By Gail Dines, Stop Porn Culture and Dawn Hawkins, National Center on Sexual Exploitation
Women everywhere have had enough, and now they are taking to social media to protest the way Hollywood deals with one of the most serious public health issues of our time: Male violence against women. Stop Porn Culture, National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) and the London Abused Women’s Centre of London, Ontario, are at the forefront of a campaign to stop eroticized violence against women by urging a boycott of the film, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Together these groups formed and launched the#50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, which advocates taking the $50 dollars spent on the movie, the popcorn, and the babysitter, and, instead, giving it to a local women’s shelter. Dozens of other organizations and thousands of women from around the world are joining the campaign, expressing their support through emails, social media posts and phone calls. The now viral #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign gives a voice to those who have been silenced by the media or by an aggressor like Christian Grey. It is clear that we have hit a nerve with our campaign.
The female protagonist of the books and movie, Anastasia Steele, would no doubt end up in a shelter, if she is “lucky.” Unlucky women who meet the sadistic Christian Greys of the world are more likely to end up in a cemetery. And yet, with the help of the media firestorm bent on glamorizing this violence, women of all ages are swooning over this guy and misreading his obsessive, cruel behavior as evidence of love and romance.
Part of the reason for this is that Grey’s wealth acts as a type of up-market cleansing cream for his abuse, and his pathological attachment to Anastasia is reframed as devotion, since he showers her with luxury items. This is a retrograde and dangerous world for our daughters to buy into. The popularity of this story among celebrities and public opinion makers speaks to the appalling lack of any public consciousness as to the reality of violence against women.
In his books on batterers called, “Why Does he do That?” author, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous abusive signs to watch out for regarding boyfriends. Needless to say, Mr. Grey is the poster boy of the list. Grey not only exhibits jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but also is hypersensitive to what he perceives as any slight against him. Christian’s whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman is juxtaposed with his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these behaviors is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal. “Fifty Shades” fans are being taught to find this behavior romantic.
The #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign gives a voice to all those women who are enraged with the way violence against women has been rebranded as romance in the trilogy, often described as a fairy tale story of love. In reality, “Fifty Shades” is a horror story of torture, degradation and misogyny, and one that fits perfectly with a culture that has been hijacked by the porn industry.
“Fifty Shades” reveals just how pornographic our culture has become over the last decade. While the old romance novels featured narcissistic heroes who toyed, sexually and psychologically with their much younger prey, however remote and emotionally challenged he was, the hero did not have a torture chamber tucked away in his basement. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a kind of romance novel for the porn age in which overt sexual sadism masquerades as adoration and love. New as this is, the ending remains depressingly the same for real women who end up falling for the Mr. Greys of the world.
If you have had enough, then join the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign now. Go to the campaign’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/50dollarsnotfiftyshades) and donate $50, or whatever you can, to your local battered women’s shelter. Women and children are worth it and need support!
Learn more and take action: http://www.fiftyshadesisabuse.com
Gail Dines is a professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College in Boston, and founding president of Stop Porn Culture. She is the author of Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality. To read more, go to gaildines.com
Dawn Hawkins is executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Her organization exposes the seamless connection between all forms of sexual exploitation. Find her group on Facebook. Follow them on[email protected]_harms.