Why is Christian Grey so frowned upon in the BDSM community? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Laura Hancock, English teacher:
Well, first of all, he's an abuser. He stalks and manipulates the Ana character.
Part of the reason why Fifty Shades of Grey gets so much bad press is that so many people who actually know nothing about BDSM think that this is what BDSM actually is. Christian Grey is by no means the only abusive character to be featured in BDSM-themed novels. For instance, one of my favorite erotica series is The Beauty Series written by Anne Rice, which is basically about a bunch of sex slaves in a castle.
In this series, nobody has a safeword. At all. None of the slaves in the castle have a real choice to be there - they're essentially sent as tributes as, for whatever reason, the most powerful kingdom in this realm is built upon a massive collection of royal sex slaves. None of this is ever explained. The character 'Alexi' talks about how he was repeatedly raped when he got to the castle.
In real life, this would be a gross violation of human rights and totally unethical. However, the thing is that nobody is mistaking this for real life. The main character Beauty has been asleep in a castle for a hundred years or something until the Prince shows up and breaks the charm. We're already in fantasyland and we haven't even gotten to any of the rape yet.
None of this is taken seriously. It is a pure fantasy concept and everybody accepts it as such. Nobody thinks that is real. Because it obviously is not.
People think that Fifty Shades of Grey is real. That's the problem with it. They think that this is how it actually works.
The thing about Fifty Shades is that it's plausible in a way that sex slaves undressing royalty with their teeth in some random castle that revolves around sex games is not.
I find one of the more galling aspects of the book is the way that the 'contract' Ana signs is somehow treated as legally binding, which BDSM contracts never are. Yeah, sure, you have some legally-binding contracts in relationships, like, you know, marriage. Marriage affects taxes and inheritance and power of attorney and shit like that. It's a legal document. This is why you need to go through a divorce to absolve that legal document if you decide you don't want to be with your marriage partner anymore.
But a BDSM contract? Please. It's a list of guidelines. That's all it is. And it's open to re-negotiation at any time, even in the middle of a scene. If you have a sub and they safeword in the middle of the scene, you stop. You don't go, "Ah ah ah, in paragraph 34.5a you agreed to this, so too bad."
That is not at all how it works. Any dom/me who isn't an actual abuser is fully aware that it's the submissive who is in more control of the scene anyway. The scene is built around the submissive. The dom/me is obviously the driving force of the scene, but it's the submissive who pulls the shots. They say stop, and you stop. It's over.
The trouble with Fifty Shades is that then you get people believing that how Christian Grey does it is how it is supposed to work. Namely, by violating the boundaries of the submissive and basically being a dick-in-the-box who gets away with it because he's handsome and rich.
Not all dom/mes are actually good people. There are some people who do get involved in BDSM scenes because they are inclined to abuse others. And just because it worked out for Christian Grey and Ana doesn't mean it's going to work out for everybody. That worked out well because it is a fictional novel.
To top it all off, the Ana character is a virgin at the beginning.
Dude. How in the hell is she supposed to be making true consent-based choices when she's never even had vanilla sex before? How does this at all align with "informed consent?" Even if you fantasize about certain activities - like getting whipped, for example - you may not actually like them in real life.
The problem isn't that Fifty Shades is unrealistic. There are plenty of unrealistic books out there.
The problem is that people think this is real.
And that's dangerous.