Oh my goodness the imminent “50 Shades” movie adaptation has people in tizzies from all sides. We have the sex-negative nellies who worry that the Western World’s moral fabric is being torn asunder by the sheer existence of the film. We have the BDSM educators and community activists who fear that the movie is going to make BDSM look rapey and horrible and mis-inform millions of people. We have the fans of the book who fear Hollywood is going to wreck what they love and invite heaps of ridicule on them. And then we have the people who are sniping at anyone expressing an opinion about FSoG because giving this much attention to a movie in the first place is clearly what is wrong with society.
I have a suggestion for everyone no matter what type of tizzy you’re in, an idea brought up by romance novelist Jenny Trout. Here’s something you can do to make the world a better place. Make a donation to a domestic violence organization or women’s shelter. Feeling guilty that you’re seeing this movie instead of fighting ISIS? Or boycotting the movie? Or just worried that no matter what, this is somehow bad for women? Think of it like offsetting your carbon emissions. Jenny has compiled an excellent and massive list of DV orgs you can donate to here: https://jennytrout.com/?p=8664
I’d like to talk specifically about an organization I support here in the Boston area: The Network/La Red. As a member of the BDSM community and a longtime activist, I’m well aware that the reception women into kink receive from some of the major DV groups/shelters is not a warm one. Sometimes when women who enjoy being tied up or spanked or ordered around when it’s being done completely consensually are flat out told by hotline workers that if they are abused, they “brought it on themselves” or they are “at fault.” This would be exactly as bad as a rape crisis hotline telling women who were raped that it was their own fault for liking consensual sex.
It’s worse than just putting up with a lecture, though. Many of these DV organizations then refuse to help women who admit to participating in consensual BDSM. I know one of the main efforts at education that has taken place over the past 20 years, both by the National Leather Association and by many local BDSM activist groups is in teaching DV advocates that consent is not abuse, and consensual BDSM is not abuse.
However The Network/La Red has always taken an enlightened view, not only of BDSM, but also of polyamory, transgender women, and other “alternative” sexualities. They’ve worked closely with the BDSM community in New England to make sure the education runs both directions. The Network is one of the few charities I give to every year, now that I can afford to make donations.
So my vote, if you’re going to make a donation, is to send it there. Here’s their website, which can be read in English or Spanish: https://tnlr.org/
If you’re still feeling a little pearl-clutchy after that, how about read this article about how “People Who Practice BDSM Seem To Share Some Enviable Traits” which include lower anxiety, lower fear of rejection, and greater agency in their love lives. In other words, as the researchers concluded, “BDSM may be thought of as a recreational leisure, rather than the expression of psychopathological processes.”
In other words, although the fictional Christian Grey might be kinky because of his fucked up life experiences, most of us real folks just enjoy it, you know?
If you want to know more about BDSM, I’m speaking at a couple of events coming up this year I highly recommend:
So don’t be shy. Come say hi!