born this way, and as a feminist I was taught not to let others shame me for having sexual preferences and needs. This is how my fiancé and I express Love.


If I denied who I am, wouldn't it be disrespectful to the generations before me who fought for women's voices to be heard?

anonymous Jun 29, 2012 10:54am

[…] you’re in the same boat, skip Fifty Shades and check out this flowchart from teach.com to find yourself a new […]

anonymous Jun 22, 2012 8:31pm

[…] 10 Reasons Why Fifty Shades of Grey should never Tie any Self-Respecting Woman Down. ~Waylon Lewis […]

anonymous Jun 7, 2012 3:17pm

"So save yourself 10 hours: go have some mutually-respectful awesome sex with someone you love."

I don't know how to tell you his, but that 'awesome sex' probably is not as 'awesome' as you think it is. Its probably terrible & boring, and that partner probably goes onto have sex with someone who is willing to tie her up if she desires it {because its simply much better than all that 'awesome' sex your having.}

anonymous Jun 3, 2012 11:25pm

I personally love the book. I am a submissive female is a D/s relationship and I am offended by the suggestion that my relationship is somehow invalid because of its nature. My Dom is very caring, loving and warm toward me and everything we do is agreed upon. It is okay to want to be dominated. It is okay to dress up and be the naughty schoolgirl. Why shouldn’t I? I submit to him because I want to. As long as there are two consenting adults there is not reason to trash bdsm relationships. Btw bdsm is a hugeeeee range of things tbat people have an annkying habit of over simplifying.

anonymous Jun 2, 2012 9:28pm

Frankly, many perfectly respectable but highly asymmetrical emotional love arrangements and toxic marriages are just BDSM relationships in vanilla drag?

People are torturing themselves and each other to death and no one's happy anyway.

A whip and some ropes might actually help?

anonymous May 31, 2012 7:41pm

[…] shitty prose and avoid it; how to see poor editing and avoid it; how to discern when you are being feed a line of misogynistic shit and not be surprised that it comes from one of your […]

anonymous May 29, 2012 5:54pm

[…] article (and Waylon’s article), talk about how a lot of moms or middle-aged women are reading this book as a guilty pleasure. […]

anonymous May 27, 2012 10:13am

Perimenoposal, libido in the dumps, 30 yr monogamous relationship. Read Fifty Shades. Big cat-got-the-cream grins on both our faces. Biggest threat to Viagra and HRT in years. 'nuff said.

anonymous May 26, 2012 7:39pm

OMG! I'm glad someone is saying this!! I have NO desire to read 50 Shades… I lived it (well, except for the billionaire part). Women, PLEASE, this behavior is not love, it is not sexy, it is ABUSE.

anonymous May 26, 2012 4:23pm

Nice plug.

Sure yeah more sex! Bring it on! Have some fun. Dominate and be dominated.

Just don't keep manufacturing the same old, boring package. Male domination. Female submission. Half naked, incredibly thin, young women. Skinny women dressed like prostitutes doing yoga. Half naked skinny women selling me food. Half naked skinny women selling me pills to keep me from eating food. Half naked skinny women selling me cars. Half naked skinny women selling me movies and magazines and furniture and cigarettes and beer and wine and dewrinklers, and tanners and creamers and bronzers and lifters and tuckers. Half naked skinny women selling me Oprah and organics and buddhism and health. Half naked skinny women selling me some idea of what I am supposed to look like to be a success in this world. To be desirable in this world. To have desire in this world.

It's all a scam sham, man!!!! And you and me and us- we are all in the thick of it.

Like I said- I get your point. I don't think women should be ashamed to read the book- unless they feel ashamed consuming bad writing. But any woman who notices that something isn't right with how we (women) are depicted in advertising and in movies and television time and time again- should certainly take note that this book plays into the same old story. I would have much preferred the thing to be a gigantic success if it were well written and balanced in its exchanges. But alas, why should it surprise me that it is only more of the same?

anonymous May 26, 2012 3:31pm

I just recently bitch slapped you (in a sort of nice zen stick kind of way) for the half naked images that litter Elephant like the post cards advertising strip clubs that litter a Las Vegas sidewalk.

And I have to say that here I agree with you. I refuse to buy the book for a variety of reasons. Number one: Bad writing. (I’d rather suffer through a Dan Brown book.)

Number two: Sure seems like a sorry bit of mysogynistic pulp porn fiction I can do without. Why read about men dominating women when I can easily log onto xxxvideos and watch it for free! Hey, I mean whatever your pleasure ladies- have at it. I just would have preferred that most erotic novel to thrill “mommies” everywhere would be a little more empowering and a little less “take me now I’m yours!”

Haven’t we been exposed to that sorry old story long enough? I bought pink a neck tie a few years back. It makes a great accessory as it is quite versatile. Why the man always has to be the one doing the tying and dominating I can’t be sure. The last thing this country needs is any more pillow princesses.

Just wait until the movie comes out and the woman who plays the main character is young, stick-thin, and virtually mute. (Kristin stewart would be a great fit. After all she already gave up her life as human to be with a man in one movie. Why not let another one tie her up and tease her for a while?)

I’m going to have to ask you to delete this comment one day lest it show up in google searches under my name.

    anonymous May 26, 2012 3:54pm

    You mean, like these half naked images? (Guess which half): http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/05/your-ugly-

    Seriously, I'm all for sexy, I celebrate it, if it's fun, empowering. Clearly, thanks to the comments here, I need to be open and to learn more about BDSM—even if it's not for me, if it's respectful and safe, I'm all for it.

Kate Bartolotta May 26, 2012 3:19pm

Well, as someone who did read it and blogged about it myself:

I get that it's helping some women enjoy talking about sex (whatever variety) with friends, husbands, lovers, if they didn't feel comfortable before, and that's great.

What I don't get (and will probably never get) is why any woman with any amount of self-respect would be turned on by being degraded, bound, beaten or dominated. Sure, to each her own…but really? How can you justify saying "feminism means women can choose whatever they want" and then choose this?

Isn't that kind of like saying, "I'm a feminist and I choose to stay in an abusive relationship?" I know…it's not the same. But…it's not that different either.

    anonymous Jul 3, 2012 1:54am

    "Woman can choose whatever they want."
    -That's how you can justify it.

    Not "according to what YOU think is best for others"

anonymous May 26, 2012 2:32pm

[…] the article is here […]

anonymous May 26, 2012 1:13pm

great, so you can add lazy journalist to your bio, next to lazy yogi. You wrote a lousy, poorly constructed article about a lousy book that you haven't even read, just to "foment discussion". is traffic to the site so bad, that you have to stoop to attacking alternative sexualities? why the vanilla sexuality manifesto? people who are into BDSM know that it is ok to be vanilla, we actually accept people's proclivities without paying lip service to them. What can we expect next from the elephant? a post where you talk about how its ok for you to be heterosexual, because you don't find homosexuality "sexy" ? maybe you'll give us examples of gay people who were molested in childhood, and use that as proof that homosexuality is somehow the activity of the damaged. Really, I think you protest too much, cause really no one cares one bit about your sexuality. You are starting to remind me of right wing fundamentalist who attacks gay people and then gets caught with a rentboy. I would not be surprised in the slightest, if some pictures get leaked of our dear waylon chained down in leather, with his junk in a hemp rope harness, gleefully licking the boot of a urdhva dhanurasana yoga goddess. and that is totally cool. you get yours waylon, you kinky freak.

    anonymous May 26, 2012 1:43pm

    Well, you can add anonymous insulter to yours.

    I may remind you of a right-winger…only because you know nothing about me. I've written literally hundreds, upon hundreds, of gay rights posts—it's the civil rights cause of our era, and one I and I hope the whole of our generation will play some role in setting right.

anonymous May 26, 2012 11:50am

Reading A plain & simple sexual scene, in privacy of the Mind, is an aphrodisiac & Vibrator all in one..

anonymous May 26, 2012 6:44am

Feminism = Women in control of their choices. That includes enjoying the surrender of reading fantasies or even the surrender of control in the bedroom, if they choose. It includes not doing so if it isn't your thing. Feminism SHOULD = not judging women on the things that fufill them- their work, parenting, politics, spirituality, sexual choices-all included.

    anonymous May 26, 2012 8:05am

    IT's a slipperly slope though. We've got to be able to discuss a book about this topic and be able to critique it. What does it say about women when a formulaic written book breaks this genre wide open? When there are literally thousands of amazing erotic stories out there worthy of this level of success because the quality of the writing is supreme, unlike fifty shades? Perhaps that's what bothers me most of all. The salivation over a book that is mediocre at best.

      anonymous May 28, 2012 6:56am

      In order to discuss a book on this topic, we first need to read the book. The writer isn't discussing the book, he's passing broad-based judgement on the sex lives of women he doesn't know, using the book as a thinly-veiled excuse to do so. He has admitted he hasn't read the book.

      "What does it say about women when a formulaic written book breaks this genre wide open?"

      It says the same thing about women that it says about anyone who likes formulaic crap, including Twilight, Titanic, any number of action films or video games, House, sitcoms, etc. It says that people, by and large, like stupid formulaic crap over things with substance.

anonymous May 25, 2012 11:01pm

[…] […]

anonymous May 25, 2012 6:33pm

The only thing wrong with your article Waylon is the title. It should be "Why Fifty Shades is Romantrash." Otherwise, you are spot on. I say this as 1) a feminist 2) a writer and author whose main subject is sexuality 3) a reviewer of erotica and 4) a fan of literature that leaves me hot and bothered. Oh, yeah, I am also a woman.

If you want erotica recommendations, I have those is spades. The one good thing I can say about the book is that at least mainstream America is talking about the genre. If they think Fifty Shades represents the artform, they are sadly mistaken. It's like comparing marriage to a poorly written romance novel.

Not sure why other men are giving you heat for saying what needs to be said.

Oh, I've also written about feminism and BDSM, so I suppose that combined with my having a vagina gives me some authority to say that YOU ARE SPOT ON.

    anonymous May 25, 2012 7:55pm

    "Not sure why other men are giving you heat for saying what needs to be said. "

    Because "Fifty shades of Grey is poorly written BDSM porn" is fundamentally different from "Women who enjoy reading poorly written BDSM in their private lives are disempowered and as a feminist man, I know what they ought to be doing instead."

      anonymous May 26, 2012 7:59am

      Is that what the author is saying in your opinion? Because I don't see that (perhaps it's in the comment sections?) I read his article as the former – a statement about THIS book, not about BDSM or feminist. In my opinion, suggesting Anais Nin shows me he is clear on those distinctions.

        anonymous May 26, 2012 11:00am

        "Is that what the author is saying in your opinion? Because I don't see that "

        yes it's what I think the author is saying in my opinion. Case in point:
        "10 Reasons why Empowered Women should find something more Empowering to do."
        Does this not translate to "Stop disempowering yourself by enjoying bad BDSM porn and I'm gonna tell you what to do instead?"
        Followed, of course, by statements like "live and let live". It's a bit confusing.
        I guess I could go through the other stuff, but as the author said, he was just expressing that his personal tastes doesn't include BDSM. Maybe it is just a case of poor articulation.

          anonymous May 26, 2012 1:40pm

          I think you've got it backwards. I can rail against those who, in my college town, wear high heels when it's icey out, or mini skirts in the winter, not because I dislike women, but because I love (and respect) them. I dislike the culture of aggression seen as cool, naughty, fun.

            anonymous May 26, 2012 3:01pm

            I encourage you to examine what kind of man spends time railing against what women want to wear.
            It's their clothes, man. It's their bodies. If they want to wear mini skirts in winter what's that got to do with you? Just as an aside, I once asked an ex-lover why she spends so much time wearing makeup since she was gorgeous to me as is (and she was). Without batting an eyelash, she replied "I'm putting make up for me, not for you."
            Again, humility, brother.

            anonymous May 26, 2012 3:55pm

            Wait a minute- You rail against women in heels? But why? There is a "yoga goddess" to the left of this post doing a back bend in heels. So it is not okay for them to walk on your streets but it is okay for you to use them to sell yoga and your stories?

            Hmmm…what an interesting conundrum.

    anonymous May 26, 2012 6:08am

    As someone who has also written about feminism and BDSM, as well as being a pretty hard-core feminist AND sexually submissive and kinky…OH and I have a vagina…I believe I also have some authority to say that he is wrong.

      anonymous May 26, 2012 8:02am

      You liked this book then? That's a matter of opinion, but seriously, if you have read any erotica, then you've got to know this is a poor substitute for good writing! I stand by my support for the author – in my opinion, he is spot on and he isn't criticizing feminists, submission, BDSM (no issues there) but this fifty shades of crapping excuse for those important topics.

      anonymous May 26, 2012 8:07am

      Repeating something I wrote below because I think it applies here too: What bothers me most is the salivation over something that is a mediocre representation at best. I wonder – why this book? Why not one of the many number of superbly written erotic books that are feminist and cover BDSM?

        anonymous May 28, 2012 6:51am

        I have not read the book (though, as it has been repeatedly pointed out, neither has the writer of this article). What I felt was being said that was wrong was this:

        "Oh, I've also written about feminism and BDSM, so I suppose that combined with my having a vagina gives me some authority to say that YOU ARE SPOT ON."

        I, too, have written about bdsm and feminism, and I, too, have a vagina. I've also been "playing" for 10+ years and find nothing shameful or anti-feminist about it. Nor do I find it empowering. I don't have to. I find it insanely fun, and that's all.

        Anytime you would like to read superbly written bdsm erotica let me know, I have a whole shelf full of it. My personal recommendation is "Carrie's Story" by Molly Weatherfield.

    anonymous May 26, 2012 1:39pm

    I would love more recommendations! We just put out a few posts re Anais Nin, but would love to show that we're all about sex, even kinky sex, as long as 1) it's respectful and 2) the writing is tolerable.

    As for men (and some women) shouting me down, here, as one commenter pointed out, if I'd have put out a blog recommending the book, a chorus of Shades of Grey haters would have shouted me down. Human nature + anonymity + devil's advocacy = lose, lose. Good thing I'm not playing to win.

      anonymous May 26, 2012 3:12pm

      My god, man. Nobody's trying to "shout you down". If you think everybody who's criticizing you are "self-serious angry masochists" who are out to "shout you down", then you've essentially just thrown out any space for yourself to grow.
      Maybe you're right, you're not playing to win. You sure as hell aren't playing to learn.
      And through all this, I hope you grow to understand that this really isn't about your critique of "Fifty shades" (is there really anybody here who thinks "fifty shades" is well written?). This is about your attempt to lecture women on what they should and shouldn't be doing with their own sexual desires.

anonymous May 25, 2012 2:13pm

"I'm too busy responding to self-serious comments."

I hope, someday, that you can find it within yourself to actually listen. And listen with humility. If people call you out on your sh*t maybe it's not because they're "self-serious" or "angry masochists". Maybe you're not as "feminist" as you think you are. Maybe you, like everybody else, still have stuff to learn.
Again, namaste, with much self-seriousness.

    anonymous May 26, 2012 1:41pm

    Maybe you don't know much about me.

      anonymous May 26, 2012 6:27pm

      I don't. Which is why I don't call you names. Like "angry masochist".

anonymous May 25, 2012 12:40pm

Bravo to honeyryder512. Sometimes, those of us who enjoy these things aren't the ones who speak publicly about them. They are quite, pleasant, dark & joyful secrets of ours. But, perhaps it's time to start hopping out of the closet … only because he left the spreader bar on again. 😉 I absolutely second Story of O, as well.

anonymous May 25, 2012 12:06am

For the ones who haven’t read it, a very good digested version by John Crace!!! Hilarious!!!

The Guardian, Sun 29 Apr 2012 18.42 BST

“I’ve got a cold and I can’t interview Christian Grey, the enigmatic multimillionaire tycoon, for the student newspaper today,” says Kate, my roommate. “Please take my place, Ana.”

Wow! I take one look at Mr Grey and can barely speak. With his tousled hair, he is so mouthwateringly gorgeous. The epitome of male beauty. “G-gosh,” I say.

“You seem to be struck dumb, Miss Steele,” he wryly observes. “I like that in a woman.”

On the way home, my cell phone rings.

“Come to dinner,” says Christian.

“How did you know my number?”

“It’s my business to know everything. I like to exercise control. My helicopter will pick you up at seven.”

I am unable to resist. No man has ever affected me in this way before.

“Here’s the contract for our relationship,” he says, slipping an oyster down my throat. “I will be the Dominant and you will be the Submissive. You will do everything I say and allow me to cane you, tie you up, sodomise you, clamp your genitals and fist you. In return I will buy you a car and a laptop.”

“But Sir,” I exclaim. “I’m still a virgin, so I will have to draw the line at fisting.”

“You drive a hard bargain, Miss Steele.”

My inner goddess melts as he forces his tongue inside me. I have never been this wet before, etc. He bends me over his knee and slaps me hard. It feels wrong, but somehow very right. His enormous penis, etc. Juddering orgasms, etc.

“Sleep with me, Sir,” I beg, as I try to draw his handsome body closer to mine.

“I can’t. I had a deeply disturbed childhood and S&M relationships are the only ones I can sustain.”

“Tell me about your commitment problems.”

“They are too disturbing. You will find I am 50 Shades of Grey. Yet I find myself strangely drawn to your virginal, 20-year-old body in a way that I have never previously experienced.”

My subconscious tells me I should run away from this control freak right now, but my inner goddess is telling me to stay. That I can help this poor troubled man. Christian changes into a sexy pair of faded denim jeans and leads me to his Red Room of Pain. I willingly allow myself to be chained to a crucifix while he thrashes my clitoris with a leather hunting crop. The pain is intense, but the pleasure more so. My inner goddess is panting for him not to stop until … juddering climaxes, etc.

“I wouldn’t normally allow myself to be treated like this,” I say. “But somehow, Christian, it is OK with you as I can sense that one day we may have a loving relationship.”

“It is the Submissive who has all the power,” he witters, “and I can feel myself slowly yielding to you.”

Oh yes please, my inner goddess yells. Does he really love me as much as Kate keeps telling me he does? And why am I so jealous of his previous Subs, and why don’t I ask him a single question about his job or his life even though we have met one another’s parents in circumstances bordering on the unbelievable?

Submit yourself to the greatest thrashing of your life, my inner goddess says, to prove how much you love him and to let him show how much he loves you. Torn ass cheeks/moist vagina/pain/yet more juddering climaxes, etc.

“I love you, yet I have to go,” I sob.


“Because we’re only going to get to the bottom of your commitment issues after you’ve spanked your way through the next two books.”

Digested read, digested: What every woman wants. Obviously.

    Kate Bartolotta May 26, 2012 3:56pm

    Ha! Yup. That plus Anastasia bites her lip. And bites her lip again. And Christian glares or is steely eyed. Yeah…my inner goddess doesn't need a spanking.

anonymous May 24, 2012 11:53pm

“Not having read the book, I’m out of ideas.”

I struggled through an Ayn Rand novel just so I could say with confidence that Rand was a terrible writer. If you can’t be bothered to read some light porn before writing a polemic about it, how do expect people to take you seriously?

    anonymous May 25, 2012 11:25am

    That's the point, friend: I'm making fun of myself, and my own ignorance. I'd rather be able to make fun of myself than be taken seriously by anyone.

    And no, I can't be bothered to read by what in most reviews is badly written bdsm porn—I'm too busy responding to self-serious comments.

anonymous May 24, 2012 9:12pm

Way to stir the pot! Well done.

anonymous May 24, 2012 6:00pm

Regardless of agreeing or disagreeing, I find this to be a very uninformed article. With the author having not read the book he is reporting on, he focuses on feminism and BDSM, another topic which he comes across as very uninformed on. Where does he obtain the evidence to claim that these fictional fantasies, let alone actions are not " mutually-respectful"? He even goes as far as to use the term "abusive," which while I have not read the novel, if the choices of the characters are consensual, the term demeans both consensual practitioners of BDSM, but especially those in actually abusive relationships. Finally, the flippant comment about "angry masochists" further highlights his uninformed position. While masochism and submission can be enjoyed together, the two are absolutely different desires, and neither in any way constitute the other. Why does the author not address the men who enjoy these fantasies, as dominants or submissives?
The author has a choice whether or not he wants to participate in either reading the book or BDSM, but telling others not to based off of an uniformed opinion? Please pass the ball gag, at least until he studies up.

    anonymous May 25, 2012 11:28am

    My staff said that Christian, the protagonist, was abused as a child, and that was the root of his BDSM fantasies.

    Again, friend, I have little interest in reading up on or participating in things that don't seem in line with my personal values. That's my choice—similarly, perhaps, I've written criticisms of buying unfair labor plastic products. I didn't have to buy those products and sleep with them in order to know they don't help create jobs here in the US, and wind up (too quickly) in our landfills.

    This post is about fomenting discussion—no one's trying to (ball) gag anyone, here.

anonymous May 24, 2012 4:02pm

I hope to see a similarly strong position against the rape fantasies True Blood is based on.
Everyone I've met "in the scene" or not uses power games and other controlled violence to channel their strong emotions. I think Girls and Boys like this stuff because they are out of touch with the depth of their own capacities and emotion, so turn to power games to place the responsibility for these depths and its power on someone else. A Chief Culprit keeping these hidden is Shame. Nobody should be ashamed; Shame is among the weakest arguments- should you not exist? Shame is used as an easy way to discourage exploration and deny empowerment. Fie on control freaks! Especially those who can't keep it in the bedroom, who would rather shut down than engage.

    anonymous May 25, 2012 11:29am

    Amen. Thanks for engaging with a respectful comment!

anonymous May 24, 2012 2:11pm

Bought the book as I thought it was hot, not for the quality of writing. Unfortunately it’s incredibly stupid. Sexual games, submission included, can be really a turn on in literature (histoire d’o) as in life but 50 shades is flat, repetitive, incredibly dull. It’s called mummy porn don’t know why. I think mummies can teach the author a thing or two about porn.

    anonymous May 25, 2012 11:30am

    Amen. I might be more tempted to dive in and read if, by all reports, the writing was half-decent.

anonymous May 24, 2012 1:52pm

Thanks for adding that Christi. I've read the trilogy twice. It is a good love story. Great characters that make you care about them. "Cheesy romance" novels happen to be favorites of millions of women, so when we're saying here that folks shouldnot tell people what's OK to do in the bedroom, they should not tell people what is OK to read either. They are entertaining and that's what they are meant to be. James wasn't trying to create great literature or an erotic classic so leave off the poor woman. Agree too that BDSM is empowering. And while we'er all up in arms on this, why isn't there more outrage, say, about spousal abuse? Or child abuse? Or the real damage done by non-consensual treatment? If you read the books, you'd find out that Anastasia is actually the powerful one.

    anonymous May 24, 2012 11:22pm

    that's right – I totally agree with you LIse. The submissive actually has as much, if not more power, than his/her Dom…

anonymous May 24, 2012 1:50pm

[…] Life isn’t black and white. It isn’t right or wrong. There are many shades of grey. […]

anonymous May 24, 2012 1:41pm

OK, easy now….if you haven't read it, don't judge it. Now with that being said, I don't quite understand all they crazy hype, but they are decent books. They don't turn me on really, and they definitely don't make me want to masturbate myself silly (SNL skit), but they are pretty hot. I need to also throw in, there really isn't very much BDSM in it. I don't want to say much here because I don't want to give the story away. But it's more of a love story than anything. I also would like to say that I don't think that liking BDSM has anything at all to do with empowerment. I like SOME BDSM, and I don't think that means that I'm being disrespected by the man or disrespecting myself. Someone needs to take a half step down off their soap box… ESPECIALLY since they haven't read books.

anonymous May 24, 2012 1:25pm

First, agreed that a man telling women what's what is silly, at best. Second, don't bash romance. Romance is the biggest selling genre of popular fiction, and erotic romance (like 50 Shades trilogy) a very very popular sub-genre. Why women either enjoy the reality of submission (like I do) or merely the fantasy – whatever the reason – is not something that (as has been said above) indicates they are weak-willed, or anti-feminist (old feminist here). It just is what works for them, psyche-wise and sex-wise. No need to denigrate or bash or belittle or even comment! 10,000,000 copies of 50 Shades have been sold. Nuff said. But may I add, men can be submissive, too. It takes all kinds, so live and let live, and I won't bash all the fun things that men are so happy about. And yes, good call. Read THE LOVING DOMINANT and SCREW THE ROSES, SEND ME THE THORNS to get serious insight. Respect is everything.

anonymous May 24, 2012 1:00pm

I have no interest in reading Fifty Shades of Grey because I live the S&M life. By day I'm a powerful, in-charge, feminist boss, but when I'm off…I am sub to my Dom. Not a doormat, a submissive. And. I. Love. It.

And speaking of Anais Nin: “I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding.”


anonymous May 24, 2012 8:45am

“I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding.”

– Anais Nin

    anonymous May 24, 2012 9:35am

    Well played, dear!

    anonymous May 24, 2012 11:36am

    The quote is about Henry Miller, the weak man with whom she was having an affair with and later abandoned for other affairs. But Nin did not "Defiantly..abandon him as a lover" as this quote begins, for some time. Her next affair was with an analyst, a relationship I suspect would be considered unethical in modern practice. Were she around today (as I'm sure she is in hundreds different bodies) Nin would be considered a narcissistic mess, and in some instances on several pills to help her deal with the sexual abuse of her father. She is fun in fantasy, because that is where she lived, and where she wrote her gorgeous prose from. here is the link to google books for context- http://bit.ly/Juu4u3

    It's beautiful, and "revving" too. But no one is going to prescribe themselves living the fantasy without being called a danger to themselves. I don't think that Nin, even in her twisted way, was trying to say her passivity would be her will over his, or that it would be a mutual safe-worded equality.
    And further, I doubt John Friend's transgressions would be given a pass if he had just said, "I want to be the leader. I refuse to let women be the leader. I want them to live darkly and richly in their femaleness. I want a woman lying under me, always under me. My will, my pleasure, my desire, my life, my work, my sexuality the touchstone, my command her pivot. I don’t mind her working, holding her ground intellectually, artistically; but as a man, oh, God, as a man I want to dominate. I don’t mind telling her to stand on her own feet, not to cling, be all that she is capable of doing, but I am going to pursue, fuck, possess her by my will, a male in his time, my bidding.”

      anonymous May 24, 2012 1:15pm

      Sadly, that's mild compared to what I hear many men say, even those who do not claim to be dominant.

      I know a lot of people are into it, but to me, all this pretend slavery and ordering people about and degrading your submissive, which is so popular nowadays, is terribly hamfisted. If your sub has to be ordered to please you rather than doing it joyfully of their own initiative, and if you can't command with a whisper but must make a great show of enforcing your power, then…. *shakes head and laughs* fail. Then again, I'm dominant by nature, *not* a sadist, and not a scenester.

      anonymous May 24, 2012 10:41pm

      I believe the quote was used as a sassy response to Waylon's suggestion we should read some Anaïs Nin. But thanks for the history lesson and irrelevant comparison to John Friend's apparent narcissistic behavior and abuse of power.

        anonymous May 25, 2012 1:35am

        You are welcome. Abuse of power is what is being reveled in in these stories. You can substitute any name for JF's, the relevance is that the fantasy is unacceptable outside the fantasy, and why Nin would be called a narcissistic mess were she to do what she did then today. BDSM has evolved to become a controlled event with set boundaries to manufacture the fantasy; it evolved to require consent. I may be thinking of another story, but isn't there a whole stable-scene in story of o about girls being chained up and always available whether they liked it or not? (to some mega-hung guy in a chastity belt?) These stories always seem to have at least one scenario where after the rape, they get into it.

        Perhaps you can provide some history and insight beyond the "cause I like it" the other comments begin and end with, to explain what BDSM addresses, why women like to be dominated (or dominate), why men do, why people stay with their abusers, and how these are separate issues.

anonymous May 24, 2012 7:29am

p.s. it it interesting to me when people claiming to be enlightened make assumptions about others' behaviors. I forgot to say that Love and Dominance/submission are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Similarly, love does not necessarily preclude having hot sex with someone. Here's a reading suggestion: The Loving Dominant

anonymous May 23, 2012 9:41pm

Given my personal proclivities, I must chime in here. A wise man (although it's unclear which wise man) once said, "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination." Anyone who has not experienced BDSM personally is not particularly qualified to comment on its potential effects. A wise woman once told me that being a feminist means I get to choose how I live my life and as far as I'm concerned, that includes who and how I want to f*ck. As long as it involves consenting adults who have mutually agreed upon limits, then it's all fair game in my opinion. One might be surprised to discover how many self-respecting, feminist women (and men, for that matter) enjoy being bound, dominated, and beaten. For the record, I am a well educated, successful, happy, well-rounded, self-confident and happy woman who also thoroughly enjoys the BDSM lifestyle. That said, it's important to be discerning and proceed with caution in that lifestyle as in all others. There are abusive assholes, both male and female, everywhere.
Thanks for the heads-up that the book is a thinly veiled cheesy romance novel that is riding the coattails of the current mainstream kinky trend, I'll avoid it like the plague. If you want to read something more gritty, check out The Story of O.

    anonymous May 24, 2012 2:42pm

    Thank you so much for your post. As I read down through the entries I began to wonder,”Isn’t any one going to respond to the stereotypes being cast about BDSM culture?”, and you have in a n elequent and beautiful way. I would like to reiterate that at its heart, BDSM is about consensual sex, it is an ongoing conversation rooted in trust. How it looks on the oustside is exactly that, how it looks on the outside. The dynamic that is present is often so much more. I would also like to add to my fellow delightful Elephant readers, that woman a few mats away, the man eating a gluten free acai berry muffin, well, you just never know, they love their pets, and their partners, they just might choose to express their sexuality a bit differently.
    To anyone reading this and having a moment of doubt or shame about their own inner desires or fantasies, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, there is nothing wrong for wanting what you want and feeling what you feel.
    (btw, loved the book recommendations).

anonymous May 23, 2012 9:34pm

[…] You can keep Anastasia and Christian. […]

anonymous May 23, 2012 6:46pm

BDSM goes both ways. I haven’t read the book – mostly because I have no desire to engage in intellectual fluff-porn, but I know a few women who have, and there is nothing wrong with exploring sexual taboos. If anything, I think it gives one the ability and courage to explore all facets of their sexuality – be it dominance, submissiveness, or plain old missionary vanilla sex.

You’d be surprised how many women and men find empowerment through BDSM lifestyles, many as submissives. By telling people that exploring their sexual fantasies in a trusting relationship is not acceptable is placing an unwarranted taboo on sexual intimacy.

That being said – don’t let someone tie you up and flog you unless you trust them. And don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

    anonymous May 25, 2012 11:33am

    Amen. I hear that it's great for some people. That said, again, I think many folks have plenty of hot sex, and intimacy, as you say, without submissiveness or BDSM. Each to his and her own!

      anonymous May 25, 2012 2:24pm

      Definitely each to his and her own. So why suggest that people who enjoy BDSM are lacking in self-respect, or unable to enjoy intimacy? By all means , go ahead and criticize Fifty Shades of Grey, it is a poorly written book, but don't lash out against people who enjoy BDSM. It does not stand in opposition to feminism, and can be just as mutually-respectful and awesome as so-called vanilla sex. BDSM is actually very common among feministst.

    anonymous Jun 2, 2012 9:17pm

    "Unless you trust them" And unless there's an agreed upon "safety" word or gesture? You should probably insist on that. It keeps the "submissive" empowered. It's the "no" — or "stop." I guess some people dispense with it?

anonymous May 23, 2012 6:24pm

And you know how I feel about porn, it is a one way street, watching a couple do something when you could be having that interaction yourself. It's not bad, necessarily, just a bit one dimensional. I think there have been multiple articles published here, wondering about how it is to have sex with the same one person for years and years. You have to keep it spicy, fun, interesting and the wonderful thing is that comes with really getting to know someone and being comfortable with them. So what people do in the bedroom isn't really my business. I like what Duff said, above. People are complex. And maybe the bored housewife, who handles everything and is in charge of everything, wants a little change in perspective in the bedroom. Who knows?

anonymous May 23, 2012 5:20pm

I don't have any interest in reading this book or the twilight series either. (Don't mention that to your gay hairdresser twi-hard when getting a color done. You will regret it, and your hair color.) I have read a few trashy romances here and there. They're like watching sitcoms, good for a time killer, but no real content. Having not read the book, I don't know to what level of bondage, etc this one goes to and I am not someone who is into pain. That being said, I think there is room for all kinds of play in the bedroom, especially between people who have been together a long time and who deeply love and respect each other. And besides, who doesn't like a little spanking now and again?

anonymous May 23, 2012 4:51pm

I love this. That is all.

anonymous May 23, 2012 4:26pm

"You told me I shouldn't comment because I'm a man."
Uh, I didn't. Where are you getting this from? Can you point it out? I think your post is condescending and judgemental in a patriarchal way, but that doesn't mean I think you "shouldn't comment". Having public opinions, like you have, means you also get public criticism.
And as far as I'm concerned, sexism and patriarchy is about men making lists for women on what they should be ashamed of.
Check yourself, brother.
(And please, just as an aside, I wasn't questioning the way your mother raised you. I'm sure you're a great guy and your mother is a great woman, but "I'm not sexist my mother is empowered" is like "I'm not racist I have black friends".)

    anonymous May 25, 2012 2:00pm

    Well, I'm not sexist, and my mother is empowered.

    To the first point, I find this notion of submission and "fun pain" far less respectful, sexism-wise—intimate, wholesome, loving sex is, personally-speaking, a turn on.

      anonymous May 25, 2012 2:47pm

      "Well, I'm not sexist, and my mother is empowered. "

      Well that's great, man. But just because you're not sexist doesn't mean you can't say sexist stuff.
      And again, I don't doubt that your mother is empowered, in the same way that I don't doubt somebody actually has black friends. I'm just saying having an empowered mother doesn't make you immune to the occasional sexism, in the same way that having black friends do not make you immune from the occasional racism.

      And really, nobody begrudges you your personal tastes. But the point is, you seem to be begrudging other people theirs. Even going so far as telling them they should be ashamed of it. Even going so far as to make a list out of it.

Kate Bartolotta May 23, 2012 3:12pm

I find it hilarious that the first comments were from a man who doesn't want you to tell women how to be empowered…so is it not okay for a man to stand up and encourage women to love themselves and not romanticize dominance? I missed that memo.
I read it mainly out of curiosity and to write it up, but…don't think I enjoyed it enough to bother with the other two.

Nothing wrong with some silly junk food reading from time to time, but if you want decent literary erotica, Anais Nin is definitely the way to go….or better yet, write your own.

    anonymous May 23, 2012 3:35pm

    Just to clarify: I think it's ok for a man to be a straight ally and encourage women to "stand up and love themselves". What I don't think is ok is for a man (self-declared feminist or otherwise) to be declaring what empowered women should or shouldn't enjoy in their private lives. What is the message of this post, anyway? If you're a woman who enjoyed "Fifty shades" then it means you're not "empowered", and therefore your "feminism" is somehow inferior. I haven't read "Fifrt shades", and I don't know anybody who does. But I know plenty of feminist women who enjoy the Twilight stuff, and I'm not gonna stand there and lecture them on how the movie they're watching is demeaning them. That's THEIR call, not mine.
    And PS to Mr Lewis: Maybe the women who reply "don't tell me what to do, young man." aren't ALL angry masochists. That's a lot of blanket judgement going around for a blog dedicated to mindfulness.
    I wish us all humility. I'm not here to attack any of you. But if there is anything I've learned from the whole John Friend fiasco, it is that sometimes, the most loving thing to do is to call people out on their sh*t.

      anonymous May 23, 2012 4:08pm

      Amen, brother, I appreciate the respectful debate.

    anonymous May 23, 2012 4:06pm

    In terms of "nothing wrong with silly junk food reading"…you and I were debating privately on skype, just now, and I replied to that point:

    "I disagree…we're influenced by what we consume, whether food or entertainment. BDSM is not something I would feel good about my sister, brother, father, mother, daughter, son or lover (let alone myself) taking part in.

    But…leave your comment, I'll leave mine, it's a conversation worth having, that's what we do! And…you know more about it, I haven't read it, so I could be wayyyyyy off."

      Kate Bartolotta May 23, 2012 4:18pm

      I agree with that part—we are influenced by what we consume.

      And I don't find the idea of being dominated—physically or mentally—appealing. But I do think the fact that it has more women talking openly with each other or their lovers about sex is a good thing.

anonymous May 23, 2012 2:42pm

3rd the recommendation..hands tied down lol !!!!

anonymous May 23, 2012 2:30pm

I second the Anais Ninn recommendation. She's the real deal.

    anonymous May 23, 2012 4:05pm

    As for the whole "finally, women can talk about sex" line I'm hearing in the media…

    That's exactly what the mainstream media said about Sex and the City in the 2000s…"finally, women can openly talk about sex." And this is 50 years after Free Love and the sexual revolution, 90 years after Anais Nin.

anonymous May 23, 2012 2:26pm

Maybe women can decide things like this on their own. Maybe what women shouldn't be taking is a lecture on what they should or shouldn't enjoy, especially from a man. Just saying.

    anonymous May 23, 2012 2:30pm

    Thanks for your sexism, sir. Good to know I can't have an opinion on dominance of women being un–sexy, because I'm a man.

    I may be a man, and I don't apologize for that. I'm also a feminist. I was raised by an empowered, amazing single mother. And this book makes Twilight look respectful toward women.

    As one cartoon put it about Harry Potter vs. Twilight:

    One teaches you to find your inner strength, overcome obstacles, love yourself…

    …the other teaches you to make sure you're protected by strong men. One of my (female) interns was repeating this cartoon over lunch today.

      anonymous May 23, 2012 2:36pm

      I'm glad you find it empowering to be telling what empowered women should and shouldn't be doing. And how easy it is for you to throw around accusatory "sexism" labels. I hope you did that "mindfully". And why so defensive? Nobody asked you to apologize for being a man.
      How about another list on what empowered women should do?

anonymous May 23, 2012 4:08pm

I'm turned on, personally, by porn that depicts two people being genuine and enjoying some hot, fun, intimate, real sex. I've blogged up a few examples of "respectful" sex such as this on elephant. But yes, I don't want to be uptight here…my point isn't that we shouldn't have a good time, get all hot and bothered…my point is just that I don't find domination sexy.

anonymous May 23, 2012 9:15pm

Agreed! Well said.

anonymous Jul 3, 2012 1:01am

Yes, yes and yes.

anonymous May 23, 2012 4:31pm

If anything, it might have been a problem in articulation. I apologize for the snarkiness. A lot of your posts are powerful, I just had to protest on this one.

That being said, itching to reply to this post made me subscribe, something I've been planning on for a long time but procrastinated on. I guess life's just silly that way.

anonymous May 25, 2012 8:12am

Your own personal tastes are unattractive when they are portrayed as an authoritative "right and wrong" pronouncement. Those shouldn not belong in Elephant, if you want this to be a respectable publication.
Sex and what turns us on is probably one of the most variable and unexplainable things ever. So live and let live, please. Plenty of feminists who are women have kinks.

anonymous May 25, 2012 11:36am

"Live and let live," you say one sentence after "your view here, since it's wrong in my opinion, should not belong on elephant."

And this is why I make fun of myself, because it's the only way to cope with my own tendency to take myself too seriously.

And contribute an article about your view, and experience, which is equally if not more worthwhile! [email protected]

anonymous May 25, 2012 11:37am

Hah. That's how we get you—with uptight, ill-informed, wrong-headed arguments that just have to be rebutted!