Let's be blunt. E L James' Fifty Shades of Grey won't be the first piece of mind-numbingly awful literature that's had the world's housewives writhing in their seats. Hell, Mills and Boon have built an empire on the repressed desires of millions and millions of women who, quite frankly, need to get out more. It might, however, be one of the first to offer up something so detrimental to the collective conscious of women and men across the world who are curious about BDSM.
Comparing the vanillia, unrealistic and, quite frankly, emotionally barbaric representation of BDSM in Fifty Shades to the vibrant and wholly fulfilling world of kink doesn't only harm the scene itself, but puts a new group of individuals exploring their sexuality at incredible risk. The similarities start and end with Christian Grey's (admittedly impressive) collection of whips and chains - shame he doesn't have a clue how to use them. And while it might have harmlessly encouraged tons of lovers to resurrect those old hen party handcuffs, for those truly interested in starting to exploring the sub-culture, it sets them off on a deeply dangerous footing.
Anastasia Steele is portrayed as a submissive, so let's get one thing straight. Sexually speaking, she couldn't be further from it. Instead of taking genuine erotic pleasure in submitting herself to her dominant, she feigns interest in a lifestyle she has no desire to explore or understand in order to 'get the man'. In spite of Christian's constant efforts to explain his preferences to her, she continually ignores them, putting herself at emotional and physical risk in order to get the fairy-tale romance. No wonder when things reach a head, she breaks down.
It this deep unwillingness to ever really come term terms with her emotions that leads many to link the book and movie with domestic violence. And to be fair, they have a point. By using the sub-dom relationship as some kind of bizarre manipulation, Anastasia fails to ever truly consent to Christian's sexual preferences and in doing so, puts herself at risk of entering what could well become an emotionally abusive relationship.
And that's not to say Christian's not blameless either. While real-world dominants will go to great lengths to ensure the mental well-being and understanding of their respective sub, he couldn't give a damn about her painfully apparent unraveling.
Compare the movie to the much-loved cult-classic Secretary and the differences couldn't be more apparent. In Fifty Shades, Anastasia never really takes much pleasure from the sub stuff, just the generous amounts of oral sex that seem to accompany it (fair play, Christian). Their relationship crumbles and each party is left broken. While in Secretary, Lee's clear natural love of the submissive lifestyle couldn't be more apparent. Many submissives can relate to the unadulterated pleasure she gets as she crawls her way down E E Grey's corridor, encapsulating the unashamed excitement subs feel at the hands of their dominant. No wonder Secretary's Lee goes on to enjoy a rich and happy sexual life with her partner while Anastasia left sobbing in a lift.
The world of kink can be exciting, emotionally enriching and extremely safe place for thousands of people to explore their sexuality. And those involved in the scene feel a true passion for the lifestyle. Discovering BDSM can be a life-changing experience that leads to incredible relationships and a considerably more fulfilled existence.
Just don't be fooled that Fifty Shades of Grey has anything to do with it.