Fifty shades: celebrating unhealthy sex

Ana and Grey’s relationship isn’t romanic, so why do we love it so much?

Let’s face it; we live in an age of a multi-billion dollar Internet porn industry, discreet naughty-toy shipping and hundreds of apps that far surpass Tinder’s sexual connotation. All these things provide outlets for our curiosity about BDSM. “Fifty Shades of Grey” provided women with the unique opportunity to explore this lifestyle, albeit vicariously.

I think what often gets mixed up is women’s liberty to read and enjoy a highly sexualized story like this and the implicit narrative of sexual manipulation. You’d think those would be hard to overlap, right? Wrong.

It would be different if the rich and powerful Mr. Grey were doing things that the average-Jane protagonist Ana enjoys, but she continually expresses her discomfort. Despite her capacity to have nine orgasms per encounter, she fears him. This theme is repeated over and over again throughout the story. Ana’s relationship with Grey is unhealthy, to say the least. Quick disclaimer: this is not meant to denounce the BDSM community, so long as all parties are interested in the same kind of play. In “Fifty Shades,” this is not the case. Ana never openly says “no” to Grey, but she’s clearly not into it. She’s instead putting up with what she sees as a flaw in order to keep him around. Not so sexually liberating, huh ladies?

Sarris Balcerzak is a junior English major from Columbus, Ohio.
Sarris Balcerzak is a junior English major from Columbus, Ohio.

Similarly, Grey seems to be interested in his partner because of her innocence. Gross.

What’s even worse is that besides all these 30 to 50-year-old readers, a ton of impressionable 18 to 24-year-old young women have picked up the book as well. So, instead of women utilizing “Fifty Shades” as a harmless type of mommy-porn, young adults could be — and are going to be — viewing this novel/movie as if it belongs in the romance genre.

Since when have our standards dropped from making love to hard, fast doin’ it? As someone who has no real experience with the latter, I think it unwise to condemn it. There’s probably a time and a place for screwing, but inside a “romance” novel read by millions of impressionable 18- to 24-year-olds is neither the time nor the place.

I don’t think it’s all too threatening for “Fifty Shades” to exist in the context of mommy-porn (ew) or a naughty R-rated film. But it’s really dangerous to have this story marketed to a younger audience that is going to watch this film on Valentine’s Day and confuse it for love and romance.

The title “Fifty Shades of Grey” sounds more like a perpetrator’s argument for hooking up with that drunk girl at the party whose slurred no sounded a whole lot like a “yeah.” It sounds a lot like the “Well did you see what she was wearing? She was asking for it!” bullshit that sexual assault apologists use to place blame on victims.

Since the beginning of literature, sex has been tied to love. I’m not going to speak on how valid or invalid that is, because it probably depends on the individual and the situation. I just think that violent, oppressive sex should not be equated to romance.

When did we get bored of making love? (For the purpose of romance, at least.) There are certainly scientific benefits to having a highly sexual lifestyle. Furthermore, there’s probably a really healthy time and place for plain ol’ screwing. I think that erotic, ill-written fiction portraying unhealthy relationships disguised as a romance is not the way to celebrate sex for sex’s sake.

So congratulations to Random House Publication, I’m sure you’ve made hundreds of millions. But at what cost?

One thought on “Fifty shades: celebrating unhealthy sex

  1. You make an interesting point, without demonizing “the bad” side. Bravo. I was with you until the last though. What do you mean by “There are certainly scientific benefits to having a highly sexual lifestyle.”? I’ve not heard it stated like that and wonder what science you are referring to. Would you mind sharing link or two? Thank you. And good work. No matter one’s opinion – releasing the film on Valentine’s Day really is in poor taste.

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