Secretary (2002 film)  

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"Are you doing something sexual right now?"--Jeremy Davies to Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary (2002)

"Now bend over so that you are looking directly at it. Put your elbows on the desk and your face very close to the letter."--"Secretary" (1988) by Mary Gaitskill

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Secretary (2002) is a film directed by Steven Shainberg starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader . The film is based on a the short story of the same name from the collection Bad Behavior (1988) by Mary Gaitskill.

Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader, the film explores the intense relationship between a dominant lawyer and his submissive secretary, who indulge in various types of BDSM activity such as erotic spanking and omorashi.


Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the socially awkward and emotionally sensitive youngest daughter of a dysfunctional family, adjusts to normal life after having been hospitalized following an incident of dangerous self-harm. She learns to type and applies for a job as a secretary for an eccentric attorney, E. Edward Grey (James Spader). Grey explains she is overqualified for the job (having scored higher than anyone he has ever interviewed) and that it is "very dull work" as they only use typewriters; Lee, however, agrees to work under these conditions.

Though at first Grey appears to be highly irritated by Lee's typos and other mistakes, it soon becomes apparent that he is sexually aroused by her obedient behavior. After he confronts her about her propensity for self-injury and commands that she never hurt herself again, the two embark on a BDSM relationship. Lee experiences a sexual and personal awakening, and she falls deeply in love. Grey, however, displays insecurity concerning his feelings for Lee, and he feels shame and disgust over his sexual habits. During this period of exploration with Grey, Lee has also been attempting to have a more conventional boyfriend in Peter (Jeremy Davies), even engaging in lukewarm sex with him. After a sexual encounter in Grey's office, Grey fires Lee.

After Lee is fired from her job, Peter proposes to Lee, who reluctantly agrees to marry him. However, while trying on her wedding gown, she leaves and runs to Grey's office, where she then declares her love for him. Grey, still uncertain about their relationship, tests Lee by commanding her to sit in his chair without moving her hands or feet until he returns. Lee willingly complies, despite being forced to wet her dress since she is not allowed to use the toilet. Hours pass, as several family members and acquaintances individually visit Lee to alternately attempt to dissuade or encourage her while Grey watches from afar, completely taken by Lee's compliance. Because of Lee's refusal to leave the office, she has gained news coverage from the media, which they believe to be a hunger strike. Three days later, Grey returns to the office and takes Lee to a room upstairs where he bathes and feeds her. The pair marry and happily continue their dominant–submissive relationship.


  • Assume the position
  • A comedy for everybody who's ever been tied up at work

See also

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