Fifty Shades of Problematic

Once you go Grey, you have to obey.

To those who have do not have a clear idea of what a healthy BDSM relationship is like, the one depicted in Fifty Shades of Grey does not seem out of the ordinary. Many people who read it don't pick up on the subtleties, or just choose to ignore them. Fifty Shades is known to be quite a risqué book that pushes the boundaries, which caught the attention of many readers — especially women.
   It's very clear to some that this story glorifies domestic abuse. Yes, a BDSM relationship does entail 'abuse', if that's what you'd like to call it, but it's all about being consensual and having mutual respect towards each other, which this franchise does not include. 

In an essay she also wrote about a dislike towards Fifty Shades of Grey, Katherine O'Clare states:

"BDSM is about mutual care, mutual pleasure, and mutual respect. A healthy and safe relationship that involved BDSM requires all the things that any healthy and safe relationship requires: trust, intimacy, vulnerability, respect... and most importantly, BDSM is based on consent."

O'Clare states that none of this is found in the relationship between Ana and Christian.

Christian makes Ana sign a contract at one point in the story, which I see as extremely unfair. Christian makes the entirety of the contract up himself, and gives Ana no say in it at all. All she can do is sign it or not [sign it]. If this contract dictates what he's allowed to do to her, and it's her own body, she should have been able to sit down and write it out with him. This is another example of how Christian takes advantage of Ana because she's an inexperienced virgin. 
   I've brought up my very large problem with this franchise to a lot of people, and a common rebuttal is, "There's rape and violence and crime on TV all the time, but I don't see you ranting about that." The difference between the violence and deviance that you see on TV and the kind in Fifty Shades is incomparable. When you see crime on TV, you're well aware that it's wrong; it's known to you that the person committing the crime is wrong, because it's on a show where the main characters are trying to catch the culprit and put them in jail for what they did. In Fifty Shades, the violence is very subtle and it is hidden in a romantic setting. 
   The author, E.L. James, didn't mean to romanticize domestic violence in her stories. Her story was originally a Twilight fan-fiction, and she was basing the characters off those in Twilight. Since the abuse in Fifty Shades is not outright stated, you don't know that it's wrong. You think that it's a normal part of a BDSM relationship, which is where the glorification comes in. 

Another common consensus when I mention my distaste for this novel consists of: "It's just a movie/book", or "No one is going to take it seriously." Women who are unaware of what a healthy BDSM relationship is really like are very susceptible to falling into a 'Fifty Shades' type of relationship because they think it's normal, and because they think it's "just like the movie." This is not the fault of the woman. If a woman believes that a Christian/Ana type of sexual escapade is normal, that does not mean she's not in her right mind — it just means that she is misinformed, for which you cannot blame her.
   One part of the movie — not the book — that really gets to me is how they decided to take out the tampon scene. It included Ana, Christian, and a tampon, and the producers didn't even discuss putting it into the movie. They can glorify abuse and talk about whips and chains all they want, but as soon as a tampon comes into play, everything gets awkward.
   Domestic Violence organizations are stepping in and taking action against this movie, such as Stop Porn Culture, Abused Women Centre, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. They are urging viewers to take the money they would spend on ticket costs, popcorn, drinks, babysitters, etc. and donate it to victims of abusive relationships. This new campaign is known as #50dollarsnot50shades.

We support it. Will you?

Images credited to Tumblr.


  1. Good concept with valid points but the poor writing takes away from the article as a whole. One of the more disappointing pieces shared on this site though it was nice to see this angle!

  2. I honestly think this article wasn't valid. Christian give Ana a choice of if she wants to sign the contract or not. He let's her pick out hard limits that she isn't comfortable with. They also sat down and talked about the contract and she made it very clear to what she did/did not want to do. Ana ended up not even signing the contract, Did you even read the books? Everything was consensual between them.