The “Fifty Shades Freed” trailer just came out. Shudder.
As a woman living in the age of #MeToo, I am bewildered by how many of my fellow women like the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Some people suggest the books are appealing to women because they play into women’s ‘relationship fantasies.’
The idea that violence perpetrated against (college student and eventually Mrs. Grey) Ana Steele by (wealthy businessman) Christian Grey is either healthy or loving is just that – a fantasy.
For a more realistic look at how a sexual encounter between a sexually abusive, egomaniacal multi-millionaire and a young, vulnerable woman would end for the young woman, look no further than George Soros’ hedge fund manager, Howie Rubin.
Rubin allegedly beat and raped three different women in his creepy penthouse BDSM dungeon, according to the lawsuit one woman filed against him.
The details of that case are horrific, so why is Fifty Shades glamorizing this type of abuse as mere entertainment in the age of #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein?
Women want and deserve healthy and consensual intimate relationships. So, Fifty Shades author E.L. James dressed up a sadomasochistic, abusive sexual relationship as just that – one that ended in true love, was based on consent, and was healthy for both partners.
This unconvincing lie becomes all the more repulsive in the third part of the trilogy, when Christian Grey tells his wife, Ana, who suspects him of cheating, that he “made a vow to love [her] faithfully, forsaking all others, to comfort [her] in times of need, and to keep [her] safe.”
Apparently Christian Grey’s definition of “safe” doesn’t include physical, emotional, or psychological safety for Ana, just ultra-possessive jealousy on his part that keeps her “safe” from other men.
Some might argue that Ana’s character, and perhaps women in a similar relationship in real life, consent to the abuse they suffer, and that it spices up their romantic life. But consent does not remove the psychological and physical damage created by their mistreatment and abuse.
As we see from Howie Rubin’s example, even among “consenting” participants, 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.
It is incredibly socially irresponsible to uphold Fifty Shades as mainstream entertainment, while at the same time we express our outrage at Harvey Weinstein and his ilk, and while we work to eradicate sexual harassment, sexual assault, and the rape myth mentality from our culture.
As long as we continue to support, normalize, and consume content like Fifty Shades, where sexual violence is king, we work against ourselves, and we undermine the noble goal of ending sexual abuse and domestic violence, especially against women, in our society.
We really can’t have our cake and eat it too, friends. It’s time to wake up to that reality.
Until we do, we delude ourselves into thinking we can make #MeToo hashtags history while we bolster Fifty Shades ticket sales at the box office. If we as a nation want to send a strong message that sexual abuse is never okay, let’s send it in a bold way this February when "Fifty Shades Freed" comes out, and make it a total flop.
Katherine Blakeman is the Director of Communications at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.