****DISCLAIMER for my pre-teen/teen readers. Since 50 Shades of Grey is a graphic movie, this review does contain GRAPHIC content****
For Valentine's Day weekend, I thought I'd write my counselor review of 50 Shades of Grey. Not that there's anything remotely valentine-ish or romantic about the movie, but yeah . . .
So in the interest of full disclosure I have not, (nor do I plan), to see the movie, and I've only read half of one of the four books. As a counselor, however, I have read heavily about the psychology behind why women read/watch this type of thing.
While I have not watched porn, I have read all-too-detailed accounts of porn. A few months ago as research for a book I was working on about dominance in domestically violent relationships, I created a fake account and stalked this group of "quote on quote" religious conservatives who were into wife-spanking as godly. As a stalker on their forum, I read dozens and dozens and dozens of pages of more hard-core stuff than 50 shades of Grey ever mentions interspersed with Bible verses and discussions about the Sunday Sermon. Yes, it was incredibly weird and very NOT Christlike.
But back to 50 Shades of Grey. Many people are up in arms about 50 Shades of Grey as a new thing. Honestly, the only "new" thing about the kind of lust being marketed in 50 Shades of Grey is that the target audience is women. Porn films, which target men, almost exclusively portray the type of dominant, power-hungry style sex of 50 Shades of Grey. As a Christian, I always thought I was against porn because I'm against watching people have sex. After discovering this about porn, I realized I'm actually against porn because it portrays a hideously messed-up style of sex where the goal is domination and subjection rather than love and bonding. There are some exceptions with so-called "woman positive" porn where basically you can watch naked people be nice to each other as they do things, rather than be ugly and domineering. I'm still against women-positive porn films, though I do think they're slightly less messed up.
"But messed up is such a harsh word," you say. A lot of people are arguing that 50 Shades of Grey is just an erotic fantasy. It's not meant to be taken seriously. Lighten up.
I disagree. Ideas are dangerous. If 50 Shades of Grey was being read exclusively by 90-year-old women whose husbands have passed on, one could say "oh well, it's a fantasy. Who's it going to hurt?"
But girls and young women who are making incredibly important life decisions about who to date and marry are reading this rubbish. Heaven help the poor girl who is trying to find someone like "Christian Grey" to date. Because she will quite easily find him. And he will leave her with broken bones and a broken heart.
Ok, 50 Shades of Grey is messed up some people say, but real BDSM, which the book is based on, that's still good. "In real BDSM, adults consent to be cursed, hit, and tied down throughout the sexual experience," people argue. "Who are we to judge what people find to be a turn-on?"
I don't believe that argument for a second. Maggie Mayhem wrote about how she has been forced to participate in many things that she did not sign off on while acting the submissive role in a BDSM fantasy. When she complained to her fellow BDSMers, they told her to stop being whiney. She should have enjoyed the rape. She said she hasn't met a single female submissive (i.e. the partner in BDSM who is getting tied up/beaten up/cursed at) who hasn't been assaulted in some way beyond what she consented to.
Where does "play rape" end and "real rape" begin? I seriously don't think there's that defining of a line. While those who play the "rape me" role in BDSM fantasies say they are doing it because it feels good, I think it's a cry for help. And a sign they really, really, really need counseling.
Well, I'll end there. For some of my readers that was probably already way too much about BDSM and porn than you ever wanted to know. For other of my readers, perhaps you're familiar with this all at a much more personal level than I. If you are, I'd say please think about what you're letting enter your mind. Establishing a culture where both genders are respected and valued is a difficult (and very fragile) thing at the best of times. Most societies have failed miserably at it. Is a few minutes of some kind of guilty pleasure really worth jeopardizing the very bulwark of male-female relations?
PS To some who are saying the reason 50 Shades of Grey is popular is because women are sick of being feminists and want men to be more leaderlike/domineering; hogwash! This kind of film would have filled theaters in a patriarchal culture like ancient Greece or modern-day Saudia Arabia. The only difference is the audience would have been exclusively male. Because after being beaten for real by their husbands every week, those oppressed women would have known better than to encourage men to be brutes. It's not because women are sick of being feminists; it's because they forgot what it was like to not be free. I guess it's kind of like the measles outbreak. Only in America where no one has lost half their offspring to preventable childhood diseases in over a century, do we think it's romantic to go to a "measles party" and spread around the germs.