’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?