Henry Le Nav's Reviews > 50 Ways to Play: BDSM for Nice People

50 Ways to Play by Don Mcleod
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Aug 10, 2012

it was ok
Read in July, 2012

I didn't like BDSM before I read this short volume and I still don't like it. I have been flabbergasted as to the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey with women. Then today I noticed this book in a side bar advertisement here at Goodreads. My first thought was oh great someone is going to cash in on the FSoG mania and end up getting people injured. I checked out the book on Amazon and the Kindle version was only $2.99 so I decided to read it out of curiosity. EDIT 8/11/2012: The price of this book in Kindle is now $8.99. No long curiosity priced for my budget!

As I mentioned above, I really dislike BDSM. I don't consider myself a prude, but I just don't feel that pain and humiliation have any place in a loving sexual relationship. I will grudgingly give this book credit that for a couple looking to dabble in BDSM, this is brief introduction--although I have some serious reservations. I would have been far happier if this book was simply devoted to a little kinky sex and role playing. You know, flip a coin to see who is going to be the dominant, "yes master" giggle, restraints loosely tied, a playful slap on the ass. All good fun stuff with no pain and no humiliation. Well let's put it this way, this book got far beyond simple role playing and fooling around for a little extra spice. Its going for the real deal, although the tamer versions, sort of BDSM lite. It delves into BDSM far more than I am willing to play, although for the couple just wanting to role play, you could certainly pick up ideas here--you don't have to do everything stated in the book.

The book is very short, print length of 112 pages, it is concise--except as noted below, and fairly well written although it does have a certain rushed quality to it. The book describes the various gear, rudimentary methods, and some cautions. It even suggests common house hold implements to replace the expensive gear and sex toys. Much of the book seemed to be vanilla sex (the pain free kind that I really love) hurriedly adapted to BDSM. It struck me that the authors are trying to ride FSoG's coattails before it becomes yesterday's thrill. Reading this book will not make you a master practitioner of BDSM. It will give you an introduction, and in my mind there in lies the danger of 50 Ways To Play.

Because the book is about real BDSM, albeit the kinder and gentler form, and not just simple role playing, I don't feel that the authors offer up sufficient cautions about what the couple is embarking on. The first few pages almost come off sounding like, "if you want to save your sex life, you have to try BDSM." I honestly believe that most people's sex lives will do just fine without any BDSM. So here is a list of reservations I have about this book.

--Insufficient cautions that BDSM is not for everyone.

--Insufficient explanation of the psychology of the dominant and submissive and how to handle the roles.

--Insufficient explanation on limits, safe words, and the safe - sane - consensual concepts. It is mentioned but almost in passing.

--Insufficient explanation on safety. One doesn't simply pick up a whip and start lashing someone's ass with it.

--No discussion of safe sex methods. The word condom does not appear in this book.

--No discussion of the need for contraception. Yes it should be obvious, but it does not hurt to remind people.

--No discussion on the potential dangers of an over enthusiastic dominant.

--No discussion on being sober and in a good frame of mind. BDSM, anger, alcohol and drugs do not mix.

To the book's credit it did offer a discussion on Aftercare, where the couple express care and love for each other. Like the rest of the book the chapter was brief, but at least it did provide a fleeting notion that some tenderness for each other may be in order.

To be honest, I do not like this book. I feel that it is basically a vanilla sex book (a good thing) which has been BDSM-ized to ride the cash wave of FSoG. I don't like the attitude that "OH try it, you will love it" as though BDSM was nothing more than some kinky technique on the order of nude massage or a really nifty sexual position. BDSM is a very intense method of sexual expression that can result in physical and psychological harm to the participants if incorrectly done and I question the wisdom of providing a rushed how to manual without adequately describing the dangers inherent in the activities and the psychological atmosphere of sado-masoshism. This book is an introduction, and I don't feel that BDSM is something that one should fool with based on a 112 page cursory introduction. For anyone seriously contemplating purchasing this book, read the Wikipedia article on BDSM and follow the links. Caution, some of the information and images provided in Wikipedia are disturbing...exactly what this book lacks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BDSM
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Comments (showing 1-31 of 31) (31 new)

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message 1: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Why are you reading BDSM books ( you said you were curious) if you don't like BDSM?


message 2: by Henry (last edited Aug 10, 2012 10:16PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Henry Le Nav Because:


1) I was curious.
2) The book only cost $2.99 on Kindle. EDIT 8/11/2012: The price for the Kindle edition is now $8.99. No longer in the curiosity pricing for my budget.
3) It was only 112 pages.
4) It was geared to a mainstream audience.
5) It is obviously cashing in on Fifty Shades of Grey.

But mostly because I was curious.

If the book had cost $9.99, was 250 pages long, or was targeted to the BDSM subculture, I would not have read it. The fact that is was targeted to mainstream and is blatantly cashing in of FSoG was the source of my curiosity. The popularity of FSoG with women has been something of a mystery to me. There is a ton of well written erotica out there, why does FSoG go viral?

Does not subtitle BDSM For Nice People pique your curiosity?

Must one like something to be curious about it?


message 3: by Reni (new)

Reni It's possible FSoG went viral because it was originally a Twilight fanfiction...there IS a huge subculture of Twilight fanfiction writers & readers.


message 4: by Henry (last edited Jul 11, 2012 11:22PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Henry Le Nav My understanding was that Twilight was more or less teen / YA. FSoG seems to appeal to a broad spectrum of women many of whom are mature and sexually experienced. Mommy porn seems a long way from Twilight. While FSoG may have started out as Twilight fan fiction, E.L. James had to make some substantial changes besides the names of the heroine and hero. My guess is that BDSM replaced the fangs.


message 5: by Reni (new)

Reni True, Twilight was YA however Twilight fanfiction is completely different and many are rated M...I've read a couple myself. Some fanfics change the characters so that they aren't vampires and some change up the relationships. I didn't read Master of the Universe while it was a fanfic, but I have heard it was still explicit and included BDSM. Btw, I really abhore the term mommy porn! :)


message 6: by Ashley (new)

Ashley I think the Fifty Shades series is popular, even though there are many BDSM books out there, because these books aren't just about the sex. I've read so many books where I feel bombarded with sex; many erotica novels never take the time to make a plot that has other aspects to it. That's what makes a good book, not just the sex, but how the author chooses to write about it. What attracted me to Fifty Shades is not the BDSM, but how the main characters interacted with each other and the people around them.


message 7: by Ashley (new)

Ashley I don't think this is anything like the Twilight series; they're two completely different series. And even if they were similiar why compare those two series. I don't get what all the hype is with the Twilight books. Sure they were good. I read them and I liked them, but there are many books that came before and since that are just as good if not better. Also I agree with Reni on the mommy porn thing; I'm not a mom, not even close, and I liked Fifty Shades.


message 8: by Reni (new)

Reni Sorry Henry, we seem to have gotten off subject here in regards to your review of the above book!

You asked why FSoG went viral and I offered what I thought might be one valid explanation. I didn't read FSoG because it was originally Twi-fanfic but rather because it was getting far more negative publicity than positive...that, in itself, intrigued me! I enjoyed the books for their entertainment value, especially the email bantering.

I will take my leave now and end the threadjack. :D


Henry Le Nav I must confess an ignorance to Twilight and the concept of fan fiction. I saw one Twilight movie. Anyhow I read the first of the FSoG just out of curiosity of why it was so popular. The genre is really not my thing, although the popularity of it was very interesting to me. No need to apologize for the direction the discussion went. All discussion is good and it was related. I do apologize for using the term mommy porn. Yes, it is a rather seedy term.


message 10: by Ashley (new)

Ashley That's ok. I must say that in this case we'll just have to agree to disagree on the FSoG series and say to each there own. I think that works in this case. :)


message 11: by Reni (new)

Reni Henry, I agree that all discussion is good, and I accept your apology for using the term "mommy porn" haha I'm impressed that you even read FSoG. I have to confess that I only had a general idea of what BDSM was before I read FSoG. The stories were entertaining, but I have no desire to seek out more books in this genre...unless they are highly recommended! ;)


Amelia I agree this book was short but it was cheap (and I've read thicker sex guides that never get to the good stuff, which is worse) but I found the tone to be positive with sufficient safety talk about safe, sane and consenting behavior, not to mention respectful and knowledable "kinky" play between partners. That's my opinion after reading it and trying most of the ideas. It is definitely grabbing onto the coattails of Fifty Shades books but so is every headline I've read for the last eight months. There's no escape! I did like the Fifty Shades book. I don't like the way many people slam women who read it though and I also hate the term "mommy porn,it's completely insulting. (I know you apologized for using it Henry and I know you weren't deliberately insulting women). Many posters and comments do insult women who have read it though and I've found many of those comments to be more derogatory than anything in the book itself. When it comes to anything sex-related, it's hard not to jump on a moral high horse but everyone does have different sensibilities and experiences, and it is at least fun stuff to talk about during coffee breaks at work :)


Henry Le Nav Amelia,

I posted this same review over at Amazon. I had a reader who is familiar with BDSM thanked me for my review questioning the safety.

Here is what they wrote:

"Thank you for your review. As a "not nice" person who doesn't mind bdsm, when this sucker popped up on my "sponsored sites" on facebook, I just groaned and clicked on it to see how bad it was going to be. I haven't bought the book, so I won't be writing a review of my own... but, essentially, I was also afraid that this was going to give people just enough information to injure/embarrass themselves. One of the other reviews mentions electrical stimulation and sensory deprivation, which can go bad really fast if you don't have a clue what you are doing. The Human mind is a very interesting thing. I've seen people really freak out just from being restrained, having panic attacks and such. There's nothing wrong with spicing up your sex life, but in the BDSM world, our key phrase is "safe, sane, and consensual". There's nothing safe or sane about jumping into something with minimal written instruction.
Look people, if you want to learn, go find a pro. If you want to dabble, well, YMMV."

From:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1102H43...

Obviously this person did not read the book, and I do not know how familiar they are with BDSM, but they have me beat. My own belief is that this book tended to gloss over the safety issues. If you are seriously considering BDSM I would recommend a deeper study than this book offered. Wikipedia is a start. Regarding your comments about slamming women, quite actually my concern is for women. I do not trust male aggression.

In all likelihood most people will probably dabble with BDSM with no ill effects. But my concern is that FSoG and this book are mainstreaming the practices of a intense sexual subculture with minimal information, and I fear that it could have some unforeseen ramifications.

Be cautious.


Amelia Hi Henry, I get what you're saying but my point is that I'm not "seriously considering BDSM." If I did, I would have chosen a more serious book. There are books for people who want to go hardcore and then are there books like this for people who don't. :)


Amelia And I'm also enjoying the discussion :)


Henry Le Nav Amelia wrote: "Hi Henry, I get what you're saying but my point is that I'm not "seriously considering BDSM." If I did, I would have chosen a more serious book. There are books for people who want to go hardcore..."

Excellent point! And as you said in your review, common sense is the key, to which I would add sobriety. Sex is too wonderful to be conducted under the haze of alcohol or drugs. I admire your candor in your review.

And yes I enjoy these discussions as well.


message 17: by Em (new)

Em Just so you're aware, 50 Shades of Grey paints a really, really unrealistic picture of the BDSM culture and community. It's truly a shameful book.


Henry Le Nav Ema wrote: "Just so you're aware, 50 Shades of Grey paints a really, really unrealistic picture of the BDSM culture and community. It's truly a shameful book."

Yes, I have read that sentiment in a number of places by people who are involved in the BDSM culture. To me what is dangerous is that misrepresented BDSM in FSoG is being mainstreamed without much thought. I think for most people it will be harmless and perhaps a positive experience but I fear for some who will find they have unleashed feelings and experiences that were best left unexplored.


message 19: by Em (new)

Em I agree. The relationship in 50 Shades is abusive, and it's masquerading as some kind of female empowerment.


message 20: by Richard (new)

Richard Dagenais People who start getting into gender politics when talking about BDSM power play are missing something very important about fantasy. It's not real.
Sometimes role play can seem offensive. Its hard not to wonder, if a man wants to be a sissy sub then what does that say about his attitudes toward women? The answer is: it's complicated.
What goes on in the bedroom and in the fantasies people construct to get off does not have to live up to yours or my political views.
I can't speak for an entire community but I can attest that my own experience socializing with people who strongly identify as kinky is that they seem to be better informed about gender issues and more enlightened and tolerant than average. So try not to judge.
As for Twilight and 50SoG, its just a diluted version of Anne Rice's work from the 80s, IMO.


Henry Le Nav Richard wrote: "People who start getting into gender politics when talking about BDSM power play are missing something very important about fantasy. It's not real.
Sometimes role play can seem offensive. Its hard ..."


I agree people who are in the BDSM community have a very good understanding of the dynamics of role playing. The typical married couple does not. My point is that such a couple suffering a little boredom in the bedroom may be better served by taking a romantic weekend without the kids rather than taking a whip to each other asses based on a 104 page book trying to capitalize on the kink of 50 Shades of Grey.


message 22: by Richard (new)

Richard Dagenais Your review is so full of bias and paternal condescension its hard not to feel an obligation to counterbalance it.

BDSM and kink are just labels that society has put on fantasy role play in the bedroom. When people assume these roles they are bringing what is between their ears into the bedroom, not just what is between their legs. This can only be a good thing. Nobody has accidentally become a pervert Henry. Nobody is getting whipped or spanked unwillingly. We're all a little perverted. Some of us are lucky enough to have a healthy outlet for that.

I'm sure that the book is crap, based solely on the inspiration. I'm with you on that. But I don't think you are being honest with yourself or the rest of us about your reasons for reading this or writing the review. So why don't you just tone it down a bit and let our good readers enjoy themselves without the judgment.


message 23: by Kat (new)

Kat What I want to know, why are you attacking Henry when he wasn't the only one to review and not like the book? Henry only gave an honest, personal review. Free country and everyone's opinions...


Henry Le Nav Kat wrote: "What I want to know, why are you attacking Henry when he wasn't the only one to review and not like the book? Henry only gave an honest, personal review. Free country and everyone's opinions..."

Why Kat nice of you to join in the fray. Thank you for your support.


message 25: by Richard (new)

Richard Dagenais I didn't disagree with Henry's review of the book, I disagreed with his opinion that the "average married couple does not" have the sense to make their own judgments about what is sexy. That is why I am replying to his review and not the others.


message 26: by Kat (new)

Kat At this point, after re-reading the review and all the comments that follow, I have far too many things to add to the conversation that would be judged inflammatory.

Online drama is useless, so I will bow out.

But I will say this: If you think BDSM is just bedroom kink, you really need to take another look or another try at it. With some research beforehand.
Good luck.


message 27: by Henry (last edited Feb 03, 2013 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Henry Le Nav Richard wrote: "Your review is so full of bias and paternal condescension its hard not to feel an obligation to counterbalance it.

BDSM and kink are just labels that society has put on fantasy role play in the bedroom. When people assume these roles they are bringing what is between their ears into the bedroom, not just what is between their legs. This can only be a good thing. Nobody has accidentally become a pervert Henry. Nobody is getting whipped or spanked unwillingly. We're all a little perverted. Some of us are lucky enough to have a healthy outlet for that.

I'm sure that the book is crap, based solely on the inspiration. I'm with you on that. But I don't think you are being honest with yourself or the rest of us about your reasons for reading this or writing the review. So why don't you just tone it down a bit and let our good readers enjoy themselves without the judgment. "


Richard,

The first line of my review reads:

I didn't like BDSM before I read this short volume and I still don't like it.

So perceptive of you to note the bias.

Paternal condescension? Perhaps. If so let Papa get something straight right now sonny boy, I didn't use the terms pervert or perverted. You did.

Rather than guessing what is going on in my head when I criticize safety concerns in a book, maybe you need to examine your motives for criticizing a person, and tone it down a bit.


message 28: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Richard wrote: "Your review is so full of bias and paternal condescension its hard not to feel an obligation to counterbalance it.

BDSM and kink are just labels that society has put on fantasy role play in the be..."


Bias?
1. Henry stated very clearly from the beginning that he did not like BDSM
2. Where is a biased opinion more accepted than in a personal review? That's all reviews are.

Paternal condescension?

I don't know what you were reading, but I clearly read a well written and intelligent review of a subject DESPITE his distaste for the theme. He never used the word pervert - in fact he never bad mouthed anyone who participates in a BDSM lifestyle at all - not once. He simply stated that he didn't find the lifestyle to his liking nor to his understanding. There was no judgment handed down. He addressed legitimate concerns as to how the book was lacking in many areas of BDSM that should be explored when being presented as a "how to" to those that are less experienced in the area, but nonetheless curious.

Bottom line: Lighten up and get a grip. Nobody was judging you.

PS - @Henry, I am enjoying reading some of your past reviews. And thank you so much for the kind comments on my blog. :)


Henry Le Nav Lisa, thank you for your comment and support.


message 30: by Mary (new)

Mary Henry wrote: "Lisa, thank you for your comment and support."

Henry wrote: "Lisa, thank you for your comment and support."

We have to have opinions and discussions or this life as we know it will be awfully boring. I got FSoG for my birthday last year and there it sits on my bookshelf, i read very little because of how bad it is, in fact, it was kind of painful to read. I can't even sell it or give it away. I also heard that FSoG came from Twilight fanfiction, not that I believe it but it had to start from somewhere. In the vanilla world we all have kinks, and in bdsm the kinks just happen to be bigger & broader, and maybe just a little bit louder. Not all of the lifestyle is pain & flogging, some is soft & sensual. The books that are written as a "weekenders guide to bdsm" are not all that helpful. A good book will have ALL the info that a person starting out needs to have, including SSC & RACK. You may not like bdsm, nor have any inclination of participating in it, but you obviously have a working knowledge of the lifestyle and you wanted to espouse your views, which can also be enlightening and educating. Thank you for your review!


Henry Le Nav Mary, thank you for your kind and balanced comment. I worried about mainstreaming BDSM, especially in a do it yourself way...the "weekenders guide" as you say. I think my worries were unfounded. There seems to be no rush on the emergency rooms or marriage counselors from FSoG or this book. I still maintain my criticism of the book, it is a rushed attempt at cashing in on FSoG fad, and I still feel that safety was not adequately addressed. On the whole, I think I got myself worked up over a fad which appears to be harmless.

Thanks again for your comment.


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