Well, its out now, isn't it. Fifty Shades of Grey. We've had the book, we've got the film, what next? The multi-positional Ana and Christian dolls complete with rolls of gaffer (not gaffa) tape and cable ties?
I have a huge problem with Fifty Shades, in fact I have quite a few, not least the fact the the book is probably one of the worst written piles of doggy do that I have ever read and clearly written by a repressed, middle aged, Middle England, middle class women for other repressed, middle aged, Middle England, middle class women. It coined the phase 'mummy porn'; porn that was suitable for mummies who hadn't had sex since the birth of Little Jonny some years before. Suddenly it became okay to read 'porn' on the train, on the bus, on the beach.
But this is porn of the worst variety because it packages up sexual violence against women as a very thinly veiled love story. Let's be clear. This is not a love story. This is a story about an older man using his wealth and power to corrupt a young virgin (she'd have to be a virgin wouldn't she), to subjugate her and coerce her into performing acts that she would not otherwise have done. It is not a voyage around the sexual awakening of a young woman or any other such rubbish. It is a film, written and directed by women, that advocates sexual violence against women. So much for the sisterhood. It is not about BDSM. It is about a middle class, middle aged, Middle England woman's totally false view of BDSM. BDSM is consensual. It doesn't require coercion. The BDSM community are very unhappy about how they are portrayed and rightly so.
Fifty Shades is not a harmless little love story with a bit of naughtiness thrown in. It is a story about control, coercion, rape, stalking and sexual assault. What does that add up to? Domestic abuse. Fifty Shades is a story that glorifies domestic abuse against women. No more, no less. Every woman and man that goes into the cinema and watches this is condoning domestic abuse. Every penny spent on the book, the e-book and the film goes to a women who condones domestic abuse for her own profit. For someone who has worked on serious case reviews into domestic homicide, this makes me feel sick. Is it an wonder that so many quality actresses wouldn't touch it with a bargepole?
It may sound harsh but look at the facts of the film. Would you accept someone turning up to your workplace unannounced, following you on a night out, letting themselves into your home without your permission? Is the correct response to the admission of virginity a violent act of rape? Is coercion the same as consent?
Most young people already find out about sex from the plethora of porn that is easily accessible giving them a totally unrealistic view. Sex is that thing where men have huge penises and can keep going for hours and women just mewl in a horribly kittenish way while having multiple orgasms. The last thing we need is this saccharined version of the 'virgin gets a rough f*ck' you can find on any 'PornRUs' website. This film tries to make domestic abuse acceptable. It is a terrible lesson to our children and one that they will access with even more ease than 'Hot High School Sluts'.
In my work I see the sharp end of domestic abuse and everyday sexism. Feminist has become a pejorative term. I support the No More Page 3 campaign and you only have to read the comments made by men on their Facebook page to understand that respect for women has an awful long way to go. Women have fought for over a century for equality of opportunity, to be treated as equal citizens, as human beings rather than the chattels of men. When I see how many young men in their late teens and early twenties are involved in domestic abuse, quite frankly I wonder what the point has been.
When the 'hottest movie release of the year' is a film that glorifies and glamourises control, coercion and sexual violence while at the same time normalising a powerful man's domination and subjugation of a naive young woman I wonder if we have moved on at all.
And before you start saying its only a bit of harmless fun I would suggest you do a little reading around the subject. Find out how often porn and the sort of everyday sexism depicted in Fifty Shades is a factor in sexual assaults. You might be surprised.
On a slightly lighter note, should you feel the need to handcuff (with consent) your significant other to the bed and gaffer tape his/her mouth, just be aware that when you pull it off you will get the mother of all lip waxes. Be warned.
And finally, to all those of my friends who have seen Fifty Shades, quite frankly, I'm disappointed in you. I thought you were better than that.
Guest post by womagwriter Shane Telford
12 hours ago