February 12, 2015 / News

Unraveling The Troubling Themes Behind Fifty Shades of Grey


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In the heart of college, otherwise known as the “sexual experimentation years”, there is no doubt that the popular novel-turned movie Fifty Shades of Grey will be on the menu for discussion this Valentines Day weekend. While this infamous pop culture reference might present itself as just another playful Hollywood movie that “pushes the limits”, its underlying themes are anything but playful. Fifty Shades of Grey is not a story about romance, or even sex, it’s a story of the loss of power and control of an innocent women, the story we know all too well.

For people who haven’t read the book the plot has a basic “romantic” story-line, an older established man charms himself into mind and body of Anastasia Steele, a modest and insecure 21 year old. The twist, however, is what gave this novel its claim to fame. Once the man, Christian Grey, hence the title Fifty Shades of Grey, coaxes himself into Steele’s otherwise average college life, he manipulates her into joining his world of sexual bondage.

While I am all for some healthy discussion about new trends, sexual liberation, and fulfilling ones needs, there is nothing healthy or normal about this movie. In light of the recent sexual offense cases on college campuses around the country, the media has been beating the public over the head with information about sexual assault awareness. Yet the media is simultaneously releasing a film illustrating taboo details that romanticize the acts of sexual abuse. These mixed messages can be confusing to the public and it is an issue where light should be shed.

One might argue that Grey gives Anastasia fair warning about his dirty double life before she agrees. But the truth of the matter is, even with consent, taking sex to this level of battery, choking and de-humanization, is not risqué sexual sovereignty, it is abuse. The sad reality is that most people will not be able to tell the difference.

In no way am I eluding that we should decline from pursuing our sexual desires. I think that it is important that women feel comfortable enough to take the reigns on their female pleasures.

What I am saying is that we should understand the difference between idolizing a man who fulfills desires and idolizing a man who physically and mentally strips a young girl of her independence and manipulates her under the pretenses of “sexual liberation.”

We need to wake up and realize that our society should not venerate a relationship where someone is left with debilitating bruises or forced to relinquish all of her freedom in exchange for pleasure.

In a society full of young girls we need to look beyond the luxury, romance, and fantasy that is presented in this story. Christian Grey is not desirable. He is a jealous, controlling, slightly psychotic, hypersensitive man who uses sex to control a woman who is obviously vulnerable. He offers none of himself and takes everything he can from Ana. Christian Grey is not the modern day prince charming, he is dangerous and he is real.

The real controversy of this story does not lie within the bedroom walls, the controversy is the way that millions of girls are going to associate the controlling obsessive behavior of Christian Grey to someone that deserves the power and attention he asserts. Someone worthy of bedroom time, when he certainly is not.

We must not confuse attention with love or fantasy with reality. There are Christian Grey’s all over that pose a serious threat. They can be monsters and through worshipping their character we give them more power. We must be weary of the Christian Grey’s and if there is any positive that can come out of this, it is to learn what to avoid. He is a serious threat to innocent women.

So, if you do see this movie just keep in mind that the relationship is strictly fantasy and should not be idolized. Even more importantly keep in mind that contrary to popular belief Christian Grey is a the exact opposite of what you should look for in your next boyfriend.

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  • milli

    your article just claims but lacks textual evidence to back it up.in the end it still reads like one of those fluff articles which talks but shows nothing in terms of context.

  • Alesha Smith

    He never chokes her or abuses her, in the entire film or book. If you want a character from this series that assaults or hurts Ana, that would be Jack Hyde, her boss. Christian protects and takes care of Ana while showing her his lifestyle that he partakes in. He never forces her to do something she doesn’t want to do, in the book he always asks her if she’s OK with something he wants to do and at the end of the film when he spanks her with the belt, he does it because Ana asked him too so that she could see what the worst could possibly feel like. You should read ALL the books and watch the movie closer because it is really a story of two people changing and teaching each other new things. This book trilogy and the films in no way advocate sexual abuse of any kind. Stop being a dense moron and actually look beyond what you find as abusive. Your article is shit and you should really provide better textual evidence to back your claims instead of assuming what this film advocates. You have written a poor article and should be ashamed because it is an absolute disgrace.

  • Vicki Moore

    I have often thought that people who are into S/M are people who have never actually suffered abuse or people who have and haven’t dealt with it. Be that as it may, a lot of people are into it and there’s no surer way to alienate people than passing judgement on their favorite sexual activity. I had an older man who screwed my head around royally when I was 18. He wasn’t into S/M but he messed me up so badly that I’m still trying to get over some things at 62. An older, more sophisticated person can do you a lot of damage when you’re young, especially if you’re financially dependent on them. Psychological abuse is one thing but I don’t think expanding the definition of sexual abuse is helpful. Psychological abuse is not against the law. It is one of the many ways that people in superior positions of power take their frustrations out on people with less power. It is a problem of our culture which may or may not have sexual and gender implications.