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?


*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