FIFTY SHADES OF BLACK AND WHITE
Every day this past week I’ve had someone message me and say,“What do you think about Fifty Shades of Grey? Sabrina, you so need to write a blog about it. My automatic response has been: “Well, I can’t really write a blog about a book I haven't read and one I don't intend to! I don’t want that stuff in my head because once it's there I’ll never get it out.”
Well, here I am writing a blog about Fifty Shades of Grey. So, did I finally cave and caress the pages of this best selling book? No (and I don't plan on it!). Earlier today however I skimmed a few paragraphs online and I’m not gonna lie I felt a little sick to the stomach. It was arousing, (yes, Christians have sex drives too!) yet disturbing all in the same stroke.
So that begs the question, how can I articulate an educated response to a book I firsthand know nothing about? I can’t! This is not a debate simply against Fifty Shades of Grey. This is a protest against what it represents.
sex with no boundaries.
sex that is selfish and controlling.
sex that GLORIFIES VIOLENCE and AGGRESSION.
The bible is black and white. This is not how sex should be. It should not only serve to meet the needs of one person. I don’t care how much Hollywood tries to convince me. Sex with no limits is like a fire with unbridled. In the right context it brings heat and light, unleashed with no restraint it burns down buildings and leaves wreckage in its wake.
Sex is one of Gods best inventions. I'm definitely not saying it's rude or wrong. I have been happily married close to a decade and the bedroom has never been a place of boredom. But saying this is the kind of sex all women are into and taking something niche and making it mainstream has the potential to turn the tide on what is morally and socially acceptable.
Caitlin Roper, Campaign manager of Collective Shout wrote recently, "When woman are continually depicted as passive victims or objects of sexual recreation in the media, advertising, and pop culture, it impacts the way we perceive them, our attitudes and beliefs, and serves to normalise violence and inequality and downplay the harms? It's time to connect the dots between a culture that normalises and even glories violence against women, and real life violence against women.
I believe an attitude of "anything goes" will erode real intimacy, normalise sexual violence and desensitise our society as a whole.
In the words of renowned porn researcher and sociologist Dr. Gail Dines: "In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Christian Grey is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behaviour, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal. The most likely real-world ending of Fifty Shades of Grey is fifty shades of black and blue. The awful truth in the real world is that women who partner with a Christian Grey often end up hightailing it to a battered women's shelter with traumatised kids in tow. The less fortunate end up in graveyards.”
SeXUAL violence & ABUSE IS A REAL ISSUE;
NOT JUST FICTION.
How can we glamourise something that impacts so many "real" people?
Just last night I was sitting with a girl who was sexually abused when she was six years old. Her own cousin molested her on a regular basis for several years. That is an absolutely tragedy. Sadly her story is not uncommon. One in four girls will be sexually abused in their lifetimes. Yet this book glorifies a man who's obsessed with BDSM - a condensed abbreviation for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. How can we make him the hero when at our very core we know he acts more like the villian.
Here are some sobering statistics. Every week, on average, one Australian woman is killed by a current or former partner. One in three women in Australia have experienced some sort of violence since the age of 15. One in five Australian women have been stalked.
It may look sexy and sultry on the silver screen but ask a woman caught in the reality of domestic violence - it is anything but desirable. One victim made this comment on my Facebook page. "I lived through a four-year abusive and controlling marriage in every form and for any of it to be encouraged as a turn on literally churns my stomach."
So what does this have to do with "Fifty Shades of Grey"? It's just ONE book. (100 million copies later). I completely disagree.
iF ANYTHING HAS THE POWER TO SHAPE SEXUAL NORMS, THIS DOES.
We can't teach the younger generation that this is what a healthy sex life looks like.
We can't reinforce the message that women are just sex objects, waiting to be played with.
We can't teach people to follow every fetish & deviant desire, eventually someone gets hurt.
This is just one beef I personally have with book. There is another I wish to highlight. It has nothing to do with the content and its characters and everything to do with the one turning its pages. The reader. We as women devour books like "Fifty shades of Grey" for one reason. We long to be desired, loved and pursued. Books and movies like this fuel an untapped desire for intimacy. It appeals to our emotional longings, sexual appetites and hidden desires. All of those are good things, but the context upon which it is expressed is vitally important. The time, place, and person it is experienced with will lead to emotional and physical fulfilment or potential harm and detriment.
Ladies, lets be real. Our imagination can quickly become our preferred sexual forte. Men may be more aroused by the naked female form, women prefer to create their own fantasies. Because our minds have no limits. We can imagine every crevice, kiss, moan and thrust. We can make him look however we want. We can make him behave however we want. We can be the damsel in distress or the dominatrix in stilettos. We can literally design the man of our dreams. Just how many women are hooked on an illusion right now? It's no suprise as hormonal, chemical, and bodily stimulation all occur when we fantasise. A wealth of scientific research establishes the brain as one of the body's most powerful sexual organs. And that's not a bad thing! I am simply suggesting that sexuality with no restraint is surely a dangerous place to tread.
YOUR MIND IS A CINEMA. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PLAY.
We need to recognise this book, and others like it, for what it is. Emotional Pornography. The only difference with this type of porn, is we can put it on our kitchen counters, carry it in our nappy bags, and read it while in the grocery queue. It does not change the damage it can do.
Shannon Ethridge, Author of The Fantasy Fallacy makes this powerful statement.
"I absolutely do not think all fantasy is wrong, but those that push beyond what is socially and spiritually acceptable are most often rooted in childhood trauma or unresolved pain."
A young woman recently shared with me her journey of overcoming an unhealthy fantasy obsession.
"Looking back as an adult, I can now see that those Christian romance novels were not as harmless as they looked. As a teen, I would spend hours and hours fantasising about my future husband. These books stirred inside me feelings and emotions that shouldn't have surfaced for years and awakened in me sexual desires, which at the right time is beautiful and God breathed. But before its time. Detrimental in so many ways.
By the time I was in my late teens, my life was consumed with explicit and harmful fantasies (and all that comes with them!). At my darkest point I googled the worst prom novel I could think of and read a few chapters. Guilt and shame swept over me.
I remember being up at 3am one night, crying out for God to help me break free from this consuming obsession. He spoke to me clearly that night, "This is your choice, I will help you fight this battle, but you have to choose me first!".
Since then I've gotten married, and man - what an incredible adventure that is. My times with my husband are beautiful and real, not a figment of my imagination created for perfection - which is exactly the way it should be!
I asked her the question; What would you say to a young woman considering reading or watching or reading Fifty Shades of Grey?
Don't do it. I feel like Fifty Shades of Grey is deceptive and makes it "ok" for women (stay at home mums, business women and even school girls) to indulge in their fantasises without accountability. It glamourises sexual aggression and manipulation and is't the blueprint you want to set for your own sexuality."
A message for the Wives: Enjoy sex in real life. Be aroused by a real man, not a figment of your imagination. Sex is and should be amazing and fulfilling! Unleash your passions and desires in a healthy way. Sex is not one dimensional. It's a psychological, emotional and spiritual connection. Tap into each dimension and enjoy sex that is truly intimate and pleasurable.
A message to Mothers: Lead by example. Show her what personal boundaries look like. Teach her how a woman should be treated. Warn her of the dangers of perverted sexuality and prepare her to stand on her own two feet. Show her real love, be open when she has questions and cover her with truth and grace.
A message for the singles: Embrace your sexuality without awakening sexual urges that cannot be fulfilled. Don't buy into the lie. Lust is never satisfied. The truth is you can be emotionally and sexually whole as a single woman. You do not need to feel lonely or sad just because you do not have a man. God is the only person that can ever truly complete you. Be wise and protect your heart and mind. Stand for what is honourable and true, even when it seems like you're the only one on your feet.
A message for the men: Majority of women do not want to be treated like this. Please do not let this book fool you. We long to be desired but not dehumanised. We long to be loved and nurtured, not dominated and controlled. Please continue to stand up for your woman, your mother, your daughters, your sisters. We need you in our corner advocating for sexuality with boundaries and relationships that mentally and physically safe.