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SXSW Interactive 2013

50 Shades of Complicated-The Web, Feminism & Kink

Kinky sex has always been a point of contention among feminists, with some arguing that it reflects and glamorizes patriarchal values and others that women should have the right to enjoy whatever sex they want. The internet has been a fierce battleground for this discussion, as women from all walks of life find themselves able to anonymously weigh in in front of a large audience. For the last year, "50 Shades of Grey", a series born from fanfiction, has been tossed around as the greatest example of women openly being willing to admit to having kinky desires. But is this book the best gateway? Is it legitimizing submissive fantasies among women? Is that at the cost of delegitimizing other sexual preferences? And is that anti-feminist?

Kitty Stryker, founder of Consent Culture, will disentangle how this popular novel, the internet, and multiple feminist theories have made women's desire for kink 50 shades... of grey area.

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  1. "50 Shades of Grey" is credited with offering women a glimpse into kinky relationships, and supposedly encouraging many women to explore. Did kink become more popular because of this "mommy porn"'s popularity, or did the book become popular because the internet giving private access to the world of kinky fantasies?
  2. With some bloggers suggesting that this interest in kink can lead women into potentially abusive relationships, is it dangerous for pop culture to discuss socially taboo topics?
  3. "50 Shades of Grey" is about Anastasia's erotic journey, and yet she seems to have no sexual voice of her own. Is this common in fanfiction, and what is the impact of that (if there is one) on online kinky communities?
  4. "Safe, sane and consensual" is considered a vital part of BDSM- do books like "50 Shades" reflect this focus on consent, or, as some bloggers have suggested, do they eroticize abuse?
  5. With so many women, many of them feminists, writing online about this phenomenon, has "50 Shades" opened a Pandora's Box about the secret worlds of female fantasy... and are we ready for the discovery?



Katharine Fisher, Dominatrix, blogger, Self-employed

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Social and Relationships
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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