Over the past couple of days I have seen many trailers for 50 Shades of Grey, countdowns and other still photos from the upcoming movie. I have also read a few articles, written by men, detailing how we as women should not be behind this movie. That is one thing coming from a man but I am actually surprised by the lack of strong female voices in discouraging this film. The thing is, that while we as Christians should examine our own hearts and motives in viewing this film, I believe that we as women need to think clearly and logically about how us flaunting and supporting this film sends tricky and highly mixed messages to the world around us.
I have quite a few issues with the whole 50 Shades franchise, and I won’t even go into how poorly written the books are, but I will try to summarize them in a few main ideas.
OK to start off with, I can see how the general idea has appeal. A rich, young man with a painful past that causes him to be emotionally unavailable, meets a young, struggling girl, lavishes her in amazing clothes, buys her a car, etc etc. She tries to break down his emotional walls while he …. teaches her the joys of being dominated violently in the bedroom??? Yeah, the initial plot is interesting but then it goes so horribly wrong. Sure, there is something very intriguing about a rich and powerful man and I can see how we all would love to be woo’d by a man with his own helicopter, his own empire… but we’d be a lot safer to turn our fantasies toward Batman or even Donald Trump!
One of the most horrible things about this whole book series and how women are flaunting their love for Christian Grey all over Facebook and other forms of social media, is the message it is sending to young girls and men. Part of this has to do with the fact that I work with young girls and I see their confusion over grown up life. Many of them are avid readers and many of them have never actually dated a boy…yet. To have them reading such books, fills their head with such lies that it’s scary and sad. Girls with no sexual experience are viewing sex as either frightening because it hurts or unfulfilling if it doesn’t. This is so dangerous. And the true fact is, not many teenage girls have real women who can explain these things to them. We are playing with fire and they are the ones who will end up getting burned.
Also our fandom for 50 Shades is sending a very confusing message to men. In a world where we have been fighting for women to not be objectified, to be treated fairly and kindly, to show that the ideal sexual experience involves total male domination and whips and chains– undoes a lot of hard work. Recently there has been a lot of anti-porn propaganda coming out of the UK. They have been doing studies about how a man’s early exposure to porn leaves him unable to form emotional attachments in real life relationships. We have all of this evidence about how porn is harming and hurting men and then… suddenly this has blown up all over the place. We are posting our obsession with porn-lit and somehow getting away with it. What a mess!
Men also see our fascination with Christian Grey and while they most likely cannot be buying us cars or taking us for helicopter rides, they can bring a whip or two to bed with them. We are showing men that this is what every woman really wants.
I don’t believe that we want to be objectified or controlled in such a belittling way yet with every like, click and share of a post we are stating to the world around us that we are actually okay and even condone this kind of sexual activity.
So the thing is, by giving this series power and publicity, we are sending messages to the rest of the population who may or may not be interpreting them correctly. We can’t control what young girls or men are thinking but we can send messages of what is good and right and respectful behaviour. As women, it is our duty to take care of each other and the people around us. This silly book, and now movie, is doing far more harm than good and we must speak up about it.