I'm bringing this up because the movie interpretation of the book debuts in theaters next week--on Valentine's Day. Millions of unhappy middle aged housewives will be dragging their husbands to show them Christian Grey, the man they wish they were married to. Some things I want everyone to keep in mind about this movie...
1. The story originally began as a Twilight fan-fiction.
Remember Twilight? Remember how creepy and possessive Edward was of Bella? They both have similar story lines and are great for reading just to have a bit of mindless fun. They aren't challenging reads, but they are influential. Books with crazy popular characters that are actually not great partners tend to sometimes plant ideas in people's minds.
2. The story is not an accurate portrayal of the BDSM scene.
If you took the time to read the book, please take the time to read this excellent article, written by a professional dominatrix. As she says, "True BDSM is a consensual role-play experience where both parties negotiate and agree to act out specific erotic desires in a safe context." Christian Grey makes Ana sign a contract binding her to his 'preferences' on how she eats, dresses, and has sex. He takes very little input from her despite the fact that she is crazy uneasy about it all. She eventually gives in to his 'needs' because she 'loves him so much.'
3. People's sexual preferences do not necessarily mean they have had bad life experiences.
Christian loves to tell Ana that he's "fifty shades of fucked up." His sexual preferences involving pain are connected in the book to the things he's dealt with in the past. It's almost made out to seem like healthy, 'normal' people like Ana wouldn't like these things just because they aren't 'fucked up.' Plenty of completely average humans enjoy BDSM in the bedroom. They may never seem like the type that would, and they may have had perfectly healthy childhoods and upbringings. Some people just really like getting slapped in the face or kicked in the balls, and that's okay. Being into something a little different from the mainstream does not mean something is wrong with you.
4. Christian Grey is not an ideal partner.
These books are fun because they are fantasy. That's why people fall into them so easily. I don't mean to single out women in this post but I am a woman and I know that a lot of us read these kinds of books and start to maybe think it could be reality. Maybe there's a guy out there that will look at you across a room and decide he can't live his life anymore without you in it. Or maybe a real relationship takes work, and our men aren't going to whisk us off to beautiful locations in their helicopters every time they upset us. Very little of Ana and Christian's relationship is shown in the book. And sex, while important, is not all a relationship is. This book also does the classic "maybe he'll/she'll change for me" story arc. And unfortunately, it plays it to completion! Ana and Christian seem to be in this constant tug of war over who will change for each other, and they both kind of win.
I know, I know. It's a book. It's not real. But any time a story like this makes it to the mainstream and causes a major social change in the way we view a form of sex, we kind of need to delve into the why and how it's being portrayed. People read this book and think they understand a major kink that some people have, and they actually know very little. I'd say that if the little things that Christian Grey does sexually intrigues you at all to do some of your own research into the kink. You may find yourself interested in a lot of things you didn't think you would.