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by Jacqui Sweeney

50 shadesI will be the first to admit that I loved the erotic book series “50 Shades of Grey” when it first hit the shelves. I gobbled it up. The idea of having this type of relationship intoxicated me. I thought it was so interesting. It was a world I never explored. It should have hit me when my roommate looked at me and said “Jacqui, you know that book pretty much promotes rape, right?” I was shocked. Me?! I would NEVER like that! But as I sat back and reflected, I realized, she was right.

In the story, young Anastisia meets Christian Grey while she is doing an interview. He becomes intrigued with her and finds where she works. He confronts her, wants to see her, etc. etc. He is very rich, and when she goes to his house, she must sign a contract that she won’t disclose anything, as it may ruin his reputation. He makes it clear he does not want a romantic relationship, and then shows her his “playroom.” This is a room filled with BDSM “equipment.” Whips, chains, gags, and the like. They end up continuing this relationship and eventually fall in love. Etc. etc. That’s just the basic, so that you understand the basic plot.

So there is nothing wrong with a safe and healthy BDSM relationship. It is important to realize that the BDSM community is one that promotes safety and comfort. This is not what the novel portrays at all. While some may judge, to each their own, and everyone has their own kinks. If you liked to be tied up- there is nothing wrong with that! What you like isn’t my business.  It is the behaviors of this relationship that normalize this abusive behavior. But when I see thousands of women melting over this novel and the fact that this is going to be a movie, REALLY worries me. Like myself, they did not see the warning signs of how Christian and Anastasia’s relationship is not a healthy one.  They see it as one to be admired and they find it so sexy. And hey! Maybe some parts are pretty sexy! But, when you look at their relationship deeply, you can see it is unhealthy and abusive.

-Anastasia fears for her safety.

-She has to hide her feelings of discomfort for fear of him getting upset.

-Anastasia hides things so Christian does not get jealous.

-When she is upset, he does not comfort her.

-She retracts her consent (using their safe word), and he ignores it. This is rape.

-He uses alcohol to sway her opinion.

-He manipulates her boundaries to make her think certain things are okay.

-Christian takes advantage of her being a virgin.

-Stalks her.

-Anastasia’s behavior is matched with those of abused women.

50shadesmovieIt terrifies me that this movie is coming out on Valentine’s Day. That pushes the idea that this is a romantic movie. One, couples may go see together. This will enforce the idea that this type of relationship is okay, and it is something to strive for. Christian’s abusive tendencies towards his girlfriend are looked at as sexy and desirable. Men are going to get this idea that this is what women want, and women are going to get the idea that this type of behavior is acceptable towards them. It is not. Instead of normalizing abusive tendencies, we need to speak out. Make it be heard. Do not let people think that this is okay. That it is acceptable. To make a difference, we must speak out. And do not let anyone control you. You are powerful. You are strong. You make choices for yourself.

If you want to read more examples of the novel, check out this analysis.

Jacqui is a junior at salem state in Salem, MA. She is studying elementary Ed and American history. She is also co-president of campus educators on sexual assault. She loves her cats and her dogs.

**All opinions in this piece are of the writer and do not necessarily in any way reflect the opinions of A Voice For The Innocent, the Board Members, or any affiliates.

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