Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fifty shades of Argument

Got into a twitter conversation - well it started that way - with someone about Fifty Shades of Grey and was put in the odd position of defending a film I hadn't seen and a book I don't have strong feelings about.  People declaim that 50 Shades is a bad book, but really no one who has ever read a Mills and Boon novelette could ever claim that it's the worst book.

It is neither good nor bad, but what it did brilliantly was to wrap up female fantasies of dark and handsome stranger, lots of money and shopping and someone who wants you for yourself despite the fact that you aren't their type.  That's pretty appealing and parts of it tap into most women's fantasies at some point.

I have always thought that was what the Spice Girls managed to do - whether you were pretty and feminine or feisty and sporty or blunt and slightly scary - there was a Spice Girl like you.  If they'd included a fat one they'd have been unstoppable.  As it was they pretty much cornered the market for a while.

They keep sending men to review Fifty Shades of Grey and that's never going to work.  They need a woman on the job.

People in the BDSM world are pretty cross about the misrepresentation of BDSM in the film, where the interaction between the two characters is actually the opposite of consensual, as the woman is not interested in the BDSM part of the relationship at all, and doesn't consent to it.  Also the idea that the reason Christian Grey is interested in BDSM seems to be some dark abuse in his past.  That's not the way it is... most BDSM relationships are enthusiastically consensual, particularly where someone who enjoys submission is matched to someone who likes to dominate.

A BDSM relationship is normally openly negotiated, which means that the couple discuss the things they will or won't do for each other, and where the boundaries lie.  It's much more healthy than a vanilla relationship where sex is never discussed and one partner may be extremely unhappy with their sex life but doesn't like to mention it.

The abusive, controlling picture of BDSM is certainly not the norm.  It seems to me that some people enjoy particular things in bed, and some people need particular things to function sexually.  What turns you on can be anything from ice to ball gags, but people (and it is generally men) who need a particular element in their sex life to be able to enjoy it, will normally seek out someone who shares their desire from the other side.

The idea in the book and the film is that he wants her for herself - never mind that she doesn't share his passion for BDSM, he wants her, and her alone, and will make sacrifices to get her.  That's a persuasive fantasy for most women.  She doesn't properly submit to his desire until she cares for him. And that, rather than the spanking and handcuffs frippery, is what made it so successful. That and the fantasy shopping.

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