“Fifty Shades of Gray” is described as a harlequin romance fantasy. A book that satisfies women’s fantasies with no harmful effects because no one would really let their fantasies get the best of them. That right there is a fantasy. Yet, both the book and the movie are selling on the top of the charts. The fact of the matter is that violence and abuse is not something that should be taken so lightly, especially since sexual violence is becoming a bigger and bigger problem in our society.
The series takes a man who is sexually abusive and a women who is too afraid to say no because she might lose him and then gives them what Hawkins calls an “unrealistic fairy-tale ending.” The effect is damaging. Dawn Hawkins, the executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, states that “Fifty Shades of Grey” “sends a message to men that unrestrained domination is what women want, and tells women they can, and should, fix violent and controlling men by being obedient and devoted.”
Already we are seeing the lines of reality and fiction become gray in the case of the university college student who decided it would be okay to reenact scenes from “Fifty Shades of Gray.” What is even worse is that the girl agreed to go along with it at first. Somehow she thought that being bonded, gagged, beaten and then having sex was a good idea…? The whole thing seems fantastic but, unlike the book, this is real.
Everywhere you look, you can find studies and warnings that the Fifty Shades Series is not as innocent as some people try to portray it. Women who have been in an abusive relationships, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, and domestic violence shelters across the country are conducting boycotts of the movie, demanding to be heard.
Also, a study conducted by the Journal of Women’s health shows that females who read at least one of the books were more likely to be in an abusive relationship, and women who read all three were more likely to binge drink and have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime. Amy Bonomi, the study’s lead investigator, points out that all those are symptoms of being in an abusive relationship, much like the character Anastasia in “Fifty Shades”. The study concluded that there was a strong link to health risks in women’s lives and the Fifty Shades fiction series created a “broader social narrative that normalizes these risks and behaviors in women’s lives.”
So, why on earth would some women support something that is so harmful and degrading to them? Dr. Mary Anne Laydon, PhD. of the University of Pennsylvania is a Psychotherapist and an expert in sexual trauma. In an interview on Ave Maria Radio, Dr. Laydon states that the series attracts women because it plays on women’s inner desire to be “lovable and chosen.” She said that some women are so desperate for self-esteem that “they’ll do anything to get chosen, including read a book like this and say this is what men want to do and let me do it.”
The reality is that the relationship between Anastasia and Christian mirrors real-life abusive relationships; only none of them have the fairy-tale ending. Abuse has a detrimental effect on a person’s life and to take it lightly would be as, Matt Fradd, founder of The Porn Effect put it, “Like jumping off a building and saying while falling, ‘I’m okay so far’.”
It will cause damage sooner or later.