Although I correctly characterized it as pornographic, I didn’t make the link that so often comes with pornography: the encouragement of violence against women. Upon closer inspection, Fifty Shades of Grey is not just harmless “mommy porn.” it clearly depicts a deeply abusive relationship in which its protagonist suffers emotional and physical violence at the hands of her partner. And, worst of all, it doesn’t seem to realize this.



I believe the attraction of 50 Shades for many is how it has thrown porn into mainstream – you don’t have to hide the book or the fact that you enjoy reading about sex. It also aims to please women – a welcome change from pornography that is marketed at men.

On the flipside, 50 Shades is no love story, and the fact that women are buying into it, makes me horrified. How can we teach our children what safe and loving relationships are, if 50 Shades of Grey is accepted as ok?

I have no problem with 50 Shades as entertainment. Although I thought it was one of the most poorly written books I have ever read, watching the movie was an enjoyable girls night out, the movie made me laugh and I thought the acting was great.

I have no problem with women reading about sex, watching movies of sex, of looking at porn, of being a part of BDSM, with spicing their own love lives up a little. Awesome – we’re all different, I’m open minded, its all good. In fact, I think being able to talk more freely about sex, be able to enjoy more explicit content, is great!

I do have a problem that people wont see the damaging plot/theme, because what if they really believe in it? What if they really think it is ok?



Here are some links to articles on why it is all NOT OK!


Consent is really, really important. Consent is important because it differentiates sex from rape, and consent is important because it differentiates BDSM from abuse. So in a relationship like the one depicted in this series, you would think clear consent would be the number one most important thing



Maybe the problem was all in the marketing of this material: As it turns out, “Fifty Shades of Grey” is less of a movie about BDSM and more like an average stalker-thriller. It’s easy to get hung up on Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain with all his floggers, crops, rope and cable ties. But the movie, which only features about 20 minute of sex scenes in total, is really about the obsessive lengths Christian (Jamie Dornan) goes to convince Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), a 21-year-old virgin, to sign a contract that enters her into a dominant-submissive relationship, not the relationship itself.

It’s only Christian’s extreme wealth and the romanticized notion of his overarching dominant persona that barely mask what’s really just completely creepy behavior. In any other movie, a man or woman who tracks down another person at their job, local bar, home and, oh, their mother’s home in Georgia, a plane ride away, would probably end up in back of a police car.

“Everyone wants to focus on the spanking, because that’s the sensational part — that’s the part that everyone is going home and masturbating to anyways,” Mistress Couple, the head mistress at La Domaine Esemar, the oldest BDSM training chateau in the world, told HuffPost Entertainment. “People aren’t masturbating to the part where they’re fighting and he’s stalking her at work.”

Christian’s self-admitted inability to leave Ana alone shouldn’t be romanticized, nor should his controlling, domineering behavior be conflated with sexual dominance.



a new online campaign called #50dollarsnot50shades launched last week and is seeking both a boycott of Fifty Shades of Grey as well as donations to support battered women. While the campaign and its supporters don’t necessarily seem to be taking a stance against the explicit BDSM content, they do claim that the film glamorizes violence against women. The executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), one of the campaign’s supporters, stated on the organization’s website:

Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women.



bad writing is not why I find Fifty Shades of Grey to be repulsive. I hate—hate—this book because it conflates BDSM with abuse. Because it features an emotionally abusive man preying upon an insecure young woman and calls it a relationship. Christian Grey is an abuser. He is emotionally unavailable, emotionally abusive, and sexually exploitative. His complete disregard for his partner’s comfort, experience, and emotional well being are contemptible: he gets his pleasure at the expense of his partner.

But somehow, emotional unavailability translates into an ineffable sexiness; lack of care turns Christian Grey into some sort of sexual demigod. He throws a sexually inexperienced woman headfirst into the depths of what takes a great deal of trust and intimacy to safely establish, and gives her neither. This is not the basis of BDSM. While power certainly comes into play, as it does in all relationships, BDSM is not about using and abusing power over someone in order to get off. It is not about abusing someone’s trust or someone’s body.



The Fifty Shades is Abuse ring (otherwise known as FSIAB) seem to think that women need protecting. In an open letter in the Daily Mail, ring member, Emma Tofi writes, “When women are telling the world that they want their very own Christian Grey, the time has come to debate this subject nationally and help to raise awareness of abuse, not glorify it.”

According to FSIAB, the “danger” of Fifty Shades is that women who watch it will be seduced by a romantic depiction of spousal exploitation. They then might fall into an abusive relationship themselves and forgive unacceptable behaviours on the basis that they’ve seen them manifest in Christian Grey and therefore desire these characteristics in their partner




Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by a Hollywood studio. The people there just want your money; they have no concern whatsoever about you and your dreams.

Abuse is not glamorous or cool.  It is never OK, under any circumstances.

This is what you need to know about Fifty Shades of Grey: as a child, Christian Grey was terribly neglected. He is confused about love because he never experienced the real thing. In his mind, love is tangled up with bad feelings like pain and embarrassment.  Christian has pleasure from controlling and  hurting women in bizarre ways. Anastasia is an immature girl who falls for Christian’s looks and wealth, and foolishly goes along with his desires.

In the real world, this story would end badly, with Christian in jail,  and Ana in a shelter – or morgue. Or maybe Christian would continue beating Ana, and she’d stay and suffer. Either way, their lives would most definitely not be a fairy tale. Trust me on this one.

As a doctor, I’m urging you: do NOT see Fifty Shades of Grey. Get informed, learn the facts, and explain to your friends why they shouldn’t see it either.



The more you think about it, the uglier it gets. Much like the twisted, not-really-all-that-consensual parody of BDSM in Fifty Shades, it’s only a “liberating” fantasy if liberation means giving up all your freedom to someone who knows better than you.

Classism is baked into the plot and the backstory of Fifty Shades from beginning to end. Christian’s emotional damage is blamed on being born to a woman in poverty, a biological mom he callously blows off as a “crack whore.” Conversely, said damage is softened, made palatable and even romantic, by his current incredible wealth. His controlling, abusive behavior to his lovers is softened by the language of corporate America, expressed through respectable, legally binding NDAs and contracts. His emotional cruelty to Ana is constantly balanced against all the nice stuff he buys her, the “protection” he offers her from an even crueler world with his money—money that he capriciously uses as a weapon to literally buy the company of anyone who threatens her.

Strip all that away—take away whatever magical talent (never named or described in any way so as not to distract from the plot) made Christian a billionaire, and what do you have? Put Christian Grey in a dull average suburb, or a trailer park, and what is he?




If he turns up inside your apartment uninvited, it’s not romantic. It’s breaking and entering.

If you tell him you’re not interested and you ask him to leave and he responds by tying you to your bed and having violent sex with you after you repeatedly say “no,” all the while threatening to do worse if you make a noise, it’s not passion. It’s rape.

If he sells your car and buys you a new one without your permission “to surprise you,” it’s not romantic. It’s theft and manipulation.

If he monitors your phone calls and threatens you with physical harm because another man calls you, he’s not in love with you. He’s abusing and controlling you.

If beating you with a leather strap until you cry is what gives him pleasure and he asks you to do it despite your distress because it turns him on and then plays the victim to explain it all away, there is no soundtrack in the world that should quiet the voice in your head that yells out that love and romance were never in the picture and they never will be.

My children, this film was deeply disturbing to me, and I have life experience on my side. I shudder to think that you are going to grow up with stories like this to model relationships on and that you or the people you date will mistake this for ‘normal.’





One poster (which you can see at the start of this review) says “Lose Control,” as if somehow what’s been lacking in cinematic female characterizations is turning over control to male characters. Women submitting to men, women’s narratives as subservient to men’s narratives — even male supporting characters — isn’t new, nor is it a radical concept to portray women as sex objects for men. The film seems to think that noting women can experience sexual gratification sometimes while playing typical subservient roles to male gratification is some kind of empowering message.





Far from “empowering,” Fifty Shades seeks to remove agency. Even though it’s supposed to seem “sexy,” the book even includes several instances of rape, where Ana is coerced into or outright forced to have sex. The BDSM community itself has been outspoken on the issue, distancing itself from the horrific lack of safety or consent in the novel: “Fifty Shades is not about fun,” says BDSM practitioner, Sophie Morgan, in The Guardian. “It’s about abuse.”

“Lose control,” a movie poster urges. Another shows Christian Grey with a tie wrapped around his fist. “I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele,” he says in the trailer. When Anastasia asks, “Why are you trying to change me?” he replies with the saccharine, “I’m not. It’s you that’s changing me.




As several experienced BDSM practitioners emphasized to me, there are healthy, ethical ways to consensually combine sex and pain. All of them require self-knowledge, communication skills, and emotional maturity in order to make the sex safe and mutually gratifying. The problem is thatFifty Shades casually associates hot sex with violence, but without any of this context. Sometimes, Ana says yes to sex she’s uncomfortable with because she’s too shy to speak her mind, or because she’s afraid of losing Christian; she gives consent when he wants to inflict pain, yet that doesn’t prevent her from being harmed.

This is a troubling fantasy in American culture, where one in five womenwill be raped within their lifetime, according to the CDC; where nearly 40 percent of those rapes will happen to women aged 18 to 24; and where troubling evidence of casual attitudes toward rape—such as in 2010 when a number of Ivy League-educated men thought it was okay to chant “no means yes, yes means anal” on their campus—is not uncommon. As images of Ana being beaten by Christian become the new normal for what’s considered erotic, they raise questions about what it means to “consent” to sex. Clearly, consent is necessary; but is it sufficient?




For all your talents, you don’t have superpowers. And changing someone – morphing them into that perfect image you hold in your head – isn’t reality.

It won’t happen.

Relationships don’t work that way. And guys aren’t wired that way. Which brings me to the second thing I want to mention.

Young men – the guys you know and hang out with – are an entirely different breed than the generation of men I grew up with. And that’s a very good thing.





Dear Husband…. so yeah, yeah—- our mattress sags in the middle.

You can see it, even when the sheets are pulled up taut, how the springs at the centre have been flattened by the sheer weight of glory.

You and I and this becoming of us.

Some would say this has been boring, this every day love of us.




Over the past several weeks, countless pixels have been expended on this website and others about just how horrible the cultural juggernaut known as Fifty Shades of Grey is.  Literary and film critics hate it because it’s terribly written.  Feminists hate it because the main female character is spineless and void of personality.  Domestic abuse awareness activists hate it because it portrays stalking, threats, and controlling behavior as signs of true love.  BDSM aficionados hate it because they feel it unfairly portrays their lifestyle.  Cultural conservatives hate it because it’s taken the kind of violent, kinky porn people used to be ashamed about consuming and placed it squarely into the mainstream.

Even the stars of the soon-to-be released film adaptation of the popular books sort of hate Fifty Shades.  Jamie Dornan, who portrays the series’ titular character Christian Grey, told Glamour magazine that he’s “played a couple of sick, sick dudes, serial killers…and characters who don’t treat women the way society deems appropriate.”  Still, he said, “Christian was a massive challenge.”











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