The problem with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

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By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of a little film known as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” based on an erotic romance novel  by British author, E.L. James. The first book of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, published in 2011, explores the ongoing relationship between a college student, Anastasia Steele, and a young, millionaire businessman, Christian Grey. The plot of the story surrounds a BDSM — bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism — relationship between Christian and Anastasia.

Everybody who sees this movie or reads the book needs to know exactly what they’re watching or reading. I was genuinely curious to see how the movie was done and bought a ticket for its opening weekend. This is the conclusion I came to after seeing it: you are seeing an abusive relationship unfold in front of you.

Several critics and scientists have expressed concern that the nature of Ana and Christian’s relationship is not BDSM, but characteristic of an abusive relationship. Using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s standards for emotional abuse and sexual violence, a 2013 study by social scientist Amy E. Bonomi found that nearly every interaction between Ana and Christian — including stalking, intimidation, and isolation — was abusive in nature, according to the Huffington Post. Bonomi also concluded that Ana showed all the signs of an abused woman; constantly feeling threatened or endangered, constantly stressed out, and using an altered identity.

So there you have it. An entire study that shows that Ana and Christian’s relationship is not romantic. It’s abusive.

By Katie Dugan

When we first meet Ana, she has little to no personality, no sexual experience, and very low self-esteem. Christian walking into her life was probably the most destructive thing that could ever happen to a woman like her. She has no control over anything in her life after meeting Christian.

He expects her to basically sign her body away to him — yuck — in a lengthy, detailed contract. The contract, amongst other demands, requires her to take birth control so that Christian doesn’t have to wear a condom, to work out four days a week, and to only eat foods from a list approved by him. Ana’s life is suddenly consumed by pleasing him. There’s never any talk of how she feels about something, or what she wants.

I would like to believe that when presented with such a contract, most women would walk away. But I believe that plot point speaks volumes about women today in unhealthy relationships. Some of you might read or see “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and think, “I would never do that, I would never sign away my independence.” As Ana finds out more about Christian’s past, she learns that he was abused as a child. She takes the responsibility on herself to understand him further. She wants to understand why he is the way he is.

I can’t tell you how many young women I know who date the “lost cause” type. The kind of guy who has a lot of problems at home, or maybe doesn’t do well in school, or doesn’t seem to care about anything at all. And what do we do, as women, when we date these men? We want to fix them. We think we are the only ones left in the world that can help them. Let me tell you something, ladies: that is not our job. We need to stop doing this.

You are not supposed to all of a sudden become a personal psychologist to your boyfriend because he has some issues. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care. It actually shows that you care a great amount because you want his personal problems to be helped outside of the actual relationship. It’s clear that Christian brought his issues into the bedroom, and Ana’s attempt to help him after they had just had sex was obviously going to go nowhere.

My biggest problem with “Fifty Shades of Grey” was not so much the story itself, but by how it was marketed. I mean, a film about a latent abusive relationship being released into theaters Valentine’s Day weekend, of all weekends? Are you kidding me? What does that say? Did the advertisers actually expect couples to see that movie together on their Valentine’s Day date? I would never bring a date to see that movie. As Christian would say, that’s “fifty shades of messed up.”

When the book first became popular a few years ago, it seemed like it was the sensational “must-read” book for middle-aged women exploring their BDSM fantasies by vicariously through Ana. It was fantasy, it was forbidden, and it was erotic. And when the movie came out, it featured a new version of the Beyoncé song “Crazy in Love.” The film’s tagline is “Mr. Grey will see you now.” None of the film’s advertisements hint at what “Fifty Shades of Grey” is really about.

When people see this movie, they are basically funding domestic violence advertising. Jamie Dornan, the actor who plays Christian, also added to the deception. Dornan looks like a male model, which makes the film look more romantic because of the strapping male lead. If he was portrayed by an unfortunate looking actor, the movie in its entirety wouldn’t have as much sex appeal.

Don’t be fooled ladies, great looking men can be monsters too.

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