E.L. James knows as much about BDSM as she would have found in a five minute Google search, which is to say that she knows precisely jack shit.
50 Shades of Grey does not depict a realistic kinky relationship, nor does it depict a healthy relationship of either the kinky or vanilla variety.
It is a Twilight fanfic, and has all the elements of Edward and Bella’s abusive relationship with kink added for extra flavor. Just as Edward and Bella are not a healthy or realistic couple, neither are Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.
Christian Grey is an abuser who manipulates a young woman with zero knowledge of BDSM into a relationship with him. He knows she is ignorant of what a healthy BDSM relationship looks like, and uses this to:
- ignore and override her attempts at negotiation,
- play without a safeword (since she doesn’t know that they exist),
- create a false dichotomy of “either we’re kinky my way or we just don’t have sex at all,”
- threaten and stalk her,
- rape her,
- prevent her from discussing her relationship with anyone other than him,
- and control aspects of her personal life, including what car she drives, what medications she takes, and how she spends her free time.
This is not BDSM. This is not sexy. This is abuse.
Using 50 Shades as your basis for how a kinky relationship works (for critical or practical purposes) is like treating Titanic: The Legend Goes On as a historical documentary. Don’t do it.