Saturday, February 14, 2015

Not So Grey After All

I've made several attempts to write this post and here is what I've concluded: It's a paper, not a post. It requires a dissertation and a series of lectures. My post won't suffice, but I felt compelled to at least try. I would like to include the disclaimer I don't like to contribute to the noise and hype surrounding Fifty Shades. But I want to discuss what's really black and white about the subject matter.  I think we should talk about the normalization of violence against women. Can we talk about where we've left our young women trying to figure out love and relationships in all of this?   

I am speaking to those who find stalking, controlling, violent, disrespectful men sexy. I am speaking to women looking for love. I am speaking to women who need to understand our responsibility to other women.  

What I question is what it is we find so fascinating about the nature of the relationship between Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele.  I think we have to dig deeper. Get below the surface and look more inwardly at ourselves. I think we basically have to ask ourselves a few questions:

The books and/or movie is fictitious. It's harmless entertainment.  What's the problem? 

The problem is both the heart and mind are like a sponge. What is absorbed creeps deep into the pores, infiltrating the sponge.  You may be able to drain the pores and wash the sponge out, but the really greasy mess, remains deep within. Books and film with these messages influence our girls in a way that should cause us to believe they are influential and not merely entertainment. 

Anastasia engages in these activities of her own free will.  She is not forced, she's a willing participant. 

We could say the same about women who stay in relationships where they are hit. The difference is we wouldn't say it's okay. Women who remain in abusive relationships are often trapped there as a captive in their own minds and usually as a result of deeper personal issues. This doesn't make the results any less damaging. 

What two people do in the privacy of their own bedroom is none of our business. 

You're right.  So why do we invite ourselves into this fictitious bedroom?  Ask yourself why you want to watch other people having sex?  How does this benefit you? 

I don't see the harm in reading or watching this.  Just because it isn't your cup of tea doesn't mean it can't be mine.  If you don't like it - boycott it. 

If your daughter, granddaughter, sister, or friend confided she was involved in the relationship portrayed by these characters, what would you say to her?  Would you tell her you think it erotic? Would you be comfortable knowing she is being stalked, intimidated or feeling pressured to do things she was uncomfortable with?  We have this responsibility to women.  A responsibility to encourage and uplift.  To mentor and support.  You're right, it can be your cup of tea, but not without consequences. We ALL have to boycott such things and remove it's power over us.  To do anything less is to become a contributor of violence against women.  You bring women back many steps in time and you perpetuate the problem. A recent study published in the Women's Journal of Health is very illuminating as to the impact film and books like these have on our young women. 

What is so sexy about it anyway? 

I think we need to ask ourselves just what is so sexy?  Do we want to be dominated?  In the bedroom or otherwise?  Is that what really turns you on or are you simply filling in spaces of emptiness in your own bedroom or relationship? Are you waiting to be rescued from the doldrums of life by Christian Grey? 

Don't we all really long for something deeper? Something reliable? Something satisfying?

I'm raising four girls and my prayer for each of them is to experience an authentically intimate and healthy relationship with her husband.  One that is filled with trust and respect and honor. I hope they live freely and fiercely and are loved deeply and the popularity of things like Fifty Shades doesn't encourage any of that, rather just the opposite. 

I am an advocate against human trafficking.  I have been exposed to hundreds of accounts of dominated women, held and used against their will.  I guess my exposure to this removes my understanding for this as a means of entertainment or any kind of acceptance for it.  I just can't find anything sexy about it. 

As women, let us do more for women.  Let us be more. Because grey doesn't mean grey at all, rather just leaves us a little black and blue.