Sigh. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to join the 50 Shades of Grey fray and add my comments about the movie, opening this weekend and based on the best-selling books of the same title. Here goes.
I have not seen the movie. I have read the books. After the books came out, comments about them were coming up often enough in client sessions that I needed to know what the heck my clients were talking about. While the books include BDSM sex (and plenty of it), and while the books are not particularly well written in my opinion, the books do make a point that I see entirely missed in the current rash of comments and articles about the movie/books: human sexuality is incredibly complicated and not easily categorized.
I used to lump BDSM (for the uninitiated, that’s Bondage-Discipline/Dominance-Submission/Sadomasochism), into my own mental categories of “sexual addiction,” “trauma-induced,” and “misogynistic.” Then I learned more (I got a couple of clients who were into kink). I read material from experts and… I shifted my opinion.
Some individuals’ BDSM behavior is addictive; some is not. Much BDSM behavior is rooted in early trauma; some is not. A lot (most?) of BDSM behavior appears very misogynistic; in practice most of it is not. Like I said, it’s complicated.
A newsletter I got today from Joe Kort, PhD, of The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health in Metro Detroit, included a link to a column from the well-known sex columnist Dan Savage. I think the column provides some food for thought as 50 Shades conversations continue.
-Rhonda Kelloway, LCSW, SEP