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Kinky or Questionable: The controversy of the Fifty Shades trilogy

by Emma Misiaszek - Photo Editor
Mon, Feb 20th 2017 10:50 pm
Photo taken from 50ShadesUpdates on Twitter

`Fifty Shades of Grey` continues to cause controversy within the BDSM community with the recent release of `Fifty Shades Darker` which more accurately portrays BDSM relationships than its predecessor which was released Feb. 14, 2015.
Photo taken from 50ShadesUpdates on Twitter "Fifty Shades of Grey" continues to cause controversy within the BDSM community with the recent release of "Fifty Shades Darker" which more accurately portrays BDSM relationships than its predecessor which was released Feb. 14, 2015.

Around two years ago, the first movie adaption of E.L. James' erotic trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey" hit theaters worldwide and stirred up a lot of controversy, especially within the BDSM community. 

BDSM is a condensed abbreviation for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadism and masochism. Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are often characterized by the participants taking on complementary, but unequal roles; thus, the idea of informed consent of both the partners becomes essential. The terms "submissive" and "dominant" are often used to distinguish these roles: the dominant partner or "dom" takes psychological control over the submissive or "sub". 

Those belonging to this community are pretty unhappy with the picture "Fifty Shades" paints of a BDSM relationship. In fact when you search BDSM on Google, you'll find in the top ten results, an article titled, "25 facts about BDSM that you won't learn in 50 Shades of Grey," by Casey Gueren. Either the film doesn't go into enough detail about the erotic lifestyle or the details it does contain about BDSM are wrong all together.

Many people believe it romanticizes abusive relationships, exhibited by main characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele and has led to excessive kink-shaming.

In a People's magazine article, "BDSM Expert Weighs In on What Fifty Shades Gets Right - and Wrong About the Lifestyle," by Lindsay Kimble, Mistress Couple, Head Mistress at La Domaine Esemar, the oldest BDSM training chateau in the world, gave her expert opinion.

"BDSM is about creating vulnerability, opening yourself up to your partner in a way you can trust them to take you to some of these dark places that are considered taboo overall, but in a loving way," Couple said. "That's what's missing from 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Christian continuously violates Ana's trust and her ability to feel safe, and that any person in their right mind would get out of a relationship that's like that."

With the recent movie release of "Fifty Shades Darker", the second book in the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, the resting controversy has been stirred up again. 

In "Fifty Shades Darker", although Steele is no longer under the constraints of a BDSM sexual contract, there are still aspects of dominance and submissiveness between her and Grey. 

This movie doesn't exactly solve all of the first movie's problems, but it did give Steele more power, focused on her sexual needs and emotions, rather than focusing on Grey's sadistic, sexual dominance. 

Now two years later with the movie release of "Fifty Shades Darker", Mistress Couple weighed in on the adaption of BDSM again.

 "I understand that there are elements of consensual play in the book, but there are elements where he, like, shows up at her job and is stalking her and is throwing tantrums," Couple said. "All of those things we view obviously as a lack of mastery. If a submissive came to me and told me that their dominant was treating them in that way I would strongly counsel them to leave that relationship." 

However, Couple admitted that the "Fifty Shades" trilogy hasn't been completely negative to the view of BDSM.

 "It's definitely a double-edged sword," Couple explains. "The fact that, you know, little old ladies on the subway are reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and people feel comfortable to talk about it, to talk about kink, is a wonderful thing."

Other people in the BDSM community actually view the novels and movie adaptions as very beneficial to society as a whole. 

James has opened up a larger discussion around the practices of those in the BDSM community. 

"Fifty Shades Darker" takes a closer look at consent, safety and control when it comes to BDSM than the first movie did. 

Many fans of the franchise still urge others that to truly understand the inner workings of Steele, Grey and their relationship you have to read the original books, not just simply watch the movies. 

The "Fifty Shades" trilogy and corresponding movie adaptations have been criticized for their poor representation of BDSM as well as their strong portrayal of domestic violence that critics of the trilogy insist are present in the story plot of Grey and Steele.

However, despite its controversies, the trilogy is successful and there is no doubt that the third and final movie is already being filmed.

Also, I do think it has opened up a healthy dialogue about kinks, what BDSM actually entails and the importance of consent. 

And honestly, whether you enjoy the "Fifty Shades" franchise or not, you must admit the worldwide phenomenon James has created has given people the confidence to be open about their sexuality and become more comfortable talking about sex, creating conversations we as a society weren't having enough of.