As Valentine’s Day approaches, many women will flock to their local theater to see Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to the widely popular film and erotic book series Fifty Shades of Grey. There is a significant irony about linking a holiday about love and romance with a film that glorifies the use of BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism) through manipulation and coercion in a relationship.
While the Fifty Shades of Grey series is often categorized as a romance, it actually normalizes a very serious issue in today’s culture: sexual violence against women. Just like in mainstream pornography, the Fifty Shades of Grey series perpetuates the sexual exploitation of women.
The National Center of Sexual Exploitation states, “The popular series promotes torture as sexually gratifying and normalizes domestic violence, particularly violence against women. This type of material cultivates a rape and sexual violence culture and is now permeating our society. With the popularity of this book, mainstream opinion-makers are telling the public (especially youth) that humiliation, degradation, and torture in sex is normal and to just give it a try.”
Where things get grey is when our culture begins to normalize something that we once would have all deemed as wrong. The more culture normalizes sexual violence against women the easier it is for women to accept it as being okay it in their own lives, their friends’ lives, and their daughters’ lives.
What are we teaching the next generation of women when our entertainment contains physical, emotional, and sexual violence? They learn what is acceptable by observing what we deem acceptable. Case in point: the extreme popularity of a film and book series that treats sexual violence as love.
The black and white of it is… sexual violence ≠ love.
Women deserve more than to be seen as sexual objects and to be used for fulfilling sexual fantasies. Women deserve more than to be manipulated and coerced into sexual behavior that is violent and manipulative. Women deserve more than to be held to the standard we have set for them by accepting sexual violence as normal.
Books and films like Fifty Shades of Grey take us back to a time when women didn’t have a voice.
It is time for all women to stand up and say no.
What YOU Can Do…
Use the hashtags #50dollarsnot50shades and #fiftyshadesisabuse on your social media networks and share the truth about the harmful messages promoted by Fifty Shades! Click here for several memes and talking points you can use.
Donate $10, $25, $50 or whatever you can afford to help the women experiencing the real-life version of Christian and Ana’s abusive relationship. Donations can be made to any domestic violence agency in your area. Share about why you gave using hashtags #50dollarsnot50shades and #fiftyshadesisabuse.
If you are in the United States you can find a list of women’s recovery agencies at DomesticShelters.org.
If you’re a woman in the midst of an abusive relationship, find a shelter near you. You do have to to take it anymore.