50 Shades of Grey Promotes Abuse
bonus children,  bonus mom,  Life,  movies and books

I Lived 50 Shades of Grey

If you follow me on social media, you may have seen a photo floating around my feeds:

50 Shades of Grey Challenge

I’ve challenged my readers and followers not to spend their fifteen bucks on a movie that perpetuates violence and abuse and to instead donate to a cause that empowers young women.

I’ve gotten a lot of amens and applause. And yes, there have been those telling me I just need to “let people be who they want to be sexually.” One member of the male persuasion asked me if the organization empowered women to hand out t-shirts and cupcakes. Case in point.

Sure I don’t understand the allure of watching sex scenes even the actress hated filming* (the lead actor also didn’t want to touch his daughter and wife after filming), but let me clear something up: this is not about sex or trying to stop the world from living out their fantasies. I’d be one of the first to tell you people not only should, but need to let their freak flags fly! It’s not about whether or not you like it rough. It’s not about censorship or suppression. It is about the message we are sending to women of all ages.

My husband has daughters. I have nieces and a nephew. You can bet they have heard about these books and this film. They’ve seen the advertisements. Some of their friends have read the books. It is my hope they will not revere a man like Christian Grey because he’s rich and attractive. I certainly do not want these bright, beautiful girls to aspire to be like Anastasia Steele by purposefully engaging in self-degradation to keep him. I don’t want them or any woman to sign a contract of complete self-disrespect, literally or figuratively. I should also mention I do not want my nephew or any man aspiring to emulate a character who would treat a woman in this manner.

The “It’s just a book,” argument? Yeah. And so is the Bible. Get it? BOTH have been called fantasy. Both contain truths. For some of us it meas nothing, but the fact remains the influence both have had upon masses of people is profound. We all choose our influences, huh? “Oh, but Heather! People watch horror movies and violent films. So this means they promote Satanism and violence, too then!” C’mon really? Do people actually buy that? We all know those scenarios are highly unlikely. If you turn into an axe-wielding Satanist or start walking around punching people in the face and blowing things up, I’ll stand corrected. Fact: Rape culture, abuse and twisted views of the BDSM community already exist. And this I know because I lived it.

I had a serious conversation with the hubs about this post. I asked him if he’d be comfortable with me going to the mat, no-holds-barred with some of my past. So here it is…If it has to do with sex or sexuality; crazy, rough or otherwise, it’s pretty safe to say I have most of the population trumped in this area. BDSM and fetish conventions, swingers, experimentation and oh-so-far-beyond; things with which I am all too familiar. An elegant businessman, who whisked me off on trips, wined and dined me while abusing me physically and emotionally behind and in front of the curtain? Those scenes you’ll see in the movie? Yeah. Been there. Done that. Gave back the t-shirt and all the other gifts, though. Small difference was I lived with this man and I believed I was in love with him. His abuse also took place outside the confines of his sexual proclivities.

Did he force me to do things I didn’t want to do? Ah force. That word is such a technicality for the fans of 50. And it’s a shitty excuse for controlling another person or pretending that it’s acceptable to do so because it isn’t “rape”. He exploited my vulnerabilities and put a lot of effort into guilt tripping me. It’s called emotional abuse. Not only did he make me feel weak and inadequate when I exhibited any signs of hesitation, he professed it like an evangelist.  Not to be outdone, tears flowed as he declared my judgment of his desires. It was a toxic circle of sickening shame.  With his final refusal to seek help, I conjured up the strength to leave. I think most would be horrified to know how many women are living this existence. Perhaps even surprised to know just how hard it is to walk away from it. Until you’ve been there, there is no knowing. It’s a lesson no one should learn.

I wonder if the question has occurred to anyone; if 5o Shades of Grey is so liberating and encourages women to embrace THEIR sexuality, why then are they embracing a narrative of a man controlling a woman while impairing her with booze? So, no. This isn’t about the act of sex or “fun” fantasies. This IS about abuse, manipulation and the lack of self-worth that exists in women and girls who live in a society that has them believing it’s okay to compromise their minds and bodies to fulfill a need to please men so they may succeed in life. Whether in the bedroom or the boardroom, at whatever the cost, we are taught not to stir up problems. I’d like to impart a new thought: We are worth more than the overpriced movie ticket issuing consent for this to continue.

How about instead, we live as though we’re priceless?

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*this link is provided solely for the purpose of providing direct quotes from the actress

Postscript: I believe Dr. Grossman puts it beautifully: A Psychiatrist’s Letter to Young People about Fifty Shades of Grey

29 Comments

  • Just Me

    I hesitate to say this…. I fell I am in almost the exact position you are speaking of and I did not realize it until now. I’ve been in my situation for almost four years and it has been getting worse by the day. I havent read 50 or seen the movie but I dont want to either. Its hard to walk away and I have been trying to build myself up to do so but it never seems to work. You are right its not about sex or fantasy… Its about enslavory physically and mentally. Young woman are the one that need to be built up so they should never have to be put in this situation. 50 does not do that. Its sad how many people dont see it from that spectrum. People are even bring their children to watch this movie in the theaters so I’m told by someone who went to see the movie. I am donating tonight and I hope many more do also!

    • Heather W

      It is one of the most difficult things not only to walk away, but to fully let go. If you need help; if you want it, please feel free to reach out. I will be thinking every good thought for you that I can. Thank you for your comment, the donation and remember that you CAN do this. All the best to you.

    • Melissa

      I’ve also walked away. Not from BDSD, but from a sexually abuisive relationship with a man I loved. Sending you strength and encouragement, Just Me.

  • Lissa Cole

    I never read the book, nor do I intend to because I know it is more entertainment than any work of literary mastermind. After all it is based off of Twilight fanfiction. I can’t speak of the story itself but I think that the author is in fact a female speaks a lot on its own. Regardless of if you like the “plot line” of the story or not, E.L James has done a phenomenal job of capturing the “hearts” (or in this case more the vaginas) of women. She has open a door into allowing women to not feel ashamed of sex or sexuality. I would never condone abuse and I empathize with those who have been in a compromising situation. This book concerns BDSM which is based off of conscientious activity. If a woman does not honestly and forcefully speak her mind, a man cannot be held accountable for her insecurity. The fact that this series is a best seller, and is most likely to have a phenomenal opening weekend, is a testimony as to what US women want sexualy. It is coman place for men to seek after porn yet it is taboo for a woman to embrace the same. Regardless of the quality of story, one must thank E.L James for allowing woman of our age to embrace sex, on a wide scale, unlike any romance novel before hers.

    • Heather W

      Lissa, I wanted to tell you I read this and posted your comment. While I believe it to be misguided-women are not embracing sexuality because of this film- they are embracing a twisted version of so-called intimacy, I thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I will re-read again tomorrow with a bit more focus (I am out now).

      • Lissa Cole

        I am not trying to place blame on women for the actions of men, but I do know that men and women think differently. Often times women are very passive when they need to be aggressive. Sometimes being passive comes off as being insecure rather than uncomfortable and that is where communication lacks between men and women sometimes. Don’t get me wrong I would agree to donating money to malala.org 1000x over seeing 50 shades. I think it is a much better way of empowering our sisters in other countries. I do however also think that it is empowering for a woman to write a sex novel and make a ton of money off it. Is the male dominant situation ideal? Absolutely not. It would be better to see them equal in the bedroom, but the fact that we live in a country where a woman can make money off such content and can freely read in public and debate on it is phenomenal. #FirstWorldProblems

        • Heather W

          Lissa, I think what disturbs me most about your comments is this one: “If a woman does not honestly and forcefully speak her mind, a man cannot be held accountable for her insecurity.”

          In fact this statement scares me. I don’t know you. I couldn’t possibly begin to know what you have been through in your life, but I would guess you have never been through anything like this and I hope you haven’t. I want to impart a little wisdom here. I am going to pull the “I know this stuff by association” card. No is a one word sentence. You do not have to be forceful. You do not have to yell it. “No.” That is it. In addition to their service to the military, my husband is a former police officer and my father is former law. By law we as women are not required to be forceful when we say it. “No.” That is all it takes. Men AND women should be held accountable for manipulation tactics. Once a woman says no, yes – he is responsible.

          I agree with you that it is empowering a woman can write a novel with a sexual theme and make millions from it. But empowering for whom? For her. The problem is she irresponsibly portrays the BDSM community as something it is most certainly not and while issuing an inequality pass. She has the right to do this, sure. And you have the right to defend her for it.

          It is my belief there are much healthier books/movies/even porn movies out there to wake women up. I agree it is very sad that it’s normal for men to look at these things while taboo for women. But you see – we don’t need permission. We do not need men to tell us it is okay or to control what we see and what we don’t. 50 Shades – it goes back to a man controlling a woman. If we are so free to explore ourselves and our sexuality, why is it at the hands of someone controlling us?

          Thank you again for your comments. I’ll agree to disagree with you on the issue. I’m not here to convince you or anyone; just to give another side.

          • Lissa Cole

            I think no is a forceful statement but unfortunately to many women don’t say it. I have been in a compromising situation before bUT unfortunately I lacked the courage be up front and say no, so I don’t blame the person involved. Many women end up saying “I’m not sure about this” which comes off as insecurity instead of I don’t want this. I would agree that no is enough but I think that is a powerful, assertive word. Like I’ve said I’ve never read her book so I can only assume how terrible her writing is. Regardless of our differences in thought I think we can both agree we are fortunate to live in a country where we can publicly read and debate about a book with sexual content. Our sisters in other countries sometimes aren’t even given the opportunity to read at all.

          • Heather W

            Indeed true. I believe they’d choose much better subject matter. Given they know all too well the experience of being controlled. As for women in the U.S., we can thank the amazing women who fought for our rights so many years ago – who were strong enough to say, “We won’t be controlled.”

  • BritishMumUSA

    Urgh, I just read your link and it made me sick to my stomach. I so agree with you. I profess that I picked up the book several years ago and about two to three pages in I put it back on the shelf. The writing was terrible. I gave it no more thought, until my daughters girlfriend bought it for her as a joke. My daughter partially read it, as in she got to about page 50 before she said enough was enough. Firstly the poor poor writing, and then the manipulation and just neither character was likable.

    I cannot comment on this with an educated mind as I have neither read the book or am planning on watching the movie.

    What I can say after reading the actors thoughts on playing the roles, is why the heck they didn’t RUN a mile from playing these roles. I don’t think from what I have read this is sexy or romantic…. Neither do these actors. Well said yet again mate.
    xoxoxo

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much. Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of people couldn’t get through it and I am one of them, too. I think based upon the plot, research and having a relationship with teenagers, in addition to what I experienced myself, I felt qualified to write on this topic. I DO understand some people will take it for what it’s worth, but overall it is such a contradiction of terms to me. Anyway, I’m rambling. 😉

      Thank you again. I always appreciate your feedback.

  • Educated Momma

    Thank you so much for sharing…at least we can be thankful that our experiences shape us into who we are and allow us to learn about ourselves.

  • Dina Farmer

    THANK YOU! Many of my friends think I’m insane for reading into the book. That I see beyond what the sexual liberation is. I think that the whole story is a form of abuse and I agree with you 100%. I’ve boycotted the book and the film. I wouldn’t even rent it on Netflix. I just don’t condone that kind of sexual fantasy and I don’t believe it’s okay to teach our child that, that is okay.

    • Heather W

      Thank you, Dina. I think for some they can detach, and yes, it is just a book. But it is an influence and as you wrote, it is up to us to decide whether we want to condone. Good for you for standing strong!

  • Jill

    I think it’s REALLY brave of you to bring this up. As a military spouse blogger myself, I know how hard it can be to really get personal, and delve into things you might feel embarrassed about. But it ultimately helps other to get into the nitty-gritty, and more importantly, to take a stand on something controversial. I have to be honest, I really liked the books when I read them, but hearing a story such as yours changes my perspective on things. I honestly didn’t think of the story this way, but you have a great…and important point.

    • Heather W

      Thank you, Jill. It wasn’t that I was embarrassed, please let me be clear about that. I am not embarrassed about my past. It has helped make me a strong person. Still, it is extremely personal and I wanted the hubs to be okay with me sharing something that has usually been so private.

      I really appreciate your feedback and opinion. I am glad that you were open minded to another way of thinking. I’m not here to change anyone’s mind, but I was hoping to open some eyes. It looks like I did and I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. Thank you again for taking the time to not only read this post, but to comment and give me your thoughts. It means a lot.

  • crystal

    Very well stated. I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to this topic so I can say that I like your viewpoint 110% better with complete clarity!

  • Natalie Patalie

    Thank you for posting this! What a strong and well-written post. I know it must have been hard, but I think it’s really important for people to talk about these things in hopes of helping others. I’ll admit, I HAVE read 50 Shades. I already knew I wouldn’t like it, but figured if I was going to battle it out with people then to be fair I ought to read it. I didn’t find it liberating, fun, or sexy at all…I just found it really sad. Anastasia spends most of the book feeling sad, and for the most part she’s only happy after she has great sex (and even then it doesn’t always leave her happy). I haven’t seen the movie (don’t plan to), but the fact that people find this story romantic is heartbreaking. I’ve also been in an abusive relationship, and what a lot of outsiders don’t seem to realize is just because someone loves you it doesn’t make all of their actions OK, or a free pass into controlling your decisions.

    You commented on my Sister Wives post asking me to read this, so I ended up comparing their stories a bit. Obviously they’re really different, but the recurring theme of women losing themselves over what they think is love is the same. Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they get to treat you like shit! POWER TO THE WOMAN! Hahah.

    • Heather W

      Natalie, I am so sorry I missed this! I so appreciate your take and your feedback. I had someone tell me that she liked it because it showed that a “plain” girl like her could get a man like Christian Grey. That made me so sad. Why would you want a man like that?

      Such a good point about Sister Wives. Thank you again, so much, for stopping by and for such a thoughtful comment!