The Only Thing I’m Going to Say About “Fifty Shades of Grey”

So I haven’t read it and I haven’t watched it and I don’t intend to. But I am coming to realize that it would be remiss of my duties as a feminist if I did not at least acknowledge this cultural phenomenon in some way. I intentionally know very little about this story/book/movie, except from what I have been exposed to from the media and various conversations and what not. I do know that I walked into a supposedly family friendly book store last week, which featured a prominent display depicting an image of a woman with her arms bound over her head and a man looming over her holding her face. Hey, I’m all in favor of doing whatever you want to do with whomever you want to do it with, in the bedroom (or whatever other room of your choosing), but I don’t necessarily want to see pictures of it while on a family outing.

Here is a few other things that I think I know about the story.

  • It features a young girl, naive, repressed, etc. She sees herself as plain, dowdy and boring, but others think she is quite pretty and interesting. (Can we get past this trope already!!??)

  • She meets a rich, handsome hero under dubious circumstances.

  • She is intrigued by him, even though he seems to be rude and self absorbed pretty much right off the bat.

  • They go out.

  • There is something about a contract, to which she agrees. Supposedly the contract dictates multiple details of her life including but not limited to what foods she can and cannot eat. (How little self esteem does one have to have for this nonsense to fly!?)

  • There is something about a helicopter ride.

  • At some point he sells her car without her knowledge. (I’m sorry, but if someone sold my car without my knowledge, I’d report it stolen and press all kinds of charges. I mean, people develop emotional attachments to their vehicles, develop memories, etc. i.e. “I had this car my senior year of college, and we road tripped down to Pensacola during finals week.” I don’t care if I’m driving a beater. It’s my property and no one has a right to sell it except me.)

  • There is some sex in the story.

  • Somewhere towards the end he beats her up and prompts her to count to six. From everything I have heard this scene is disguised as a sex scene. But apparently she is not into it and she is crying and upset. So really he’s just hitting her and getting off on it despite or because of her reaction. I don’t know which is worse.

  • Finally, she stands up for herself to some extent and walks out.

There. That is the full extent of my knowledge. It may or may not be accurate. Feel free to let me know one way or the other. I’ve heard countless readers/ movie goers say “Oh, but wait!” and “Don’t worry. In the end she actually SAVES him!” and so on.

But I guess the question I have always come back to is this. Why would she want to? What is so fascinating about this obnoxious thug that she must invest so much of herself into leading him to redemption? It is not our job as women to ‘fix’ our men. This mindset continues to remain prevalent. It’s disgusting. Men are capable of self control, self awareness, empathy, and accountability. Can we please start saying so out loud?!

There are so many things about the story that make me want to run the other way, and of course I am appalled that such a large portion of the population has been sucked into this narrative.

I don’t get it.

There is another list which I must post here. I would like for you, dear reader, to join me in a small game. See how many similarities you can find between the two lists.

  • Controlling behavior

  • Possessiveness

  • Makes major decisions without consulting partner.

  • Criticism and control over details of partner’s life, appearance, eating habits, etc.

  • Isolation

  • Sexual pressure

  • Demands for actions, sexual or otherwise, the partner is uncomfortable with.

  • Holding partner responsible for emotional state.

Do you see it?

This is a partial list of warning signs for an abusive relationships compiled by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These traits are not romantic. They just aren’t. I’m a little concerned that the ticket sales are indicating that so many movie goers seem to think they are. Keep in mind that I HAVE NOT seen the movie, nor have I read the book. Please feel free to let me know if I have any of the details incorrect.

In the mean time, here are a few helpful links for anyone who might need a resource for help.

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: http://www.thehotline.org/

RAPE AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK: https://www.rainn.org/

Of course if one needs immediate help, call 911.

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