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  • 50 Shades of Grey: My Two Cents

    2015 - 03.04

    What is with all this hype about 50 Shades of Grey? Ever since I started seeing movie trailers on T.V. and hearing murmurs of excitement over the movie’s Valentine’s Day release, I’ve decided that this is a topic on which I need to throw in my two cents.

    Now before I begin my spiel, how about I provide you with some background of its origins and basic plot. 50 Shades of Grey actually began as a Twilight fan fiction titled Master of the Universe published under the author’s pseudonym, Snowqueen’s Icedragon. The central characters originally featured were Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, who are the main characters of the Twilight books. Now since many fan fiction sites such as fanfiction.net prohibit the publication of what is essentially porn, the author was asked to take down the story due to its explicit sexual nature. E.L. James (the author) then published it on her website, but later she went back and reworked the story into an original fiction and renamed the characters Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

    The basic plot (if you can call it that) is essentially this: Anastasia Steele is an undergraduate journalism major who is asked by a friend of hers to interview the über rich, young, and successful Christian Grey for a magazine article. Christian is instantly attracted to Anastasia, or Ana, as she is called, and eventually they begin dating. Now here is why the plot of the story is essentially referred to as “Mommy Porn:” Christian basically coerces Ana into engaging in the BDSM lifestyle with him, and he asks her to sign a non-disclosure agreement saying that she cannot discuss anything they do together. Essentially, the majority of the “plot” is centered around sex and the BDSM lifestyle.

    Here is where my two cents comes in. Throughout the book, Christian exhibits the textbook symptoms of an abuser. He tracks her every move, almost completely isolates her from her friends, especially from those of the opposite sex, yet he lavishes her with expensive gifts while making her fulfill her role in his BDSM lifestyle. What bothers me about this story (if you can call it that) is that it is the glorification of misogyny and abuse in the clever guise of a “romance.” This is not romance! My friend, Rachel, made some great points (all of which I agree with) on her blog post that weighs in on this very topic. She said, “Pretend that the male character is not wealthy, but a blue-collar average Joe and the rest of the story remains the same. Would it still have the same appeal? Um . . . no. Let’s face it; the only reason some ladies are fawning over Christian Grey is because he’s supposedly wealthy and sexy. Double standard? You betcha.”

    Okay, so it’s pretty well every woman’s fantasy at some point to become involved with a hot, wealthy rich man and be whisked off in his Gulfstream to exotic places and never have to work again. But the thing that aggravates me is that this book is dubbed a “best selling romance.” There is nothing romantic about a man who controls his significant other through stalking and intimidation. It’s mental and emotional abuse. And if you’re the type of person who happens to be into BDSM, I’m not judging you, but from what I understand, this book isn’t even an accurate depiction of that.

    From a teacher’s perspective, what concerns me the most about this ” romantic literature” is the fact that many impressionable teenage girls will read this smut and walk away with the impression that it’s normal for a man to control them. It’s normal for a man to stalk them and prohibit them from seeing their friends. It’s normal for a man to intimidate them. It’s normal to submit to a man and be treated as a doormat and not as a companion. Is this really what we want teenage girls to learn? And what about boys who are brave enough to enter the deep, dark pages of this book? Do we want them to learn that this is okay? That a woman is on this planet to submit to the man as a personal possession and not an equal partner? I think not!

    If you like 50 Shades of Grey, then that’s fine. If you like sadomasochism, then that’s fine, too. I am not judging you. I just don’t feel that a “story” like this should ever qualify as romance. If you think this is romance, then I suggest you invest in a self-help book. Women want equality, not a double standard.

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