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50 Shades of Grey Prompts Discussion About the Legality of Deviant Sexuality

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The deviant and oftentimes violent sexual preferences exhibited in 50 Shades of Grey raises questions about the legality of practices like bondage and domination.

The film and novel by the same name, 50 Shades of Grey, in many ways normalized sexual practices formerly described as deviant. The movie raises the question "Where's the line?" when it comes to deviant sexuality and criminal activity. When does a preference turn into something that can get you arrested? Tamara Tabo addresses this issue in her article Fifty Shades of Legal Liability – Legal Risks of Kinky Sex featured in AboveTheLaw.com.

According to Tabo, it boils down to consent. Like any sexual activity, consent is king. Throw role-playing into the mix, and this can get complicated. At what point does staged refusal as part of a fantasy become actual nonconsensual sex?

Even more difficult than deciphering consent in deviant sexual practices is proving it. Without consent, many BDSM type practices are criminal, or at least appear that way. Someone can give their consent to this type of practice and later turn around and say they didn't give their consent. Based on the nature of the acts, a jury might be more inclined to believe the latter.

There are also cases where one of the partners initially agrees to these acts but then withdraws their consent during. Any way you spin these situations, it's going to be difficult to prove consent or lack thereof. Tabo ends her discourse with a simple warning: be careful, because these types of practices carry serious legal risks.