Ugly shades of grey

Staff Editorial

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50 Shades of Grey has origins innocent enough to almost discredit the hype it’s received as of late.

It started off as Twilight fan fiction, detailing the sexual exploits of billionaire Christian Grey and his lover, Anastasia Steele. Do their relations involve a little spanking? Sure. Maybe some biting? OK, why not?

But their relationship, which is not at all romantic, is centered on BDSM – bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. This doesn’t just mean a little bedroom play, but the whole nine yards: a  “dominant” partner whipping, tying, and flogging the “submissive” partner.

For thousands of real people across the U.S., this is how they foster healthy sexual relations with their romantic partners.

But in terms of the 50 Shades books and movie, the relationship between Grey and Steele is far from healthy or romantic. Grey makes clear that he exercises control in all things, and takes on the dominant role in his and Steele’s BDSM relationship.

But his obsessive behavior doesn’t stop in the bedroom. He asks Steele to change her diet, buys her a laptop to research BDSM, sells her car without her knowledge, puts a tracking device in her phone, and asks her to sign a contract that relinquishes all the control in their relationship.

So, whatever semblance of dignity is left for Steele, it’s unnoticeable to The Californian editorial staff. Her sense of self, her dignity, and her humanity are of such little importance that it leads us to believe she’s in an abusive relationship, and not for the obvious reasons.

Sure, she’s physically hurt by Grey, but only with her own consent. Except that one time, when she called the “safe word” because she was in too much pain and Grey continued despite her protests.

But otherwise, the flogs, whips, and ties were approved and tested by Steele.

The point is this relationship is controlling and abusive. It sets up standards for young women and girls that glorify and glamorize psychological abuse.

The books, with sleek, grey covers and subtle hints at BDSM, to the movie, with posters that show a solitary Grey standing with just the word, “Curious?” floating above him, all try to gloss over the disturbing undertone of the 50 Shades narrative, which has nothing to do with silk ties, shiny handcuffs, or jet planes.

These books teach fans it’s alright to be controlled in all aspects of life, from sexuality to diet, as long as your captor is rich and handsome.

These books teach young women they should discard their sense of self-worth in favor of feeling important in the eyes of an emotionally unstable man.

This movie is teaching audiences that as long as appearances are shiny and luxe, what goes on behind closed doors can be both physically, and mostly psychologically, damaging to whoever is involved.