Why true subs hate Anastasia Steele
First, don’t be offended by the strong language. “Hate” means more or less “annoyed” at the idea of Anastasia Steele.
Why does she annoy us?
Because she gives true subs (“submissives”) or “alpha subs” (strong alpha women in life, submissives in the bedroom) a bad name.
Why? Because she can never make up her friggin’ mind.
BDSM play is all about boundaries. If you don’t know how to, or aren’t willing to set boundaries, it is a recipe for disaster.
There is a scene in the movie where Ana seemingly takes control by negotiating across a long board room table, going over in minute detail her “contract” with Christian, marking out things that are a “no” for her. He seems genuinely amused by the whole thing.
Coy, flirty banter is fun, but if it gets in the way of setting secure boundaries, it can be a liability. BDSM play should be negotiated at arms length in a matter of fact way and the assertion of boundaries by a sub is not “cute,” sexy, or used as a bargaining chip. There is no quid pro quo in a healthy relationship, nor in a BDSM relationship. If a sub doesn’t want to even try anal, the Dom ain’t gonna even go there. If for example, nipple clamps are a hard no, the Dom will not press the issue in play. It is off the table. A dominant can push boundaries, but not cross them.
Now, the problem with new subs is that sometimes you don’t know what you might want or like if you never tried it before. That is where soft boundaries come into play. This communicates to the Dom that he can push her boundaries in that area of play, but that he might be met with a full hard stop “red”.
So, knowing these parameters, let’s go back to Anastasia and Christian.
Ana spends almost all of the movies (disclaimer – I could not read the books due to my distaste for the writing) in a state of perpetual push and pull between her head and her heart. Ok, this is good for dramatic tension for movies, bad for BDSM.
She puts up with Christian’s bad behavior because she loves him. She never “chooses” to be a sub because SHE wants to be a sub, rather for him. But hey, that is how a lot of people get into kink – one of their partners was into it and introduced them to it. (Also note: Early on we never hear him instruct her on safe words and she never uses them. Which leaves us with the impression that he has carte blanche if she simply goes to the red room.)
But the power play gets skewed when an experienced Dom uses emotional manipulation in the relationship in order to get what he wants instead of negotiating up front and sticking to the contract. We never hear him instruct her on safe words and she never uses them. Which leaves us with the impression that he has carte blanche if she simply goes to the red room.
Then, at the end of the first movie (SPOILER ALERT), Ana specifically tells Christian to do the type of impact play he wants to do (apparently in his “sadist” mode), not knowing what that entailed exactly. After he whips her really hard, she denounces him and leaves abruptly.
This scene alone is so problematic and skews the concept of full and free consent in BDSM play. There was no discussion of what he was going to do ahead of time, nor did he ask her while he was whipping her how she was feeling.
Which basically makes him the shittiest Dom because he knew full well Ana did not nor would she want to be whipped for her pleasure. (Another spoiler alert: later on in the movies he admits that he really isn’t a dominant but a sadist. Puke.)
Ana doesn’t do herself any favors either, asking for impact play and then essentially punishing Christian for it afterwards as if she didn’t ask for it.
The whole thing is,…well… as Christian puts it, “50 Shades of fucked up.”
Anyone watching would think BDSM people are fucked up, which is part of the reason BDSM players tend to loathe these movies/books.
Anyway, if we could re-write the movie to make it more accurate, it would go something like this:
Anastasia meets Christian. Christian at some point feels comfortable enough to confide in Ana that he is into BDSM play. He would do so prior to bringing her to his home alone (ie, not just show her his red room of pain without a full explanation). He would ask her lots of questions about her sex history (THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN UNTIL LATER IN THE FILM WHEN HE INADVERTANTLY DISCOVERS SHE IS A VIRGIN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.) It was sooooo kind of Christian to make sweet love to her first before going hard core. LOL. He would educate Ana on impact play, the dynamic he seeks and ask her what kind of dynamic would suit her. If she says she is interested, he doesn’t draw up a ridiculously long detailed contract with a bunch of “lifestyle” requirements, but he would slowly introduce her to some BDSM play wayyyy before she would move in with him. He would ask her questions before and after sessions, with lots of aftercare and wouldn’t just dump her in a room by herself and bail.
Ana would have the choice to tell Christian which things she did or didn’t like during each session. And Christian would ramp up a notch or two, slowly grooming her, making sure she is fully informed and has her full consent. And he would educate her on how to use safe words.
The biggest difference would be that Christian would have spent lots and lots of time asking Ana questions about herself, what she is like, get to know her personality and her sexual history. He would ask her about specific things she may or may not be into or what she is curious about and willing to try. He wouldn’t just jump in and act all mysterious and let her just guess as she goes.
Ana would not be wishy washy about whether or not she wanted to play – she would either play and agree to be topped, or she would opt out and move on. If Christian did something during play that she felt overstepped her boundaries, she would use the safe word and also address it in conversation outside of the bedroom. Again, not good for a movie, but good for BDSM.
More importantly, neither Ana nor Christian would use the romantic relationship as a means of inducing a particular behavior on the part of the other person.
And they lived happily ever after….the spanking.