50 Shades of Abuse: Why you shouldn’t be supporting this film.

We’ve all read 50 Shades of Grey. Or at the very least, heard snippets of it or know what it’s about. I myself read it when it first came out, then suddenly everyone was reading it and going crazy. There are many reasons not to read it, buy the books or support the film. Partly that is is horrifically written (I mean seriously, it is appalling), partly that is was originally Twilight fan fiction – which we all know is another franchise that glamorises and romanticises abusive relationships and stalking. And partly because of the disturbing content.

Now there is nothing wrong with erotic literature. It’s a healthy way to express sexuality, and that’s fine. Even having those books in mainstream media and stores is fine. But what is not fine is having this book and the consequent movie, which romanticises and encourages abusive relationships and passes them off as BDSM.

This book adds to rape culture, this book makes sexual assault and abusive relationships seem okay, this book hurts people who practise BDSM, this book tells young men and women that this is okay. This is not okay. 

For one thing, this book is available to everyone. Online, in stores, and now in cinemas. I know girls of eleven who have read this and plan to see the movie. This book to be quite honest, isn’t suitable for anyone below sixteen just for the graphic (if laughable) content. Sex is nothing to be ashamed of, but at that age you can’t separate the ‘romance’ from the abuse. Even adults can’t seem to. I know of people all ages who think 50 Shades is a tale of romance and go “Oh, I wish I had someone that cared so much about me” – no, no you don’t.

First of all, how much of a stereotype is Anastasia? She’s introverted, she has father-related issues, only one close friend and apparently no self-sufficiency. Yes, there are people in the world like this. Yes, that is fine. And yes, sometimes they fit into the submissive role well. But come on! People other than that are submissives too. And people like that don’t always need some man to swoop in and help with their sexual awakening.
Secondly, Christian fucking Grey. He is an abusive, misogynistic prick to put it bluntly. He forces this girl – whom he barely knows – to sign a lengthy contract which dictates how she eats, how she maintains her body, what birth control she uses. He’s already gone too far. And the book has already fucked up representation of BDSM.
Thirdly, of course Christian was abused as a child. Of course he was. Because only ‘damaged’ people grow up to enjoy BDSM. Of course. This not only perpetuates a bad stereotype but also makes it seem like there is something wrong with liking BDSM and you have to have a cause for liking it beyond ‘I enjoy it’ or ‘it turns me on’.

Now onto the incredibly sickening and abusive content. Anastasia has no independence or freedom. As stated above, she already had to sign away near enough her own free will, and Christian continues to stalk her obsessively and exercise a dangerous amount of control and jealousy over her. When she models for a photographer friend, Christian buy all of the photos – not because he likes them, but because he doesn’t want anyone else to see her. When she goes to a bar, Christian flies there to make sure she doesn’t do anything he doesn’t agree with. When she gets a new job (the one independent thing she does pretty much) he buys the entire company. I could go on but I would be here for hours. Christian is possessive and jealous, and not in a very mild normal relationship way. In a call the cops way.

“The control he exercises over her does not reflect his love for her; it reflects his objectifying of her. Christian never views Anastasia as a person, let alone an independent woman.” – Fifty Shades of Feminism 

This book is encouraging people to act this way, it is suggesting that it is normal and romantic and okay to have someone act this way. Christian exerts so much dominance over Anastasia that she doesn’t even choose her own wedding dress and when asked why she says because she wants to “please” Christian. Don’t get me wrong, it’s normal and fine to want to make your significant other happy. But not because you’re scared of the ramifications if you don’t.
It can also be said that Anastasia wants to try some of his desired ‘BDSM’ because she thinks that will, and she she wants him to, demonstrate his love for her. Whereas Christian wants to do it so he can have power and control over her.

People who enjoy BDSM are not always this extreme. They always use safe words and they always obey them. They rarely have ridiculous contracts which dictate entirely how the other person will live. Yes, some BDSM is about control, power and pain, but it is purely sexual. It is not about damaging the person mentally or having control over their life, it is about having control over them sexually and in that moment.

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You may be thinking ‘but they had a safe word’ and yes, yes they did. But when Anastasia uses it Christian guilt-trips her and berates her until she apologises to him. He feels that she did something wrong, that he was the victim and that he deserves her to acknowledge that. He is not concerned about her, or why she used the safe word, only how it affected him. Using a safe word is never wrong. 

The co-depency in the book is another point of worry. Being co-dependent is not a good thing. It is romanticised so much in the book but it is not a good thing. There is a huge difference between loving someone and having a healthy relationship together, and being completely co-depedent.
All of Anastasia’s self-worth comes from Christian. Not only is he the only man she’s ever been with, but she takes everything he says to be true. She only feels attractive when he says she is, when he insults her she believes it, and because of him nothing in her life is her own – her job, her home, her sense of self, her self-esteem – she has no independence.
When she tries to break up with him she falls to pieces and gets ill. In turn, Christian only asks her to marry him because she thinks she will leave him and when she reveals her pregnancy, he rages at her and acts like it is entirely her fault.

The relationship is abusive on so many levels. Emotionally abusive relationships are characterised by insults, making you feel worthless and even sudden bursts of anger…

“Christ Ana! You have one thing, one thing to remember. Shit! I don’t fucking believe it. How could you be so stupid?” – Christian Grey

By manipulation and clinginess…

“No, please. I can’t do this, not now. I need some time. Please.”
“Oh Ana, don’t overthink this.” – Christian Grey

By threats and fear for your safety. By privacy invasions and possessiveness…

“Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone, remember?” – Christian Grey

“‘This conversation is not over’ He whispers threateningly.”

By suggesting they know how you feel better than you do, dictating that, and by guilt-tripping…

“So you felt demeaned, debased, abused and assaulted… Do you really feel like this or do you think you ought to feel like this? Do you think you could just try and embrace these feelings, deal with them, for me?” – Christian Grey

The book tells people that love alone can ‘fix’ someone, that co-dependency is healthy, that extreme jealousy and possession is romantic and it blurs the lines between abuse and romance. 50 Shades of Grey is the fastest-selling novel of all time. And now it’s been adapted into a film, which is ironically being released on Valentine’s Day. The book is bad enough but the film will undoubtedly cut out the worst of the abuse; already it is trying to be sold off as a romantic drama. Do not buy the book or see the film, do not give any of your time or money to this franchise. This film will inspire a whole new group of people, a whole generation, to think that the Ana-Christian type relationship is healthy and okay. It is not okay. It is abuse.

 

Riot ❤
Lorelei

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12 comments

  1. As if all of that is not bad enough, the very end of the book, the part written from “his” point of view is beyond creepy and validation that this character does not love Ana and is about narcissistic gratification, deep rooted malice manifested in a pursuit of money, fashion and society labels and control. For all the lip service we hear as to how people know better and this is simply fantasy, we do know better, millions of girls will see this as a model to live by and pursue elements of this model as their “dream” adding pictures and inspiration from 50 Shades to their “image boards” and sadly they will pay the price for it.

  2. Many people would say that this is exactly what BDSM culture leads to, by default. They would say that the whole point of BDSM is to eroticize rape culture. I tend to fall into that group…

  3. Reblogged this on ml.puntoyseacabo and commented:
    Este post sobre 50 Shades of Grey y la mala ilustración que hace del BDSM es una lectura obligatoria. Además, nos pone a pensar sobre si la literatura realmente tiene un rol social o no, señores. Resulta que ser escritor no es tan gratuito como uno piensa, y estos pensamientos lo demuestran.

  4. When I first read the book when it came out I got a few chapters in after connecting the dots… That he is a controlling pice of shit after already getting out of controlling relationship and learned the signs to steer clear of, I soon picked up on the same thing I closed the book and never picked it up agoan and with the movie release have not even thought about seeing the movie … Completely agree with this artical… Rubbish.

  5. I disagree.

    Whether or not what is depicted in the books is abuse (and I’m not arguing one way or the other here) it is a fiction and an expression of one woman’s sexual fantasy. It is not real.

    One of the few freedoms we have as females is to escape into books, movies and our own sexuality and think about whatever we want – whether this is being made love to slowly, having chocolate eaten off our body, being raped by a gang of bikers or dressing like a ten year old girl and bouncing on ‘daddy’s’ lap. While different people get turned on by different things, no one has the right to deny a woman her freedom of sexuality.

    The women watching this movie and reading this book are not harming anyone. They are exploring a darker side of themselves in a safe forum where they make their own choices about what they expose themselves to. In some cases it may even be therapeutic or beneficial (some victims of abuse and rape are known to prefer these types of stories and sex games in order to categorise and compartmentalise their own experiences).

    Must we shame women for coming out and taking advantage of the rights we have fought so hard for?

    As a feminist I find it disappointing that so many women are decrying others’ rights to see this film and read this book. If it is not your thing, by all means shy away, but to demonise it so that other women feel guilty or as if they are betraying some unspoken female code by indulging themselves in it borders on patriarchal control, bullying and manipulation.

    If it had been men that predominantly protested about 50 shades, I imagine there would be an uproar and a rallying cry to stop the big bad boys from trying to tell us what we are allowed to be turned on by.

    Just because we are women, does not mean we know everything about what is and is not right for other women. Reading and liking a story about sexual abuse does not mean that an individual condones abuse in real life any more than having a baby is disrespectful of the scores of women who have lost a child.

    Passionate opinions on any work of creativity are always going to be stirred up and these discussions need to happen…but it’s concerning to see an increasing number of women policing each other’s tastes and penchants when they differ from their own.

    In reality, abuse is something that should be called out and fought against.

    In fiction, NO ONE has a right to censor self expression. Allow yourself the right to choose and allow your fellow females the freedom to do the same.

    They don’t always do what you think they should. We need to let it be, lest someone take that same freedom from us one day.

    Anyways, that’s my 5c worth. Thanks for opening up this discussion.

    • Thanks for your comment, it’s really interesting to hear this POV. I see what you’re saying, and agree in principle (I believe women should be allowed to choose and not be ashamed for being turned on but certain things etc.) However my, and other people’s, problem with 50 Shades is not the sexuality of it: it’s the fact it romanticises this kind of relationship. This kind of relationship does happen, it’s true, and some people may find that attractive – but at its core it is abusive. This franchise blurs the lines between consent and play, and that is the issue. Even if some people find ‘play rape’ or extreme BDSM a turn on, which is 100% fine, it is still (or should be) consensual even if during you pretend it is not. That’s why there are always safe words, so it can seem unconsensual but it never actually is or should be.

  6. Haha, sometimes I’m glad I’m a lesbian. Haven’t even come to my mind to read it since I get nauseous from heterosex (to each her own), and I am SO glad for avoiding it once I read this article.
    If everything had been a play, a pretend, and at the last page they both agreed it was a good old time and a fantasy coming true for both of them, before departing and pursuing other relationships, I would buy it. I would make the novel so much more interesting and thought provocing! But judging by what you write in this article Mr Grey seems to treat this woman less than a street dog.
    The awful thing is that so many people read the story. So many people that cannot see the true side of it, even realizing the relationships is abusive, and take impression, possible (probably) leading to them seek out and put up with abuse.

    I generally love your blog, I’m browsing through it and have yet to come across a single thing I don’t agree with. True feminists think alike 🙂

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