5 Lies “Fifty Shades” Tells Us About BDSM And Relationships

Unless you live under a very soundproof, large, rock, you know that the “Fifty Shades Of Grey” movie is now in theaters. I went to see it (as any devoted critic will) with a friend and spent most of the movie either laughing hysterically or cringing from the rampant awkwardness. The movie fell epically flat, despite all of the efforts from its creators, because the acting was just “meh,” which came as no surprise to me after reading about the disastrous movie tour. And really, the books were originally Twilight fan-fiction, so were you actually expecting great things to come of it?

Coming away from the movie, there were two primary thoughts in my mind:BDSM - BD DS SM

  1. The movie and books actually show a guy using condoms, which is rare. So bravo for that. (This is the one and only compliment I will give to this mess…)
  2. The movie glaringly showcased the core flaws of the entire series—both in regards to BDSM and relationships in general.

1. Stalking and codependency are NOT synonymous with love

Don’t get me wrong—we all want to be desired and loved, and that is just dandy.

And I know this might seem like an obvious statement, but apparently it’s something that needs to be said, because people around the world are swooning over the Christian-Ana relationship. Yes, Christian proclaims his love for Anastasia and she’s all relieved, because apparently unreciprocated love is the worst possible thing that can happen. But, her lover boy is overly controlling, emotionally abusive, and treats her like property. He uses his money and threats to manipulate her where he’s not physically present, and when he can’t do that he makes a way to miraculously appear at her side. Once he’s back at her side, he finagles his way back into her good graces, has lots of sex with her, and then takes his prize back to Seattle. Not being able to be away from your partner for several days is alarming, and really not endearing. But don’t ya know—lack of personal space and an overly controlling boyfriend are super sexy… not.

Some might say that lifestyle kinksters have a relationship where the dominant-submissive (D/s) dynamic is always there, but Ana and Christian never had that conversation. Early on, Ana wasn’t too keen on being a submissive, so Christian haphazardly threw out the contract, while still keeping the rules, still living the kinky not-safe-sane-and-consensual life, and oh wait—he just got everything he wanted. Whoops! Meanwhile, Ana is constantly trying to change Christian into the undamaged sex god she has on a pedestal in her brain (and possibly in her closet). The course of their days, their wellbeing, and functionality is very precariously hanging on their relationship status. This is all so unhealthy and codependent. This is not what a true, healthy Dom/sub relationship looks like.

2. Aftercare, where art thou?

As my lovely kinky friends mentioned during this interview, aftercare is glaringly absent from Ana and Christian’s relationship. In the movie, there’s one scene where Christian spanks Anastasia, and then just up and leaves. It was appalling, yet that is what the majority of the sex scenes in the books consist of. There’s rarely a thoughtful discussion of what just happened during the session, but rather they just kind of snuggle, Ana falls asleep, Christian moodily plays his piano, and then on to the next disaster.

No matter how much someone asks to be spanked/handcuffed/flogged/etc, the act of enduring it is still emotionally taxing.

The sub has to “come down” from that state of mind and still know that the Dom will care about their wellbeing outside of that scenario. Most people don’t just get up after being smacked all over the place and brightly ask you if you want some tea—yet the Fifty Shades books make it seem that way. Is this really the kind of message we want to be conveying to the kink-curious?

3. You don’t lie to the ones you love

I think this is a point that is either forgotten or glazed over, but Christian Grey is not just a Dom—he’s an abusive sadist. Not to say that sadomasochistic relationships don’t exist in a healthy way, but that’s definitely something I’d want to know before jumping into bed with some sex-crazed hottie. Yet Christian lies about this, and Ana doesn’t find out until he decides to word-vomit it out at some point in the second book. Umm, awkward much?

Christian says at the very beginning that in order for a BDSM relationship to work, the participants need to be completely honest with one another (and he’s actually right about that). Yet he knowingly withholds several crucial aspects of himself from the woman he supposedly loves, and those crucial bits don’t emerge until after he pretty well beats the hoo-ha right off of Ana. Meanwhile, Ana is playing the part of a devoted “missionary girlfriend” who is going to save him from his demons. Please, girl, you are not his therapist (Dr. Flynn is), nor are you the Messiah.

4. “Oh, I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele”

For someone who prides himself on control, Christian Grey is pretty damn out of control.

Maybe it’s just me, but most people who claim to “exercise control in all things” tend to be uniquely and utterly out of control. Take it from me, a recovering control freak (although more with laundry and organization and not so much with, well, controlling people’s lives). Christian Grey is an out-of-control megalomaniac. Period.

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5. Whatever your kink is, respect is still integral to a healthy relationship

Flipping through the books I realized very early on that Christian and Ana don’t do a lot of talking, and instead do a lot of fucking. Sex is nice, but not when it’s used to avoid talking about important relationship issues. Contrary to what E.L. James would have you think—sex is not the answer to everything.

Failing to consider your partner’s needs and concerns is neglectful abuse and sets a relationship up for failure and/or resentment. Christian Grey is profoundly self-centered, and he actually perpetuates the stereotype that Doms are always on a power trip and super controlling (not necessarily true). Meanwhile, Ana continually puts aside her own needs, and is a complete doormat, which also perpetuates the stereotype that subs have some sort of Stockholm Syndrome and can’t think for themselves (also not true).

If you love and respect your partner, then you communicate. Tip: If you want to have a real, meaningful conversation, keep your clothes on.


Do you find the Fifty Shades Of Grey series as screwy (hehe…) as I do? What else do you find problematic about it?

Let us know @litdarling or in the comments below!

 

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