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Call me a sucker for punishment (sorry) but I just can’t bring myself to hate this movie.
I get told at least once a day how bad it (50 Shades in general) is by customers, and I usually agree and say ‘Yes I know. It’s so bad and I never even got past the first book..’ even though I inhaled them all in one sitting.
I just get so excited to see a whip here, a handcuff there, a few sex toys thrown in for good measure and a bit of good old fashioned FUN happening under the table IN A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE!!!
All this sexual adventure, experimentation, lovely lingerie and ‘kinky fuckery’ seems pretty regular to me yet rarely do I see it in mainstream film and culture. So YAY I say! We could all do with more of it.
Dakota Johnson is absolutely beautiful as Anastasia and Christian Grey seems 100 times more gorgeous in this number 2 film. Hell I’d want him to do me ten times a day too. Why complain?
Perhaps I’m just a straight, monogamous, boring, old stick in these times of ‘everything goes’, but a love story that highlights the importance of communication, throws in a spicy mix of steamy sex and is heavy with romance and chivalry is quite my cup of tea at The Kino on a Thursday night.
Of course I had wine, not tea, so that might explain a few things….
Flipping her over with the spreader bar.
Ana telling Mr Grey that he’s not putting those balls in her butt.
Ana in a corselette and stockings.
Ana taking her knickers off in a restaurant.
There are many but hey, sex.
All the ones with Kim Basinger in them.
Seeing the second movie got me thinking about the review I gave the book in 2012 (see below). It's interesting to read over it again when 50 Shades was at its peak. (It is still an incredible fact that the book has sold over 125 million copies worldwide and is the fastest selling paperback of all time. It one of the most successful publications in history).
Did it start a sexual revolution? Bondage has certainly saturated popular culture more than ever if fashion is anything to go by and sales of sex toys and BDSM equipment are booming.
From my perspective, as a store owner, sexually adventurous behaviour is more the norm and cultural bondage has lessened, allowing individuals to express themselves more fully.
Might the 50 Shades phenomenon be partly responsible?
My feeling is yes and for that I am grateful.
50 SHADES BOOK REVIEW - 2012
The 50 Shades phenomenon might be so massive as to kick-start a sexual revolution.
If Germaine Greer's 'The Female Eunuch' was the catalyst women needed to leave their husbands and relinquish the life of domestic servitude that allegedly castrated them, then E.L. James' 50 Shades of Grey is the tool that has allowed women to discover the power (and not the impotence) of submission. A role that may, in fact, be closer to her true nature.
Whereas The Female Eunuch instructed women to reject the bondage of marriage and child bearing and embrace their sexual agency rather than allowing themselves to be treated as sexual objects, E.L. James wills us to find sexual freedom in power games, hard core sex and romantic love. In the context of the twenty first century, it has liberated many women's repressed desires.
The submissive 'Ana' is traditionally seen as having no power - vulnerable, passive and needy. Women struggle every day with power - she is disadvantaged and disempowered simply because she is the physically weaker sex. Every day she strives to empower herself and protect herself from being overpowered. She is always working to find, increase and express her power. 50 Shades of Grey shows us that we can 'play' with power for fun and pleasure rather than be confined in its serious real world struggle.
Ana feels powerful and beautiful when being the submissive. She knows too, that she has the right to choose if she wants to continue the game or not. It is the fantasy of having no choice that is the ultimate turn on however. As a submissive it can be very erotic to believe that you have no choices. Here I am tied up, gagged, blindfolded and turned on against my will. Poor me!!
The real power struggle between Ana and Christian is out of the bedroom. It is in every day life that Christian threatens to overpower Ana and where they must work to find an equilibrium. Ana feels powerless in the 'Mad Men' world that Christian inhabits. He exerts an unhealthy control over her personal, social and work life yet the power games 'with' her in the bedroom are far more healthy, modern and acceptable. The difference between 'power over' and 'power with' is at the crux of their relationship.
The Female Eunuch resonated with women who felt the patriarchy had 'power over' their lives. Germaine Greer described successful, feminine women as “the white man’s black man, the professional nigger.” Women could only achieve high positions within male-dominated structures, Greer argued, by using their feminine wiles to manipulate men’s “guilts and hidden desires." Forced to beg for any improvement in their social status, women have not been able to develop an authentic self; they are “impotent, insecure, inferior beings.”
Although written 40 years ago, women are everyday, still trying to exert their power within a patriarchal world. She is still, in many ways, the 'professional nigger', working within structures that have traditionally been male dominated and not yet suited to the feminine mindset. The side effect of this constant power play is often tired confusion and an inability to recognise and assert her sexual needs. For a tired, multi-tasking, assertive woman, being treated as a 'sexual object' has its benefits. Bring it on Christian.
Except Ana is no object. To Christian Grey, she is awe-inspiring, brave and fiercely loved. That is the combination that is so heady and masturbation worthy. If Greer's theme was about the importance of women undergoing a profound change in the way they viewed themselves and their relationships with men, then E.L. James' book has had a similar effect, but the vehicle is a modern love story not a polemic. And the result is not sexual equality but sexual liberation and finally, satisfaction.
The taboo of the submissive woman might be directly related to the emancipation of women. It's just not politically correct to slap a woman's behind, gag and fuck her when she's working that same sore arse off to score equal pay, maternity leave and a place on the board. Any kind of bondage, spanking, rough play and dirty talk is banned by Australian censors. It's as though sexual role play and power play must be a reflection of society's standards and therefore condemned.
But bedroom politics and power struggles are not real life power struggles. The conclusion is immature and patronising and has no doubt left a large proportion of women (and men) sexually dissatisfied and confused. When we read about a woman being trussed and spanked for erotic pleasure, it doesn't mean that we want the same 'bondage of marriage' that Germaine freed us from.
That is what has made 50 Shades so successful. It has helped us to inhabit our sexuality and understand that it is OK (and really hot) to want the rich sexual, and perhaps submissive, life of our choosing. It has separated the social and the personal rules and allowed women and men to play. Greer's ability to tap in to the zeitgeist and popularise its complexities is not unlike E.L James' uncanny knack of opening a door we didn't know was locked. Revolutionary stuff. Then again, I could just be a little over excited.
Images of the beautiful Dita Von Teese
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