Secretary's Shades of Grey

DaddyO's BDSM

by DaddyO


It is all the rage these days for practitioners of real BDSM to chide the Fifty Shades of Grey books and upcoming movie as very poor examples of what BDSM is about. I have not read the books, nor do I plan to, but apparently those who criticize the story liken it more to an abusive relationship than anything resembling a BDSM relationship.


The excerpts from the book I have seen cited appear very disturbing, so I am not going to argue that.


This is by no means a defense of Fifty Shades of Grey!


Sadly, it is also becoming popular to reference the movie Secretary as a much better example of real BDSM. Unfortunately this seems a dangerous practice too. There is no negotiation whatsoever in Secretary. Sure, it is obvious that the secretary (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) consents to his sadistic dominance, but it is after the fact.


Anyone who commits the error of assuming without negotiation has committed abuse and broken the underlying rule of BDSM:



 ...regardless of the response of the submissive.


He basically got lucky that his actions were welcomed.


Apparently Fifty Shades of Grey at least has a contract in which the all-important issue of consent is at least hinted at.


Like Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey James Spader's Dom character in Secretary uses his position of power, as Gyllenhaal's boss, to manipulate her into becoming his masochistic submissive.


Sure Christian Grey is a "powerful man" but from what I understand Anastasia Steele specifically avoids submitting to him in a professional manner by declining the internship he offers her.


It isn't a huge mistake, but Secretary does not differentiate between "submissive" and "masochist", and implies they are one in the same. But like gender and sexual orientation they do not always coincide with the way a majority of society sees. People with penises don't always want to be with people with vaginas, just as a submissive person is not always a masochist. A masochist needs not be submissive either!


Secretary also portrays masochists as self-abusers, showing Gyllenhaal's character cutting herself to escape emotional pain. Sure it is nice that Spader tells her to "never do that again" but that also implies a codependency. It appears obvious that it is his power over her rather than her own will that makes her stop cutting. The beginning of the film has Gyllenhaal emerging from a psychiatric ward so Secretary tells the viewer "BDSM is a cure for metal illness."


Our secretary also deliberately makes "mistakes" in order to receive her non-negotiated physical "punishments" rather than both of them engaging in negotiated S&M play. If this is not an example of manipulative abusive behavior, then I don't know what is.


She also humiliates herself to demonstrate her "obedience" by not moving from where she has been told to "wait for him". In the meantime she pees herself. Sure this is a powerful image displaying her inner power of submission, but it appears to feed her mental illness much more than it feeds her fetishes.


If newbie wannabe Doms to the kink community take Secretary as their D/s template, they will be ordering prospective subs to bend over the table and planting non-negotiated swats upon their butts!


Sure, Secretary is "Hollywood" but if we are going to dissuade people from the equally "Hollywood" Fifty Shades of Grey, I don't think steering them towards Secretary is any better.


One might be the lesser of two evils, you decide which one, but both are still "evil" and neither should be considered good examples of a healthy BDSM relationship. 

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