"Just this: Violence towards women=Not sexy, Ever." I posted this status on Facebook last night, and thought I was done. But apparently I have more to say because I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, still disturbed in my spirit, still thinking about it. I know men and women who are going to see the movie, believing it to be as advertised. No big deal. A thrilling, adventure about "grey area" sex between two consenting adults. Hey, adults are mature, right? They can handle it. They can decide for themselves what is right and wrong for them. No harm done by viewing, right? I totally get that. A few years ago I may have even gone to see it myself. I'm a big girl and I can make my own decisions about sex, thank you very much. No harm, no foul.
Except, now I volunteer for Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing women and girls out of sexual exploitation. And do you know how some of those young girls got there in the first place? By being promised a thrilling, adventure of grey area sex, which would earn them lots of money so they could buy whatever they want. A grey area of sex that got darker and darker and darker until it turned black. And they don't have a choice about the harm being inflicted on them. No choice. So now, I cry FOUL.
I'm told by the good people who do the research that there is a direct correlation between pornography (yes, that is what this movie is, let's just call it what it is) and violence against women. Porn is where it starts. It is the primary reason we have sex trafficking victims. I'm also told that porn isn't what it was in the seventies and eighties. It has become steadily and increasingly violent, and the more cruel the images get, the more violent the perpetrators are. They are simply compelled to act out what they have seen. It is also true that the average purchaser of this sex is not the gross perv we think he is. He is a husband, a father, a professional, who saw violent porn, accidentally became addicted to it, and now is compelled to do it. What he can't get at home, he will pay for.
Friends, here's the thing: by watching the movie, we are, by our association with it, condoning and glamorizing sexual abuse and giving a thumbs-up to the men in our society regarding the objectification of and violence towards women. And women, we may not have to pay the price for the confusion this association generates. As free adults, we can say, "no, thank you." But someone else will pay the price, and she is between the ages of 12-15 and she is being trafficked, not just for sex, but for violent sex. I guarantee you, she doesn't think this movie is harmless. And either does the woman who has been in an abusive, punishing relationship.
And there are others who will pay the price...
I have a teenage daughter. By going to see this movie, what am I telling her? I'm telling her it's "normal, harmless and maybe even fun" to get involved with a man who exhibits abusive, controlling behavior and wants to inflict pain on her in the name of love. OK. For the entire fifteen years she has been alive, I have told her that she is precious, special, and should be honored and cherished in every relationship. On one hand I have warned her way from abusive men, and now I 'm going to watch a movie that makes getting involved with one seem enticing? wait, WHAT?!?
I also have a son, who will be thirteen in a couple of weeks. This kid has had it drummed into his skull, ever since I caught him yanking on his sister's hair when he was 3 years old, that: "we do not hurt other people. boys do not hurt girls. girls do not hurt boys. men and women do not hurt each other. never, ever."
I wondered how this movie must appear to teenage boys, so, since I have one, I conducted my own research. I wanted to know A) What he thought about it. B) What he would think if his dad and I went to see it.
I called him into the kitchen and told him I wanted to interview him for my blog. He hadn't heard of Fifty Shades, so I gave him the basic synopsis of the book, which I gleaned from watching the trailer.
Me: "A man and woman fall in love. The man has certain tastes, which include hurting her while they are having sex."
Cruz: "WHAT??? THAT IS MESSED UP!"
Me: "What would you think if your dad and I went to see the movie?"
(You should have seen his shocked face. He thought I was asking his permission.)
Cruz: "Welllll, I guess you can if you want to. But at some point you should think about the example you are setting for me."
Then he grabbed another piece of pizza and went back into the family room to watch Ghostbusters. It was a quick interview, but that's okay. He told me everything I needed to know.
To the teenage mind, if mom and dad are watching it, they are condoning it. And if they are condoning it, it must be okay. Also to the teenage mind, it's a very small leap from Fifty Shades to the violent porn they are likely to come across someday, despite our best efforts to shield them from it. And it's an even smaller leap to go from viewing sadistic images to acting them out. Violence, like sex, eventually needs an outlet.
So. A movie about two consenting adults having violent sex? Sure, at one time I would have seen a grey area there. But now I see about fifty shades of
And I see very clearly that if I watch this movie, as a mature, responsible adult who can make her own choices about sex, I won't necessarily have to pay for my decision. But someone will. My children will pay for it with the confusing signals I am sending them. And every day, child sex trafficking victims are paying for what adults are willing to label, "harmless entertainment." Suddenly, it's not so grey anymore. It's the glorification of abuse, and it's about fifty shades of wrong. Abuse is abuse is abuse, any way you color it.
Some things really are just black and white.