(I’ve been ragging pretty hard on the Fifty Shades trilogy and related phenomenon. At more than a few social events for kinky people, I’ve gone on rants about my opinion of it to anyone who will listen, and a few who won’t. One friend called me on this and made a spirited defence of the series. I asked her if she wanted to do a guest post on the subject, and she obliged.)
So being a kinky person myself, enjoying and learning in my own journey of BDSM, I of course heard all kinds of negative comments about the 50 Shades books. I heard so much negativity in fact that I had no intention of reading the books. A friend of mine though had bought the books and so I decided to borrow at least the first one and see what I thought.
Truthfully…do you want to hear my honest opinion? I loved the first book so much that I couldn’t put it down and was up late one night (at least) trying to finish it. And I loved the first book so much that I couldn’t wait to borrow the other two from my friend and instead went out and bought the trilogy for myself.
I have never looked at literature for my enjoyment based on how well it is written, and that’s a pretty subjective thing anyways. What you think is well written is most likely not going to be what I think is well written. Our individual ideas of that may come from a variety of knowledge and experiences around literature. I look at books the same way I do movies…was I entertained? Did I enjoy the experience (reading or watching)? Did I come away from the experience feeling good, or even just feeling something?
So, about the books. The reason why I want to defend them is because I think people are focusing on only the negative about the story, and/or the subjective quality of the writing itself. Yes, to some it could imply that anyone involved in BDSM has issues stemming from childhood (abuse or otherwise). Thinking logically and from personal experience, many people do have childhood issues that influence what they do or not in their lives, not just whether then get involved in BDSM either. Many people in the BDSM scene do have issues that may or may not have had a part in drawing them to it. Does that matter? For me, it doesn’t. I had one partner who wanted to explore my childhood with me to figure out if my submissiveness and desire for pain with sex etc. came from something in my childhood. I just don’t care if there is a connection. And I think that worrying about what “vanilla” people think about that idea in the 50 Shades books is a waste of my time. If any of those people get more involved in BDSM they will soon find out that is not what BDSM is all about or where all people are coming from. Those who never delve deeper into BDSM don’t matter as they have no impact on my or your life. We can’t change what people think about BDSM unless they are willing to learn. Those that are willing to learn will come into the lifestyle and do so. Yes, I realize we have had a huge influx of people (especially horny men) joining websites like FetLife thinking that all women are submissive and all men are dominant but those types have been on the websites long before 50 Shades came out. There are just more of them lately. When they find that it’s not what it’s all about, they’ll either stay and learn or leave realizing that it is not a kinky free sex world. For those that stay, then education begins and their world expands just like ours does from having them there to learn from us.
50 Shades was written as fantasy fiction. It isn’t meant to be real or truthful. It isn’t meant to be accurate. My understanding is it wasn’t even meant to be a book, never mind 3 of them. It was written as fan fiction and just blew up from there. You can’t blame the author for running with it. She wants to make money from her writing just as much as the next writer. She has not created any wrong or negative thoughts about BDSM that were not already there with the uninformed.
She wrote books that appeal to a particular section of the fiction market. And she nailed it for them. Women looking for a little distraction from everyday life, a little fantasy from boring husbands or boyfriends, some hot sex scenes to use for masturbation fodder, the prince on a white horse (or boat or car or helicopter) to rescue the poor damsel. These women are not looking for reality, they have enough of that. They just want some fluff, something light to cleanse the pallet in between dealing with the heavier things in their lives. Some of them will also bring it up to their significant others and liven up their real sex lives. What’s wrong with that? Aren’t we all entitled to some fantasy, to some new ideas, to a chance to explore and grow?
As for what goes on in the “real” BDSM world…please don’t tell me that there are no people like Christian, no people like Ana. I have met people with very similar personalities and ways of living their BDSM lifestyle. I have seen postings and received messages from men who are as arrogant and demanding and entitled acting as Christian! I have met people like Ana who are lost and horrified, yet intrigued and wanting what BDSM is making them feel deep inside! I have also met people who think BDSM is an excuse to be able to get away with abuse. I have met people who think they are only worthy of abuse. Do we try to deny that those types of people are common in the lifestyle? I hope not! I have also, of course met many people who have wonderful, honest, loving, healthy BDSM relationships (healthy again being a subjective word in this case).
I think criticizing these books is coming from (at least for some people) maybe seeing a little part of themselves in the main characters, or in someone they know. I have noticed that many people in the kinky world are very defensive about anyone outside of the kinky world knowing anything about it, especially if that information could in any way be seen as negative. We are supposed to be a group of people that are more open to differences, more accepting of what each of us enjoy, less judgmental, and yet we fear being judged by others. Why? Does it matter what people who we will never meet think of what we do? Does it matter that those who are drawn to BDSM through this book may or may not change their ideas about kink if they come to sites like FetLife? Does it matter if they run away thinking BDSM is wrong and tell their friends…again who we will never meet?
I live my life for me, and the only people’s opinions I care about are those that I’m very very close to, and even then their opinion only matters to a certain extent. Yes realistically sometimes a strangers opinion can upset me, but I’ve learned to let it go and not dwell on it like I would have in the past. Certainly the opinions of people I will never meet don’t matter. Perhaps that’s a bit of a tangent away from the topic of this writing, but I think everything I’ve said is important for people to remember and consider when they read, think about or comment on these books.