Fifty Shades of Judgment

“Be curious, not judgmental.”  Walt Whitman

When Fifty Shades of Grey hit the stands a few years ago, I remember well all the fuss, the whispered, tittering conversations. One of my friends, rather spellbound, must have said, at least 100 times: “So many orgasms!” I have to admit, I was intrigued and I bought the books. “It’s about time”, I remember thinking, “that someone brought BDSM out of the dungeons and into the mainstream!

Though I do not practice BDSM, I get that for those who do practice, it meets their needs in a way I might not understand, and I respect that. I really believe that what consenting adults do is between them. As long as BDSM play is consensual, safe and sane, what people do to satisfy their needs for pleasure, power, submission, control or connection—is none of my business or anyone else’s. And if what they do feels normal for them, then it is normal.

I’m not going to rehash all of the criticisms of Fifty Shades of Grey—there certainly are loads of problems in the way the author chose to present this subject and with the writing. I barely made it through the second and third books, and skimmed a lot. What bothered me a great deal more than the story was the condemnation around the consensual practices of others. 

Thus, I repeat: what other people do sexually is not mine or yours to disparage, judge or question as long as each participant is acting with consent and other parameters are met. Remember, as long as we judge others for things we may not fully understand or agree with, we will never feel quite comfortable in our own skins because judgment comes with a high price: as we judge, the specter of judgment points right back at us, and gnaws at our own sense of self-confidence and well-being. So, if BDSM doesn’t appeal to you, don’t do it—but don’t judge it, either.

For anyone who may be curious about BDSM, (especially from the perspective of a submissive) a far better book is the memoir, “Diary of a Submissive,” by Sophie Morgan. For a deeper dive into the subject, Robert Dunlap’s documentary, “Beyond Vanilla,” may be of interest. A warning: “Beyond Vanilla” is pretty intense so may not be the best starting point for the tentative or squeamish!

Whatever your thoughts on BDSM or Fifty Shades of Grey, I wanted to share something amusing I picked up from the first book that has stayed with me. After sex, the protagonist looks in the mirror, and noting her wildly messed up hair, proclaims that she is sporting “just fucked hair.” I loved that! Shortly after reading the books, Ed and I were going out for an evening event, and we grabbed a hot quickie. Before heading out the door, I looked in the mirror and smiled…yep, I had “just fucked hair.” “Hmmm,” I thought with a wry smile, “Looks good!” Off we went. You can imagine how hard it was for me to contain myself when no fewer than three people came up to me and told me how great my hair looked….