Yes, I Have a Problem with Fifty Shades… But It’s Not What You Think

It’s actually more accurate to say I have several problems with Fifty Shades of Grey, the infamous erotic trilogy (plus rewrites-with-the-pronouns-flipped) about the kinky-ish love between naive college student Anastasia Steele and young handsome billionaire  Christian Grey.

A block of grey paint samples in reference to Fifty Shades of GreyYes, I’ve read the first book, and enough of the second and third to get the gist. I’ve also read Cliff Pervocracy and Jenny Trout’s recaps (which are hilarious, by the way). Make no mistake: these books are horribly written and I did not find them erotic in the slightest. The sex depicted in them is either boringly vanilla, dubiously consensual (or straight up rapey), or both. The main characters are both awful people and the dialogue is about as sexy as a root canal. As a kinkster, I hate that people think this is what we’re about. As a writer, I think it’s a travesty that Ms James has made more money than anyone ever needs in a lifetime, while genuinely talented artists are underpaid and undervalued every day.

So yes. I have issues with this book. But they’re not that it’s an unrealistic kinky romance between a virginal college student and a vampire billionaire.

“But it’s fantasy!” fans cry.

And yes. It is. Look, I’ll be the last person to tell you that you can’t have your fantasies, even your problematic ones. Fantasy is not reality and fantasy exists to enable us to escape from the real world for a while. And nowhere is that more true than in sexual fantasy.

A huge part of the reason that erotica and porn should only be accessed by adults is that adults, typically, understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Jaime Mortimer wrote a really good post on this recently.

I’m not going to infantilise everyone who reads Fifty Shades or any other problematic book and tell you that it’s going to turn you into a rapist or make you leave your husband for an emotionally stunted billionare (or a vampire in a Volvo). I read plenty of erotic fiction and plenty of it has themes that would be super problematic if they were real – doctor/patient scenarios, professor/student scenarios, consensual-non-consent roleplay, voyeurism and exhibitionism, public sex and more are just some of the themes I’ve enjoyed in my sexy fiction.

Guess what? Fantasy. And again: adults, overall, have the capability to understand the difference between fantasy and reality.

So enjoy Fifty Shades, if it’s your thing, as a fantasy about a naive young woman being seduced by an dude with more money than God and pants that hang from his hips (yes, this is an actual line in the book). Enjoy the light BDSM, the sexy  helicopter rides, the grumpy, brooding, damaged male lead if you want to. I’ll be the last person to judge you for enjoying some silly escapism or some improbable erotica if that’s what gets you off.

My problem with Fifty Shades is actually in the social and cultural narrative surrounding Fifty Shades.

Because this is not a great love story. This is not something to which young women should aspire! And the problem is that it’s being sold that way.

There is tonnes of erotica (and straight romantic fiction) out there that relies on problematic tropes and scenarios that are hot in fiction but would be a terrible idea in reality. That’s fine. Again: fantasy is cool, y’all!

But none of that has the marketing power behind it that Fifty Shades does. Ms James and her publishing team have made their collective fortunes not on selling Fifty Shades as fluffy erotic fantasy, but on selling Fifty Shades as a style of relationship to which we should all aspire.

And that is what is dangerous about this book. Not the fantasy it depicts, but the marketing power that sells that fantasy as genuinely aspirational. Because make no mistake, the relationship between Christian and Ana is very often abusive.

How many young women do you think have watched this movie, and decided that if this is romance, my boyfriend obviously only super jealous and controlling because he loves me? Or, Ana loves Christian out of abusing her, so if only I behaved better my husband would stop hitting me? Maybe not in quite so literal terms, but make no mistake – these messages are out there, and victims of abuse are listening and absorbing.

You might think this is hyperbole, but it’s not. This is the kind of power that massive marketing budgets, ingrained cultural narratives about love, and a total lack of sensible sex-and-relationships education has.

I don’t blame Fifty Shades for my own experience in an abusive D/s relationship, of course. But I do partly blame growing up surrounded by the idea that if a man hurt me, my job was to heal him so he could love me properly in the end.

Fifty Shades is far from the only story to suffer from this phenomenon

We have always built collective cultural narratives around these deeply problematic stories. I am reasonably confident in saying I doubt that Shakespeare intended Romeo & Juliet to be considered the greatest love story of all time. If you read it as a love story and analyse it for more than three seconds, it’s a ridiculous play. If you reread it as a satire about “love at first sight” and teenage stupidity, though, it becomes utterly brilliant. (While we’re at it, Wuthering Heights isn’t a great love story either. And Christian Grey bears a passing resemblence to Heathcliff in a variety of ways.)

Despite being for children, even Disney movies sell us some pretty horrible messages about relationships. Think about it: marriage is the ultimate goal for any girl. Once a man chooses you, you’ll live happily ever after.  Cinderella tells us to be good and subservient and pretty until a man rescues us; The Little Mermaid tells us that what we have to say is the least valuable thing about us; Sleeping Beauty suggests that kissing a sleeping stranger is totes a sensible and romantic thing to do… and so it goes on. We’re drip-fed these messages from earliest childhood, so is it really any wonder that so many of us grow up with totally screwed up ideas about what relationships are actually supposed to look like?

Don’t ban – educate

In closing: I don’t support the banning of Fifty Shades or other problematic stories. Fantasy is important and something we should all be able to have access to. Instead, we need a greater cultural understanding and greater education around separating fantasy from reality, and understanding what healthy relationships actually are.

I’d be much happier with the thousands and thousands of twenty-something women enjoying Fifty Shades as sexy, escapist fantasy if they weren’t already surrounded by a culture that teaches them if he hits you, it’s your job to be better so he can heal from his fucked up past.

Masturbation Monday: The Wedding

[For today’s Masturbation Monday, I was given the prompt “ex’s wedding.” Okay then! The set up is kind of long, but I hope the sexy pay-off is worth it.]

A room and table setting for wedding reception. For a Masturbation Monday post about an ex's weddingI didn’t want to go to this fucking wedding. This is kind of out of character for me, as normally I love weddings. I’m usually the first one to cry at the speeches and the last one still on the dance-floor at the end of the night. But who the fuck wants to see their ex get married? And most especially who wants to see the ex who cheated on them get married to a 5’11” blonde marathon runner?

As well as my ex, though, Sam is also the son of my parents’ oldest friends. And it’s not like I still have feelings for him. (She says, trying to convince herself). We were over years ago. So here I am, uncomfortable in my too-tight green dress, bored out of my mind, and taking full advantage of the open bar.

I’ve been glancing over at her all day. Pixie-cut dark hair, curves to die for, the swish of that floaty emerald dress every time she moves… I don’t know who she is but she’s definitely my type. She’s sitting on her own right now, nursing a glass of champagne and with a forced smile on her face as she watches the dancing. Yep. Time to make a move.

“Hi, I’m Rob. What’s your name?” She jumps as though startled from a reverie. Close up, I can appreciate the soft hazel of her eyes. She smiles. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you!”

Well, hello! Even in my funk, I can see that this man is attractive. The grey suit looks good on him and contrasts nicely with the artfully unshaven face and dark ponytail.

“Hi Rob. I’m Sophie”.

Without being invited, he plonks himself down in the seat next to me. “I fucking hate these things, don’t you?” he asks.

“Normally I love weddings, but…” I trail off. Reign it in, Soph! I sip from my champagne. I must have drunk a hundred quid’s worth of the stuff today already, fucking hell.

“How do you know the happy couple?” he asks. God, this is such cliched wedding talk it’s not even funny. And there was me thinking he might be coming over to hit on me.

“Sam and I used to go out,” I find myself saying.

“No kidding. Ex’s wedding? That’s rough.”

I shrug. “Eh, it’s no big deal, really. Our parents are friends. We grew up together. Went out from when we were fifteen until we were twenty-two. He cheated on me. I don’t blame him. We weren’t right for each other in the long run”.

She looks surprised at herself, as if she didn’t mean to blurt out the whole story. I feel for her, of course. I know something of how she feels. Caitlyn invited me to her wedding two years ago, and I tore the invitation into a dozen pieces before I’d allowed myself to even consider going. No point torturing yourself, after all.

I watch Sophie sip her champagne. Her hands – I always have a thing for hands – are beautiful. Long fingers and perfect skin contrasts with the unmanicured nails. I allow myself, just for a moment, to think about how those fingers would feel wrapped around my cock.

Her eyes meet mine as she catches me looking. Apart from a thin rim of eyeliner, I notice she’s not wearing any makeup. There’s no doubt about it, this girl – this woman – is gorgeous.

She drains her glass and sets it down on the table. Fixes me with a penetrating stare. “Want to get out of here?” she asks.

“I… what?” He looks as though he’s not sure he has heard me correctly.

“You just said you hate weddings, and I’m sick of watching the man I always assumed I would marry arm-in-arm with Perfect Fucking Tiffany, telling everyone about their Perfect Fucking Honeymoon to the beautiful tropical islands of wherever. Why are we torturing ourselves? Want to go bang in my hotel room?”

Maybe it’s the alcohol giving me bravery, or maybe it’s the shitty day I’ve had. I don’t know and right now, I don’t care. All I know is that me and this beautiful man could have a much nicer time in the privacy of my Super Deluxe Plus room – a treat to myself in exchange for sitting through this stupid wedding.

Rob opens his mouth and then closes it again. He’s surprised. To tell you the truth, I’m surprised at myself. I watch his face and, in the five seconds it takes him to reply, convince myself that he’s going to laugh and brush me off.

“You’re sweet, but I’ve got a girlfriend”. “It’s a nice offer, but I prefer to move slowly”. “You’re attractive, but you’re not my type”.

Instead, he grins broadly at me and says, “okay!”

We sneak out of the ballroom like teenagers sneaking around behind their parents’ backs. Not that anyone is paying any attention to us at all. She takes my hand and leads me down the long corridor to the stairs, then up one floor, then along another corridor until we stop outside her room. Number 70.

“I wish it had been one number lower,” she says, with a mischievous raise of an eyebrow. She slips her key card in the lock, stands back to let me in, then clicks the door shut behind us. I flip the light on, and see she’s already fumbling with the zip on the back of that gorgeous dress. A second later, she drops it, steps out of it and kicks it to one side. And this woman I met not fifteen minutes ago is standing in front of me in just her cream lacy knickers – no bra. Fucking hell! However I thought tonight was going to go, this was not on the cards at all. 

“What do you want?” I ask her. She steps forward, reaches up her hands to loosen my tie – which she does clumsily, probably as a result of all the champagne – and presses her lips to mine. Inside the tight suit trousers my cock, already at half-mast, springs fully to life. I kiss her back, sliding one hand around to the small of her back to pull her closer, and using the other to unbutton my shirt.

“I want you to fuck me,” I tell him. “None of that go down on me for half an hour first because you feel like you have to stuff, I hate that. Just fuck me”. I successfully get the tie loose enough to pull it off over his head, and he slips out of his shirt too and tosses it aside. His chest is perfect: not too muscular, covered in dark hairs. I run my hand through it and then kiss him again.

I slide my hand down and unbutton his trousers. Slipping my fingers into them and under the waistband of his boxers, I can feel that his cock is fully hard already. I stroke it a few times as we make out, listening appreciatively to the way that he moans, adjusting the speed and pressure according to his reactions. Somehow, we move together until we’re by the big King bed, and he pushes me gently towards it. It’s not really a shove – I could easily keep my balance if I wanted to. But I let myself fall backwards onto the bed, wanting him on top of me, wanting him inside me.

In a second, he sheds the trousers and underwear and pounces on me again. He kisses me harder, and one hand moves between my legs and presses firmly against my cunt. The flimsy lace of my knickers is already soaking. He rubs my clit experimentally a few times. The sensation is nice, but I’ve never been much of a clitoral girl – I really just want things inside me. Fingers, toys, cocks. That’s how I get off.

“Put your fingers in me,” she moans. Well, okay then! I do love having sex with a woman who knows what she likes and can give clear instructions. I hook my fingers under the elastic of her knickers and she obligingly lifts her ass so I can peel them off. A shame, really, as she looked so pretty in them – but underneath, her cunt is even more beautiful. The curly wisps of black pubic hair are so inviting.

She parts her legs more, inviting me in. I thrust two fingers inside her, marveling at how wet and ready she already is. I slide them slowly in and out while she writhes beneath me, face and chest flushed, beads of sweat already appearing on her brow.

Finding her G-spot, I press my fingers against it. Gently at first – I’ve been with women who found hard thrusting painful. I rub it with my two fingers and watch her reaction.

“Harder…” she moans. I increase the speed and pressure, until I’m properly fucking her with my fingers. Her perfect fingers clutch a handful of the sheet and she throws her head back.

“Going to come…!”

I double down on my efforts. She lets out of half moan, half yelp of pleasure and I feel her cunt tense around my fingers, squeezing them. Her whole body relaxes as I slowly withdraw them. I notice there’s a wet spot on the sheet beneath her. So she’s a gusher.

“Oh, fuck yeah, that was good,” I murmur, catching my breath. I pull him in to kiss me. “Want to fuck me? I’m ready for your cock now”. The beautiful thing about being multi-orgasmic is that the first one just makes me hungry for more.

“Oh hell yes. Do you have a condom?” he asks. So responsible! I love it when they bring it up first and I don’t have to ask (/beg/plead/cajole) them to wrap it up.

“Nightstand. Top drawer.”

I hear the telltale rustling of a packet. A moment later, he’s positioned back between my legs, cock still fully hard and now coated in latex.

“You want this?” he asks, teasing my entrance. Oh yes, I fucking want this. In answer, I bring my hips up to meet him. In one thrust, he’s inside of me. I gasp at the exquisite pleasure, my cunt already sensitive from the orgasm just moments ago.

He fucks me perfectly. Long, slow thrusts at first, building up to hard and fast pounding. It takes less than a minute for me to come again, and then again, around his cock. He moans each time I come, and I wonder if the muscles of my cunt are squeezing him hard enough to add to his pleasure too. I hope so.

God, her cunt feels incredible. I’m not going to last long at this rate! I marvel at the ability of the vulva to produce orgasm after orgasm after orgasm. Is there a limit to how much she can come? I feel the trickle of fluid each time she does, and am sure the mattress beneath us is soaked by now.

As I feel her cunt spasm with the fifth (sixth? I’ve lost count) orgasm, I start to feel the telltale build up of pressure, my pleasure reaching towards its climax.

“You feel so fucking good,” I tell her. “I’m not going to be able to hold off much longer.”

“Come in me,” she tells me, a blissful smile on her face. Her short hair is now sticking to her face with sweat. 

That does it. The invitation, her eagerness for it, pushes me over the edge. I press my lips to hers again, kissing her hard as my own orgasm pulses through my whole body. Damn. I haven’t come this hard in a long time.

I love the moment where they come in me. Watching a man’s pleasure as he surrenders to it and loses control, knowing it’s me who has had that effect on him… it’s intoxicating.

I don’t love so much what usually comes next. The extricating of bodies, the quick dressing, the awkward goodbye at the door, the do I give him my number or will that seem too needy? calculation. I love casual sex, but sometimes I’d like to feel like the men I fuck care about me after they’ve come as well.

“Will you stay for a bit?” I ask Rob, aware that I now sound very different from the confident girl who invited him to – what was it? – bang in my hotel room an hour ago. “I wouldn’t mind the company”.

He rolls over and grins at me, as if he’d just been waiting for the invitation. “Want to cuddle and watch crap TV and order room service? I think we missed dessert and I could murder a massive slice of cheesecake right now.”

Masturbation Monday is created and owned by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what’s getting everyone off this week.

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Image sourced through Pixabay.