Why I Don’t Care If You See 50 Shades Of Grey

posted in: Random Stuff, Writing | 17

See it, don’t see it.  Who cares?

Yes, I read the books.  No, they were not literary masterpieces.  Yes, they were titilating. No, my moral fiber was not brought into question.

This week I read a funny little post from a woman listing 50 things she would rather do than go see 50 Shades of Grey.  They were cute, funny and witty.  However, she started the post off with how she returned the book after the first few chapters because it was so terribly written.  The fact that she didn’t even read it all the way through did not sit well with me.  Before you completely criticize something, know what you’re criticizing; first hand.  I read another anti-50 post and the opening argument was that film is art and that this movie was a far cry from art.  Wait, what?  Is the Spongebob Movie art?  Eyes Wide Shut was about sex and had a whole bunch of naked people in it but it was weird and artsy and directed by Stanley Kuberick so is that one okay?  Let’s be real here… The 50 Shades books are not going to win a Pulitzer.  It started out as Twilight fan fiction by some mom in the UK who wanted to read the hot and steamy version of Edward and Bella.  Who didn’t want to read the adult version?  Heck, not long after the books came out I was sitting around with a group of Mormon SAHMs who were fantasizing about what the honeymoon chapter would be like if it were in the romance section instead of YA.  What it comes down to is they were not that well written but people still liked them.  I’m not too snooty or high brow to admit that I read them.  That brings us to the movie.

Recently I have seen a few memes on FB encouraging people to boycott the movie and instead donate the cost of their ticket to a battered women’s shelter or to a charity fighting human sex trafficking.  I’m annoyed by this because it suggests that anybody who wants to go see the movie doesn’t care about domestic abuse or sex trafficking.  Christian organizations are using guilt and shame (surprise, surprise) as a tool to make people feel bad about something sexual.  My guess is that the people behind the boycotts have not read the books in their entirety and don’t know the story arch. Every few years the talking heads fire up the boycott band wagon for this or that movie, TV show, company, etc.   The end result is it gives said boycotted item even more press and attention than they would normally have received, peaking people’s interest and causing even more people to see it out of curiosity.  They haven’t figured out that in the entertainment business their motto is “there is no such thing as bad press”.  And how they pick and choose their movies to boycott baffles me.  Where is the outrage at gratuitous violent movies or violent video games that portray women as expendable hookers?

I’m sick and tired of some churches telling people how they should or should not feel about sex.  They are shaming anyone who enjoys sex in any way other than their prescribed positions and situations.  A huge group of Gen-Xers are now dealing with the repercussions of the “True Love Waits” movement.  They were told as teenagers that the most precious gift they could offer their husband was their virginity and if they gave it away before marriage then they were damaged goods.  Girls were told that a righteous man would not want to be with them if they slept around.  They were told that their boyfriends didn’t really respect them if they gave in to sex.  They were told that sexual behavior and activities were wrong and bad and that they should be ashamed and seek forgiveness if they had ever gone past first base.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?  I absolutely hate that phrase.  First and most obvious, it compares women to cows.  But that’s just an expression.  Oh really?  This harkens back to a time when women really were treated and valued like cattle.  Bartered over like livestock and expected to know their place in the home and never question their husbands authority.  Unfortunately, there are women today who believe that their husbands have ultimate authority over them and final decisions should be left up to their man.  Sisters, that is not an equal partnership, that is a dictatorship.  The other thing I really hate about this statement is what it implies about relationships-  That the only thing men care about in a relationship is sex;  That the only reason they pursue a woman is to get in bed with her; And that the only reason to make a commitment to a woman is to have sex with her. The other thing this statement makes about relationships is that the only thing a woman can really bring to a relationship is her body;  That her most valuable asset is her vagina and that just as soon as a man conquers it then she is used up and not worth the effort to continue in the relationship.  I don’t know about you but there is a heck of a lot more to a marriage than sex and anyone who believes that all a woman can really bring to the table is sex should just invest in a really fancy blow up doll.  It will be a heck of a lot cheaper than a divorce.  An argument could be made that Christian Grey only sees Ana as a sexual object…unless you read that books to find out that he comes to realize he can’t control her and that he wants more from a relationship than what he has had in the past.

Flash forward 20 years and you have a whole generation of women who have a hard time enjoying sex with their husbands.  They were told for so long that sex was bad and then expected to flip a switch on the wedding night and have the time of their life.  A whole group of women who want to explore their sexuality with their husband but are too ashamed to venture outside the traditional.  The idea of bringing fun into the bedroom is for wild girls, not good Christian mothers.  They have been told that too much fun and feeling too good is dirty.

Do not misunderstand me.  I do not think that men and women should think one night stands are a good idea or friends with benefits won’t end in heartache.  Real life is not an HBO series.  I do not think teenagers should just run off and have sex with the first boy who looks their way.  Teenagers are not mentally or emotionally mature enough to handle such a relationship.  Heck, I think 16 is too young to drive a car for goodness sakes.  However, shaming boys and girls can be just as harmful.  It may push them into relationships they are not ready for and it may harm their relationships in the future.  Not giving them the right information to make these mature decisions can lead to disastrous consequences.

If people want to see it, fine.  If people don’t want to see it, that is absolutely fine too.  I get that this is not for everyone.  My mom can hardly watch Downton Abbey this season because of Mary’s indiscretions, I hardly expect her to rush to the theater.  Not everyone is expected to see or enjoy every single movie.  I had no interest in seeing Gigli but I don’t begrudge someone who did.  So, for whoever wants to see 50 Shades of Grey, I don’t think you’re a perv, I don’t think seeing makes you okay with domestic abuse and I don’t think you expect it to make AFI’s top 100 movies of all time.  See it or don’t see it, just make up your own mind why you will or won’t.  

17 Responses

  1. Wow. I am a Christian, and I am offended at the way you felt you needed to portray Christians in this post.

    “Christian organizations are using guilt and shame (surprise, surprise) as a tool to make people feel bad about something sexual.”

    You’ve totally got it wrong. Maybe the Christians you know shame people, but I would question their commitment to the Lord if they are shaming people. That is not what Jesus taught us to do.

    ‘I’m sick and tired of the church telling people how they should or should not feel about sex. They are shaming anyone who enjoys sex in any way other than their prescribed positions and situations.”

    That is not at all what “church people” are like.

    Sorry, but I found this post very offensive to me as a Christian.

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Jamie, I’m a Christian too. You’re right, not all Christians feel this way. My “church people” are not like the Christians I’m writing about at all. I’m painting w/ a very broad brush and don’t mean to lump everyone into one single category. This is just what I have observed. Thank you for your opinion.

  2. I think this is a daring post, tackling this “controversy” head on. You say a lot of things out loud that I’ve heard a lot of people mumble under their breath, afraid to speak up and let their voices be heard lest they be thought of as pro-abuse or anti-Christian. I appreciate your insight as someone who has both read the books and seen the movie & thanks for sharing!
    Mari recently posted…Snow Day 2015My Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Thanks Mari. Talking about sex can difficult but if we don’t have these conversations we continue making it a tabu subject. I feel like being open and talking about stuff that makes us uncomfortable makes us stronger.

  3. I… have more than a few problems with 50 Shades of Grey.

    It’s not the sex (though the relationship portrayed in the books is far from an ideal one, and not just on the sexual level).

    I will say now that I have not read the published books.

    What I *did* read was the original Twilight fan fiction version of it as it was being posted, titled “Master of the Universe”, and it was all three books in one, essentially.

    I’ve been a part of several different fandoms for over a decade now. I’ve read a LOT of fan fiction. I write fan fiction. There is sort of an ‘unspoken’ code among fan fiction writers – it’s never for profit. It’s always for the love of characters, of a world, that we can’t make a profit from because it belongs to someone else. Someday, when I have books published, I’m going to be thrilled if anyone ever starts writing fan fiction based off my works. Because that’s where I got started writing, and I hope that I inspire others to write in the same way someday.

    However…

    E.L. James essentially decided to take advantage of the Twilight phenomenon and make her own profit from it. She was confronted, especially as she revealed to that she would be pulling the story down from the internet and self-publishing it (this was looooooooooong before whatever publishing house it was picked it up), and treated fans – people who had actually been reading her story and LIKED it – terribly. I remember that with her final installment of the story, there was ALREADY an announcement that she would be pulling the story down. It was nuts.

    Also, as a survivor of verbal and emotional abuse, there’s a lot of issues in those books that I can’t ignore.

    But first and foremost, I refuse to support the author, because she doesn’t treat others with respect.
    Rebekah Loper recently posted…There’s an old saying…My Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      I can respect that, Rebekah. Thanks for your insight. Before Twilight, the idea of fan fiction wasn’t really on my radar and I wonder if it was more common just amongst writers and aspiring writers.

  4. Elasha Morgan

    Hi Steph! You bring up a lot of interesting points here, for sure. I haven’t read the book(s) myself and haven’t followed the movie or the response it’s created, so I can’t say much there. I just wanted to put in a plug for the positive reasons for waiting till marriage for sex . . . I know it’s currently not a very popular view . . . but there are still so many good reasons for waiting. It’s true that using guilt and shame isn’t a good way to do this, and we won’t do that with our own kids (we start talking with them early on, even can recommend a good source if you’re interested). In fact, we’re trying to teach them how beautiful and awesome sex is and how cool it is to share that one really intimate thing with the person you know you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Of course, as you say, it’s just one aspect of a healthy marriage relationship. That’s the experience I had, though I do know women who struggled with the sudden switch from “no” to “go”.

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Thanks Elasha. We have also started having open conversations w/ our older son about sex. We want to make sure that our kids know there is nothing shameful about it or their bodies and it’s a natural part of life and relationships. You’re right, there are many other, better, ways to encouraging teens to wait other than guilt and shame.

  5. Right on, Stephanie. I am also a product of the True Love Waits movement and I couldn’t agree with you more.

  6. I think you can judge whether or not you want to read/watch/listen to something after about the first 10%. That’s enough to make an informed decision

  7. I did read the first book. I believe there is a difference between initiating a naive, unsophisticated virgin into the world of S&M by a powerful, experienced, older, it’s-all-about-the-sex-there-isn’t-a-personal-relationship-here and adult consensual sex. I understand why many think the content of this move could send a destructive message – especially for young women who don’t have points of reference for what healthy sexual relationships look like.

    I don’t care if people see it or not either. I agree with you movie makers love this kind of moral attack because it intrigues others and is good for business. But I don’t agree with your attack on those who feel strongly against its message and choose to make their own voice heard in a non-violent way. And lumping “church” and “Christians” under such a broad, negative umbrella is right up there with assuming all Muslims are terrorists.

    Your quote: “I’m sick and tired of the church telling people how they should or should not feel about sex. They are shaming anyone who enjoys sex in any way other than their prescribed positions and situations.” is not consistent with what I have experienced in the majority of churches I have attended.

    While I agree that extreme shaming has caused many – not just women – to have confusion about their sexuality and themselves, I think we should be VERY careful not to confuse trying to teach SELF-RESPECT with “shaming.”
    Shel Harrington recently posted…The ME in Mediation – a New PerspectiveMy Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Thanks for your thoughts Shel. I don’t think all churches or all Christians use guilt and shame as a tool to keep people from having sex. The church that I attend is not one of those churches and teaches self-respect (like you said) and empowerment. You have helped me see that maybe I need to edit my post to say “some” churches.

  8. Gutsy post, Stephanie! I, too, don’t care whether people see the movie or not. I have read all three books and could care less if I see the movie. The story line wasn’t compelling and I didn’t care about the characters and the type of sex they are portraying isn’t my thing so no reason for me to rush out to the theater. But, if others are all gung-ho then that’s fine.

    That said, the thing that I don’t like about all the hype over 50 Shades is that it is everywhere and during every single tv viewing time slot. Younger children who are not ready for sexual discussions are asking what is the big deal about this movie? Why is everyone seeing it and talking about it? That’s my real beef. I guess I’m still old-fashioned that way and wish the media would stop giving it so much air time.

    From that angle, I can see why some groups are up in arms, however, I also agree that there is a Christian segment that makes sex dirty and something “good girls” don’t do. It wouldn’t matter if 50 Shades was about kinky sex, domination, or normal sex within marriage…they don’t want to see something so sexually explicit in the theaters, period. They would be upset no matter what. You’re right..when will they learn that boycotting actually hurts their cause?!

    There are many churches that preach that sex is a healthy and important part of a good marriage, but I certainly didn’t hear that until I was a grown up. I am not against a church encouraging (encouraging, not mandating) teenagers to wait to have sex, but using shame and guilt to enforce their point is wrong. I have had a lot of very frank and open discussions about sex with my almost-13-year-old and I am telling him that sex is normal, natural and nothing to be ashamed of. It is not dirty and he won’t go to hell if he has sex before he gets married. However, I am encouraging him to be smart and sensible. There are very real down sides to having sex too soon/too young and outside of a committed relationship.

    Obviously, this is a heated issue…I admire your courage to hit publish! :)
    Julie recently posted…Spring FlowersMy Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Thanks Julie! I agree w/ you about all the air time and press that children might see and the uncomfortable or inappropriate questions it could raise. Not only this movie but on magazines in the check out line at the grocery store. This is clearly for a mature audience.

  9. BEST 50 SHADE OF POST EVER!!!!!!!!!! I have read DOZENS of posts about this ridiculous topic… why oh why does this happen? The relentless fight to the death of a movie- BOOKS that are not a reality!! I keep thinking of all the GOD AWFUL films that constantly infiltrate our homes, our theaters, our lives- filled with sick violent and deplorable deaths threaded with drug crimes and twisted plots that make me want to cringe. But, apparently those are okay. Hmm…

    I saw the movie- why? BECAUSE OF ALL THIS HYPE!! Just as you said.

    And it was good! I thought so anyway- I was prepared to sit in my seat and be sickened with disgust, as my fellow Christian writers directed me…. oh, brother. Or should I say, Oh sister. Our morals, our faith does not get swayed by a MOVIE.

    Good Lord, if that were the case, we wold all be completely and thoroughly lost.
    Chris Carter recently posted…Struggling With MotherhoodMy Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Thank you SO much for this response. How interesting that you expected to be discussed because you were told that is how you were going to feel. I’m glad you were able to make up your own mind. I’m afraid so many people are told what to think and feel and just go with it w/o discovering their own truth.

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