Darling You Give Love A Bad Name! - Part II

Darling You Give Love A Bad Name! - Part II

Contains spoilers for both “50 Shades of Grey” (2011) and “Taboo” (2017-)


In the previous blog about toxic relationships, I talked about how emotionally manipulative the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham is... In this blog I will examine the dysfunctional relationship between James Keziah Delaney and his half-sister, Zilpha Geary - and how they are caught in a tug of war game where each one tries to pull the other to his or her side.


Taboo (2017-)

For those who haven't watched “Taboo”, the tv series is set in London, 1812, where James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) returns from the ends of the earth to rebuild his late father’s shipping empire. Of course not everybody likes this idea, but nobody seems to figure out if James has really gone mad or if he actually uses dark magic to escape each and every assassination plot devised by the British government and the East India Company. Not even the people he chooses as his pawns in his game of war can tell which one is true.

On such a background, he and his sister are trapped in a dance of religion against paganism, obsessive love against hate, past versus future. She hates him, thought to be long dead, but she also cannot resist him - as he cannot resist her.

I used to think that we are the same person.

The first one to say this was Zilpha and James agreed only for his half-sister to disagree. The second time this conversation took place was at the end of the season and it was Zilpha who agreed that they were the same person, whereas James had undergone a change of perception.

That change happened at the climax of the season when they slept together only for James to realize, in the middle of it, that his half-sister was what kept him from being fully connected with the spiritual world, and that he had to let her go. The only issue here was that Zilpha finally accepted who she really was and the fact that she could no longer hide behind the Christian God she chose to be chained by.

According to the psychologist John Lee and his 1973 book The Colors of Love we could say that this is a strong case of Mania, a combination between Eros and Ludos, that becomes obsessive love. They are both obsessed with each other, even if Zilpha clings for dear life to her religion and its definition of right and wrong, whereas James has long since divorced himself from such beliefs after surviving the shipwreck.


50 Shades of Gray (2011)

The same can be said about the relationship between Anna Steel and Christian Gray, even though here we are talking about a toxic love story based almost entirely on physical attraction and emotional manipulation. Add to that a serious case of non-consensual, dubious consent, and man's obsessive desire to possess and control the woman, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Now, this part of the blog is not meant to bash on the book series and movie trilogy, as many others have done so in countless articles (and better than me). This is supposed to bring back to your attention one of the most famous toxic relationships and bad, disturbingly bad BDSM etiquette.

For this part of the story, I can only rely on the research I’ve done and the information gathered from a close friend who, once upon a time, had been active in the BDSM community, and they would not stop preaching the most important rule of BDSM: safe, sane, and consensual.

Louder, for the people in the back: Safe. Sane. Consensual.

I have not seen one depicted in the books or movies. At no time have I seen clear, devoid of emotional manipulation, consent between Anna and Christian. Not to mention that it is hard for me to believe that a person who has gone through university cannot tell the difference between right and wrong. Or that she never had to write essays on the nasty side of love. The classic literature does not only have pure, virginal love depictions.


Don't forget about our Toxic Love Writing Competition as there's still plenty of time to get involved.

Your Story

Stuck in a writer’s block? Then try giving your protagonist, or an important character that could have an impact on your main character, a diverse sexuality.

  • Make use of the ace spectrum to give your characters more depth (it goes without saying that this implies research on your part if you’re not familiar with a specific sexual label you’d want to make use of)
  • Use myths and legends to add or twist your love story
  • Add a secondary pairing that contrasts your main one
  • Plot twists! They are related, one wants to kill the other, family feuds, pure love turns into an obsession, death...


May the muse be with you!


Thank you to DeeundDrang for writing this blog post

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