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March 7, 2015
by Liz Dube,MA, MS, LMFT, CST

Why 50 Shades Bombed- But Women Still Want To Be Taken

March 7, 2015 05:55 by Liz Dube,MA, MS, LMFT, CST

Ok, so 50 Shades the movie bombed compared to the success of the book trilogy.  Critics basically said it was cheesy, the sex scenes were unsatisfying, and there was no spark between the two actors. So did it bomb because of the way it was made or the story-line? Whatever the reason it has been a great opportunity to get a very common fantasy out there in mainstream media for women and men of all walks of life.

Many of the people (mostly women) who read the book would admit that it was their guilty pleasure. It wasn’t intellectually stimulating but that was okay given how it stimulated the reader in other ways. So why did we expect the film to be any different? Does witty banter or a more complex story-line increase the value we put upon a film that was based upon a book that was intended to stimulate our erotic minds?

BDSM? Not so much…

The main characters in the movie practice domination and submission. A well-known sexual practice termed BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism). Grey dominates and Anastasia submits. However, BDSM experts are very clear that both the book and movie are not accurate depictions of consensual BDSM sex.  In more than one scene the sex wasn’t consensual, which is a huge premise of BDSM.  With that said, if people can get past that (huge) inaccuracy it can be a great opportunity for them to expand their menus of what type of sex they are open to putting on the table.

Being taken? Yes, yes, yes…

The general story line of 50 Shades works because domination and submission are common, popular fantasies across our culture. Domination and submission has been portrayed in romance novels over and over for decades – just without the whips and handcuffs. It was a perfect mix between romance novels whom some find too cheesy, and erotica, whom some find too taboo. It gave women permission to explore their erotic selves and in a way that they had likely been fantasizing in their own right for years. The success of the book trilogy that the movie was based upon, selling over 100 million copies, certainly supports the idea that women fantasize about being “taken.” 

There are many messages that one can take from this movie and the overwhelming fascination the book trilogy has attained. But if we break it down to the basics, it’s about women wanting to let go, letting themselves be taken, and it’s about men being allowed to take charge in the bedroom.

It’s about letting go…

Women’s interest in this type of story-line makes a lot of sense given the lifestyles so many women live in these days. Why would a woman want to be taken? Being taken makes her feel desired. It’s a rare opportunity when she won’t be expected to make decisions and to experience the unexpected.  For working women, married women, but even more so, women with children, this is utopia. Women are making decisions and directing their partners, children, pets, and employees all day long. When they come home they don’t want to tell their partner how to have sex with them or how to get them turned on. They want to be desired, taken, told what to do in the bedroom, be with a lover who knows what s/he is doing, and ultimately experience some sense of reckless abandon.

This is in sharp contrast to the strong woman who runs the household, no longer waits to have her door opened by a man, can pay her own bills, appears to not need a man or a partner, but still does the majority of the work that is required to run a household. Whew. What does this do to the passion in a relationship? It depends of course. Many women are exhausted from carrying the brunt of the work and don’t have the energy to continue taking the lead in the bedroom and want their partner’s to take the lead. Of course some women are so exhausted they don’t even have the energy to be receptive to their partner’s taking the lead. In these cases, sex therapy may be a better resource for them to consider.

Outside the bedroom ≠ Inside the bedroom

One of the biggest implications of these lifestyle changes in gender roles over time is that the male, or partner who falls into the masculine role, often gets mixed messages about what their partner wants sexually. What the concrete male may read into his partner being in control and directive outside of the bedroom is that this is the way she wants things to be inside the bedroom as well. Often times this is the complete opposite.  Often times we find that women who are in charge 24-7 outside of the bedroom want to let go of control in the bedroom. That may be the one place where she feels she can safely let go of control.

So maybe the film didn’t provide women the opportunity to use their imaginations like the book did. The 50 Shades book trilogy likely gave women the opportunity to see themselves in Anastasia. Maybe it was a younger version of themselves or a more innocent, less in control version of themselves. That is the beauty of a book compared to the visual depiction of a story on film. 

Either way, whether the film was a success or not, it certainly created a milestone in film and likely opened up a whole new world of what BDSM might be like to unknowing women out there wanting to spice up their busy, controlled, and scheduled lives.

If you would like more ideas on how to communicate more effectively about sex with your partner and ultimately create greater sexual satisfaction visit my blog at:

Now go have sex!

About the Author

Liz Dube Liz Dube, MA, MS, LMFT, CST

I work collaboratively and compassionately with you to clarify your goals for therapy. I provide a supportive environment where you will not be judged but encouraged and understood. I specialize in helping individuals & couples improve sex, intimacy, and communication.

Liz Dube can be found at
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