Feb 13

The truth about the troubling sex in 50 Shades

Digital freelease:
Fifty Shades of Grey (music for a sensual evening)

The bombardment of “news stories” about the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is well underway; it gave me a fun idea: What if the film studio had contacted Projekt to put together the soundtrack? What would that sound like?

I went through the Projekt catalog and pulled tracks both cinematic and soundtracky for this compilation. It’s up for name-your-price at Bandcamp.


The Truth About Fifty Shades
(a short editorial by Sam)

We can laugh and snark about how horrible the Fifty Shades books are. But the bigger problem here is the writer’s lack of knowledge about supportive, sex-positive relationships. She uses BDSM to mask two poorly-conceived characters who do not engage in proper consent or respect. (The writer is a boring bored* English housewife, who I can imagine watched a few porn videos for “research,” rather than getting involved in the scene, or talking to experts, or even reading some informational websites to learn the proper protocols for respecting a partner’s boundaries).

This is an even bigger issue than the 8th-grade-level writing.

What two people do together should be their own business; though I would hope they keep it safe, sane and consensual. When a book series sells 100 million copies, and has it’s attractive lead character force a woman to repeatedly do things she doesn’t want to do, that’s not BDSM…. That’s abuse! It is shocking that soccer moms who love this book for the (mostly generic missionary) sex, aren’t repulsed by the characters’ actions. This says a lot about American’s inexperience with sex, and inability to critically think about healthy relationships.

Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sex of Fifty Shades. in The Atlantic.

The Real Abuse at the Heart of Fifty Shades of Grey. in Relevant Magazine.

50 Shades of Grey: a film about male power, idealising emotional abuse as sexy when it isn’t. in New Statesman.
(You can Google, for many more articles on this topic)

Bare in mind that I am not criticizing people’s involvement in BDSM; there are many relationships with it at their core. These relationships involve respect and consent, good communication, knowledge of boundaries, and love. This is necessary to give a partner a safe version of the ‘the pleasure in the pain’ they desire. Of course, it is also necessary in any strong relationship.

America accepted a really warped version of BDSM when it grew enthralled with these crappy books. The piece in the New Statesman says the film got the consent right in the BDSM scenes, but not in the overarching story. It’s unfortunate the filmmakers didn’t update the plot to address the serious problems in the novels.

On the positive side, publications are using the movie’s release as a catalyst to educated on these very important topics.


I have been criticized for calling E.L. James “boring.” So I will fix that and say she was “bored” (which is the word used in press descriptions. Does this make things better?)

You can leave a comment below.



With all the yap-yap-yap about 50 Shades of Rubbish, I should probably remind you about my book Rye — interesting characters, in original situations, humor, plus conversations and negotiations around consent, relationships and family of choice.

“Underneath all the androgyny and fluctuation, the book’s about human connection. Rosenthal’s use of sex and gender identities to illustrate how we reach toward and away from relationships is merely a new approach to an old idea: we all need intimacy with others to deepen our understanding of ourselves.” — Time Out, Chicago

Physical and Kindle copy at Amazon or buy a signed copy of the paperback book directly from me!



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