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50 SHADES OF… WHAT? A FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE

By: Lilith
I had too. I felt I could not criticize 50 Shades of Grey properly if I did not personally watch the film, and after seeing it tonight, I have to say…. what? I realized quite early in my adventure that my pre-conceived notions of the film were highly influenced by the various posts on Facebook and various other blogs which painted the film in less than favorable colors, as even standing in line to see it… was slightly embarrassing. To begin, I have read the books and my perspective on them have always been rather complicated as the strange stalker/ control-freak Grey creeped me out, yet the topic of kink in mainstream society and social media culture excited me. As the theater was packed to the brim and everyone was more excitedly loud then one would usually find within a movie theater, I guarded myself against the worse affront seen on the big screen since Tom Green.

 

I can say honestly that the movie was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Yes, there were questionable aspects which mirrored events and dialogue in the original books, but the script and production team were brilliantly aware of themselves and the content they were portraying. A large criticism which I too take issue with is the creep factor of one Christian Grey as he is manipulative, controlling and staker-like. The movie is entirely aware of this and largely succeeds at turning those uncomfortable traits into comedic relief. Anna is wonderfully refreshing as an awkward yet quick-witted character which one personally did not see in the novels. I would not argue that the movie makes light of emotional and physical abuse within some relationships but I would argue that it is self-aware and therefore self-reflective. Don’t get me wrong, the horribly, un-savory “personality” of Grey is not magically gone but it seems they attempted to make some of his more rough edges consumer and big screen ready.

I also liked the fact that the movie ended on a note about consent. I won’t spoil anything for folks (because spoilers go to the 10th level of hell for that especially heinous crime) but Steele tells Grey to stop (which he doesn’t listen too), but then she very firmly said No and that stopped him in his tracks. This may be minor but I appreciate the intense and much needed note of consent at the end, especially in light of a lot of the criticism around the books. Though lets be honest, he should have stopped at Stop…

So obviously I had some issues with the movie because frankly there were problems on a lot of levels and fronts which are grievous.

1) The movie-makers may have tried to scan over the totally ridiculous contract, but we saw it and heard. Forcing your submissive or any partner into getting birth-control- Nope. Being available for any sexual activities the Dominant wants, at any time (regardless, of what the Submissive wants)- Nope.

2) There was some steamy sex but did anyone else notice that the BDSM aspects were only really implemented in the foreplay or the building up to the sex. The kinkiest thing they did during sex was doggy style. This is not to say that all BDSM is about sex or penetration but considering the hyper about all the kinky sex… not that kinky.

3) I have a huge issue with how one of the last scenes was handled. They portray Steele as trapping or baiting Grey into pushing her too far then she freaks out and its not fair to Grey. This is not correct in a plethora of ways. Firstly, in a Dominant/ Submissive relationship the Sub is not the only one who has limits that must be respected. The Dominant’s limits have to be a part of the equation. That is why it is especially scary when one comes across a Submissive who will not use the safeword out of pride, stubbornness or a want to prove something. While the Submissive must trust the Dominant to stop when the safeword is used, a Dominant must be able to trust a Submissive to use that safeword and to not push the Dominant past their own limits. Secondly, while BDSM can be used to exercise personal and emotional demons, that is not how all BDSM relationships are. The depiction of Grey’s pension for BDSM as a direct result of gruesome childhood physical, emotional and sexual trauma is harmful to the community at large. Yes, there are some who have been abused who are a part of the community and unfortunately, abuse in many forms is far more rampant than any of us would comfortably admit, but not everyone in the community is a victim or perpetrator. Being Kinky, whether that is BDSM or not, is just changing up the routine and exploring various aspects of one’s sexuality and sensuality.

I would not say that the 50 Shades movie is a total write-off but I would simply say, enjoy with a grain (or two) of salt. Enjoy the wonderful world of kink, go out and buy a blindfold, even a flogger but do it safely with research and communication. I really wish the movie had mentioned the cardinal rule of kink and BDSM: Safe, Sane, and Consensual.

Overall, I would rate this movie a:

1/ 5 on Kink Factor

3/5 For not being as bad as I expected

4/5 for being an example of the long way STILL left to tread on our road to safe, sane, consensual kink on the big screen.

0/5 For Being So Hetero!

Filed under: Sexy Reviews

About the Author

Posted by

Alexandria Nuttal is an active sex educator, activist and writer in Ottawa, ON. With a Master's degree in Women and Gender Studies, her writing and workshops are educational, approachable and a ton of fun. She also currently works in a local adult store and actively advocates for sex-positivity. With a love for BDSM, reading and Ottawa's GLBTQ culture, you'll be sure to laugh and learn something from Alexandria and have fun doing it.

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