Begin Fifty Shades Rant

FINALLY some fan fiction this Marxist can get into. No more helpless women, incorrect and non-consensual faux BDSM speak, or disgusting misogynists dressed up as prince charming!  

In “Fifty Shades of Socialist Feminism,” Laurie Penny weaves us a brief, but real delicious misandrist fantasy.

Since the debut of the Fifty Shades series, the reactions from those of us in the kink community have ranged from pithy apathy to excruciating rage. While I am most frequently attributed to the latter camp of vehement, sometimes incoherent fury toward these abuse peddling, and poorly written novels (YES I READ THE FIRST ONE, AND NO I’LL NEVER GET THAT WEEK OF MY LIFE BACK) I completely understand that many folks wouldn’t take this trash seriously. The problem with that sort of shrug-off stance though is that over 100 million copies of this stomach-churning junk food have been sold (I STOLE THE COPY I READ). The themes, overt and otherwise within its pages enumerate the kind of sexist, misogynistic garbage that this society wants women to gobble up  and choke on. It’s a pamphlet on abusive behavior.

Take it from the kink community, there are healthy, ethical ways to consensually combine sex and pain. All of them require self-knowledge, communication skills, and emotional maturity in order to make the sex safe and mutually gratifying. Radical and enthusiastic consent is an essential feature within the practice of BDSM. This principle says that “no means no” is crucial  if a sexual partner says no, you must stop  but it goes beyond that. In order to ensure consent and prevent sexual violence, everyone, regardless of gender, has to make sure that their partner is enthusiastic about what’s going on.

Honestly, this is a VERY BASIC principle – sex of any variety should only happen when all participants actually want it. Enthusiastic consent is ongoing, not a yes/no lightswitch. It does mean that partners have to pay attention to whether one another are into sex acts, and that if it is unclear, you have to ask. It requires sexual partners to be in ongoing communication with each other. It does not mean that you get a signed contract, and all things are go – ahem, Mr.Grey

As Emma Green outlines in her piece for The Atlantic, “This is a troubling fantasy in American culture, where one in five women will be raped within their lifetime, according to the CDC; where nearly 40 percent of those rapes will happen to women aged 18 to 24; and where troubling evidence of casual attitudes toward rape — such as in 2010 when a number of Ivy League-educated men thought it was okay to chant 'no means yes, yes means anal' on their campus — is not uncommon. As images of Ana being beaten by Christian become the new normal for what’s considered erotic, they raise questions about what it means to 'consent' to sex. Clearly, consent is necessary; but is it sufficient?”

This is why radical sex positivity is absolutely essential. Sex positivity that champions radical enthusiastic consent, that demands the decriminalization of sex work, that advocates for comprehensive sex education for all, bodily autonomy, and that demystifies the kink, fetish, and BDSM communities is what we need. Stop shaming people who participate in safe, consensual sex acts and start shaming bigoted misogynist trash that teaches women and young girls that they’re only worth the bruises someone inflicts upon them!

Pants off to Laurie Penny, I hope to see more of the witty feminist fan fic dealing blows in the coming weeks!!!  

"The Hour Glass" is the blog of Red Wedge editor Brit Schulte: grass-roots organizing, burlesque dancin', comic book reading, punk rock listening, not-taking-shit, queer, Marxist-feminist. Follow: @britschulte