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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shade Me from the Grey!: A Counselor's Take on the 50 Shades of Grey Movie

****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. 


  1. I think there needs to be more women like you who are not afraid to go against this "Grey" trend. The truth is that this story and series is based off of something that was meant to harm and cheapen women.

    1. Thanks Ashley! And grr, yes, I'd like to see the statistics in spikes in d.v. correlated with how many millions this movie makes. :( Then again, I think the multi-billion porn industry is already spiking d.v. rates everywhere.

  2. I have a friend who read the series. She told me some of what was in there, and I'd asked why she kept reading. She couldn't stop. It's sad that once the hook is in the jaw, regardless how awful it is, the fish can't get free. So it seems. Especially if she has been demeaned already by the men in her life.

    I was asked the other day whether I was going to see it. When I said no, and that I didn't think it was kind to women, she said, "Maybe there are some out there who like that kind of stuff." I have a difficult time believing that.

    Thanks, Anne, for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it.

    1. Thanks, Karlene! And I do think that if one has been through demeaning experiences from men before, this kind of stuff could be especially addictive. Which is sad, since I'm sure it makes the book's attitude towards women just all the more damaging to the reader.

  3. This one seems almost too obvious for Christians to avoid. I personally think if they're debating it, then they have bigger questions to consider. . .

    I would love to see Christians talking about how to watch tv and movies responsibly. Some of the most subtle messages in the media are just as awful as the crud in 50Shades.

    1. I read this one hilarious FB status where a woman posted "why are all these Christians telling their Christian friends not to watch 50 Shades of Grey? Were any Christians actually considering watching this movie?" Lol. :)
      But I think this is an issue that should create common ground among people from many different belief systems. You don't have to be Christian to think that 50 Shades of Grey disrespects women!

  4. The whole conversation is strange to me. I did read the books. I am a Christian. I have no plans of watching the movie or having sex outside of my marriage or participating in BDSM. The books were badly written & boring enough to really not comment on. There's tons of porn centered novels out there. Why this one? Why now? Yah. It doesn't glorify God. But neither does any of the other stuff out there. Harry Potter, Divergent etc. I read those too.

    1. I guess for me the phrase "The books were badly written and boring..." My dollars are precious to me and I can't imagine reading book two if they were boring and badly written. Call me stupid (and some do) I don't get why you were keep reading is they were badly written...

    2. I read them for a book club and borrowed the books...

  5. Thank you so much for taking a stand against something I find very disturbing. Why people with seemingly "conservative" views are flocking to a book/movie like this is beyond me. I don't dare expose myself to something like that because I know it will put thoughts in my mind that I don't need to have. In my opinion it is just another step in America's moral decline and I am sad to see it. I thank God for those of you who stand against it--my sweet sisters in Christ!!!

  6. This article was hilarious! Do you realize the phrase is "quote unquote" not "quote on quote." Only people that aren't proficient English speakers make that mistake. Also, what about this article was graphic? Nothing. Acknowledging that there is a such thing as BDSM, rape and sex is not, in itself, graphic. Now if you would have described any of those things, that would have been graphic (and most likely more interesting), but it is obvious you have little experience in sexual exploration, and are not open minded enough to try anything new. The biggest laugh I got was when you brought up measles and didn't actually connect it to anything in the article, very lazy writing. You really should have an editor read over your stuff. You are obviously not a proficient enough writer to do this on your own. What you are is a classic attention seeker, which is why you would "review" a book/movie without even reading the book or seeing the movie. I recommend that you educate yourself, before you write again, with experience and multiple readings from different perspectives. In closing, it is obvious you haven't read the bible either since it is more misogynistic than the book you reviewed, for example, rape, incest, underage sex, concubines, and more, all at the hands of men and god. In addition, nonsexual examples of misogyny would be that women must subjugate to men, may not speak in church, may not teach, etc.

  7. I saw the movie because I didn't want to read the books. The books are based on twilight. The author literally wrote a shitty fan fiction of Twilight and it got popular. When I saw the movie with my husband on valentine's day we both laughed at many of the "sexy" parts and quickly left the theater when the credits started rolling. We both agreed that we must not be the target audience for this film because we found it neither sexy nor shocking lol.

    The writing was bad. The story was disjointed and the main characters were both shitty people.

    I am close with someone that has been an active member of a BDSM community in another city. She was a submissive who engaged in lots of this kind of activity. In these communities they have classes given by senior members and they do their best to screen out the weirdos and the ones who aren't going to follow the rules. There is always an inherent risk when you let someone dominate you though. I think really Christians and others that are unfamiliar with the community are giving BDSM to much credit. It's not as scary and devilish as people think. It's really just a bunch of nerds larping (live action role play) with sex toys. I guess for me the whole BDSM thing is sort of overblown.

    I'm going to give a disclaimer here: if you are Christian and easily offended by criticism of the religion then please don't read on. I'm not looking to change anyone's views or act superior in any way.

    I guess what I don't understand our what I get frustrated with is when Christians look at fifty shades as bad for women and degrading. Isn't the old testament also degrading to women? Stoning being a proper punishment for any transgressions a husband takes offense to? Or the story of Sodom and gamora when Lot basically offers his daughters up to the towns folk to save the two disguised angel men. Wtf? Then as they escape the town the wife (who had to be inherently evil Cuz she's a woman right?) Looks back and sees the towns burning and turns into a pillar of salt. Convinietly getting rid of Lot's wife and marrige vows so he is available to have incestuous relations with his daughters and produce genetically questionable offspring to populate the new godly world. :/

    It seems to me that if you want to disagree with poor treatment of women you don't need to look much farther than the bible itself. Modern day Christians would say "but that's the old testament. Christianity is more about the new testament". Sorry. I don't buy that. You don't get to pick and choose what parts to believe and which ones not to unless you plan to start your own religion. There are plenty of degrading things for women in the new testament as well or there wouldn't be websites devoted to men spanking their wives biblical style.

    If you want to disagree with fifty shades then do so on principal but don't do it with the bible on the other end of the scale because it might not balance out as you hope.

    1. Thanks for reading! I completely agree that the OT is an important part of the Bible. I can see you know your Bible well. Thanks for posting specific examples. These were my thoughts on the specific passages you mention.

      1. Lot offering his daughters. AWFUL! Agree! But that was certainly not God ordained. Lot did a lot of terrible things.

      2. Lot's daughters getting him drunk than sleeping with him. Again truly awful. But never God ordained or condoned. The Bible has only negative things to say about that incident.

      3. What passage were you referring to with a husband stoning his wife whenever he wants? That isn't in the OT. Actually, unlike many other patriarchal cultures of the time, if a wife was caught in adultery she could NOT be stoned unless the male partner was also found and stoned. Very unlike cultures of the time that primarily punished the woman for illicit sexual activity.
      I do think the OT is very pro-woman, which really sets it apart from the cultural mores of its day which were completely patriarchal.

  8. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24

    So if a woman gets raped and doesn't cry loudly then she secretly wanted it and it doesn't count? Here is a website detailing all the reasons why someone can be stoned to death. Many apply to both men and women but some are more likely to be used against a woman when he culture is more patriarchal like you said it was.

    I'm confused by your saying that Lot's actions were not god ordained. He sent two angels down to the cities of Sodom and Gamora to find anyone worthy of saving and they picked Lot and his family. If sending down angels doesn't count as God's voice then you have to apply that to all stories involving angels delivering messages including the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to tell her she was pregnant.

    It may be true that the bible says bad things about Lot's daughters getting Lot drunk but again, who is the bad guy here? The women of the story. So a man can be raped/taken advantage of by his sinful daughters. But if a woman gets raped it only counts if she screams loudly? Or else she can be stoned?

    I guess if you want to have a "take the best and leave the rest" attitude about the bible then that's fine but to my knowledge christianity doesn't work a la carte like that. People want the social applause for being Christian but they don't want to actually face the ugly parts. They support churches with their money but then say "oh well I don't believe all that " when confronted with a conservative view on gay marrige etc.

  9. Anne, I find it disturbing that you deem it necessary to “review” a book that you never finished reading similar to your “review” of a diet supplement that you did not take as prescribed ( However, based upon your witless, ignorant, and poorly written (quote ON quote) “articles” on other subjects such as hijabs and sexual orientation, I understand that, as you should be aware of as a counselor, you are a classic attention seeker.

    By the way, are you a professional counselor or did you just intern during your MA work at a juvenile center? There is a big difference between a degree holder and a professionally practicing counselor.

    I wish to respond to this post and your reply to Chrissy R. I always find comments such as yours regarding the importance of the Old Testament (OT) odd. Of course it is important. It is just as much a part of the Bible as the New Testament (NT). The New Testament often refers to the Old for support and legitimacy. But it is comments like yours that show most American Christians doubt this connection and importance. Regardless, please see the below NT passages (with one OT passage thrown in for continuity) that display the misogyny of the Bible. My contention is that the Bible does more to subjugate women than the book or movie 50 Shades of Grey ever will. I will continue with OT and a few last NT passages that demonstrate the deeply imbedded misogyny within Christianity.

    Genesis 3:16 - Women ruled by men
    1 Corinthians 11:3 - Women subservient to men
    1 Corinthians 14:34 - 36 - Women can’t speak in church and subservient to men
    Ephesians 5:22 - 24 - Women subservient to men
    Colossians 3:18 - Women subservient to men
    1 Timothy 2:11 - 15 - Women subservient to men, can’t teach, and solely guilty of original sin
    Titus 2:4-5 - Women Subservient to men
    1 Peter 3:1 - Women subservient to men

    Lot: You say that “the bible has nothing but negative things to say about that incident.” Please cite your references. I am aware of no Biblical commentary about this incident either positive or negative. Incest is indeed condemned in other passages but none refer directly to the incident with Lot.

    You say that “Lot did a lot of terrible things,” yet the man and his family are spared and rewarded. In fact, Lot and his family were the only people in all of Sodom to gain God’s favor and mercy. What are we to think of this? Is his behavior to be admired? Moab, the son of Lot and his eldest daughter, created his own Kingdom of the Moabites of which Ruth, David, and even Jesus most likely descended. You can do a lot of hand waving and questionable apologetics to avoid this conclusion, but all translations I have at hand (NIV, KJV, NKJV, CEV, NET, OJB, NRSVCE, NABRE) all clearly refer to Ruth as a Moabite. According to Matthew 1:5, Ruth is an ancestor to Jesus through David. So, we have Lot, a man that tried to give his 2 daughters up to a gang rape and who fathered 2 children via incest, saved by God himself forming a lineage directly to Jesus.

    Even if we grant the weak argument that Ruth was not a biological Moabite but only an Israelite living on the Plain of Moab, what are we to learn from these passages? God was wiling to kill hundreds/thousands of men, women, and children but unwilling to kill Lot and his family. Why? If he were really that righteous, would he really have offered up his 2 daughters? God was willing to turn Lot’s wife to salt only for turning to look at Sodom, her burning home, but was unwilling to punish his daughters for their deceitful acts of incest. Both wife and daughters disobeyed God’s commands. One is turned to salt and the other two are blessed with long, relatively powerful lineages. Tell us again how “Lot did a lot of terrible things” and how God agrees with you. You say his acts were never, “God ordained or condoned,” but rewarded...?

    As a side-note, is incest sometimes justified?

    Genesis 20:12
    Exodus 6:20

    1. Thanks for reading and replying! I can see this is an issue you've thought a lot about. Typing here between 3 year old's interruptions so I may have to post a couple times to get through all these references.

      Gen 3:16 "To the woman He said, 'I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.'"

      This verse is part of the Genesis curse. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the apple/fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Gen 3:17 God also curses Adam for disobedience. Basically God is saying because the two of you messed up, sin will enter the world and your lives will totally be screwed up. According to Genesis, God did not create the world to be like that. Originally in Gen 2:20 God called Eve "ezer", the Hebrew word that means strong ally and is also used in reference to God Himself. So Gen 3:16 is a commentary on how man's sin ruined God's perfect plan, not a blueprint for God's perfect plan.

      1 Cor 11:3, 14:34-36. Love the historical background on that book of the Bible! :) If you'll let me indulge my history nerd side, here's a little more info on the Corinthians. Corinth was a Greek city that was known for its licentiousness and was the original "sin city." Think of an Amish person touring Las Vegas and being horrified and that's how the rest of the Greco-Roman world felt about Corinth.

      1 Cor 11:3 "But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."

      The Greek work for head or source is kefala. Man is the source of woman according to Genesis in that Eve was created from Adam's rib. Anyway, in this passage the word "head" is used multiple times as the apostle Paul is talking about women letting their hair loose during the worship service. In Ancient Greece a woman letting her long hair hang loose around her shoulders and waist was a sign of sexual promiscuity. (Think of a woman today wearing a mini-leather skirt, fish-net tights, stilettos, and a mid-riff with the words "hooker" emblazoned on them and that's how the Ancient Greeks viewed a woman with her hair down.) Anyway, in this passage Paul is telling the Corinthian women who are leading worship with their hair hanging down, which is making the rest of the culture around them think they are very promiscuous women, that they aren't sending the right message to the non-Christians around them.

      To make his point, Paul refers back to the creation of Adam and Even where woman (Eve) was created from the man (Adam)'s rib. Thus man is the source of woman. Paul ends the passage by bringing his argument full circle. Even though man was the original creation and Eve was created from Adam's rib. Now baby boys are created from a woman's body. So even though man (Adam) was the original head/source of women (Eve), now women are the source of men. So in this passage Paul is talking about the connectedness of the genders and how males and females should work together in unity. Something that did NOT happen in ancient Greece where women were looked at as a lower form of life.

      1 Cor 11:11-12 "Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God."

    2. Oh and back to 1 Cor 11:3, the verse also says God is the head of Christ. Yet according to Biblical theology Christ and God are completely unified. One God, three persons of the Godhead: God the Father, Christ, the Holy Spirit. So in no way is God the Father superior or more "godlike" than Christ. They are completely connected. This shows too that the use of "head" is referring to the connectedness of the genders (just like Christ and God are connected), not any form of superiority.

    3. Genesis 3:16 - .”..Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The “rule over” you is the point. Didn’t need the obvious history lesson. Please try to understand the argument being made if you insist on replying or to be taken seriously.

      History lesson on 1 Corinthians: Please cite your sources. I’m not interested in speculations or Sunday Sermon trivia.

      Greek Translation: Please cite your sources. Whose interpretation(s) and translation(s) are you using. The way that I read this verse, understanding κεφαλή in this instance as “authority/ruler,” per the Septuagint (which I favor in this instance), is more consistent with not only the rest of the chapter but Paul’s other letters. Paul is pretty clearly displaying a kind of hierarchy in this chapter with man being the glory of God and woman the glory of man (understanding the original Greek of “glory” vs. “image,” “Likeness”...). Regardless if you want to use source or authority, doesn’t 1 Corinthians 11:7 display the lower standing of women in the NT? You seem to understand the the culture and historical context of Corinth during the time of Paul (despite your lack of sources) so I’m sure you understand the reasons behind why Paul instructs men to worship with their head uncovered and women with their head covered. Look at 11:7; man’s concern is to not bring disgrace to God while women’s concern is not to bring disgrace to man. Is this “Pro-woman?”

      Since you didn’t cite any sources, I really can’t engage with any of your broad statements about Greek culture. However the first thing that must be pointed out is that “Greek” culture is rather nonsensical at this time in history. Various city-states had very different lifestyles, cultures, traditions, and values. When looking at Corinth at this time, women were in fact quite emancipated compared to earlier Corinthian culture and other Greek city-states and of course can be considered a Roman city (it was Roman a colony) of sorts since it was both Roman ruled and Roman rebuilt. Of course there was some controversy about the status of women at this time and this is in part what Paul is speaking to. Women who uncovered their head were generally seen as rebelling against the historically patriarchal society of Corinth. Here are a few sources to start with:

      Witherington III, Ben, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995

      Chow, John K. Patronage and Power: A Study of Social Networks in Corinth. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992

      Winter, Bruce W. After Paul Left Corinth: The Influence of Secular Ethics and Social Change. Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001

      Grant, Robert M. Paul in the Roman World: The Conflict at Corinth. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1989

      Friesen, Steven J., Schowalter, Daniel N., and Walters, James C. eds, Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies on Religion and Society. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2010

    4. As a side note, this time in Greek history is almost never referred to as “ancient Greek” history as you appear to have done. Although it is hard to say if you were referring to only this time in Corinthian history or were making an even more egregious error and generalizing hair styles across all of “ancient Greece.” Furthermore, what is your source for referring to Corinth as the original “sin city?” Given our discussion, wouldn’t Sodom better fit that description? Again please cite your references as certainly none of the ones I provided or am aware of would give such an extreme description of Corinth.

      Even if your over simplified notion that long hair on women made others in that culture think they were promiscuous is correct, what does this tells us? Certainly there were cultural norms for mens attire and grooming but why isn’t that addressed as directly and why isn’t it sexualized as you seem to think it is for women? If Paul really is telling women to adhere to local cultural norms for the better of Christian evangelization, why don’t you see that as at least somewhat sexist? Is this chapter of 1 Corinthians really “Pro-Woman?” As a reminder, the question at hand is if 50 Shades of Grey is really more misogynistic than the bible.

      What do you mean that God and Christ are “completely unified.” That seems tautologous to me. What would be incompletely unified? I don’t see your point about connectedness and again without a citation, I don’t know what kind of translation you are using of κεφαλή . Cannot an argument be made that, using the Septuagint translation as “authority,” still be used since Christ is the Son? I’m not necessarily saying that the Father is superior but He can be viewed as the authority to Christ since it is the Father’s will that is to be done?

      Two final rhetorical questions for you regarding your first post: 1) why did God create the world? 2) Is God Omniscient?

  10. Stoning: Chrissy R may have exaggerated the use of stoning in the Old Testament (OT), but surely understated the misogyny at play in the New Testament (NT). Please share your thoughts about how 50 Shades of Grey is less misogynistic than the NT passages cited above.

    How do you interpret Deuteronomy 22:23-24? The woman is to be stoned to death if she does not cry out (KJV, NKJV, NABRE, RSVCE), was in town and does not scream (NIV), or because she doesn’t call for help even though she is in a town and people are nearby (CEV). The man is to be stoned because he humbled/violated a neighbors’ wife (NIV, KJV, NKJV, CEV, NABRE, RSVCE).

    Is the woman to be stoned to death only because she was raped and she didn’t call out? Or did not call out loudly enough for others to hear? Note that the man is not to be stoned based upon the wrong he committed against the woman, but only because he wronged the husband to be. Is this Misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    How about Deuteronomy 22:13-21? If a man marries a woman and falsely claims she was not a virgin, he is fined 100 shekels of silver (roughly $1000 to $6000 today based upon estimates of shekel of silver weights and contemporary prices). However if he is correct and she is not a virgin, then she is stoned to death. $6000 (with most generous interpretation) vs. death by this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Also note that if a man rapes a girl that is not betrothed, per Deuteronomy 22:28-29, he must only pay 50 shekels of silver to the girl’s father and marry the girl. The girl is treated as property owned by either the father or the husband (husband to be). In none of these passages must the man pay for the wrong committed against the girl, only against the property owner.

  11. General Biblical Misogyny:

    Leviticus 15:19-30: Everything to touch a menstruating woman (including the woman herself) is unclean. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Leviticus 20:18: Both man and woman are to be exiled or “cut off from their people” if they have sexual relations during the woman’s menstruation. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Ezekiel 18:6: A righteous man will not have sexual relations with a menstruating woman. In fact, sexual relations with a menstruating woman is placed on par with robbery, usury, adultery and even idolatry. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Deuteronomy 24:1-2: A man can divorce a woman if he writes a certificate of divorce because he finds something indecent about her her. If she remarries and her second husband does the same, then she cannot remarry the first for she has been defiled. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Women As Property: Per Exodus 21, women may be treated as property. If a master of a male servant grants a woman to the servant and she bears children, then the woman and children remain property of the master even if the male servant is freed. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    A man may sell his daughter as a servant per Exodus 21:7. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Exodus 21:22 (NIV): “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.” No regard given to the woman that is wronged but only the husband? Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Women and Underage Girls as Spoils of War: The Lord Himself commanded Moses in Numbers 31:1-18 to kill all men an non-virgin women. The virgin girls they kept as spoils of war. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    The Lord again commands in Deuteronomy 20:10-14 to kill every male but to take the women and children as spoils of war. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Judges 21:7-11 Again tells of the slaughter of all men and non-virgin women at time of war. 400 virgin girls were captured and given to another tribe as “wives.” In fact the 400 were not enough so a scheme was devised in Judges 21:20-23 for the tribe to kidnap more virgin girls. Is this misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Polygamy and Concubines: Are the following 19 citations of polygamy and ownership of concubines examples of misogyny or “pro-woman” as you claim?

    Genesis 4:19
    Genesis 16:1-4
    Genesis 25:6
    Genesis 26:34
    Genesis 28:9
    Genesis 32:22
    Exodus 21:10
    Deuteronomy 21:15
    Judges 8:30
    1 Samuel 1:1-3
    2 Samuel 12:7-8
    1 Kings 11;2-3
    1 Chronicles 4:5
    2 Chronicles 11:21
    2 Chronicles 13:21
    2 Chronicles 24:3
    Matthew 25:1
    1 Timothy 3:2
    Titus 1:6-7

    1. Working through these verse by verse. Might take me a little while to answer all of them. Sorry for the delay!

      Judges 21:7-11 is a very sad story about first off how the Israelite tribes almost completely wiped out the Benjaminites. And then how the Israelites advised the Benjaminites to go kidnap women. All of this is the Israelites messed up little plan though and nowhere did God command them to do this or condone any of it. Much of the Old Testament is actually about the Israelites creating messed up plans and going completely against God's commandments.
      In Ex 21:16 God actually commands the death penalty for kidnapping. So kidnapping is CERTAINLY not something the God of the Bible condones.


    2. Leviticus 15:19-30
      Leviticus 20:18: menstruation

      Blood was very, very important in the OT. The shedding of animal blood for sacrifices was done regularly by the priests to atone for Israel's sin. And then ultimately Jesus' blood was shed on the cross to pay for the sin of all mankind.
      Menstruation blood then also became symbolically important because it was blood. As you wrote both the man and the woman were in deep trouble for sex during menstruation, so not misogyny but an equal punishment for both genders. (Also Lev 15:24 talks about making atonement for that transgression so both man and woman could be forgiven.)
      During menstruation Israelite women did go outside the camp. While this certainly seemed very strange to the cultures around them, it was not necessarily unpleasant as it gave a break from routine work and from a (given that day and age) possibly annoying husband. The Jewish law rules about washing from "uncleanness" for menstruation, dead bodies, and many other things actually preserved them from many diseases. When the bubonic plague spread in Europe in the middle ages, Jewish people (who observed the law) did not contract the disease at nearly as high a rate because of their cleanliness. Before antibiotics, modern medicine, and a modern understanding of germs, this ritual cleanliness served to preserve many Jewish lives!

    3. Judges 21:7-11 & Exodus 21:16: I apologize. I used the more modern and morally laden term “kidnap” in reference to Judges. In fact Judges does not use this term. Judges 21:12 uses the Hebrew transliteration of “bow”: meaning simply that they brought or attained the girls. Judges 21: 21 uses “Cataph” to simply mean seize, and Judges 21: 23 uses “nasa.” All of these terms are morally neutral terms. Is it relevant that Exodus 21:16 uses an entirely different and morally laden term transliterated as “Ganad?” Is the incident in Judges 21 ever explicitly denounced? Even if not, and you are correct that “Much of the Old Testament is actually about the Israelites creating messed up plans and going completely against God's commandments,” then why do we care that they are supposedly the chosen people? and why would they be?

      Leviticus 15:19-30: Please cite your sources about the supposed symbolic meaning of menstrual blood. Leviticus doesn’t mention anything about the atoning properties of menstrual blood. What is does say is that anything that even touches the menstruating woman is unclean. Not just anything that touches the blood but the woman. This is prior to the development of the germ theory.

      Please cite sources about how the laws of Leviticus preserved life during this time.

      Modern medicine tells us that there is very little health risk to having intercourse during menstruation let alone having a menstruating woman sit on a an object. The greatest, and as far as I am aware, the only risk of sex during menstruation is the slightly higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Even so, why would a 7 day separation help? Menstrual blood has nothing to do with the bubonic plague. Why did you bring that up? Additionally, these verses do not only speak of sex during the menstrual cycle. Anything that the woman touches is unclean. What purpose does that serve?

      Tanfar, Koray. “ Sexual Intercourse During Menstruation and Self‐Reported Sexually Transmitted Disease History Among Women.” Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Jouranl of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association. Volume 23. Issue 5 (1995) 395-401: Print

      Cumming, David C., Gumming, Ceinwen E., and Kieren, Dianne K. “ Menstrual Mythology and sources of information about Mensturation.” American Journal of Obstetrics an Gynecology. Volume 164. Issue 2 (1991) 472-476: Print

      Delaney, Janice., Lupton, Mary Jane., and Toth, Emily, The Curse: A Cultural History f Menstruation. First University of Illinois Press, 1988

      Montgomery, Rita E. “A Cross-Cultural Study of Menstruation, Menstrual Taboos, and Related Social Variables.” Ethos Journal of the Society of Psychological Anthropology. Volume 2. Issue 2 (1974) 137-170: Print

      Kalichman, Seth C., and Sibayi, Leicnkess C. “Sexual Exposure to Blood and Behavioral Risks Among STI Clinic Patients in Cape Town, South Africa.” Sexual Health 2.2 (2005): 85-88. Web 16 June 2005

      Are you really going to argue that the requirement to have women separate themselves during their menstrual cycle is “pro women” because “it gave a break from routine work and from a (given that day and age) possibly annoying husband?” What was different during that day and age versus today? Do we no longer have “annoying” husbands? Should professional women have to separate themselves during their cycles now? If you had to separate yourself form your family and career for 7 days every cycle, would you really feel an equal part of society and family?

      How do you read Leviticus 15:30? You seem to think that the supposed symbolic nature of menstrual blood and atonement for sin somehow explains the misogynistic rules about menstruating women, but 15:30 says that a priest must make sacrifices to atone for her uncleanness. So is the uncleanness a symbol of atonement or a sin that needs atonement? And once again, is this truly “pro woman?”

  12. Anne, I appreciate your knowledge of local customs and verbage, and I also appreciate your reply. I like history as much as the next person but I think this is going off on a tangent. I'm less interested in hearing all the Christian interpretations of specific bible passages and more interested to know why a book or concept like BDSM where there are safe words and women can be subs and doms as they please is less pro women than the bible.

    A 'holy book' that literally assigns monetary value to a woman's worth and virginity or personal saftey. A book where women are not 'legitimately raped' if they don't scream loudly when it happens.

    True or false. As a counselor, you know and have been educated to know that every woman responds to trauma in the moment and may lock up with fear and be unable to scream.

    now I ask you. If your answer is true then how in the world can a woman's personal saftey and traumatic response be measured and deemed less than? How can you be ok with that, knowing what you know? and lastly, how can that possibly be better and Pro women over BDSM where women are equals and can be a dom if they want?

  13. I will be replying to each reply you provided me but first wanted to say, don’t waste your time with any further replies. If you continue with these convoluted, rambling and uncited replies, I am uninterested. I am more than happy to engage in thoughtful discourse but so far you appear unable or unwilling.

    I have come to expect no less from the vast majority of Christians that I engage in argument. However, in your case I could not resist given the complete absurdity of your original post. You still have not answered why you thought you should review a book you had not read.

    In any case, your replies so far are all too familiar. A lot of misunderstood context, history and amateur linguistics and exegesis. If we let you go on, you can “justify” your way out of anything.

    At the end of the day, Chrissy R is right. We’ve gone off on a tangent as the issue at hand is if 50 Shades of Grey is as misogynistic as the Bible not how you or I interpret various Bible verses. You ask us to think about what we’re letting into our mind and about the equitable society we presumably want to build. The purpose of my reply was to point out the sheer volume of misogynistic excerpts in the Bible to show that it is no better (or truly I would argue much worse) that 50 Shades of Grey.

    You’ve only responded to a very small proportion of the verses that I provided and already you’ve done enough tap dancing around the issues that any bright person would stop to really think about what she is trying to defend. Why do you take the supposed moral, ethical and cultural musings of Bronze/Iron Age authors so seriously? They were clearly wrong about science, wrong about war, wrong about immunology (no risk of bubonic plague in menstrual blood!) and wrong about women.

    Chrissy R has posed a great question. What say you?