Sex, Fantasy, and Fifty Shades

Lately I’ve seen a lot of hype about the film rendition of Fifty Shades of Grey across the internet. Mostly it’s been a lot of protesting about how the story promotes sexual abuse and dominance. Personally I’m not really interested in the books or the movie, so my critique of the story would be limited at best. But I’m not here to write a critique – there are plenty already out there. I’m here to tell you some of my thoughts based on what I’ve observed about this latest uproar.

My concern lies in the conversations I read about how it’s a shame that young people today are indulging in stories like these and will not have a firm understanding of what true love or a satisfying sex life looks like. Before I continue, let me say that in no way do I condone sexual abuse, and I certainly hope that this post doesn’t come across that way. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t wait for stories like Fifty Shades to go viral before we start talking about how sex should be.

Upon looking up the author, I found a quote of hers that said that this story was essentially her sexual fantasies, which, in my opinion, puts a different perspective on how I view the story. While a woman may not publicly admit it, I think there exists in many women’s minds fantasies that are not intended to be played out in real life, be they sex with a stranger, being forcefully tied down, etc. Thoughts and emotions that allow the person to feel as though they’re not completely in control (while in reality they still are) help to increase the tension of the moment, making it more exciting and therefore easier to climax. When you put those fantasies on a screen, however, they  turn into something seen as dominating and abusive, because it’s not meant to make sense in real life (hence why it’s a fantasy).

For those of you who don’t want your children to see this movie because you want to explain to them how beautiful true love and healthy sex is, that’s great. The problem is, not everyone wants to have that conversation, especially, I find, those of the more conservative mindsets. If you can’t even say the word sex without giggling or blushing, you’re probably not the first person I’m going to go to for advice in the matter. That’s why the majority of my sex ed came from Wikipedia, Urban Dictionary, and Game of Thrones. Google didn’t blush. It didn’t pause in an awkward silence thinking, “oh crap, I have to have this conversation with her.” It simply gave me the answers I was looking for and then some. And yes, some people did offer to talk about any questions I had. But I was so ignorant of my own body that I didn’t even know what questions to ask.

Maybe you giggle or smile because you have a great sex life. Maybe you’re remembering the night you had with your partner last week. But I can’t tell what you’re thinking. All I read is a change in your demeanor, which then makes me uncomfortable and feel that maybe I shouldn’t have brought it up.

For those of you who wonder why anyone would want to sit through a movie like that in a dark theatre surrounded by people, maybe it’s because it feels like a safe place. Maybe there are a lot of confused or frustrated young people trying to understand their bodies and biological functions, but can’t find the answers they need because their elders are too embarrassed to talk about it. Or if they aren’t, the conversation is weighted with fear that somebody is going to fuck somebody into abomination. And so in a way it almost makes sense to me to want to escape to the theatre where I don’t have to be embarrassed for wondering about my body and maybe less-than-traditional ways of having sex.

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