To those who aren’t fully familiar with Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and film may come across as just some woman’s fantasy of meeting a rich, good looking man, who looks after their every need. However, it goes much deeper than that. The situations portrayed in the film are too similar to ones many women do experience in real life, but it’s not a happy ending. They are situations involving controlling men for their own pleasure.
Christian Grey may be a handsome millionaire, but beneath the surface, he is a deeply disturbed man whose dark past dictates his relationships. The story begins with him stalking Anastasia Steele after she interviews him. Eventually, he pushes a contract onto Ana that says he will have complete control over her, including when they have sex and what she will eat. He takes her virginity with no emotional attachment whatsoever as if he is doing her a favor. She may be willing, but he knows how naïve Ana is. He has also snuck into her apartment and questions her about her friends.
What do Researchers Say about Emotional & Domestic Abuse in the movie?
An analysis by researchers showed there was emotional abuse and sexual violence taking place in almost every interaction between the two characters*. During a time when it is trying to be taught that “no means no,” that certainly isn’t the case in Fifty Shades. Ana protests at some of the Christian’s actions. He responds by threatening to tie her feet up and gag her too. Of course, it is assumed this is okay because she signed a contract, but we know that it most certainly is not. He threatens to punish her, all for his sexual gratification. He will “take” her when he is angry and use alcohol to lower Ana’s inhibitions. Yet, Christian somehow gets away with it, presumably for being rich and handsome and deeply sexual.
Stalking, dictating what you eat, who your friends are, insistence on being ready for sex whenever they want, and physical harm for sexual pleasure despite being told “no” are all situations that someone may experience with domestic abuse. The feelings, or confusion of, that Ana experiences are also a typical victim of domestic abuse behavior. She “obeys”, then says she can’t and won’t put up with it, following with her declaring her love for him, even after getting the beating of a lifetime with a belt in a room that is meant for sexual play, but resembles more of a Tudor torture chamber.
Fictional But Troubling for Domestic Abuse Victims
There are many fans of Fifty Shades who say they know it is a work of fiction, yet still swoon over Christian Grey, declaring him romantic for all his stalking/break-ins/beatings. Shockingly, there are even excuses made for him due to his disturbing past. This isn’t the message that women should be getting. Yes, it is a work of fiction, and the idea of domestic abuse was probably not the intention of the author of the book, but the situations are not a fantasy for many women who have found themselves a victim of domestic abuse.
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