I was meant to get this blog post done a whole lot earlier than this. But I got a bit tied up.
Which is ironic.
Fifty Shades Darker, the second film in the Fifty Shades series is out this month, and with it will come the inevitable re-ignition of the debate as to whether it is a “true” representation of life in the bondage community. Those within that community have always been at pains (no pun intended) to point out that this is merely a dramatic recreation of their lifestyle – and a rather poor one at that. Given that this franchise is without doubt the biggest single event to bring bondage into the mainstream, it’s not great that it’s apparently wholly inaccurate.
However, we all know that there’s no such thing as bad publicity and no matter how dodgy the books and the films may be, with over 125 million readers of the trilogy and the first film making an eye-watering $569 million (that’s R7.5 BILLION) at the box office, there’s no doubt that they were extremely popular. And the spin off from that sort of publicity is that people wanted to give it go themselves. Did it matter if they weren’t doing it exactly as the bondage community would have prefered it? Well, no. As long as you have two (or more, I guess) consenting adults who are playing safely and having fun, then surely anything goes.
So what has been the grassroots effect of the Fifty Shades... series? Well, Book Clubs across the country, delighted to genuinely have some reading matter to base their wine-drinking antics around for once, had the opportunity to openly discuss the taboo subjects of dominance and submission in the bedroom. Interests were piqued, and from there, couples led primarily by the female half (or perhaps by their opportunistic male counterparts) tried things that, let’s be honest, for many of us, were strictly off limits prior to EL James’ bestselling efforts.
As I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t necessarily matter if we were “doing it right”. There aren’t set rules for this kind of thing (although you can make your own up, of course). People were doing it to the best of their abilities, experimenting with something new and different. Even accountants - perhaps encouraged by the ‘grey’ theme? - toyed with the idea of tying their partners to the bed (there’s a ‘spreadsheet’ joke in there somewhere), and accountants really don’t do that kind of thing lightly. Such is the power of mainstream popular fiction and peer pressure. Thank you, EL James.
But maybe there’s another lesson in this as well. In an age where we are constantly encouraged to extend our sexual boundaries ever further and wider; an age where we have easier and more accepted access to informative literature and the toys and equipment to help our fantasies become reality, it’s rather disappointing that it still takes something as big as Fifty Shades... to actually push us into trying something new.
The fact that – once suitably encouraged to do so - we were happy to have a go at being Christian and Anastasia for few hours should demonstrate to us that there are near limitless opportunities to try something a bit different in our sex lives. All it takes is a bit of courage to take the plunge.