abuse · domestic violence · feminism · feminist · literature · misogyny · sexism · violence · women · writer

50 Shades of Gre-garious Domestic Violence

I’ve never read the book.

I’ll own up to that much. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was never going to float my boat; I prefer my porn more consensual…

But, when the badly written smut hit the fan, I was intrigued – decent representations of female sexuality are few and far between in popular fictions – so, as any good scholar would, I did my research and, well…

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I think the examples really speak from themselves; taken straight from the book, they highlight the one-sided, abusive, domineering and controlling relationship fostered between protagonist Ana and the “charming” (please note the quotation marks) Christian…

I read these samples of dialogue back when the text first hit the bestselling lists and, sick to my stomach at this violent, abusive behaviour masquerading as sexual “play” and sado-macho activities, decided that I’d give this disgrace parading as literature a miss. 50 shades simply isn’t for me… and I don’t want to go on a rant against the women who enjoyed the text or the movie – let’s face it, Twilight was pretty popular, so of course 50 Shades would and will continue to dominate the bookshelves for some time to come.

If the release date – Valentine’s Day –  didn’t tip you off, the movie experience has been dubbed the romantic experience of the year. It has experienced one of the biggest box office openings so far this year, is expected to gross billions more and is only the first installment in an eventual trilogy – or, well, being more honest quadrilogy: Hollywood’s bound to make the last book a double feature…

This all links to a continuing and disheartening trend in the dominant and controlling partner as desirable in contemporary fiction and cinema: first Edward Cullen, now the new Edward Cullen in masquerading in fanfiction as a millionaire, FORBS 500 candidate and an even worse tendency to romanticise violence against women, reducing all issues of consent and feminist milestone in the last century to meaningless trifle which will only get in the way of all the “romance” (quotation marks, remember!).

If or if not certain women or men found the movie or literary experience worthwhile and got a few shivers in the process, that’s fine. Censorship has never been my thing; too Third Reich Nazism for me and my liberal values, the important thing for me with this text is the need for awareness. The public who consume Fifty Shades should endeavour not to reproduce its messages.

As with Twilight, we need to ensure women and men are aware of the issues this book presents, the abusive behaviour depicted through a suave and powerful character, the notable and problematic lack of consent in a slave-master relationship. The romanticisation of these texts is dangerous for women, through the consumption of these texts the public relearns the abusive lessons of the past, forgoing all feminist gains, and women become sexual commodities in need of controlling and deserving a good spanking… non-consensual, of course. Through these texts women and men relearn and regurgitate a frightening culture where they are the main commodity to be taken and had.

This is what we need to ensure comes out of the 50 Shades experience:

By all means, go to the cinema, enjoy the book, reread, rewatch, climax even! But understand that this book is a fictional representation of how romantic and intimate relationships should NOT work. This text is an example of a dangerous, abusive and terrifying relationship, it is proof of how a patriarchal structure still influences our minds and the contexts of how our relationships should work.

Moreover, if you respect your partner, it is a blueprint on how NOT to treat them.

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