Fifty shades of ambivalence

BDSM representation in pop culture

Authored by: Ummni Khan

The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138777217
eBook ISBN: 9781315168302
Adobe ISBN:


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In a 2015 interview with Nadia Neophytou, E.L. James explains that the genesis of her Fifty Shades trilogy lies in two wildly different literatures (Newman, 2012). 1 Many are aware that the love story started as fan fiction of Stephanie Meyer’s (2006) teen-vampire series, Twilight, but the kink inspiration comes from Patrick Califia’s (1988) anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica, Macho Sluts (De Kosnik, 2015: 116). This juxtaposition of a mainstream runaway bestseller and a subcultural queer text gestures towards the ambivalence that characterises the representation of BDSM (bondage/discipline/sadomasochism) in pop culture more broadly.

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