I feel disgusted admitting I have actually read the 50 shades trilogy and at one point I was even somewhat enjoying it, but luckily by the time of my full review of the terrible books, I woke up some. Unfortunately the trilogy is quite popular. It is also credited with making BDSM mainstream….in the worst kind of way. Now, there’s this film based on the book that is coming out… on Valentine’s Day of all days.
Because, y’know, abuse is so sexy and romantic.
I don’t even need to go into how 50 shades is abuse and the story is terribly written—- there’s a million blogs that have already discussed that, including mine. Also this one, this fantastic one, this one, and this fun post pointing out the 50 shades of FUCKED UP the dialogue is using the movie poster here.
But the real reason I wanted to write this blog is not just because of the growing annoyance I have with this poorly written garbage and the cheesy merchandise that is suddenly everywhere, its actually all thanks to an article in Etertainment Weekly.
When I saw the byline on the front that proclaimed “The dark truth about Fifty Shades of Grey” I thought I was in for a good read.
The “dark truth” was darker than I thought.
From the article: “Despite its antecendents in Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, Fifty Shades can even be read as a story of women’s empowerment….”
I’m sorry……what the fuck? Women’s empowerment??????
Perhaps the movie will be different. Who knows? I haven’t seen it, and I don’t really plan on it. But the books certainly don’t post women’s empowerment to me when Ana gets berated, threatened, stalked and gaslighted by a billionaire who’s supposed to be the hottest thing on the planet and it all seems to be okay. The article goes on to argue that Ana really “wins” because Christian starts out as a guy who only wants a sub and a casual fling and she ends up changing him and making him fall in love with her and have a relationship with her.
But is that really winning?
I don’t think so.
When they have sex for the first time, it is described as Christian “tearing through” Ana’s virginity. It hurts her so much she cries out in pain–ladies, if you are no longer a virgin, I’m sure you can agree losing it was not the best experience–and Christian doesn’t even ask her if she’s okay or if he should stop.
I wouldn’t say that’s empowering.
Then there is the way Christian constantly monitors Ana’s comings and goings, tracks her phone, dictates the car she drives, what she wears, what she eats, who she sees, and even buys the company she works at to further “exercise control”.
Still not empowering.
Refusal of orgasms, threats, marking her with hickies for sunbathing topless in a country where that is perfectly acceptable, and yelling at her—-most notably calling her stupid—-when she discovers she is pregnant…..
Still not feeling empowered.
Maybe one person’s abuse is another’s empowerment, but I just see abuse. BDSM isn’t even anything like how it is depicted in the books. Sure, they have spanking and toys and la dee da…..but the dom/sub dynamic is totally off. I saw this cute little comic circulating on the importance of “after care” and what a real BDSM experience should be like. E.L. James could have bothered to learn something before trying to write about it. And for those of us women who have been through mentally and physically abusive relationships, calling this piece of trash empowering is insulting.
I know people are going to see this movie, some people are really into it. Maybe the movie will actually fix all the several things the book did wrong (like the inner goddess/subconcious bullshit) but I still feel we need to stop allowing Hollywood to make overly pushy men sexy. We need to stop being forced to view stalking and jealousy as romantic. Most importantly, we need to stop trying to say choosing to go down the dark path of abuse and belittlement is empowering. I can assure you several women will disagree with the sentiment.