Fifty Shades of Controversy

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Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic fanfiction turned novel, opened Valentines Day weekend, grossing over 85 million dollars.

The story consists of Anastasia Steele, an awkward, innocent college student and Christian Grey, a wealthy young, but troubled, man initiating a dominant and submissive BDSM relationship. The novel and film focus on their sexual exploits, which has sparked controversy in the Granite Bay High School student body.

Julia Huss, a GBHS sophomore, said that she believes Christian manipulates Anastasia into having sex with him.

“In the book and in the movie it very blatantly said that she’d never had sex before and that she’d never even done anything before, and I think she’s very uneducated about sex in general and anything of that nature,” Huss said.

Huss said that she thinks that people need to realize that just because Jamie Dornan, who plays Christian, is an attractive actor, it shouldn’t be seen as an actual relationship that’s healthy and respectful of one another.

“Him not letting her hang out with certain friends, and only letting her go out with him on a date once a week are such obvious signs of an abusive relationship and it’s weird that people don’t recognize it,” Huss said.

Olivia Heppell, a junior at GBHS, agrees. She said she also believes Fifty Shades of Grey shows an unhealthy and abusive relationship.

“Throughout the movie, it’s clear that Christian Grey is just using Anastasia for sex without regards to what she wants,” Heppell said. “For a good portion of the movie, Anastasia is upset with the emotional and physical abuse    Christian inflicts, usually through manipulation.”

Heppell said that she believes the only reason people are so fascinated with this story, is because Christian Grey is hot, young and rich and buys his “girlfriend” gifts like cars.

“If it was about a paunchy, middle aged, middle class man who was into BDSM, the concept would be incredibly unappealing,” Heppell said.

Heppell also said that she thinks Fifty Shades of Grey has the potential to create unsafe relationships.

Fifty Shades of Grey may create an unrealistic and unhealthy idea of what a relationship should be for teens,” Heppell said. “It sends the idea that taking advantage of women is fine, and reinforces the belief that men should dominate and control women.”

Ciara Thompson, junior at GBHS, said she liked how the movie stayed true to the storyline and had a great plot. Although Thompson said she liked and enjoyed the movie, she also said she thinks the movie romanticizes and glamorizes the relationship of Christian and Anastasia to be a normal and healthy relationship.

“In reality I think it’s abusive because he pretty much manipulates her with intimidation into him being able to violently control her,” Thompson said.
Amy Maggard, a sexual assault services coordinator for Stand Up Placer, a group dedicated to helping and caring for victims of sexual assault, said she was initially happy that an erotic novel was finally being written for a woman, but after reading the novels she discovered the relationship was completely unhealthy.

“I was looking forward to having a book that women could look up to and empower them, and while it may look like that, I think that a lot of the violence is masked,” Maggard said. “With domestic violence, it’s typically about power and control and that’s what the movie surrounds itself with. So, I was disappointed.”

Maggard was a guest speaker for GBHS club, Empowered Against Violence (EAV). She talked about the dangers of getting into an abusive relationship, and how to help someone that could potentially be in one.

Amy Straud, who is an advocacy specialist for Stand Up Placer, runs the EAV club. She said she did not read Fifty Shades of Grey in hopes of preventing negative influence on her fifteen year old daughter.

Maggard said Christian and Anastasia’s relationship definitely depicts an unsafe relationship, and the most dangerous part about it is being that they sensationalized and normalized it in the movie.

“With Christian, they don’t really show his violent side,” Maggard said. “It says that he gets mad, but that’s not real life. In real life, violence escalates. It’s a cycle and it’s really rare where a perpetrator is that controlling and that it doesn’t escalate to severe physical violence.”

Maggard said that teens and women look at it and think it’s erotica for women.

“It’s not real life because domestic violence doesn’t just stop like that,” Maggard said. “Usually being verbally abusive, emotionally abusive and physically abusive, they all coincide. It’s not just one type of abuse, … so people may enter into a relationship like that and be like ‘oh, well Hollywood shows that it’s okay so it must be okay,’ and it gets dangerous really quickly.”

Maggard said that working as an advocate against sexual assault and helping victims has helped her see the movie for what it really is.

“I think it sends the message that violence is okay,” Maggard said, “and that women are objects for pleasure.”

Stand Up Placer is an organization dedicated to helping victims and survivors of sexual assault live a life free of violence. They provide a 24 hour hotline, a 24 hour emergency shelter for battered women and their children, support groups, legal services and counseling.

 

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