As Valentine’s Day approaches, many women will flock to their local theater to see Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to the widely popular film and erotic book series Fifty Shades of Grey. There is a significant irony about linking a holiday about love and romance with a film that glorifies the use of BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism) through manipulation and coercion in a relationship.
While the Fifty Shades of Grey series is often categorized as a romance, it actually normalizes a very serious issue in today’s culture: sexual violence against women. Just like in mainstream pornography, the Fifty Shades of Grey series perpetuates the sexual exploitation of women.
The National Center of Sexual Exploitation states, “The popular series promotes torture as sexually gratifying and normalizes domestic violence, particularly violence against women. This type of material cultivates a rape and sexual violence culture and is now permeating our society. With the popularity of this book, mainstream opinion-makers are telling the public (especially youth) that humiliation, degradation, and torture in sex is normal and to just give it a try.”
Where things get grey is when our culture begins to normalize something that we once would have all deemed as wrong. The more culture normalizes sexual violence against women the easier it is for women to accept it as being okay it in their own lives, their friends’ lives, and their daughters’ lives.
What are we teaching the next generation of women when our entertainment contains physical, emotional, and sexual violence? They learn what is acceptable by observing what we deem acceptable. Case in point: the extreme popularity of a film and book series that treats sexual violence as love.
The black and white of it is… sexual violence ≠ love.
Women deserve more than to be seen as sexual objects and to be used for fulfilling sexual fantasies. Women deserve more than to be manipulated and coerced into sexual behavior that is violent and manipulative. Women deserve more than to be held to the standard we have set for them by accepting sexual violence as normal.
Books and films like Fifty Shades of Grey take us back to a time when women didn’t have a voice. It is time for all women to stand up and say no.
Additional article from Advice & Aid on Domestic Violence:
Love Shouldn’t Hurt – Signs of Domestic Violence
If you, or someone you know, thinks that a relationship might be considered violent, it’s important that you get out. Immediately.
At Advice & Aid, we are here to talk with you and be a support system for you if you find yourself faced with a domestic violence situation. We can also provide you with professional counseling referrals and referrals for women to community organizations like Safehome or Rose Brooks.
You are not alone, and there is help through this crisis.
If you need to talk to someone, feel free to call our 24-hour hotline, or make an appointment to see us. It’s a safe, non-judgmental place that can offer you the help you need.