Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey Review - An Introduction

So, a few years ago, a friend and I decided that, given how much attention the series was getting, we'd give Fifty Shades of Grey a shot. After all, I'm a firm believer that you can't really have an opinion of something that's worth anything if you don't at least try it.

And, since I'm kinky and write kinky erotica, everyone I knew—and many I didn't—wanted to know my opinion. So I thought that I’d try a little Mark Reads-ish review of 50 Shades of Grey—you know, ‘cause I'm an all-or-nothing kind of masochist.

I'd posted this on my personal Facebook & FetLife accounts and was content to leave them there, since...well, to be honest, this experiment in literary masochism got ranty and I didn't want to alienate anyone who might stumble across my work because of the series.

Because, while I may not like the books—I couldn't even finish them; spoiler alert, I safeworded out half-way through Chapter Eight of Book One (I know, I'm disappointed too, but safewords exist for all our safety and we have a duty to use them responsibly.)—I was at least hopeful that they would start a conversation in the mainstream about kink.

And, it has, but not always in a way I'd hoped it would. In many ways, we as a culture are more desensitized and less scandalized by kink because of the series. But I don't think we're less prejudiced against it. We, as a whole, still don't understand it; a lot of that is thanks to the books. And, what's worse, is that we think we do and are all too willing to live with our own ignorance.

And now the movie is coming out and who knows what effect that will have.

Given all that, I might as well put my three-years-old, forever-unfinished two cents in. 

And, if you are a fan of the series, please don't take offense. People are allowed to like whatever they like—take a look at my Reading's the New Sexy pieces; I'm about as far from a literary snob as you can get—but this was my attempt to find out what all the fuss was about

I'm not entirely sure I succeeded—in fact, am pretty certain I didn't—but, as always, I hope you enjoy the effort:

So, per Mark Reads formula, here are my predictions:
- All the characters will annoy me  
- The kink will leave me either yawning “beige” or screaming “red” with very little in between 
- The actual romance will squick me more than the kink 
- The sex will strike me more as a turn off than a turn on
- The power dynamics will enrage me because they will be abuse passed off as kink 
- The kink stereotypes will feel like an outsider trying to write as an insider 
- As the author is British writing as an American, the voice will annoy me and I will have to read it in a British accent and re-locate Shades’ Seattle to some unknown district in London just to get through it
- And because he tends to throw weird predictions in just because: Laundromat scenes and killer bees. Why? Just because.
Lastly, I foresee a lot of teeth-gnashing and head-pounding and ranting (so apologies in advance), but I swear to try to keep as open a mind as possible. 

So with a fortifying sigh, begin scene, E.L. James.

Also, just for clarification, brief definitions of terms: 
Kinkland: Special term for the community as a whole, the experience as a whole, and the whole BDSM game itself of cops and robbers with your pants off. Think of it as Hogwarts for the kinky. It both exists within the same space but is completely separate from the real world. 
Kinkster: A kinky person 
Vanilla: Non-kink 
Tops: A person who gets turned on by doing things to another person. Usually used in a sensory, physical capacity. They're the ones wielding the whips, crops, floggers, strap-ons, etc. They're the ones acting upon. 
Bottoms: The reverse of a top. They are the ones who are turned on by being acted upon. Being whipped, struck, flogged, penetrated, etc. Again, this term is generally used in a more sensory, physical sense.   
Switch: A switch is a person who doesn't identify solely as one position or role or the other. Much like bisexuality or pansexuality, this doesn't necessarily have to be a 50/50 type identity, though it certainly can be. 
For instance, while I would personally identify as a masochistic bottom, I could also be considered—and probably ought to identify asa switch as I can and do top. 
Sadist: A person who gets turned on by causing pain. Unfortunately for kinksters, the term is used in real-world context to refer to people who enjoy causing non-consensual pain. In kinkland, ideally we mean it to be people who get off on causing safe, sane, consensual (SSC) pain. 
Personally, as someone into sensation- and impact-play, I tend to think of sadists as being people who get turned on by causing sensation. Pain, sure, but also pleasure and discomfort and relaxation and anxiety and satiation. A common misconception about kink and BDSM in particular is that it's all about pain. It's about the experience. And everything it entails.
Masochist: The reverse of a sadist. In overly simplistic terms, this is a person who gets turned on by experiencing pain. In less simplistic terms, like with sadists, it's all about experiencing emotions and sensations unachievable otherwise.
Dominant (Dom/Domme): This is a role that implies role playing and power dynamics. And, yes, the capital "D" should always be observed—this used to annoy me as an English major—but it really is a title and there is enough of a distinction between a dominant person and a Dominant person to warrant the grammatical distinction. A dominant person likes to be in control, tends to be a control freak, and is a very Type-A personality. A Dominant person is someone who gets sexually aroused by literally dominating a person, by having complete control over another human being. With one (dominant), you'll see in everyday environments—your boss, your professor, the snippy sales clerk in a store—the other (Dominant) you won't. Because they don't belong there and are socially unwelcome in today's society. It is a role one plays in kinkland. 
Take me for example. I'll admit it, I get satisfaction and amusement from bossing people around. I like that I can often manipulate and make people do all sorts of things they wouldn't otherwise do. It brings me untold joy and glee. But it doesn't turn me on. Which makes me a fairly dominant person, but a shitty Domme. 
submissive (sub): This is the reverse of a Dominant (so again, capitalization is key because a submissive coworker who lets their boss blame them for every fuck-up is not the same as the sub who gets a hard-on by being made to cross-dress, yes?). It's also important to note that subs are not necessarily submissive by nature, nor Dom(mes) dominant by nature. Often people get turned on by role playing opposite types. Let's all acknowledge the frequency of the business exec who likes to be spanked or the housewife who likes to peg her husband. 
Service ___: This implies that, no matter the role being played, they are playing it in service to their partner. Meaning, no matter the role, most of the pleasure the kinkster is experiencing comes from pleasing and servicing their partner. So, though it seems contradictory, one can be a service top who derives more pleasure from obeying the bottom's request (also referred to as "topping from the bottom"). 
Pretty sure that was all the jargon I used, but if there's anything you don't understand, let me know. It's the thing about language, native speakers are the best people to explain things to you, but the worst at knowing what to explain. And questions are always welcome!

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