Shades Freed

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.

The Eroticist

3 Comments

  1. rita

    nothing ass tight about it
    i agree that it is great to get so much exposure, and just to get the american public reading a book, let lone a series is cause for joy…

    the idea that one has to be damaged first to enjoy it is just plain wrong

    i believe the majority of abuse and sexual sadism practiced is withing the vanilla realm, where it is lumped under the domestic abuse umbrella

    sadistic emotional abuse happens all around us, to children and adults alike… and i believe it to be far worse than physical beatings….those kinds of abuse do not fade like a bruise or heal like a broken bone…they are truly ineradicable

  2. I’m enjoying your comments on the series, @Eroticist, and appreciate the far more balanced point of view you bring to it than many others in our circles, some of whom are shredding it as if their very lives depend on so doing.

    Sadly, I have to agree with you that we do indeed have a population of people who are in fact this badly damaged by abuse that it does become the driver for them to turn to BDSM.

    While I do think it is unfortunate that this is what is portrayed in this series, no book can be everything to everyone, and the reality is this was never intended to be a book about BDSM to start with, and a portrayal of it as fully healthy would simply not have served the author’s plot plans the same way.

    I’m actually much more encouraged by the fact that the book has clearly opened a lot of dialogue among vanilla people, and is providing an avenue for those who are curious to see their way clear to finally investigating WIITWD further. It is bringing what we do out of the closet of hidden mysteries into the light of day as a relationship construct, as well as legitimizing porn for women – and giving us porn that isn’t just about smut. And without giving away any of the plot, I think it’s safe to say that by the end, the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way about the BDSM, wouldn’t you agree?

    If James wanted to, she could easily extend the series towards a more healthy portrayal now, but I seriously doubt she will do so, and has already said as much She looked up the information for these three on the Internet! I think she did a spectacular job overall, especially considering it’s really not her own thing at all.

    I finally got my own commentary written tonight, after reading the whole series in less than a week a couple of months ago, and it will post tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts. I doubt you will be surprised to see that it focuses on the consensuality that is in fact portrayed, and remarkably well. It surprises me that others haven’t seen this as well, but I suppose there are clear reasons for that, which I also touch on.

    Rita, I totally agree about the value of the exposure, and just getting people reading – and actually discussing what they have read. The book has value for just getting people thinking. I love it that the people who are screaming the loudest against it are also decrying it as poorly written and unrealistic. Methinks in many cases that they doth protest a bit too loudly.

    I do, however, disagree about the existence of abuse in our circles, but will leave further commentary on that to my own post on this topic that will air tomorrow, and to the rest of my blog which focuses on that whole problem.

    • My dear Kinky Little Girl,

      Thank you so much for your cogent reply. I am a bit stressed right now in scheduling my trip to Chicago, which is not going as smoothly as I would wish, so my comments to your blog may be delayed. Be assured that I will defiantly comment.

      I had occasion to see one of the greatest advantages of the “50 Shades” series, from which everyone in the lifestyle will benefit. I spent yesterday at the Santa Barbara Pride festival, and had an opportunity to talk to two women who admitted to only a minimum of kink but had read the books. This allowed me an opportunity to speak on just the points you mention in your (now read) blog, relationship building, communication, mutual value, and more. Conversations like this will benefit all of us.

      The Eroticist

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