Trigger warning: rape
Have you read the book, Anon? If you had, you might think differently.
While there is a brief mention of safewords in the contract the love interest coerces the protagonist into signing, he doesn’t give her a clear explanation of how they work or how to use them.
The rape scenarios in Fifty Shades of Grey extend beyond situations that could be construed as edgeplay. Anastasia is sexually assaulted by her friend Jose outside of a bar. When Anastasia sends Christian an email that she’s seen enough and it was nice knowing him, he responds by coming to her bedroom, tying her to the bed, threatening to gag her, and then having sex with her. While it turns out that the email was a joke and Anastasia was willing, Christian knew neither of those things. He continued to touch her after she tried to kick him away.
Christian threatens to kidnap Ana if she doesn’t sign the contract. He says he’s going to spank her regardless of whether or not she agrees to it. The book is rife with coercion and dubious consent and, yes, rape.
I am not saying BDSM is wrong. BDSM is fine. Edgeplay is fine. Pretty much anything you want to do in the bedroom is fine, as long as all participants give consent.
Here’s the problem, though: Anastasia never consents to edgeplay. She barely reads the contract before signing it. She has no idea what she’s getting herself into.
Here is a passage I’ve taken from Wikipedia (A poor source, I know, but I’ll take what I can get): ”In consensual ravishment scenes, all participants carefully negotiate what will transpire beforehand. Limits are respected and made very clear, to maintain safe, sane and consensual play. Such negotiation would also include discussion of emotional issues for both partners, especially if there has been a prior history of actual sexual abuse or assault.”
If Christian and Anastasia had sat down over breakfast and decided, together, that they wanted to do a rape scene, I would be totally cool with that. I’d be happy for them. I’d be happy that a book was showing that non-vanilla sex can be safe and enjoyable.
However, that’s not what happened. No negotiation takes place. Discussion hardly takes place. Ana expresses no desire to participate in any sort of rape play. As far as I can tell, she signs the contract because she’s afraid Christian is going to hurt her and because she thinks he’s the only person who’ll ever want to have sex with her. She says yes because she feels unsafe, not because she feels safe.
That’s not consent. That’s coercion.