50 Shades of Power


This is mine,” he whispers aggressively. “All mine. Do you understand?” He eases his finger in and out as he gazes down at me, gauging my reaction, his eyes burning.

“Yes, yours…”

Abruptly, he moves, doing several things at once: Withdrawing his fingers, leaving me wanting, unzipping his fly, and pushing me down onto the couch so he’s lying on top of me.

“Hands on your head,” he commands through gritted teeth as he kneels up, forcing my legs wider…

“We don’t have long. This will be quick, and it’s for me, not you. Do you understand?

Don’t come, or I will spank you,” he says through clenched teeth.”

-Christian Grey

Throughout the book, Christian shows a vast amount of power over Ana. This quote is only one of many examples. It portrays that Christian is taking control. He comes off as very forceful throughout the book based off of his actions.

What does sex have to do with power? Some may say that there is no relation, and others use power in their description. In society today, we want to change the views of men being the dominator in sexual relations. To all of the females out there: you own your sexuality! When it comes to relevance of power and sex, Andrea Dworkin and Catherine Mackinnon believe the male owns the show, exemplified in 50 Shades of Grey, and that the woman is along for the ride. Dworkin questions whether sex is an act of love and intimacy or it is an act of dominance over a woman. In summary, Dworkin and Mackinnon believe that it is habitual for a woman to say “yes” to a man because over time we have created this submissive act for ourselves. We are basically there for the man’s pleasure, regardless of our desires.

On the other hand, Pat Califia believes that the majority of the power is in the hands of the man, but the woman has power as well. If she wishes to take control of the situation, she has the freedom to do so.

“Women may have less freedom to explore, discover, and play with their own desires and pleasures, but they are not completely powerless.”

Califia believes that sadomasochism and dominance do not relate. More importantly, it is an opportunity to practice power in order for both the male and female to receive sexual pleasure. Yes, there is a dominant and a submissive in S&M. However, the two engaging in it are able to choose who is who. It just so happens that in 50 Shades of Grey, Christian takes charge of the dominant position. He writes a contract for Anastasia to specify what she needs to do during this time period in order for her to follow the rules of the submissive. Christian Grey is also aware that Anastasia is a virgin. He becomes angry when he finds out. Following this event, he tells her that if he would have known that she was a virgin, he would not have started this with her. Is it sensible that he continues these relations? Anastasia transforms him throughout the book, so does this mean that he has the power?




Though Califia’s ideas correlate with 50 Shades, let’s look at this from a different perspective.

Anastasia Steele, who becomes infatuated with Christian Grey at first sight, is a virgin. Though their play is completely consensual, he takes her to a completely new world. We’re talking about an innocent bi-standard who has never partaken in “vanilla” sex who is introduced to sex toys from the very beginning. It is common for a girl to pursue things she may not endure on a regular basis for a boy that she really likes. At the beginning of the book she mentions that she has never felt this way about anyone before. Due to her lack of knowledge, does she have a chance to be the dominant in their situation? How would she know what to do?

She read books, especially about red rooms and tie ups

I got her hooked, cause she seen me in a suit with a red tie tied up

Meet and greet, nice to meet ya.

But time is money

Only difference is I own it,

Now let’s stop time and enjoy this moment

Most of Christian’s power takes place in “The Red Room.” I thought it was interesting that in Pitbull’s “Feel This Moment,” he mentions the Red Room. He also shows male dominance. In the lyric, “I got her hooked, cause she seen me in a suit with a red tie tied up.” First, he assumes that the woman is hooked. Second, he assumes it is because of his suit. He also exerts dominance by saying that he owns time. What about her time?

One thought on “50 Shades of Power

  1. So, are you arguing that Christian has undue power in their relationship or that Ana, in choosing to relinquish her control and trust him really has the power? From your comparison with Pitbull’s song, I am assuming that you find both of these sources to be exerting dominance and abusing power in the relationship. However, I do not really see the connection between the two sources other than mentioning the “red room” in which both men seem to be taking on the dominant role. While this may be accurate, it does not always mean that by being the dominant you have the power. In fact, the readings on BDSM culture from last week suggest that the submissives really have all of the power in the relationship because they set the boundaries and invoke safe-words. More than that, the Pitbull song in which those lyrics are found seem a bit nonsensical. They do not elaborate on the aforementioned lines but focus primarily on money, living in the moment, and learning from experience. I don’t think the line about him owning time had anything to do with dominance over the woman, but was just a general reference to his overall power and greatness, which he alludes to throughout the song. What connection did you see that I seem to have missed?


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