Fifty Shades of Grey is a sad testament to the dumbing down of America. The source material was written by a middle-aged woman who read books meant for teenage girls about twinkly vampires. The boy vampire was such an under-aged thrill to her, she started writing erotic fan fiction about him, and other bored housewives were so titillated by her stories that for copyright reasons she changed the Edwards to Christians and before you know it, one underachieving trilogy had spawned another.
It’s garbage. It was embarrassing enough when grown adults read books found in the youth section, but now we’ve got women lining up to glorify an abusive relationship. Because the thing about the sex in 50 Shades of Grey is that it’s not really consensual. She’s a very young girl, and a meek one at that. He’s older than her, and a very powerful man. She’s intimidated, and he’s manipulative. He makes her sign a contract that he of all people knows is meaningless. Meanwhile, he stalks her, plies her with alcohol, and even though she’s constantly expressing doubt and stress, he violates her boundaries to get what he wants.
This is not my opinion, by the way. This is based on scientific research that’s been done in the wake and the fall-out from these books. But even real-life practitioners of BDSM don’t like the book because they feel it depicts an abusive relationship too, and colours their lifestyle negatively. S&M may have a healthy place in some people’s bedrooms, but they insist that this series confuses BDSM with abuse, and uses dangerous techniques. Researchers meanwhile, are concerned about the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the books and movie. The study finds that almost every interaction between the two leads is emotionally abusive in nature, including isolation, sexual violence, and the circumvention of consent. Meanwhile, Ana, the young woman in question, exhibits classic symptoms of an abused woman – the constant perceived threats, the stress, the altered identity. There is no equality in this relationship. We’re talking about a controlling narcissist and a vulnerable, insecure woman. This is the breeding ground of the worst domestic abuse.
Why are real-life women paying to romanticize sexual violence and the emotional abuse of women? Not only is this not a love story, it’s not even “kinky” sex. It’s a bad situation, and if this was your sister or your friend, you would want to get her the fuck out. And the movie? Even worse.
When Christian whales on Ana with a belt until she cries big fat tears of pain and humiliation, finally forcing her to angrily ban such a practise ever again, that’s not romance. RED FLASHING LIGHT: that’s not romance! That’s coercive sex. It’s rapey. It is NOT a date movie and mistaking it for something naughty and fun is dangerous to your own sexual health.
People rushed to theatres on Valentine’s day to see this and were so turned off that the movie suffered the second biggest week-to-week drop ever (only Gigli did worse). But the damage is done. Opening box office was huge. The books have sold in the millions. And the poor theatres screening the movie have had to put up with some really disturbing viewers:
– One woman in Mexico slapped on her own handcuffs and proceeded to masturbate.
– Two women in Scotland got so rowdy and drunk they barfed in the aisles and when they were shushed, they stabbed the shusher with a broken wine bottle.
– In England, a woman was so into the movie she lost control of every last bodily function. Probably made the stabbed dude in Scotland be glad all those women did was puke.
– Foot fetishists in the UK used their own socks to blindfold themselves during the movie. The moans were very disruptive but it was the bad foot odour that lead to the most complaints to management.
These are (I hope) extreme reactions to the movie. But I can’t figure out for the life of me why the reaction is not one of disbelief and disgust. There is nothing sexy to see here (and I don’t just mean the lack of passion reported by people who actually saw it). This isn’t sex. We need to label it correctly and we need to be more responsible about what we as a society consume.