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Feb 20, 2015

Why I'm Avoiding Fifty Shades of Grey



it's been just about a week since 50 shades of grey hit theaters, and i've read countless articles and blog posts about why christian women (and, really, anyone) should forgo seeing this film.  i remember when the books came out and their was a similar response in the blog-o-sphere.  for the most part, i choose to refrain from writing posts about these types of media-hyped controversies.  not because i don't have an opinion or because i'm afraid of offending my readers, but because there are so many voices out there who have already said what i'm thinking more eloquently than i probably will (check the end of this post for a few of those voices!).

but this whole 50 shades thing hit a nerve with me.  maybe because it's because i'm engaged and so sex is a very real topic of conversation as my fiancĂ© and i head towards marriage.  maybe it's because i've known dear friends who have fought addictions and been affected by the porn industry.  either way, as i think more closely about what sex was designed for, it doesn't include abuse, rape, or manipulation.

so here are a few reasons why i'm avoiding fifty shades of grey:

it promotes unhealthy desires for sex //
let's be honest ladies:  who hasn't dreamt about that scene in the notebook where ryan gosling shouts "it wasn't over for me!  it still isn't over!" at rachel mcadams?  so much of what we fantasize about our relationships and sex lives (whether you're waiting for marriage or not), can be inspired by what we've seen in movies with far less explicit sex scenes.  fifty shades is no different:  by seeing this movie, we open ourselves up to unhealthy practices that have been glamorized for the big screen, therefore planting unrealistic and unhealthy desires for our own bedrooms.  no matter how many times we tell ourselves that real life isn't the movies, it doesn't change the fact that we're influenced by what we see when we hit the theater.  you can, however, make sure that what you're being influenced by isn't promoting a dangerous relationship.

it says that abuse is ok // 
consensual or not, the relationship between the two main characters is not ok.  abuse in any relationship, romantic or otherwise, is never ok.  period.  verbal, physical, and sexual abuse should never be acceptable in any form, whether the person signs a contract (as in this movie) or not.  fifty shades glamorizes a relationship filled with abuse, and even goes so far as to promote it as romantic or a love story.  and the storyline seems to suggest that the "heroine" can change her abuser because, well they love one another.

it depicts women as weak, vulnerable, and objects that men can do whatever they please with //
sure, there are plenty of movies out there with a naive and less-than-strong female lead.  but fifty shades of grey goes one step further as the male lead controls, manipulates, and then uses her body to fulfill his sexual desires.  in addition, the so-called heroine is coerced into this manipulative relationship while under the influence of alcohol, and is portrayed as a naive and helpless, balancing the dominant christian grey and turning him into a hero-figure.

because sex wasn't designed for this //
i'll admit that i'm not exactly experienced when it comes to sex.  both aj and i have made the commitment to wait until we're married to have sex, and while fighting that temptation isn't easy, we're honoring that commitment.  but as we begin to talk about what sex within the covenant of marriage looks like, it's far from what it looks like in fifty shades of grey.  whether you believe in god or not, i hope you value sex as a way to connect with, sacrifice for, and love another person, and not a cheap way to feel good or get what you want.  fifty shades of grey cheapens sex and promotes that it's just a way to feel good at the cost of how the other person feels.

if we can take anything positive from fifty shades of grey, i hope that it's honest conversations with your spouse (or fiancĂ©, if you're engaged) about what you'd like your sex life to look like.  the more i read and hear from married couples, and the more aj and i prepare for our marriage, the more i realize that sex can be such a taboo topic.  but as we're discovering just how important communication is in a   relationship, we're also learning that sex is important and it's paramount to communicate with your partner about sex.  it's uncomfortable to talk to your significant other about what you want out of your relationship, let alone what you want out of sex, but guess what?  it's vital to a healthy marriage.

i know there are a lot of articles out there about why you shouldn't go see this movie.  and maybe what you've just read said the same things as the rest.  but i think it's still worth talking about.  because even though in the long run, fifty shades is just one little blip on the radar, we still need to acknowledge why movies like this, movies that the media blows up about and that culture tries to convince us are just sexy fun, we need to acknowledge that they're not ok.  and while yes, there are far bigger fish to fry in the world we live in today, i'm convinced that if we ignore the little things, then eventually they become the big things.

so let's be culture-shapers, friends.  let's be the ones to demand higher standards.  let's use the media attention that fifty shades of grey is getting to open the conversation and to talk about the big picture here and the messages that this movie is really sending.

what others are saying //
a psychiatrist's letter to young people about 50 shades of grey
fifty shades of grey: why we're not cool with it and why you shouldn't be either on fight the new drug
5 reasons to avoid 50 shades of grey on oak & oats
so much more to sex than fifty shades on christianity today
the real abuse at the heart of fifty shades of grey on relevant magazine

34 comments:

  1. Wow Betsy, great you dared touching this subject. Although I'm not a church going girl and might have less strict opinions on sex before marriage than you, I so hear you with this post. I did not read the books and you won't find me in the cinema for this movie. I too thought that modern, self respecting women wouldn't want to have anything to do with controlling, almost abusive behaviour in and outside the bedroom. But I guess my thoughts on that were wrong considering the records the books and movie are also breaking over here in The Netherlands. Oh well, I'll just keep myself busy reading beautiful blogs and watching English Detectives on TV ;-)

    Daphne | The Daphne Files

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  2. Betsy you did such a beautiful job with this post. I know people that have struggles with some of the issues that you mentioned and movies and books like are not helpful for people that are struggling to overcome those temptations. thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've not read the books or seen the movies and don't plan to.

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  3. Beautifully, graciously, and masterfully written my dear. Well done! I could not agree more!

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  4. Thanks Julia! I appreciate the support :)

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  5. Thanks Faith! I wasn't nervous at all about this post until I woke up this morning, hahaha...but I totally agree. This type of media is NOT helpful to those struggling, or anyone else for that matter!

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  6. Hey Daphne! Thanks so much for your feedback!! It is so great to hear from someone who doesn't necessarily share the same beliefs on premarital sex, but hear that we stand united on not seeing this book. It's crazy how well this movie is doing. Obviously, the draw to watch an attractive man take his clothes off or the pitch that this is a "romantic" movie is working. I'll steer clear though, thanks! :)

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  7. this is so well written! I did read the books, and I strongly believe that they really shouldn't have been made into movies. I also admire you and your fiance waiting to have sex after marriage. That's a strong temptation to overcome! Well done on this whole post! xoxo

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  8. I haven't had any desire to read the books or watch the movie. But my question is, have you read it or are you just going by what others have said to base your reasons for not watching? Just curious. ;) Good for you for standing your ground!

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  9. good question! yes and no. I have definitely learned a lot and gained a lot of perspective from the articles that I linked at the bottom of my post, but a while ago (before all the media hype), I actually did a little research and read a fairly detailed plot synopsis of the book. It was the kind of thing that left me feeling dirty, and I figured that if a plot synopsis was that bad, then I definitely didn't want anything to do with the actual book/movie!

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  10. Thanks Melissa! It is definitely a temptation, and as our wedding gets closer, it gets a little harder to say no, but we're believing that it's worth it!

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  11. I'm with you, Betsy! I've said no to 50 Shades of Grey, too. I think it's important that we, as Christians, stand up for what we believe in instead of compromising and adopting the practices the media forces on us. I love your reasons and agree with you 100%. I'll be sharing this post!

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  12. Yes! We have a voice and we need to use it. Thanks for reading Christie!

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  13. Absolutely! It's just the English teacher in me coming out when asking that question, not the belief talker in me. ;) I always would ask my students if they had all the facts when speaking of his or her own opinion. You do a great job outlining your points. Go girl!

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  14. And it was such a good question! Haha I struggled while writing this post because I kept thinking "I haven't even seen this movie. Can I really write about it fairly?" but I felt like I did enough reading about it (from both sides of the argument) in addition to reading a synopsis, thatI could frame my opinion!

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  15. I loved reading your take on this and that you also linked to some of the articles about it from others!

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  16. Betsy you make some great points that I haven't seen yet! Especially the point about us fantasizing about what movies feed! I've so been there with that Notebook seen! ;)


    Sex can be such a taboo topic and honestly I think that feeds teens to have premarital sex... because the married people and Christians aren't talking about that openly with them. The only voices about it are other teens and media. I blogged about that last year after getting flack from single friends because i said the word sex in a conversation ha!


    Great points here!

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  17. I pray you and your soon-to-be husband have a wonderful, fulfilling, and God honoring sex life when you get to have one. :) Make sure you always have that door of communication open for this area in your life.

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  18. This is probably one of the best "reasons I'm not seeing 50 Shades" articles I've seen. Thank you so much for writing it and posting!!!

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  19. I totally agree with you on the taboo thing Brandy. I definitely believe in waiting until marriage to have sex and support all of the reasons why that is a good thing to do, but I don't think that means that you can't have an open conversation about it because I feel like too many people see it as "sin" instead of something sacred and good and then it's something that I've heard many people feel guilty for doing even after they were married and that young people don't feel they can ask questions about when they have them or couples don't feel like they can talk about.

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  20. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this! I agree 100% with all your points. I think what bothers me the most about the popularity of the book/series is that it makes abuse seem okay as long as the guy is rich, handsome, and mysterious. It boggles my mind that so many women either don't see it as abuse in the first place, or they say "Yeah, but it becomes a love story, so it's okay." That just further cements the already-dangerous mindsets that come with abusive relationships. I know all too well what it feels like to believe "Maybe if I let this continue, he will eventually love me." It's so, so tragic.

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  21. I love this post Betsy! I've been drafting a post, but have also thought others have said it better than I could. Now I'm just going to share your post because this is exactly how I feel. Thank you for your words and being able to post what I feel like a lot of people need to read!

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  22. I totally agree Brandy! I think it's hard for people to talk about sex because it's a subject that's so often avoided, but the closer I get to being married, the more I realize how important having open and honest conversations about it is such a good thing! God designed sex to be good in the right context!

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  23. Awe, thanks so much Amberly! That means a lot!

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  24. Ugh, that mindset is so destructive, and I'm so sorry that you know what it feels like. :(
    I totally agree with you...I'm so disturbed by the mindset that the abuse is ok because it turns into love....it's not ok! And that's not what love is!

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  25. Thanks so much Martha Kate! I totally struggled with "do I even post this? so many people have written about it and made great points!" but I'm glad I did :)

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  26. I agree with you wholeheartedly. But there is a balance...Puritans didn't have sex unless it was to procreate--they believed it a sin, otherwise. Mormons believe that we should only have sex with our spouses and that we shouldn't abuse one another--be equal, respect each others' bodies. True, we use it to procreate, but we also believe it is ok to pleasure each other. But, consensus is important! Because we are given a gift of one of God's powers: procreation. We should be grateful for that and not take advantage.

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  27. I totally agree with you. I think God designed sex for more than just procreation! Having sex for reasons other than just to make a baby (i.e. having it because its good), in my opinion, is totally fine. Fifty Shades of Grey goes so far beyond what sex was designed for and turns it into something that is controlling and abusive, and I think it tarnishes the beauty that sex is in the context of the right relationship!

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  28. I did the same thing Betsy! I think your post was truthful, encouraging, and organized! I think you can still say a lot without having to go through the emotions of watching it for 2+ hours.

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  29. That's my thoughts too! Sex is such a beautiful thing when in the context God designed it for. Teens need to know that.

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  30. So true! It's such a beautiful gift! I'm so glad you all are having conversations about it! I'm so excited to follow your engagement and wedding on your blog Betsy!

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  31. This was wonderful! I wrote about erotica on my blog last year because of a book I was given to review. I think it's important to speak about this matter. I hate how something as beautiful as sex is being twisted into something that is abusive.

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Hi! Thanks for reading! I read every comment posted here. Your thoughts are valuable to me! Thanks for taking the time to contribute!

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