Wednesday, February 18, 2015

50 Shades of Kinky Fuckery


So, I just got home from a movie; a handful of my girlfriends and I went to see 50 Shades of Grey. And it was pretty good. I think we all enjoyed it - and not just because it was 20% sex scenes (that didn't hurt, of course). The books were certainly written at an easy reading level, and there were a few too many descriptions of Anastasia's vagina, but they were a quick, fun, easy read - and we were all enticed to see the film adaptation.

There has been a ton of hype surrounding this movie, and a ton of criticism as well. Specifically, I've read several articles about the ways that this movie's portrayal of the dominant/submissive relationship glorifies domestic abuse. There is no shortage of people writing blogs in protest of the film, because of all the different ways Christian Grey is abusive, controlling, and manipulative, and all of the different ways he is violent toward Anastasia.

Umm. Nope.

As someone who has been abused, I can speak from personal experience that in no way does this movie glorify, support, or encourage domestic violence or abuse in romantic relationships. Because a desire to dominate someone in the bedroom does not a violent abuser make.


The plot line to 50 Shades of Grey - in case you were born last week and haven't already heard - is that of a dominant/submissive relationship in a young couple. She's a virgin, he's a head case, he wants to dominate her, they eventually fall in love and the story goes another route. Your basic Disney romance, with some nudity and bondage scenes. But of course, no one can just watch a movie, enjoy it, and go about their day. We all have to analyze it, critique it, and tear it to shreds about all of the underlying meaning and all of the wrong messages it sent to the young women out there.

#BARF.

First of all, there is a huge, HUGE difference between a dominant/submissive relationship and an abusive one. Key differences? Trust, love, and respect.

In dominant/submissive relationships, there are boundaries. There are safe words. There are rules and hard limits. Also, there is love. There's respect for your partner and a desire to give each other pleasure. The relationship is not about control or torture, or wanting to cause pain to the person you love; it's about causing pleasure. And maybe it isn't what you're into in the bedroom, but that doesn't make it evil or bad or wrong; that doesn't mean it isn't erotic or passionate. And it certainly does not make it abuse.


In an abusive relationship, on the other hand, there tends to be a lack of trust. And certainly a lack of respect for your partner. There are no boundaries, no safe words, and no rules. With abuse, there is not love and respect and a fair partnership. Abusive relationships are not about pleasure, they're about control. Abusers are manipulators who need to be in control, who need to be in charge and making decisions. Abusers don't respect the people they're abusing. Abusers don't care about your hard limits, your desires, or really about you at all. Not. The. Same.

In watching the fictional relationship unfold on the movie screen, it was clearly very much about two people who cared for each other, expressing their feelings and desires, satisfying each other sexually and, eventually, emotionally as well. In living a real life domestic violence scenario, there is no healthy expression of feeling and desire. Sure there's sex. It'd be unrealistic to think there wasn't. But there isn't healthy, romantic, passionate sex. It's obligatory sex. It's sex because you have to, because it's expected of you; it's sex with the lights off because you've been told repeatedly how unattractive you are and how awful it is to look at you. Sex in an abusive relationship lacks passion, lacks romance. You do it when you're asked, you don't enjoy it. You don't even have orgasms, so you're certainly not exploding with pleasure while blindfolded and handcuffed to the headboard. Sex with someone who abuses you often ends in a fight because you did it wrong, or because you said the wrong thing, or because you tried to say no. Sex with an abuser is quite the opposite of a dominant/submissive sexual relationship.

Repeat after me: Sex with someone who loves and treasures you and respects your boundaries, is nothing like sex with someone who controls and manipulates you, who criticizes your every move and belittles your existence.

50 Shades of Grey was a book-turned-movie that has gotten a lot of play (see what I did there?) because of the erotic language and juicy sex scenes, and because it gives light to a form of sexual relationship that people in general may not consider the norm. Repeatedly throughout the script, even the main character asks why her love interest doesn't have sex "like normal people." However, just because it's not the norm, doesn't mean it's ugly or abusive. Some women (and some men, really) aren't into anal sex, but some are - that doesn't make it gross or ugly, it just makes it a personal preference. Sex - what you like, what you don't, what turns you on - is all personal preference.


As long as you're with someone who respects you, respects your limits and boundaries, and understands that sex should make you feel safe and satisfied, it's not wrong, no matter what it looks like. You can be into the kinky fuckery with someone who loves you, cherishes you, and protects you. Or you can have vanilla, quiet, "normal" sex with someone who controls you, forces himself on you, and puts you in danger more often than not. It's not bad because it's kinky, nor is it good because it's vanilla.

It's not black and white.

It's grey.

What it really comes down to is, it's not about the type of sex you're having, but rather the type of person you're having sex with. Nothing else is relevant, so don't let other people influence what feels good (or bad) to you.

Even if that means you ask someone to blindfold you and smack your ass with a riding crop.