(We don't know where we'll end up ... but we're all starting at single.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The RN: Fifty Shades of Confused

I read all three 50 Shades books. And I saw the movie last month. But what I can't quite figure out is why everyone is so up in arms about it. I mean I understand it's not exactly main stream sex, and it's probably the most popular book in the main stream about BDSM. But people are pulling things out of thin air, well okay maybe not thin air, but at the very least out of context.

If you haven't read them already, you can get them here.

Here's the thing, you guys know I read smut, if you don't know that, you haven't been paying attention. I read all kinds of smut, but especially the free stuff on Amazon's Top 100 Free List. Well because it's free and why not? Most of it is pretty bad, I mean it is free. However, there are all kinds of smut on there, from romance novels barely counting as smut to stuff that's really intense. (Nope, not giving you examples. My reading list is mine own.)

I guess my point is ... I found 50 Shades to be a little ... tame. It's not really that far out there. Which, of course, is probably why it got so popular. Because it's just naughty enough to make the conservatives go ape shit, but doesn't really assume anything that out of the ordinary. Don't believe me? Have you stopped to think about the lyrics of Rihanna's S&M? Or watched the video? Number 2 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. That's about as main stream as you can get.

Of course there's over the top stuff in the books. They're smut, er, romance novels. The only thing I found possibly not main stream was having a huge, red-leather covered playroom. But then Mr. Grey supposedly makes $100,000 an hour (that's about $183 million a year if he works "normal" hours, probably closer to $260 million considering how often he's working in the books). Of course he's going to have an over the top playroom. He can afford it with his over the top salary.

But I keep seeing "reviews" claiming there's all this rape in the story. Sorry, but no. There actually isn't any rape in this story. There's a myriad of examples, but most of them fall apart quite fast when put into context. For example, this site came up in a quick search. Here's what they use to "show" how he is raping her (text copied directly from site on 29 Apr 15):

Steele: "Well, I thought I should come and remind you how nice it was knowing me." Holy crap. I stare at him open mouthed, and his fingers move from my ear to my chin. "What do you say to that, Miss Steele?" [...she says nothing...] I take pre-emptive action and launch myself at him. Somehow he moves, I have no idea how, and in the blink of an eye I'm on the bed pinned beneath him, my arms stretched out and held above my head, his free hand clutching my face, and his mouth finds mine."
Next, Steele says no.
Steele: He bends and starts undoing one of my sneakers. Oh no... no... my feet. No. I've just been running. "No," I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. "If you struggle, I'll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you."
Grey: He bends and starts undoing one of my sneakers. Oh no... no... my feet. No. I've just been running. "No," I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. "If you struggle, I'll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you."

So, right off the bat you should notice this site can't even take the time to properly attribute lines to the person speaking them. Also they gloss over pretty much every important part of the exchange giving any hint Ana wants this. First the [...she says nothing...] contains the following, "Desire--acute, liquid, and smoldering--combusts deep in my belly." So the implication somehow Ana is not into having sex is created entirely by where they placed the ellipsis. The ellipsis is also used to imply Ana is launching herself at him in anger or to thwart some kind of attack. In context she's launching herself at him in lust.

Then, they pull this little ditty. "Next, Steele says no." Um, no that's not next. That's like a page and half later. A page containing lines like, "He wants me, and this does strange, delicious things to my insides." and "'Trust me?' he breathes. I nod, wide-eyed, my heart bouncing off my ribs, my blood thundering through my body." (pretty sure that's consent right there, although admittedly not verbal consent) and "I'm tied, literally, to my bed, and I'm so aroused." It's also very clear from the context Ana is worried about her stinky feet from having run earlier not actually saying no, she doesn't want sex. There's also a line where's she worried about underwear she has on, "Oh--what panties am I wearing?" Not really thoughts one would expect a rape victim to be thinking. Although, I make no judgements, maybe that is what she would be thinking if she were being raped, but the rest of the context doesn't support the rape theory.

What it also ignores is the previous context of Ana and Mr. Gray's sexual relationship. They are both aware he likes to control her and they are both aware they both like it rougher than the "standard" excepted by society. But there's actually nothing wrong with that. People should be allowed to have sex in their own way with their own comfort level in what they choose to do.

The thing is this story can be spun in many, many ways. If I choose to spin it in a very different way than the authors of the site mentioned above ... I would say it's a character study. Yes, a character study of a very trouble young man who has been using absolute control in business and personal affairs to attempt to hide the pain and anguish of abandonment as a toddler and sexual abuse as a teenager. The story develops around his attempts to continue his using his coping mechanisms in the face of developing feelings beyond the scope the coping mechanisms can handle. About how he learns to deal with real emotions and stops hiding behind the facade of control while he falls deeply in love for the first time. As told by the lover he falls for; set against BDSM, you know, to make it more interesting.

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