Lifting the Shades

Fifty Shades Darker is a film that centers around the dysfunctional, violent, abusive, sado-masochistic sex life of a controlling, emotionally disturbed, billionaire man named Christian Grey, and a virginal, naive, young woman named Anastasia.

Over the last few days, the film—which is the second in a trilogy of films that are adaptations of the best-selling Fifty Shades of Grey book series—was viewed by a massive number of people across the globe, already grossing $146 million in its opening weekend.1

Considering that the books’ and films’ main theme is the violent sexual and emotional abuse of a woman, it greatly perplexes and disturbs me that the primary consumers (70-80%)2,3 of the Fifty Shades franchise are women. Most of the over 100 million copies of the best selling novel Fifty Shades of Grey were also bought by females.

The streets of cities around the globe were recently filled with millions of women passionately marching, demanding equality and freedom from abuse. I would hope that not one single marcher or woman espousing to desire female advancement would have gone to see this film, yet sadly, I know that is not the case. That’s because so many women in our world today are deceived and influenced by a backward pornographic culture.

Fifty Shades of Grey is, as Benjamin Nolot said, “merely an amplification of a toxic cultural narrative in which women exist as objects of male desire, whose sole purpose is to be consumed by dominant, aggressive, and hyper-masculine men.”4 Sadly many women have bought into the narrative hook, line and sinker.

I have heard many women I know say things like, “it’s sexy,” or “it’s just fantasy,” or it’s ok because it is “consensual.” I’m sorry ladies, but there is nothing sexy about predatory manipulators and abusers, intimidation, humiliation, torture, and slave contracts.

And any survivor of real sexual abuse will tell you (and I have talked to many) that nothing in her experience could be considered a fantasy. Lastly, according to national and international law, a person cannot actually consent to their own torture.

I am a woman. I am also a new mother to a beautiful daughter. It deeply grieves me to think that she will have to grow up in a culture that glorifies not only the hypersexualization of women and girls, but also their abuse. My wish is that women today would take a pause to re-think what we want for ourselves and for our daughters. Because as author Dr. Gail Dines put it,“Battered women’s shelters and graveyards are full of women who had the misfortune to meet a Christian Grey.”5

Women, let’s reclaim our identities, and push back against the harmful cultural narrative that allows for, sexualizes, and glorifies our abuse. We are so much more—and we deserve so much more. Let’s move away from the darkness and into the light.

Join the campaign to raise awareness about the harmful messages promoted byFifty Shades of Grey:

1. Use the hashtags #50dollarsnot50shades and #fiftyshadesisabuse on your social media networks and share the truth about Fifty Shades.

2. Donate $10, $25, $50 or whatever you can afford to help the women experiencing the real-life version of Christian and Ana’s abusive relationship. Donations can be made to any domestic violence agency in your area, or any organization working to end violence against women.

3. Join the facebook group

#fiftydollarsnotfiftyshades #FiftyShadesisAbuse