The 50 Shades of Grey Phenomenon
Troubling Trend or a Reader's Treat?
This isn't a book review or else I'd be eagerly handing out a big fat F- end of review! The book was so poorly written. To be honest I barely trudged through the first 3 chapters. I'm not the only one. I talked to several women who regularly read and appreciate good books who were very disappointed.
The character development was dismal. Anastasia (Ana) was so helpless I'd rather save an entire endangered species than take her on. Christian Grey is a boring shade of grey- an example of a typical abuser to the tenth degree. Since he had loads of money and good looks, he wasn't locked up in a prison somewhere- he was able to prey upon women with a Ted Bundy type of charm.
I found myself squirming in my seat with anticipation...for a chapter to end. When you watch a scary horror movie and the dumbest, most useless, character is practically waiting to be killed- that's what this book was like. Pure torture. The issue is readers had to wait three books to not even kill off the unsuspecting slow-witted girl (who reminded me of Ana). Instead that character (that you'd wish the Boogey man would hurry up and finish off) made friends with the Jason-like bad guy and began an unconventional romance devoid of chemistry. Match made in heaven (please note sarcasm).
Instead I'd like to discuss the greater picture here; a troubling trend and an impact on our society possibly. More disturbing is not the impact but a result and reflection of where our society is already at. There seems to be people completely against this book or fervently for it. Either way, these are for the most part opinions. Is there anything substantial that helps us decipher the grey world depicted in 50 Shades of Grey.
No Prude here
Let me begin by saying I'm in no way a major religious fanatic, a feminist, or even a prude. I've read my fair share of romance novels with erotic themes. My point of view is from a psychological one. With a background in psychology I decided to delve into this topic further because, not having come from abuse myself, I was extremely uncomfortable trying to read this book.
First, I realized it wasn't the writing that sucked people in. The Twilight novels were a phenomenon, but were at least written very well with excellent plot and character development. The "Romantic" element in 50 Shades was BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, etc). Christian Grey was the main character in the book and had an abusive childhood which created his twisted fantasy world he wove into real life. His "interests" stemmed from abuse. The fact that "normal" women are flocking to this is obviously morbid curiosity.
I'll be the first to cheer for women's sexuality. There's a focus on men's needs and women's bodies that our sexual being (and brain where are largest sexual organ resides) has been ignored for a very long time. Visual images in movies and Internet are reflective of men's preferences, rarely women.
Romance novels are a wonderful outlet for women and stroke our brain/love muscle. I'm certainly not against that. I am against abuse and the sensationalizing of it by mainstream media. I am against any woman who would willingly subject herself to a whole series of these books and somehow justify it as innocent entertainment. I am curious as to why this book became a movie when the purpose of the book is to appeal to women's imagination, getting our brains aroused. The visual of the movie is not necessary.
Lack of accuracy is disturbing
BDSM groups were riled up by the lack of accuracy portrayed in this book. There was no respect for certain elements of BDSM and especially the "safe" word which releases someone from the acts immediately- no questions asked. Mr. 50 Shades of Christian Grey further condemned Ana for using the safe word. In addition is the lack of "after care" required in those types of relationships- this is a cool down period of reassuring the other person they are loved and taking care of them physically and mentally, Along with other inaccuracies it has become more abuse than sexual or romantic.
We must realize people will believe this is OK (saying no may not mean no) which goes against the protection of our women in society. Already rapes are occurring due to people copying ideas and misguided notions from this book. Since women are popularizing it, this can be misinterpreted as women "like it rough". Not exactly the message we want to send.
- Sex assault charges tied to 'Fifty Shades of Grey' movie - Chicago Tribune
University of Illinois at Chicago student charged with sexually assaulting another student as he sought to re-enact scenes from "Fifty Shades of Grey"
Fine Line Fantasy
The content of the book is not meant to be realistic but it's what I call fin-line fantasy. If I read a romance novel with the same subject matter but it's between a vampire guy and a shape shifter woman, myself (and most others) would be less likely to connect this to reality. It's definitely fantasy because no one has proof of vampires or people who can shape shift.
The 50 Shades of Grey book is purely fictional and meant to stimulate our need for fantasy, the content matter walks a fine line between fantasy and fiction. It can easily be applied to the real world and not that far of a stretch from anyone's imagination. The issue is it seems realistic and if it were applied to really life could seriously hurt someone because the methods in the book are not correct, hence the fictional aspect.
You and I may know the difference, but there's a large population of mentally disturbed and younger folks who may not see the difference and be the most likely to be influenced by this subject matter. The complacent attitude that people have is what leads society in a gradual direction of desensitization. We aim to move forward and 50 Shades of Grey simply isn't progress in the right direction.
Welcome to Narcissism; Population 1
Buying into this phenomenon is purely selfish. When conversing with a group of several ladies (all mothers) over a social media forum, I was met with comments such as:
"This is up to their parents and mentors to instill in them the values that are important."
I suppose the idea of 'It takes a village....to raise a kid' is severely outdated, but as a parent I feel it's my role to set an example for my children, look out for other kids (I may know or not know) hoping others would do the same, and also be a role model. Many kids and young adults do not have positive relationships in their lives. Are they my kids? No. Do I still care? Yes. Imagine if the military one day said I'll fight for me and my family but to heck with the entire country. We're super lucky they care about the country as a whole.
"I read it. I enjoyed and had no problem with it." or "If you have a problem with it don't read it."
People think if they personally have no issue with something, there is no issue. There are other people other than us or the wonderful kids we've raised. We have a responsibility to our society.
Slavery was popular at one time but there were a select group of people who stood up against it who were not popular. I'm sure slave owners said if you have a problem with it don't own one. I'm ONLY referring to the mentality. I'm not going hungry so does that mean I should not think about those who are homeless and hungry? It's not right to stand by and go along with it or do nothing.
This mentality is Group Think, a psychology theory. Groupthink occurs when a group values harmony and coherence over accurate analysis and critical evaluation. It causes individual members of the group to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and it strongly discourages any disagreement with the consensus. The women in this conversation all agreed with the "leader".
"They (my kids) have watched several questionable movies and know that it's a movie. Somebody wrote it. Neither one of my children stand for abuse even if it was "cool" in a movie."
When rape occurs (as it has already) after this book and movie release, does EVERYONE know it's fictional? The fictional element in this book is mostly how they portrayed abuse as BDSM lifestyle- it is not typically. You may have raised your kids to distinguish between reality and fiction but it doesn't prevent your kid from being attacked by someone who doesn't know the difference.
Whether you like it or not your kids, my kids, are all affected by what they see, hear, and society in general. Abuse doesn't discriminate. It happens to adults who have ideal childhoods. It happens to confident people. Abusers such as Christian Grey in 50 Shades, stalk their prey, lower their victims' self esteem, intimidate, and alienate them from friends and family. If you think you or your kids are immune, you're wrong.
When I asked what the ladies thought of the provocative advertisements and sensationalism of the book, not one replied. NOBODY (mothers, women) had anything to say which by default condones the actions. Sad, very sad. Being mothers themselves, I'm disturbed they'd ignore this and justify it until they're blue in the face simply because they read it and are OK with it.
Kids are too young for this, but it's not obvious to everyone.
- 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Costume Gets British Boy in Hot Water
A British boy tried to pay homage to Christian Grey for a school event. It went over as well as you might imagine.
Inside a Victim's Mind
Abuse is irrational and it's normal to rationalize it. A victim gives excuses. A reader of 50 Shades of Grey can justify this story of abuse because it has a happy ending. Similar to Christian Grey, abusers have perfected the art of manipulation and coercion. Mr. Grey had a tracking device on Ana's mobile devices and car. He also controlled everything she did. If 50 fans want to justify this as consensual sexual relations, it wouldn't stand up in a court of law. It would look a lot like stalking and abuse.
Some comments made by readers:
"The choices were consensual. I didn't read it as abusive."
"I look back at the story and there are some great life lesson takeaways about love, relationships, overcoming past trauma."
"This book, although controversial, isn't telling the reader that being abused is okay..."
What abuse is...
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline | Is this Abuse?
Control what you do
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline | Blame Shifting and Minimizing: There’s no EXCUSE for Abuse
“I control you because I care about you.” Acting jealous, controlling or possessive is not a way to show someone you care. "I grew up around abuse and witnessed it" "I have mental health issues"
More than a book
It's not "just a book" anymore. Unfortunately enough women jumped on the bandwagon and 50 Shades of Grey became a phenomenon rather than a book on a shelf. How did it become a phenomenon with millions of other books with similar scenes and themes have been written before this one- and better written I might add?
It's now permeated our mainstream media, being mentioned on daytime TV talk shows, home and garden newsletters (I don't grow grey gardens- Blah!). It is even advertised on mainstream media sources and between early evening TV shows. The movie trailer is provocative and catches the attention of young viewers.
It became more than a book for good reason. For ages men have been tantalized through media and a media base geared toward the visual creatures they are. We've supplied them with eye candy, stimulating and satisfying an urge for what drives them. However, women have been left behind. We get to cozy up with a soft romantic film or get involved with the intense story lines in soap operas, but typically it's not as sexual in nature. Let's face it women have needs too.
The book was originally advertised as a tool to spice things up in a woman's private life/bedroom. It may be misinterpreted that this book can stimulate a woman's desire, but the content itself is not likely exactly what she desires. I think a book about sleeping and free childcare would be appealing enough to add spice to the married-with-children women. Honestly I don't thin it's desire women lack, it's time...and sleep...and time away form kids and work.
Can't Undo an Oops!!
Have you heard the old cliché- You can't un-see what you've already seen? From a psychological perspective this is not a cliché, it's the truth. We often don't realize how we are processing info as we come by it. It happens so fast, only our subconscious absorbs it, where most of us have little awareness or control over.
Relationships expert and international bestselling author, Esther Perel:
"I Had an immediate concern on seeing a television ad for the movie, 50 Shades of Grey. From a parenting perspective, I am concerned about children’s exposure to visuals and messages that a) they are too young to understand and that b) are so graphically explicit.
The television advertisement for the forthcoming film is purposefully provocative, but given that children and teens may and some surely will see it, it seems a misstep and irresponsible on the part of the film’s producers.
Children are exceedingly impressionable. We know, for example, the negative effects violent video games have on children’s behavior. When there is a tragedy such as the one in Newtown, Connecticut, parents are advised to use discretion and limit how much access, if any, their young children, preteens, and teens have to the news coverage.
Tantalizing promotional efforts of the sort in the commercial skew ideas of sex and healthy sexual relationships. I worry these images will warp young people’s sense of sex and what will be expected of them. Yes, in a mere 30 or 60 seconds."
Whether or not it was the intent or negligence of the 50 Shades of Grey film producers to lack discretion when advertising or attempt to protect young viewers from exposure to it has been the big "oops". As parents it is up to us to teach our children and shield them from inappropriate subject matter. If we buy into it, we're part of the problem. It's extremely difficult when something this has become a phenomenon.
A study in the Journal of Women's Health, which claims young adult women who read the book are more likely to replicate the behaviors of people in abusive relationships. The theme of this book, being advertised so carelessly, correlates with thoughts of rapists, abusers, and molesters. Lines in the book are uncomfortably similar to phrases that mental health professionals have heard uttered by rapists, etc.
- What the Experts Really Think About '50 Shades of Grey' | Psychology Today
Love it or hate it, the book unquestionably fueled a discussion about sex.
50 Shades of Grey:See results without voting
Other hubs by L. Izett
- Make-up Sex and Other Relationship Myths
What do we believe about relationships and how much of it is true? There are a myriad of myths that cloud our judgment based on how we view relationships. Let's explore reality versus myth.
- Crazy in the Family; Children of the Mentally Ill
Just as there's a wide range of mental illnesses, there are as many children and adult children of a mentally ill parent who have suffered without a voice. It may come as a surprise that many mentally ill people have "normal" lives
More by this Author
We plan everything, our entire lives. Education, travel, having fun, casual encounters all come before the big "L" word. By the time we're ready we wouldn't recognize love if it bit us from behind
Sometimes the only thing you want to help yourself to is a pint of Ben and Jerry's.
There may come a time when you have endured a harmful and stressful family relationship, and you may wonder if cutting ties is right for you.