Restraints, clamps, collars, floggers, crops, gags, spreader bars, pugs, beads, canes, blindfolds, rigging, paddles… Sweat dripping, tension building. Skin pulled taught. Chest heaving, dragging in air that’s too thick. Will I? Won’t I? Can I? What if it hurts? What if it hurts and I like it? Scared and excited, and uncertain about which out weighs the other….
Oh the wonderful world of BDSM.
So what brings us here? I have gotten a decent amount of crap for reading Grey, and wanted to clear some things up. I’ll start by saying I don’t give a shit what people think of what I read. Book choice shouldn’t be a popularity contest. Read what you like and leave others alone so they can do the same. Simple as that.
Grey sold over 1 million copies in 4 days. Yet, if you look at Twitter and read how quick everyone is to denounce it, you’d think not a soul had bought it. I smell some closet Grey readers. Sucks our book culture has made them feel a shamed or like they need to hide what they read. Tisk tisk.
Anyway, that really isn’t what I wanted to rant— I mean discuss. I won’t defend the book as great literature. I can’t say it is a must read, or even that it was exciting and passionate. I am not even telling you to go read them. I have better reading recommendations for you if you are looking for things in that vein. For me, both the original trilogy and Grey were lackluster, okay reads. I like the plot. I wish it was better executed. I can think of some of my favorite erotic writers that could have done wonders with it.
And that plot is what I am defending. I have heard so much outrage and disgust about those books containing abuse. I’ve engaged in many debates about whether Christian abuses Ana. I only feel the need to defend them because BDSM is not abuse. I think it is important for people to understand that.
I did a mental check of the sex scenes in the 1st book. Most are pretty vanilla. He asks, she gives consent, and they have sex. Pretty basic stuff. There is the first time he spanked her. It was with his hand. He told her exactly what he was going to do and she laid herself willing over his lap to let him do it.
Yes, I know, she cried after he left. But she states that it was because he left her(not spending the night, which he did come back and do) and that she was confused by the fact that being spanked turned her on. Not that she felt beaten and abused. And yes, it can be hard to reconcile your feelings about some measure of pain or punishment, such as being spanked, turning you on. That’s normal.
Every scene between there, and the last in that book, she describes herself feeling excited about what he was going to do. Nervous, yes, but that is part of BDSM and I’ll get back to that in a second. When they were in the boathouse, he said he was going to spank her. She asked him not to and he didn’t.
He told her, and it is very true in any grounded BDSM relationship, that the sub(Ana) has all the power. He can only do what she will allow. If she says no, uses a safe-word, or otherwise doesn’t consent through preset limits or otherwise, it doesn’t happen. Period. That was always true in this fictional relationship between Christian and Ana.
The last scene. She asked, physically opened her mouth and asked him to paddle her. She wanted to know how “bad it could get” in his BDSM world. He asked if she was sure. She said yes. I would think—and please remember that I am talking about a fictional character, so I am projecting here—that a man like Christian that had been in the wonderful world of BDSM, was hoping that she would like it. Or at a minimum think it wasn’t so bad and she could do it if he liked it. We all do things that we are not thrilled about, but find tolerable, for our significant others.
What?!? I know, I know. I must be crazy right? He thought he could bend her over a bench, paddle her, sending flames of heat up her body, making her hurt, and scream, and cry, and burn, and she would like it? Even be turned on and wet for him after? Yep. That’s what I am saying. It would be a common hope for someone like him.
Maybe the thinking behind why some people like that kind of thing, deserves some explaining, but I think if you want that explanation from me, it will require it’s own blog post. If there is enough interest, I’ll write it… Ooo into the mind of May. Okay moving on(scary place).
If Christian had spent years with women who did like that, why wouldn’t it be okay for him to hope Ana would like it too. Don’t we all want the people we find a romantic interest in to be into the same things we are? To learn to love the things we love and share them with us? And is it unreasonable to ask them to try what you like if they haven’t before?
I could understand if he tied her to a bench, didn’t tell her what was going to happen and then started wailing on her, popped up at the end and said, “So, was that good for you? It was great for me!” But that is so far from what happened.
I have also heard the argument that it was not what he physically did that was so horrible, but that she only did it because she thought it was the only way to stay with him, that made it so bad. It is unfair to layout what you need, or what you think you need in a relationship and let the other person know they can walk away if they can’t provide that?
I think more people should hop on that train.
She wanted a relationship with him. As a result she put herself out there and tried somethings she had never tried before. All of them, with the exception of one, she ended up liking. The last book would lead you to believe that not only did she like them, she liked them so much that she insisted that they continue doing them well into their marriage. Yes, even spankings.
BDSM, by it’s very nature, is about pushing your limits. Doing things that make you nervous, put you on edge a bit and require you to put your faith in someone else. For anyone entering into that world for the first time, not just this fictional virgin, it is a nerve racking experience where you constantly question “Can I? Will I? What if? I’m not sure about this?”
Those are not bad feelings to have. A lot of new experiences in life are scary. A lot of them you do because someone else is pushing you to do them, asking you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You either like it or you don’t, and either way that is okay. BDSM is no different.
Okay, I’ll step away from the BDSM side of this conversation for now. It is a big topic. So much bigger than these books touch on. But before I rest my case, I just want to make one more point.
I read a lot. I read everything from YA to erotic. Thrillers, urban fantasy, romance of all kinds, some science fiction, historical fiction…. I think you get the point. It is SO, SO very common in all of these to see death, murder, torture of many kinds, violence(the non-consensual kind), abduction…
I don’t see mass outrage on social media about the number of fictional characters that get offed in horrible ways in books. Are we saying that it is more justified to be outraged by a book depicting a consensual spanking with a paddle, than all of the hundreds of ways we end lives in books? I doubt it. They offed a bunch of kids, in Hunger Games. Is that not worse morally than a spanking? Perspective, people. Perspective.
I would say it’s more likely that we just like to get together in mass and be outraged about something. Unfortunately for a lot of top sellers, they give us a focus that so many of us know about, making it easy to unite in our outrage against some facet of them. Pop culture is not your enemy. So you don’t like it and don’t understand why a million other people do? So what. Move on. Don’t waste your time on banding together to be “outraged” by something you don’t think others should enjoy.
Perhaps you could band together to uplift something you do enjoy and put that on the pop culture map? Just a thought. But really, where ever you want to spend your energy….
May B.B. (The, hates that everyone hates on everything, writer)