Straight Talk Advice

Sexual abuse made sexy: Fifty Shades of Sick

Mar 10, 2015

“Fifty Shades of Grey” — best movie to miss and diss

Dear Straight Talk: My women friends, many who are mothers, rave about "Fifty Shades of Grey". I found the film appalling. Sexual wounds affect people for life and this generation is already very wounded around love and sex. The movie tells boys that being controlling and abusive is cool, and girls that letting a rich, emotionally-detached guy sexually abuse you will have a fairy-tale ending. I'm disturbed that the book and movie are breaking worldwide sales records. What is the appeal? Are young people buying it? —M. in San Francisco

Colin 21, Sacramento, Calif. Ask me a question

I don't buy it. The story romanticizes horrible abuse and the BDSM [bondage-discipline, dominant-submissive, sadomasochistic] community considers it a slanderous misrepresentation of true kink. Strip away the sex and it's about wealth and power.

Karlee 17, Bentleyville, Penn. Ask me a question

I work at the theater and cannot describe the hoards of middle-aged woman hoping to fulfill their rich-boy fantasies. Christian Grey, aw, what a good guy. He wants Anastasia to eat and buys her nice things so it's okay to stalk, isolate, beat and rape her. Yes, rape. If Christian wasn't rich, this would be a “Law & Order SVU” episode. Unfortunately, Grey's own childhood molestation is brushed off without explaining how sexual abuse screws people up (at any age). People think “Fifty Shades” is a guide to BDSM when really a misogynistic author stooped to make a bestseller by making rape sexy and knows nothing about BDSM.

Molly 23, Oakland, Calif. Ask me a question

Honestly, the plot is rape. I know several people in the kink community. BDSM is all about explicit consent, enthusiastic trust and communication. It's seriously scary that people think the abuse portrayed in this movie is sexy.

Lisa 22, Eugene, Ore. Ask me a question

Oh, “Fifty Shades”, how I love to hate you. Christian is a typical romance-novel male: super hot, young but manly, and insanely rich. For all the slender blondes he could have, he chooses average Anastasia. And, despite his 50 shades of abuse, he is 100 percent faithful. He worships her. Indeed, many of Christian’s abusive elements are romance taken too far. While he is emotionally incontinent (hardly attractive), I give him this: In an era when men are constantly distracted, non-committal and goalless, Christian knows what he wants and goes after it. Today, pornography and sexually-saturated media have many men feeling entitled to women and women feeling increasingly insecure about their appeal, even within committed relationships. Meanwhile, single women are frustrated with men choosing pornography over real intimacy. A singly-devoted rich, attractive man? If that’s not a fantasy, nothing is.

Icis 16, Detroit, Mich. Ask me a question

The book opened the door for me, non-judgmentally, to the S&M community. I didn't once think about abuse. What was glorified was money. Without Christian's wealth, this would be a Criminal Minds episode.

Justin 17, Brentwood, Calif. Ask me a question

I never will watch or read “Fifty Shades of Grey”. If image and pleasure were less glorified, this generation would have fewer problems. MTV has a show, “16 and Pregnant”. Really? I hate how sex is popularized and shoved in teen's faces. It's losing its value and sacredness.

Samantha 23, Toledo, Ohio Ask me a question

This book sprang from “Twilight”: passive ordinary girl gets chosen and controlled by sexy rich guy. From the deaths of my dad and brother and my car accidents, I have “daddy issues”. They're common today. My counselor said fear of making decisions drew me to boys who dictated, sometimes with force, who I could see, what I could wear, etc. Now, as an activist for female independence, I support the roles of breadwinner and homemaker with each role equally respected and honored, but I abhor glamorization of male-female dominance. Don't be afraid to voice what's wrong with “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

Dear M.: Critical commentary and “thumbs down” from  the panel. I'm right there with them. How chilling that sex even sells sexual abuse. Parents: Teens are relying on your good judgment. Please look before you leap, or backpedal your way out, and boycott this sick money-making trend in entertainment.

Editor's Note: Despite unfavorable reviews, protests by the BDSM community, and public protests that the movie glorifies abuse and rape, this film has smashed box-office records nationally and globally — a sure sign that we will be tied down and spanked with more bad movies in the near future.

Remove your blindfolds families. We already have 1in 5 women reporting rape in this country and anything making this much money will be repeated and repeated until it becomes the new normal and the sane appear insane for complaining. The film has grossed over $500 million internationally to date, is being held over in many theaters and is number-one in over 30 countries.

Written by British author, E.L. James, "Fifty Shades" started as fan fiction off the "Twilight" characters, Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. James eventually removed the piece, rewrote it and published it on her own website, renaming the characters Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, and split it into a trilogy. "Fifty Shades of Grey", "Fifty Shades Darker", and "Fifty Shades Freed" later, the books had sold 100 million copies worldwide as of a year ago and were translated into 51 languages. In the UK, they surpassed the sales of "Harry Potter", making "Fifty Shades" author E.L. James the most lucrative British author ever.

Say hello to lady porn. Actually, please don't. It's bad for your love life. But be aware: Internet-based erotic fiction, which caters to women's pornographic taste by adding romance and glamour to the porn, has been a huge growing movement alongside the mainstream internet porn industry which mostly caters to men's taste. Just as male-audience porn has gotten more and more twisted and abusive, so has this female-audience porn. And with "Fifty Shades", it's leapt off the seedy websites of the internet into bookstores and theaters near you.

Though the movie has been dubbed "mommy porn" for its appeal to women with children over 35, trust me, it has huge appeal with girls, teens and college students as well. Lisa, our panelist from Eugene, and Samantha from Toledo, give you an idea of the pervasive socio-psychological reasons for the appeal.

Many dangerous misperceptions are seeping from the book. If it was an oil spill, fines would be leveled. In my own phrasing, here are some of those misperceptions, inspired by psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, MD:
 

Girls want men who show control by getting rough with them. Wrong. They do want men who are strong and goal-oriented, but a healthy woman is strong, too, and avoids emotional or physical pain.

Men desire meek women with low self-esteem. Women with low self-esteem are common targets for one-time hookups, but men seek partners who won't put up with their shit.

Alcohol and manipulation are legitimate ways to get the woman. Every college is dealing with this right now. It's rape if the girl is even slightly inebriated.

Abuse is sexy. What?? You are the oppressor's dream. Apparently, sex can sell anything.

You can cure an abuser with love. Now this is fantasy. This faulty thinking is what hooks women, after which the abuse takes them lower and lower into powerlessness. It's why we have shelters in every town.

It's good to experiment sexually. Maybe if you're in a long-term, steady, committed relationship, otherwise it almost always leads to problems and screws you up psychologically, and we have the mail to prove it. We have to be humble and recognize that humans are extremely sensitive creatures when it comes to sex. There's a reason it has been held sacred.

• Being rich is worth it. (I'm adding my own here.) It's not. Trust me. No amount of money is worth being sexually abused. And women can be easily convinced by 'big shot' abusers that they have a lot of money, when they're really pretty average.

From young to old, I encourage you to boycott books and films that glorify abuse and to think critically and actively about what you want to become the new normal. It may seem impossible to change the direction of society, but society has always been affected one person at a time. —Lauren

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  1. By Emily, age 16, from Nashua, New Hampshire on 03/10/2015

    I just recently discovered Straight Talk doing an on line search for teen advice, and this week’s column really hits home with me!  Our mom entered into a similar abusive relationship, but there was no happy fairy tale ending and in reality I doubt that there rarely if ever is.  “Max” (not his real name), wasn’t nearly as rich as Christian Grey, but he had lots more money than we did and in the beginning treated our mom like a queen.  It all seemed too good to be true and it was.  Our room is right next to our mom’s room and my sister and I started to hear what sounded like abuse, and one time when we happened to see our mom nude we could see the bruises on private parts of her body.  Of course, she denied that Max had done it and used the usual excuse that she “fell down.”

    He was super nice to us in the beginning and bought us expensive gifts, but he really scared us the way he would look us up and down and stare at our breasts.  He never actually made a move on us, but it still was very scary because he didn’t try to hide what he was thinking.  Like was written about in last week’s column, our room doesn’t have a lock so we were always nervous when he was here.  We couldn’t even be comfortable undressing in our own room.  We could no longer be casual about being nude or in our underwear as we sometimes liked to do, since as sisters we obviously aren’t shy about our bodies with each other.  Max never tried to walk in on us.  However, near the end he started sometimes walking around in nothing but male thong underwear which made us very, very uncomfortable and embarrassed.

    Then he abruptly left our mom without warning.  She was devastated and we heard that he took up with someone else younger and is probably treating her the same way.  Even though our mom is still depressed over it, my sister and I think it’s for the best that he left and feel that it’s good riddance! 

    Emily

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  2. By Angie, age 17, from Carmichael, CA on 03/11/2015

    My older sister got into a relationship with a Christian Grey type.  She was only 19 and he was a successful attorney in his 40’s.  The rest of the family could see that he was no good, but she was enthralled with him and thought he was just the greatest.  She moved in with him and believed that they were going to get married and live happily ever after.  Anybody can probably guess what happened.  He used her, abused her, and then threw her out and moved on to someone else.  She had to swallow her pride and move back in with us.  We share a room and the first time I saw her nude after she moved back in with us, I was shocked to see the bruises on her body from the abuse.  However, like many abuse victims, she was too ashamed to report it to anyone so he is free to go on abusing others.  She’s in counseling to recover from the mental damage that this did to her, but she’s still having a very hard time and it’s making it very hard for her to try to have another relationship.  Since we share a room, I can see how depressed she is.  Fifty Shades of Grey gives the false impression that relationships like this have happy endings, but as Emily says, that is not reality.

    Angie

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  3. By M.G., age 17, from Santa Rosa, CA on 03/11/2015

    I got talked into going to this movie by a friend and am sorry that I wasted my time and money.  I hate the way that it glorifies sexual abuse and implies that it is something “glamorous” when done by someone with alot of money!  I have a friend who is submitting to sex and abuse like this and I’m really concerned about her.  She’s not the most attractive person in the world, because she’s overweight and has a bad acne problem.  So she gives in to having sex with the only guy whose ever shown interest in her and he comes across like a real creep and predator to me.  I’ve also seen bruises on her body when I’ve seen her naked when we’ve had sleepovers and I’m sure he did it to her even though she denies it.  He isn’t a billionaire like Christian Grey, but he’s like him in every other way and I’m really worried about my friend.

    M.G.

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    1. By LAUREN, from StraightTalkAdvice.org on 03/15/2015

      M.G.—I was hoping someone might have addressed your comment with a real story, but since they didn’t, I hope you’ll take my word for it that your friend needs help. There are so many ways to tip parents off anonymously, be creative. Abuse is a vicious cycle taking women into lower and lower spirals of depression and loss of self-worth. Right now, she’s still young and if her parents intervened and broke up this relationship and got her counseling for her esteem it would help A LOT. I hope you do it and make sure you include the message about her needing self-esteem counseling. Friends don’t let friends get beat up by creeps. Good luck. I’m glad you wrote.—Love, Lauren

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  4. By M.M., age 18, from Santa Ana, CA on 03/11/2015

    Many people won’t like what I say as it’s not “politally correct” but it’s a fact that some girls like a little pain along with sex.  My girlfriend actually likes me to spank her bare butt before we have sex and says it turns her on and sometimes tells me that I need to do it harder.  We have to be careful that I don’t do it hard enough to leave any marks because she has to share a room with her little sister who therefore sees her nude and would be sure to tell their mom if she saw any marks since she loves to try to get her in trouble.

    I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong since it is her idea and I’m doing what she wants and it definitely gets her turned on and wet before we have sex.

    M.M.

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  5. By S., age 17, from Vacaville, CA on 03/11/2015

    I also find light spanking to be a turnon before sex, but not too hard!  We also have to be very careful not to leave any marks as my sister and I don’t have a lock on our door, and like some of those who wrote last week our mom sometimes walks in on us without warning.  She sometimes catches us naked, but that’s no big deal since she’s our mom, but I wouldn’t want to have to try to explain bruises on my rear!  And I’d be in huge trouble if she found out that my boyfriend was doing this to me and that we were having sex.

    S.

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    1. By A.F., age 17, from Fair Oaks, California on 03/11/2015

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong or abusive about spanking either, unless it’s done in an abusive, hurtful way.  I’m gay and my girlfriend and I find it a big turn on to slowly strip each other and then spank each other with a paddle on our bare bottoms before having sex.  We don’t do it so hard as to cause injury, so no harm is done.  Like many sexual matters, it can be done in an abusive and physically harmful way, but there is nothing wrong with it in and of itself.  I’m not saying that I agree with Fifty Shades of Grey.  I haven’t seen the movie or read the book, but from what I’ve heard (including this weeks column) it glorifies abuse and that is wrong.  But just because many people don’t choose certain sexual experiences doesn’t make them wrong.  I have no desire to have sex with a guy, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with those who do, and by the same token there’s nothing wrong with me having sex with another girl just because the majority don’t share my sexual preference.

      A.F.

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  6. By Cathy, age 16, from Westminster, CA on 03/12/2015

    I haven’t seen this movie and don’t intend to.  However, my stepsister with whom I share a room with during visitations saw it with her boyfriend and thought it was great.  She said it gave them ideas on how to “spice things up.”  She’s confided in me that they’re having sex.  I think they’re too young for this, since I’m the same age and know that I’m too young.  But I don’t think its my business to tell her mom and I know it would make her hate me if I did.  We were shy at first but have become comfortable with our nudity in front of each other which is a good thing as it makes things much easier when you have to share a room.  So far, I haven’t seen an marks on her body when she’s nude but what she’s said about trying out ideas they got from watching Fifty Shades of Grey does concern me, but I still don’t think I say anything if I see evidence that they are doing these things and let it be her business.

    Cathy

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  7. By W.K., age 40, from Monterey, CA on 03/13/2015

    This week’s and last week’s Straight Talk columns give me concerns about my 16 year old twin son and daughter.  They are still sharing a room and and completely satisfied with the arrangement.  The only other option would be for my daughter to share a room with my 7 year old daughter from my second and current marriage.  However, my older daughter is very much opposed as they have nothing in common and my younger daughter has a much earlier bedtime which would also make things difficult.  My younger daughter ideolizes her older half-sister and would happily share a room with her, but my older daughter wants nothing to do with her. 

    The twins recently saw 50 Shades of Grey together and thought the movie was “great” and felt the kinky and abusive sexual practices were “funny.”  On top of this, they have also recently started locking their door all the time.  The combination of opposite sexes sharing a room, locking the door and enjoying a movie such as this combined with what I’ve read in Straight Talk about opposite sex teenagers sharing a room gives me concern.  However, I do not want to accuse them of something when I have no proof that they are doing anything wrong.  Also, everything seems to be working fine with the current arrangement and I know that my older daughter would be very angry if I forced to share a room with her little sister against her will, so I am not certain of what to do.

    W.K.

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    1. By L.R., age 39, from Woodland Hills, California on 03/13/2015

      I really think you need to put your girls together sharing a room since you don’t have another bedroom for all of the reasons you state.  I speak from experience.  My 14 year old twin son and daughter were very close and getting along wonderfully sharing a room, so I saw no reason to change things figuring “if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.”  However, my daughter came to me and told me in confidence that she was starting to feel very uncomfortable because her brother was starting to get too interested in looking at her when she was nude and that she had also sometimes seen him with erections when he saw her nude and this scared her.  He had never attempted anything sexual and neither of us thought he actually would, but she still was understandably uncomfortable.  She said that she wanted to start sharing a room with her 8 year old younger sister despite their age difference and the fact that she was much closer to her brother.  She said that despite this, she would be more comfortable with her sister since they are both girls and therefore there would not be any sexual issues with undressing and seeing each other nude.  She didn’t want to offend her brother or make him feel he had done anything wrong, and it was actually unfair for him to be in this position.  She therefore asked me to say that I was requiring it because I felt they were too old to be sharing a room.  It worked out fine.  My younger daughter was glad to be in the same room with “big sister.”  They certainly had no problem with the undressing and nudity issue and even started sharing that bathroom in the morning even when using the toilet and shower which they had never done before and which makes things much easier with only one bathroom.  There were adjustments to be made due to their age difference, but things have worked out fine.

      L.R.

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    2. By LAUREN, from StraightTalkAdvice.org on 03/15/2015

      W.K.—So glad you wrote and that L.R. shared about her household (thank you L.R.!). If I was in your shoes, I would just state the new arrangement lovingly and resolutely—of course, do not accuse!—and let the fire and brimstone begin, if it’s going to (I give a concrete example below). Like I told someone last week, you just can’t afford to fool around with this and you don’t want to regret something this big. Sexual wounds really are the worst, they last and last and can affect so much going forward.

      Obviously, all this would have been so much easier if you had separated them into same-gender bedrooms years and years ago, and so that just means it’s harder now, not that you don’t need to do it. Enlist help of dad and stepdad if they will be supportive of you and can act in an authoritative manner. Find this out ahead of time, because if they cow to the kids or duck out once they hear the protests, I wouldn’t even involve them, or they’ll just make it harder. 

      At 16, they are going to want some kind of “explanation” along with the declaration of the new arrangement. I suggest you say something like, “Brian (your son) is of an age that he needs his own male space.” (Be the authority on this, that he DOES, whether he agrees or not—and ignore possible statements that he doesn’t.) “And since there are only 2 kids’ bedrooms, that puts you, Cindy, in with little Louise.” When she protests, just say, “I know, I apologize dear, that’s just the luck of the draw. If little sister was little brother, you’d have your own room, but this is the way it is.” And just stand there and keep repeating yourself with love and resolve. I wouldn’t offer any further explanation. You don’t need to and if you do, it just appears that you’re negotiating when you aren’t, you’re making a declaration. So keep going back to the declaration. If they say, “Why now?” don’t fall for the bait of the movie or your worries…  Just say, “I’m the mom, I set the rules, this is what’s happening,” and really show your resolve with your body language and tone that shows you both love them AND you cannot be swayed. And then really do it that day, before nightfall. Be prepared to move her things yourself. If it’s a complete mess (emotionally, not the room, lol—or even if it turns out to be easy—do nice things for them, be compassionate with them, get them their favorite takeout or something, tell them how much you love them, but stay in your mom power.

      Never character assassinate them, even if they do you, just let it roll off your back, stay the course, and insist you love them and are just doing your job as a mom, because you have to, you’re a mom! (Added aside: If older daughter is seething, privately let her know in no uncertain terms that she may not take this out on little sis, that it’s all on you if she’s got a problem. Then tell little daughter privately not to take any of the rampage personally.) Kids have a lot of respect for a parent sticking to her/his guns with them when it makes sense (and this does, you have 20,000 years of human evolution on your side on this one), so this is great modeling of doing something difficult as a parent as well. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.—Love, Lauren

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  8. By Concerned Mom, age 41, from Oregon, Ohio on 03/14/2015

    I refuse to allow my teenaged daughters to see this film after what I have read about it.  They are furious since “all the kids are seeing it.”  I’m not a prude or overly restrictive and do not forbid them from seeing all films containing sexual content. However, from what I have read, Fifty Shades of Grey implies that sexual abuse by someone wealthy is acceptable and results in a couple “living happily ever after” and this is not the message that I want sent to my daughters.  They also do not like the fact that I come in their room which does not have a lock without knocking as has been written about recently in Straight Talk.  However, I think parents need to be diligent these days from everything I have read in Straight Talk and elsewhere and look for any signs of things such as drug use, anorexia, cutting, etc.  My daughters are very close and I know that neither would tell on the other if any of these problems existed, so as their mother I feel that I need make sure that everything is all right with them.  Since I am there mother, it should not matter if they happen to be undressed or nude when I come in, and they say that is not the issue and they don’t care if I see them this way. They just don’t want me walking in on them without warning.  However, if they have nothing to hide and modesty is not an issue, I don’t see why it should be a problem if they are doing nothing wrong.

    Concerned Mom
    Oregon, Ohio

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  9. By Audrey, age 40, from Sabastapol, CA, United States on 03/15/2015

    I belong to a women’s group that goes to a movie once a month and then meets to discuss the movie.  We take turns selecting the movie to see.  While Fifty Shades of Grey is not a movie I would have chosen and otherwise probably would not have gone to see, it was selected by the women whose turn it was, so I went ahead and attended it with the group.  I am sorry that I did as I was appalled by the abusive sex and the implication that it is acceptable and somehow “glamorous.”  I said this during our discussion.  Some agreed with me, but others shrugged it off and said “it’s just a movie and many movies don’t reflect reality so what’s the big deal?”

    Unfortunately, my teenage daughters had already seen it and found it enjoyable and even “funny.”  In the future I plan to be more careful about the movies I allow them to see, as I would not have let them see this if I really had known the contents.  I also agree with Concerned Mom that it is important to carefully monitor what teenagers are doing these days.  My daughters do not have a lock on their door, but I do knock before coming into their room.  However, I find reasons to go into their room when they are likely to be undressed or nude to make sure there or no signs of things such as anorexia, cutting, or drug abuse as has been written about frequently in Straight Talk.  I do not see it as an invasion of privacy for a mother to see her daughters nude and they aren’t shy about my seeing them, and my sister and I were never shy about our mother coming in our room when we were undressed.  This gives me assurance that there is nothing going on that I should be concerned about.

    Audrey

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