Fifty Shades of Grey. A Review from the Dungeon.

Mona Darling
Fifty Shades of... oh my, I'll be right back.

Fifty Shades of... oh my, I'll be right back.

After ignoring the chatter about this ‘mommy porn twilight fanfic’ for the last several months, finally, someone pointed out that it was also BDSM themed, and before I could finish reading her 140 character tweet, I had downloaded it to my iPad.

For, you know, research on my fellow mommy bloggers reading habits. You know?

It is indeed… hot! I devoured the first couple chapters. Talk of a slave contract and playing in a red room of pain kept me on the edge of my seat wiggling in joy despite the horrible writing, editing and, you know, writing.

SPOILER ALERT: I talk about all kinds of plot points in this review. They come from my point of view as someone who has played in the dungeon for twenty years. Someone who has signed slave contracts. And someone who has suffered abuse.

Ana started to bug me with her complete naïvety. It’s one thing to be sheltered, but seriously, a college senior that has to borrow her roommates computer? Who has only kissed two boys and who has never, ever masturbated or explored her own sexuality? Or even thought about it? One who lives in the Pacific Northwest, yet doesn’t drink coffee? Wha??

Grey is somehow a self made bazzilionaire even though he is only in his mid twenties and never really seems to work. (As a start up widow, I especially take issue with this.) He jealous, controlling, possessive and, for lack of a better word, smarmy. He drinks coffee, but when in Portland heads for the nearest available coffee shop instead of Stumptown. Whaa?

So, with crappy writing, and rather lackluster characters, the only thing that kept me reading was the slave contract, and the upcoming BDSM play.

*wiggle! wiggle!*

But halfway through the second book, that’s still not coming into play. There is plenty of hot sex, even a tiny bit of bondage. The first play session in the Red Room is a fun diversion, but certainly nothing I would consider more then mildly kinky. The second time, Grey pushed Ana well passed her limits, didn’t check in with her, then chastised her for not using her safe word saying “I can never trust you.”

This is where I stopped enjoying the book.

In real life, subs have safe-words and experienced Dommes can tell when a sub is getting close to using it. We learn to read body language; movement and breathing and, if you are topping a boy, watching the Peter Meter. A raging hard on generally means he’s not getting close to safe-wording. But I digress. Even with woman, there are LOTS of signs that you are getting close to pushing or breaking limits. If I ever finished playing with someone and they backed away from me in terror, I would be totally ashamed of myself.

I would know that they would never be able to trust me!

BDSM is a place built on trust and to watch Grey repeatedly manipulate Ana in real life, in a non-consensual way bothers me. I feel like women have so many (SOO many) bad examples of how to be stomped all over and lower their self esteem, that they don’t need one more.

Repeatedly in this book Grey gets terribly jealous of tiny non-starters and grabs her, kisses her deeply and makes hot panty twisting love to her while telling her that she is HIS, and only HIS.

For me, in the dungeon, this is totally hot. Generally I’m playing the possessive strap-on wielding Top and my subject is a cross dressed man. We have talked about limits and safe-words and health issues and created a safe, trusting place to explore.

To read about this happening in a real life setting, I just felt like Grey was an abuser and it was the beginning of a spiral of abuse that would end with Ana’s self esteem in the crapper telling her mom that she asked for it. That if she could have just followed his rules just a little bit better, that he wouldn’t have had to hit her. Grey does come from an abusive home. (Doesn’t everyone who is interested in BDSM?)

Which brings up, the question of where did he learn about BDSM? From an older woman, in her late 30’s early 40’s who was still, “surprisingly attractive.”(Um. OK. I’m 43. Ouch. Let me pull up my support hose and straighten the tennis balls on my walker.)

Wait. Be right back. My metamucil just kicked in.

Shuffle Shuffle Shuffle…

OK. Now what was I talking about? Oh yes! That’s right! My grandkids… would you like a cookie while I show you their photos?  I just picked them up at Walgreens! I got double prints in case you want one!

OK. Whatever. I’m not her intended audience. I know this was Twilight fanfic, but … ouch! Remind me, should I ever write a book, let’s leave it at “Attractive older woman.” No numbers. No surprise at the fact that she could still be desirable after she’s left her 20’s behind.

But wow. I digress on a lil caffeinated rant there. Sorry. (pours more)

Grey learns to be a Top as a teenager from a woman who is a friend of his mothers. Reverse that for a minute. What if Ana learned about BDSM from a friend of her fathers when she was 15? Would this book still be topping (heheh) the New York e-Bestsellers list? Would it still be referred to as Mommy porn? Or would many of those same mommy’s be actively and vocally boycotting it?

While I’m very glad to hear that a book that centers around BDSM is such a bit hit, I’m a little appalled that it promotes jealous and controlling men as sexy.

Ladies, we’ve come too far for this! We aren’t property. It’s not OK for your new boyfriend to get pissy when you talk to a boy at a bar who has been your friend for several years. Even if said friend drunkenly tries to kiss you. And seriously. If he drags you aside caveman style because you casually mention possible plans that you haven’t discussed with him, toss that controlling fucker to the curb.

Unless we are in the bedroom and it’s consensual. Sign a slave contract. Submit to your partner. Do the dirtiest leg spread fuck show for him. Worship his feet. Let him smack you around. Beg him to smack you around. To call you a slut and a whore and choke you a bit. But fer fucks sake. When you are done, let him watch the kids and clean the kitchen (unless that’s your job in the slave contract) and head out to coffee with your friends. Male or not.

I know this is not a popular view. Everyone loves them some Fifty Shades. I feel like an over protective mother. Grandmother? But I just wanted to get it out there. I hope you still like me.

And yes, I will continue to read them and report back when I finish. Perhaps Ms E. L. James has a plan that I’m just not privy to yet.

C is for Cleavage
The Other Women: The Cheater.
Mona Darling spent close to twenty years as an A-list professional dominatrix before becoming a D-list mommy blogger. After spending many years traveling the world being told that she is fabulous, she now spends her days being told she doesn’t drive fast enough by her seven-year-old daughter. She is also a sex positive life coach and enjoys helping people live a full and happy life embracing all their quirks and fetishes. She also helps couples strengthen their relationships by learning about and understand each others quirks and fetishes.


  1. Roccie
    April 19, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Fantastic review DCG.

    I havent read a real book in years. All I read are toddler discipline books cause I got a live one on my hands. My shiny new book club choose this book right at the time of your post. I skipped it until now.

    I was really interested. With such popularity I thought it would be good, plus I had you and your story in my back pocket. I think I went in with an open mind but I was skeptical.

    DCG I fucking hated it. I was on fucking FIRE the whole time I read it. Anger fire, not sexxy fire. The book reeked of abuse to me.

    I adore your review. I adore your issues. I am in 100% agreement with everything you say. I am thrilled to read it here.

    Remember your old spring form where folks could drop questions? I was the one who asked about how to reconcile the D/s relationships with a feminist viewpoint. Hell, you probably knew. I still cant see how they can coexist and this book did nothing but to further solidify my feelings.

    Great post DCG.

  2. annajcook
    March 31, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks so much for linking this review over at The Pursuit of Harpyness. I really appreciated it, and will be sure to include it in our next Tuesday Teasers (links list) so the other Harpy readers are sure to see it.


  3. Amber
    March 27, 2012 at 5:51 am


    I want to know what your thoughts are — as someone in the business, for lack of a better turn of phrase — on the fact that severe emotional damage is the reason for Christian’s sexual proclivities. I had a friend argue with me that this is common in the BDSM realm — that people with emotional abuse as children are drawn to this lifestyle. But is that true? It seems to kind of negate the idea that BDSM could be a valid form of sexual pleasure — that it has to come from a sad/bad place.

    That was one of the biggest issues for me with these books. How can I buy Christian as a sexy male lead when the reason for all this sexiness, as it is, is because a pimp put out cigarettes on his chest when he was a kid? Or that he has abandonment issues thanks to his suicidal “crack whore” mother?

    And then Ana. She was just a non-person. Really.

  4. MFA Mama
    March 27, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Hmm…I’m halfway through the third book currently…and interested to see what you made of the second one!

  5. JustHeather
    March 24, 2012 at 2:26 am

    I hadn’t heard of this/these book(s), but thanks for the review, I don’t think I’ll be reading them. I enjoyed Twilight for what it was, but there are many many other books out there that are way better. And if the BDSM is more abuse- and jealousy driven-like, that’s just not my cup of tea (Yeah, I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest and I don’t drink coffee, anymore).

    I think I’ll stick to my Anita Blake vampire series, with lycanthropes, zombies, monsters of all sorts and the kinky and twisted sex. LOL (Ok, maybe some of it isn’t so kinky if you’ve been a Dungeon Mistress, but again, I enjoy this for what it is.

  6. stacey@havoc&mayhem
    March 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I feel very similar about it but we are the same age so I suppose the elderly like us ‘just don’t understand’. But then I remember all the many and varied fan fic I have read over the years for many and varied subjects and well.. it seems fan fic really hasn’t improved at all in 20 years in general. Of course, I didn’t like Twilight either so I didn’t have too much hope for it’s fan fic spawn.

    There were some great sex scenes, but when I wasn’t annoyed by Ana, by the grammar, by the misspellings & other typos, I was kinda creeped out by it. A little too much abuse, like the author wasn’t really clear about the boundaries between BDSM & actual abuse. Needless to say I have failed to read the sequel

    • dcg
      March 26, 2012 at 8:45 am

      I don’t think i has to do with age. Most of the things that bother us are ageless. Although, I’m worried that Ms James is offering a bad example to younger girls. Telling them that this is what love it like – abusive, jealous and possessive. OK. Maybe it is about ageism. 😉 We are old enough to know better.

  7. Brave IVF Girl
    March 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I enjoyed the books (yes, *that* sort of enjoyment), but found them surprisingly mild given all the to-do. I read the original fanfic since I didn’t want to pay a crazy amount for something that only had minor edits from when it was free.

    I did find Edward, I mean Christian, sexy, and while I agree with your assessment, it didn’t raise my abuse antennae while reading the book. I found Bella, I mean Ana, totally insipid, much like Bella in Twilight. Someone on Goodreads pointed out that it’s as much wealth porn as sex porn, which is true.

    I found Please, Sir and Yes, Sir, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, much hotter.

    • dcg
      March 26, 2012 at 8:50 am

      Wealth porn! Exactly! And even that sorta made me mad because I felt like I could do that a bit better too. 😉 I’ve not read the Twilight series. My sister keeps threatening to loan it to me, but hasn’t come through. Perhaps if I read it I would understand this a bit more?

      I have contacted Rachel Kramer Bussel (I just did a give away of her latest book) and asked if she would contribute Please, SIr or Yes, Sir to #SmuttyLit. I don’t really expect to hear back, but will look for a copy to add to the experiment anyway.

  8. Maddie
    March 23, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Bravo! And you just saved me from typing all of that.. I mean given my advanced age and all ..44 I really need a nap and to be renewing my AARP subscription!

    Seriously, good words about a book that I honestly don’t think is worth the cyber-paper it’s not even printed on! There is so much better out there and frankly I hate this to be anyones first foray into erotica.. gag.

    Now if you will pardon me, it is bingo night


    • dcg
      March 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

      What erotica would you suggest for someone’s first foray?

      • Maddie
        March 26, 2012 at 9:37 am

        Oh the pressure!.. sort of like asking what sort of chocolate one might like! SO much to choose from. I happen to be a salted caramel with a smidge of dark chocolate kind of girl ( somehow that sounds sexy!) .. but to each his her own so knowing a bit about what flips a persons switch can be really important.

        I never expect to like all the stories in any book but really did like most of them in Curvy Girls So this would be a book I would offer someone who I knew was working on embracing her size as well as her sexuality. I also like many of the books done by Violet Blue and of course some of the other books by Rachel. Like said.. each to her own 🙂 Guess I need to find some way to break down my favorites.. in my spare time – ha!

        In the end what I don’t want is to have “grey” be the only thing people think erotica is.. it can be so much wider, broader and better written.

        • dcg
          March 26, 2012 at 10:01 am

          Ha! I know. So many books! So many interests! So little time!

          Rachel’s books come up a lot. I think I will add one to #SmuttyLit soon. 🙂

          And yes, I think it’s important that we all realize that Grey’s isn’t the only thing out there. I do like that it is making erotica a little more acceptable though.

  9. tizz
    March 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

    this kind of stuff drives me insane–also as someone who has been in abusive relationships and participates in BDSM. it bothers me so much that nonconsensual, abusive relationships are romanticized as “hot”. that’s part of my dos/donts for the next column i was telling you about (and will be emailing you a copy of to look over later today, hopefully!)–that negotiation does not make it less sexy because it MAKES IT CONSENSUAL…which is as hot as it gets.

    this kind of attitude ruins a lot of D/s erotica for me, too. no, being abusive is not actually sexy.

    now i feel like i HAVE to read this, but i don’t want to give them money. ugh.

    thanks for the write up. i love hearing your opinion!

    • dcg
      March 26, 2012 at 8:53 am

      It makes it consensual, which means there is trust, and when there is trust, limits can be explored and pushed. And THAT is what BDSM is about. It’s NOT about getting pissy because someone did something at dinner.

      Well. OK. It CAN be about getting pissy at dinner… if that’s your thing and it’s properly negotiated.

      I look forward to your column!

  10. (@DeadCowGirl) (@DeadCowGirl)
    March 23, 2012 at 10:22 am

    From the perspective of someone who HAS signed slave contracts, my review of Fifty Shades of Grey Lots of spoilers.