Mainly, because I have a 12-year-old copy of Anna Karenina collecting dust on my bookshelf, and I can't bring myself to read that over-hyped vibrator manual, when I have real books going unread.
But there is another reason.
As an unqualified sexual advisor, it is my job to keep an open mind about human sexuality. Kinks included. Which is why 50 Shades of Grey really pissed me off.
The more I heard about this book, the more I learned that Christian Grey was not some normal 26-year-old billionaire with a penchant for kinky sex. He was a fucked up guy who liked BDSM, because he was fucked up. And after conquering his demons stopped wanting that type of sex.
This is a problem. Someone unfamiliar with BDSM (which is basically everyone magic-wanding themselves to that book) could naturally assume that fetishes are something that can be fixed. That the person who enjoys non-traditional sex is broken in some way.
Now one could ask why a little bit of kink-negativity matters. It's not something like sexuality that can't be hidden. For the most part, you could know someone your entire life and never learn that they go home and strap on a ball-gag.
But at a time when basically every form of sexuality is under attack, having something like 50 Shades can provide rhetoric for the "sex-for-babies-only" crowd.
For example, I stumbled upon a blog that begins much like mine, with the author, Dannah Gresh, valiantly pronouncing that she will not be reading 50 Shades of Grey. However, her reasoning is a little different than my own.
- Erotica is sinful.
- Lust is harmful.
- Women don't like when guys view porn.
- BDSM is super-duper yucky.
The post is full of broad generalizations about female sexuality. Women don't enjoy pornography or men that view pornography. BDSM is something evil that women are being forced to accept.
The following statement is my personal favorite:
It’s not just that this book misuses sex, it redefines it into something evil as the lead character dominates in a hurtful manner. How woman can enjoy that, I can’t understand!
But I do have a theory. It seems to me that in our emasculating culture
there is a hunger so great for strong men that women will stoop to
bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism for just a taste.
Do yourself a favor, don’t!
Well, thanks for that trip back into 1950s America!
What Gresh fails to acknowledge is that BDSM, or any other kink for that matter, is not a misuse of sex. It is sex.
Sex does not always look the same in every relationship, but as long as the parties involved are consenting and safe, they should not be shamed for their desires.
As I read the post, I couldn't help but wonder would Gresh have a problem with BDSM if it took part in the realm of marriage. If a monogamous husband and wife engaged in a little bondage, would that be okay? What if the wife was the one in charge of the leash, is that still icky?
If so, wouldn't her distaste have nothing to do with the sanctity of marital relations, and more to do with the fact that kinky sex bothers her personally.
I'm going to assume that it's the latter, especially since her theory that BDSM was spawned from the emasculation of men is ridiculous. The origins of BDSM can be traced back to the ninth century, a time when queering gender was far from anyone's concern.
Finally, just as rape-play is not actually rape, BDSM is not a form of brutal violence meant to do actual physical harm.
If it is, you're doing it wrong, Dannah.