Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
January 29, 2015
While many of us are counting down the days until February 13, the day the film adaptation of the literary juggernaut Fifty Shades of Grey hits movie theaters, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE), previously known as Morality in the Media, feels otherwise.
The organization was first founded in 1962 as an interfaith effort to counter pornography. According to the NCSE, the Fifty Shades books and movie promotes and glamorizes “torture as sexually gratifying and normalize[ing] domestic violence.”
It has launched a campaign called #FiftyShadesIsAbuse, which labels the BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism) depicted in the book and film as sexual violence. “Even among ‘consenting’ participants, this is still sexual violence where many are often coerced to continue against their will and comfort level due to the pressure to appear ‘into it,’ to avoid alienating their intimate partner, or for other reasons,” states the NCSE.
The campaign argues that consent does not remove the psychological and physical damage that stems from that consent. “Consent is not tantamount to good,” the NCSE states. “There are many things we consent to that are psychologically disturbed, illegal, and morally corrupt.”
Is Fifty Shades Antifeminist?
Some cultural critics think the NCSE may have a point, finding the message of Fifty Shades to be distinctly anti-feminist and questioning Beyoncé, who is pro-sex and vocally feminist, on her affiliation with the film. The singer contributed tracks to the movie’s soundtrack, including a remix of her hit song “Crazy in Love” (watch the video, below).
Others wonder if the popularity of Fifty Shades is due less to the failure of feminism and more to women seeing the story as a release from the anxiety of their daily lives. “Given all the interrogating, no wonder so many women fantasize about someone just telling them what to do, Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin writes in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “How pleasant, to have a break from the opinion polls and commentary about what your individual choices mean for women everywhere and the feature articles on how you should be doing that thing you are doing differently because it is harming your children/feminism/marriage potential. Just: eat this, do that, lean over.”