50 Shades of Misogyny
Attractive, successful, and charming are just a few of the words people use to describe Christian Grey, the protagonist of the bestselling novel and blockbuster movie, 50 Shades of Grey. On the surface, he seems like the perfect man, but underneath he faces childhood scars, and darker sexual issues. Women swoon over him, men want to be him, but he only takes interest in one person, the shy, awkward Anastasia Steele. People who read the book or watch the newly released film may see it as the “perfect relationship”, @janellycarrasco tweeted: “I honestly really liked 50 shades of grey” and @nova100 on Twitter commented: “Am I the only person who actually didn’t hate 50 Shades of Grey? Ps Christian can do anything he wants to me!”
But the question arises: does this relationship glorify and normalize abuse, sexual violence, and misogyny? Christian demonstrates clear signs of emotional and physical abuse towards Ana. He is excessively controlling, manipulative, possessive, jealous, isolating, and victim-blaming. The big issue is he often ignores consent during intimate moments, to quote a the novel:
“‘Christ, Ana!’ He bangs his fist on the table, making me jump, and stands so abruptly he almost knocks the dining chair over. ‘You have one thing, one thing to remember. S***! I don’t f*cking believe it. How could you be so stupid?’” (Christian)
“No, please. I can’t do this. Not now. I need sometime. Please.”
“Oh Ana, don’t overthink this.” (Christian)
“He’d probably like to beat seven shades of sh*t out of me. The thought is depressing.” (Ana)
In an interview with psychiatrist Dr. Miriam Grossman, she made this comment on the film: “Fifty Shades of Grey teaches your daughter that pain and humiliation are erotic, and your son, that girls want a guy who controls, intimidates and threatens.” Many people have responded in defense of the story, saying it is just a “book not to be taken seriously.” Well, that is hardly an argument, seeing that Mein Kampf and the Bible are simply books as well, but have made enormous impacts on history, and present day events. Why be concerned? It’s just a movie, right? Unfortunately, it is not “just” a movie since ⅓ of women and ¼ of men in the United States experience intimate partner violence. Media acts as a medium that reflects and shapes our culture. By accepting abuse in media as normal and romantic, we condone it culture-wide. Words on paper or watching people on a large screen can have a bigger influence on individuals than we expect.