So apparently the new trailer for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie just aired. For a lot of people, Fifty Shades is their only encounter with the BDSM world. Unfortunately, I’m not the target audience so I haven’t read the trilogy completely, though I’ve tried. BUT! Based on convos I’ve had with people, the limited exposure I have to the text, and the trailer itself, I’ve started to become a little concerned.
I like being a pervert. I like the seeing the expressions on my friends’ faces when I tell them my latest exploit and hearing their questions about their own sexuality after. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not do kinky shit for other people. I do not do kinky shit just to escape normality. That said, something about the taboo makes it so sexy.
Obviously, this isn’t the first literary exploration of BDSM. We got the Marquis de Sade saying all kinds of glorious smut in Philosophy in the Boudoir from like 200 years ago. More recently, Story of O and Whip Smart also explore the community from diff angles. So it’s out there. However, I’d argue the narrative has not been discussed as readily and as mainstreamly as today. Fifty Shades, besides being bestselling mommy porn, is being turned into a multimillion dollar blockbuster. Folks eat that shit up.
From what I can tell, Grey, the main character, wasn’t any representative of healthy BDSM. He seems to be a pure sadist, not worried about consent. In the trailer, Anastasia even says, “I don’t know that I can be with him in the way he needs me to.” The trailer illustrates a cautionary tale of the beautiful big bad Christian Grey who has a troubled past which has led to his “singular tastes.” The trailer depicts a constant battle in which Anastasia tries to break into Christian’s mental vault while he warns her that he’s not the man for her. There’s something very wrong about that. And what’s worse is that this is the narrative for a lot of relationships not just this fictional BDSM one. One partner doing things he or she is not comfortable with in order to please and gain access their sig other's care, attention, or affection. Back in that dive bar, when I was talking to The German about the book, he said, and I’m paraphrasing, it was fucked up. He talked about how there are scenes in which Anastasia doesn’t want to do what she is forced to do. No matter how you fucking look at it, it’s a violation.
So now we got this widespread dissemination of rape fantasy equating BDSM. Not just in the movies either. Jian Ghomeshi just tried to pass off blatant violation as BDSM. Sure. He’s probs into the kink community, but so many women have come out and said they didn’t consent to his roughness.
Now we’ve got two problems. Mainstream BDSM removing the back alley allure of BDSM and spreading a false non-consenting image of it. At least show a healthy version. Either way, folks are buzzing about BDSM right now. The usual fear and misunderstanding bathe the discussion, whipping people back into their vanilla closets while practitioners repeat to no avail that we perverts are not abusers and miscreants.
One of the biggest fears I’ve encountered when talking to vets in the kink community is the fear of being found out. Whether it be a coworker seeing marks left from a scene or a wife seeing her husband leaving his Mistress, people don’t want their dirty private life to be mixed in with their image in the public eye. Perhaps it’s maintaining the taboo allure or maybe it’s the shame associated with being different. Maybe it’s the fear of being shunned and looked at with disgust, or that their professions just don’t allow for it.
I never really experienced this shame. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m already very noticeably outside the norm, so I was a little like what the fuck when I realized I liked BDSM related stuff. It wasn’t shame per se. More like a teenage freak out about further marginalizing myself. Ha, but I’ll save those cross sections for another day. The point is, I never really felt the shame in exactly the same way as the vets I’ve talked to. Perhaps I am already a product of this mainstreaming. Perhaps this constant narrative has allowed rookies like me not to be ashamed of our desires, but to dive head first into the community. And I love this possibility. Clearly I want to help give people license to explore whatever the fuck gets them wet, but I’m conflicted. I also want to be a member of this top secret kinky club full of free spirits and adventurers.
Do you feel like mainstreaming strips BDSM of some of its grit?
Quest is a switch in training