Mina Button's blog

kink and feminism and stuff…formerly known as Absinthe Cocktail.

A Handful of Further Thoughts on Fifty Shades…

…so now that I’m even later to the party than I was when I wrote my first post on Fifty Shades, I have further thoughts.

I still have a complete inability (and utter lack of desire) to read any of the Fifty Shades trilogy.  I have, however, been reading Jenny Trout’s hilarious and disturbing (hilaristurbing?) chapter-by-chapter summary/takedown of these books.  Seriously, you should read this.  It will a) let you actually know what happens in the books, which I was honestly really curious about, b) confirm that a lot of what happens in the books is pretty awful, and c) make you laugh a lot.  I especially enjoy the way she refers to the “hero” of the books as Chedward.

So.  One thing I needed clarified about Fifty is this: Ana never signs the contract.  Which, I mean, not all D/s or any other sort of kinky relationships require contracts.  Garnet’s and my contract expired last June, and with work and all the various chaos on the past year or so that’s only just settling, we never got around to renewing it.  Contracts are both comforting and hot to me, but they’re not for everybody.  However…I kind of figured that after the tiny snippet of the book that I actually read (the part detailing the contract and Ana’s reactions to it) that at some point Ana relents and agrees to some sort of D/s.

Here’s the thing: she doesn’t.

There is no actual, consensual D/s anywhere in any of these books.  Seriously.  While Ana and Christian occasionally have “kinky” sex (which, in my opinion, ranges from the boring to the physically-and-anatomically-impossible…but still boring), but Edward* spends a bunch of time talking about how he wants to have a “normal” relationship and how Ana is his girlfriend and not his submissive.

…so then he proceeds to tell her what she can and can’t do, emotionally manipulate her into doing what he wants, and talk at length about how much he wants to beat her when she does something he doesn’t like.  I used to joke sometimes that Dr. Asshole was into “nonconsensual 24/7 D/s,” but actually we have a word for that.  It’s called abuse.

These books are just super gross.  Super fucking gross.  I’m really glad Jenny Trout has posted about them, because her pictures of cute kittens and RPattz making goofy faces definitely helps mitigate something that I would normally find upsetting-to-borderline-triggering.  And abuse + occasional spankings =/= consensual kink.  It just continues to enrage and upset me that these books are such a sensation.  And I’m incredibly disturbed and frustrated that so many things have been published about kink and this book and what it means that it’s so popular.  This isn’t kink!  It’s romanticized abuse!

Ugh…I feel a little like I’m going around in circles here, saying both the same things I said before and that oodles of other people have said.  I…just…need to rant a bit about this sometimes.  Another really good point about the nonsense in Fifty Shades was brought up by one of my favorite authors of kinky smut, Laura Antoniou:

This is such a good point, and I just…the story is set in Seattle for Christ’s sake.  It somehow seems even more sinister to me that Christian doesn’t, say, take Ana to a munch or encourage her to do any of her own research at all about kink.  He chides her at one point for buying the “wrong” nipple clamps and butt plug, how the fuck is she supposed to know any better?  I know I just spent a bunch of time ranting about how what they’re doing isn’t D/s, but I also find it really creepy that he gets to be the all-knowing god of kink while she’s pretty much always in the dark.  I am wary of any dominant who doesn’t want to keep their partner well-informed, even if this aspect is maybe unintentional on James’s part.  I mean, she got all sorts of other things wrong about Seattle (I’ve heard), so why would she have researched the city’s kink community?

Also, why the fuck didn’t Ana go shopping for those nipple clamps and plug at Babeland?  They’re in Seattle!  And what sort of nipple clamps are “too hardcore” for beginners (besides clover clamps) that are available in lots of sex shops?  We don’t know what she bought!  They’re never really described!  It’s all just a set-up to make Christian look sooooo knowledgeable about sex and Ana soooo innocent.  Fuck that.  Like, I get the fantasy of a young virgin being swept off their feet and taught about sex and pleasure by a suave and knowledgeable older partner, but Ana’s not being taught anything–Christian basically keeps her in the dark as much as he can, which is creepy and gross and heavily implies that he wants her to think that the only way she can experience sexual pleasure is with him.  Fuck that.

I wish someone would give Ana a copy of The New Bottoming Book already.  Or a pamphlet on emotional abuse.

I promise I’ll write something about a good book sometime soon…

*I, completely by accident and without realizing it, typed “Edward” here when I meant to type “Christian.”  Not even sorry.  Totes leaving it as is.

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