Does it mean something that one of the top selling book series of all times is based on the manipulation and sexual abuse of a naive college girl? And that sex toys from said books are now available in the adult section at Target? Is there a harmful message we might be sending to young girls with this? And am I the last person to know Target even has an adult section?
Yes, I’m talking about Fifty Shades of Grey, which I have not read and so really have no business commenting on. All the hoopla over the recent movie release though has left me a bit agitated and I need to vent so I don’t take it out on my cat.
I don’t care if you’re a founding member of the Fifty Shades fan club, have the brand name feather ticklers stocked in your bedroom and are at this very moment downloading movie tickets on your phone. Far be it for me to wag my finger at whatever escapist activity helps you through the day and if it improves your sex life too, well all the better. Plus it’s kind of amusing to me that the phrase “soft core porn for moms” is becoming popular.
My issue is not with the story’s heavy BDSM theme either, although it’s interesting to note that even that community has distanced itself from the saga. It’s the preposterous idea coming from some quarters that Fifty Shades of Grey is really about women’s empowerment. I just don’t buy that and frankly am insulted by the implication. Here’s why.
A billionaire control freak (Christian Grey) grooms his prey (Anastasia Steele) with expensive gifts and a lavish lifestyle in return for increasingly deviant sex. A contract is presented that spells out in minute detail the nature of their dominant/submissive relationship, which is to be purely physical, no love involved. Just initial here, next to “cold and emotionless sex”, sign on the bottom line and don’t forget your free toaster on the way out.
The idea is that because Ana is a willing participant and has great orgasms it’s all hunky dory that a rich and powerful man steals her virginity and manipulates her in to being his sex slave. It’s liberating we’re told because Ana letting go of limits in the bedroom is symbolic of her reaching new heights as a woman and gaining personal power.
Hmmmm…Ana is just 3 ½ years out of high school and experiencing sex for the first time with an alpha man who wants to dominate her physically and emotionally and who has masterfully tied her self worth in to how closely she resembles his twisted vision of what the perfect woman should be like. Mutually giving relationship? Yes, but in a warped way that’s the opposite of empowerment; it’s called co-dependency, with each person’s dysfunctional needs being met by the other.
On top of that, Christian Grey is not just rich, but mega, 1% club loaded. Could that not have something to do with Ana’s attraction to him? Seriously, does anyone doubt for a second what the outcome would be if Christian Grey were a plumber from Queens? Certainly no books 2 and 3. Again, what’s the message here, that trading sex for cash and status is a valid career path for women? There’s a word for that too and it rhymes with hostitute.
Christian Grey is a classic predator and in Ana he finds the perfect victim. Naïve, unsure of her value, and dissatisfaction with life makes the edgy sex and fabulous wealth too appealing to pass up, even if it means losing her identity and much dignity in the process. Wow, you’ve sure come a long way baby!
True personal power comes from knowing and accepting your own immense self worth and creating strong boundaries to protect it. This is good repellant for the dysfunctional Christian Greys of this world while ironically very inviting to healthy, loving people who don’t require safe words and contracts as part of the relationship.