This evening I saw one of my best friends for dinner. We got to the usual ‘how are you’, ‘what’s new’ chat when she told me that she saw her cousins over the weekend and watched 50 Shades of Grey for the first time. I asked her if she had read it first, and she said that although she had heard a lot of hype about it this was the first encounter she had had with the story.
Like many a woman (and man) out there, I am a fan of the franchise. I read the books straight away, couldn’t put them down. I even pre-ordered Grey on my Kindle so I could bathe in the other side of the story. I laughed at the cheesy lines and enjoyed Jamie Dornan in the movies. But unlike others I am not a fan because of the ‘risqué’ sex scenes; it’s not masturbation material for me. I am a fan for the underlying storyline and character development. And yes, there is some there to be found.
For anyone who doesn’t know the storyline (where have you been?!) here’s a very brief synopsis. Clumsy, boy-shy, virgin female undergraduate, Ana, falls into the office (literally) of rich, narcissistic, sex-driven slightly older man, Christian Grey. He stalks her for a bit, invites her over, they have sex and, because this is actually a romance, the two fall for each other. Throw in a bit of BDSM, a red room of pain – oops I mean pleasure *cough cough* – and a Mrs. Robinson figure and you’ve got a best seller on your hands. Of course, innocent Anna can’t deal with Christian’s Dom-Sub lifestyle and walks away hurt at the end, bruises and all. Dun dun duuuuuuuun – whatever could happen next?
Anyway, back to my friend. This was one of those moments where as the conversation unfolds I am so pleased to be a part of her life and share in her thoughts. She was telling me that as the movie played out she was not only cringing at the awful story scripting of dialect but actually left the room when Christian was finally releasing his dominant urges on Ana’s buttocks with the aid of a leather belt. All the while her younger cousins were sat giggling throughout, sharing excited stories of things they have tried and how they wish their men were more like Christian.
I’ll say this once. What on earth about a mentally unwell, sexually-exploited, aggressive man taking his anger and frustration out on a woman who doesn’t understand, wants to please, and winces with pain is sexy?! Seriously? Please don’t get me wrong there are parts of the story that are incredibly sexy. A gorgeous, intelligent man in the thralls of passion having to have his girlfriend there-and-then in a consensual and fiery manner is great. Isn’t that what we all want, a man who is so into us that he instigates passionate
spontaneous got-to-have-you-right-now sexy time? Yes please, but not from a man who has serious issues and wants to physically punish me for giving him the wrong type of look.
Young women (and men) are being influenced by this, but are they getting a real sexual education from it? No. Giggly girls swapping stories of cheap handcuffs from Ann Summers is fun. Just please don’t idolise this beaten down man yet. Wait for him to develop as the series progresses. See where the story goes. And don’t believe ‘exciting’ sex has to look like that, because girls, it doesn’t. If you want to experiment that’s fine, just start in the safety of someone you trust and build up on your experiences. Don’t be afraid to say stop. I was with a man recently who thought it was sexy to hold my throat during sex (I checked with my girlfriends – yes choking is a common thing now apparently and no not everyone is keen on it). I put a stop to it, said no and we moved on and had good sex.
50 Shades of Grey is not pure erotica, it is a love story.
A can’t-live-without-you romance about a woman who wants to ground her man, and a man who is willing to try to be a better person for her. It’s the classic ‘I can change him’ dream almost every girl has at some point in her life. Take that away from it. Don’t take misguided lessons about what exciting sex can or should, be like.
We don’t all have hidden red rooms and there’s a good reason for that. A cheeky draw of goodies is enough for most. Just remember Christian is a mentally unwell 50 shades of fucked up, who wants to follow that example?