Many people have protested against the film 50 Shades of Grey both before and after its premiere on Valentine’s Day. One Winnipeg MP, Joy Smith, says the film glamorizes violence against women, CBC is reporting. Meanwhile, some people in the BDSM community seem to feel it doesn’t accurately reflect the “lifestyle.”

I haven’t seen the movie (so I can’t review it yet), but I do know something about BDSM and D/s lifestyles, having dabbled on both sides of D/s enough to be clear on the concept. What I saw is that, yes, there are some purists, but there are also many people who are not clear on the concepts and are being exploited — or are doing the exploiting.

To expand briefly on that point: A young female novice, for example, may seek out a dom to serve and end up with an inexperienced guy who only has kinky sex on his mind. He may not know anything about the philosophy behind the interplay between dom and sub and may not have the best interests of his sub at heart — as he should have.

On a pure intellectual level, BDSM and D/s are about mutual power sharing, with one party agreeing to take a dominant role and the other a submissive role. Neither does anything they don’t want to do: the parameters and limits of their relationship are set in advance. And, contrary to what some may think, it is not always about sex — sex only plays a small part of it.

But, as mentioned, ignorant and/or unscrupulous people can and do abuse the process and, in so doing, besmirch the whole lifestyle.

But I wonder how Joy Smith and other protesters would have responded to 50 Shades of Grey if the dominant character was a woman instead of a man? What if a dominatrix — or domina, as I prefer — had a male as a submissive in the film? (To digress for a moment: Some submissives will tell you that they, in fact, are actually in control because they set the boundaries; the dom can only do what they allow them to.)

In the real world, there are women who are making their livings as dominatrixes. And why not? It is safer than being a prostitute because there is no sex involved in a session with a client. In fact, if a session does cross that line into sexual acts, it then becomes prostitution. In most cases, sessions with a dominatrix are little more than role playing. They are skits, basically. But they fill a need for the clients — and they help some women pay their bills.

There are also couples in genuine part-time or fulltime D/s relationships in which the woman plays the dominant role and the man happily plays the submissive role. Both parties find fulfillment. And, again, it is not always about sex. In fact, when the woman is the domme, the guy seldom gets sex because the idea is to keep him wonting — cause we all know what happens after a guy has his orgasm: He loses interest . . . snore . . .

Still, there may be no way to accurately portray the full spectrum of the BDSM world in a film. I suspect that 50 Shades of Grey is about one D/s relationship, and should probably be seen in that context. I’ll write more about it after I see it — and I do plan to see it.

How about you? Have you seen the film? And have you ever been involved in BDSM lifestyles?

— Jillian