What ‘Fifty Shades’ Gets Right & Wrong About BDSM, According To An Expert

The wildly popular Fifty Shades films are based on E.L. James’ erotic novels: Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed. The story follows Anastasia Steele as she is introduced to the world of BDSM by wealthy businessman Christian Grey. But is Fifty Shades an accuratedepiction of BDSM? Does James’ representation of this complex lifestyle do it justice?

For many people, the Fifty Shades franchise served as an introduction to the BDSM lifestyle. It’s clear that James helped open up the conversation about dominance and submission by bringing BDSM into the mainstream. But despite all the PR Fifty Shades provides for the community, does the series do more harm than good?

In the first installment of the trilogy, Ana is a 22-year-old virgin when she meets Christian, an absurdly rich entrepreneur who’s older, more powerful, and kinkier than she is. He gifts Ana a laptop and asks that she uses it to research BDSM, which she does. He also insists that she sign a binding contract laying out the specific terms of their sexual agreement. In the film, the contract’s purpose is to “allow the submissive to explore her sensuality and her limits safely.” Another line states that “the submissive will agree to any sexual activity deemed fit and pleasurable by the dominant.”

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