Are you as sick of hearing about 50 Shades of Grey as I am? Plenty of people much more influential than I have articulated the damage this movie inflicts on society in general and women in particular. I swore I wouldn’t contribute to the publicity, albeit minimally, by writing about the objectionable story-line.
But two things altered my decision not to jump into the Grey fray, both related to a slightly different perspective.
- My experiences in nearly a decade of volunteering at Women’s Crisis Centers.
- My concern for the potential of an almost predictable spike in sex crimes involving unwanted male domination as a direct result of the movie.
As a Crisis Intervention Counselor, I repeatedly witnessed firsthand devastation of women’s lives when “NO” is ignored and the sanctity of her most private space is violated. Many survivors consider the experience worse than if they had been murdered. Her body lives but her soul feels dead.
Now, after 50 Shades of Tinseltown tripe masquerading as entertainment, I’m envisioning a surge in headlines implicating men who didn’t believe a woman’s “NO” or who trampled her regardless.
Personal discomfort aside, these two things compel me to speak up.
Someone please help me understand how millions of women sat in a movie theatre sighing and cheering as actors smeared lines of decency, not to mention laws outlining criminality, in the name of romance and passion. What happened to the mass media indignation aimed at a Hollywood star a few short weeks ago? Women who screamed loudest over allegations of rape against an African-American television and comedic legend are the same women swooning over non-consensual sex and violence perpetrated by a wealthy white guy against an innocent young woman on the big screen. What’s wrong with this picture?
Why the double standard? Has Mr. Grey’s helicopter scene stolen the oxygen from our brains?
Movie scripts exalting sadomasochism are not harmless fantasies. Graphic images of violence and perversion don’t vacate our minds when empty boxes of popcorn hit the waste basket at the theatre exit.
The message of 50 Shades of Grey, that women desire domination even if they cry otherwise, reeks of disrespect, danger and denigration of women everywhere. Such filth cheapens legitimate desires of a woman’s heart and positions her as nothing more than a man’s disposable toy.
Sadly, the madness doesn’t stop there. The negative impact to men escalates in direct proportion to what women tolerate, even embrace as romantic. Yes, yes, a thousand times YES, men are accountable for their actions. But they take their cues from women. In light of millions of female viewers supporting this glorification of sexploitation, should we really be shocked when men claim confusion while passing around a defenseless, intoxicated sorority girl like a bong in the 60’s?
Let me break down a few elements of 50 Shades’ “plot”…and I use the term looser than Madonna’s morals or P Diddy’s drawers:
Man stalks woman at her place of employment
Woman has innocent chats with male friend; man threatens to hurt her if she doesn’t stop
Man steals woman’s car and sells it
Woman tells man she is a virgin; man ravages her purity
Man breaks into woman’s apartment; Woman gets tied up to her bed and violently assaulted
Woman repeatedly utters the word “NO”; man takes that as a “come on” and perpetrates sexual deviancy including beating her with a leather whip to the point of crying out in agony.
What am I missing? What about this is swoon-worthy? Where exactly is the romance?
How does this qualify as a “love story”? Two words: It doesn’t.
Consider the above but take away the leading man’s money, power and prestige. You’d have another episode of Law & Order S.V.U. where police officers vigorously track down this sick, twisted animal. As in any good cop show, the pervert would be captured. Someone would demonstrate the proper use of handcuffs to him. And he would trade in his suit pinstripes for prison stripes. THEN sane women everywhere would have something to cheer about.
Lest there be any lingering confusion: Stalking, threats of harm, intimidation, and non-consensual sex are criminal acts. Not seduction. Not passion. Not romance. Certainly not love. Not even desire out of control, as any Women’s Crisis Counselor or Law Enforcement Officer can tell you. Forced sex is called rape. And it’s against the law. Men who perpetrate such actions are not sexy. Not irresistible. Not confident lovers. They are cowards. And they are criminals. They deserve to be prosecuted and locked up as the feculent felons they are. Not glorified as role models of romance.
Finally, I’ll echo what every other voice of reason emphasizes…Women, we were not created objects of male gratification. All women deserve respect and honor. There are men in this world who know what that looks like and are eager to engage you with enlightened magnanimity. Real men want to hold doors for you and willingly offer their seat to a lady. Real men speak without raised voice, threats or intimidation. Real men will only put their hands on you with loving intent. Real men will protect your heart, not violate your body.
One last thought. Real men do not deserve mixed messages or double standards. Respect is a two-way street.
Whether Hollywood ever gets that or not, I pray you do.