As yummy mummies the length and breadth of the UK book baby sitters and fish out their waterproof knickers, this week I thought I'd take a look at the phenomenon which is Fifty Shades of Grey. Three years after everyone else, I picked up the trilogy from E.L. James recently and worked my way very painfully through the first book before hauling my cookies halfway through the second book, which is where I gave up and began reading the phone book instead. As a dominatrix, I was interested in how BDSM practices would be portrayed. I shouldn't have bothered really, because this book/film isn't about BDSM at all.
For me, the essence of a good BDSM session is to get the psychological upper hand early on. There must be a glint in the eye which says, "Limits are all fine, but I have the potential to totally lose it and go to town on you." That's the thrill for a lot of my clients, not knowing. Very deep down, they know we have a mutual respect, that's key. But the fact remains, when they're grovelling at my feet and begging for mercy, they mean it.
As a former banker, (I'll take the shame and stigma of that to my grave) I still abide by an old rule we had - KYC, know your customer. These days I take that to mean his preferences and his limits, but more than that, it's knowing how far I can push beyond those agreed boundaries. So yes, we use the traffic light system of red, amber and green, but some clients trust me to take them beyond 'red', because I know them so well and can immediately sense when they've had enough. When feigned distress becomes real, I stop. Always.
What a pity the same can't be said for the valiant Mr. Grey. I can see why the BDSM community are up in arms. Here is a man who stalks his victim with a degree of fortitude that it's hard not to feel some begrudging sense of awe. He knows her bank details, in fact he has a built an entire file on her and flies out to interrupt a holiday with her parents, checking in to the same hotel as she's enjoying cocktails with her mother. Creep factor out of ten ? Eleven.
More than that, let's talk about their 'play'. She reluctantly agrees to spanking, which she later finds she enjoys. Splendid. Moving forwards from that, she agrees to go in to the play room and give him what he desires. So we're quite clear on this, that's not because she thinks she might enjoy it, that's because she loves him and thinks this might be the final nail in the coffin in his falling for her. What a surprise, he's not capable of falling for her, he views her as his property, to use and abuse as he pleases. He gives her six of the best with a belt, making her count every stroke, and although she is clearly distressed, he doesn't stop. That's not BDSM, that's abuse. When a submissive goes into a state of shock such that they can't draw their breath, let alone safe word, consent went out the window a long time ago.
In book two, we see him turn it around on her, saying she should have safe worded and the fault is entirely at her door, classic abuser behaviour. It's what abusers always say, "I hate what I did, but you drove me to it. I still love you, though. In spite of your obvious neediness." Now can you see why I'm growling ? BDSM is based on a mutual respect, as I've already said. RESPECT.
There are some "feminists" who've claimed that the film will lead to an increase in domestic violence, I don't believe that. Arm chair psychologists who've read up on Albert Bandura and his dolls, I salute you. Whilst it's true that children will sometimes mimic behaviour they've witnessed, that's because they're still forming their personalities. Grown adults ? Nah. Either you're an abuser or you're not. Either way, please don't conflate Fifty Shades with true BDSM.