Bey-D-S-M (An article written for NewNowNext)

Being a part of the queer kink community, I was very confused watching the dominant-submissive relationship play out between Christian and Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey.

Honestly, most of the Christian Greys I’ve met in life I found laying in a bathroom trough while beer-guzzling daddies pissed all over their Club Monaco suits.

But Fifty Shades reinforces ridiculous stereotypes that further stigmatize alternative sexual practices—practices that in real life deliver pleasure to both parties, and that often see the submissive dictating the boundaries of the relationship.

Instead, this fan-fic come to life is the story of a sociopath who mentally and physically abuses a woman who was interested in exploring a dom-sub relationship.

Does Ana eventually say “enough” to the crap Christian puts her through? Sure, and that part was great.

But does the movie do much to lay a framework for engaging in consensual play? Not hardly.

By the time Fifty Shades gallivants into its final scene, and the audience realizes that there was never actually going to be a plot, it’s been instilled in us that kinksters should use their holiday bonuses to install sex dungeons, that cable ties are the go-to bondage accessory, and that receiving pain is really meant to just give pleasure to the dominant.

All of which, of course, is untrue.

The biggest takeaway from Fifty Shades, though, is that being into any form of kink means you’re really fucked in the head.

I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but being into BDSM doesn’t require elaborate processionals of floggers, harnesses and ball gags, or building a playroom larger than all  the coffee shops in The Castro.

Nor does it require you to give up all control in your life: If Christian Grey had been a 27-year-old unpaid theater intern, and not a bored businessman, he would have been hit with a restraining order the first time he broke into Anastasia’s apartment.

And kink is not usually a 24/7 avocation: The men I’ve encountered who’ve enjoyed having their mouths washed out with soap while I called them “Jimmy in the fourth grade” were more than able to leave it in the bedroom.

While there is a sense of theatrics to kink play, the ultimate goal is to explore the senses (or lack thereof) and reach a heightened sense of awareness.

But perhaps the worst sin committed by Fifty Shades is this notion that any interest in kink comes from a shitty upbringing: Christian’s birth mother was a drug-addicted prostitute, and he was left with her dead body for days. He was later seduced by his adopted mother’s friend as a way of bottling up his emotions.

While there are people who may feel the need to release anxieties in a safe, creative environment, most of us are into kink just because we like it.

E.L. James seems to be claiming that having a fetish means having had something go terribly wrong in your past. That it’s punishment. That it’s torturous.

No, it’s that attitude that’s torturous.

There’s a remarkable sensation after a session in which both parties have relinquished their positions: Imagine a tangible sensation of knowing your partner better. Differently. More intimately.

Kink is an exploration of trust, not an act of degradation. It deserves to be explored, should both partners want to. It’s also really fucking fun. Unlike sitting in the theater watching Fifty Shades of Grey.

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