*This may contain spoilers. If you have not seen the movie and don’t want to know anything about it, don’t read this. Also, if descriptions of emotional abuse are triggering to you, please take caution in reading. Self-care is number one.
Christian Grey is one abusive fella.
I realize my opinion won’t be popular and I may get some backlash, but hear me out.
I really wanted to like Christian and the whole “Fifty Shades” trilogy. I’m a firm believer in expressing yourself, regardless of how “strange” or “unusual” that expression is. Want to engage in consensual BDSM? Do your thing. Want to only have sex in the missionary position? Go on with your bad self. The fact that there was a book out there that talked about BDSM in a consensual way made me thrilled. Until I saw the movie.
To clarify, my issues with “Fifty Shades of Grey” are not with the sex. To me, everything in between is the larger problem. Christian Grey is the epitome of an emotional abuser and, as someone who has been in a relationship with emotionally abusive tendencies, it is more uncomfortable to watch than most of the scenes that take place in the “play room.” The way he speaks to Anastasia, the way he looks at Anastasia, all indicate that she is not a human to him; she is a piece of property.
I know what you’re going to say: “Christian had a hard life. His mother abused him and he lived on the streets until he found an adoptive family and then his mother’s friend assaulted him as a child. Of course he’s going to be messed up. That’s how he was raised. Anastasia can HELP him!” This, right here, is where I’m going to disagree. To be frank, there are millions of people in crappy situations and have been dealt crappy hands in life and they don’t try to make excuses about forcing people to engage in sex acts they don’t want to do, or alienate them from their friends and family, or insist that they only be referred to as “Sir.” A “bad start in life,” in Christian’s words, is not an excuse for attacking other people. Let’s not even talk about the fact that he is not willing to do anything Anastasia asks of him, and she is supposed to agree to almost everything he wants out of their relationship. The most jarring part of the film for me, as I’m sure was with most people, when he completely disregards her feelings when he starts to hit her as “punishment.” “But Emmy,” you say, “Anastasia told him to do it. She wanted it!” I do not care if she told him to beat her with a bat. You do not, under any circumstances, punish someone in a malicious way, especially if you consider yourself in a romantic relationship.
The biggest takeaway, though, is that Christian Grey is not a real person. I know, you’re thinking “Duh, Emmy. Nobody is that attractive and wounded at the same time.” You would be surprised at how many attractive, scarred people are out there. What I mean is that, if “Fifty Shades” world were the Real World, Christian Grey would not exist. Most abusers don’t have a sob story and a way of immediately reforming to a wonderful person. Most abusers don’t just stop when someone asks them to be left alone. The thing that bothers me the most, and what I’m worried most people who see the movie don’t realize, is that this movie romanticizes the idea of an abuser. The “they can change” phrase starts to become a major theme towards the end of the movie, but that is not the norm. Nine times out of ten, abusers will never change. They will continue to abuse and many may not even have an explanation as to why they act the way that they do. My fear is that people will see this movie and emotional abuse could become normalized and “not a big deal, because people change.”
This movie isn’t abusive because it depicts BDSM (though many who are a part of the BDSM community claim the book and movie are inaccurate). This is, in fact, probably one of the best parts of the movie, because it is showing a different way to have sex, and exploring your sexuality is incredibly important. What’s also important, though, is that you are respecting yourself and your partner and not use sexuality exploration as an excuse to emotionally, physically, or mentally abuse someone. Sex is supposed to be fun for everyone involved, and that’s the bottom line.
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