Fifty Shades Of Grey is an immensely popular book series. But as a source of information about BDSM, it’s absolutely terrible. The characters involved behave in unrealistic and unsafe ways, and act in an appalling manner towards one another. The kind of BDSM portrayed in the book series is a dangerous fantasy, and one that simply cannot be copied in real life.
For many people, Fifty Shades Of Grey will be their first mainstream exposure to BDSM, and so it can be all too easy to treat it like an authoritative source of information. Hopefully, this guide will help dispel that myth a little.
To start with, not all relationships have to look like the one portrayed in Fifty Shades. Christian, as an older man, may seem like an obvious authority figure – the one destined to fill the dominant role. In real life, however, that’s simply not the case. Relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and it is not necessarily always the man (or even the eldest) who takes the dominant role. Indeed in some couples there is no dominant partner – they are either equal or they switch on a regular basis, so as to experience the best of both worlds.
Secondly, the negotiations that they undertake before beginning to play are farcical at best. Not only does Christian pressure Ana into doing things she doesn’t want to do, but he also takes control of her life in ways that she has not consented to. Although it may not be obvious from the very start, the BDSM community is all about consent – it’s one of the most important issues that is talked about on a regular basis. Some of Christian’s behaviour strays from the protective into the obsessive, and should be considered abuse by all general standards.
Ana is not completely blameless either. She unwisely and unfairly uses emotional blackmail to trick Christian into doing what she wants him to do. He is honest with her at all times about not wanting a vanilla relationship, and yet throughout the course of the books she insists on trying to trick and trap him into one.
Thirdly, and perhaps most damagingly, the books perpetuate the myth that anybody who is into BDSM is into it because they had a difficult abuse-filled youth. This is simply, completely and utterly false. In fact, the vast majority of people who are into BDSM are more happy, carefree and mentally well-adjusted than the general population who are not. The very idea that abuse lies at the root of a desire to dominate or submit is one of the most pervasive and harmful myths that the media propagates. And, like much of what appears on our TV screens, it’s simply untrue.
Add to this the fact that the books are terribly written, and poorly researched, with no real evidence that the author understands the effects that BDSM can have both physically and psychologically, and the account Fifty Shades gives of the kinky world starts to look like an eminently poor one.
Of course, the books are fantasy, and aren’t necessarily meant to mirror reality. The danger is, of course, that without further information and guidance, an unwary and inexperienced reader might take the example of the books as gospel and try to conduct themselves and their partner through a BDSM relationship in that fashion. Conversely, someone who is being
abused and controlled by their partner without their consent might read the books and believe that what they’re going through is both normal and desirable.
Though the books undoubtedly drew many people towards the worlds of kink and fetish, they simply cannot be used as reliable sources of information. It is essential, before starting to play, that you do your research and find out what BDSM is actually about. This guide is an excellent starting point. And so, without further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty of it.