Tag Archives: Fifty Shades of Grey

“Interview” with a Newbie

Question

I was about to go to bed when I got a notification on Facebook that someone sent my fan page a message. I considered ignoring it and checking it in the morning, but curiosity got the better of me and I opened the message. It led to a pretty interesting conversation between a woman who isn’t in the lifestyle, but is definitely interested by it. She had some really great questions and I enjoyed answering them. She has asked that I keep her identity private, so I will refer to her as “Charlotte”. 
Below is our conversation. 

Charlotte: I don’t know whether you are still posting fan questions, but I would like to ask one…
I am just an observer of Y/your lifestyle I don’t practice it in real life, however I do have a lot of interest in it. It’s just that when I read blogs, posts, books there are a lot of mention about Doms, Masters & Daddies-which is actually what I want to ask about. Are they all similar to Y/you all, if not how do you distinguish among them? What do the people in the lifestyle think about each?

Autumn: What do people think about each book?
That REALLY depends on the books and the likes/dislikes of the person reading it. For example, I hated 50 Shades of Grey, as do most of my kink aware friends. But I also have some great friends who love BDSM and really enjoyed 50 Shades.

Charlotte: no as in what is the difference among a Dom/Master/Daddy.? Is there a technical difference among them?
Oh lol! I actually did not even know BDSM existed until I read 50 shades, so I loved it

Autumn: Oh, lol. Sorry I misunderstood, no, there’s not _really_ a difference. It’s like “honey”, “sweetheart”, and “dear”. They’re all nicknames we use at different times but (when said sweetly) usually mean the same thing.
The difference of names in books (Master vs. just “Dom”) can be used by the author to help the reader understand the different experience levels and some clubs do the same thing (only calling people who have been in the lifestyle for years by certain titles) but in the regular world, they’re still just nicknames used.
Don’t get me wrong, the title of Master, Dom, and Daddy (among many, many others) mean more than just “honey” or “dear” to those of us who live the lifestyle, but in comparison between them each, there’s really not that big of a difference. A Daddy Dom can be just as protective and sadistic as “My Sir” and “Master” can be just as kind hearted and yet wonderfully controlling as “My Liege”.

Just as, on the flip side, some idiot claiming to be a Master may actually be an asshole in disguise. I may call someone “sweetie” but my tone and my actions define what I really think of them. I’ve used it as an insult before (especially when I used to waitress). The names we give the ones we love mean something to us individually. They don’t necessarily mean one person is better at BDSM than the next though either. Never judge a book by its cover or a person by their title.

Charlotte: I have been only in 2 vanilla relationships, they did not turn out good. But I read 50 shades during the 1st break up
it just gave me I don’t know a kind of hope that there are loves of all kinds in this world
and since then I have been really into research about it. I am not much a sucker for pain truly but I like the feeling of possession, being cherished & protected

Autumn: You should read Cherise Sinclair or Kallypso Masters. Both are great, and Kallypso goes out of her way to make sure she explains as she writes. It’s so comforting to be reading her stuff and still go “oh I didn’t know that!” Both authors have helped me understand more about the BDSM world back when I was beginning and not sure how it worked. I didn’t have clubs to go to (and honestly I was too scared to go back then) and their books were not only FUN to read, but so full of information it was crazy.
There are lots of BDSM relationships that choose not to incorporate the S&M portions into their relationships Light spanking is totally different from hardcore S&M spankings.

Charlotte: yea! A little bit of spanking that’s something I can take that is a fantasy
this one sentence puts it all in view- The love and respect is what’s real, the bondage is an illusion.

Autumn: BDSM stands for:
Bondage
Dominance
Submission
Sadism
Masochism

Kinksters (anyone involved in something kinkier than vanilla sex) pick and choose what aspects of BDSM they like and what ones they don’t like. You have some people who are “Furries” who dress up as animals (cats and puppies are most popular) and have “owners”, you have some that enjoy the feel of leather or latex more and prefer that over anything furry, you have those who dress up for pony play, you have some that just call it a “more traditional marriage” where the guy does all the work and the woman takes care of the home… and that barely scratches the surface on how many different types of role playing there are.

I am quite fond of saying that a BDSM relationship is a different as the people involved in it. No two are exactly alike. What you like and enjoy might be the very thing someone else refuses to do and doesn’t understand. And vice versa.

That’s also why discussing everything you possibly can up front before playing with anyone, let alone starting a relationship with them, is so important. If you don’t like pain, you definitely don’t want to hook up with someone who prides themselves on being a sadist! Lol.
Yes, I often get flack for pointing out that this is a role we choose to play. People are quick to say “This isn’t a role, its REAL!”
It’s not _real_ though. This isn’t real slavery, we can walk away anytime we choose. There are laws set up to make sure of that. If I want to get out of a relationship with Master he does not have the right to refuse to let me leave. It is important to remember that. ESPECIALLY to those new to the lifestyle.

Charlotte: yes definitely! And the fact that BDSM can be shoved down your throat in from of abuse, is why people should talk it over. Well one thing I would just ask, no disrespect or anything
in fact it is kind of funny and embarrassing to ask
do um people go for contracts and stuff? I mean like what I read 1stly in 50 shades I was like mouth open- relationships with contracts

Autumn: Do keep in mind, the contract is part of the fun for us. It’s not legally binding. In a movie, the actress might not actually be in the military, but she can damn sure pull it off when she puts on the uniform. She needs the script to help her understand her role though and to know her lines.
The contract for us is the script.
The toys we choose to use, the titles we give each other are our uniforms.
In the “real world” we may be lawyers, teachers, CEO’s, or what have you, but when we choose to don our costume, you better believe we can play that role.

Charlotte: there has to be a lot of thought process into what you and your master do obviously, right?

Autumn: Yes, lots of research, lots of discussion, and lots of going over it even after we’ve done a scene.
Constant communication and research actually.
If I am uncomfortable, it is vital that I tell Master, even if it’s “I’m not in the mood because I feel fat today” or “My arm is going numb, I think the cuff is too tight” or “That was good, but I almost faked it to make you hurry up and finish”
Talking those things out helps us build the relationship more and helps him understand me better. He can read my facial expressions IF I’ve been honest with him in what I’m feeling as I make them.

Charlotte: Thanks, this has been helpful!

Autumn: You’re welcome. Feel free to ask me any other questions you have as they come up.

 

Fifty Shades of Pissed Off

 

 

I have finally finished the Fifty Shades series… I thought maybe if I kept reading, Ms. James would fix the damage she did in the first book. By the second book, I was so mad I threw it across the room a few times. Master Jason would laugh at me and ask what fucked up thing Ms. James had written now. It was that bad. By book three, I was pretty much skimming the book and not reading it word for word. I had to take the time to stop, go for a run and clear my head between chapters because every new chapter had me wringing my hands in frustration. (And side note: if I read “my inner goddess” one more damn time I might kill Ana’s inner goddess just to shut her up.)
I wish that I could pop into the mind of Ms. James while she wrote books two and three of the series. I wish I could understand what (if any) BDSM history she personally has.
Let me first start by explaining the difference between a “sexual sadist” and a “sadist” in the BDSM sense of the word.
A sexual sadist is someone who seeks to hurt others whether they enjoy pain or not. (source: http://www.forensicpsychiatry.ca/paraphilia/sadism.htm) In fact, most sexual sadists get off on the fact that the person they are hurting does NOT enjoy the pain at all. (source: http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Sexual-sadism.html) A sexual sadist enjoys watching others in pain, heart-wrenching, gut-clenching pain that etches across their faces and is visible in many other ways across their bodies. He does not care for their safety; he does not care for any rules set up before a scene. Usually a sexual sadist has some dark past that he is trying to control by repeating the scene over and over in the present. Mr. Grey admits this by telling Ana that he “beats dark haired girls who remind him of his mother because she didn’t protect him from her pimp and because he wants to punish his mother for abandoning him at such a young age.”

Um what?! To me, that doesn’t sound like a very good reason to “beat” on anyone… In fact, it sounds downright crazy. When I read that line, this is how I heard it in my own head: “I enjoy taking out my frustrations on unsuspecting women who remind me of someone else that I’d really rather be beating and therefore my head is not in the act currently in progress.” That’s just dangerous. A Good Dom needs to be thinking of only one person while in a scene: the submissive he is dominating. Not some random person he’d rather be hurting (and from the rest of the context surrounding that quote in the book, Christian Grey makes it clear that he doesn’t want or care about the consent of the person he is dominating, he just wants to get his frustrations out).

At my local club, we have a name for men like this: wanna-be doms. Because that’s pretty much all it is. They WANT to be a dominant. They WANT to control someone else, they desire it and get off on it, but they don’t follow through and make sure that the person they are dominating is fully on board with their plan. The beginning of a scene should be a discussion between both partners about what each person involved expects to gain from the scene. The Dom should express what he desires to do, and the submissive should express her desires as well. It should be something they go over together and agree on before anyone picks up anything. This helps ensure that both parties are satisfied at the end of the scene. It helps each person involved focus on the other people involved.
In BDSM a sadist (notice I didn’t use the term “sexual sadist”) is someone who controls their temper and works very hard not to lose control, especially while in a scene. They put the safety of their submissive first and make it very clear that the submissive has an out if she needs it (via safewords, signals, squeaky toys and various other techniques). And even with the understanding of having a way to end a scene, the sadist concentrates on the masochist. He pays attention to her every breath, her movements, the ways her eyes flicker at each swat, etc, etc, etc. He is looking for signs of enjoyment in the act. His goal is for them to both get off on the scene. In a healthy S&M scene the Sadist doesn’t enjoy randomly doting out painful acts in mental revenge of someone else. He enjoys giving the masochist something she needs (and again, something she’s made it clear she wants). For example, a sadist would not enjoy watching a masochist have her bones broken, or go through heart wrenching emotional pain. He only gets off on the pain that he gives her, and only to a certain point that both parties have agreed upon beforehand.
Outwardly, a sexual sadist and a sadist may appear identical, until just before and immediately after the safeword is called. A sexual sadist will continue regardless of the safeword or will be completely and totally shocked when the safeword is called. He will have lost himself in his needs instead of in the needs of his submissive. This is what Christian Grey does to Ana in several scenes throughout the Fifty Shades series. He ignores her reactions and loses control. The moment a dominant loses control (and keeps going) the scene transforms from one of healthy BDSM to one of pure abuse.

A few friends who have read this series and I got into a debate about this. They seemed to think that it was okay because Christian Grey apologizes and tries to make it up to Ana after he realizes he’s gone to far. In my opinion that doesn’t make it okay. He should be sorry, he should be repentant, he should want to fix things, but he needs to realize that this broke the trust she had in him. They BOTH need to take time to mend the broken trust first and foremost. I understand that we as humans have a tendency to go to far sometimes, but usually people attempt to avoid going to far by setting up rules for themselves first. (Like discussing the scene before hand, making sure everyone knows what to expect during the scene, safewords, etc, etc, etc).

Another aspect of these books that really ticks me off is that Ms. James seems to think that all submissives are weak, overly-dependent, child-like creatures who will break at the slightest bit of wind. She portrays this by having Mr. Grey comment to Ana over and over again that she is much too strong to ever be his submissive. Too strong to be a submissive? Most of the submissives I’ve met in real life (and for that matter, online) are dominant in many other areas of their lives. They are submissive because they choose to be, not because they’re little church mice or human doormats.

Ms. James goes so far as to have the only two submissives we meet in the book be extremely weak characters, one of whom attempts suicide and then is found stalking Mr. Grey and Ana. The brief conversations between Ana and Leila (the submissive in the books) show Leila to be a very fragile creature that is to be handled with extreme care because she is so emotionally unstable. The red flag here is that if these are the kinds of submissives Christian Grey chooses and prefers, it speaks volumes about what kind of “dominant” he is. He’s not looking for submissive women, he’s looking for victims. Like a lion hunts the weak, Christian Grey hunts insecure, lonely and even desperate women who happen to be kinky to some fair degree. These women are too emotionally unstable to be participating in heavy BDSM. They need someone to befriend them, explain healthy BDSM to them and help them realize how valuable their gift of submission is to Good Doms in this world. They need to understand that being submissive doesn’t mean you’re weak, it simply describes the role you choose to take on in a BDSM relationship. It doesn’t define every aspect of who you are. To believe that claiming to be submissive means that you are weak and fragile is about as silly as believing that a woman’s sole purpose in life is to make men sandwiches.

Another thing that royally pissed me off about the Christian Grey character is his overwhelming jealousy. Someone in his position, with as much power and control as is needed to be the leader and CEO of so many different companies, would not be an easily jealous person. Jealousy is a sign of weakness and weak people don’t run companies (at least not very successfully or for long) they wind up getting eaten alive by people much stronger than they are.

At several points throughout the book we are told that Mr. Grey is more of an adolescent than a man, at least emotionally. Even his therapist tells Ana this at one point. I am appalled that Ana continued to date and eventually marry Mr. Grey after learning so much about him. Yes, she certainly has unconditional love for him, but in my honest opinion, her love shouldn’t be unconditional. She is not his mother, she is not his sister, and she does not deserve to be walking on eggshells for the rest of her life worrying that Mr. Grey is going to lose his shit over one thing or another. But that’s my personal opinion. We never see Ana trying to help Christian recover from his emotional scaring. We see her yelling at people who may have contributed to his scars, we see her baby him about how it’s not his fault, and we see her throw herself at him emotionally and physically. She clearly desires to help him, but there’s no follow through. It’s as though E.L. James believes that a problem ignored is a problem solved.
There are so many red flags raised by Mr. Grey’s character that I wound up resenting him and Ms. James’ portrayal of BDSM. She has one fucked up viewpoint on the whole scene if you ask me. Please understand, healthy BDSM relationships do not look anything like that of Mr. Grey and Miss Steele.

Peace, love, happiness and bondage,
~ Autumn

Fifty Shades of Annoyed

I wanted to love this book, I really did. I wanted to relate to Ana and Christian. I had high hopes for a simple love story that just happened to have BDSM elements in them…. and while this book is kind of (barely) BDSM, it’s not what I would call healthy BDSM. In fact, Christian Grey is one of those guys that I would warn my friends, my fans and probably even my enemies to stay away from. He’s that dangerous as a dom (and I would go so far to say he’s even dangerous as a vanilla boyfriend.)

Why do I feel this way? He doesn’t respect Ana. He doesn’t take the time needed to listen to her needs and wants. He thinks he knows what is best for her but he doesn’t wait for her consent before “helping” her out. I used to do this when I was a kid. I would want to help my sisters with something and instead of saying “Hey, let me help you, I know how to do that” I would just snatch whatever it was they were working on, and fix it myself. I was convinced that I knew better than they did to such a degree that I didn’t even ask if it was okay for me to help before I jumped in and helped. This rarely actually helped anything. Sure their homework was correct, or the necklace they were trying to fix was repaired, but the damage I did to my sisters’ self-esteem in their own ability to figure things out would wear them down. It was a very problematic way of fixing things.

It wasn’t until my mother intervened that I finally changed my way of helping others. She sat me down and explained that when I was their ages, I was determined to learn how to fix things, how to do things, on my own. I didn’t want someone else’s help because I wanted the satisfaction of being able to accomplish something on my own. My sisters were the same way, and in some respects, so is Ana in the story of Fifty Shades of Grey.

(SPOILER ALERT) There is a scene in the book where Ana’s car breaks down. Christian tells her that she needs a new one because her’s is nothing but a bucket of bolts and trouble (my words, not E.L. James’ words). Ana explains that she can’t afford a new car at the moment and Christian offers to buy her one. Like any normal woman (who isn’t after someone else’s money) Ana declines. She wants to make it on her own. It’s okay if Christian helps her, hell if he’d offered to loan her the money for a used car similar to hers, or even the money it would cost to fix her current car, Ana may have accepted. But Christian didn’t do that. Instead he waited till she went to work and then sold her car and bought her a new one anyway. They hadn’t even been dating that long by this point and Christian was already taking over Ana’s decision making process and doing it his way even if she didn’t want his help.

Ana is an adult. Granted she’s only 23, but she’s still an adult. She has the right to make her own decisions, but Christian, very early on, makes it clear that he doesn’t trust her to make the right decisions (or rather, his idea of what the right decision should be). In a normal relationship (vanilla or otherwise) this might be okay to a fair degree, because after all, trust is earned. But this is a new relationship and there is a learning curve that should be there for the growth of trust to take place. If Christian actually cared about Ana (beyond what he wanted from her) he would have listened to her. He may have nagged her about how crappy her car was, but he would be supportive at least because his goal would be to win her over to his way of thinking. During that time he could have gone to great depths to show her why he believed she needed a new car and proven to her that he knew what he was talking about. In short, he could have taken that opportunity to show her that she can trust him. But he blew it and that wasn’t the the only time he did this to Ana.

There are several other moments in the book where Christian has a chance to show Ana that she can trust him, but instead of using these opportunities, he continuously takes advantage of her naivete and does what he thinks is right, usually without her permission. This causes a lot of conflict between the two of them. What really rubs me the wrong way here is that instead of growing a pair of ovaries and explaining to Christian that she is a grown woman and capable of making her own decisions (even if they may be mistakes she could learn from) Ana pulls a Jessica Simpson like attitude, plays dumb and let’s Christian do as he pleases. At one point she even admits that she is scared of pissing him off.

That’s not a good sign. Anyone in a new relationship (again, vanilla or otherwise) that is fearful of what happens when their love interest gets mad needs to realize that this is a red flag and it should be treated as a moment to stop and think things through before continuing the relationship.

This would have been a fine romance story if E.L. James came out and said that this is a story about two fairly insecure people who learn how to cope with one another, but I doubt she would have sold so many copies if she had chosen to be honest about her own characters. E.L. James makes it clear that honesty, even in her writing and especially in her interviews is not her goal. Much like Christian Grey, E.L. James doesn’t care enough to do the research required to write a well written BDSM love story, but she’s more than happy to cash in on a badly written, wanna-be BDSM story with some messed up version of love thrown in.

(Cue Reading Rainbow music):
But you don’t have to take my word for it. You’re welcome (of course) to read the story for yourself. I will be outspoken about my passionate dislike of this series and the way that Christian portrays himself and the way he thinks BDSM works. I cannot in good faith just keep quiet about it. There are too many people in the world who will read these books and think this is the way the lifestyle actually is. It damages how the public (the vanilla public) views BDSM and it can cause others to believe that no research is required before participating in something as fascinatingly erotic as BDSM.

I understand that many couples have E.L. James to thank for awakening something inside of them that they didn’t even know was there. I understand that she has brought BDSM to the table of conversation in many ways that most of us have not yet been able to accomplish and for that reason I may owe her a tiny bit of thanks, but then she goes and craps all over it and I find myself wanting to gag instead of saying “Thank you.”

I wanted to love these books, but the logical side of me, the side that sees fantasy and reality together, shivers in fear over how some people will take a book like this. Common sense is not that common and I worry for those people who don’t think things through before trying something new.

This book (and the two following it) didn’t leave me hot and bothered in the way it seems to have left many other people. It leaves me hot and bothered in a “pissed off and frustrated” kind of way, and I really hate that feeling. My only recourse here is to continue to point out the flaws in E.L. James’ story and to continue to write about healthy BDSM. My only hope is that someone listens.

Annoyed,
–Autumn

 

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