Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Word Vomit on 50 Shades of Grey (Or why I as a Jesus loving, woman loving, kink loving gal enjoys FSOG)
First - Before I share my thoughts I would like to do what no one on my facebook feed has done, not one person has done, and that is say that these are MY thoughts, MY opinions, MY feelings, FOR ME. I am not advocating anyone else read the books or watch the movie or have nice feelings about this franchise. I am not speaking for Christians or kinky people or women. I am speaking for myself who happens to fit all of those categories. :)
Ok, a little background, a few years ago, gosh I think it's almost 4 years ago now, maybe 3? Anyways, a few years ago I was semi-newly married, I was married long enough to have lost the honeymoon/newlywed glow and not yet long enough to have gotten that settled "this is my life and I love it" yet. I was miserable. A lot went into my misery. My church had a VERY painful VERY public VERY divisive split. The denomination I had grown up in and provided the majority of my thoughts on God was and what a Christian looked like again had a very messy split/explosion. Jobs and money were not working out. We had started to realize that infertility was here to stay, and had no real hope of insurance or money to pay for treatments or adoption. And I hated sex.
Sex. That thing that had been held up to me for 2 and a half decades as this beautiful magical wonderful thing. And I hated it. It was not pleasurable. A lot of the time it hurt. It was boring. It was awkward and messy and smelly and... I hated it. I felt lied to and cheated. I had "saved" everything for this man, and it was gross. I felt like my childhood dreams had been chewed up and spit out and stomped on. My husband and I were fighting All The Time. He became increasingly buried in his books and his own self pleasure/gratification. We were both viewing marriage like a burden and a chore because neither of us were getting the things we wanted out of it.
And then we decided to give the NY Times Bestseller "50 Shades" trilogy a try. We had both been interested in BDSM and Domestic Discipline since before we were courting. One of our first conversations was me saying shyly "I've always wished I could marry a man who would spank me." and his reply was "and I have always dreampt I'd meet a woman who would let me." *grin* We had been open with each other about our desires, but I thought of it as something "only porn stars" did, and he had been very well taught you never ever hit a woman. We read the trilogy in a span of 48 hours, and then planned a weekend get away and read it again. For the first time EVER I read a mainstream book that talked about some of my darkest deepest desires and wonderings and fantasies. I had a clear thing to be able to say to my husband "THIS turns me on, I wanna try THAT, O.M.G." 50 shades (and then the TONS of books I have read since then) allowed me to have a guide almost to say "Hey, this appeals to me." It put into words what I hadn't known how. It gave me a category to put some of my desires into. It gave me something exciting to do with my husband.
I still don't really like sex, and a lot of the things that were exciting when they were new or when I read about them we realized weren't as exciting or fun in real life or long term. :-p But it still was the catalyst for us, it still gave us a starting point. It gave me permission to say "Hey, I am kinky and that's ok."
There is my personal story as relates to 50 shades. I'd like to add that after reading 50 shades a few other things were crucial in our journey. We met with our past a few times a month for almost a year. He didn't judge us or make us feel like horrible people. He actually told us that it was our lives and while he expressed concerns or cautions he point blank said "None of this would be something we'd kick you out of the church over." :) He told my husband as bluntly as he could "She could never have sex with you again, and it would still be your job to be faithful to her and love her." That took a million weights off of my shoulders. It didn't make me try to love him physically any less, but it made it so much easier and more freeing to realize that no matter how broken I am - my husband is married to me. He married ME. And I don't have to compete with the porn stars or fantasies of the world. :)
Ok, nitty gritty of why I like 50 Shades and don't think it's against Jesus or women to enjoy them ...
1. I view it as a story of redemption. Christian had some incredibly messed up stuff happen to him, as a result he never learned to love. He learned to use. He learned to manipulate. But, he didn't know how to love. Throughout the series you get to watch him grow and change and heal. I really liked that.
2. It's fiction. It's fantasy. It's not a "how to" manual for having a romantic or kinky relationship. It's a story. It's not a story you're meant to replicate in your own life. You can get ideas or thoughts or "hey that would be fun", but it's not meant to be something everyone lives out.
3. Ok, here is where it gets kinda tricky and very "personal"... yes, it has a lot of sex. Yes it describes the sex in a lot of detail. To be completely honest in the "erotic" books I read I skip 75+% of the sex. Have I mentioned I don't like sex? 'cause I don't. ;-) I skim enough to get the gyst, but it makes me uncomfortable. So I can't really speak to that. Except to say... God created sex. Do I believe he created it for marriage/commitment? Yes, yes I do, but I think you need to follow your own convictions in the area of the media you read and watch. I don't think that EL James' characters having sex before they are married is any worse than the millions of authors/screenwriters whose characters have sex before they are married. I don't think that because it is more than missionary that it's somehow more immoral. Like I said at the beginning of this I am not suggesting you go out and read erotica. I have friends who have told me even simple romances 'cause them issues with their spouse because they compare and their spouse always comes out on the bottom. I think that is lust. I think fantasizing about sex in a way that makes you discontent with your spouse is wrong and dishonoring to them. I can only speak for myself, and I have thought and prayed and talked about this a TON. For Me, when I read books that having spankings or bossy men or "alpha males" it makes me turn closer to my husband. It does. It makes me excited to play with him or make love to him or just be his special little wife.
There are things I have had to stop - watching spanking videos, roleplaying spanking stuff with other people online, ONLY reading erotic books. Because these things pushed me away from my husband instead of towards.
4. Consent. Someone mentioned recently that she wondered why the same women who think the D/s relationship is kinky and exciting think that "Biblical Submission" is wrong. I had some thoughts about this, I dealt with this a LOT. I was ashamed that I was turned on by bossy men in books and movies. I thought I was somehow disgracing all the feminists in the world. I knew I didn't agree with Patriarchy. I knew I didn't think men had the Right to lord over women. I knew that I believed in equality in marriage, and I couldn't reconcile that with my own person desires. And then I realized the key is consent. *I* like my husband to take charge, to protect me, to do the heavy lifting, to keep me off the roads when they are icy, to make sure I am eating and sleeping and taking care of myself. I asked him to. I wanted him to. I LIKE IT. It's not his right. It's not his "God given place" (well I believe some aspects are, but more in the cherishing protecting department, not the "Boss" department :)) It's something that we mutually enjoy and like and want to structure our marriage that way. Because we CHOOSE it. It's not forced on us.
Ok, this got super duper rambly. But I think that pretty much covers my thoughts. Consent, Personal conviction. Redemption, No cookie cutters... Oh, one last thing.
I do believe there is a big difference between reading it and watching it. We did go see the movie, together, and really enjoyed it. But I was... bothered? The level of nudity. How close the actors had to be to each other naked. That Jamie Dornan has a wife at home, and I felt guilty that I was watching him be so physically intimate with someone who was not his wife. I don't think 50 shades was more intimate than a lot of R rated movies, but I dont tend to watch a lot of sex scenes. In the theater I couldn't fast forward. I feel like Game of Thrones has that level of nudity, but at home on my own couch somehow it feels less huge. And we can fast forward at home. Also, I found myself comparing. Looking at Dakota Johnson's body and thinking "Mine don't look like. Is that what I SHOULD look like? Is Ben missing out being married to me?" and that isn't healthy.
So my issues were not at all with 50 Shades as a story, or a movie or book being made about kinky relationship or messed up relationship or past sexual and physical abuse, but with my convictions about how sex and nudity are handled in visual media. I don't know if we will see 50 Shades Darker in the theater or not. We have already started discussing if maybe we should wait (assuming it get made) and watch it at home so we can use more discretion. :)