If you found yourself all hot and bothered watching Christian Grey lift Anastasia Steel’s skirt and give her a firm spanking, welcome to the club. For tons of people the novel those characters star in was a first introduction to the bondage lifestyle. Or so they think — many of you out there may have already participated in bondage play without even realizing it (but more on that later).
But how does the 50 Shades story hold up in the real world of BDSM? We know that most people aren’t kinky billionaires with helicopters and secret naughty sex rooms. We also know that “the first time” doesn’t always go as smoothly as it did for the virgin Anastasia. But what about BDSM play itself, and the type of people that enjoy it? Let’s get some things straight.
You don’t have to be “50 shades of fucked up”
Not everyone who enjoys being restrained during sex, or controlling someone else’s pleasure previously suffered some terrible childhood trauma. In fact the many of them never did! Needless to say, childhood trauma is not a prerequisite for BDSM. Bondage and sadomasochism is not indicative mental health issues. Restrictive play of that kind is intended to enhance pleasure through teasing and excitement. It builds arousal by making a “game” out of sex.
Watching the events of the film and fantasizing about being tied up or whipped during sex naturally incites feelings of naughtiness and dark pleasure. But the rewards and punishments of BDSM are not necessarily “sinister” in nature. They are often very playful, and the person being “punished” is enjoying it – but if not, it is important for them to relate their discomfort, and even MORE important for their partner to respect their feelings.
BDSM isn’t all “whips and chains”
As I mentioned, many of you have probably participated in bondage play before and don’t even realize it. How often have you seen furry handcuffs and thought they might be fun? You might even own a pair, if only as a joke. Have you ever held your lover’s hands over his or her head, or pinned them to the bed during sex? Have you or your partner ever worn a sleep mask or blindfold of some sort?
All of these things are a part of bondage – they involve depriving a partner of some sense or movement, meaning the other partner is in control. This is the essence of the “Dom/Sub” relationship. But even that is often misunderstood. In the 50 Shades movie it is appears that Christian is the one in control and Anastasia is along for the ride. But that dynamic is a little different than it seems
The Sub is the one in control
Those who saw the movie or read the books will recall that none of the fun could begin until Anastasia willingly agreed to it all, and signed off on what she was comfortable with. That means she decided what Christian would be allowed to do, not vice versa. Once the play began she would be bound to his every desire, but only within the limits of what she agreed to and to the degree that she allows.
And the discussion of “safe words” is equally important. The “green, yellow, red” system indicates that the Sub is actually the one controlling the entire flow of the play. They have the final say of when something is done and how, and can stop the whole thing at any time. This is extremely important, as they are trusting a partner with their safety and comfort and must be able to rely on that partner to comply.
It isn’t possible, healthy or safe to enter into such a vulnerable situation without a clear discussion of boundaries and what is acceptable. Just as bondage turns sex into a game, that game has rules and following them makes the experience much more enjoyable for both parties.
50 Shades is a great primer and introduction to an often misunderstood world of sexual exploration. It makes for great foreplay and provides lots of ideas to bring some extra kink into the bedroom. And it also contains some important ideas about sex in real life, even if the events of the movie itself aren’t entirely realistic.
For instance, not only has Anastasia never participated in bondage play before, she’s never had sex before meeting Christian in the first place. So the way that he warms her up to the idea (though maybe a bit accelerated compared to reality) is important to note. Nobody should just dive into a completely unfamiliar, intimate territory without doing some research and having some discussions.
Perhaps the most important lesson that 50 Shades teaches us is that everyone has their “dark corners” – we need to be willing to meet our partners in their world, without judgment, and they need to do the same for us. After all, you really can’t know everything you might enjoy until you try! If you set too many limits in your sex life, things can easily become stagnant.
If you ever find that things ARE becoming stagnant, or you need some advice on how to introduce some new kinks in your own bedroom, don’t hesitate to contact me with your questions.