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I will admit it. I have read all three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series.

I am not admitting this because I am ashamed of my sexual desires or even because I feel the need to rant and rave about the poor writing quality of these books. (And it is extremely poor. I set my Kindle to count how many times the word “gasp” is used in the third book and the total was more than 70). I am admitting this because I feel the need to share my opinions about what I consider to be the incredibly — and dangerously — abusive relationship portrayed in the books.

When I first heard about Fifty Shades of Grey and learned they began as Twilight fanfiction, I swore I would not read them. I have read all of the Twilight books and I did not enjoy them. I found the relationships between Edward and Bella and Bella and Jacob to be patronizing and emotionally abusive, and I also thought the writing was pedestrian at best and boring to read. Why would I devote the limited amount of time I have for reading for pleasure to a series like this?

But as the dialogue about Fifty Shades of Grey increased, both in the media and amongst my friends, my curiosity was piqued. I attended a talk titled “Fifty Shades of Grey - Bad for Women, Bad for Sex” and decided that I should see what all the fuss was about.

To quote the book, I gasped. I rolled my eyes. I even bit my lip a few times. But not for the reasons Anastasia, the protagonist, did. I did out of exasperation, boredom and disgust, but also out of fear. After reading this book series, I am deeply afraid that this type of relationship will be viewed as the romantic ideal for women. And I consider that to be extremely dangerous — much more so than anything that takes place between Christian and Anastasia in the Red Room of Pain.

Could the character of Anastasia Steele be any more of a stereotype? She is an introvert, has low self-esteem, has abandonment issues from her father, apparently has only one close friend who bullies her and even though she works in a hardware store, she doesn’t seem to possess any self-sufficiency aside from cooking for her roommate and herself. She seems to have no sexual identity until Christian Grey enters her life and requests that she become his Submissive in a sexual relationship.

In order to be Christian’s submissive, Anastasia is expected to sign a lengthy and detailed contract that, amongst other requirements, requires that she exercise four days a week with a trainer that Christian provides (and who will report to Christian on her progress), eat only from a list of foods Christian supplies her with, get eight hours of sleep a night and begin taking a form of birth control so Christian will not have to wear condoms. Anastasia negotiates a few terms of the contract with Christian (she only wants to work out three days a week, not four), but all of her negotiations are only within his framework — none of the terms are hers independently. Nothing in their relationship is hers as an independent.

The character of Christian Grey is a rich, superpowered businessman who was abused as a child. He is in therapy, and Anastasia frequently references his therapist, but based on how he treats Anastasia, he doesn’t seem to be making much progress. As Anastasia’s relationship with Christian progresses, his controlling tendencies affect her life more and more. When her friend takes portraits of her for his photography exhibit, Christian buys all of them, because he does not want anyone else looking at Anastasia. (They weren’t even in a relationship when he did this.) When she is hired as an assistant at a publishing company, he buys the company — to make sure she’s “safe” working there. When she goes out to a bar with her one friend, against his wishes, he flies from New York to Washington State that same night, just to express his anger — and exercise his control over her. When she does not immediately change her name at her office (in hopes of maintaining some professional autonomy, given that he bought the company she works at), he shows up, unannounced, at her office, in the middle of her workday, to pick a fight with her. When she asks why it is so important to him that she change her name, he says he wants everyone to know she is his.

Christian’s possession of Anastasia is the cause of much of my disgust and fear of the book’s influence on people and how they view romantic relationships. After they exchange their wedding vows, the first words he says to her are, “Finally, you’re mine.” The control he exercises over her does not reflect his love for her; it reflects his objectifying of her. Christian never views Anastasia as a person, let alone an independent woman. He wants her to obey him, and even though she refuses to include that in her wedding vows, it is exactly what she does. When her mother questions her choice to keep her wedding dress on rather than change before traveling for her honeymoon, she says, “Christian likes this dress, and I want to please him.” Her desire to try some of the “kinky fuckery” in his Red Room of Pain comes from wanting to demonstrate her love for him, not her own sexual desires.

Wanting to please Christian apparently includes subjecting herself to verbal and emotional abuse from him ‘til death do them part, because any time she tries to stand up to him — which isn’t often — he berates her, guilt trips her and beats her down verbally until she apologizes and submits to him. After she uses the “safe word” in the Red Room of Pain so he will stop, he bemoans his sad state of mind later, mentioning that his “wife fucking safe worded him.” He is not concerned with her well-being or why she felt the need to use the safe word. He only cares about how it affects him.

The question that I kept asking myself as I read the books was why Anastasia stayed with Christian, and the answer I found was that she has absolutely no sense of self worth. She only feels sexy when he says she is, and when he insults or patronizes her, she accepts what he says as the truth. One of the passages that disgusted me the most was when Anastasia was at a club with Christian, dancing and thinking to herself that she never felt sexy before she met him and that he had given her confidence in her body. Yes, being with a partner who frequently compliments you can increase your confidence, but Anastasia went from zero to one hundred thanks to Christian. None of that came from within herself. Because of his influence on her, nothing in her life came from herself — her job, her home, her way of life, or even her self-esteem.

The co-dependency between Anastasia and Christian is alarming to read and even more to contemplate. When she breaks up with him at the end of the first book, the second book finds her starving herself and wasting away to nothing until he contacts her again. When she thinks his helicopter has crashed in the second book, she thinks to herself that she can’t live without him. Their marriage only comes about because he is scared she will leave him, and when she asks what she can do to prove to him she isn’t going anywhere, he says she can marry him. Yes, origins of insecurity and desperation are a great start to a healthy marriage.

When Anastasia finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and shares the news with Christian, he rages at her, asking if she did it on purpose and storming out of the house, disappearing for hours. Even though Anastasia thinks to herself that the pregnancy happened too soon in their marriage, she never considers terminating it.

The themes of the novel — that love alone can make someone change, that abuse from a spouse is acceptable as long as he’s great in bed, that pregnancies should always be carried to term even if the parents are not ready to be parents, and the ridiculously antiquated, Victorian idea that the love of a pure virgin can save a wayward man from himself — are irrational, unbelievable and dangerous.

Our culture has seen a radical shift of ideals moving towards traditional gender roles and Fifty Shades of Grey is a shining example of that. Early marriage to one’s first sexual partner, having a baby even when saying neither of the partners is ready to be a parent, and submission to one’s husband as the head of the household are all aspects of life that feminists and progressive thinkers have worked to move beyond. Anastasia and Christian’s relationship is not romantic. It is abusive. The ways he tries to “keep her safe” are not masculine or sexy. They are stalking. Fearing one’s husband’s reaction to an unexpected pregnancy is not normal, because “boys will be boys.” It is sad and dangerous and should not happen in a healthy relationship.

Fifty Shades of Grey was one of the best-selling books of the year. Sex toy classes have been inspired by it, as have new types of cocktails. The film adaptation is already in the works. I sincerely hope that honest discussion will be had about the book and that the Christian Grey ideal of romance is not one that will be perpetuated throughout our culture. The best way that can happen is through open, honest dialogue that leads to healthy relationships of two equal partners. That, in my opinion, is sexier than anything that can happen in the Red Room of Pain.

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Fifty Shades of Feminism - A Response to E. L. James’ 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

(via marlbororedgirl)

(Source: exgynocraticgrrl, via thebaconsandwichofregret)

Tags: abuse feminism

way-harsh-tai:

Everything Beyonce does is careful and thought out. Her entire image is perfection crafted from planning ahead. She does not ‘wing it’ or throw things into her performances and public appearances ‘just because’.

What she did at this award show was amazing, especially because of how intentional and thought out it clearly was.

Feminism is a scary word for a lot of people. Many women are afraid of calling themselves feminist because they think it implies anger, hatred of men, or a rejection of traditional femininity. 

Beyonce presented everyone watching with two distinct images of what many viewers viewed as two very different women. There is the strong, independent FEMINIST. She is the woman who likes being in control and being in the spotlight. Then there is the WIFE and MOTHER. She is soft, sweet, smiling at the husband and child you can tell she loves and values so much.

For every girl watching who was afraid to be a feminist, afraid to be powerful, because of what she thought she would lose, this is an incredible message. You can be all the things you want to be. You can be both. Feminists can have amazing happy, full lives full of both traditional and modern womanhood. 

Feminism means gender should not be a source of persecution or a restriction of your choices. Feminism mean the type of person you should be is based on what you value, not what outside forces pressure you to value because of your gender or biological sex. Shout at the top of your lungs that you are a feminist and proud. Then go and be the exact person that you want to be. 

(via thebaconsandwichofregret)

Tags: feminism

thebaconsandwichofregret:

initforthefiction:

accidentalslut:

I C O N I C

of course fashion is sociologiclly fascinating! it varies depending upon our race, nationality, gender, social status, temperament, body shape. There are people who can tell you what a person is like if you show them the person’s wardrobe.

Clothing is such an integral part of our culture that it cannot escape becoming part of our social systems.

it’s scary and awesome at the same time

(Source: krooooong)

redtemplo:

micdotcom:

India replaces the Ice Bucket Challenge with the much more sustainable Rice Bucket Challenge 

After seeing the dramatic results from the Ice Bucket Challenge, Indian journalist Manju Latha Kalanidhi was compelled to start something similar, but with an Indian slant. “I felt like doing something more locally tangible. Rice is a staple here,” Kalanidhi told CNN. “We eat it every day, we can store it for months. Why not donate rice to someone who is hungry?”

It’s fairly simpleFollow micdotcom

Go off x1000000

(via chupbuttcabra)

skeptikhaleesi:

  • Abusers can do nice things for people they are not abusing.
  • Abusers can do nice things for people that they are abusing.
  • Abusers can otherwise seem like nice, caring, supportive people when they are not actively abusing someone.
  • It does not mean they’re not fucking abusers.

(via chupbuttcabra)

megachikorita:

you kids these days with your rapidly growing concern for the state of the world and your knowledge of important issues at increasingly younger ages despite having been told your opinions don’t matter by the adults who put you in these situations

(Source: auxiliaryanimorphs, via fuckyeahloldemort)

angrychickpea:

i find it funny that “i like big butts” has always been a well-liked song, but as soon as Nicki Minaj samples it and shows off her amazing ass in a video, suddenly OH MY GOD WHAT A SLUT PUT THAT AWAY

like, it’s okay for a guy to talk about how much he loves butts
but it’s not okay for women to love their own butts

funny how that works

(via fuckyeahloldemort)

absentions:

girls who can run in heels should be feared

(via fuckyeahloldemort)

(Source: likealana, via discolor3d)