Valentine's Day has passed, bringing with it memories of last year's “Grey” frenzy. I don't want to reflect here upon "is it romantic or abusive?", or "is it really such a great piece of literature to sell 125 million copies?" Everything that could be said in this matter has already been said. But there's one more issue that bothers me.
The story was the first in pop culture to bring the topic of BDSM to the wider public. I’m a hearty supporter of minorities, including sexual, and people who enjoy BDSM are in quite a special minority. On one hand, this kind of preference meets huge condemnation, maybe even bigger than homosexuality. On the other, being dominant or submissive doesn’t affect your civil rights, like the right to marry someone you love. Being in a relationship with a person of the same gender is socially visible (from walking hand-in-hand down the street to adopting children together), but bondage usually happens in the bedroom and most fans of this practice don’t bring it out into the open.
I read and watched the first part of "50 Shades of Grey" mostly to find out how this minority is depicted there. It seems that the author is a big fan of dominance and submission, but the character of Christian is less than unfortunate to represent the group.
First, there are many people who are dominants and definitely not all of them need to control their partners in real life; often it’s even the opposite. Christian's need for control, even if motivated by real affection, is pathological.
Second, it’s told that Christian's need to be dominant came from being abused, initially by his biological mother in the first years of his life, and later by his first lover - a much older woman he was submissive to for years, starting at the age of 15. It might seem that being outside of the sexual mainstream is based on being made this way, not born this way, and as a learned behavior it can be demanded to be unlearned, instead of letting it be (of course, with the partner’s consent).
Maybe I'm oversensitive, but I heard too many times that "Gay is a choice," followed by demands that being different should be "cured" (e.g. by electroshocks), instead of practised. And I'm afraid that, despite E L James’s intentions, Grey throws shade, shade darker, on sexual minorities - all of them.