BY SANDRA RIANO
On Feb. 13, the long-awaited, book-to-movie adaption of “Fifty Shades of Grey” filled movie theaters seats worldwide. Absent from theaters were the hundreds of thousands of people boycotting this franchise that they believe romanticizes an abusive relationship.
According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, the “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise promotes torture as sexually gratifying and normalizes domestic violence, particularly violence against women. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is one of the founding organizations of the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign. This campaign calls for people to avoid the movie and donate the price of two movie tickets and a babysitter, around $50, to a women’s shelter to help support victims of domestic abuse.
The movie made $265 million globally during it’s opening weekend, according to Forbes, and received a 4.1 out of 10 rating from IMDb.
“I think I’d go and see it if it were, in a couple of years, on TV for free,” said Julia Filiberti, a communication major at the County College of Morris. “I don’t think I’d pay money for it”
The author, E.L. James, began writing Fifty Shades of Grey as a ‘fanfiction’ of the popular series Twilight. The main character, Christian Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, is represented as wealthy, manipulative, narcissistic, jealous and possessive. His interest, Anastasia Steele, played by Dakota Johnson, is written as a one-dimensional character who is naive, sheltered, and lacks any kind of self-confidence or relationship experience. These characteristics do not allow for a normal, healthy and consensual relationship to emerge.
“Every interaction involves abuse,” said Amy Bonomi, chair of the human development and family studies department at Michigan State University. “Christian stalks Anastasia, intimidates her verbally, and socially isolates her. That’s the name of the game in abusive relationships: isolating someone from family and friends.”
Bonomi published an in-depth study in 2013 that analyzed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s definition of emotional abuse and sexual violence in comparison to Christian Grey’s character.
Many people know the franchise for utilizing the sexual practice of BDSM, which is an over-lapping abbreviation that means bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadism and masochism.
Due to the focus on sexual content in the book, many fans don’t recognize the abusive actions from Chrstian as domestic abuse but instead see his need to control as just another aspect of the sexual practice.
“It’s really not a healthy relationship that they have whatsoever,” said Dave Paulson, a music theory major at CCM. “It’s just a really, really inaccurate portrayal of what is supposed to be a romantic relationship.”
A healthy relationship is not based off of signing lengthy contracts which state the terms and conditions. Christian provides her with a contract complete with rules, regulations and other romantic sub-categories. This type of relationship is referred to as a “total power exchange” and is considered an extremity amongst the BDSM community.
Some of the basic rules are that Anastasia, in this case the “submissive,” must exercise a certain amount of times per week with a provided physical trainer, must only eat foods that are approved of by the “dominant,” wear only pre-approved clothing and must sleep a certain amount of hours per night. These rules provide Ana with absolutely no control over her own life and in many ways support Christian’s view of her as his own property, according to the book.
“The control that Christian has over Ana is scarier than any horror movie could ever be,” said Briana Perez, a liberal arts major focusing on English education at CCM. “This movie isn’t roman- tic. It glamorized the steps that lead to domestic violence.”
The dangers in this franchise being considered romantic are self-evident. Women should be terrified of a man like Christian Grey, who stalks them, objectifies them, controls every aspect of their lives and punishes them emotionally. It’s equally dangerous for men to believe this is an accurate portrayal of what women desire.
The media’s normalization of this abuse as fun and romantic is insulting to the millions of victims of domestic violence. Women must realize that this is only a fantasy, the reality of Ana’s situation is that it would likely end with her either running away, finding a women’s shelter, or being killed.