We’re closing in on nearly two years since the popular erotic trilogy was published, which had ladies lined up at their bookstores for a between-the-pages peek into a fictionalized relationship involving dominance and submission. The books themselves are still wildly popular, and their effects on pop culture still reverberate regularly, from the Internet to the bedroom.
The Cultural Conundrum
A number of critics have raised questions about what it means that so many women are indulging these fantasies of being submissive in the bedroom, whether in their mind or in action. Are women taking a step backward, dreaming of submitting to the sexual whims of their partners? Should feminists be concerned that women are ready to give up their rights to equal treatment in their everyday lives if they’re willing to surrender control in the bedroom? Why would modern women fantasize about relationships where they relinquish the ability to make decisions for themselves? WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO?
From one feminist to another, I am not uncomfortable with people exploring the topics of dominance and submission, and it is interesting that this has captured the imagination of so many women right now. However, the sweeping generalization that the popularity of submissive fantasies signals the decline of female progress borders on the absurd – and seems much more dangerous than the fantasy itself.
The fantasy of submission (or dominance) is not for everyone, but the fact that 50 Shades of Grey is so prominent in the culture has opened up the opportunity for more people to explore such a fantasy. Many sexual taboos have begun to strip away, and adult toy manufacturers have eagerly responded with new toys and accessories to provide people with ways to get a little (or a lot) kinkier, depending on the person or couple. If you want your man to wear a sexy gray tie out to dinner and then tie you up with it later, such a tie is just a few clicks away.
I celebrate the liberating fact that women can more freely admit what they want to try in bed. After all, what is more empowering than being able to choose the path you want to take, whether in your career, home life or bedroom? Many women who act as a submissive sexually explain a satisfaction and feeling of release they would not otherwise attain – and good for them for living out their desires. As for true control, in this situation, they are the ones deciding they want to be dominated.
So take the time and effort to discuss and indulge your sexual fantasies with your partner, as long as you’re both willing. A “modern” feminist should have the opportunity to be what she wants to be in bed, and the spectrum this covers extends way past 50 shades, surely. Dress up like pirates. Get spanked or paddled. Use a vibrator. These days, it’s your choice, and that’s a beautiful thing.