The Monkee’s (a very popular music group from the 70’s) recorded a song called “Shades of Gray.” The lyrics describe a time in life when things seemed more clear, easier to understand. Yet, the lyrics go on to say that, “Today there is no black or white…only shades of gray.” Perhaps the movie/book title, “Fifty Shades of Grey” was intended to be a play on words suggesting that the issues here were not clear-not black or white-but shades of gray.
I shared two links on my facebook post that explained my views on the new movie released this weekend. There were many others sharing other post as well with the same ideas. This is a black and white issues for me. For many this movie is romanticizing the ideas of abuse and control as “love.” We live in a society filled with domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, and more. Love and romance have nothing to do with control, bullying, abuse, and victimization.
Now, please hear me when I say that I don’t care what two (or more) consenting adults do or with whom they do it. If sexual role-playing and fantasy are what you need in the bedroom, then that is your choice. This is not a commentary on S&M lifestyle. In fact, most of those involved with that lifestyle are raising their voices about the fact that their lifestyle if one of choice, not being forced to do something they don’t want to do, being manipulated, or being bullied.
This is about a culture that thinks the kind of control, abuse, violence, manipulation, degradation, humiliation, and more is a valid form of love and romance. This is about standing up for those who live with these issues around the world. This is about believing that just because someone winds up in a situation like these that it equals consent. Some have said that Anastasia gives her consent to the abuse, but she is a young woman who is bullied and manipulated.
On the facebook post, I had one comment that included this line…”The book is about their love and how her love for him and his love for her changed him.” I read an article by Angie Aker on the Upworthy site who addresses this question: http://www.upworthy.com/6-real-quotes-from-fifty-shades-that-could-make-you-rethink-how-you-feel-about-it?c=ufb1
Someone said to me, “But Angie, don’t you see? In the end, Anastasia liberates him from this and brings him to true love. She is the hero.”
RIGHT. In this fictional fantasy book.
The most surprising thing about abuse victims is that they rarely see themselves that way at first. They often see themselves as strong people trying to rescue a volatile but salvageable partner. It’s when abuse victims start to let go of the fairy tale that they alone MUST stay so they can “fix” this person that they can finally start to rebuild their lives and find a love that fortifies them.
I experienced abuse as a child and as an adult. I have been that victim who felt I could fix things if I only had been a better little girl, if I was smarter, if I just did what was expected of me, if I just knew how to love more or better, if I just prayed better or harder, if, if, if. I was in my mid 30’s when someone showed me the truth. I was not then, not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever BE RESPONSIBLE for the CHOICES made by another person.
There is an often-quoted verse in 1 Corinthians sometimes called the Love Verse. This is what love should be about.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
If anyone can show me anything in “Fifty Shades of Grey” that looks like that, please let me know.
I am writing about this issue in the hope that someone will read it or anything else being shared on facebook or other social media and find a way to reach out. There are people who understand and can help. Let others who have found their voice help you find yours.
National Domestic Abuse Hotline 24/7 hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Hotline 1-888-373-7888
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1.800.656.HOPE