I am a part of the BDSM community both online and locally. My partner and I are educators within it by mentoring individuals who are new. Our lives revolve around the lifestyle due to the fact that we run our own business making kink gear for geeks.
Every day I am online promoting my store and educating folk about safety in the lifestyle. I blog for the store and here on SexIs about how important physical and psychological safety is when pursuing kink. One of our employees engages in a 24/7 Dominant/submissive lifestyle with her boyfriend and still maintains a completely different dynamic with her husband. I have a dynamic with one of my partners that is part time. I regularly associate with slaves, pets, subs, switches, ferals, littles, dominants, masters, and everything in between. I know people that live it 24/7 to those that only play on special occasions.
I have been benevolent if cautious about 50 Shades of Grey fans. Until today. I was on a social networking site for kinky folk when I stumbled upon a picture of a section of a Halloween store that was devoted to BDSM and 50 Shades of Grey. Most people would immediately wonder why I am so offended. I would have as well 2 years ago. It’s a silly fad. I would have wondered why I was getting my knickers in a knot. Even sitting here, I am examining my reaction for overreaction.
When it comes down to it, I know why I am so deeply offended. It’s called cultural appropriation. It’s an Anthropological/Sociological term that describes what happens when a larger culture takes aspects of complex concepts in a smaller, weaker culture or subculture, and simplifies it to create pop culture. This creates issues in the original culture that the concepts were borrowed from.
There is misinformation first of all. For many ethnic groups, this is how racial stereotypes are created. In this case, there is a lot of people that think that the way the relationship between the characters in 50 Shades of Grey is the way that all dynamics are. My dominant is nothing like Christian Grey. He is loving. He respects my limits and gives me an equal amount of control of what happens when we play. He isn’t emotionally or psychologically defective, and I do not have to save him. He does what we both enjoy. It is an equal relationship.
Secondly, cultural appropriation impacts those that were a part of the appropriated culture on a psychological level. It creates shame and low self-esteem. The person who took the picture that got my panties bunched said this about it:
“As for how it makes me feel (I work at Spirit Halloween, so I see it almost every day), it reminds me of the books whenever I see it, and the books, to me, are just glorified abuse. He disregards her consent. And that rubs me wrong. I haven't been able to read the Grey books, because I’m scared it will trigger panic (yay ptsd from a rape).
But having BDSM "glorified" and turned into a fad...almost makes me feel like less of a person. It practically pokes fun at us; it lessens the seriousness of the scene. It's bringing people into the scene who are not prepared for protocols, for safe words, for SAFETY; and that is incredibly worrisome.”
The author can write about anything she wants to. She wrote a work of fiction, but when the dominant culture turns a vibrant lifestyle into a fad, it is wrong. I am extremely open about my lifestyle, and up until recently felt no shame in admitting it. Now, well, I am starting to because people think it is something out of that work.