‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ misappropriates BDSM

It may be old news, but “50 Shades of Grey,” with main characters Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) hits the big screen on February 12th — just a couple days before Valentine’s Day. The book itself was finished in 2011, with two sequels following in 2012. British author E.L. James originally self-published “50 Shades…”, but the book was picked up by a division of the Random House publishing company in 2012.

Originally touted as “mommy porn,” this book was something people publicly grimaced and groaned at but squirreled away their own copies to read. It was exciting, it was taboo. The book is considered a window into a world most are curious about but few are comfortable enough to explore- the world of bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism (BDSM). I would like it to be made absolutely clear upfront that there is nothing wrong with this kink. As long as it is practiced responsibly and consensually, typically utilizing “safe words and aftercare”, BDSM is a healthy expression of sexuality.

However, “50 Shades of Grey” is not about a healthy BDSM relationship. “50 Shades of Grey” sexualizes abuse and glorifies rape.

I know, I know, I used the “R” word. It’s a heavy thing to accuse a bestseller of such a crime. In my defense, I invite you to read some of the following quotes pulled from the book:

(**TRIGGER WARNING** The following may be upsetting to those triggered by sexual assault/rape)

“I am trapped. He’s everywhere, overwhelming me, almost suffocating.”[AG1]

“’No,’ I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. ‘If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet, too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.’”

“‘No, please. I can’t do this. Not now. I need some time. Please.” “Oh, Ana, don’t overthink this.”

“’Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone- remember?’”

“How did you feel while I was hitting you and after?” “I didn’t like it. I’d rather you didn’t do it again.” “You weren’t meant to like it.”

These are just a few. There are myriad more. While in the context of the book, these may seem acceptable, it is when we examine them alone for what they truly are that we realize their implications. “50 Shades of Grey” showcases a plainly abusive relation with potential warning signs of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon occurring when a hostage victim begins expressing positive feelings for the captors to the point of defending their actions and justifying their abuse.

“50 Shades of Grey” apologists complain I and those who agree with me are being too harsh. Supposedly, we need to ‘look at the love story’ or rather, ‘look beyond the sex’. (Even those who have only skimmed the book understand the fallacy of this suggestion — there is very little content not involving sex.) Many also hypothesize that sexual dominance via physical force is what women are truly attracted to for biological reasons, and it is the feminist movement that’s misleading us, making us believe we need to emasculate our lovers in order to feel fulfilled as a confident, self-assured women. They argue women secretly desire to be made to sexually submit, to be pushed around and humiliated as an expression of our partner’s masculinity and power. I will not grace this notion with a reaction.

Reader, I urge you not to attend a showing of this movie when it comes out. Don’t give it your money. Through the purchase of books/tickets, the abuse is monetized and industrialized. The implications of this could be, quite literally, deadly. If literotica is how you get your kicks, there’s plenty to be found that respects the consent and safety of all parties involved. If nothing else can convince you, take into account the fact that “50 Shades of Grey” is written at roughly a sixth-grade level with terrible grammar and metaphors that are laughable at best. – “His voice is warm and husky like dark melted chocolate fudge caramel… or something.”

We can do better.


1 Comment

  1. this article is really f’ing stupid…this book does not glorify rape, the reason why Ana says “No.” and tries to kick him off is because she just got back from a run and was embarrassed of her perspiration and thought Christian would be turned off by her sweating.
    The other quote ‘No, please. I can’t do this. Not now. I need some time. Please.” “Oh, Ana, don’t overthink this.” Ana says this because she feels turned off by the fact that she looks like Christian’s mom, but as soon as Christian kisses her again, she is turned back on and wants to have sex with him.
    “’Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone- remember?’” HE WAS JUST JOKING. He was not serious when he said this.
    For crying out loud, people will look for ANYTHING to hate the book without any actual valid reasons. in no way does this book glorify rape and abuse. Enough of this already.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Welcome to the discussion. Before posting, please read our discussion guidelines.