I’m glad there’s so much controversy surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey. The film is inspiring important conversations about women, safety and the S&M community. As a sex educator who hosts introductory classes about S&M, I’m honored to be a part of that conversation and have even created free lessons for women who are curious about kink and want to stay safe.

But there’s a vulnerable thing that I haven’t been talking about. While my friends and peers gagged at the bad writing of the book, I was too busy being aroused. People have said the contents of the story are laughable and inaccurate. I need to share with you the truth – some of what’s described in the book and film happened to me.

As a thirty-eight year old professional woman in big-city Los Angeles, I knew a lot about life. What I hadn’t learned was how to end a relationship with a boyfriend I was no longer attracted to. It dragged on and on. When we finally broke up I felt sexually malnourished. I promised myself, “never again.” Never again would I sacrifice this important part of myself.

With this resolve, I revised a list I’d been keeping in my mind for a long time – my sexual bucket list. I was committed to adventure and experimentation. I even went to an S&M dungeon here in Los Angeles called The Sanctuary. I saw spanking; I witnessed bondage. And on my way home from the club, I began feeling this nagging need for something. That week, I posted an ad on a website called Bondage.com seeking a dominant man.

I received messages from several guys who obviously didn’t take the time to read my profile. A few seemed to be cutting and pasting the same blurb to every woman on the site. Then I got a note from a man – we’ll call him Zack. Here’s what he said:

Just wanted to say that what you wrote in your profile intrigued me to say the least – the balance of curiosity, and intelligence – lovely, really. Usually I don’t reach out to those without photos, but I felt your “voice” comes through loud and clear, and perhaps that’s what attracts me the most. I like women who can express themselves, as you clearly can.

What to share of myself on this fine evening? Well, I paint as a hobby. L.A. provides lots of inspiration for that. It’s a fun outlet and I’m pretty good, if I say so myself. I’m an Art Director in the movie biz. Went camping on the Kern River last weekend with some good friends. Cooked, floated, sipped whiskey, and watched the sun go down.

Been in the scene for years. Very experienced. I respect limits. I enjoy guiding. Would love to chat more if I seem at all interesting to you.

I liked everything about this guy’s approach. Zack and I met on a Sunday afternoon at a Starbucks in Brentwood. He was tall with dark hair and beautiful brown eyes. My first impression was his hearty laugh – warm and deep. First, we talked about life. Then we talked about his art – he pulled out his iPhone and swiped through a gallery full of exquisite photography from Burning Man. He was hella talented. Finally we talked about the kinky interests we had in common. “I like to go deep,” he said, and I became really curious what he meant.

That was the beginning of a two-year relationship unlike any other in my life. He was my “Dominant.” I was Zack’s submissive. I’ll share with you aspects of our relationship that reminded me of the book, why I was riveted by the story, and why the film makes me feel nostalgic.

Zack had twenty years of experience practicing S&M and the equipment and know-how to show for it. The leather cuffs, for example, with which he often bound my ankles and wrists, were of the highest quality. Lucky me!

Zack had a gorgeous, well-appointed apartment full of art. Similar to Christian Grey, he had singular taste.

Zack was accomplished in his career – I was impressed and intimidated by him. It gave me a thrill that this man was into me.

Zack and I also had a contract with each other. For reals. We geeked out with the paperwork and discussed it in detail over a period of time. The experience – just as in the film –served as hot, erotic foreplay. It also clarified my boundaries and his.

The scene in the film where Christian carries Anastasia’s tired body to bed parallels the many times where Zack would give me the complex sensation of pleasure (from his sensual caresses) interspersed with intensity (from flogging) that created a potent hormonal cocktail of adrenaline and oxytocin in my body. Ultimately, a bloom of pleasure spread across my limbs, and I would ask him if I could please climax. More often then not I would ask him when it was already too late. We would smile at my infraction.

This is where the similarity between my former dominant and the character, Christian Grey, in the book and movie ended. After lovemaking, we would brush our teeth, tuck into bed, snuggle and fall asleep.

My former dominant also wasn’t a stalker, nor was he a wounded loner. Zack had a loving family and a circle of friends. He wasn’t so different than you and I. He was simply a super kinky dude living in Greater Los Angeles for whom I’m glad to say I loved.

Enough about him, let’s talk about me. I’m a well-educated, psychologically healthy woman and empowered sexual being. My own journey into the world of S&M is just one story among many. This style of sexual expression is practiced across the country and the world and has been around for a long, long time.

So thank you, filmmakers. The story isn’t perfect – the part where Mr. Grey is a damaged person doesn’t ring true for me at all. But the eroticism hit the spot. And now the world knows more about S&M – and people like me.

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This blog was written for Beauty of A Woman BlogFest 2015. There’s so much more to read! Click here for a refreshing splash of empowering blogs from a diverse, amazing group of writers. There’s even a digital raffle with fun prizes. Join us!

About Jean: After years of tolerating a lackluster sex life, Jean Franzblau shook off her cultural baggage and gave herself permission to follow a path of sexual curiosity and adventure. With her background as a writer and performing artist, Franzblau created the solo show “Coming Out Kinky – A Grown Up Comedy” which she performs in cities across the country to spark authentic conversations about sexuality.

Jean has worked internationally with companies as a seminar leader and with corporate executives – as a coach – to inspire people to reach their highest potential. She provides workshops and coaching on sexual esteem, women’s empowerment and a beginner’s introduction to S&M. Jean graduated cum laude with a BA in communications from UCLA and has 18 years experience with the 12-step model of recovery. Find her on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn or on her YouTube Channel.