The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise is many things. It's sexy, daring, scandalous, over-the-top, dramatic, and even educational. No, the Fifty Shades films are not a crash course in safe and consensual BDSM play, but they do offer a certain window into the world of dominants and submissives. Case in point: what Christian says at the end of Fifty Shades Freed is a BDSM term just begging to be Googled by unsuspecting audience members. Spoilers for Fifty Shades Freed ahead.
Fifty Shades Freed ends with a newly married Christian (Jamie Dornan) and Ana (Dakota Johnson) spending an evening in his lavish penthouse. After a surprise pregnancy and a near-death experience, the Greys have been through a lot. So, naturally, gazing lovingly at her husband sitting behind the piano, Ana decides it's time for a go in the red room. She goes upstairs, carefully lays out his dominating jeans and sends him a text telling him to meet her in the red room. (This detail is important.) When he enters — jeans on, shirt off — he circles her and says a line fans of the original trilogy have been waiting for: "You're topping from the bottom, Mrs. Grey. But I can live with that."
In the book, Christian delivers the line a bit differently, but the term "topping from the bottom" is straight out of E.L. James' novel. So, what does "topping from the bottom" actually mean?
"Topping from the bottom" is a BDSM term that, according to SubmissiveGuide.com, occurs when a submissive (Ana) takes more control than she or he should. The website defined "topping from the bottom" as when a submissive "simultaneously adopt[s] both roles." So, when a submissive gives orders — like telling Christian to come to the red room and initiating play — or refuses the dominant, they are "topping from the bottom."
Ana's growing confidence in the bedroom and the red room is a theme throughout Fifty Shades Freed, so it's more than appropriate to end the movie with the line. When fans first met Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey, she was a virgin and completely terrified to ask for what she wanted with Christian. But in Fifty Shades Freed, she's never afraid to ask for what she wants.
Christian isn't in control anymore, they both are. "I think that in this film both Anastasia and Christian have figured out that it's going to be a constant flux of control and power between both of them," Johnson said in an interview with Prestige. "That being said, Anastasia has acknowledged and accepted the more sexual and dominating side of herself, which is a driving force in the film." As Ana becomes more dominant, her role as a submissive shifts; hence, the "topping from the bottom."
For Johnson, Ana's growing sexual awareness and confidence reflects the greater theme of the film: self acceptance and empowerment. "Well, I think the message truly is about — being true to yourself and honoring yourself with grace and vulnerability, and still being able to be powerful," the actor told ABC News. "And say[ing] what you want and what you need, but respect yourself in the process." Johnson might have been talking in broader terms, but that doesn't make it any less applicable to Ana's sex life. And, hey, if being true to yourself means "topping from the bottom," then by all means, do what works.
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