The Dangers of Fifty Shades of Gray: a Guest Commentary (Warning Triggers/Adult Content))

A Note from Tara “Masery” Miller:

The people who participate in BDSM come from every walk of life, are abled or disabled, and belong to many different races and creeds. It can be a safe and responsible form of pleasure for consenting adults. For more information on BDSM and people with disabilities visit Keeping it Kinky.

Fifty Shades of Gray is a book about a fictional couple’s BDSM sex life that’s been talked about world wide. “The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. Critical reception of the book has been mixed, with the quality of its prose being generally seen as poor. Universal Pictures and Focus Features plan a film adaptation scheduled for a February 13, 2015 release.”

“At the beginning of the media hype, Dr. Drew debated sexologist Logan Levkoff on The Today Show, about whether Fifty Shades perpetuated violence against women; Levkoff said that while that is an important subject, this trilogy had nothing to do with it – this was a book about a consensual relationship. Dr. Drew commented that the book was “horribly written” in addition to being “disturbing” but stated that “if the book enhances women’s real-life sex lives and intimacy, so be it.”” Wikipedia

But is it really a harmless book? Today’s guest commentator doesn’t think so.

If you are in an abusive relationship get to a safe place and call The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

By Redditor ahhidk

Reposted with permission.

With Fifty Shades of Grey being made into a movie, I’ve tried to raise awareness how this book is not about BDSM, but rather domestic and sexual abuse. Many women argue that the relationship in the book is BDSM, but that paints BDSM in a bad light.

BDSM is a community that believes in safety & comfort. Consent is always necessary, and partners take care of each other. After acts and roleplays, partners comfort each other to help transition out of that zone. FSOG does not include any of this. Mr. Grey gives Anastasia (a then-virgin) an ultimatum; to sign a contract or leave. She is sexually inexperienced (being a virgin) and he manipulates that to push her boundaries to make it seem like the sexually violent things he is doing to her are okay. There are instances where after an act, he is mad at her for being upset, but does not comfort her. He uses alcohol to sway her consent – this is by law rape. There is also an instance where she uses the safe word, yet he continues. That is consent being retracted, and Christian ignores the retraction of consent. That is sexual assault.

Those are not the only problematic instances. Anastasia begins to hide things in fear of Christian’s anger. He becomes jealous and easily angered. Anastasia fears for her safety. Experts have even matched her behavior with that of abused women, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s description of partner violence.

This book completely throws people who participate in BDSM completely under the bus by misrepresenting BDSM as a whole. Bad people do sneak into BDSM to find a way to escape persecution for their violent ways, but the majority of those in BDSM are not abusive, like this book would have you believe.

This book romanticizes and fetishizes abuse, and painting abuse in a ‘sexy’ and ‘fun’ light is really dangerous for women. 1 in 5 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, that’s why this book should not be defended. Making this behavior seem okay to accept from a man is dangerous, and people will be influenced to dabble in ‘BDSM,’ but not have an actual idea of what it is, and they will get hurt.

I know many women (and men) defend this book and don’t understand how it can be seen as abuse, but it is. And I hope more awareness will be raised so this does not influence others. I plan on organizing to hand out pamphlets on domestic and sexual abuse and safety in the BDSM community, maybe even informative pamphlets on the real Fifty Shades of Grey, on the release date of the movie, and I hope others will as well.

Edit: Just want to say thanks to those who gave me gold, I will definitely pass that on! I have gotten a lot of hate for this post, but I’m happy some of you support it!

Edit 2: I’ve tried to reply to every single comment. I’ve noticed a pattern of comments in defense of FSOG I’ll address because I have to go do homework and can’t reply anymore.

“Women aren’t toddlers, they can decide what they like for themselves.” or “Who are you to decide what women should read?” I never once implied women (or men) are toddlers and can’t decide what they like, and I never once implied that I am the ultimate decider telling people what they should or shouldn’t read. It is up to every individual what they want to read, never anyone else. The point of this post is to point out how FSOG is problematic, not to police anyone’s reading habits.

“It’s just a book, jfc!” Yeah, it’s just a book…that perpetuates the idea that women love being dominated. A book that perpetuates and romanticizes domestic abuse, which is already incredibly high, under the guise of ‘fun’ and ‘sexy’ BDSM.

“There are movies about murder, wanna censor those too, you facist??” There is a difference between a book that can be written without abuse and get the same point across, but still includes abuse that is romanticized and fetishized to the Nth degree, that perpetuates a problem that is already way too normalized, and a movie about murder. If you think this, you don’t seem to understand where the line is drawn. People don’t leave the Purge thinking, “Damn! I want to go on a murder spree!” But women (and men) will leave a FSOG showing and think, “Damn! I want to try BDSM!” When it was never BDSM.

“So what if women like to read about/act out rape?? It doesn’t matter!!” Kinks and fetishes do not exist within a vacuum. They have real life effects on the real world. Rape play creates demand for rape porn. Rape porn gives people Here’s a link about how porn in general shapes the ideas of sexuality: http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/arpornography/arpornography.html#idp7024288[1] with included quote: “There are limits to what research can tell us about the complex interactions of mass media and human behavior. But from both laboratory research and the narratives of men and women, it is not controversial to argue that pornography can: (1) be an important factor in shaping a male-dominant view of sexuality; (2) be used to initiate victims and break down their resistance to unwanted sexual activity; (3) contribute to a user’s difficulty in separating sexual fantasy and reality; and (4) provide a training manual for abusers.” If you aren’t convinced, here is another link on how porn shapes the sexualities of those under 18 with included sources: http://pornharmsresearch.com/2013/12/talking-points-pornography-and-criminal-behavior-and-attitudes-research/[2] There are studies that prove rape porn decreases the amount of rapes that actually happen when mass consumed (the same happens when a violent movie is just released; violent crimes decrease. It’s satiating the potential perpetrator) but at the same time, these sources show that rape porn also creates new demand for rape, and new potential rapists. It’s more important to stop the cycle.

“It’s not my/their fault they like (insert kink)! I’m/They’re just born that way! It’s a part of sexuality!” No, it isn’t. No one is born with kinks or fetishes. Those are learned behaviors, usually by something in the childhood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_fetishism[3] Refer to ‘Psychological origins and development.’ (If you want to complain about it being wikipedia, click the citation, it takes you to the URL for the source.) Fetishes and kinks are most likely either conditioning and socialization, or events that shaped your sexuality. If you liken it to sexuality, you’re no different than those who liken pedophilia to sexuality, when it in fact has nothing to do with sexuality.

“Using alcohol isn’t rape! (Insert definition of rape) That’s rape!” Thank you, I know what rape is. But if you think this, you seem to be forgetting the key to rape: consent. And under law, consent can not be given while the person is under the influence. No consent = rape. Plain and simple. If you want to argue more, please gain a basic understanding of consent and consent laws before commenting again.

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About Tara "Masery" Miller

Tara "Masery" Miller is a Neo-Pagan panentheist Gaian mage living in the Ozarks with her husband and pets. She's also a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. She is the editor of Rooted in the Body, Seeking the Soul which you can find at Immanion press. www.immanion-press.com/info/books.asp She has a minor is religion from Southeast Missouri State Missouri State University with an emphasis in mysticism. Masery has lead various groups over the years and organized Pagan Pride Day events. Her magic and author page is at www.taramaserymiller.com


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