Books --> Movies, Domestic Violence

My take on 50 Shades

When I was a teenager – many many moons ago – I thought I was a strong young woman. I couldn’t understand why anyone would stay in a relationship with someone who would beat them up. I would never be that stupid. If any man ever hit me, I would just leave.

Then it happened to me. In the beginning, his jealousy flattered me. It was so romantic how he wanted me all to himself. He got into fights with other men who dared to look at me in public. That was fun until he started getting into fights with me when we got home because I let other men look at me. Somehow, it was my fault that other men looked at me. Somehow, I deserved to be punished for their wayward glances.

Before I knew it, I wasn’t allowed to have any friends that he didn’t choose for me. I was not allowed to have any male friends at all. When his male friends would visit, I made myself scarce so as not to be accused of flirting with them after they left. Not only that, but he ordered me not to speak to any of my male coworkers unless it was work-related. We worked in the same building, and he warned me that he could stop by unannounced at any time to make sure that I obeyed his command.

My days at work became unbearable as I dodged conversations with well-meaning male coworkers and looked constantly over my shoulder whenever one of them would try to talk to me. If the door to my office was left open even a crack, I was convinced that he was waiting on the other side listening for my voice, waiting for it to mingle with the voice of another man so he could “catch me red-handed.” It wasn’t long before my new husband had forced me to leave my male-dominated workplace to stay at home full-time with our new baby.

My Christian Grey (minus the money and expensive cars, of course) had to know where I was at all times. If a trip to the grocery store took longer than expected, he automatically assumed I had stopped off somewhere to have sex with someone else. I couldn’t even have a telephone conversation with my parents without him eavesdropping to make sure I didn’t say something he wouldn’t approve of.

He took away most of my clothes. Everything I owned that might have ever been touched by another man before we got together was thrown in the dumpster. For two years, I didn’t own a single pair of socks. I had to borrow his socks until he finally deemed me worthy of purchasing a package of my own.

If you have never experienced this type of abuse for yourself, you are probably sitting in front of your screen right now asking yourself, “But why didn’t you just leave?” You would never be that stupid, would you? You would never allow anyone to treat you like that.

Many people who have never been there believe the same thing: it could never happen to them. They would never be that stupid. I know this is true because I used to be one of these people. But just look at how many women are flocking to see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Apparently, NONE of these women see the red flags in Christian Grey’s behavior. They think his extreme jealousy is romantic when it is actually disturbing.

Anyone who can’t see what’s wrong with this book and movie can just as easily fall prey to an abuser in real life. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it could happen to you. You have just been lucky enough in life not to have caught the attention of a man like Christian Grey.

My aversion to this movie has nothing to do with its sexual content. The kinky sex is not the problem. Whatever you want to do in the privacy of your own bedroom is none of my business, and I’ll keep my bedroom business to myself as well, thank you very much. However, real-life BDSM practitioners will tell you that Fifty Shades of Grey is NOT BDSM.

This book has brought an abusive relationship to the big screen, and American women are lapping it up. Many of them are the same women who sit around judging victims of domestic violence and comforting themselves with the belief that they would never be stupid enough to allow any man to treat them so poorly.

It is not the kinky sex that makes this book and movie a prime example of abuse. The abusive behavior begins when he stalks her to her workplace. They barely know each other, and he becomes angry with her for bantering with a male coworker. He traces her cell phone. The abuse happens when Grey manipulates his prey into believing that she has no choice in the matter. He strips her of her most basic human rights and adds her to his list of assets. He makes it clear that she cannot just leave. Not without his permission.

I’m not telling you not to watch the movie. I personally can not watch it. I could not get past the first spanking scene in the book without it triggering my PTSD. He beats her and then tells her that she made him do it. He tells her he wouldn’t have to hurt her if she would just do as she’s told. But even that is a lie. Because you know all along that he is going to beat her no matter how she behaves. This scene was all too familiar for me.

I can see how you might enjoy this movie if you’ve never been in an abusive relationship. There was a time when I might have enjoyed it too. But not now. Not after having been through it myself. Please believe me when I tell you that this is not the type of relationship that you want to be in, ever.

However, please, please stop taking your teenager daughters to watch this movie. You are only reinforcing the belief that this is the best treatment your daughter deserves. You are teaching your daughter that she is property. You are teaching her that a man has a right to treat her any way he likes as long as he supports her financially and occasionally buys her nice things. Is this really the sort of life you want to train your little girl to accept as her due?

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2 thoughts on “My take on 50 Shades”

  1. Excellent piece. The writing was good and I like the subtle examples of abuse that you reference — like when he shows up at her work. I didn’t connect that action to the abuse before.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! (Sorry for my slow response… I do most of my blog work on the weekend and schedule my posts to run throughout the week while I’m at my paying job!)

      Anyway, I think the problem is that sociopaths are SO subtle and SO good at manipulating “regular” people, you just don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into until it’s too late. I was already pregnant by the time I realized I had married an abuser. However, looking back, I can see that there were a LOT of red flags that I ignored despite the fact that I had several people warning me that he was bad news.

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