I’m just going to come out and say it: I hated Fifty Shades of Grey when I first read the book…hated it. It was everything wrong about the kink and BDSM condensed into a book. After all, I was living the kink lifestyle, specifically, a Dominant/submissive relationship, so I could compare and scrutinize.
Fifty Shades is a misogynistic and chauvinistic trilogy interwoven with antiquated notions about men and women that ultimately perpetuate and encourage domestic abuse while misrepresenting the kink community. There’s no denying that. Without going into immense details here are some of the many reasons why:
- Anastasia exhibits traits consistent with people, especially women, who have been traumatized by abuse. Which gets glamorized by Hollywood.
- Fifty Shades perpetuates the mainstream stereotype that people who enjoy BDSM and other kinks must have some dark, abusive background that makes them crave more pain and abuse.
- Ana and Christian are struggling to morph each other into something different…for the sake of love.
- Christian’s unhealthy, stalkerish, possessive nature, and desire to isolate Ana, without her consent, raises many red flags.
Google search words related to Fifty Shades of Grey as abusive or unhealthy, and you’ll see pages and pages worth of articles documenting why. As a feminist AND survivor of domestic violence, I see the consent violation, the possessiveness, the isolation. So, why am I excited for Fifty Shades this time around? Read on.
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For many, Fifty Shades is the gateway in which many people discovered/will discover kink and BDSM.
Even though it’s by far not the healthiest way to get started, it’s a starting point. This franchise is an awakening of sorts for people. It’s giving them the permission to dream, fantasize, and toe a little outside their usual limits/boundaries as to what’s “acceptable” for them. They get to own their desires and fantasies outside of what they’ve been taught.
Fifty Shades of Grey has also brought kink and BDSM into the mainstream spotlight that made this type of exploration a little less taboo. As much as sex is revered and sold, it’s also an area that’s still highly stigmatized. By bringing it into the mainstream, it seems more socially acceptable than before.
Hey, it helped me create Desires Laid Bare in a more welcomed way, too. If the core of Desires Laid Bare is to help people explore kink and BDSM (often for the first time) in a fun, healthy, and empowering way, I have a responsibility to look at all the different avenues in which people are discovering kink, and to guide them towards a more healthier and empowered exploration than when they first found it.
Who am I to bash on how someone discovers a curiosity or intense desire to try kink?
I would imagine that had Fifty Shades been the gateway in which I discovered kink, and then suddenly see a whole slew of people both inside and outside the kink community bash it so hard, I would immediately run the opposite way in shame. If the medium that helped me realize my desires is dragged through the mud this heavily, I must be some weird, perverted, and gross person who should banish these thoughts forever, right? Get my drift?
For the people who can understand the extent of how unhealthy Fifty Shades of Grey is, you’re more aware. Which means you have a responsibility to educate those who don’t.
- Talk and educate from a non-judgemental point of view. E-D-U-C-A-T-E!
- Be understanding that this may be their first point of contact and that they don’t know any better. Perhaps they were raised by family who had unhealthy or antiquated views on sexuality and consent.
- Send them to resources that can guide them to explore kink and BDSM from a better standpoint than how they found it. (Shamelessly plugging Desires Laid Bare here!)
- Introduce them to members of the kink community on or offline.
- Share your own stories about the importance of enthusiastic consent and empowerment in healthy sexual and relationship explorations.
As a lifestyle submissive-type who used to HATE on Fifty Shades of Grey (and for good reason). Now, I get excited about it, because it’s a chance to elevate and educate the kink-curious into something that’s positively life-changing.