I have finished the “Fifty Shades of Grey” series. Again, I will do my best to avoid any plot points. I know it is a phenomenally popular series, and do not wish to spoil it for any prospective readers.
But my reactions continue. As anyone could probably guess, Christian Grey is, in the third volume “Fifty Shades Freed“, freed by the strong love of Anastasia Steel. But freed from what? From the severe pain and self loathing due to his abused past? Yes, but also from his need to obsessively control and violently abuse young women, and the desperate need to hide his inner self brought about by childhood abuse and severe self loathing. Whew, what a blessing.
Please understand, I am making no criticism or denial of the actuality of such self loathing caused by all kinds of abuse. The acceptance of personal guilt from such horrendous treatment is well documented and absolutely a reason for extensive and understanding therapy if possible. My comments are only on what I see as the causative association between that abuse and a later interest in sadistic or Dominant and submissive relationships and my concern as to the assumption that anyone interested or engaging in that kind of behavior is Ipso Facto a victim of and compensating for that kind of abuse.
Strong feeling are brought up within me from this series. First, I must say how sincerely grateful I am to see the popularity of the series. Irrespective of the literary value of the work, the conversations within the broader society are, hopefully, a healthy exploration of the possible pleasures of caring Dominance and submission between loving couples, and the potential pleasure that can be found within an affirming and safe exploration of the more experimental elements of sexual interaction.
That said, I return to my concerns about the association in the novels between a desire for a Dominant sadistic relationship within an individual and early overwhelmingly cruel abuse in their lives. Not only is it definitely an element of Christian’s choices, but an additional character is later added from a psychotically violent and sexually abusive background who grows to be murderously criminal towards women. These associations, to my way of thinking are, while probably expected at this stage of our society’s acceptance of broader sexual relations, extremely unfortunate.
With bowed head I have to admit to knowing without question that there are such people in the lifestyle. But because the subject matter is so titillating, it is widely and loudly reported when a criminally deranged person is found to engage in abusive sexual Dominance or sadistic behavior. We are reminded again and again of the truly horrendous result from this behavior towards an unwilling and innocent victim. We are told that early childhood traumatic events invariably creates neurotic compensation or psychotic behaviors directly caused by the previous experiences. “Yes, truly; for, look you, the sins of the father are to be laid upon the children” The Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene V.
But just because we are continually told of this association does not prove its causative effect. If this were the exclusive or even primary cause of exploration into these types of relations, we would not see, as I have repeatedly, healthy, affirming, mutually honoring, caring, safe, experimental relationships based in the equally valued but strongly divergent roles of a Dominant and submissive relationship. I would not see the joyous explorations into a wide variety of physical play between partners aimed at their mutual pleasure and sexual passion.
Least people assume that I view the Grey series as a total distortion of the lifestyle that I enjoy so much, I do wish to congratulate the author for portraying some aspects of such a relationship which portray a joyous and mutually affirming participation in a wide variety of physical pleasures while including the importance of communication, safety, and mutual affection.
OK, I am now stepping off my soapbox and hoping I can find a subject where I don’t sound like such an intellectual tight ass.