Fifty Shades of Grey promotes sexual violence
When Fifty Shades of Grey was first released, so many people were excited by the idea of an erotic novel tailored for women. Many found the novel extremely sexually appealing without recognizing that there is a serious problem with Christian and Ana's sexual relationship. Christian Grey and Ana seem to fall in “love” in the novel, but Christian’s feelings are unclear. What is clear is that he loves violent sex. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism by nature –– it is a sexual fetish built upon trust where the “dominant partner” typically possesses the majority of the control and the “submissive partner” obeys them. This always includes safe words to indicate when a partner crosses a line that makes the other one uncomfortable, abruptly ending the action. After BDSM sex, there is also what is known as “after care,” where the two (or more) partners console each other, reestablishing that they care for and think of each other as equals. None of this is present in Fifty Shades of Grey.
Fifty Shades of Grey portrays BDSM as a fetish of coercion, abuse and total domination without having equal respect for your partner. Christian blatantly admits that he likes to abuse women during moments of intimacy, however he does want their consent. At first Ana is uncomfortable with the idea of being his submissive partner, but he coerces her into agreeing. This is the first problem.
Ana originally said the idea of being fully submissive was too uncomfortable. But Christian pressured her, almost guilt tripped her into saying yes. Ana felt she had to agree to be his submissive partner because she loved him and didn't want to lose him. This is not enthusiastic consent — this is coercion and coercion is rape. If Ana had said yes from the start or expressed interest in being his submissive partner prior to being pressured, then there would be no issue here. However, she didn't want to do it. Ana agrees to violent sex because she loves Christian and felt that not doing it would give him a reason to leave her. She reluctantly submits to him, and thus begins the story that fetishizes rape called Fifty Shades of Grey.
During their actual sexual intercourse, Ana is completely submissive and Christian is completely dominant. They establish a safe word to make Ana feel comfortable while being submissive, but it means nothing. Christian ignores it when Ana uses it, and keeps going. This is not sexy, and this is not what a healthy BDSM relationship looks like. If you ask your partner to stop having sex with you and they keep going, this is rape.
In BDSM relationships, it is always known that when partners are taking on dominant or submissive roles, and even sadist or masochist roles, they are equals and boundaries are respected and never crossed. Christian doesn't care about Ana's boundaries. He only cares about his own pleasure.
The two don't engage in any “after care” following their violent sex, because Christian feels no need to make Ana feel cared for. She is simply a sex toy that he can use and abuse whenever he wants, further abusing her love for him. And so many people find this abuse sexually appealing.
It's problematic that this franchise has made so much money and that so many people have read the book and are now seeing the movie. The movie was released on Valentine's Day, a day meant to celebrate love, and many people celebrated their love by watching a woman be abused on screen. There are a lot of people who think Fifty Shades of Grey is a fantastic book, a sexy and accurate representation of the BDSM community, which is far from the truth. Fifty Shades of Grey promotes violence against women and misrepresents the BDSM community.
The fact that we as a society are able to get sexual pleasure out of a book that promotes sexual violence against women says a lot. It clearly indicates that we live with rape culture, and that needs to change. Violence against women isn't sexy. BDSM is not disrespectful. Our society needs to start respecting each other's sexual preferences without harming one another. Do not read or go see Fifty Shades of Grey. If you do, you are giving money to a franchise that promotes abuse, and you become a part of the problem.
Vicky Taft is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in English with a minor in psychology.