“Fifty Shades of Grey” romanticizes abusive relationships


A guide to how “Fifty Shades of Grey” romanticizes an abusive relationship. Photo courtesy of www.domesticshelters.org.

Stav Nachum, News Editor

By this point, all of you have heard of E.L. James’ bestselling novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the movie adaptation released on Feb. 14. After all, as every commercial for the movie boasts that it has sold over 100 million copies, its trailer has been viewed over 250 million times and it has fashioned countless fantasies for its fans. It is the last one that scares me the most.

You see, when most women attempt to define Christian Grey they use words such as charming, witty, sexy, or even their ideal man. Yet for me, he is none of those things. Instead, I choose to define him as who he really is: a stalker, manipulative, someone who ignores safe words and consent, controlling, jealous, threatening, and most of all abusive.

The fact of the matter is, that “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not a risqué movie that features a Bondage, Discipline/Domination, Submissions/Sadism and Masochism (BDSM) couple. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is book and movie that features and romanticizes an abusive relationship. It is the story of a domestic abuse, sexual violence, manipulation and domination of a young girl by a man who was abused himself and then went on to become an abuser. And the scary part is that this film glamorized this abuse and the viewers don’t understand what they witnessing.

In today’s world, many people are facing sexual abuse and domestic violence in their own homes. Moreover, our college campuses are swamped with rape victims because the men of this generation are raised to believe that the woman wanted it or had it coming. We claim to care about these victims and want to help them, yet on Valentine’s Day weekend we are flocking theaters to celebrate a film that romanticizes the abuse these victims face every day.

After witnessing the heated debate about the novel in 2013, Michigan State University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies, thoroughly studied the book and made some disturbing findings. The study found that in almost every interaction between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey there were textbook signs of abuse. Whether it is stalking, belittling, or threatening her, controlling her behavior and food intake, isolating her from friends and family, or even dictating who she is allowed to interact with, Christian Grey is the textbook abuser.

Of course this argument has been ignored by fans who claim that the trilogy is simply a fantasy. Some even claim that it has positive effects since it normalizes the common female sexual fantasy of dominance and submission and removes the guilt some women feel over this fantasy. The most common argument against any backlash is that it is just a book.

However, all of these arguments were proved invalid by another study at Michigan State University in which they discovered that women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely to have an abusive partner and unhealthy eating habits. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not an “empowering” tale that takes away guilt from those who fantasize about it, but one that the BDSM community itself has spoken out against, distancing themselves from the horrific lack of safety and consent and the numerous instances of rape seen throughout the film.

Films like “Fifty Shades of Grey” are a regressive step back in society’s perception of violence against women. By glamorizing the abuse, this movie is sending out the toxic message that you can change your abuser. It tells those who suffer from abuse daily that their experience is naught and that they should learn to accept and enjoy their situation as Anastasia did.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is a film that encourages violence against women and mistakes infatuation for romance and obsession for love. This film has showcased that putting an abusive relationship into a romantic film released on Valentine’s Day, this film has effectively silenced the experiences of millions of abuse victims. Unfortunately, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not the fantasy fans claim it to be, but a brutal reality for women around the world.