In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how 50 Shades of Grey promotes domestic violence, is not BDSM, and sends unhealthy messages about the man women truly want.
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Now, let’s talk about how 50 Shades of Grey promotes domestic violence, is not BDSM, and sends unhealthy messages about the man women truly want.
The movie “50 Shades of Grey” broke box office records over the Valentine’s Day weekend, 2015. The film is an adaptation of the book of the same name, which has sold around 100 million copies.
Women have generally embraced the book and movie; in some ways it reflects women’s fantasies of the young, powerful, successful, handsome, refined man who sexually conquers the young, innocent girl, introducing her to womanhood, and doing so, in the traditional method of the romance novels – as the wild, savage man inside.
However, this is not simply a man who tears off the clothes of the woman before seducing her. The entire relationship is steeped in violence, and sexual violence.
Although, the film was released on Valentine’s Day and promoted as a love story with kinky scenes and sex, it is not about romance because the entire relationship is founded on and based on their sexual relationship and not anything else that they have in common. She is passionate about literature; he is passionate about violent sex.
This story is not about two people who meet and share common values and interests. It is about two people who learn about themselves and each other through sex.
What is wrong with that?
Nothing, except that it is violent sex and abuse.
Before critics respond with ‘we need to be open about adult’s consensual sexual choices such as BDSM’ we need to understand that this movie is not embraced by the BDSM community because in many examples in the movie and book, Anastasia does not consent and is explicitly forced against her will.
BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism) is a sexual lifestyle consisting of people who carefully consent to various sexual practices. They are never forced to do anything against their will and they use safe words such as “green” for yes, “yellow” for caution and “red” for stop.
Accordingly, BDSM is not equivalent to abuse. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2013/08/12/whats-wrong-with-50-shades-of-grey-and-what-you-should-know-about-bdsm
50 Shades of Grey in both the book and movie clearly displays example of abuse – and in many forms – not only sexual abuse.
Before discussing the psychological abuse, note that in the book, Christian Grey rapes Anastasia Steele; she says “No” and he proceeds to threaten and then rape her:
“I wondered what your bedroom would look like,” he says. I glance around it, plotting an escape route, no – there’s still only the door or window.”
“Well, I thought I should come and remind you how nice it was knowing me.” Holy crap. I stare at him open mouthed, and his fingers move from my ear to my chin. “What do you say to that, Miss Steele?” […she says nothing…] I take pre-emptive action and launch myself at him. Somehow he moves, I have no idea how, and in the blink of an eye I’m on the bed pinned beneath him, my arms stretched out and held above my head, his free hand clutching my face, and his mouth finds mine.”
Anastasia Steele proceeds to say no.
He bends and starts undoing one of my sneakers. Oh no… no… my feet. No. I’ve just been running. “No,” I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. “If you struggle, I’ll tie your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you.”
Grey also slaps Anastasia during intercourse.
When he finally leaves, she says:
“But now I feel like a receptacle – an empty vessel to be filled at his whim. […] I have an overwhelming urge to cry, a sad and lonely melancholy grips and tightens round my heart. Dashing back to my bedroom, I close the door and lean against it trying to rationalize my feelings. I can’t. Sliding to the floor, I put my head in my hands as my tears begin to flow.”
This incident in the book is clearly rape.
There has been a highly publicized campaign in the US and worldwide https://nomeansnoworldwide.org/ to promote the understanding that when a woman says “no” to a sexual advance that she means “no” not “yes”; https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-Means-No/131760520173768 why have women not spoken out against 50 Shades of Grey for promoting, romanticizing and idealizing rape? Remaining silent while also embracing this book and movie says to men that again, although a woman may say ‘no’ she secretly fantasizes and wants to be forced and raped.
Remember, this book was written by a woman, an adult woman! However, there were as many men as women in the cinema I attended. There were nine men sitting together in the row in front of me on Valentine’s night.
Now, let’s look at the ways 50 Shades of Grey clearly romanticizes the abuse of a woman by a man.
Anastasia Steele becomes set on trying to convert Christian from an abusive man (who was abused himself), and who is cold and shut down to a loving, affectionate man who will allow her to touch him affectionately and who will open himself to her. In other words, she now takes on the role of trying to fix and cure him with her love. She tries to fix the abuser with love. She soon becomes the victim.
At one moment, when she threatens to leave, he threatens her:
“I would find you. I can track your cell phone, remember?”
“He’d probably like to beat seven shades of shit out of me,” Steele thinks. “The thought is depressing.”
Anastasia gives her own power away and lets him emotionally & psychologically manipulate & control her, and physically & sexually abuse her. Yes, there are times in the movie when she walks away or appears to take charge: she makes him wait over her decision to sign or not sign the contract of their sexual relationship.
However, there are many more examples of the ways Christian controls and manipulates Anastasia.
In one scene, she comes outside to see that he has a surprise for her, he has bought her a new, expensive car – a romantic, generous, thoughtful gesture – a woman’s fantasy of being showered with gifts. However, he has taken her old car and sold it. He doesn’t own her car, he doesn’t have title to her car, and yet he sells it. He doesn’t ask her if her old car has any sentimental value or what she would like to do with it. He simply controls her and decides what car she will now drive. Remember, they are not a married couple.
He does the same in every aspect of her life – clothes, diet, habits and eventually he cuts her off from her male friends and he clearly stalks her.
Christian, who is a “cold-hearted predator with a dungeon filled with toys” clearly tells Anastasia that her role is to receive and enjoy the sexual and psychological pain, control and manipulation for one reason alone – to please him.
The message to men is that women are designed to please men. He says she will get pleasure through the act of pleasing him.
In turn, Anastasia unveils the classic symptoms of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship: she is humiliated, controlled, stalked, manipulated, hit, diminished, criticized, alienates friends, experiences mood swings, becomes isolated and above all, begins to feel helpless that she cannot change him with her love. She wants to fix, heal and cure the abuser, thus blaming herself when she fails.
Even the ending of the movie, on the surface, attempts to show that Anastasia has some sort of control when she walks out saying to Christian, you will never do that again to me. But he just physically abused and tortured her and she allowed it all the way through to the end. She lay there and counted aloud, at his request, each time he whipped her behind, as she cried in pain. It was obvious that she was not enjoying it and yet she didn’t stop him. She could have stopped him at lashing number two, but instead, allowed him to go through to lashing number 6. In other words, he still controlled and dominated her as she suffered.
“He had humbled her, hurt her, used her brutally through a wild mad night and she had gloried in it.”
– Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1939
The movie and book of 50 Shades of Grey, beg the question: What type of man do women pine for? Is it the powerful, rich, successful man who, while being refined, is also a wild savage inside; someone who will abuse, dominate, control and rape the woman, all as part of the fantasy that the woman will be able to tame, domesticate and eventually free him of his psychological pain?
If yes, beware you are a victim of abuse.
If not, then speak out before 50 Shades of Grey continues to reinforce the message emanating from all porn – women are here to please men – without any real emotional intimacy or connection required!
Read the quotes from the book 50 Shades of Grey that explicitly reveal abuse, violence and rape: 15 Quotes 50 Shades that reveal abuse, violence & rape
In the US, if you are a victim of domestic violence, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist