The buzz over the theatrical release of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first tale in the bestselling E.L. James Trilogy, has been phenomenal. Much has been said about the content with some good, and some not so good. The book series has been credited with bringing to light a lifestyle practiced by many in the BDSM community, but it has also been lambasted for under-representing and even misrepresenting what bondage, dominance, and submission is all about.
Recently, a young University of Illinois, Chicago student by the name of Mohammed Hossain, age 19, was charged with assault and rape, the accusation coming from a fellow student with whom he’d previously shared intimacy. According to the news report, Hossain and his friend (name withheld), saw the movie, and then went back to his dorm room where he ordered her to undress, restrained her wrists and ankles, and proceeded to whip her with a belt. His accuser alleges he went too far, becoming brutal. She told him to stop, but he did not. She states the violence escalated despite her pleas, and then he raped her. Read story here (UIC Student Charged with Assault Says He Was Re-Enacting Fifty Shades of Grey).
In Florida, teenagers not old enough to attend this movie without a parent or guardian rushed a local theater en masse causing fear and chaos for theater-goers. (ABC News: Teens Rush Florida Movie Theater – video)
In other news, a woman was caught quite literally pleasuring herself while sitting in a theater watching Fifty Shades of Grey. (New York Daily News: Woman Caught Masturbating During Fifty Shades of Grey)
I had my own experience with the Fifty Shades phenomenon in the form of plagiarism. In April, 2010, I published an exclusive interview on zoomdune.com with a practicing submissive who kindly shared her experiences. (The BDSM Lifestyle: Interview with a Submissive) This was written and published before all the Fifty Shades craziness, and became a cornerstone in my Fetish Fridays articles. There is a copyright disclaimer at the bottom of the article that clearly states it cannot be reposted whole without my express permission, and can only be partially reposted (first paragraph) with attribution supplied by a link to the original article. This didn’t stop a blogger who clearly wished to present herself as a practicing submissive.
A conscientious reader contacted me about a blog she’d read. She is a practicing submissive herself so enjoys reading about others and the lifestyle in general. She noted that the blog was very familiar, and remembered where she’d read that exact interview before. Mine.
Blogger, KraDoll, tried to pass herself off as my submissive source, much to the dismay of the real submissive, Julianne, with whom I maintain a friendship forged during that original interview. It led me to wonder what would make someone desperate enough to pass themselves off as the submissive in my article. Does this person actually practice the lifestyle? If so, why not simply write about her own personal experiences? It’s a blog after all. That’s what they’re for. I ruled out that the blogger actually practiced real BDSM. My next thought was the simplest path – she wants to be perceived as a submissive – but why? The plagiarized blog coincides with the Fifty Shades movie fervor going on currently. Is she caught up in the fantasy of being an Anastasia Steele type? Is she looking to attract a Christian Grey?
I find this troubling because the fictional Mr. Grey is actually a very disturbed individual. If one has read the books like I have, we know his past was riddled with child abuse, and his fetish for inflicting pain came from being sexually abused by a much older woman when he was still a teenager. It is a clear case of pedophilia and child sexual assault. It is in no way romantic. It is not true BDSM. The greater point of the book is missed entirely because of the hype over the sexuality. Compound that by having the handsome Jamie Dornan play Christian Grey, and suddenly, assault and rape have been romanticized to an unsuspecting and uneducated audience.
I am not saying don’t enjoy the books or the movie. I do believe, however, it’s important to point out that it is fictional, it’s fantasy, not reality, and that in actual BDSM, there is respect. There are safe words. These safe words mean to stop. This puts the control squarely in the hands of the submissive, and not the dominant. The Dom/Domme is in a position where trust is everything. Violating that trust instantly turns consensual BDSM into criminal assault.
As for those who are curious, find a safe and healthy place to explore that curiosity. There is no need to steal anyone else’s experiences. Go have your own, but do so with the understanding that it is okay to be curious, and find someone not only that you can trust, but who is knowledgeable about the role of a dominant.
Finally, if you find that your written work has been plagiarized by another, file a DMCA form with the host site. Most will respond quickly and correctly by taking down the violator’s page. (Find a sample letter here)
Michele Gwynn is a freelance journalist, online contributor for zoomdune.com categories; Sex and Relationships, Film & Animal Rights, and author of the Kriminal Erotic Series from Beau Coup Publishing (Suspense) Exposed: The Education of Sarah Brown and The Evolution of Elsa Kreiss (New Release), The Harvest Trilogy – Harvest, Celluloss, and two shorts – Camael’s Gift (Angelic Hosts Series, YA & New Adult), and Murder in the Vale (The Ghosts of Cardiff Series Book I). She also writes adult erotic shorts under the pen name, Xaviera Snow.