Are you fed up with all the 50 Shades of Grey hype yet? The expectations of a sexy, scintillating movie, a romance for the ages, a naughty glimpse at bondage and submission?

I didn’t read the books and I don’t plan to see the movie. I haven’t heard much that was good about either and I can’t imagine that it will be worth the $10-$15, much less suffer through a ‘romantic’ movie on Valentine’s weekend as a single woman! Lady Chatterley’s Lover is more to my liking if we’re talking seductive and erotic.

One of the most disturbing things about the whole 50 Shades obsession, from what I have read and seen, is the imbalance of power that exists in this story. Maybe it’s because I’m older or because I have always been a little more assertive as a woman-but I don’t think that good sex can exist where one partner is made to feel less equal to his/her partner.  I’m not talking about Doms and subs. I’m talking about the respect and equality that exists in a sexual relationship when two people come together out of mutual desire and understanding. Being an equal partner is crucial to establishing the kind of connections necessary to relax and trust in an intimate situation.

The practice of various kinks, including BDSM, is usually practiced by individuals who have clear boundaries, are self-assured, and comfortable communicating their desires. It’s not about some poor weak person seeking a Daddy or strong person to dominate them to fill an emotional void in their lives. Role-playing the ‘Daddy game’ from a place of consent is different.

Our cultural view of sex has always been that men were the ones leading and controlling sex. We are slowly moving beyond that and many women now acknowledge their desires and fantasies—and are having the kind of sex they want, on their terms. It’s a more egalitarian form of sex and it’s empowering. If the woman is tied up, spanked, “forced’ to do some sexual act—she’s doing it by conscious choice, with a set of rules and an understanding with her partner about limits and expectations. She is fully in charge of what goes on in sex—even if she’s chosen to play a submissive role. This idea of choice and consent holds true whether the sex is good ol’ Vanilla missionary position or something a little darker.  When we have consensual sex we are engaged in making choices about what we want to give and to receive.

I use the term consensual to mean the kind of sex where both parties go beyond just saying yes. The kind of sex where there is an active desire to engage with another—joyfully and intentional. It is the mature and logical extension of saying yes.

We’re working on changing sexual attitudes and making it possible for our daughters and our granddaughters to live a fulfilling sex life free of shame and repression. Part of that change also means we get to make choices about what we do, what we promote and support, and how we model healthy behavior for others. So, in some ways a mainstream movie, now with 2 anticipated sequels, about sex is a breakthrough. On the other hand when the female role is a woman who needs a strong man to rule and dominate her in a way that doesn’t feel emotionally well balanced, are we making progress?

Maybe . It is, after all, just a Hollywood movie, not a documentary or seminal cinematic work. So, watch if you want but be aware of the wider world of healthy and wonderful sexual choices that await you when you approach sex openly and on your terms!

Walker Thornton is a writer, sex educator and public speaker, with a Masters in Educational Psychology and over 10 years experience in the field of sexual violence against women. She is a strong advocate for midlife women’s sexuality, encouraging women to ‘step into their desire’. ranked her blog,, #17 in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2013. Walker is the Sexual Health columnist for Midlife Boulevard and writes about sex and the older adult for You can connect with her on her website ( ), Facebook ( )  Twitter  (  and Google+ ( ).