This entire past week my phone has blown up with texts and messages from friends sending me articles on the new movie 50 Shades of Grey and how they believe it glorifies domestic abuse. I realized I must be the domestic abuse go-to girl because of my unfortunate dealings in the past.
I never read the book nor had any desire to do so. I tend to like my brain cells to remain where they are, between my ears. So after article, after article, after article from feminists to the Christian right and all points in between, I wanted to know for myself if everything they were saying was true. And then I thought, where were these people when the book was doing so well and selling eleventy-billion copies?
I went to see the movie yesterday so I could form my own opinion. I like first-hand information and not everyone else’s interpretation of the facts. Because “facts”, more than ever, seem to be completely subjective in this day and age.
First of all, I have to say, I love Jamie Dornan. Loved him in the first season of Once Upon a Time and was left super pissed off when the Evil Queen ripped out his heart and he died. I didn’t watch it after that. Then I became his super fan when he played the uber-creepy serial killer in the British drama The Fall on Netflix. It’s unbelievably intense and great writing. And he’s all scruffy and has his true Irish accent going. So, when he was cast as Christian Grey in this supernova, I wasn’t happy about it.
I’m sure there will be some spoiler alerts so those with a weak constitution may want to overt your eyes at this particular juncture. Anastasia Steele is an awkward college student who is about to graduate when she meets the famous businessman Christian Grey. She interviews him for her school’s newspaper and he becomes immediately infatuated with her. Chock one up for awkward girls! Yay!
She’s saucy and a little defiant. He realized she isn’t like all the other girls, who apparently just want to just kiss his ass, which meant quite literally. To be honest, she sort of follows the rules from one of my favorite dating books, Why Men Love Bitches, but she comes across as very vulnerable at the same time. Something he obviously would love to exploit. There are a couple of important issues to point out. She doesn’t hail from what seems to be great family background. Daddy issues abound! So the charming Christian Grey becomes very pursuant of her and she likes it. And then he isn’t. And then he is. And then she calls him on it. And then he says, Oh I can’t stay away from you. Then he continues to romance the shit out of her.
One night she drunk dials him. He’s seemingly put off by her inebriation and feels the need to track her down and hold her hair while she pukes. Apparently, a good time was had by all. He buys her clothes. He buys her a computer. He buys her a car. He whisks her away on a helicopter for a weekend trip to his place. And as she begins to become more and more attracted to him, he gives her the “I don’t do romance speech.” He also gives her the “I’m not the guy for you!” speech. All the while still romancing her and pursuing her. He also says he never “sleeps” with a woman as in actual sleep, but then he does with her a couple of times, but says oh no, it’s not something I do. Apparently, he gives the romance, and wants to have sex, but doesn’t want her to become attached to him in any way shape, or form. He spends the night only when he wants to, then disappears the rest of the time. So right off the bat, he’s every man I’ve dated in the last 10 years. Minus the clothes, helicopter rides, computer, and car thingie. Obviously, I’m doing it wrong.
Then he finally lets his kinky cat out of the bag and leads her into his secret “red room of torture” as Ana calls it. It’s full of whips, chains, a bed with places to tie ropes too and the tackiest red leather couch you’ve ever seen in your entire life. He mentions 15 women have been in there before, which, ew.
He begins trying to persuade her and states that she must sign and agree to some binding document on what he can do to her for his pleasure and a long list of all the rules. Upon exiting the room and as they begin talking about it and he is still trying to persuade her to let the kinky whooping begin, she reveals she’s a virgin. Oh, well, we can’t have that so he screws her like a relatively normal human being. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little hot. Even with the 5-year-old, that someone actually brought to see this movie, who stuck her little face between the seats and said hi to me right when Jamie Dornan’s 20-foot-tall ass was right in front of me. It brought a whole new meaning to the word uncomfortable.
Anywho, like all narcissistic controllers, also known as sociopaths, Christian Grey is charming upfront. People are drawn to him. He works on sweeping her off her feet, all the while with his personal agenda hidden somewhere around the wall of ropes. He gets jealous very easily. Especially with any men that come around Ana. But true to a controlling relationship he also becomes jealous of her spending time with family. True to abusive form, they always want to isolate their victims. When I was in abuse, even my pets were a source of jealousy.
Eventually, Ana begins to slowly consent to Christian’s whooping ways. I honestly now feel like I’ve seen Dakota Johnson’s nipples longer than I’ve seen my own. The dominant sex scenes were just weird to me. But I felt like they were a total sub-story to the real story. Which in my opinion was this.
Ana obviously wanted to be loved. She began falling in love with Christian. The part that was difficult for her was the fact that she was given all this good but then this bad also came with it. The jealousy, the controlling, the spanking, et al. It was her inner conflict that was sad and disturbing. Here he was saying and doing all the right things that would make a woman fall for him while saying trust me on all this other bad stuff. Women get in trouble when they’re taught in a roundabout way to no longer trust their own inner instincts. They are trained to put all that trust in another human being and then to no longer listen to their inner intuition. That is a very dangerous place to be. Ana wanted the good. But the bad came along with it. And that’s something I find with many women from abuse. Their childhoods have left them ill-prepared for healthy relationships. Pain, confusion, and mistrust are where they become more comfortable. So when they finally get to a healthy place, then they feel like they are doing something wrong. It’s a horrible place to be and it takes so long to overcome. You have to learn a completely new normal for your life and deal with the issues that made you a target for such a controller in the first place. And that’s why most abused women go back to their abuser on average 7 times.
Now to the question of does this movie glorify domestic abuse?
I’m going to answer that with another question. Since when has Hollywood NOT glorified all that is wrong with society?
Where were all these people when Twilight came out? Oh my GAWD, Edward was the biggest freaking controlling stalker known to man, but boy, did the women swoon.
I loved the show, Dexter. He was also a freaking serial killer. How did Hollywood make me feel sympathetic to a serial killer?
If all of you are waiting for Hollywood to not glorify the ills of society, then good luck. You will be waiting a long time. So I get a little pissy when everyone freaks out over this ridiculously stupid movie with such a stupid ending that when it was over the entire audience started laughing in disbelief, myself included. If you ever think Hollywood will take some high ground and make morally responsible movies, you’re an idiot. It’s not going to happen. And if you are going to feign outrage over this movie, then you better be ready when the next one comes out that on the surface looks like a love story but in real life would be an utter shit show.
The good thing about Ana is when he finally spanked her with a belt as hard as he could, she was like yup, that’s my limit you mutha f****. She didn’t say that, but she should have. And she left. The only way in real life to deal with an abuser is to get as far away as possible from them and have zero contact.
I also think we need to realize, that Hollywood is not real life. I actually had a conversation with a counselor once about why women will fantasize about being dominated in some way or form for sexual pleasure. Just look at how huge the Romantic novel industry is. And typically on the cover, you have some bare-chested guy with long hair and a kilt grabbing some large breasted fair maiden, against her obvious will, kissing the ever-loving daylights out of her.
It’s also why the kiss between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man is so freaking sexy and hot. He just grabs her and plants one on her all the while she’s fighting him off. If that movie were released today, everyone would be saying it glorifies domestic abuse.
But here’s the difference. It’s fantasy. It’s not life. And in that conversation with a counselor, she explained when women fantasize about things of this nature, like 50 Shades of Grey, or John Wayne in my case, there’s a huge difference in real life. As women, in the fantasy world, we are in complete control. We haven’t lost control and haven’t been violated by an actual human being.
Do I think you can become desensitized to situations if you see them enough? Absolutely. I think it’s pretty much proven scientifically with porn. There’s this amazing series from the Art of Manilness on how watching more and more porn has a chemical effect on your brain and why you must constantly increase it to get the same high from it.
But a woman being taken and kissed against her will in a John Wayne movie is nowhere near the same as a man grabbing a woman and forcing himself on her in real life. In the fantasy world, the woman remains safe and in control which is likely why the books of 50 Shades of Grey did so well in the first place. Do all the women reading 50 Shades of Grey really want to have their hineys spanked to a glowing red? I seriously doubt it.
I think Hollywood and the literary world will always have as much credence as we allow them to. I dismiss 50 Shades of Grey. To me, it is just Hollywood being Hollywood and going for the big buck. Money is all that matters to them. They will never step up and become responsible in their messaging to the world. So I still believe that on occasion we will have some true gems come out of Hollywood. And I think it’s up to us to decide what movies we will support with our $17 dollar donation and which ones we won’t. You vote with your wallet every time. So if you think it glorifies something you don’t believe in then by all means don’t go see it. Honestly, don’t go see it anyway. But because it’s stupid.
But then again, I knew that before I ever stepped foot in the theater and not because of my past but because of my brain.
I’m going to end on a serious note, if you are in some sort of an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, don’t delay. Get out. There are people who will help you and your abuser would like very much for you to never know that. Contact your local police if you need contact information on a local shelter. It’s not an easy process but you can get out. You have choices available to you even if you don’t think you do. Take your power back and get healthy and you will have a beautiful life ahead of you if you do. YOU can do it. Be the Betty.
You can also reach the National Domestic Abuse Hotline here 1-800-799-7233