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’50 Shades’ of Power Abandonment: Where’s the Gray Area?

Re-running an article from June, 2012. This topic is coming up again. Hope you enjoy.

Pop culture applauds full-on societal power abandonment when it’s wrapped in romantic notions. This loss of power can go un-noticed or it can become a marker noticed in psyche. There is much gray area in terms of power, control, submission, and dominance. How far we choose to go down that path varies by comfort level and by conscious awareness. The whole idea disturbs me. Maybe it’s because I’m a dreamer, because I consider the metaphors or that I can’t read a book without imagining what’s happening in the life of the author to inspire the writing, or because I explore the world of psyche.

50 Shades of Grey? Hmmm… Seemed harmless enough. I’d heard the author wrote this sexually-charged book as her mid-life crisis approach to her fantasies. This isn’t the type of book I typically read but I’m approaching age 50 and I like the title, “50 Shades of Grey.” Hmmm… So, it’s a little racy. I can do racy. Actually, it sounds like fun. I’ll check it out. I’m on vacation and reading this book will be a treat.


Dang! I can’t bring myself to read another word! What’s going on? The book is extremely popular. Why is it bothering me so much? Why does the very fact that the book is popular bother me so much? It’s really pushing my buttons so I know something more has been triggered. Let’s explore and uncover where the real issue lies.


Racy, I get. Sexy, I get. Bondage, I get that too. So far, so good. What happened? Well, for me, it’s the part where the heroine is given a contract to sign. After she signs this contract she will no longer be allowed to make simple choices for herself. She will be the ‘Submissive,’ compliant one and the ‘Dominant’ will be in charge of how she eats, how she sleeps, what she wears, how she appears, essentially all aspects of how she will be ‘allowed’ to live her life as herself. The Dominant will reward and punish her based upon her subservience and her compliance with him and the contract. Why does this idea make me feel like throwing up? It’s just a game, right? It’s all a part of this seductive sex play, correct? In the book, the “heroine” asks “what does that mean?” to which the male character replies, “It means I want you to willingly surrender yourself to me, in all things.” “Why would I do that?” “To please me,” he replies.


Oh my God, that’s it! To please… I’ve signed that contract. I’ve surrendered myself, bits at a time – in order to please… I know other people who have also innocently signed themselves away, attempting to please, believing it’s the right thing to do.


This idea is popular, ‘number One on the New York Times Best Seller List’ popular. Yes, there’s a controversy about this book and people are talking about it, but the controversial topic is the sex itself, the type of sex. Wow! It doesn’t even appear as a blip on the radar screen that it’s really about giving up personal freedoms, it’s about losing yourself entirely in an effort to please someone else. Like “Twilight,” the book series based on a dream that inspired the ’50 Shades’ series, the ‘heroine’ willingly surrenders herself for the love of a man. She continually comments that she doesn’t deserve the main character, how she’s not worthy, he’s so wonderful and amazing. Ummmm, he’s a VAMPIRE! Metaphorically, by his very nature he’s someone who is hard-wired to suck out every ounce of your life-blood, draining you dry, leaving you lifeless…


Our society loves the concept of needy females. Look at the fairy tales. The heroine only lives “happily ever after” AFTER she’s rescued by her man. She’s never complete until that moment. A very popular movie even coined the phrase, “You complete me.”

The most disturbing factor for me is the underlying message that it’s normal and romantic to hand over all our freedoms in life. How can this basic fundamental birthright slip through our fingers and yet, go un-noticed? Is it so ingrained in our psyche that it doesn’t even flash warning signs? Is this danger so familiar to our subconscious that we’re drawn to energy vampires like moths to a flame? Who are the energy vampires? Our spouses, our government, our religion, society as a whole?

How many times in life do we essentially sign our very lives away to please someone else? It’s insidious, starting with small choices we willingly give up. We’re told, “I like it when you wear…” or “it’s what society needs” or “our religion says…” Then it evolves into “you did that wrong”  or “the government will make that decision for you” or “religious leaders tell us what religion means.” Before you know it, you’ve forgotten the fundamental choices, rights and personal freedoms you used to take for granted. You’re busy doing as you’re told or what’s expected, trying to PLEASE  everybody — except yourself. You may have even forgotten who you are.

This “people-pleasing” is popular in our society. We’re spoon feeding our children to buy into this belief. We’re hypnotizing ourselves into believing it’s the way we’re hard-wired to be. Is it? How are we seducing ourselves into believing that we’re not equipped to make our own decisions? What games do we play with ourselves, saying that giving parts of ourselves away is just fun and games. Is it? When is it a game to sign your very life away? When is it a fantasy? When you’re age 50 or before? Where’s the gray area?


As dreamers we read the deeper stories. As dreamers we know we can REWRITE the story. What if we decide to change our story? What if the heroine were to learn about who she really is, that ‘who she is’ is enough, and she can make her own choices? How would she take her power back without usurping the power of others? Would that be popular? Would anyone even read it? Would we care?


If you were to write a metaphor for your life, what book would you write? What would the title be? Ready to write the first sentence, the first page?


4 Responses to ’50 Shades’ of Power Abandonment: Where’s the Gray Area?

  • Laura A says:

    That was an outstanding and very honest review, Sherry. I like your approach, and the questions you have asked afterwards. I hope more people read your review!

    Like Thumb up +1

    • Desiree says:


      A friend sent me the link to your article just now & asked me what I thought. Here is what I was thinking as I read your thoughts above:

      Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I was feeling without articulating. Every time someone has brought up the topic of “50 Shades of Grey” or it has come up in group discussion, I felt a feeling of “resistance”–I have had no desire whatsoever to read this book or “check it out”. Something inside me reacted like I had just seen a big snake & I gave a mental “shudder”, but I have not taken the time to think about why. Life has been a bit busy & my normal “curiosity” about why I “feel that way” just got ignored.

      You have completely hit the nail on the head. That is why I was reacting that way to this book & I had not even read it. I have “built in radar” where “control issues” are concerned. I can pick it up almost instantly when I meet people, if they have the tendency to want to control the people around them, situations & behavior. It’s like this warning voice speaks in my head & says “warning, warning, danger Will Robinson”—-yes it’s the voice of the robot in “Lost in Space” & how he warns of eminent danger. In your article you articulated what I was sensing & feeling and just hadn’t taken the time to explore. Thank you so much for that!! I will be thanking my friend for sending me this link & I believe I will even post it on my Facebook wall & see what kind of “controversial discussion” it invokes. Awareness of what is subtly being done around us is so important! We loose little freedoms along the way without an awareness of what is happening.

      And thank you for your comments about “Twilight”. I have had negative feelings about that series from day one. I went through a period of time where I was into reading “romantic” fiction about vampires. Then I woke up one day & realized what was wrong with that. Why would I be drawn to anything that would “hypnotize me” & take over my “free will” & cause me to feel an “addictive” kind of love. I realized it was unhealthy & since what you focus on you become, or become open to, I wanted to make sure I was “filling my mind” with things that would help me instead of harm me. And you are so right about our society loving the concept of “needy” females”. Now that people are more aware of that, the avenues for communicating that message have become more subtle, “if I can get them thinking this way, without realizing they are giving up their autonomy and ability to choose–indeed if I can get them to want to do so willingly…” It’s a little creepy & scary if you think about it. Awareness is the answer, listening to our inner voice & talking about these things amongst ourselves. Stirring one another, provoking one another to pay attention.

      I have a book that I love by Patricia King “Dream Big: How The Second Half of Life Can Be The Best Half”. I have made that my mantra & am in the process of making the dream a reality. It’s so important to surround ourselves with people who love & support & believe in us & who will support us in the pursuit of our dreams. Also people who will love us enough to be truthful with us & with whom we can be truthful. I have noticed this is not something that is “popular” to pursue right now. It’s like our society wants to escape reality & is driven to pursue pleasure at any cost.

      Thank you for stirring my “mental juices” and provoking me to think more deeply. I love reading something that stimulates my mind.


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      • Sherry Puricelli says:

        Dear, Desiree –

        Thank you so very much for your thoughtful and articulate feedback to my article. It has been some time since I wrote the article, yet your timing could NOT be more perfect.

        I needed to revisit, and revisit now! Isn’t it amazing how the Universe works that way? Wink. So, thank you for bringing me back to a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, a topic that I need for my own awareness in this moment.

        On a personal level, this issue is coming up for me again. I’m realizing that I’m doing that ‘people-pleasing’ thing again where I’m unconsciously surrendering myself bits at a time. Dang! Again? Eyeroll, smile.

        This time it is more subtle. This time it is someone I care about, and this person is asking me for help. The questions I need to ask myself are: How far am I willing to go? When does helping someone else begin to TAKE AWAY from me? At what point does my own well-being become compromised? Doesn’t our culture reward the behavior of helping others, even putting others before ourselves? What REALLY is best for all involved?

        Then I need to bring my awareness to power, his/her power and mine. Does s/he become more powerful when I come to his/her aid or does s/he become more powerful when s/he overcomes his/her own obstacles? Where is the ‘Gray Area?’ (wink, back to the 50 Shades of Grey metaphor, wink again) At this point, I’m not sure I have a concrete answer except to bring awareness to it. Your response to a year-old article did that for me, so thank you again!

        You wrote: “Awareness is the answer, listening to our inner voice & talking about these things amongst ourselves. Stirring one another, provoking one another to pay attention.”
        Wow! What a beautiful, empowered approach! I feel very grateful that you’re leading this charge. We need more leaders like you, leaders who are courageous enough to bring attention to topics, even topics that may not be popular.

        You’ve inspired me to read Patricia King’s book, “Dream Big: How The Second Half of Life Can Be The Best Half.” I also applaud your choice to bring up the controversial topics on your facebook page. Feel free to invite me, smile.

        I feel so inspired I might even re-run the article on our
        Facebook page, maybe with some new questions.

        I salute you for having a strong built-in radar where control issues are involved. I hope you will share some of your tips and thoughts about strengthening our radars. As a society, I believe we will benefit from your wisdom on the topic.

        Thank you for stirring MY mental juices and for re-introducing a very important topic. I will look forward to hearing more from you.

        Love and blessings,

        Like Thumb up 0

    • Sherry Puricelli says:

      Hi, Laura -
      I thought I’d replied to your sweet response but I must not have posted it! So sorry.
      First of all, thank you!
      Re-reading your comment, I’m feeling inspired to revisit this article, the questions, and getting my book review ‘out there.’
      Much love and many blessings,

      Like Thumb up 0

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