Fifty Shades and Conversations about Feminism, Sex, BDSM, and Beyond

Ok so lately my tweets and my Facebook shares have had a lot of shares of great news and opinion pieces about Fifty Shades of Grey (I’m so not linking it for lots and lots of reasons).  I’m collating links to those piece below. The other day I waded into a twitter debate (really argument . . . and some crankiness) about this series and its film (I’m hoping to all things good and holy in the universe that it epically bombs so I don’t have to have another bout of movie hype in about a year, but I’m guessing I’m on this losing end of history on this one). One of the arguments that a lot of folks are using is that it’s anti-feminist or essentially shaming anyone who identifies as a feminist for reading and liking Fifty Shades. Before I delve into any Fifty Shades talk, seriously people, reading is a good thing . . . please read . . . read whatever you are into that doesn’t make you a bad feminist, mother, social justice educator, student affairs professional, professor, student, or fill-in-the-blank identity . . . and we need to stop shaming each other about our reading pleasure.  The hard thing with Fifty Shades right now is that many feminist activists and very conservative sectors of America are currently agreeing and working to undermine the novel’s reach.  I admit that worries me quite a bit on many many levels as I’ve never been an advocate of the “an enemy of mine enemy” and all that.  While it’s a great plot device, it’s super bad politics usually, and we end up compromising too much of our selves for a politics of respectability, which as I type that is a whole other issue.

Here’s the thing about Fifty Shades: it is bad erotica, and it’s really bad BDSM. There’s much better romance, erotica, and BDSM romance/erotica out there. If you want recommendations let me know.   It’s bad BDSM because it doesn’t embrace the tenets of safe, sane, and consensual. It’s bad BDSM because it’s based on emotional blackmail.  I find Fifty Shades’ relationships just as problematic and abusive as its source material (Twilight for those who don’t know), but that doesn’t make it anti-feminist or the women who read it anti-feminist. I can’t say that Fifty Shades is anti-feminist because that isn’t for me or anyone else to decide. My feminism doesn’t exclude romance novels, erotica, or BDSM. Also trust me when I say I read far naughtier books than Fifty Shades could even begin to imagine.

My bottom line about Fifty Shades is that I found it annoying, boring, and just BAD: bad writing, bad romance, bad erotica, and bad BDSM. But I read all three books and don’t begrudge E.L. James her success.  I do begrudge her lack of research and her blatant disregard for even the most basic tenets of BDSM.  (I mean I begrudge Stephenie Meyer her obvious disdain for a long history of vampire literature and culture, so James is upholding her idol’s methodology there.) I swear at some point I’ll stop posting and talking about this damn series and its movies, but it’s too popular not to talk about.

Here’s the other thing, though, I am thankful that it is allowing people to have good conversations about sex, erotica, romance, BDSM, women’s sexual agency, and so much more. So alas, I can’t stop sharing these awesome articles yet and thinking about it.

And thus begins some links for some great reads about Fifty Shades, BDSM, and Feminism (some will be familiar if you follow me on social media or read my Marked, Mated, Owned Blog).

Fifty Shades of Meh by Mistress Trinity (I agree with Mistress Trinity about a lot of what she says and she’s really funny.  I don’t agree with her diminishment of romance novels whether Harlequin or otherwise).

Fucking with Feministing: BDSM Subbing and Feminism by Sesali B. This one is great.  Read it.  (Also I shared this one in another blog, but I’m collecting articles here)

“I like submissive sex but Fifty Shades is not about fun” by Sophie Morgan

Jenny [Trout] Reads 50 Shades This highlights what a fiction writer sees as issues with 50 Shades while essentially writing 50 Shades fan-fiction (for a contest). And here’s my favorite post by Jenny Trout about 50 Shades and BDSM: “Dear 50 Shades fan: BDSM doesn’t need or want your defense”

Fifty Shades of Feminism by Carey Purcell (This is more an analysis of the feminist issues arising in Fifty Shades)

If you have an article you found interesting about Fifty Shades or any of the other topics (BDSM and Feminism, etc.), feel free to post in the comments as I will probably add links too.  I can only image we will see more both about the books and about the film when it finally comes out. Here endeth the rant . . . for now.

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