what's wrong with 50 shades of greyI keep getting requests for me to write about “Fifty Shades of Grey” because many people know, that Bd/Sm is something that I personally explore and enjoy. And initially, I was thrilled when a book turned on a nation to kink and make it really alright to talk about spanking, and bondage. But here is the deal: Fifty Shades of Grey is a really bad template for how to bring this particular flavor of sex play into your life.

The first thing to understand about the Bd/Sm Community (and yes there is a community of people who speak to each other, sex educators or specialize in Bd/Sm, conferences and workshops) is all about “Safe, Sane and Consensual”.  It’s always safety first, with an emphasis on safe words, understanding boundaries and both parties giving consent out of shared desire: not manipulation and fear. The importance of consent is simultaneously a personal, ethical, and social issue and separate what is good sexy fun from abuse.

So what’s wrong with Fifty Shades of Grey? It’s all about the constant manipulation of consent, violating boundaries, manipulation and fear. Those are the tools of Christian’s Grey Bd/Sm tool box. And while the book may be a sexy read (it’s fiction!),  we really don’t want to have this as our template for hot sexy delicious consensual Bd/Sm sexual encounters and relationships.

So where does Christian get it wrong?


Christian consistently forces and manipulates consent out of the innocent, young, virginal Anna.  In one scene Christian uses alcohol to gain consent out of Anna. There is nothing ethical about drawing consent out of someone that is not sober.

Christian gains consent out of Anna by playing on her fear of losing him when he presents her with a contract that she either has to sign or get out of his life. That is not true consent and there is no room for negotiation.  When we manipulate what we desire by pushing on the fear of loss or making it about “if you really cared about me….you would do this or that” we are forcing consent.

In a healthy Bd/Sm relationship consent is either given out of a place of safety and desire or not. An experienced ethical Dominant in the Bd/Sm scene would never force consent unless that was a game that the partners were playing called “Consensual Non Consent” when the players consent to “being forced”.   Consent is a big deal in the Bd/Sm community and Christian never took the workshop!

There is nothing more shunned in Bd/Sm Community than forcing or manipulating consent except perhaps a violation of ignoring “Safe Words” and Christian does that too.

Safe Words:

In healthy, safe, sane and consensual Bd/Sm “Safe Words” are  holy.  They allow the “submissive” to communicate with the Dominate in a very direct way. “Red” means stop. “Yellow” means slow down.  Of course any words can be chosen and agreed upon. And here is the golden rule. When a submissive or Dominant says “Red” it means HARD STOP.  Christian not only ignored Anna’s safe word in one scene but he expressed anger at her need to hold her own boundaries.  That is sexual abuse and assault. That is not Bd/Sm.  Submissive’s may withdraw their consent at any time.  In Fifty Shades, Anna actually begins to hide things from Christian out of fear of his jealousy and anger. To me, this is fifty shades of an abusive, dysfunctional relationship that has very little to do with Bd/Sm.

After Care:

Bd/Sm can be an intense experience for both the Dominant and the submissive. After some intense play “after care” which can include holding, cuddling, processing, and quiet time together is very important. Christian in more than one scene denies after care to Anna.

So what is the take away here? I think that Bd/Sm is powerful, delicious and sexy! And perhaps learning the “Rules of the Game” from a novel may not be the best step! There are fabulous “How to” books out there like “The Topping Book” and “The Bottoming Book” by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. There  are workshops and conferences where you can learn “the ropes”!  There are even private sessions available by professionals that teach and offer these experiences one  on one or with couples.

If Fifty Shades of Grey turned you on; then great! It certainly exposed a great many people to what is possible in the world of kink. And let’s face it – some of the scenes are very sexy. But it’s fiction and not a very good template or role model for any “Dom” wanna be, or “Submissive” interesting in exploring the world of Bd/Sm.

Want to know more? Email me for a private complimentary consultation at Pamela@backtothebody.org  Maybe I can help.

What’s Wrong With Fifty Shades Of Grey? was last modified: by

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