Fifty Shades of Grey is a Vanilla-Washed Fantasy of BDSM

by
Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Fifty Shades of Grey misleads audiences with its conventional portrayal of BDSM.

Fifty Shades of Grey

I finally watched Fifty Shades of Grey over the weekend, and it was exactly what I thought it would be: absolutely awful. While critics are slamming the lack of chemistry between stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, the abrupt ending and snooze-fest storyline as to why this film totally sucked, I agree but take more issue with how Fifty Shades of Boring portrayed BDSM. The movie made kinky sex mainstream which is great except that what was exposed to the public about BDSM is not actually what that community looks like.

The movie depicts virgin Ana and control freak Christian in an unhealthy, abusive relationship that by the end leaves them both torn. Although rated R, Fifty Shades of Grey’s sex scenes are just a step above vanilla porn with nothing more than a little hand-tying and spanking. The movie does not encapsulate a realistic picture of kink and instead offers a conventional interpretation sprung from a 12-year-old’s imagination. The public is definitely interested in BDSM as the book’s popularity and record-breaking sales at the box office prove. But for many curious about kink the movie shows a damaging image of what the community is about. So in light of all the Fifty Shades hype, here’s what the movie misled you on:

Consent

Hotly controversial is Christian’s treatment of Ana. Audiences and critics perceive Christian as abusive and he clearly is, especially at the end when he is whipping her and doesn’t stop when Ana is so obviously in agony. A number of times Christian appears as a total stalker unable to leave Ana alone and are we supposed to interpret that as sexy, or even worse that consent isn’t part of BDSM?

Wrong. Consent is at the core of BDSM, and both parties always, ALWAYS mutually agree before anything happens in the bedroom.

Trust

Christian’s behavior as bossy and controlling is downright scary. He doesn’t trust Ana with other guys, he doesn’t let her go on vacation and he dictates where she sleeps and what she wears. These are all crucial signs of a manipulative, abusive boyfriend — not a BDSM partner (or even dominant for that matter).

In order to practice kinky sex, the partners involved must fully trust each other.

It’s fun

Kink is fun — if you’re into it. For those who practice BDSM, it’s just like how any other person views sex: pleasurable. Ana’s wincing and disgust by Christian’s whipping does not make the sex seem like a good time.

Things can get a little dirty

The infamous tampon scene from the book did not make the cut for the film. This scene where Christian pulls out Ana’s tampon and has sex with her on her period is the only reason why I appreciate the book. Period sex is rejected by society as taboo, instead of embraced as a natural part of womanhood. And while in vanilla sex red might mean stop, kink gives it the green light.

Other traditionally private toilet activities are also part of the kink world. The movie didn’t think audiences were ready for period sex so I’m assuming urination and secretion of feces is also off the table.  In some aspects of kink, using each other as a toilet is hot.

It’s hardcore

The movie was nothing more than a softcore porno. BDSM is heavy and the movie failed to deliver on how heavy things can get. Hand-tying and spanking are amateur. Punching? Playing with knives? Choking? The film does not even penetrate the surface of how hardcore BDSM really is.

Romance can be involved

Christian is portrayed as an icy, emotionally distant anti-romantic making kinky individuals translated as only interested in a sexual relationship — nothing more. But guess what? BDSM partners can be friends and they can be in long-term relationships. The practice is not just reserved for the promiscuous and commitmentphobic.

You’re not f**ked up if you like it

Christian cites his abusive childhood as the reason for his sexual tastes as an adult with the line, “I’m fifty shades of f**ked up.” And Ana’s reluctance and questioning as to why anyone would do BDSM activities to each other only reinstated the idea that you are not normal or sane if you are into kink. The story emphasizes the stereotype that you are messed up if you like a little rough pleasure in the bedroom, which is not true. Who BDSM appeals to is not determined by child abuse or the state of one’s mental health.

 

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