(Role) Play it Safe with Open Communication

Everyone is once again buzzing about the popular erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This time, people are talking about a recent study that’s reignited debate on whether books promote violence against women. The study, “Double Crap! Abuse and Harmed Identity in Fifty Shades of Grey”, found that the behavior of the main character, Anastasia, is consistent with that of women in abusive relationships. In the book, Anastasia is often stressed, changes her behavior to please her partner and avoid conflict, and experiences feelings of disempowerment and entrapment – all as a result of her relationship with Christian Grey. According to the study’s authors and the Center for Disease Control, these behaviors are hallmarks of intimate partner violence.

I’m all for sexual freedom, but never at the expense of your safety, confidence, health or well-being. It’s one thing to experiment with subservient role play, but another thing entirely when a partner demands subservience 24/7 or uses emotional or physical abuse against you.

Done correctly, however, role playing, BDSM and some other sexual activities explored in the book, can actually help boost confidence, health and happiness and improve relationships with your significant other. (Check out my blog post from last year on Fifty Shades of Grey for more insight on this pop culture phenomenon.)

So, how can you safely explore your sexual fantasies?

The key is, as always, open and honest communication and mutual respect. Sit down with your partner outside the bedroom to discuss sexual fantasies, and what you each feel comfortable exploring. Use safe words to quickly and clearly communicate your comfort level with what is happening during sex. Many couples find using the colors of the stoplight – green, yellow and red – work well. Keep the discussion up afterwards, too, to continue the dialogue on what you enjoyed, didn’t enjoy or may want to try next time.

If you ever feel like you are the victim of abuse, please immediately talk to a counselor, friend or family member. Making someone do something they don’t want to do is never okay, particularly under the guise of exploring sexual fantasies. If you don’t know where to go for help, please call or click any of the resources below.

National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-SAFE
DC Rape Crisis Center – 202-333-7273
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) – 1-800-656-HOPE


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