Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 5 years will be familiar with the Fifty Shades trilogy. The books, the films.. it’s been everywhere. While the books and films have had their perks, they have also had their pitfalls. Below are three reasons why I think this kinky fanfic has done good for the BDSM community, and 3 ways in which it didn’t.
- It got people talking about BDSM
If there was one good thing about the Fifty Shades trilogy, it got people talking about kinky sex and BDSM. For many years, BDSM was a stigmatised idea of sex which involved pain, beatings and abuse. Fifty Shades did well to demonstrate how sensual and erotic BDSM between two lovers can be.
The fact that Fifty Shades sold out as fast as it did was no coincidence. In a time where women are revered for being strong and independent, women were fantasising about a man who still takes the lead. While men are taught to treat women like delicate flowers, women everywhere craved a man who isn’t afraid to take charge. Fifty Shades allowed woman (including myself) an avenue to say “Hey honey, this is what I REALLY want..” .
2. Fifty Shades demonstrated that not all submissives are meek and complacent
Ana, oh Ana, what can we say about Ana? Ana is the beautiful epitome of what a submissive means to me. She is an example of what I am. Confident, cheeky, playful, audacious, seductive. Ana is not afaid to push boundaries for the sakes of the relationship and we see time and time againin movies that a submissive is meek and mild-mannered. To that, I say screw it. The benefit of having someone who pushes boumdaries is that they enable you to grow, they enable you to take your old, stagnant self and find something new and better. Provided your submissive (or any partner) brings out the best and not the worst in you, what does anything else matter?
3. Fifty Shades highlights that kinky people live normal lives, too
Many films have kinky bits in them, and that’s fine, but the beauty of the Fifty Shades trilogy is that they highlight a couple who have kinky sex a lot. The thing is, between all that amazingly rough and kinky sex, there are jobs, meetings, chores, family visits and.. heaven forbid.. crazy exes. Films like Story of O and Preaching To The Perverted portray us as having lives lived out in faraway castles and mansions, living the kinky 24/7 life of our dreams. Sadly, the real world isn’t like that and, even if most of us won’t go on to marry a multi-billionaire with a catalogue of fast cars in his garage, the work-life-sex balance is a little closer to the real deal. At least, that is, until you have kids.
- Christian Grey is controlling (and maybe even abusive)
I didn’t want to agree with the backlash towards these films at first, but, having watched them a little more in depth and in my own time, I can see that there are behaviours that should send anyone running. When Ana goes clubbing in Fifty Shades of Grey, he tracks her cell. In Fifty shades Darker, he keeps a dossier on her and in Fifty Shades Freed he abandons Ana to go and talk with his ex Mistress because he’s not ready for fatherhood. These are all behaviours of an unhealthy relationship. While kinky sex may be amazingly good fun and it can be just as good to have some rules and agreements for the benefit of the relationship, I’d encourage anyone and everyone to renegotiate or even leave at the first signs of a one-sided, controlling relationship.
2. Unrealistic expectations
It should go without me saying, but Fifty Shades is pure fantasy. There is a lot of kinky sex that goes on and, while that may be fun in the books and films, life doesn’t always play out that way. The reality is, sometimes kinky sex needs to be negotiated for days or weeks in advance.. and even then it may still not go to plan! Similar to what I’ve said above, most Dominants also aren’t handsome men with an equally handsome salary so much as your average office worker with a rather average salary, so don’t be surprised if your local fetish scene isn’t full of potential Christian Greys.
3. Fifty Shades does not quell perceptions of kinky people
For too long, society has percieved kinky people as being flawed, dark, twisted deviants of society, but that simply isn’t always true. Sadly, rather than Christian Grey simply being a handsome multibillionaire with a crazy ex and a jealous foster brother, Christian needed to have a dark and troubled past to make him enjoy what he enjoys. Instead of enjoying rough and kinky sex for the sakes of rough and kinky sex, he needs it as an outlet to cope with his feelings towards his biological parents. This does nothing to perceive our community as normal people which, to be honest, a vast majority of us are. If you asked most kinky people why they do what they do, then the answer is simple – it turns us on. If you ask us is we were abused as children, then for most of us, the answer would be a clear and resounding no. We are not using BDSM to heal from our psychological woes, we are simply enjoying a lifestyle with a little bit something more.
One of my long-standing views is that, if Ana was the dominant partner, Fifty Shades wouldn’t have got the mixed reception that it got. If Ana had swapped Christian’s old banger in for a Porsche, she would be the best girlfriend in the world. If Ana had tied Christian up, she would have been hot, sexy and empowered and the reviews quite possibly would have been much higher. Fifty Shades served to get us all talking and destigmatising BDSM relationships, but it is a far cry from what any BDSM relationship should be.