Jun 032012

I’m still talking about this chapter because this is when this book’s deeply flawed understanding of BDSM is first exposed.

Please him! He wants me to please him! I think my mouth drops open. Please Christian Grey. And I realize, in that moment, that yes, that’s exactly what I want him to do. I want him to be damned delighted with me. It’s a revelation.

There’s a subtle but important shift in the verbs in this paragraph. In the first two sentences, she uses “to please” as something she does to him. But in the sixth sentence, she shifts to “to be pleased with me”, as something he is with her. In a single thought, she goes from something she does, to something she expects him to do. It’s the difference between doing something because you take satisfaction in a job well done or you believe the task is worth doing, and doing something because some external party will reward you for it. This underlines two different things kinky people mean when they talk about “service”.

As an example of “service”: A submissive may massage a dominant’s feet for any of several reasons, or some combination:

  • The sub may be a foot fetishist, and get off on touching a woman’s feet, because they are his object of desire.
  • The sub may be into humiliation, and this act symbolizes his subordination, being “forced” to touch a woman’s dirtiest, lowest appendages
  • The sub may do this as an implicit quid pro quo with the dominant, to demonstrate gratitude and respect and affection
  • The sub may enjoy performing the service for the dom, something the dominant needs.
  • The sub may take pride in his or her talent, regardless of the person it is done for.

IMHO, “true” service submissives, if they exist at all, are very, very rare. It takes an unusual person to be completely egoless in their actions, to have no need for material compensation or even personal recognition. That said, most submissives feel some combination of these emotions.

If a dominant and a submissive aren’t on the same page about what a given act means, there are problems. The sub can be left feeling unappreciated if the dom doesn’t realize that he or she needs approval. And how do the dom and sub get on the same page? Negotiation.

It takes a certain amount of self-awareness and honesty for people to understand what they want out of a kink scene, and express it clearly in the negotiation process. Christian, in this case, knows exactly what he wants. Ana doesn’t, and that’s a problem. She may expect never-ending attention and approval from Christian, and not get it while he’s busy running his company, leaving him only enough time to visit her once a day.

Ana”s just been introduced to these concepts, and doesn’t know enough about them or even about herself to make informed decisions. Christian, as the more knowledgeable and experienced partner, should take the responsibility of educating her, setting a pace she can handle, letting her find her way, and when in doubt, doing no harm. Prior experience with this book tells me this isn’t going to happen.

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