My husband and my friends warned me about this movie. They told me that they read that it wasn’t about BDSM… it was about domestic abuse. First of all, how is that any worse than watching a Lifetime movie? or a horror film? I was told that it glamorizes domestic abuse, which I agree is not a good thing. I was told told that it’s insulting and harmful to the BDSM community because they advertise the abuse as BDSM… which I would also have to agree is not a good thing. BDSM is not the same thing as abuse.
However, I watched the movie and I completely disagree. It’s not about domestic abuse. I didn’t read the books, so I’m speaking purely about the movie. First of all, I come from a violent and emotionally abusive childhood. I know what domestic abuse is. I know what it’s like to be isolated, emotionally abused, to tip toe, to fear. I know what it’s like for a woman who can’t escape a controlling violent spouse.
Also, I was part of the BDSM community for several years. I started out as a submissive and after that relationship ended, I was in a BDSM relationship as a Dominate. I was open to pursuing a standard relationship while still engaging in BDSM, but it was my submissive’s choice not to be a formal couple. He and I both dated outside of this arrangement. The guy I started dating knew about my submissive and at the time, this guy and I were not exclusive either. This guy wasn’t into BDSM, so it wasn’t part of our relationship. When we decided to become a committed couple, I released my submissive (although we remained friends). Sure, you can be in committed relationship and live the BDSM lifestyle. However, it’s important to understand that it can also be an arrangement of pleasure… an intimate friendship… an exploration. The most important thing, is that it’s consensual. That guy that I dated ended up my husband and we’re going on fifteen years (this September).
So now that you know where I’m coming from, let’s get back to the movie. First of all, the shy innocent Ana wasn’t at all believable in her actions. Sure, she looked the part and sounded the part, all soft spoken and doe eyed. However, she called Christian, she mouthed off, broke all the rules, and voluntarily put herself in situations. A truly shy and meek virgin wouldn’t have the courage to do all that. Ana was in complete control the entire time. She was manipulative and seductive. She used her cute innocent act to get what she wanted.
Christian wanted an arrangement but not a formal girlfriend. He set ground rules, safe words, and gave Ana the ability to negotiate everything. He made it clear that she was free to go anytime. He asked her if she was sure about what she asked for.
Ana wanted the typical boyfriend. Christian was compromising his own rules on a regular basis. He said he didn’t make love or sleep in the same bed, but time and time again, that’s just what happened… because she wanted it. He said he didn’t do romance and dates, but he conceded because that’s what Ana wanted. Ana was the one in control. She never signed the contract, but the contract was still in effect… but it was completely consensual. You don’t have to sign a contract to engage in consensual sex. She asked for it time and time again. In fact, in the scene when she was punished, she ASKED him to do it. He asked if she was sure, and she insisted.
Was Christian a stalker? He ran into Ana at her work place… could have been a coincidence. Haven’t you ever made an excuse to bump into someone you like? I hardly call that stalking. He showed up at the bar… but only after she drunk dialed him. Perhaps too forward, but she did get sick and pass out, so maybe it was a good thing he actually showed up to help her. He showed up at her apartment… yeah but by that time they were in a relationship. He was let in, he didn’t break in. She wasn’t 100% clear on what she was saying via text, so I get why he showed up. He went to Georgia to be with her…. still not seeing it as stalking. Maybe if they weren’t in a relationship and she had actually told him not to show up, then it’d be stalking. Was Christian an actual stalker in the books? I don’t know.
Was he isolating her from her family and friends? No. Not only did he not isolate her from her people, but he introduced her to his own family. That non-disclosure agreement was purely to protect his privacy. BDSM can be a controversial topic and I completely understand why he’d want her to sign it. That NDA doesn’t stop her from leaving or being with her friends or family.
Yes, it’s clear that Christian has some issues, but was he abusing her? No. Was he trying to convince her to be in a BDSM relationship? Yes. Ana was trying to convince him into a relationship style he didn’t want either. Ana was trying the BDSM thing for Christian, and Christian was trying the dating boyfriend thing for Ana. Ana tried to break down Christian’s walls and in the end, it was her choice to leave.
At all times in this movie, Ana is in full control and Christian is ever compromising. Christian was straight forward and Ana was far from innocent. It’s obvious that Christian is in love with Ana and that she IS getting through to him. They were in a consensual and safe relationship, not an abusive one.