Family First are a leftie pro-choice feminist politico’s mortal enemy. So you can sympathise with my anguish today as I found myself nodding in agreement with this piece in the NZHerald about the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey movie release.
(Disclaimer 1 – I only got as far as the third page of the first book. They are written that badly that I could not bear to continue.)
(Disclaimer 2 – I have therefore based my opinions on the series on both friends who rave about them and the plethora of feminist blogs out there on the subject)
(Disclaimer 3 – Not that it matters really, but I am no straight vanilla prudish gal.)
Right, now that’s out of the way, here’s why I’m asking you to boycott 50 Shades of Grey, and donate some dosh to anti-violence organisations instead.
(Trigger warning for family violence, sexual violence & child abuse)
While the writing style of 50 Shades of Grey leaves me and many other writers wondering how the heck the series became so popular, let alone an enduring best-seller, I have to acknowledge that for some couples, the series has been, errrr, helpful. A local sex shop owner running an advertorial in the local rag linked to the movie’s promotion even claims that many men have visited her shop to tell her the series has saved their relationship.
Ok, I’ll buy that. We all know that for some couples, their sex life gets a bit in a rut – and introducing a bit of variety, role-play and light n fluffy (or heavy, but always consensual) bondage can save the day/night/partnership. I also acknowledge that it has helped a lot of women connect with themselves sexually in a way they haven’t before.
But…. is 50 Shades really romance? Or is it violence & control painted as romance in a way that drew a lot of women in without really thinking about what they were actually reading?
Commentators, both feminists, BDSM insiders and fundamentalists (yes, I just said those 3 groups agreed with each other) worldwide are urging a boycott of the movie adaption of 50 Shades of Grey – instead asking people to donate the ticket price to family & sexual violence recovery services. Why?
Because 50 Shades of Grey is fundamentally about violence and the issue of consent. And all the ‘empowerment’ PR fluff around the film and books cannot take that away.
Everyone is welcome to have all of the truly consensual BDSM play they desire. I have no problem with that. The problem is that 50 Shades of Grey goes past that into power & control, non-consensual sex that becomes ‘consensual’ after the heroine ‘gives in’, out-and-out assault on women and children, and basically sends the message that abusive relationships/encounters are desirable and sexy. Women have bought into this, as this article well illustrates, as a good thing. But even this author ponders whether having a husband totally obsessed with you and following your every move would be a good thing in reality-land. Even the biggest fans are somewhat uncomfortable in their adoration of this obsessive, dominant character.
I haven’t read the book, so it wouldn’t be fair to analyse it myself, but this one by Jenny Trout is insightful and thorough, pulling apart the monster that is our ‘hero’ of the day. This piece from a young US feminist blogger is also a good analysis of what’s so wrong about 50 Shades of Grey.
An interview with the (female) director of the film has two really interesting remarks in it that actually sum up everything that is wrong with the 50 Shades phenomenon.
“Taylor-Johnson doesn’t have much patience with what we could broadly call the “feminist critique”, even though plenty of people will be feminists and not agree with it. “To be feminist,” she says, “doesn’t mean you can’t be submissive. It doesn’t mean you always have to be on top.”
Indeed you don’t. I have read the thoughts of many ‘submissive’ feminists, and the overriding principle of being a submissive in the bedroom is that the woman/man – while being the ‘sub’, actually feels quite empowered and assertive in that setting because rules and boundaries are mutually agreed upon, the sub actually details what they want to do – controlling the entire scene, and anything beyond the agreement is non-consensual, as is the ‘dom’ not stopping something agreed upon if the ‘sub’ has had enough (uses a safe word). A submissive feminist on ‘bottom’ is in fact in charge.
This is not quite the same picture portrayed by 50 Shades, which uses ‘BDSM’ to subjugate the heroine to the demands of a heartless humiliating narcissist who doesn’t take no and stop for an answer, beats her up and controls every aspect of her life – even down to who she can talk to, supervising gynaecological exams, how many hours she can sleep, how many peas she can eat and installing GPS tracking in her vehicles.
“Yes, the film is hardcore in places, there’s dominance in places – but at no point did I feel like it had crossed a boundary. Until we get to the point where it is abusive and she walks away.”
Immediately, our conversation moves on to the way kids always got worms in the 80s…”
Wait…. what??? Anyways, back to the crucial bit!
‘Until we get to the point where it is abusive and she walks away’.
Hang on – isn’t this meant to be the greatest romance series of the 2010’s? Isn’t this meant to be the perfect love story, released on Valentine’s Day for maximum romantic effect? The movie every guy in the western world is expected to take their girlfriend to on the 14th? Will your 18 year old daughter and her friends go see this movie? Do you really want them naively thinking THIS is love? ‘Romance’ may mean a different thing for you than me but my criteria eliminates pretty early on men who admit when meeting the ‘love of their life’ that they have a thing for beating up women who look like their mother. And that’s only the beginning of this amazing, beautiful ‘romance’.
The hero rapes the heroine 4 times, just in book one.
The hero continually threatens to assault & kill the heroine when she ‘disobeys’ him or does something he doesn’t like.
The hero makes up an illegal fake contract controlling every aspect of her life which he manipulates and tricks the heroine into signing – and she spends the rest of her life believing that legal & violent consequences for breaching it are real.
This, sadly, is merely the surface. You can read a sickeningly long blow by blow analysis of all of the violence in 50 Shades here. And I care not about spoilers when I tell you that she does not walk away, by the end of the trilogy he is worse than ever, flogs his pregnant wife on the belly, molests his kids, and they, errr, live ‘happily ever after’.
“I think Daddy wants to taste Popsicle
, too,” I whisper in Ted’s little ear. Ted frowns at me, then looks at his hand and holds it out to Christian. Christian smiles and puts Ted’s fingers in his mouth.
“How’s my [unborn] daughter?” “She’s dancing” “Dancing? Oh wow yeah I can feel her” He grins as Blip Two somersaults inside me “I think she likes sex already.”
The strands of the flogger skim across my swollen [pregnant] belly at an aching, languorous pace.
It is a very rare occasion indeed for me to agree with Bob McCoskrie. But – I do.
If you are looking for something to spice up your sex life, there is a plethora of truly consensual, equally partnered BDSM non-fiction & fiction stories to be found on the web, as well as excellent communities with forums discussing safe & sexy BDSM action. Stories and information that will guide & strengthen your healthy relationship as you try something new. 50 Shades of Grey is not on that list for me, because it does not really portray a true BDSM relationship. What it clearly portrays is a hideous, controlling, violent relationship under the guise of ‘romance’ and ‘BDSM’.
Don’t waste your money. Don’t go see this film. Enjoy each other’s company doing something truly romantic this Valentine’s Day, if you’re into Valentine’s Day, or heck, do anything else nice on any day with your partner but watch this film.