50 Shades Gives Relationships A Bad Name
So a while back, I wrote about erotica, and how it could be used as a bedroom booster. I made some comments about 50 Shades, despite not having read it, and was called to task by readers.
Well, I've read the first book. I don't hate all of it. But I do hate everything it says about relationships in general, and BDSM relationships in particular. If you haven't read the book and plan to, you should probably skip this article. There will be spoilers.
First, kudos to E.L. James. She obviously did her research, and learned about practices that are generally considered safe ways to participate in BDSM and employed almost all of them in the relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
Don't even get me started on the names.
She touched on contracts (an agreement between the top and bottom in a BDSM relationship; not legally binding) and safe words (a word the bottom can use to stop the play session), and even went into the issue of consent, which is one of the most important parts in BDSM. It's awesome that she had the presence of mind to know that handing Jane and Joe Citizen a book about kink without somehow working safety into the mix could be bad.
Then she took all those things and threw them out the window. Anastasia and Christian hadn't even finished negotiations the first time he spanked her. And they never did sign the contract. In fact, they agreed it was a moot point.
She also, probably without meaning to, perpetuates the stereotypes that sadists and dominants cannot relate to their bottoms in any other way, and that sadists and dominants are abusive, if not physically because of consent, then surely emotionally. Both of these are false.
And then there's the end. Oh, the end. After telling Christian to do his worst, and forcing herself to take it without using her safe word, Anastasia goes into a mental tirade about how Christian is a sick, sick man, and she was naïve not to see it, when in reality, the problem is that Anastasia simply doesn't understand fetish sexuality.
I've got the second book, and will be purchasing the third eventually. I hope she resolves these issues in those books, but judging from the angry blog posts from kinky bloggers who've read them all, I'm gonna guess she doesn't.
Let's be honest. The writing leaves something to be desired. The author seems to think it's okay to want to “fix” your partner, rather than understanding their sexuality, and loving them for who they are.
I hope like hell people are not reading into James's poo-pooing the safety measures, and deciding they don't need to be careful. People get hurt all the time just walking down the street because they're not careful. Add some implements that are supposed to cause pain, and you'd assume people would realize that goes double then. But they don't.
There were some sweet moments, and some erotic ones, but all through the book, there's a dark undertone that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Here's hoping it gets better in the next books.