“What I want my daughter to know about Fifty Shades of Grey” Part 4 of 4
In previous posts I talk about various aspects of the film (which you can access here and here and here)…
Now I want to talk about women.
There are plenty who are hopping mad because this film glamorizes the same kind of sexual addiction and pornographic sexual fantasy that has ruined many men’s lives. It can ruin women’s lives, too.
But there is an even greater problem with this film. And that is what it says about women.
My daughter turned 16 a few days ago. I want to make sure she knows what’s wrong with the message conveyed.
In my county volunteers answer the phone at a 24-hour hotline at a place called SARC, a non-profit that supports victims of violence. The quivering voices on the other end who call in are often young teens, navigating the damaging emotions of something they thought was love which turned out to be a harmful counterfeit marked by possessiveness and violence.
In fact, one in five teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner. Teen dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. And it’s not just physical. Violence can manifest itself emotionally, sexually, or digitally.
Teen dating violence is a big deal, a real problem, and it’s hurting a lot of people.
That’s why I don’t think it’s such a great idea that Hollywood is encouraging us to see it as an adventurous sex sport.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines emotional abuse with the following words: intimidation, threats, isolation, stalking, and humiliation. Sexual violence it defines as forced sex acts or contact against a person’s will, including using alcohol or drugs or intimidation or pressure. I have not seen the film, but from what I’ve read by those who have, these definitions sound like the very things Christian Grey does toward the young Ana.
Mark Sandlin reports that the Department of Human Sciences at The Ohio State University conducted a double review of the book and arrived at the conclusion that 50 Shades of Grey depicts intimate partner violence (IPV) in nearly every interaction between the two main characters. The abuse includes: stalking, intimidation, isolation – all of it.
In other words, if it wasn’t being sold as harmless entertainment, and it was happening to you or your daughter, you would call the police.
Not exactly the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Folks, twenty-five percent of women are affected by intimate partner violence. One out of four women on college campuses experience some kind of inappropriate sexual abuse.
So if you have no problem with any other part of Fifty Shades of Grey – you ought to be alarmed and angry at the depiction of power and abuse in the relationship.
You want to do something about it?
Give to, or help with organizations that work to release women from the bondage of abuse. Places like SARC (www.sarc-maryland.org) or Rapha House (www.raphahouse.org). Help a woman have a voice and help her stand before God who has created her in his own beautiful image. Make a donation in honor of any female you love.
I like what Jeremy Neill says:
A lot of times my students these days tell me that they want to help stop the sexual trafficking industry. They are shocked by the idea of exploited women – girls, even – being made to do things that are predatory and damaging. Whenever they say this to me I always respond, “do you really want to do something to stop sex trafficking? Change yourself first before you try to change others. Don’t look at porn, don’t promote sexual practices that are exploitative of others, and don’t put money in the hands of people whose movies stir up a desire in the culture for the trafficked girls.”
(And by the way, you should know about places like www.blackboxinternational.org which provides aftercare for boys who are victims of sex trafficking)
You want to do something? Don’t overlook the obvious. If you want to do something to counter the exploitative messages toward women, make sure your own daughter and wife and every woman you care about knows she’s amazing and beautiful and strong.
Treat her that way.
Help her know she doesn’t need to degrade herself to earn the love of any man.
Get the message out to every woman you know:
- She is not a piece of meat to be ogled.
- She is not a subject to be conquered.
- She is not an object to be used.
- She is not a piece of trash to be abused or dominated.
- She is precious princess, a daughter of God, created in his image, full of dignity.
- She is worthy of respect and love.
- She should never feel pressured to give herself sexually or any other way to anyone who asks.
- She should know that guys who ask girls to do stuff that is dark and unhealthy and dangerous are often abused themselves (like Christian Grey) either in their brains or their bodies and they therefore wrongly think abuse is normal – but it’s not.
- She should know that sex in a healthy marriage relationship is joyful. It doesn’t inflict pain. At its best it shares an intimacy that provides a beautiful hint of the closeness we were made for and which we all long for with God.
I’m performing a wedding in a couple weeks of a young couple who really loves Jesus. They are having a friend read Ephesians 5:21ff in their wedding. That’s where the Bible talks about a husband and wife expressing “mutual submission.”
It’s not talking about bondage and spanking. It’s describing what can really happen when two people have been so loved by Jesus that out of reverence for Christ they humbly serve each other with love and respect. A marriage is best when you try to outdo one another in love and service.
It’s not about taking, controlling, dominating.
It’s about giving, trusting, serving. There is the key to joy.
And that’s a long way from Fifty Shades of Grey.