The Female Perspective: 50 Shades of Domestic Abuse?

Welcome! This blog is written by author J.L. Metcalf and will chat about comics, movies, garden gnomes, ghosts or even books and daily life. It is a place where I offer my ladylike perspective on anything and everything my brain can think of. 

Fifty Shades of Grey aka Fifty Shades of Blah

I recently did a blog post that reviewed the book of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and if you read it, you know I am not big fan of the book and that I in fact only read the first book because I couldn’t subject myself to any more of E.L. James’ drivel. I have not yet seen the movie version of the book but I came across this Australian review of the film. Spoiler Alert! The woman hated it, but what bugged me most was that she equated it with domestic abuse,

It’s domestic violence dressed up as erotica. And if there’s one thing this movie is not, it’s erotic.

Domestic abuse dressed up as erotica? Hmmmm…I have heard of this recent debate in the world about how people should be boycotting Fifty Shades because it promotes domestic abuse. I disagree with this wholeheartedly. Here’s why;

  1. The story is one of a man (the emotionless, boring, emotional train wreck that is the self-centered Mr. Grey) who has a penchant for BDSM (in case you don’t know, BDSM stands for An overlapping abbreviation of Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM)). BDSM is NOT abuse, it is a sexual practice between two consenting adults. End of story. Thank you and Good Day.
  2. To be fair…the boycott is not about BDSM but they claim that since the BDSM community disliked how they were portrayed in the novel, this movie simply portrays an abuser and his victim. I’m still not sure that makes for a very convincing argument.
  3. Don’t go around telling people to boycott something, that will only make them want to see it! Let the movie stand for itself. Either it will be terrible or it’ll be good. I, personally, have low expectations of the film but I am going to see it out of morbid curiosity and because I think it might actually make for an OK movie.

A lot of the criticism of our campaign is that there’s nothing wrong with BDSM – we’re not saying there is. But people within the BDSM community are outraged by how the book portrays their lifestyle. This book romanticizes a perpetrator of abuse.

In researching this post, I found a great blog post by a woman who engages in BDSM and has been accused of allowing abuse upon herself and others by having such a penchant for it. She states perfectly what BDSM means to her.

Obviously, I don’t think BDSM is inherently abusive! Exploring my personal BDSM desires has given me some extraordinary, consensual, transcendent experiences and connections. I also genuinely believe that BDSM has the potential to control, subvert, and manage power.  BDSM can be a place where people learn to understand bad power dynamics in past relationships; it can be a place where people learn to manage or destroy bad power dynamics in their current relationships; it can be a place where people find glory, self-knowledge and freedom by manipulating their own reactions and responses to power.

~From Thinking More Clearly about BDSM vs. Abuse

She goes onto say that of course the BDSM community has their own issues and problems, people sometimes go too far and then berate the victim of their assault but that is a human problem, not one created because of BDSM proclivities. The idea that people engage willing in practice that cause pain and bruising is strange to those of us who do not engage in such practices but it needs to be made crystal clear that BDSM is not abuse. Nor does it promote abuse. If done without proper knowledge, yes, it can cause pain and suffering. If done by someone with a vile temperament who is doing it only to cause pain and suffering, yes, that’s a problem. But again, that is a human problem. Abuse happens every, single day in the world and we cannot go around blaming a book or movie for the problem. Nor can we blame the same book and movie for promoting violence against women when violence against women has existed since … forever.

By telling people to boycott the movie, it simply makes people more curious to see what all the furor is about.
By telling people to boycott the movie, it simply makes people more curious to see what all the furor is about.

Let’s all move on people, let’s focus on things that truly matter, victim shaming, rape culture and the like. These women are truly suffering.

I’ll let you know if I’ve changed my mind after I see the movie this weekend. For now, let me know YOUR thoughts. Have you read Fifty Shades? Do you think it promotes domestic abuse?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

5 thoughts on “The Female Perspective: 50 Shades of Domestic Abuse?

  1. I really like that you spoke about this. I personally just finished reading the series, and while I have nothing good to say about her writing as a whole (I found much of it lackluster, and her word choice was like jumping hurdles to get through what had potential as a story) but I’m well known for reading through poorly written books if they have any inkling of storyline.

    Reading the whole series, it is clear the relationship between Christian and Ana, while unusual and with it’s own brand of problems, is not one of abuse. Having been in an emotionally abusive relationship myself, I can clearly see that Ana is not succumbing her will to that of Christian’s and that is the biggest sign. She remains her own person throughout the relationship, and when she does “submit” it is always on her terms, with her running the show. Even in the poor writing, this is quite clear.

    So while I don’t think the books are any good, and I’m not jumping out of my shorts to see the movie, I feel this backlash is well undeserved, and purported by people who have made no attempts to read the story.

    I agree, let’s focus on the bigger issues at stake here, instead of shaming a community that honestly can be very sexually freeing.

  2. Yes!!! I love this comment so much. I have been the victim of emotional abuse as well so I agree 100% with you, 50 Shades does not portray this in the least. Ana has her own brain and while naive and a little annoying, she doesn’t allow Christian to walk all over her, nor does she allow for anything to happen that she doesn’t consent to. There are bigger issues and we need to back off the BDSM community, consenting adults are allowed to make any and all choices they wish to make! Thank you so much for your thoughts.

  3. You can’t give the fact that this book is about BDSM to prove that it’s not about abuse. Why? Because the BDSM lifestyle in real life has nothing to do with the book, and it in fact made a lot of the people practicing this lifestyle extremely angry about the misperceptions coming from this piece of… art 🙂

  4. It saddens me that so many people spend time talking about the controversy of this movie and the outrage of the “Deflate Gate,” but there is not national attention given to life altering issues. Not to minimize emotions or views that people feel passionate about, but what about mental illness, the state of our country, the beheading and burning of humans, child sexual abuse and extreme neglect; why don’t these topics warrant more than one day of water cooler talk when they occur? Take for example the house in Blackstone, MA that was found with 4 living children, 3 dead babies and a pile of feces two feet high, what has come out of that? Certainly not outrage, no talk of litigation change, or social groups revolting, no think tanks brainstorming how we can prevent this in the future. I am tired of everyone talking about the mundane in a society of true hurt and brokenness where people need help. I am glad you wrote about this, because it is important, I just felt compelled to rant. 🙂

  5. I appreciate and respect your rant and I don’t have any kind of an answer for you other that it seems as though people obsess about things like this because it’s easy. Talking about abuse or war is hard and people don’t like that (I am speaking in generalities here). It’s a sad commentary on the world that the Kardashians take up more space than genocides happening across the globe.

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