I've been having a lot of arguments on Facebook lately, and most of them have been about the release of the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. As someone who is firmly against the books and movie, I've spent a lot of my time telling my Facebook friends that Fifty Shades of Grey portrays an abusive relationship as a love story.
In the last week or so, I've discovered there are three types of reactions toward the statement above. First, there are the people who say that BDSM is not abuse, and that there is nothing wrong with leading a BDSM lifestyle. Second, there are people who say that it's just a book, and that it's just for entertainment purposes. And lastly, there are the people who just don't see what is wrong with the series and vehemently argue in its defense.
Let's start with the first reaction. When people criticize the series, there is always that one person who is quick to say that BDSM is not abuse, therefore the relationship is not abusive. Is BDSM abuse? No. Is the relationship abusive? Yes. If you completely bypassed their sexual relationship, the relationship is still abusive. Someone in a healthy relationship does not follow his girlfriend to another state when she says she needs time away from him, yet this is what Christian Grey, the main character, does. And this is one of many examples.
I'm all for embracing your sexuality and I would never judge someone for their sexual preferences, so BDSM is the least of my issues here. What I do have an issue with is the showing of blatant emotional abuse that people seem to be completely blind to, which leads me to the next argument: It's "just a book."
Sure, it's just a book. It's a book that happens to romanticize abusive relationships, which is incredibly harmful to all of the people who will read it and think that this is what a love story is supposed to look like. It's harmful to the people who are already in abusive relationships because they're being told that the relationship they're in, much like the one in the book, is supposed to be romantic, healthy and something to which they should aspire. Victims in abusive relationships can already bestuck in a relationship that is incredibly difficult to get out of, and seeing the mainstream media heavily support a movie that portrays an abusive relationship is only making it worse.
And lastly, the final argument: There is "nothing wrong" with their relationship, and it's not abusive in the slightest. Society teaches us that men are strong and dominant, and women are weak and submissive; so logically, it's hard to see how the abuse in Fifty Shades of Grey might be just that. It takes a lot of awareness to realize just how much our thoughts are shaped by what society teaches us, and it's this internalized misogyny that causes people to be unaware of the abuse in the movie. They see nothing wrong with it because they have been taught their whole lives that this is how relationships are supposed to go. Well, it's not.
So don't read the books. Don't watch the movie. And if you really want something similar but better to read, hit me up and I'll provide you with options.
Valentina Bore is a contributing columnist to the Central Florida Future.