At first glance, there was nothing special about the CUA Anscombe Society’s Valentine’s Day campaign. With a simple banner and a table filled with desserts, we could have easily passed for any of the other student groups tabling in the CUA student center, except for the fact that the banner read “#50CentsNot50Shades” and on the table also lay graphics like this one. It was our cause – spreading awareness about the harms of the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” and raising money for a local shelter for victims of domestic violence – that set us radically apart from any other fundraiser in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.
The campaign, based on the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, fell right in line with the Anscombe Society’s mission at CUA. As a university chapter of the Love and Fidelity Network, the Anscombe Society seeks to promote a healthy dating culture and sexual integrity on campus, as well as inform students of the importance of marriage and family. The movie, “Fifty Shades of Grey” does just the opposite, promoting the exploitation of women, portraying torture as sexually gratifying, and creating a culture of rape and sexual violence. This kind of media has real effects, as demonstrated by one study published by Michigan State University which showed that women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely to have negative body image and have been in an abusive relationship. However, Hollywood advertised the movie as the hottest new romance film in an attempt to normalize the highly dangerous practices it promotes.
This type of media can be particularly dangerous for college students, many of whom use college as a chance to explore their sexuality. As the Vice President of the CUA Anscombe Society, I was particularly concerned about the effects the movie could have on our student body. After presenting the idea for the campaign to my fellow board members, we decided to sell baked goods for 50 cents each to benefit My Sister’s Place, a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Washington, D.C. Our goal was for the CUA community to see through the glamorized version of domestic abuse that Hollywood presents and recognize that actual victims of such situations suffer and end up in shelters, if they are fortunate. Others live in silence, trapped in abusive relationships. Others do not make it out alive.
Our campaign received a very favorable response from the CUA community. Many students, faculty, and staff stopped at our table to speak with us about our cause and to make a donation or buy a dessert. Our campaign also sparked conversation around campus regarding the movie and its real effects. In the end, we raised over $115 for My Sister’s Place over just two days, and countless members of our community were better informed about the movie’s harms. The campaign was an overall success, and we are thankful to all who supported our cause.
To learn more about how “Fifty Shades of Grey” promotes abuse, click here.