Friday, August 24, 2012

Letter to the book-burners

Dear Wearside Women in Need,

I am dismayed by the article that appeared on the BBC website today, describing how your charity plans to burn copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.

I am not planning to read Fifty Shades of Grey, and I agree that the character of Edward Grey is a stalker and potentially abusive. (Also, it is a very badly written book.)

However, Edward Grey is not abusive because he is into BDSM. He is abusive because he is a stalker who denies Anastasia's autonomy and consistently ignores her boundaries.

The book does not describe BDSM as it is practised by the majority of the BDSM community. BDSM practitioners generally abide by the ethos of "safe, sane and consensual".

There may be abusers who try to hide in the BDSM community, but they are no more numerous than abusers who engage in vanilla sex.

BDSM is not abuse. Please do not conflate the two.

May I refer you to a couple of articles and books which may help to clarify the difference for you:

Furthermore, book-burning is what fundamentalists do. It is profoundly against democracy and the free dissemination of ideas. I do not like Fifty Shades of Grey because it is a gross distortion of BDSM, but at least it has enabled a conversation in the public square about what BDSM is actually about.

1 comment:

Yewtree said...

Wearside Women in Need responded to my email, and gave me permission to post their reply here:

Hello Yvonne

Thank you for your email

Here at the Campaign we believe that every recent generation of women has had to contend with the publication of at least one book, film or other ‘literary endeavour’ that seeks to both legitimatize patriarchy and to undermine the social, political and economic gains of women.
As such, it was never our intention to attack the BDSM community, but rather to

(a) highlight a piece of work that (as you acknowledge) misrepresents a controlling and abusive perpetrator as a progressive, sexual liberator and;

(b) question why contemporary british women, faced with attacks on their employment, on the services that they have developed, used and run and on the goal of gender equality in all areas of public life, are starting to seek refuge (both literally and in their reading material) in the private sphere of the home and in the fantasy of male control and male protection.

Sex games in a genuinely egalitarian relationship are one thing; sexual domination in an unequal relationship (backed up by structural inequalities based on sex, class, age etc) is something else entirely.

So thank you, again, for writing to us. You may not agree with what we have said, but at least we spoke out for what we believe in.

The 50 Shades of Abuse Campaign.