Review: Watching 50 Shades of Grey is torture

The last time two hours felt this long, I was in labour. Was I having a triple root canal sans anesthetic? Was I having a limb amputated? No. I was sitting through the dreadful movie Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, I wasn’t anticipating a great film. I had, after all, read the entire trilogy, written widely about the violent sex scenes scattered throughout, and had devoured the movie reviews that pointed to the stilted dialog, poor acting, and lack of chemistry between the “hero,” Christian Grey, and his hapless heroine, Anastasia Steele. So I was prepared for a bad movie that would make any feminist enraged at the way Grey manipulates and controls women.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the way the predatory behavior of Grey in the books looks so much worse when translated into images. Print allows the reader some wiggle room because you can project your own fantasies, longings, and desires onto the characters. Images, however, as media scholars have long argued, tend to be more compelling and all encompassing, and the viewer is thus rendered more powerless in her ability to “play” with the text — and, importantly, the subtext — that underscores the plot, the character profiles and the story arc.

As I sat in the movie theater on opening day surrounded by a full house of young women drinking cocktails (yes, they served cocktails during the movie), I braced myself for the scenes that were about to eroticize and glorify violence against women. (Full disclosure: as the architect of the #50dollarsnot50shades boycott, I broke my own boycott but gave $100 dollars to the local domestic violence shelter as penance.) Yet nothing prepared me for what I saw unfold on the screen.

This was not just a movie about sexual violence, but a film that depicted, in unbearable detail, how to lure a lonely, isolated child into “consenting” to sexual abuse. In the book, Ana is depicted as a student about to graduate college, but she sounds more like an adolescent with her “holy craps,” lack of knowledge about her body and sexuality, and her awkward demeanor.

On screen, these hints in the book become more sinister, and instead of an adolescent, you watch a pathetic child begging for some love and attention from a much older, experienced man who seems to have read the pedophile groomers’ manual from cover to cover. While Ana is played by twenty-five year old Dakota Johnson, her way of being in the world is childlike, as evidenced in her naiveté, lack of sophistication, and heartbreaking innocence.

Psychologist Anna Salter, a leading expert on predators, has argued that “The grooming process often seems similar from offender to offender, largely because it takes little to discover that emotional seduction is the most effective way to manipulate children.” Strip Christian Grey of his fancy duds, private plane, and expensive cars, and you are left with a run-of-the-mill predator who knows exactly how to worm his way into a child’s emotional world that is bereft of connection and love.

He hones in on Ana because she exudes vulnerability, immaturity, and loneliness from the A scene from Fifty Shades of Grey.moment he claps eyes on her. Faithfully following the predators’ manual, Grey pretends to be interested in her, showers her with gifts, tells her his deepest secrets, stalks her at work and at home (even while she visits her parents’ home), and gives her treats such as a helicopter ride. All the while he carefully studies her to find and exploit her weak points. And then he moves in for the kill.

The kill is when the predator makes the move to emotionally bind the victim to him, and Grey, being really good at what he does, knows just when to strike. Ana is dying for a close, intimate sexual experience because — wait for it — she is a virgin. Until this point Grey has been telling Ana that he doesn’t do “romance” but rather likes to “f*** hard.” However, on discovering that he has hit the jackpot, he does indeed do romance, and they have passionate sex that leaves Ana swooning. Now that he has her firmly in his grasp, he milks this power for all it’s worth.

In the sex scenes that follow we get to see what “f*** hard” really means. Whips, ropes, chains and pounding penetration replace kissing and intimacy, and soon Ana is lulled into compliance with the promise of a date or a fancy dinner if she submits to his sexual sadism. In no time Ana is perfect prey — in other words, a whimpering mess, having multiple orgasms one moment, followed by weeping on the phone to her clueless, neglectful mother the next, and then more orgasms, more weeping, more violence — and on it goes for what seems like a torturous Groundhog Day-esque nightmare.

Although the more violent scenes from the books were left out of the film (probably because all those along the profit food chain understood just how far they could go before fans ran screaming from the theater), the movie is so much more disturbing than the books. Watching a seasoned predator toy with his immature prey on the big screen, unable to skip through the pages of more violent scenes or project your own images of Christian Grey onto Jamie Dornan, you are left with a knot in the pit of your stomach that won’t go away, no matter how many cocktails you down.

And for all those who are reading this article, before you decide that this is some crazy feminist looking too deeply into a movie, think about a girl in your life whom you love. Think about your hopes for her, and what you want for her in the future.

I bet you that Christian Grey is not what pops into you head.

 

Gail Dines is a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston.  Her latest book, Pornland, How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality, is the basis of a new documentary by Media Education Foundation.  Dines is founder and president of the non-profit group, Stop Porn Culture.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Good article. I enjoyed this was a review worth reading also: https://officialnickdee.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-review/

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  • I don’t know what’s worse. The fact that so many women like the film or the fact that men hate it for not being violent enough. Showing only soft core BDSM is a great way to suck people in and now capitalists everywhere have been given a green light to shove even more violent images down people’s throat. I wonder what would have happened if the film had featured hard care BDSM straight away, would people have been grossed out? Would it have woken them up and killed their arousal? I like to think so, people are not born with a taste for violence. They have to be desensitised.

    I commend Stop Patriarchy for protesting the film and I hope there will be more protests when the next films come out. The protests got a little bit of media attention, which is a step forward, because when the books came out the fact that some feminists oppose the series was not acknowledged by the mainstream media at all. The media is still giving too much coverage to those arguing that it misrepresents BDSM. In a sense they are right because real BDSM is even worse than what is shown in the film, LOL. They think non-BDSM people are upset because of the lack of a highly formalised consent process, but two people blabbering on and on about how they are going to have sex would put most people to sleep. It’s the acts themselves that make people uncomfortable. Somehow the BDSM community just can’t comprehend that.

    • amongster

      “I wonder what would have happened if the film had featured hard care BDSM straight away, would people have been grossed out?”

      It would probably have been called an “arthouse film” and gotten praise from all the male critics. “Controversial” is such a nice way to say unwatchable for anyone with conscience.

      • By “people”, I meant the ordinary masses, not ivory tower academic types. Who else would I be talking about? It’s not like I care what self proclaimed “avente garde” types say (I know I probably spelt that wrong, but I don’t care enough to look up the actual spelling.)

      • Morag

        Yes, at least no one is calling this trash “art” that some uncultured ladies just don’t “get.” Small mercies?

      • Miss Prankster Pixie

        Agree with the comment that it would be called an ‘arthouse’ piece. Especially by any contemporary foucauldian and post modernists getting a secret thrill from thinking that expressing power through domination is a benign or natural phenomenon. Too many sociologists and media-theorists fence-sit/applaud where power-relationships and power-hierarchies are concerned.

  • Sabine

    Gail Dines, spot on as always. It’s so brilliant to see her here on Feminist Current. I am a HUGE fan. I truly hope that the controversy surrounding Fifty Shades of Sick results in a universal panning of this pathetic phenomenon and makes people start seriously questioning the “harmlessness” of BDSM. That’s basically the only good that can come out of this steaming pile of horseshit…

  • Derrington

    As someone who has lost two babies to sexist violence, i find the fact that the media coverage around this film and its clear promotion of dv is so one sided is the most troubling aspect. 150 women a year are murdered in sexist attacks in the home and 500,000 go to hospital, 1 in 3 schoolgirls are attacked in the playground. The hashtag why i stayed should feature fifty shades of grey – the media told me it would all be alright in the end. This film is just propoganda to get women to stay with men that beat them.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      It’s also propaganda for the bdsm community it got picked up because the media loves sexualised violence but don’t want to own up to it. It’s easier to blame women for it. Bdsmers are always recruiting (fresh meat) and if you make it into a trend you are going to suck in a lot of women. I think the appeal of the ‘fantasy’ is that you can change him with the power of love and it’s sort of cinderella story except she’s running into servitude. The whole mysterious brooding man thing is enticing because it is mistaken for being interesting and worldly instead what it is childish and boring.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        I’m sorry about your children. My heart goes out to you and your loved ones. Please take care of yourself.

        • derrington

          Bless you and all of us! xx

  • Such a wonderful truthful analysis of what this film is really about. Thank you again Gail Dines for your courageous and uncompromising honesty.

    As you and others have pointed out before, the end-game of pornography is paedophilia, the overpowering and sullying of “innocence”. The sexuality in all of this is profoundly repressed, so deeply embedded in Abrahamic hierarchy that despises the female and the flesh. At it’s core it is an expression of intense shame. The narrative over and over and over is that a “dirty” man with his “dirty” desires finds a “pure” female or child and transforms them into something debased through sex.

    The fact that any critiques of pornographic representation, statements about the actual damage done to women in porn and prostitution, or reports on the social effects of both are met with a blanket dismissal that they are born of some sort of sexual repression is the greatest irony. It is pure psychological projection.

    • purple sage

      Lizor, you are brilliant! I wish you wrote your own blog!

      • Thank you purple sage. That means a lot. Someday I might get up the gumption (and time) to start a blog.

  • Reva

    I’m really worried about the way this Fifty Shades of Bullshit is going to affect women especially teenagers (like me).I have read the trilogy…I read all three books despite noticing the abuse just to see where it went.And I was so angry at myself whenever I got excited while reading the shitty sex scenes.But at least I knew there’s a lot of abuse in it.Many of my friends were like ‘awww such a romantic love story!’
    Many liberals say the story is feminist.If women twice my age can’t see the abuse in it,how are we teenagers going to see it?we read,get excited,fantasize about it and would perhaps do that stuff in future;try to perceive abusive relationships as ‘romantic’.
    This literally sounds like some mastermind plan to make people overlook abuse by men…make it sexy!

    • Laur

      It’s nice to see a teenager here. Some women don’t “find” feminism until their latter years of life! 🙁 I look forward to seeing you around.

    • Mar Iguana

      “This literally sounds like some mastermind plan to make people overlook abuse by men…make it sexy!”

      Gail Dines, from an interview with Chris Hedges:

      “When you fight porn you fight global capitalism,” she said…

      “The venture capitalists, the banks, the credit card companies are all in this feeding chain. This is why you never see anti-porn stories. The media is implicated. It is financially in bed with these companies. Porn is part of this. Porn tells us we have nothing left as human beings — boundaries, integrity, desire, creativity and authenticity. Women are reduced to three orifices and two hands. Porn is woven into the corporate destruction of intimacy and connectedness, and this includes connectedness to the earth. If we were a society where we were whole, connected human beings in real communities, then we would not be able to look at porn. We would not be able to watch another human being tortured.

      “If you are going to give a tiny percent of the world the vast majority of the goodies, you better make sure you have a good ideological system in place that legitimizes why everyone else is suffering economically,” she said…

      “This is what porn does. Porn tells you that material inequality between women and men is not the result of an economic system. It is biologically based. And women, being whores and bitches and only good for sex, don’t deserve full equality. Porn is the ideological mouthpiece that legitimizes our material system of inequality. Porn is to patriarchy what the media is to capitalism.

      “Porn is not about sex, if one defines sex as a mutual act between two partners, but about masturbation, a solitary auto-arousal devoid of intimacy and love. The cult of the self — that is the essence of porn — lies at the core of corporate culture. Porn, like global capitalism, is where human beings are sent to die.”

      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/pornography_is_what_the_end_of_the_world_looks_like_20150215

      Granted, I’m a cranky old crone, but I remember when chicken-choking men/boys used to be a joke, pathetic losers with hairy palms and failing eyesight. Now that porn is considered the gold standard of free speech instead of the hate speech that it is, the boys have elevated jerking off to a civil right and an art form. Fifty Shades of Scum brought to you courtesy of Flint, Hefner, liberal men and fascist corpRats.

  • I’ve been shocked by the love of this shit. Seriously. I keep thinking I know everything now, I’ve seen everything, and then something comes along that blows me away all over again.

    A commenter over on IBlameThePatriarchy.com made the light bulb go off for me. She said she’d read the book while in an abusive relationship and loved it. And I realized, of course. The message of the shit is that it’s worth all the suffering and it comes out wonderful in the end. All the patriarchy – misogyny – sexism that makes you feel like garbage is good. (Also, war is peace, and we have always been at war with Eastasia.)

    The horrible coda to that insight, for me, is that it means the mainstream will never wake up to how damaging, perverted, insane that crap is. People want the message of those lies. It justifies their sufferings and promises eternal life in the hereafter. So the only effect will be to make things generally worse.

    The only bright side I can see is that maybe it’ll make a few individual women and men see the shit for what it is.

  • Joe M.

    Some good points here, but I don’t like the seeming insinuation throughout that women aren’t as smart as men, and thus are automatically prey for random guys with weird ideas. The movie seemed to make clear that Ana had a strong sense of what she was willing and not willing to do, and even the one really bad experience she had at the end came as a result of her consciously deciding to “go dark” just to see where Christian’s head truly was. And she didn’t like it and left. I didn’t think it was a great movie by any means, but I enjoyed the fact that even though Ana did indeed come off as goofy and naive in many scenes, it was she who seemed to have him wrapped around her finger, and not vice versa. But I’m just a movie guy directed here via a link from a movie web site, so what do I know? lol

    • Meghan Murphy

      Women ARE as smart as men. The film and book depict her (this is what I presume, in any case — I actually haven’t read the books or seen the film) as (or rather created a female character that was) childlike and naive.

    • derrington

      Cant see how she had him wrapped around her finger when he was constantly threatening her to get her to do the things he wanted – ie the whole male domination/supremacy/anti equality theme. The thing that makes women unsmart is the fact that films like this, and porn in general, makes out that being hit, shouted at and demeaned is part and parcel of being a woman. Its the most undemocratic and sadistic form of propoganda currently available, and females are subject to it from the moment they are born. lack of knowledge and public debate about how porn is undermining gender equality makes girls ‘unsmart’ in the same way we used to be ‘unsmart’ about how cigarettes and how they kill you.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        I think you are ignoring that you are dealing with abusive men they know how to manipulate and get away with it. This isn’t a failing women it’s the fault of abusive men.

        • Rosie

          Joe – you seem to be coming from a good place, but please realise that this idea that “smart” women don’t get sucked in by abusers is really dangerous. I used to be in an abusive relationship and I’ve got a gazillion postgrad degrees [technical academic language there]. I used to say to myself (to my shame) “no no this can’t be abusive, I’m way too smart and savvy to be fooled by an abuser!” I convinced myself that I was in control and probably from the outside it looked like I was.
          It took me a long time to realise I was wrong.

    • C.K. Egbert

      It’s very telling that whenever a MAN abuses a woman, and feminists dare to point this out, feminists are accused of saying that WOMEN are stupid, weak, etc. It’s implicit victim-blaming (only “weak, stupid” women get abused) and deflection to avoid holding men responsible for their abusive behavior.

      The only implication I read in the review was that Ana was in a particularly vulnerable situation, socially and psychologically.

      Also, Christian raped Ana and subjected her to emotional and physical abuse. Saying Ana “knew what she wanted” and had him “wrapped around her finger” is typical victim-blaming.

    • “Some good points here, but I don’t like the seeming insinuation throughout that women aren’t as smart as men, and thus are automatically prey for random guys with weird ideas.”

      Straw-man. There is no such insinuation in the article. You are making up shit that is not there so you can take an oppositional position. If you are going to comment, please have the integrity to engage with what was written and quit taking up space by projecting your own self-serving narratives.

  • Julia

    This movie is only the beginning- things are going to get worse.

    • jo

      The question is, what should we do? I don’t want to sit passively while patriarchal media grooms girls on a large scale.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        Consciousness raising on a massive scale we’ve done this before decades ago it’ll a huge challenge but it can be done. Women are getting sick of it the tipping point is happening.

  • NF

    i do not disagree with you that bdsm is a form of domestic violence and i appreciate your efforts and support to help women who are experiencing it everyday. what i have a hard time with in this review is that, 50 shades was told from Ana’s perspective. I have not seen the movie so I am not sure how she is depicted on screen, but I have read the trilogy and I never once got the impression that she felt she was being taken advantage of. Grey told her what he was into and offered her the choice to try it or not…& she chose to see what his world was like…and when it became to intense for her…she left, but she still came back. not because Grey forced her to come back, but because she wanted to. Also, another point that isn’t mentioned is that Grey was introduced to this form of sex by a woman, his mother’s friend. We never really know Grey’s honest thoughts, we only know them through Ana’s retelling of her experience and because it is her story…Grey is almost glorified. Whether that is a result of her being manipulated, it’s hard to really tell.

    I am by no means advocating for or defending Grey’s behavior towards women. I am just responding based on my impression of the books. I do agree that the author’s portrayal of Ana was very childlike for someone who is on the cusp of college graduation and that bothered me very much and I have no idea why the author decided to depict her in that way. but my impression of this review is that you took their story and used it as a vehicle to touch on the larger issue of bdsm rather than focusing solely on their story. there are people out there who choose to engage in this form of sex for whatever reason, not simply because they were forced into it but because they actually find pleasure from it. it’s sick and twisted…but we live in a sick and twisted society.

    • Derrington

      The reason we live in a sick society is people like the author of this book make a fast buck from fooling girls into thinking they can love a man out of violent sexism. They die or are maimed trying and the author, sitting on her pile of cash covers her arse by saying, as you do, that she consented in the way that people consent to heroin or skunk. It may be consent , or coerced consent since he frequently uses violence to get her to consent which is rape in the uk, but its not informed consent. The real picture of sexist violent attacks for male sexual pleasure is never given, so its actually sexist propoganda in story form.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      Some people suggest she’s written as if she’s mentally 12 years old because the book has pedophillic themes.
      I’m around the main character’s age but I don’t go around saying ‘holy cow’, I use actual swear words. The idea of an older more ‘sexually experienced’ man teaching a younger less experienced woman reeks of grooming and is paternalistic. Bdsm is paternalistic, it goes on about women need to be taught how to enjoy sex by men. That they’ll have some kind of sexual awakening at by their hand (which will be at their throats). This should be insulting because it disregards all her life experience, sexual thoughts and feelings before hand. The sex pozzies don’t consider that bdsm insults women on multiple levels but apparently women who point this out are being the ‘paternalistic’ ones who tell women what to do and how to think. Women don’t need men to discover their bodies. Girls should discover sex not through narratives that are trying to make them compliant with abuse.

      Ana hadn’t masturbated before meeting grey, are you fucking kidding me! She sort of reminds me of Sandra D from Grease. She just needed a makeover from the sexy girls to get them man. Ana needed to ‘discover’ her sexuality with a sexual sadist as her guide. In shades people are warning her to stay away from him. She straightened John Travolta’s character out and pushed him away when he tried to have sex with her. She expected him to be better and ran away when was a jerk. It’s not a healthy dynamic but then again he never hit her. So 50 shades is less progressive then a movie set in the 50s. Good job on setting back the clock for women.

  • Kate

    When my sixth grade English class read Jane Eyre many of my classmates had the hots for Rochester. I clearly remember sitting in a group of four girls, all of them giddily fanning themselves over a scene of brooding Victorian seduction. This was AFTER it was revealed that the man imprisoned his schizophrenic wife in his own house. It’s troubling to realize that the desirability of abusive men is something that is taught to young girls of twelve.

    • FrustratedRadFem

      The bad boy is romanticised in fiction this dangerous for women in real life.

      • Icsnow

        When i first read Jane Erye i was in a manipulative verbally abusive relationship, i loved it. I listed it as one of my top three favorite books and was swept up in the Gothic Romance and beautiful writing. I read it a few years later, after breaking up and going through a journey of self discovery, and was appalled at the characters and story line. When i first read it i identified with Jane and her “strength”, but upon closer inspection i saw that that was no longer a relationship i desired. I now have a relationship somewhere in the middle with it, i still love the imagery, style of writing, and case studies of interpersonal dynamics, but i see Rochester and St. john for the abusive men they are and Jane for the victim she is. But it is definitely not an ideal romance.

    • pbutterfly2000

      That’s why 12-year-old girls should be reading CLARISSA. It’s the 18th century version of 50 Shades of Grey, but with the heroine seeing the abuser for what he is – a sadistic rapist. He becomes obsessed with her because he can’t seduce her, and even after he rapes her she doesn’t fall into the trap of falling in love with him to assuage her own guilt. He engages in more and more bizarre ruses to entrap her, but her spirit always remains independent, which drives him totally nuts. Clarissa and her tormentor Lovelace ultimately engage in a fight to the death which shows men’s sexual objectification of women for what it is – a ruthless attempt at total domination and the annihilation of the female spirit!

  • Dolores

    http://www.mamamia.com.au/lifestyle/female-submissive-in-bdsm-relationships/

    I just found that article with the title “Being a female submissive in a BDSM relationship is an extreme form of feminism.” and had to share it so I could stop feeling angry.

    The women who wrote it admits her ‘dom’ chokes and beats her but says he does so lovingly and in a consensual manner. Strangulation (‘choking’) is NEVER safe. The man she is dating nonetheless strangles her (which carries an intrinsic risk of death and can cause cardiac arrest even after the strangulation stops)

    Some people who practice BDSM at least realize when you’re the dominant partner, you have a responsibility to not beat your sub anymore than they consented to, or kill them, even if they ask you to do something like strangle them. I am not siding with them, I am just pointing out how it’s very clear (even by the standards of some people who support BDSM) that her partner/abuser does not care about her safety because of the intrinsic risk of death when strangling someone.

    The article even uses a gif showing 50 shades of grey scenes (or maybe they’re just from the trailer)

    The fact that she is claiming it is a feminist act for her partner to abuse her (once again even some people who support BDSM know breath play should not be done) is so saddening. And it gives other feminists a bad name I think, to hear someone who identifies as a feminist say BDSM is feminism.

    • Sabine

      The fact that some people actually believe one can be “lovingly” choked and beaten or can “lovingly” choke and beat another makes me feel like choking mySELF. Good god almighty….stop the world, I wanna get off.

    • Orryia

      There are actually some excellent responses there in the top comments, comparing BDSM to other types of self-destructive behavior, and asking her why as a feminist she would ever want to be with a man who gets turned on by abusing women.

      It’s such a relief to see that not everyone buys into the “BDSM is feminism” nonsense.

  • Laur

    I am so grateful to Gail Dines for writing this article. She is tireless on speaking out against the porn industry and related issues. I feel like I am losing it as I watch women defend this movie. I haven’t seen it, but knowing the storyline, I can, unfortunately, understand the pull it has for many women. I just don’t understand why some women are completely unwilling to listen to critique. I am thinking of women who don’t, and have never, practiced BDSM. They’re privileged in many aspects. And I feel like I die a little inside each time I hear someone defend this. Do they know what they’re defending? Do they care? This article and the protests are the only thing I have to hold on to.

  • DefenderofThemyscira

    What I want to ask is that how do we teach girls and young women to protect themselves from such relationships? How do we build their self confidence and how do we instil bravery in them?

    • FrustratedRadFem

      Having women’s history available to them from a feminist point of view it’s much easier with the internet. Teaching them how identify patriarchal tactics particularly abuser’s tactics. Recommending radical feminist books. Validating them when dealing with sexism and the contradictory feminism that’s available to them. Giving them the tools to counteract misogyny. we’d actually have plan policies to implement (that’s my essay writing talking). It’ll be hard but not impossible many young women are finding radical feminism are are pissed off that it was denied to them in the first place.

    • Pantera Dora

      Join radfem sisters and be happy

  • Michael Lebednik

    I’m an older, white, cismale, and have read that “trust” is considered essential in a healthy BDSM relationship. I continue to struggle trying to make sense of this. Bondage — domination — sado — masochism can only be fully realized in the context of deep trust. Now, if I use the words Unbound — egalitarian — other & — self care, is the context of trust valid, or irrelevant? Is BDSM a path to nirvana, and does it allow for switching of roles, or is it hard-wired so that a dominant is never submissive, and a submissive never dominant? The concept of putting oneself in another’s shoes doesn’t seem to be part of the narrative. I think it would be fascinating and most instructive to have a story where the “dominant” sacrifices his role to see what it’s like on the other side — and indeed, to give the sub the experience of the dom and the (supposed) necessity of recognizing the reverse-sub’s power (but of course, only in the context of being a sub). The characterization of dom-sub relations seems itself to be locked into a narrative that does not allow the subversion of the routine scene. And, to be honest, that form of sexual expression seems to me to be very performance-laden and ultimately exhausting and tiresome. Can someone elucidate this without resorting to circular arguments?

    • Well I can’t answer many of your specific questions about BDSM, but you bring up and interesting point regarding “trust” being supposedly central to BDSM relationships.

      “Trust” is the magic ingredient that makes wanting to hurt and humiliate another person above question. It takes the entire question of how a person might get to a psychological state where actually feel pleasure in being treated with contempt out of critical dialogue.

      But what sort of “trust” is at play? It’s the difference between these two “loving” scenarios:

      a – I trust you, my lover, to shoot this apple off my head and not to shoot me in the face.

      b- I trust you, my lover, to never expect or accept that I should ever have to be in such a precarious and dangerous position in the first place.

      • Pantera Dora

        Yup. Thx. Very vivid example. I favour b

    • Rosie

      ummm I think this probably isn’t the right forum for tips on BDSM… radical feminists tend not to be big fans of the BDSM scene!

      • Pantera Dora

        Hahahahahaaaa a way to say this. Lol not a big fan.

    • Laur

      What part of the article are you responding to? If you bothered to look at this blog, you would see it is a feminist, not BDSM, blog.

      “Is BDSM a path to nirvana, and does it allow for switching of roles, or is it hard-wired so that a dominant is never submissive, and a submissive never dominant?”

      Some people who practice BDSM call themselves a “switch” and do switch roles. BDSM activities are clearly not hard-wired. People who practice BDSM can and do stop.

      • FrustratedRadFem

        Needing unconditional and implicit trust sounds less like a healthy relationship and more like a cul, that and ritualising sex.

  • healthisworld

    You can’t edit your soul, so be very careful what you allow into it via experience, media, tv shows, video’s, video games, books/reading, viewing pictures. What you see and experience you can’t undo – only heal from it. So, be very very careful what you allow in in the first place. It is one thing to not have any control over what you are subjected to, but it is a very different thing having control over your situation and choosing to put these things in your mind and soul.

    Every since I heard about this book it really struck a nerve with me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind worrying for all the people who are going to be scarred and have their soul haunted by reading it and only realize it years later after the seed of the devil has been planted in their mind without them even knowing how damaging it is going to be. I HAVE A WARNING TO ANYONE WHO HAS NOT READ IT – DO NOT READ IT – DO NOT ALLOW IT INTO YOUR MIND, THOUGHTS, OR SOUL. You are the only one after a certain age that can parent your own soul and you need to be very careful what you allow into it. I wish all porn, sex crimes, violent books were not available for people to access, but it is only going to get worse as the devil is gaining hold everywhere you look.

    I am sorry for all who are abused, but I really hope for everyone’s sake that if you have been abused you don’t take it to the next level and write a book about it and glorify it and inflict everyone else’s soul with the abuse. Please do the responsible thing and journal and talk to a counselor privately. It is frightening to me how many people are glorifying this book and singing it’s praises. It disgusts me that main stream media / talk shows have given this book so much life and attention by repeatedly talking about it on tv. I wish it had never been written and I hope people can do themselves a huge favor and not read it.

    You think torture and abuse is good reading.. you really want to be treated like this? If so, you are very naive in your thinking and have been able to trust people or you have been abused and in order to feel some control over yourself and your sexuality you have convinced yourself that you like being abused and that if you ask someone to abuse you then somehow you are in control. (I also think tattoos, strange piercings especially the ear gauges, tongue piercing, face piercing we are seeing are another similar sort
    of abuse of one’s self following the same psychology). This is the psychology behind most people liking this book. Either they have never been abused so they don’t even know what they are getting into, or they have been abused and this is a twisted way of trying to accept abuse as normal. Do you really think being tied up and tortured has anything to do with sex? Do you think having a lover who enjoys leaving you unsatisfied is normal? who enjoys seeing you in pain is normal? Is that the world you want to live in? Sick. Do you want your children or the children of this world to think this is normal and what love is? I am sure that if society is singing this books praises – things are going to get much more sick, sadistic and vicious in the TREATMENT of women in the world. Please, God, remove this book from all book shelves and burn it. And please people, protect your soul if you are in a position to do so.

    On a last note – Anal Sex is the opposite of love. It has nothing at all to do with love or love making. It is HATE MAKING. Men who like to do this to women cannot love women, they like to abuse women. If you have convinced yourself you like it, then your soul is in a very dark place that needs healing. I used to bring up my BOYFRIENDS daughter when he would try to abuse me with his sick fantasies and ask him to try to envision a man treating his daughter this way. It would really annoy him and drive the point home. I refuse to be abused. Never again to my death. If you do not want to do something sexually, no human being has a right to make you do it. Never feel bad for protecting yourself and your soul from evil and never feel bad for taking the time it takes to heal, even if that is a life time. I often wonder what Michelle Knight would say to the people who think Shades of Grey is such a great book.