TW: Sexual assault
So I’ve been avoiding Fifty Shades of Grey (“FSOG”). From what I gathered, it was just rape culture disguised as a sexual awakening. I haven’t read the books (who has time for non-legal books) and only recently watched the movie to lend some credibility to this blog. Why now? Because of the undergrad that sexually assaulted his colleague and stated that he was only reenacting a scene from FSOG. The story confirmed my worst fears about the success of FSOG (the film is the “most successful 18-rated film ever”) – that it would cause people to try it at home without fully talking it through with and obtaining consent from their partners. I get it; political correctness doesn’t sell. But when your message reaches that many people, shouldn’t there be some sort of accountability or a disclaimer?
Initially, I thought FSOG would be a great primer for folks wishing to dabble in kinkier things, but maybe needed to see it in a more normative context. For the record, I’m not trying to yuck anyone’s yum, but I would like to delineate a healthy and legal path for exploring and enjoying your yum.
I won’t do a scene-by-scene discussion of why FSOG encourages abusive relationships because that’d be duplicative. Plenty of blogs and threads have already done that. What distinguishes Mr. Grey from a “typical” rapist? Nothing. “But Mr. Grey is an attractive guy, impeccably dressed, and successful!” This is an allusion to the “he doesn’t need to rape” defense, which is stupid. Italian suit or not, he’s still scum.
I totally understand the appeal of dominating or being dominated by a partner. But taking charge is not about skipping over consent. Consent needs to be established regardless of what you’re doing. Consent is about respecting the other person’s autonomy and recognizing that they alone can give or deny access. The only difference between sex and rape is the existence of consent, so it’s your job as a party to sexytime to obtain it.
I know, asking isn’t sexy. It’s kinda awkward to pause and inquire, “Hey, is this okay?” But you wanna know what’s even more awkward? Rape charges.
If you and your bed buddy wanna reenact a scene, talk it through beforehand (obtain consent), check in during (ensure consent hasn’t since been withdrawn), and make sure you’re not out of bounds (stay within the scope of consent).
- MC Tran, Articles Editor Volume 26