When the Fifty Shades of Grey book came out it caused a sensation and, at the time, became the fastest book to sell a million copies. I believe it has now, at the time of writing, sold One Hundred Million copies. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Fifty Shades of Grey follows the erotic relationship between a newly graduated girl and a billionaire business guy. After seeing and hearing all the hype surrounding these books I felt I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and so I duly ordered myself a copy.
Not all that long ago women were literally given away in marriage and became the property of their husbands. The man was deemed to be the head of the household and women had little or no say, they were expected to ‘know their place’. Domestic violence was not deemed to be a criminal offence, my own mother had a pretty rough life at the hands of my father.
In my lifetime women have become more liberated and learned to stand up for themselves in achieving goals within their own right. I include myself in this. I have watched as women fought for equal rights in the workplace. I have seen how women have been able to renegotiate a place of equality within their relationships. As a woman myself I have felt immensely proud of the progress women have made in overcoming the sexist views of men and indeed society. I then read Fifty Shades …..
It seems to be mainly women who raved over the book at the time it was published. As a liberated woman living within a society of other liberated women, I find that really surprising. When I hear comments to the effect that Monsieur Grey is a ‘real man’ I wince.
I am not a prude or inhibited about sex, it can be wonderful and I like it, but I do have a very real concern about the type of sadistic sex described throughout the book and the assumed fascination in sadistic sex as the high level of sales seems to indicate. Whatever two consenting adults get up to in the bedroom is usually considered by them to be normal. We all see life through our own unique filter and see our own behaviour as normal .. as ‘how it should be’. Within my consulting room I hear so many differing accounts of what is considered to be normal that I have become unshockable. The thing I find disquieting about these books and now the film is women’s apparent acceptance of being made sexually submissive to a dominant man through sado-masochism.
You may be thinking that the books and the film are only a bit of fun but if you take away the billionare’s billions then all you have is an abusive and controlling man. The books suggest that because this guy is rich that gives him the right to power over others.
In my profession I have to deal with enough of the darker side of life. The line between eroticism and abuse is a very fine one and it’s all too easy to step over it. With that in mind, the story that is played out in the books and is now brought to life in the film, is one that, if taken up by many men, will create a living hell for many women. The male character in this particular story is much in need of therapy in order to resolve his own abused childhood.
In my view the books, and now the film, are not helpful and may well put the cause of women back a generation, maybe even two.
For me, making love as an equal partner will always be better than the control exerted by S&M.
In the words of John Lennon “All you need is Love”.