Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey - Book review by someone who has actually read the book

As I stated in my previous entry, there is a plethora of reviews and conversations within the kink community about Fifty Shades of Grey.  Quite honestly alot of the talk is rather hateful towards the book and the author - and the majority commenting on it haven't even read it.  What I'll do is give you my honest opinion of the book and in some ways I will agree with some things being said, and some ways not.

I enjoyed the book and it was hard to put down.  There were some parts in it that seemed a little repetitive, but for the most part it captured my attention.  If I remember right, there were 3 spanking scenes and I especially liked the first one.  There was the LOOK, some scolding, and it was discipline related... all great things for my headspace.  It was also erotic and had a number of sex scenes which I must admit...turned me on .

I liked the main character, Anastasia's sharp wit and personality and she reminds me of a number of people that I know.  However, she does not consider herself to be a submissive and she is vanilla.

Christian Grey, the Dominant, was likable but he certainly had his issues and hangups.  The book hints at some history of being abused as a child and an underage relationship with an older woman that he was a submissive to.  He doesn't like to be touched which is why he restrains her sometimes when they're having sex.  But his good qualities were:  apparently very handsome, intelligent, protective of Anastasia, always had her safety in mind whether she was with him or away, and very generous with his lavish gifts.

Christian & Anastasia are attracted to each other, and he pursues her, trying to woe her.  However he warns her that he is not good for her.  As stated above, Ana is vanilla coming into this and Christian wants her to be his submissive.  There is alot of negotiation and compromise that takes place in this book.  Ana makes it clear that she wants more (loving long-term committed relationship) than what Christian is offering and he is willing to try because he cares for her so much.

The big debate is does it shed a negative light on the BDSM & kink community and does it accurately portray those of us who are involved in it.  No doubt these concerns arise because of Christian's character.  My opinion is that it doesn't necessarily show us in a bad light, and here's why...

Nearly all of us have our own baggage and 'demons' that we bring with us into TTWD.  History of being abused, mental illness (yes, I know a number of people who have or had it in their past, myself included), and character flaws.  Does that mean that we shouldn't participate in this lifestyle because we are imperfect?  No, unless we put ourselves or somebody else at risk of harm.  I can't think of anything in this book that was non-consensual.  Though Ana wasn't personally into the things that Christian was, she was willing to try it and see because she liked him and wanted to please him.  He tried to let her know what to expect before they did any play, and she still consented, although very hesitantly at times.  I never felt that he coerced her, he never abused her, and safewords were always available to be used.  There was communication beforehand of what was permissible and what the limits were and negotiation was expected.  There was compromise and some rules were removed from the D/s contract.

I suppose if readers of the book wish to stereotype and over-generalize, they could deduct that all people into BDSM are damaged goods, the Dominates are control freaks, and the reason they are into this lifestyle is because of a horrid past that caused them to be twisted and desire abnormal things.  There will always be those people who will take a stereotype and run with it, but I don't feel that this was the message that this book was giving.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a work of fiction, meant to entertain.  If it was a commentary or some other non-fictional book about our community then there would be cause for concern.  I remember taking an acting class where the instructor said that all plays, movies, etc. must have some sort of conflict in order to be worth watching, and if there was no conflict then it would be boring.  We had to determine what the conflict was and by the end of the play there should be some sort of resolution.  If this book had been about two perfect people in a D/s relationship with no conflicts or struggles it would not have been worth the read, for me anyways.

One of the community plays that I acted in, called "Inherit the Wind", stirred quite a bit of controversy in my very conservative town among church-goers because it portrayed Christians in a negative light according to some people.  I caught alot of flak from church friends for being in it.  My defense was always:  This is an opportunity for me to get acting experience, the role is a good role and lets me express a variety of emotions, and it is only meant for entertainment.  Doesn't mean that I or any other of the production crew hold the same views as the characters in the play, we are just using our crafts to bring it alive and entertain the audience.  But also that unfortunately there ARE some Christians who are similar to the scripted characters, but if an audience member is dumb enough to over-generalize about it then so be it... that just shows their ignorance.

There will always be ignorant people who over-generalize, and those people just need to be drop kicked.  Anyways, I look forward to reading the other 2 books in the series.  I'm on chapter two of Fifty Shades Darker...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fifty Shades of Lemmings

In spite of all the negative reviews that I've heard within the kink community about the book, Fifty Shades of Grey, I had an interest in reading the book so I picked up a copy.  I must say that I've had a pet peeve for a long time about people not knowing something first-hand for themselves, and forming their opinions on word-of-mouth, or even worse... simply based upon others' opinions who don't know first hand either.  My peeve started some time ago, before I came into the kink community and was heavily involved in church.  A good example was when Harry Potter first came out, the church I was attending at the time was against it, said it was bad for children, of the devil, etc.  But had any of them actually read one of the books or watched the movie?  Most hadn't.  They were simply going by what they'd heard.  How many of us know that as stuff gets passed down the grapevine, it gets unintentionally skewed?

This reminds me of lemmings.  They are those small animals that live mostly in the Arctic, who are commonly used as a metaphor when referencing people who unquestioningly go along with popular opinion.  I was aware of this, but what I did not know until I read up a little about them, is that the supposed mass suicide that they commit when they migrate is actually a misconception.  A misconception that is passed on and on, and people sometimes don't bother to question the validity.  I am one of those who used the comparison without knowing that it actually wasn't true of the lemmings. 

What I seem to notice is that some of those who are the most vocal about their dislike for the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy haven't even read the book(s) for themselves.  If they haven't read one of the books, then how do they know?  When we get information from some other source, it is often tainted with that person's own filter of perception and judgement.  What weight can a non-reader's critique of a book hold?  None in my opinion.  It simply makes that person lose some credibility.  Why not simply say that you've heard negative things about the book and therefore aren't interested in it and don't wish to read it, and leave it at that.

Getting off my little soapbox now.  I finished the book last night, so stay tuned for my review of the Fifty Shades of Grey!