Illustration by Georgia Burns
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to preface this with a series of questions, and I implore you to answer honestly. Do you think it’s at all acceptable for a partner to:
- Find out where you work/live/go to school without your having told them after a single meeting and visit you there, even though it’s literally hours out of their way?
- Coerce you into sexual situations you are uncomfortable with because you feel you “owe” it to them?
- Dictate with whom you can or cannot interact based solely on gender, or even in general?
- Demand that you kowtow to their sexual preferences that you find uncomfortable, despite your verbal assertion that they make you such?
- Takes control of your financial independence by any available means?
- Threatens you with bodily harm when you ‘displease’ them, and then makes you feel guilty for having done so?
If you’ve answered “No” to any of the above, congratulations! Logically, you should detest Christian Grey! So why the hell are people flocking to “Fifty Shades of Grey” in droves to lap up what is essentially misogynist, exploitative, abusive dredge at its most potent?
Because, the internet protests: it’s just fiction! It’s harmless fiction!
Except that it’s totally not.
E.L. James has admitted that “50 Shades” was little more than her “Twilight”-inspired sexual fantasies, and that’s fine and dandy in theory. The problem is, and this is why it irritates me profoundly when its numerous fangirls blather on about how it’s “just fiction” is that it’s a prime example of how screwed up our fantasies can be – since when is it sexy to be stalked? Since when is it at all appealing to be abused? Why, most importantly, are we making the excuse that this is at all okay under the guise that it’s “just a fantasy?” Even as a fantasy, it implies that women are still living under the expectation that it’s okay to be dominated, it’s okay to be used, and it’s okay that our own base sexual needs and desires are secondary to someone else – and it’s okay just as long as we love them, because if we love them, we can change them.
No. That’s bullshit. Stop making excuses that this is just fiction. What it does is it shows young women and men that it’s okay, desirable even, to exhibit this sort of behavior and it’s going to perpetuate it. And you may think I’m full of shit, but look around on Twitter and Facebook – girls are actually posting about how much they want to find themselves a “Christian Grey” of their very own. They’re actively seeking out someone to use and abuse them, and it’ll be forgivable because love, you guys. It’s equally detrimental to men, because it showcases a sad stereotype that women are only intrinsically attracted to men who have wealth and power, regardless of how horrible his personality is.
You have to admit that the only reason Christian Grey and his spirit animal Edward Cullen are permitted to be portrayed as “romantic heroes” instead of their actual label, “abusive stalkers” is because they’re wealthy and handsome. If neither had money or raw sex appeal, can you honestly say that they’d have the same sort of appeal? It continues the cultural mindset that the wealthy are untouchable, and that they’re somehow more forgivable of sin. We decry when the wealthy abuse their power on grander scales, but then we somehow overlook them for things like, you know, domestic abuse, especially because emotional abuse is not as blatant as physical – and we forget that emotional abuse is just as damaging, even though it doesn’t leave marks we can see. If Christian Grey were a real-life mogul behaving in the same way, we’d be bashing him all over Facebook, but as a fictional character, we’re labelling him as “romantic.” The fuck? So no, it’s not “just fiction.” It’s disgusting, blatantly misogynistic tripe that is designed to perpetuate the mindset that women are put on this earth to be tools for sex, to be used and manipulated as saw fit, and that a man is only desirable if he’s abusive and rich. It fucks with both genders, and it needs to be destroyed, the sooner, the better.
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