50 Shades of Grey. It’s everywhere, all over blog posts, taking up my Facebook feeds, on the radio. It’s a controversial book that I don’t feel needs to be this controversial.
I get the premise for these posts, I understand the domestic abuse angle and the fact that many people perceive this as an apparent “normal” relationship, but I wonder, where are these people? Where are the people who are longing for this type of controlling, egotistical relationship that so many people are worried will become the norm? Who has read the book and is longing to be Anastasia Steele, because the media would have you believe the majority of women.
The book is fictional, end of story. The content can be disturbing at times, but I don’t feel that in any way that is an accurate representation of real life or relationships. Most women aren’t as naïve, innocent, and completely lost in love, like Ana. Most men aren’t a rich, extraordinarily handsome, egotistical, control freak that had a poor start in life and gets his kicks over controlling women. These people aren’t real, these people are hardly even relatable. I suppose if there are any 16 – 18 year olds viewing this movie they may get caught up in the money and passion for which Christian pursues Ana (which on one hand, it nice to be pursued, but on the other, keep your crazy stalking tendencies to yourself), but eventually after a few teenage romances and as they transition into real life, it would be my assumption that most would have better aspirations.
So yes, sex aside, this relationship is not healthy, its controlling and crazy, and Ana cries…a lot. Now most people might have left, many might have talked to their best friend or parent about it, because Ana isn’t allowed to talk about the sex, but she still could have poured her heart out about his controlling, stalking, egomaniacal characteristics to practically anyone. He buys her a car, a safer one than her old beet up beetle. She could have drawn a line, but it seems she is a bit excited about the new car after she drives it, and Christian gives her the money from the sale of her old car. My husband got me a new car after being concerned about the safety of my old one, mind you, he let me in on the decision making process, but being concerned for the safety of his wife and kids isn’t that far out to lunch. He lets himself into her apartment. That’s just creepy. But I think that unless you’ve given out a key to every boyfriend you’ve ever had, this scenario is unlikely. And if it ever happened I hope you’d have the where withal to discuss it. But they don’t. Again, glad these are fictional characters because Ana is just as much in the wrong in so many cases as Christian. Now thankfully (spoiler alert) in the next books they go to therapy together on top of the therapy Christian already receives, they confront his horrendous past and stop making excuses for his behaviour, Ana matures and realizes what she wants in life and what she doesn’t want. Do they still do stupid things, yes, do they still have a messed up relationship not based on reality, yes. Do millions of people love this and read the books despite the fact that they never desire to have this type of relationship, yes. It’s entertainment. Unfortunately this entertainment also verges on the brink of a very real problem in relationships, abuse. I’ve worked with those who have experienced spousal abuse, and let me tell you, it is nowhere near the erotic fantasy life of Christian and Ana. It’s scary, and fearful, it’s less “ooo I’m going to find and you take you home from the bar because you can’t handle yourself” and more “I’m going to find you and kick you a couple times, scream at you about how useless you are and threaten your life” It’s less “you can’t tell anyone and if you don’t follow the rules we’re over” and more “You can’t tell anyone about it and if you don’t listen to what I say I’ll threaten you and those you love, I’ll make you so fearful of the truth that you don’t even believe reality anymore, I’ll mess with your head so badly that you’ll feel that you can’t think without me there doing it for you, you’ll never be able to make another decision on your own because you’ll no longer trust your own instincts”.
So while I don’t think their relationship is healthy, I don’t really read the book and think it screams domestic abuse. Unhealthy and certainly not a relationship most would strive for, with each person being equally in the wrong, but not the scared for your life, locked in your bathroom, screaming “Stop!!” while he tortures your pet cat outside the door. And you might think that those are the extreme cases, but after 3 years of working for a place in Red Deer that deals with abuse, it is not. Many think the movie and/or book glorify domestic abuse, and if that’s all it takes, then most movies out there glorify polygamous relationships, crime, drugs, and murder. Maybe producers are giving to much credit to the general population in distinguishing between acceptable and unacceptable boundary lines, one thing for sure is, the book was immensely popular. So why?
As for the sex, if I wanted an accurate representation of BDSM and the lifestyle, if I wanted to pursue it myself, I would hope that I would read something slightly more informative than 50 Shades of Grey. There are many books and internet forums that deal with many types of behind closed doors sexual relationships, these would probably be more useful and accurate than a fictional book written by a woman who originally wrote it as a fun past time meant only for her friends. Will I see the movie? No, but that has more to do with poor acting based on the previews, characters that I wouldn’t have chosen myself, and that I don’t like movies based on books (Game of Thrones the exception).
But that’s just my two cents.