Okay if you haven’t heard of Fifty Shades of Grey you need to reevaluate your life and what you do in your free time; your uni grades are probably higher than mine.
You only need to look at these statistics to see how huge the Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomena is: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11405898/The-Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-phenomenon-by-numbers.html
Before starting this blog post, I was one of the people who had no clue why people are raging on about fifty Shades of Grey (I’m more on the “Wow Christian Grey is absolutely gorgeous but woah that’s a bit too kinky for my liking” side). The other two sides are generally along the lines of “Where do I sign up for BDSM classes with Christian Grey!?” And the other “Who can I call to sue because of the degradation sexual abuse of women this film is promoting?”
But after I actually did my research and realized I was acting a naïve consumer, there is a lot more to realize about this film other than being able to watch a hot guy in a heap of steamy scenes for 2 hours with an okay storyline.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, here is a bit of background information for those of you living under rocks and don’t know what I’m going on about here.
Fifty Shades of Grey is based on E.L James’ erotic novel that explores ‘a’ perception of the world of BDSM. (BDSM stands for Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism). It is a fiction novel that was written mostly for women (as most erotic novels are) but is aimed at those involved or interested in BDSM. The story line is pretty simple, Anastasia Steele is a virgin in her senior year at Washington State University Vancouver, Christian Grey is a multi-millionaire CEO who’s really into hardcore, violent sex; they fall in love blah blah blah, you get the drift there.
E.L James is a British author who originally wrote the trilogy under the pen name “Snowqueen’s Icedragon” constructed as a Twighlight fan fiction. As a fiction novel, James has described it as being an encapsulation of all her fantasies. In other words, E.L James is ready for a whipping. On her website, James claims her research for the novel included “The Internet!” (E.L James 2015) she “phoned various experts…asked questions on Twitter. And … devised my own experiments” (E.L James 2015). She approached the novel with question “what would happen if you were attracted to somebody who was into the BDSM lifestyle, when you weren’t?” (E.L James 2015) This novel is from a purely fictional point of view based on no real circumstances or stories. One can assume that E.L James did not intend her novel to cause the ‘offense’ or ‘controversy’ that it has. There are plenty of ‘adult romance’ novels out there that have never made it past the section next to the books where women go when they’re having a midlife crisis; and no one ever told those authors that they were promoting sexual abuse? With that in mind, the demographic of people reading this book who partake in BDSM is obviously a lot smaller than those who would find ‘pleasure’ in your average adult romance novel.
People are up in arms saying the film is “violence dressed up as erotica” (Tarzia, L & Tyler, M 2015). But why have so many taken the novel and turned into the monster optimizing unhealthy, aggressive and abusive relationships?
Here is a 19 year old who “has been accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old female classmate during what … was a reenactment of scenes from the movie Fifty Shades of Grey”. He allegedly used restraints and violence without the victims consent and has confessed to recreating scenes from the movie. At the end of the day, BDSM isn’t perceived as the issue here, it’s the consent, or rather lack of, that critiques are fuming about. BDSM is the combination of sex and pain to mutually benefit all parties involved in the act. Fifty Shades however depicts Ana as sometimes giving consent and sometimes disregarding her self out of fear, hence promoting the idea that its totally fine to manipulate a woman into something she doesn’t want to do. Many are slamming the film for incorrectly portraying BDSM and making it look like its all about pain and abuse. BDSM’ers, if you will, all harp on about how important consent and communication is in their relationships, they know and establish boundaries and are still equal to each other. Critics have interpreted Christian’s over-protectiveness; trying to isolate Ana which is a common characteristics of individuals who both mentally and physically abuse their partner.
So what does all this mean? Well, take it as you will but even though I’ll probably still be part of this consumerism industry that at the end of the day promotes our ‘rape culture’ I can at least partake with an open and more educated mind.
Bee, A 2015, Fifty Shades of Abuse, weblog, viewed 3 April 2015, <https://50shadesofabuse.wordpress.com/>
Daunt, J & Lockhart, K 2015, ‘The Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon – by numbers’, The Telegraph, 16 February, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11405898/The-Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-phenomenon-by-numbers.html>
Eonline 2015, Fifty Shades of Grey Poster, image, Eonline, viewed 3 April 2015, < http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://www.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/20141014/rs_634x1005-141114095132-10644711_665591963557478_6990185292071945908_n.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.eonline.com/news/612181/fifty-shades-of-grey-dodges-nc-17-bullet-is-officially-rated-r&h=1005&w=634&tbnid=VjBJlgP4kpiPxM:&zoom=1&docid=S99GN1zzBShVMM&ei=V1wyVeToK-OsmAX1uYGwBQ&tbm=isch&ved=0CDQQMygDMAM>
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Green, E 2015, ‘Consent Isn’t Enough: The Troubling Sec of Fifty Shades’, The Atlantic, 10 February, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/consent-isnt-enough-in-fifty-shades-of-grey/385267/>
James, E.L 2015, E L James, E L James, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://www.eljamesauthor.com/>
Marcus, S 2015, ‘’Fifty Shades of Grey’ Isn’t a Movie About BDSM, And that’s a Problem’, Huffington Post, 16 February, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/16/fifty-shades-of-grey-isnt-bdsm_n_6684808.html>
McSpadden, K 2015, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey inspired Student’s Sexual Assualt, Prosecutors Say’, Time, 24 February, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://time.com/3719978/fifty-shades-of-grey-mohammad-hossain-rape-sexual-assault-chicago/>
Nyce, C 2013, 50 Shades of Perpetuated Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence, Academia, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://www.academia.edu/6207871/50_Shades_of_Perpetuated_Abuse_and_Sexual_Violence>
The Spinner 2012, BDSM, Abuse, and 50 Shade of Grey, Maenads of the (R)evolution, weblog, 5 August, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://maenadpress.com/2012/08/05/bdsm-abuse-and-50-shades-of-grey/>
Tarzia, L & Tyler, M 2015, ‘Violence dressed up as erotica: Fifty Shades of Grey and abuse’, Conversation, 13 February, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://theconversation.com/violence-dressed-up-as-erotica-fifty-shades-of-grey-and-abuse-37589>
Wikipedia, 2015, 50 Shades of Grey Cover Art, image, Wikipedia, viewed 3 April 2015, <http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5e/50ShadesofGreyCoverArt.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty_Shades_of_Grey&h=414&w=275&tbnid=CKSCpnKPOaPALM:&zoom=1&docid=gJXwqZLfS0uoqM&ei=V1wyVeToK-OsmAX1uYGwBQ&tbm=isch&ved=0CDEQMygAMAA>