Dec 122012
 

The number of articles written about the insipid and unfortunate trilogy, 50 Shades, is staggering. But at least most of them are better written than the actual books. Just look at the 1/2 star reviews on Amazon to see what I mean if you’ve managed to miss out on that aspect. This article I stumbled across today points out that while the actual sex is indeed a ridiculous fairy tale, the relationship is a tale of caution.

Much of the media attention thus far has focused on the BDSM relationship between the two main characters. What’s missing, though — in the media, probably in our book clubs and certainly in our conversations with our teenage daughters — is a discussion of a serious and dangerous aspect of their relationship.

Let’s be clear: We’re not talking about BDSM. Our concern is that the interaction between the characters outside the bedroom has been ignored.

From the beginning of the series, Christian Grey’s need to control Ana Steele is unmistakable. He gives her a laptop and BlackBerry so she can be instantly available and shows up at her house when she doesn’t respond quickly enough. He flies thousands of miles to her mother’s house, unexpected and uninvited. The examples go on and on. These events are explained away as romantic, as products of Christian’s intensity, his wealth, his need to control, his childhood abuse. But they are not romantic, nor are they justifiable. They are hallmarks of intimate partner violence (IPV).

And it touches on the stalker aspects of Mr. Grey:

Intimate partner stalking includes repeated and unwanted contact or attention that causes the victim to fear her own safety or the safety of others. Over 16 percent of women have experienced stalking during their lifetimes, and two-thirds of those have been stalked by an intimate partner, such as a boyfriend, spouse or girlfriend. Although alarming, these rates likely underestimate the actual prevalence, as most instances of IPV are not reported to the police. The most common form of stalking is repeated and unwanted phone calls or text messages; Christian’s first gifts of a laptop and BlackBerry may not be coincidental.

Millions of women are romanticizing the entire book series, skimming over the IPV and focusing on the unrealistic sex and the “romance”. Women who are in the position of Ana Steele likely do not recognize it at first. Even when they do recognize it, they feel that there is nothing that can be done. After all, what will the cops do about phone and email stalking and harassing? Not much until the perpetrator threatens harm or shows up in person. Yet to live with that kind of stalking is terrifying, sickening and is a life filled with despair.

What’s worse though is reading the comments on this article. There are a few people who are still unable to see Christian’s actions as “stalkerish” and still see it as “romantic”. Too many people are going to think that because “oh he had good reason”. There is never good reason to behave this way.

’50 Shades of Grey’: Expanding the Conversation from Sexy to Safety by Peggy Andover, PhD and Colleen Jacobson

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This great post, written well before the 50 Shades bullshit, is very useful for not just kinksters but anyone who is dating. Remove the BDSM aspects and you still have a creepy, unhealthy person: A Field Guide to Creepy Dom.

The Creepy Dom isn’t just a character in a Dungeon or sex club, he (or she) can be the predator next door, the sweet person you develop an online relationship with, or the guy you meet through the vanilla dating site. Sadly, the ability to recognize and run away isn’t something gained with age. The writer of the post linked does talk about the propensity for young girls in the kink scene to be fooled by “Doms” older than their father but I assure you the ability to be conned and believe the con is not bound by age. It can happen to anyone, be they 18, 34 or 52. I wish I had seen this post years ago and memorized it like a doctrine. 

The anatomy of a Creepy Dom, according to Asher (explanations available in the post, so read it):

1. He comes on too strong, too fast

2. He’s consensually challenged

3. He has “connections” and is “experienced”

4. He “essentializes” dominance and submissions

5. He manipulates your desire to be a good bottom

6. He’s usually doing something wrong

I’d like to add in one of my own:

7. He seeks out submissives who have little to no real life experience, for they are easier to manipulate

Read it. Memorize it. Live it. And be careful out there.

Do you have any to add to the list, after reading Asher’s post?

  • Megami

    Thank-you! I finally got around to reading this book (as I felt I couldn’t criticise it if I hadn’t read it) and what struck me, other than how badly written it is was a)how the BDSM aspects were so not surprising (I mean, how can the idea of spanking or restrains be a revelation to readers in this day and age??? Do they all live under a rock? I would in no way describe myself as a member of the BDSM community but nothing in the book was new to me) and b) how this freaky control freak was portrayed as being romantic. Glad to see it articulated so well here.

    ~The BDSM aspects are, for the most part, pretty tame. The only thing that isn’t tame is the fact that Anastasia is QUITE vanilla and 100% inexperienced and so her reactions to rather tame things, such as spanking/belting, was very dramatic. That made it all seem so much more than it was. Another thing that bothers me is when I read all of these posts that try to tell people other books to read instead of this series….and they are basing it all off the BDSM aspect. Famous BDSM trilogy? Duh, Sleeping Beauty. The two trilogies ARE SO NOT INTERCHANGEABLE. HOLY CRAP. I read the Sleeping Beauty trilogy years ago when I had had no clue that that level of kink even existed and it freaked me the fuck out. I had to skim over parts because it made me squirmy in the bad way. Sleeping Beauty was taken against her will yet “grew to love it and him”, because OF COURSE SHE DID. WHO WOULDN’T?? Yet because it was set in medieval times, it was accepted more readily than if the exact same story were to be set in modern times. There are harems, pony play to the extreme, forced nudity at all times, sexual slavery, true beatings and abuse, brainwashing etc. But because she falls in love with her captor, suddenly it’s literature and smut.

  • http://www.diaryofakinkylibrarian.com Nadia West

    Excellent post! I’ve only read the first book – I hated the characters so much I couldn’t stand to read more! – but the stalker behavior was so obvious and troubling. The most egregious is when he follows her to her mother’s without her knowing or consenting. WTF?! That is NOT romantic nor healthy behavior.

    This book has nothing to do with real bdsm.