Thursday, February 5, 2015

50 Shades of Abuse

Sorry to have to do this, but it needs to be done.

The movie is set to be released just before Valentine's Day, and I am certain that it will be a box office smash hit. I already have several friends planning to see it the night it opens, either as a date with their significant other or with a group of friends.

Universal Pictures
Which is fine.

Go. See it if you want.

Just don't do it blindly.

I'll probably end up seeing it at some point purely so that I can fully critique it, but not while it is in the theaters. I don't want to be throwing money at this.

I read the first book out of curiosity. I had to see what this story was that so many people were talking excitedly about, that women couldn't wait to download onto their e-readers.

I was vastly underwhelmed. Shortly after I finished it (which was a chore because of how poorly it was written), I wrote a review of it. You can read it here if you haven't already. Just be warned that it does include several spoilers about the book, as will the rest of this post. Don't go reading further and then try to blame me for spoiling something. That's on you, my friends.

Since I read the book and wrote my preliminary response to it, I've had a lot of time to think about it. Every time a commercial for the movie runs on television, my husband either cringes or laughs because he knows that it is going to get me all riled up again.

The book isn't just preposterous and poorly written, it's dangerous.

There are a few aspects of the movie specifically that I take issue with, though most of my problems with it stem directly from the book, not just the adaptation to the screen.

One notable scene missing from the film that stood out for just about everyone who read the book is the tampon scene. The tampon scene?!?! Yes, the tampon scene.

Again, if you haven't read it....well....that's not my fault.

In the book, Ana tells Christian that she is on her period, assuming that it will mean he won't demand that they have sex that day. Instead, he walks up behind her, reaches around, removes her tampon and begins to have sex with her.

I'm not sure what the officially on the record reason is that the scene wasn't included in the movie, but I'd assume it has something to do with the fact that it's so objectionable and so clearly across the line of what the audience could stomach. Either that, or a bloody tampon would just be too icky for a big screen.

And you know, we get more grossed out by an icky tampon than we do by coerced sex. 


That's my major issue with the story, by the way. It's being sold as a love story, as some sexy tale of seduction. It claims to be an introduction to the BDSM world. It's not anything of that sort at all. It's really about a stalker and an abuser.

Domestic violence advocacy groups are urging a boycott of the movie.

There are instances, so many instances throughout the book, of times when Ana does not consent to what is happening between them. The most blatant is the scene where he beats her, then convinces her that it was something that he needed to do.

He tells her she can't leave him because he will find her. 

He dictates to her that she needs to take birth control.

He pushes her into doing things she isn't comfortable with.

Does any of that sound romantic?

The BDSM community in particular is troubled by the book, by its vast popularity, by what people believe to be true about the practice of dominance.

Underlying every interaction in a BDSM relationship is one thing and one thing alone - consent.

With adequate consent, nothing is off limits. Fantasies can be explored, envelopes pushed, absolutely.

Without that consent, you don't have a dominant and a submissive, you have an abuser and an abused.

Oh, but it's okay because he's rich and takes care of her.

Oh, but it's okay because they supposedly fall in love.

Oh, but it's okay because she ends up going along with it.

No. No it's not.

This website has done an amazing job of showing just how messed up the book is with simple imagery and text directly from the story. I encourage you to check it out.

I don't care if he's devastatingly handsome or if he owns a jet, sexual abuse isn't sexy.


  1. I have been waiting for someone to point out flaws in this book! The more I have thought about it, the more corrupt it becomes to me. Did Christian fall in love with Ana or his true ability to control her sexuality like he wanted? She was a virgin. From that point on, she became his in entirety. No one can tell me that was not a "turn on" in itself to Christian! That takes the obsession to a new level entirely!!
    And honestly, if you look at some comments from people who think they are in this type of relationship... It's awful! "My husband spanks me when I'm bad and I deserve it." And the like. You're completely right. It's abuse. Not a mutual relationship.

    1. There are so many things about it that disturb me. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you for reading and commenting. :)

  2. I've read the entire series. Don't judge me. I was both intrigued and revolted. In the "real" world Christian Grey/Gray's behavior would be deemed abuse. He stalked, coerced, beat, tortured, and controlled Anastasia both mentally and physically. In the "real" world women are relocated daily to protect them from men like him, rich and poor. Some women feel that it's a matter of "money over matter". It teaches women that men with money have no "off" switch. They are excused from being gentlemen.

    The fact that Anastasia allows this behavior is also disconcerting. "I love him" is not a cure all. She continued to enable his bad behavior due to her lack of self confidence. She felt privileged that a man such as Christian, even desired a plain Jane like herself. Both characters need some serious therapy. In the "real" world, he'd eventually kill her. In the "real" world, there would be news of a famous murder-suicide.

    1. No judgment from me. I had intended to read them all, just couldn't bring myself to do it. Maybe someday...but probably not. The biggest issue with the story is absolutely what would happen to Ana in the real world.

  3. Yes this! So much this. I am extremely bothered that this is being accepted as bdsm. Bdsm is based on consent and trust. Consent on what is being done and trust that when the safe word is used it will be respected. Just like no means no the safeword means stop.. Every.time.

  4. You said all and more that I wanted to say. But better! I have two teenage daughters, and I worry for them when films/books like these are seen as 'Romantic'. *shudders* A discussion we need to have at home. I will be brave! ;)

    A most excellent post Kelly, Superhero of blogland!

    I thank you, and I follow you, in yonder Twitterland.

    Angela x (Hedgehog Times/wordpress)

  5. I haven't read it, but from all of the comments from people who LIKED it, I concluded the same thing. I'm violently opposed to the glorification of abuse in "romance" novels. Having fallen victim when I was young of thinking coercion was consent, I find it disturbing that society treats this like it's okay and normal.

    And unfortunately, I'm also frustrated by how men being objectified by movies like this and like Magic Mike. Lots of women sending a strong message that we can be just like men... But I didn't like it when guys slobber over women in movies openly and like its the only valid reason to see the movie. If someone's attractive in a movie and you admire them, that's fine. But the crude comments? Eh. Men are more than their bodies, as are women. sorry all these movies and the books, totally making me cringe.


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