I was originally planning to write an article in defense of 50 Shades of Grey.
Maybe it’s my inner teenager, a fondness for Twilight fan fiction or just the fact that the sex scenes are steamy and hot.
Regardless, there are a slew of critics that will tell you that the movie doesn’t accurately depict the BDSM lifestyle—that it’s just a watered down Hollywood version created to sell more sex toys, lingerie and an entire product line including fragrances named after the entity.
I would imagine that to the hard core BDSM community, this book is a joke, albeit one that has allowed thousands of women and men a glimpse into something that the mainstream really knows little about even though it has been around for a very very long time.
Some feminists might tell you that Anastasia is a victim, while others will say that she uses her power and free will when she seeks out a relationship with the mysterious Christian Grey. “Show me,” she says…and indeed he does. Then I realized that most of the hoopla surrounding the book and movie has to do with whether Anastasia Steele is in an abusive relationship.
And this is no joking matter.
As a woman, a wife and a mother I am pretty opinionated. I’d like to think I’m pretty responsible too. I’ve raised three wonderful children, I get a check up every six months, I make sure my kids eat healthy and I pay my taxes. But every now and then, when the kids are gone and the house is empty—and in the privacy and safety of our bedroom.I don’t mind being blindfolded and spanked. Now there are a lot of really strange things that go on in people’s bedrooms and I don’t feel the need to judge. I am a firm believer in “what happens in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom.”
But let’s talk about what is abuse and what is not abuse.
If, after years of marriage my husband texts me and says “I’m on my way home, get naked and in bed” you better believe that’s exactly where I’m going. For me, this is hot. And after a long day at work, making tons of decisions, and after dealing with kids and bills and all of the other not sexy things in life, I find some light kink a welcome respite from the real world.
If I surprise my husband by standing at the top of the stairs in a leather cat suit with a whip and some killer leather stilettos and ask him to crawl up the stairs to get his “reward”—you better believe he won’t be complaining or reporting anyone to the authorities. I don’t know a single man who would.
The key in all of this is that everything above is consensual. And this is what the critics of 50 shades are missing. What goes on the bedroom, as weird as some people might think, is not abuse if there is consent. And face it. What I like might not be what you like. Some people like to be kicked, pooped on, tied up, hung up, dipped in wax, gagged, beaten and humiliated. If it’s consensual, as much as it may be repulsive to the mainstream, it is not abuse. And so it is in the book and the movie.
Anastasia consents to a contract and a relationship with Christian Grey. Not everything in the book or movie follows the BDSM community’s golden rule of safe, sane and consensual, but is simply a movie. In the real world, there are strict rules that community members adhere to that most people don’t know anything about.
Those in the mainstream, and particularly the religious right should be careful when throwing out words such as “abuse” without really understanding the fact that there are many different lifestyles that include behavior that is not necessarily socially acceptable. Socially unacceptable doesn’t always mean morally wrong, illegal or abusive. Depending on the state, there are still antiquated laws in the books that say that certain types of sex are illegal.
I’d like to think that in 2015 we aren’t still hung up on using vibrators.
As for me, I will continue to keep the fuzzy handcuffs and the satin blindfold in my nightstand, hoping for the next time…
Author: Cristina Pivonka
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Wikimedia Commons