I didn’t plan on writing this. But yesterday I was standing on the corner of 1st and Pike downtown Seattle, just in front of Pike Place Market. And there, prominently displayed, towering above yet another Starbucks was the billboard: “Mr Grey will see you now.” In one frame I could see this, and the flashing lights of “Showgirls” on 1st Avenue all across from one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the city.
My stomach sank in an instant.
I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey and I have no intention to. I have absolutely no desire to see the movie releasing this weekend. But I’ve read enough summaries and quotes to know that this is no romance, this is abuse. I work with women every week who have been manipulated, coerced, and controlled by men like Christian Grey. They would not call this harmless. We should not call it entertainment.
I’ve been seeing articles pop up almost daily this week around this topic, some of which have some profound truths to share. I’ve included quotes and links from a few of my favorites:
50 SHADES OF PROPAGANDA: HOW YOU ARE BEING INDOCTRINATED TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE — http://iwantrest.com/blog/post/50-shades-of-propaganda-how-you-are-being-indoctrinated-to-sexual-violence
“Fifty Shades of Grey, billed as “romantic erotica,” tells the fictitious story of a Seattle billionaire who enlists a woman to be an object of his degrading and violent sexual acts. The billionaire is partial to BDSM—a term encompassing the practices of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. The woman must sign a contract, agreeing to full submission – relinquishing control over her body, diet, hygiene, sleep, and wardrobe.”
“But, let me say clearly, sexual violence is not “normal” and we should cringe every time we see it – not pay money, buy popcorn and coke, and expect to be entertained by it. What are we doing?”
“Sexual violence is not normal. Rape and torture are not entertainment. Sexual violence is devastating to the millions of people who endure it. At REST, we have seen its consequences first hand. Some of you may make the distinction that the woman in Fifty Shades of Grey, “opted-in.” But, in the majority of cases of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic violence, exploited people appear they’ve chosen to participate, only later to say that felt powerless and lacked agency. Don’t be fooled.”
THE REAL ABUSE AT THE HEART OF ‘FIFTY SHADES OF GREY’ — http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/film/fifty-shades-grey-and-abuse
“Upon closer inspection, Fifty Shades of Grey is not just harmless “mommy porn.” it clearly depicts a deeply abusive relationship in which its protagonist suffers emotional and physical violence at the hands of her partner. And, worst of all, it doesn’t seem to realize this.”
“Both exhibit textbook signs of abuse: Christian, the so-called love interest, actively stalks Ana, purchasing her place of work and tracking her whereabouts through an app on her phone (“No place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone—remember?”). He controls her behaviors, her food intake, and dictates who she is allowed to spend her time with, isolating her from friends and family. He belittles her, threatens her and blames her. As a consequence, Ana is afraid of making Christian angry, afraid to talk to her friends, and insecure in her own personhood (“He’d probably like to beat seven shades of s*** out of me. The thought is depressing”).”
“The marketing for the film is sickening: posited as “an incredible fairytale love story,” encouraged as a date-night movie, and set to release just in time for Valentine’s Day, Fifty Shades barrels ahead without an ounce of self-awareness—or, perhaps, of conscience. The abusive behaviors are treated as adorably flirtatious interaction; here, domestic violence is met with the enthusiastic approval of the story’s protagonists.”
“The message is clear: by turning these same behaviors around to market them as “romance,” this film effectively silences the experience of millions of victims of abuse. By setting it up as romantic, this movie sends out the toxic message that, in the end, you can change your abuser. It tells sufferers that their experience is invalid, and, like Anastasia, they should learn to accept and enjoy their situation.”
“Fifty Shades fills the shape of violence and abuse with the concept of romance, and this is the most dangerous tactic E.L. James could have used, whether or not she realizes this. We cannot continue to mistake infatuation for romance, or obsession for love.”
DON’T LET FIFTY SHADES OF GREY RUIN YOUR VALENTINE’S WEEKEND — http://verilymag.com/christian-grey-fifty-shades-of-grey-movie-domestic-violence/
“For those who have not read the book, a short recap will be useful. The “hero” of the book, 28-year-old Christian Grey, is a wealthy sexual sociopath who targets and cajoles an emotionally and sexually unsophisticated 21-year-old, Anastasia Steele (who often sounds so naive and immature that she could easily pass for an adolescent), into agreeing to sadistic sex that leaves her sometimes bleeding and too bruised to move. And in true “romance” story style, she keeps coming back for more.”
“And perhaps the even bigger lie of the Fifty Shades trilogy, and no doubt the film, is that Anastasia nurtures and loves him out of his sadism and brutality. Indeed, men like Christian Grey are never loved out of battery; they just keep getting more drunk on their power over women. Believing they’ll change is the dangerous fantasy that keeps many women in their grip. Battered women’s shelters and graveyards are full of women who had the misfortune to meet a Christian Grey. But films that tell the truth about sexual sadists like Christian Grey—films where we see broken bones, black eyes, and motherless, traumatized children—don’t seem to generate the same profits.”
There’s a grassroots movement spreading across the internet right now called #50dollarsnot50shades encouraging people to give $50 to a local domestic violence agency rather than to this “global phenomenon.” Need ideas of where to donate? Try New Beginnings or REST.