Why You’re Allowed To Like 50 Shades (And Why You Don’t Have To)

Once upon a time there were no books. A short while after there was this book with a tie on the front cover and all these women bought it and they felt sexy and it made them smile and touch themselves. Then the internet heard about it and decided it was probably very bad for women to be reading books, or finding things sexy or touching themselves, so the internet laughed at them, told them they were wrong and then shouted at them for supporting abuse. The book comes out as a film soon and people without the internet who liked reading the books are going to go. Some people who liked the books and have the internet are going to go also. Some people are very, very cross about this.

I thought i’d explain to people who want to see the film, or fancy reading the book, why it’s absolutely ok for you to do this and why it’s ok for you even to like the story, or bits of it.

Well, first things first, this is a story. Harry Potter wasn’t real. Christian Grey isn’t a real wizard. He’s actually made out of cake, if truth be told. https://i1.wp.com/www.abebooks.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/50-Shades-of-Cake.jpg

Cake is perfectly acceptable for ladies to like, because it keeps them in the kitchen, or keeps them on their ever turning wheel of food and body obsession. But apart from him being quite literally as sweet as sugar… He’s hot. We’re allowed to find toned, piano playing, millionnaires hot. We’re allowed to be as shallow as we want in our fantasies, because they’re ours. Our fantasies don’t belong to society, they belong to us. We’re also allowed to be envious of Ana, a virgin, who loses it to this successful man who turns out to be the love of her life. We’re allowed, in her, to forget those drunken fucks we had at 19 with that guy who we thought looked like George Clooney (the ER years) but in the morning realised he was more Barry (Eastenders years).

But the book is abusive, right? Well, no. ‘The book’ (or ‘the film’) isn’t. Some stuff Mr Grey does might seem a bit creepy to many many people, but he stresses to Ana how in control she is throughout. How many more men out there convince women to do things or say things through manipulation and passive or actual aggression and wear down women so much that the women do things out of wanting to feel loved or sexy or even as a sense of  ‘duty’? I’m not going to try and sell you that this is a feminist book, in the same way i’m not going to try and tell you it’s a book on how to fly a helicopter or run a business, but it’s really ok to like it and to by and large, like the characters. I can totally understand if his behaviour would be totally un-ok for you and that if he continued to engage in it with you, that it would be abusive, but for some of us who like him and like the story, it wouldn’t be – it would be hot. We’re not wrong and you’re not wrong, we have different opinions and desires.

But it’s sooooo badly written, no? Well, so is this blog, but it’s not stopped you reading it this far, has it? It’s erotic/romantic fiction, it’s not War and Peace. If you’re used to reading holiday lit, this really isn’t too far off the mark, intellectually speaking. If you’re used to reading Dostoyevsky then, yeah, the book’s probably going to be a bit beneath your usual standard. One of the first erotic books i ever read was Story of O. I’ve not read the original French, so i’m not sure if it’s badly written or badly translated, but when i had my fingers down my pants, i didn’t worry about it too much.

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But it’s got BDSM in it and that’s abuse!!! BDSM isn’t abuse. Abuse is abuse. Abuse happens in lots of different relationships and sexual encounters. We don’t say ‘marriage is abuse’ or ‘sex is abuse’. Ethical marriage, ethical sex and ethical BDSM is about mutual satisfaction, pleasure and consent.

The BDSM it’s got in it is REALLY dangerous. No it’s not. Some of it is certainly not going to be on a top ten list of how to tie people safely, sure, but it’s not really that bad to throw the whole book into the eternal damnation bin at Woolworths. If anyone is reading this blog looking for tips, don’t use cable ties to tie people’s hands, use leather cuffs. However, if you’ve already done it and your partner is fine, well try not to lose any more sleep over it. The book isn’t a ‘how to to BDSM’ guide, much like Romeo and Juliet isn’t a ‘how to do marriage’ guide, or Nigella’s ‘Domestic Godess’ isn’t how to do dining on a budget. It’s erotic/romantic fiction, nothing more.

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But all these people will come into BDSM spaces and they won’t know that we’re the real ones and we’re the guardians of it and they’ll ruin it with their opinions and presence and faces and excitement and enthusiasm and they’ll be N00BS and everyone hates a n00b. This book, overall, is great for BDSM communities actually. There have been cases THIS YEAR where people engaging in consensual BDSM has put people’s jobs and lives into jeopardy. There are many people who think that anyone who engages in a bit of slap and tickle, etc, is some massive dangerous freak, who unlike the rest of the whole population, is unable to seperate fantasy from reality, sex from non sex and consent from non consent. This book/film has been discussed on This Morning, local news articles, cake conventions and there is even a LEGO parody trailer. This book and film is great for showing people that actually, people who like this drive Volvos, have baths, wear jumpers, shop at Asda, eat Christmas dinner, work in admin… This is great for BDSM. If you’re still worried that all these people are going to come and do it wrong, then fair enough. Perhaps using it as an opportunity to promote existing events, writing, websites, etc would be a good way to make sure people know safer, etc, ways of trying people up?

Look, it’s a story. You don’t have to like all the stories. I think Tess of the d’Urbervilles is really shit, and no amount of you telling me otherwise is going to change that. But if you like it, you’re not wrong. I mean, i’ll say you are to your face, but really, deep down, you’re not. I’m not going to laugh at you or tell you you’re an awful person if you like it. You might do loads for animal charities and have a lovely garden and call your boyfriend ‘fluffykins’. You liking Tess of the d’Urbervilles is totally ok with me, despite it’s obvious problems. Me liking 50 Shades of Grey is totally ok too. It doesn’t make me any less of a feminist and it doesn’t make me a horrible person.

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