The subject of 50 Shades of Grey inevitably comes up whenever a vanilla person finds out about my relationship dynamic. BDSM as a subject of a book or movie is nothing new. Granted, it’s never been so popular before, but the subject has been previously breached. In the 80’s Anne Rice (author of Interview With A Vampire, among other things) wrote a trilogy of books about Sleeping Beauty after Prince Charming took her to his kingdom. It turns out that Prince Charming’s kingdom was full of kinky people. Good times! She wrote them under the nom de plume of A.N. Roquelaure. Roquelaure, by the way, is French for a type of cloak that was worn in the 1700-1800’s. Get it? Cloak, hiding, fake name…very sneaky sis. The books are a fun read if you’re looking for Ren Faire erotica. There’s also a great movie that addressed the subject of BDSM in 2002 called Secretary starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The movie Quills with Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, and Joaquin Phoenix was also a good one. It focuses on the Marquis de Sade (the man who’s last name is the basis of the word “sadism”). My point is that 50 Shades of Grey isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last. There are good things about it as well as bad things, but that can be said of just about anything in this world. Except for bacon, there’s nothing bad about bacon. The first person that says something about high cholesterol gets shot. That’s just anti-bacon propaganda from the turkey establishment, but I digress.
One of the good things about the 50 Shades phenomenon is that it’s simply good for BDSM business. I’ve noticed the bump in attendance at my local dungeons in the last few years and I can sniff out the 50 Shades of Grey couples pretty quickly. They’re the ones with the new bag full of shiny new cheaply made toys that were all purchased at Touch of Romance for double what they should cost. Here’s a tip: If you want a riding crop, don’t pay $25 for a shitty toy replica of one at a fluffy sex shoppe. Drive your ass to a Feed & Tack supply store (or go online) and buy a real one for $10. Then these couples wander around the dungeon all night, doing nothing, and then scamper off when they see a heavy player going full bore on a girl that’s screaming her lungs out. Those 50 Shades of Grey couples paid their money just like everyone else, though, and that’s helpful for the dungeon owners when it comes time to pay the rent.
Another good thing about 50 Shades is the fact that it brings my lifestyle into the conscious mind of mainstream society. I don’t need validation from anyone, but I can imagine it would definitely help when explaining yourself to the police officer who’s knocking at your door because he got a call from a neighbor that heard slapping and screaming coming from your place.
Now I’ll move on to the bad things about it. One, it’s a piece of Twilight fan fiction poorly written at an 8th grade reading level. Two, it’s main character, the dominant Mr. Grey, has the same last name as the dominant character in the movie Secretary. Seriously, E.L. James couldn’t think of something other than Mr. Grey?
The main problem I have with these books are that they perpetuate the notion that people in this lifestyle are fucked up and need to be fixed. There is a guidebook that psychiatrists use to diagnose people with mental disorders. It’s called the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM for short). In the 4th edition of the DSM (published in 2000), it says, “Consensual adult activities and adult entertainment that may involve some aspects of sexual roleplay, novel, superficial, or trivial aspects of sexual fetishism, or may incorporate the use of sex toys are not necessarily paraphilic.” It also says that sadomasochistic behavior is a sexual and mental disorder if the patient “has acted on these urges with a non-consenting person”. So there you have it. If we act consensually, S&M is not a mental disorder. I am NOT 50 shades of fucked up!
The other problem I have with 50 Shades is really a problem with the phenomenon and it’s a problem that is also one of the benefits which is that it brings my lifestyle into the conscious mind of mainstream society. This attracts abusive men that think they’ve found a loophole. Little do they know that, as a community, we’re tightly knit and we police our own. We will find you out and we will expel you from our ranks. The other people it attracts are snake oil salesmen. These are guys that talk a good game, get laid a bunch by making empty promises, and then ride off into the sunset.
The reality is that 50 Shades of Grey isn’t reality. A Harlequin romance novel doesn’t accurately depict anyone’s relationship and neither does 50 Shades. It’s fantasy porn for soccer moms that are too uptight to look at real porn. She does mention bacon in the book, so maybe it’s ok after all.