The much-hyped and much-discussed movie Fifty Shades of Grey came out last Friday.
Yeah. In case anyone hasn’t heard of the social media phenomenon that took Twitter by storm. As well as Twitter’s slower, but more popular pal, Facebook.
I’m so tired of the phrase Fifty Shades, I could slap myself with frozen tuna for even mentioning this movie in a blog post. But I have a confession to make. On Saturday, while a bunch of people were out watching this film, celebrating The Day of Hearts and Love, I ended up in a fight with my husband.
Not because I wanted to see the movie, or wanted him to go see the movie with me.
Nor were we discussing BDSM, or the portrayal of BDSM in Fifty Shades of Grey, or whether Christian Grey is an abusive, controlling nutwing or a true Prince Charming.
We weren’t really discussing anything relevant at all.
We were having one of our generational fights. Fifty Shades of Grey was the inspiration, but the argument was really about demographics. And also the pressing question of, What is wrong with women? (as voiced by my husband, a 60-year-old male who does not — and cannot — understand why anyone would read the novel Fifty Shades of Grey, or see the movie).
The situation that led to this fight started a week ago, when a Lego version of the movie trailer made its appearance online.
I thought this Lego Fifty Shades of Grey trailer was hilarious, and last week, when my husband stopped watching Antiques Roadshow and other wonders on PBS, and came upstairs for bed, I was like, “My lil honey!! Come watch this!! It’s so funny!!”
My husband doesn’t read fiction. He especially doesn’t read erotica. He watched this trailer with a complete look of, What the hell is this? — baffled and frustrated that he was being forced to watch some weird porny thing with Lego dolls.
There’s a scene in the trailer when Christian Grey opens the door to his BDSM room using a large silver key, and I told Greg, (while giggling hilariously), “He’s opening the door to his Red Room of Pain! That’s where he ties her up and hits her with a belt!” I burst out laughing again, and my husband left the room before the trailer ended, shaking his head in disgust, and muttering, “He has a f*cking Red Room of Pain? The f*ck??”
My husband was born in 1954, and he’s pretty old school. He views kink as a lot of guys in his generation do, as a bizarre subculture that has no place in a mainstream version of manhood.
I should also make it clear that kink isn’t my thing, either. In 2012, I read Fifty Shades of Grey, (along with a hundred million other people), and I admit I wasn’t into it. I didn’t like how Ana kept expressing she didn’t want a BDSM lifestyle, but Christian kept pushing it on her, and at the end of the book, when she was smacked with a belt and forced to call out the lashes until she broke down in tears and shock, I was in shock right along with her. I made it clear to Greg then, when the book was all over mainstream media, that BDSM was NOT my cup of tea, nor would it ever be. If any man did to me what Christian Grey does to Anastasia Steele in that novel, I would turn violent to protect myself.
Which was why it was so traumatizing for me to read the belt-whipping scene in Outlander.
The TV show will air again in April, and I’m nervous. I’ll be watching to see what they do with the belt-whipping scene in the book, but I’m really nervous as well.
However. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, Outlander was a book that hooked me on page one, and kept me hooked. But I initially had to skip reading the traumatizing belt-whipping scene, when Jamie beats Claire. (And this beating has nothing to do with BDSM. This beating is not about pleasure, or structured pain, or contracts, or anything else involving kink. It was a straight-up beating, and it was really brutal to witness.) Later, after I’d read 200 more pages, I went back to that scene and finished reading it, then finished the novel, and then reread the book immediately. It was something I forgave the book for, and grudgingly accepted, because I loved the book so much. That scene horrified me though, because anything with that level of violence takes me right back to my childhood, which is the opposite of being aroused.
Physical abuse is in no way sexy to me. I cannot do kink. I do not want to be tied up, blindfolded, or hit with anything. If someone forced me to participate in a BDSM lifestyle, I could only be a dom, because I would turn violent and commit murder if anyone made me a submissive.
Not that I’ve ever felt any desire for any of it. My blood runs cold when kink is involved. The rules, the safe words, the toys, the rope. The things I find arousing have nothing to do with structured rituals for pleasure and pain. And also, I’m just far too lazy. A BDSM lifestyle takes a lot of time and work. Time I’d rather spend just lying in bed naked, without suffering rope burn. Plus Greg does all kinds of sweet things for me without first hitting me with a riding crop to “earn” after-care. Like snuggling on the couch with ice cream watching movies. Greg gives me that without ever making me count aloud belt lashes. I’m spoiled. And I’m staying that way.
If the price of any man’s love was that I had to sign a BDSM contract I didn’t want to sign, I’d just stay single. Kink isn’t a price I’d ever be willing to pay.
Fortunately for me, my husband finds kink repulsive, and would never hand me a BDSM contract to sign.
But he can’t laugh about Fifty Shades of Grey, either. That’s where we run into problems.
Greg finds the book and the movie all kinds of disturbing. “Sick and disgusting” are his words.
And here is where I made a mistake on Saturday. I was washing dishes, Greg was on the downstairs computer, and he read some kind of headline about Fifty Shades of Grey dominating the weekend box office.
He was appalled. “What is going on with women in this country??? Why would they go and watch this??? Do all these women want men who beat them???”
I started laughing. And joking. “They want their own helipads and private jets. And if they have to get smacked with a belt for it, hey, small price to pay.”
Greg continued to be horrified. “There’s something wrong with this country when all these women want to be tied up and beaten!!! What the hell is wrong with people??”
I laughed harder. “At least the movie doesn’t have the tampon scene. In the book, the guy removes the girl’s tampon as like, foreplay or something–”
And this is where Greg blew up.
“Don’t talk about this anymore!!! It’s sick!!! It’s f*cking sick!!! Your whole generation is f*cking sick!!!”
I said, “Man, you don’t need to yell.”
Greg covered his head with his hands and put his face on the table. “I can’t talk about this anymore. This whole generation disgusts me.”
I said, “I’m in this generation, and I’m not watching this movie.”
Greg said, “But you made me watch that movie trailer!! You’re part of it!!”
I found this unacceptable. “Oh my God, Greg. That trailer is a parody.”
But Greg could not see the humor. “This whole thing is disgusting!! I don’t want to hear anything about this movie ever again!! EVER. AGAIN.”
I finished the dishes at that point, and headed back upstairs to work. “Fine! We won’t talk about it anymore!”
So I managed to give my husband a BDSM mental breakdown because I made him watch a porny Lego trailer and then mentioned the word tampon. Granted, I was talking about a used tampon and it was being associated with the word “foreplay” — but still. This was not an ideal Valentine’s Day. Well, not for that hour, anyway. I went back to work on Mark of the Pterren, and Greg took a chill pill.
But I haven’t mentioned the movie, or anything else related to the movie, since then. I spent the whole weekend laughing though. I pretty much binged out on the social media frenzy. On Sunday night, I crawled into bed after Greg had passed out, and just lay there and laughed and laughed. (But silently, so I wouldn’t wake him up and then have to explain why I was laughing so much.) Literary criticism and film criticism have had very barbed things to say about Fifty Shades of Grey, and I’ve enjoyed the snark because I am who I am, and the book is what it is, and the movie is what it is, and life is life.
When I read that Anastasia Steele doesn’t get to have an orgasm on screen, and that the movie caters to the male gaze, I kept busting up. It just all seemed so silly. The book was all about Ana’s pleasure, but the movie is… for men? What?
But by Monday morning, I was done with Fifty Shades stuff. My binge of reading about the film was like eating too much cotton candy, and I had to stop or suffer a bellyache. (Granted, I only read a handful of articles, but a little bit goes a long way with that movie.)
I’m grateful so much has been written about Outlander catering to the female gaze. Because that Wedding episode (#7) sure is hot. It captures everything that visual erotica hardly ever captures — which is the humanity of two people being intimate with each other. When Claire is sitting on Jamie’s lap, wearing the pearls he has given her, and he puts his arms around her, the smile on his face is so honest and knowing and tender and dead-on sexy, I just feel myself stop breathing every time I see it, staring at the screen, amazed that something So Incredibly Sexy could exist on film. Jamie’s body is amazing, but that smile and the realness of those two people together — that is what makes it truly spectacular to watch.
Greg is cool with Outlander. He digs that show. Last fall, he watched all 8 episodes with me, and he’ll watch the second 8 when they start airing in April. He likes shows with great villains, and “Black Jack” Randall is the perfect kind of bad guy for Greg. (Messed up and then some.)
As for me, I’ll be working on Mark of the Pterren, and not discussing a particular BDSM movie with my husband. I do love my hubs a whole lot, even if I cause him such grief.