I’m all for female writers. I’m all for exploring sexuality. I’m all for safe, consensual sex. I’m not all for “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
When I first started hearing about “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I didn’t pay much attention. Several of my close girlfriends had picked up the book as their first foray into erotica and would occasionally remark to one another about their enjoyment of the piece. They found the scenes sexy, the visuals steamy and even if the writing was subpar, at least they were finally getting a female-centric perspective of sex (something often lacking in male-engineered porn and other erotic expressions).
I’m supportive of people taking control of their sexuality. I’m supportive of people reading and watching various types of material to determine their intimate preferences. I’m in no way shaming any sexual preference, fetish or the BDSM culture depicted in “Fifty Shades of Grey;” if that works for sexual partners, by all means, they have my blessing.
My problem with “Fifty Shades of Grey” is that it presents an abusive relationship in a glamorized way. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a disappointment in that it normalizes abuse and has joined a cultural trend of romanticizing behavior on the big screen that is dangerous in reality. Outside of their sexual relationship, Christian Grey attempts to control Anastasia Steele. He stalks Ana, wires her phone without her knowledge, limits who she can talk to and when, controls what she eats, is prone to threatening outbursts and frequently isolates Ana from other company. The problem with Grey and Steele’s relationship is that the dominating behavior continues outside of the bedroom; it’s manipulation dressed up in a sexy tuxedo. Christian Grey isn’t a sexual fantasy; he’s a predator you could find on any street.
Instead of spending money on the dissemination of this unhealthy relationship archetype, I urge you to find ways to give back to those most affected by the popularity of these movies: abused women. I donated the ticket price to “Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women” online. Volunteering and speaking out against unhealthy relationship behaviors are other important ways to help change our unhealthy sexual culture. We have the consumer purchasing power to change what we see in our media. Now is the time to use it.
Bethany Lehman is an LSA freshman.