Sex, bondage, money and dark pasts

Just how real is the BDSM in EL James' bestseller, 50 Shades of Grey? Dorothy Black speaks to well-known SA Dom, BurningLash

‘Put your butt out more ... make it really expand, stretch it up and curve your back. And look down.’ She ran her hand from the top of my head, gently pressing it lower, moving down my spine to the curve of my lower back and ending at my buttocks, which had never felt more splayed.

You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m describing a yoga class. I was, in fact, at a fetish party being taught the three main ‘slave positions’ in front of an audience of maybe 15. In my view was Master D’s shoes, while his slave and partner, M, softly and kindly moved my arms and legs, checking and testing to see if I was in position.

It was almost-awkward, interesting, eye-opening and, yes, even exhilarating. But I couldn’t help thinking that Ms Anastasia Steele only did one position and was thrown expensive gifts for doing so.

Anastasia Steel, virginal heroine of EL James’ bestseller 50 Shades of Grey, got French lingerie, helicopter trips, a phone, a laptop, a car, a chauffeur and multiple and freakishly consistent penetrative orgasms from her sadistic but emotionally tortured knight in Armani, Mr Christian Grey of the Smoldering Eye, for one slave position and a few spanks.

Clearly I don’t choose my masters well. *rolls eyes, bites lips*

Anyway.

The response to 50 Shades has been varied, ranging from ‘sizzling’ mommy porn (Urgh. Hate this phrase.), to overrated and dead-boring romance schlock (my personal opinion) to dangerous ‘literature’ (guffaw) that normalises abuse.

I decided to chat to BurningLash, the Dom I spoke to for the last column I did on BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism), about his thoughts on how the lifestyle is portrayed in 50 Shades.

You’ve read 50 Shades and are onto the second book already ...

What are your first thoughts about it?

A Mills & Boon version of BDSM. It’s a romance novel that uses BDSM as a complicating factor in the interpersonal dynamic and somewhat distorts the real BDSM dynamic. But then it’s just a story at the end of the day - beautiful billionaire meets and seduces innocent but beautiful woman and they go from dysfunctional to ... well I don’t know where it ends as yet.

Do you think it portrays BDSM as a lifestyle correctly?

No I don’t think it does. BDSM is consensual or else its abuse. The author goes to some lengths to portray an inner struggle in the woman coming to terms with her newly found desire for some kink, but in the real world of BDSM it’s not sexy-rich-but-broken-men seducing virgins. It’s ordinary people doing what makes them happy.

What do you think of the D/s (Dominant/submissive) relationship between Grey and Steele? A good indication of a healthy or ‘normal’ D/s relationship?


Yes and no … a good BDSM relationship would begin with a discussion/negotiation of likes and dislikes hard and soft limits and an agreed dynamic. The story portrays this process as a take it or leave it deal with someone who is totally ignorant as to what they are entering. In the real world people explore BDSM slowly and a complete newbie is highly unlikely to simply let go and plunge into this kind of dynamic with a total stranger.

There’s almost no mention of a community in the book, what are your thoughts on this?

I don’t think the story is meant to portray reality ... how many 26-year-old billionaires do you know that come from a crackwhore mother? I would strongly advise people in SA to join the collarme.co.za community if they find they have an interest in exploring spanking, bondage and other aspects of BDSM. You need a healthy dose of reality to temper your fantasy if you are going to play safely. You would not go skydiving without getting lessons would you?

Some have said that this normalises violence in relationships, what are your thoughts on this?

Rubbish! At least as far as I have read to date I see nothing of the sort in the story. There is spanking which is consented to and bondage which is consented to and both are enjoyed. Is it normal for some people to enjoy this ... yes, absolutely.

Hundreds of thousands of people active in BDSM communities all over the world can attest to that. Certainly, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but then why should we only do missionary sex in marriage? If we like to spice our sex lives up with chilles instead of just salt, why shouldn’t we?

Are the sex scenes/dungeons etc real reflections of the lifestyle?

No not really. The story line keeps implying that he is driven by dysfunction. She is sort of willing to explore, if that’s how to keep him. In a genuine Master/slave, Dominant/submissive dynamic both parties are keen and willing participants who find the power dynamic etc deeply satisfying and affirming. Dominants and submissives are two sides of the same coin and the needs/desires of the one compliment the needs/desires of the other.  It is not exploitative but rather mutually satisfying.

Also, they behave like teenagers on raging hormones. I don’t know of any people who can keep up a sex regimen like that one. As for the dungeon scenes, nope it is like a porno describing love making ... the actions are superficially the same, but the essence is missing.

Why do you think 50 Shades has become so popular -- is BDSM the new flavour of the month? Are people becoming more kinky?

I certainly hope so. I think it’s because this is the first book in a long time that exposes the mainstream public to BDSM as part of a loving relationship. And it is written by a women which is the unusual perspective for books that deal with sexuality in such graphic detail.

Visit Dorothy Black's blog, follow her on Twitter or join her on Facebook.

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