50 Shades of Abuse: Does 50 Shades of Grey Romanticise Domestic Violence

Sarah Ehrlich 

The Paw Print

With the raging success the 50 Shades book trilogy brought to the world, 50 Shades of Grey was easily the most anticipated film of 2015 thus far. The fandom grew exponentially, and the online world erupted with controversy towards the new movie and overall theme of the story. Author E.L. James created the characters of successful yet emotionally damaged Christian Grey and innocent college aged Anastasia Steele to depict a relationship involving BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism). The ongoing conflict in the story is that Ana loves Christian but is scared to be submissive, and while Christian loves Ana, he is used to controlling and emotionally detached relationships. Members of the BDSM community are sure to practice safe and consensual ways of combining pleasure and pain. It’s important to involve communication and emotional understanding in these types of relationships. In 50 Shades, readers are exposed to BDSM-like behavior, but without the consensual context that usually takes place in those situations.

Throughout the story, Ana fears disappointing or making Christian angry. Even though Christian somehow managed to charm Ana with his intimidating disposition and stalker-tendencies, she’s drawn to the danger since its masked in success and beauty. He buys her expensive things and takes her on helicopter rides, but also stalks her whereabouts from her phone, and wishes to control all her behaviors in a contract he urges her to sign. In this fictional story, the violent behavior pans out to be a positive relationship with good intentions. Unfortunately, “real women don’t end up like Anastasia; they often end up in a women’s shelter, on the run for years or dead,” said the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. This organization is a sponsor for the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, which encourages people to donate $50 to women’s shelters instead of paying to see 50 Shades of Grey. “The money you would have spent on movie tickets and a babysitter or movie tickets, popcorn, and drinks will go toward serving victims of abusive relationships like the one glamorized in the 50 Shades series.  “Hollywood doesn’t need your money, abused women do.” states the campaign’s Facebook page.

The activists protesting 50 Shades fear the movie will make women believe controlling and stalker behavior towards them is romantic and sexy. They want to remind people that the book is a work of fiction, and that domestic abuse is not glamorized in real world situations. People who come to shelters are usually completely broken down from the abuse and are starting from scratch. The #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign encourages couples of all ages to practice safe and consensual ways of dealing with their relationships. Stalking, manipulation, and overpowering jealousy, as seen in 50 Shades, make for a hostel environment for a relationship to grow in, and usually never ends positively, like it did for Anastasia. Supporters of the book will argue there is nothing wrong with BDSM-which there isn’t. Real world relationships shouldn’t be based off fictional characters with flawed ideas of love. People and their significant other should be open to expressing their relationship in different ways, but only in consensual and safe circumstances. Get educated and involved to prevent domestic abuse in all forms.

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