Not only are the large majority of readers of something such as 50 Shades of Grey women, but it was written by a woman, E.L. James, while a woman, Kelly Marcel, adapted the novel for the screen, and another woman, Sam Taylor-Johnson, directed the film. I can’t draw any conclusions from that, particularly as I know nothing about any of those women, except to note that neither men nor women can be put into categorical buckets.
For example, it is interesting that James seems to hew to traditional models of the powerful, dominant man and the much-less-powerful, submissive woman, and perhaps the twist comes from the woman’s resistance or perhaps subversion of the relationship. Again, that’s just a guess based on the summaries I’ve seen of both book and film. I’m unlikely either to read the book or see the film, but that is only because, if others’ assessments are correct, the book is poorly written (James began by writing online fan fiction based on the Twilight books), and the film is getting critically panned.
Another point that occurs to me is that despite the explicitness and graphic nature of films today, there does seem to be a “Production Code” mentality when it comes to BDSM depictions in films–it must be dark and dangerous, and thus, such as the lack of morality of characters in Production Code-era films, it must ultimately be punished (ha! no pun intended) or else be shown that the characters do not benefit or attain happiness from it. The only real exception I can think of is Secretary, but that was really just a rom-com with a kinky fillip to it as Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character ultimately fell for James Spader’s character, albeit after it was established that there was relative equality in their sadomasochistic relationship.
What would have been intriguing is if director Mary Harron and screenwriter Guinevere Turner had got hold of 50 Shades. They subverted Bret Easton Ellis’s notorious American Psycho into a dark, wicked satire of 1980s Yuppiedom. Moreover, Harron and Turner delivered a sympathetic portrait of 1950s pinup and bondage queen Bettie Page in The Notorious Bettie Page, which I felt defused some of the stigma that surrounded Page and the entire industry she was in during that period.