A Sunless Garden When The Flowers Are Dead

We live in a world where Hollywood makes blockbusters based on books that confuses rape and abuse with soul deep forever love; but real love, because the gender of the couple is the same, is a political fight.

Today, Valentines Day, the wildly popular book Fifty Shades of Grey is being released on film. The book trilogy has sold over 100 million copies, and the movie is expected to bring in about the same number of dollars. It’s billed as a love story born from misunderstanding and a tragic main character. In reality, it’s a tale of manipulation, possessiveness, and abuse.

In EL James’ world, the books started out as an older BDSM wannabe fan fiction of Twilight. What they really are, however, is the depiction of an unhealthy relationship that in no way resembles BDSM culture.  When Christian and Ana meet, Ana has no idea of the type of sexual world Christian lives in, and he gets a thrill out of knowing that he gets to be the one to show manipulate her. He stalks her, manipulates her into bed, and then rapes her (because, I don’t care what planet you live on, not know what you’re getting into means you did not, and could not, give consent). Over the next several weeks he proceeds to bully, control, dominate, and abuse her— he controls her diet, her medications (telling her she has to get birth control shots, even though she doesn’t want them, stating her body is actually his), her friends, her job (she gets a job at a company he doesn’t own, so he buys it), how/when/where they have sex. He uses sexual methods she doesn’t understand and doesn’t like (crying tears of pain during sex, not cool), and then proceeds to ‘punish’ her in ways she has no consent over (including, at one point in book one, begging him not hit her). For Ana’s part, her innocence and naivety translate Christian’s attention, and abuse, into love, and when by the time she realises the relationship might not be healthy she does what most victims do: she convinces herself she has to deal with it in order to keep him. Six weeks from the day they met, he proposes and she accepts, cementing his lifetime ability to control her.

The above reads like a bad based-on-a-true-story Lifetime movie, which always ends with either the main female character in witness protection, or dead. And yet, the world thinks this is acceptable entertainment. Since its publication, friends have convinced friends, family has convinced family, coworkers have passed it around. A book that promotes abuse, gives incorrect perceptions of an entire culture, and makes domestic violence look like “love” has been lauded, and now turned into a Hollywood production that, by all predictions, will be a blockbuster.

So then, if the world can call an unhealthy, abusive, relationship love and walk around looking for their “Christian,” why has this past week been fraught with judicial and political fighting over the right for LGBT persons to marry? If Fifty Shades of Grey had been two male characters, or two female characters, would it have been so popular? No. It would have been called an ‘abomination,’ ‘disgusting,’ ‘horrible,’ and probably even ‘abusive’ by the exact same people who read it and declared it a great love story. Why is it acceptable for the world to turn a fictional trilogy which glorifies domestic abuse into a sought after love story, but it’s not acceptable for two people who share actual love to marry? When did the world become so turn on its axis that physical and emotional manipulation and abuse are more acceptable then two men kissing?

Once upon a time, the world was smaller; that world was accepting of a lot of things, and turned a blind eye to others. After population booms, the Industrial Revolution, wars that raged across three continents for a hundred years, two world wars, and man walking on the moon it seems that the world may have gotten larger in size, but smaller in acceptance.

One day, future generations will look back on today and shake their heads over the ridiculousness of a movie which makes abuse a fairytale premiering at the same time judges and officials in several US states fight to deny true love the right to marry. Because in today’s world, the fantasy of a relationship that promotes abuse is far more acceptable than the fantasy of two same-sex souls uniting in marriage, of having children, of creating a family. One day Valentines Day will be a day to show and share love, regardless of gender or gender identity; sadly that day is not today. Today, a movie about a domineering, manipulative, psychotic abuser will make $10 million on its first full day in theatre, whilst men and women in Alabama will wait by the phone hoping that Lady Justice will provide the words necessary to allow them to spend Valentines Day 2016 as a married couple.

[DISCLAIMER: It’s not just me, by the way. Fifty Shades of Grey has been condemned by BDSM, women’s rights, and domestic violence groups since its publication.]

If you, or someone you know, is living in a dangerous situation, please get help. Abuse is not love, and no one deserves to live a life of false love.

Domestic Violence Hotlines:

US: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Gay Domestic Violence Hotline (US): 1-800-832-1901

UK: 0808 2000 247

Canada: 1.866.863.0511

Look up your country


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