Published on February 21st, 2015 | by Rayne0
A Submissive’s Guide to 50 Shades of Grey
“Why 50 Shades is a pile of Kitty Litter” also known as “Why 50 Shades is a Pile of Shit”.
I’m going to hit the ground running with this post. As a submissive who engages regularly in the BDSM community who has had several relationships (both sexual and not) with Dommes. I can assure you 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more than abuse disguised as BDSM and romance.
However because it’s hard for people to understand why abuse is not romantic, I’m going to step in and add my voice to the already growing list of bloggers that people are ignoring, to aid in explaining why Fifty Shades of Grey should be one of the few books you should set on fucking fire. Also thanks to the “50 Shades of Suck” Tumblr for the banner image. I need readers to understand the sentence in the banner is actually word for word from the first book. Page 16 when the lead woman meets the lead man for the first time. Holy shit. Enough said.
Firstly lets meet the lead characters:
Anastasia Steele: When we first met Anastasia, she’s a 22-year-old senior at the local university who has somehow gotten through her years on Earth without uttering the word “vagina” or even knowing what the word means. She is an inexperienced, shy, an incredibly naïve insecure woman with little to no self-esteem who still refers to her vagina as “down there” and constantly calls herself an idiot, she’s a virgin who has never masturbated nor been aroused by a man. To say she is shy would be polite, throughout the first book she blushes a total of 42 times while stammering over her words. She has utterly no concept of her own body, her sexuality or her own desires. Throughout even the first book we see Anastasia’s white knight complex – she wants to be able to save Christian even though she knows she shouldn’t be near him largely. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the book, she refers to him as a stalker and controlling no less than 9 times and he warns her away 3 times. Being a virgin is not an issue – being a naïve young woman with no life experience and no idea about her sexuality means Anastasia Steele is the perfect prey for a predator.
Christian Grey: Christian Grey is the billionaire whom Anastasia refers to as “so freaking hot” no less than 4 times throughout the first book. He is a possessive, threatening and creepy man with no regard for Ana’s initial disinterest in him nor her safety and security. He also has serious psychological issues. His birth mother Ella was addicted to drugs, and worked as a prostitute whose pimp was extremely abusive to both her and Christian. When he was four years old, his birth mother committed suicide; he was alone with her body for four days before being rescued by police and he was eventually adopted by another family.
As a teenager, Christian secretly drunk alcohol and had violent mood swings that landed him in many violent fights. When he was fifteen years old, he took a job for his adopted mother’s friend Elena Lincoln. Even though Christian is already seeing therapists in the first book for his stalking issue (which he admits to), the author decided that her main male character needed to experience even more fucked up trauma by making Elena seduce Christian while he was still under-age and entering both characters into warped version of a Domme/sub relationship with Christian acting as a sub for a paedophile for six years.
If that isn’t creepy enough, many of the submissive’s who Christian engages with are selected by Elena, because what’s healthier than having your paedophile pseudo-dominant who you were in six-year relationship with pick out your partners for you?
So what exactly is BDSM?
BDSM stands for Bondage, Discipline, Dominant, Submissive and Sadomasochism. Bondage is pretty self-explanatory – people like getting restrained. Discipline stands for discipline, no surprises there. Some people like pain and like being disciplined in the form of pain or disciplined in other ways. Pain can take to form of flogging, whipping, candle wax, spanking or caning. Discipline includes anything from orgasm denial to having to sit in a corner to not being able to speak in public as punishment for getting something wrong. A sadist (while a negative word) is simply someone who gains gratification from being the giver of pain whereas a masochist is a person who gains gratification from receiving pain. A Dom is the dominant partner in the relationship, the person who takes the active or controlling role whereas a sub is the submissive partner in the relationship, the person who takes on the passive, receiving role.
A brief overview of a few terms:
Contract: A written contract signed by both parties and agreed upon by both parties. It will list the likes and dislikes of each party, the boundaries of each party and the terms of the contract.
Scene: The place where the BDSM session takes place as well as the session itself.
Safeword: A word used to advise the dominant that the sub wants them to stop what they are doing immediately. I tend to use the traffic light system (Red for “Stop”, Amber for “Slow it down” and Green for “Continue”)
The practice of BDSM is pretty diverse. It can be sexual or not – it really is up to the person and the wants of all parties involved. It doesn’t have to contain all the letters of the BDSM alphabet. Most of the time, a person’s interests fall into one or two of those categories, rather than all of them. Engaging in BDSM doesn’t have to include fetishes but some participant may have other fetishes..
So why I am telling you all this? Because being submissive or being within the BDSM community is not a package deal, it’s a diverse assortment of different people with different desires and wants. My BDSM is not the BDSM of anyone else’s.
The BDSM lives and breathes by the mantra safe, sane, consensual. We take precautions with our likes because every sane person knows that inflicting pain on anyone, even to get your rocks off is serious business. It requires trust, communication, openness, knowledge, experience and above all must have both parties best interests at heart. Being a submissive isn’t about saying “I’m giving my life or my body up to you to do whatever you want without regards to my wants or needs or safety” and being a dominant isn’t about taking control of someone else – it’s about openly and honestly communicating with your partner so you have and enjoy something that is pleasurable to both parties. People who engage in the community aren’t fucked up, we’re regular people with regular lives who enjoy engaging in our fetishes and get sexual gratification out of being submissive and/or dominant.
Many people have the misconception that being a Dom or dominant is synonymous with arrogant, aggressive, controlling and uncaring. Likewise there are misconceptions with being submissive, the idea that we are weak, powerless, passive, doormats with no say in the relationship. This is clearly not the case.
When I enter into a contract with a dominant, I don’t do it lightly. It involves communication, it involves us sitting down and talking about our boundaries and our likes and dislikes. We create a list of what we are comfortable with and what we will not engage in, we talk about any potential triggers and anything that makes us uncomfortable. We create boundaries that neither person can cross because we respect each other and want what’s best for each other. Submissives must be assertive to make sure they are happy with the terms and conditions of the relationship. Dom/subs relationship may seem like the Dom has all the power but it needs to be an equal relationship with equal standing. How else are you going to have a mutually fulfilling relationship? There is only the illusion of a less of control in regards to the submissive role in the relationship, Dom’s may control the scene but the contract is the rule book for both parties that both parties must abide by.
I’ve been collared by Dommes before, I’ve been “owned” as a submissive, the idea that you are your Dom’s and only your Dom’s is sexy – coming from a place of trust and caring, love and respect. I’ve been collared before – why? Because it is a sign of commitment and caring that comes from a place knowing that your Dom has your best interests at heart, that they care for you and both of you have worked on the relationship to ensure a happy and healthy one. I am not owned like a possession that you collect, I am not owned like an object that you can discard at any time – I am my own independent woman who has thoughts and feelings that my Dom respects. A collar is akin to a wedding ring – it signifies that both parties are committed to each other. To know that your Dom cares and loves you enough to tell the world about it and show the world, it’s a fantastic feeling. The keywords are caring, trust and respect – something the 50 Shades trilogy sorely lacks.
The problem of Christian Grey:
Let’s remove the BDSM aspect for one moment and take a look at the behaviours of Christen Grey. In the first book we seen a pattern of behaviour including stalking, jealousy, possession, manipulation, coercion, no regard for her safety or security, combined with the fact he’s a rapist, he has no respect for Anastasia’s wishes and he can’t take no for an answer.
All the hallmarks of a sexual predator, in fact he ticks nearly all the boxes:
- *Refusal to take responsibility for actions and blames others or circumstances for failures
*A sense of entitlement
*Need for power and control
*Lack of empathy
*Inability to form intimate relationships with adults
*History of abuse
There are many reasons why I cannot understand how anyone can consider this book any less than the fantasy of an author who can’t separate abuse from romance.
The BDSM aspect of the book was clearly an afterthought designed to disguise the abusive aspects of Christian’s personality. By removing the BDSM aspect and examining the Power Wheel of Control, we can see how exactly Christian is abusive:
Using Coercion and Threats: Throughout the first book, Ana describes Christian as a stalker and control freak no less than 9 separate times with worrying thoughts about he is not good for her. At one point during an email exchange, he openly admits to seeing a therapist for stalker tendencies. Not to mention he bought the company she worked for so he could be in charge of her while having her on a technological leash from their second meeting
“How did you find me?”
“I tracked your cell phone, Anastasia.” (IF THIS ISN’T A FUCKING RED FLAG, THE READER MUST BE COLOUR BLIND)
Oh, of course he did. How is that possible? Is it legal? Stalker, my subconscious whispers at me.
“He pulls up outside my duplex. I belatedly realize he’s not asked me where I live – yet he knows. But then he sent the books; of course he knows where I live. What able, cell-phone-tracking helicopter owning stalker wouldn’t.”
“Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you.
I can track your cell phone – remember?”
“Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?
“I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies”
“Of course he doesn’t ask me for my mother’s address. He knows it already, stalker that he is. When he
pulls up outside the house, I don’t comment. What’s the point?”
Later on in the book after the email exchange results in Ana wanting to leave Christian, he responds by going to her house. Ana responds to his aggression with the sentiment “no, I don’t want to have sex with you right now” to which he replied by threatening to tie the her up instead he then takes off her clothes and rapes her. Afterwards she cries over the experience.
“If you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled yesterday.” That stunt she pulled? Oh yes; going out with her friends and getting drunk.
“He’s dangerous to my health, because I know I’m going to say yes. And part of me doesn’t want to.” Ana states this in her internal dialogue in Chapter Seven when Christian takes her back to see his “playroom” after two dates. A few pages go by and she’s signing a non-disclosure agreement and a contract with no earlier communication, no knowledge of what BDSM is and no communication about her desires, boundaries or needs.
“I grab my phone. Five missed calls and one voice message. Tentatively, I listen to the message. It’s
‘I think you need to learn to manage my expectations. I am not a patient man. If you say you are going to
contact me when you finish work, then you should have the decency to do so. Otherwise, I worry, and it’s
not an emotion I’m familiar with, and I don’t tolerate it very well. Call me.’
Double crap. Will he ever give me a break? I scowl at the phone. He is suffocating me. With a deep dread
uncurling in my stomach, I scroll down to his number and press dial. My heart is in my mouth as I wait for
him to answer. He’d probably like to beat seven shades of shit out of me. The thought is depressing”. I think this paragraph speaks for itself.
Using Intimidation: Chapter 13 describes a dinner date, during which Ana and Christian discuss the “sex contract”strangely after Ana has already signed it and not before. Christian informs her they’ll be eating in a private dining room to which Ana replied that she’d rather they stayed in public, on neutral ground. He asks “do you think that would stop me?” He’s not only refusing to listen to Ana’s request for the meeting to be conducted somewhere she feels safe, but he’s also telling her that she wouldn’t be safe from his advances – how the fuck is this guy romantic again?
She describes Christians behaviour or tone as “threatening” no less than 10 times throughout the first book. She recognises that he is not healthy, she describes him as controlling and a stalker with issues, she feels sick when she see’s he multiple occasions of missed messages and angry voice mails when he can’t reach her, she talks about how she feels smothered by him.
Ana and Christian have an email exchanged after he spanks her for the first time about her reaction to the experience. She doesn’t react well to the experience – in fact, she reacts about as good as anyone would who has no idea what was going to happen to them. She is confused and shocked and feels humiliated.
“You wanted to know why I felt confused after you – which euphemism should we apply – spanked, punished, beat, assaulted me. Well, during the whole alarming process I felt demeaned, debased and abused.”
Continuing the email, Ana states she was surprised she felt aroused. What was Christians response?
“So you felt demeaned, debased, abused & assaulted – how very Tess Durbeyfield of you. I believe it was you who decided on the debasement, if I remember correctly. Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Two very different things. If that is how you feel, do you think you could just try and embrace these feelings, deal with them, for me? That’s what a submissive would do.
I am grateful for your inexperience. I value it, and I ’m only beginning to understand what it means. Simply put… it means that you are mine in every way.”
Christian turns the tables on her and reminds her that she consented to the spanking – she did however his reaction to her negative reaction was not “Let’s slow down and work through why you felt that way”, it was “Deal with you feelings and by the way you are mine in every way“. When you have a partner who is completely inexperienced around sex and feeling scared and confused, the aim is to make them feel safe and make them understand they have a say in the relationship and a say in how far or fast they want the relationship to go. Christian has provided none of this. In fact, he states he is only just understanding what it means to have an inexperienced partner and he completely misses the point – an inexperienced partner means creating an environment of safety and security with open communication – not taking possession of that person to do whatever you want with.
He does talk with Ana about really wanting to engage in activities yourself and loving the feelings that come from those activities verses engaging in activities because that’s what you feel your partner wants. Engaging in activities out of love for your partner or an expectation and not for yourself means the experiences will be one-sided and unequal. One upside is that Christian tells Ana that if she truly wants to engage in BDSM because she likes it and wants it, she needs to work through the negative feelings. However this one good point is overshadowed by the abusive behaviour Christian exhibits that makes Ana feel those negative emotions alongside the blame he puts on Ana for having negative feelings – it’s her fault she isn’t listening to the right part of her body, not because he dragged her into a form of relationship she had no prior knowledge around. He completely disregards he feelings of being abused as “You just don’t know that you like it yet”. She is so emotionally distraught and confused by the mixed messages he sends her – she likes someone who she recognises has had an abusive past, the same person she refers to as a controlling stalker, it is to the point her housemate Kate catches on to what is happening and asks if Ana wants Christian thrown out of their house
“I have fallen for someone who’s so emotionally shut down, I will only get hurt – deep down I know
this – someone who by his own admission is completely fucked up. Why is he so fucked up? It must be
awful to be as affected as he is, and the thought that as a toddler he suffered some unbearable cruelty
makes me cry harder. Perhaps if he was more normal he wouldn’t want you, my subconscious contributes
snidely to my musings… and in my heart of hearts I know this is true. I turn into my pillow and the sluice
gates open… and for the first time in years, I am sobbing uncontrollably into my pillow.
I am momentarily distracted from my dark night of the soul by Kate shouting.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?”
“Well you can’t!”
“What the fuck have you done to her now?”
“Since she’ s met you she cries all the time.”
“You can’t come in here!”
“Do you want me to throw this asshole out?” she (Kate) asks, radiating thermonuclear hostility.”
Using Emotional Abuse: In the middle of the book, Christian attempts to blame his current abusive behaviour on his own abusive past. There’s never an excuse for abuse. Christian is self-aware enough to know that he his behaviour is causing Ana distress and instead of owning that behaviour, he directs blame elsewhere. Telling Ana about his abusive past is purely a tool to make sure that Ana feels sorry for him and never questions his behaviour. He takes absolutely no responsibility for his behaviour and uses his past – which by the way, you shouldn’t be using BDSM as therapy for – as tool to keep Ana thinking she can save him.
Minimizing, Denying and Blaming: When an abuse survivor finally starts to address the behaviour that is happening to them, the abuser calls into question the survivor’s sanity and relationship with reality as a means to shut down any way out for their victim. The abused partner then doubts him – or herself and talks themselves out of leaving the relationship.
In her blog post “50 Shades of No“, Alys B Cohen describes the following: “In later books he has someone buy all her clothes subject to his approval, won’t let her do her own shopping, and bruises her body because he decides he disapproves of the clothing he picked out and it’s her fault. He picks her birth control and gives her no chance to say no (how romantic to wake up and find out your boyfriend has a doctor waiting in his apartment to give you a Depo shot you didn’t say yes to, and sitting still while in shock isn’t consent), and then blames her when it fails. He orders her food for her, picks their activities, where they will live, everything. Ana is expected to obey without question. What control does she ever have in anything? Except to not eat.”
Using Economy Abuse: One tactic used by abusers is to buy gifts for their victims as a why a 1. holding it over them and 2. as a means of sending out mixed messages to confuse the victim. “I feel unsafe around him but he brings me gifts, he must love me“. Despite the many times that Ana has refused Christians “gifts” such as the new expensive car, the new cell phone that he uses to track her every move with and the books she received from him, after their first meeting – directly to her house without her ever mentioning where she lived – Christian still forcefully imposes “gifts” on her.
The problems with 50 Shades of Grey:
There is no informed consent, no real safewords, no contract based on equal wants and desires. The lead woman had no concept of what she was getting into. The lead man is not a Dom, he is an abuser with no regard for the safety or security of the lead woman. He is a stalker who has no regard for the lead woman’s safety or security, he is threatening, possessive and at one point rapes the lead woman after she says “No”, he isolates her from her friends and family and “obtains” her bank account details without her consent and he puts a trace on her phone. He never asks her about her wants and desires. Not to mention the lead male has serious psychological issues – he was in an abusive relationship when he was under the age of consent with an abusive woman. The lead male manipulates the lead woman into a relationship she has no idea how to handle or what it is. He prevents her from learning about her limits and prevents her from learning about BDSM from an outside source, he pushes her – a person who has never experienced any sexual interest, including masturbation, into a sexual relationship immediately after meeting them – a heavy fetish laden sexual relationship despite her having no knowledge of sex, sexuality or fetishes.
One apologist statement is to state the lead male “becomes are caring man” by the end of the book trilogy and “he had an abusive past”. Doms do not “become” caring people, they are caring people. They give respect and trust and value communication above all and have their submissive’s best interests at heart. That being said the person you’re in a relationship with should not “turn into a caring person” they should already be caring people regardless of whether they are into BDSM or not.
The apologist statement dismissing the books portrayal of abuse with “But she turns him into a caring man and he finds true love” is a lazy attempt at handwaving away the abusive situation that Ana is in. He finally finds love. like that makes all the abuse and emotional hardship that Ana survived somehow okay? The most surprising thing about abuse survivors is that they don’t see themselves as abuse victims – Ana has a level of self-awareness around her situation and Christian’s behaviour that she regularly talks herself out of because he’s hot and interested in her. Abuse survivors often see themselves as strong people trying to rescue who they perceive as a damaged but “misunderstood” partner. Except Ana refers to herself as stupid and an idiot more than 9 times throughout the book. It is only when abuse survivors start to let go of the fairy tale that they must stay so they can “fix” this person (and they alone can fix the person) that they can finally start to rebuild their lives and leave the relationship.
Doms do not become Doms because of an abusive past – BDSM as therapy is dangerous. A Dom/sub relationship can be casual or 24/7. They can be sexual or not, they can involved collaring or not but they all need to be agreed upon with open communication and an equal contract signed by both parties with both parties being comfortable and fully informed. The featured words are “fully informed” not coerced into signing a contract.
These books do not represent the BDSM community nor a Dom/sub relationship and no BDSM relationship should be like the one portrayed in the book. Indeed no relationship (BDSM involved or not) should be like the one in the book. The trouble is with the “it’s fiction” line that it inaccurately represents something that can be dangerous to novices. How many more women will get into relationships with abusers masquerading as Doms? How many predators are going to use this as a guidebook? This is not safe fiction and the problem with unsafe media is people emulate it and will most likely get hurt.
If you’re interested in being submissive, do your research. Be a submissive because it excites and fulfills you. Be a submissive because you want to – not because you feel obligated to. Be submissive, not a fucking doormat. Be street smart and research and above all communicate with your partner every step of the way. Your relationship should look like the Equality Wheel and not the Power and Control Wheel shown above.
Consent is really important, as mentioned before – it is the number one feature of any equal and healthy relationship alongside communication regardless of whether the couple engages in BDSM or not. Consent is important for a number of reasons: it differentiates sex from rape and it differentiates BDSM from abuse. I cannot stress this enough. Many people have written to me and stated that Ana does consent in the books. I disagree. Christian disallows her to research BDSM from an outside source, he disallows her to explore her bodies limits on her terms, she has no clue what she is getting into – for fuck sake, she still refers to her vagina as “down there”, one person cannot fully and completely consent to something when they have utterly no idea around what that something involves.
Anyone who apologises for this book has 1. never been in an abusive relationship and 2. never been in a relationship that involves any form of BDSM and 3. probably never even spoken anyone who is a Dom or sub or been anywhere near a BDSM club. The idea that women cannot see how abusive this book is, tells me a lot about the state of mind of the women who like this trilogy. I fear for the women who read these books because I can see so many of them having no clue what abuse looks like which is only going to increase their chances of being in an abusive relationship.
The only good thing that has come out of this book series is the negative reaction from the BDSM community and society in general. The negative reactions around the book series will hopefully inspire people to research BDSM in a safe environment and actually learn what real and healthy BDSM experience looks like.
Links to check out:
Being submissive: submissiveguide.com
Being dominant: dominantguide.com
25 Facts About BDSM That You Won’t Learn In “Fifty Shades Of Grey”
50 Abusive Moments in “Fifty Shades Of Grey”
10 Reasons Anastasia Steele From ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is No Role Model
50 Links outlining why 50 Shades is abuse and not BDSM
Thinking More Clearly About BDSM versus Abuse
The Difference Between Abuse and BDSM
BDSM vs. Abuse