February 24, 2015

“Fifty Shades” Fans Inspired to Perpetrate Sexual Violence

The “Fifty Shades of Grey” franchise is certainly having a “moment,” being sold as a romantic love story. Though, some fans are finding it’s not as harmless as the media would have them believe.

According to the Chicago Tribune, on February 21, the weekend following the nationwide release of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” film, University of Illinois at Chicago freshman, Mohammad Hossain, violently assaulted a woman in order to re-enact what he saw Christian Grey perpetrate on Anastasia Steele. Hossain ordered the woman to remove her clothing, then bound and gagged her. He then whipped her with a belt and punched her repeatedly, despite her persistent and tearful requests that he stop. When she was able to free herself, Hossain held her down and sexually assaulted her.

This scenario sounds very similar to how Christian assaults Ana throughout the books, though Ana is less vocal about her fear and discomfort to participate due to Christian’s grooming.

Therein lies the danger of “Fifty Shades”: In the perception of readers and viewers, Christian Grey can do no wrong, no matter how unwilling or uncomfortable Anastasia Steele is. He has absolute power over his victim and, apparently, the audience; he convinces them that his needs overrule everything else. And this is the message sexual predators pick up. It legitimizes their desires to overpower and victimize someone for their own selfish sexual gratification. Just ask Robert Bashara’s wife, who was murdered by her husband because she refused to participate in his BDSM lifestyle.

In response to Hossain’s crime, our Executive Director, Dawn Hawkins said, “It makes people think that this is kind of a healthy intimacy that they should try to engage in in order to spice up their relationship, but really it’s just violence.” Unfortunately, we can expect to see a rise in this kind of violence as more people fail to consider consent in their quest to fulfill a fantasy inspired by “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This franchise has glamorized the absence of consent to the point that it is, both, fetishized and normalized.

Watch the news report from WGN Chicago:

Further Reading