Archive for Fifty Shades of Grey

“Fifty Shades of Grey” and Learning about Dominance/submission

Posted in D/s, Philosophy, Relationships with tags , , , , on May 18, 2012 by Xajow

No, I still have not read the book Fifty Shades of Grey. (I am working my way through Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle currently, and so it will be some time before I get to any other novels.) I have been reading about it, however.

I am a bit dismayed by how many articles seem to be about how horrible it is that anyone might enjoy a story about a woman submitting in a BDSM relationship. The basic jist of most of them is that because women are now free to choose how they experience and express their sexuality, they should never choose to read a book like Fifty Shades of Grey. And worse than that, these articles pretty much say any woman who reads and enjoys it is wrong and ungrateful for the feminist/sexual revolution. To which I say, stop trying to subjugate women to your personal worldview.

Anyway, one or two articles brought up a more important issue. Some are arguing that the book’s presentation of BDSM does not accurately or well represent a healthy BDSM relationship. I would argue most romance novels do not present examples of healthy relationships, but I doubt anyone reading them expects they would. That said, to misrepresent BDSM could be potentially more harmful.

As I understand it, the book Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels basically tell a sort of Beauty and the Beast tale, wherein the woman tames the man’s inner troubled soul by her love. Which is a nice fantasy. But such a thing rarely if ever works out that way in real life. And adding in BDSM can set a person up to be subjected to some serious abuse.

Let’s be honest. A lot of the guys claiming to be Dominants are pretty much in it for the chance to, in one form or another, punish women. And those guys are generally not interested in long-term meaningful healthy relationships. A woman thinking she can tame such a fellow may or may not do so, but along the way, she is going to suffer a whole heck of a lot. This is not healthy.

Also, to be clear, not all Dominance/submission relationships are or have to be BDSM relationships. There is no rule that says if you want to submit you also have to be into whips and bondage.

A healthy relationship, D/s or BDSM or vanilla, is built on trust and honesty and communication. (Yes, love should be there too, but not all D/s relationships start there.) And as important as such things are in a normal relationship, they are doubly important in a D/s relationship. All the whippings and spankings and bondage toys in the world will not result in a healthy relationship if there is not an abundance of trust and honesty and communication. And even in a D/s and/or BDSM relationship, if both participants are not benefiting then there is something wrong and eventually the relationship will break down.

So even if the book Fifty Shades of Grey sparks an interest for you in BDSM or D/s, please please please read more about it before you go looking for a Dominant (or a submissive). I do not want to stop any woman from exploring her submissive nature, but do not use that exploration as an excuse to be careless. Sure, BDSM games can be sensual, erotic and fun. But placing yourself in the hands of the wrong Dominant (or Dominatrix) can get you seriously hurt physically, emotionally and mentally.

So be careful. Remember, being a submissive does not mean you get to stop thinking altogether. Be smart about it. Take your time. Do it with the right person for the right reasons, and it can be a beautiful, enlightening and uplifting thing.

What Is This “Fifty Shades of Grey” I Keep Hearing About?

Posted in D/s, Feminism with tags , , , on May 5, 2012 by Xajow

Someone mentioned to me the other day something about a scene in a book called Fifty Shades of Grey. It sounded intriguing. And then my mind moved on to other things. Earlier today, my Google News page listed articles about this book. Didn’t someone mention that the other day, I thought. Yeah. So what is this? I clicked a few links, and it gets more interesting by the minute.

I don’t mean the book. I have not read it, nor even purchased a copy. But the news about this is interesting. More interesting still are the opinion articles that seek to condemn the book.

Apparently the book is a novel about a woman who ends up in a Dominance/submission relationship with a man. And not a mild one either. Apparently this novel includes some explicit BDSM scenes. The interesting part is that the relationship is not, as seems typical in fiction of various sorts these days, a Dominatrix and a man who wants to be abused. Rather this Fifty Shades of Grey book is about a woman who chooses to submit to a man as he seeks to control her almost completely, if the descriptions of the book are to be believed.

And apparently the popularity of this book has some women scared. Several of the links via Google were to opinion pieces that were swift to insist that the book was somehow a setback for feminism. Whitney Frink, over at msnbc.com, says

Some argue that the storyline (and graphic sex, no doubt) provides escapism for its readers. I would have no problem with this rationale if the book wasn’t gaining popularity on the idea that it’s both fun (“mommy porn”) and positive (“a true love story”).

[…]

I’m no Gloria Steinem (I do like a door held for me once in a while), but the feminist in me was clawing to get out as I read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” If S&M is your thing, be my guest. If vapid books are your thing, to each their own. If it helps awaken your bedroom imagination, so be it. But let’s not tout this book as anything other than the big step backwards that it is.

She does not actually explain why someone should not find the book fun and romantic. She just seems to assume everyone would agree a book about a woman submitting to a man is a “big step backwards.” Though why is it is a step backwards she also does not explain.

Gina Barreca at the Hartford Courant says,

Women are pretending that they are the virginal heroine (with the all-too common name of “Anastasia Steele” — don’t you know, like, 12 women with that name?) whom he chooses as his object of desire.

Except “desire” is maybe not the right word for it: maybe “target” or “victim” would be more accurate.

And maybe “bondage” is a just sexy word for “degradation.”

1) I don’t know many women named Katie Scarlett O’Hara either. Sheesh. 2) Clearly this woman feels threatened by the book. Or at least its popularity. Apparently she is one of those feminists who cannot fathom why a woman might choose to submit. Indeed, that a woman might choose that offends her sense of feminism. She starts her column with this:

A hundred years of the women’s movement and what do we have? Women sneaking off to read “mommy porn” on their Nooks.

Wouldn’t our suffragette grandmothers be proud?

Why women choosing their own sexual fantasies and/or lifestyle is somehow anti-suffrage, Ms. Barrecca never explains.

This book must be some kind of awesome to have some women so afraid of it.

But Ms. Barreca lives in a strange place. She says also,

Women are encouraged by our culture to look for men who will provide them with an identity, even if that identity is “slave.”

They are? Where is this going on? Somewhere this must be, because over at Salon.com (where Tracy Clark-Flory talked to Dominatrices about the book) is this quote:

[Melissa] Febos, who considers herself a feminist and also has submissive fantasies, says, “I still live in a culture that floods my consciousness with instructions to be a passive, sexual object; that my only power rests in my sexuality as defined by men’s desire,” she says. [sic]

Where do these women live? In the 1950s? In the U.S. culture of 2012, images of strong women are everywhere. Very nearly the only BDSM images one ever sees in the mainstream media are of Dominatrices punishing men. There are strong women in comedies, crime dramas, sci-fi, fantasy, medical dramas. Some of the most popular authors of our day are women. Women hold places of power in politics and corporations. Yeah, I know, it’s still a male dominated society, but don’t tell me females are not told be strong independent women all the time, all over the place. Because they are.

Any feminism that does not allow for women to voluntarily choose to submit in a non-abusive relationship is not feminism. If women are to be free to choose their own lives and free to own their sexuality, then we cannot also say to them, “but these choices are unacceptable and if you choose one or more of them then there is something wrong with you.” Why should we not say that to them? Because that would just exchange one kind of paternalism for another.

I suggest those who frown upon submissive women should try not to be afraid of strong women. There is more to strength than being bossy. And not all bossy women are strong, just at not all bossy men are strong. If what I am saying offends you, I suggest further that is your problem, not mine.