Is the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise taking it too far when it comes to sexual violence?
In the Journal of Women's Health, their recently released study, "Double Crap!" Abuse and Harmed Identity in Fifty Shades of Grey (Released August 11, 2013).
The authors reports their results and conclusions: Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction, including: stalking, intimidation, isolation, sexual violence is pervasive—including using alcohol to compromise Anastasia's consent. Anastasia experiences reactions typical of abused women, including: constant perceived threat, altered identity and stressful managing. Anastasia becomes disempowered and entrapped in the relationship as her behaviors become mechanized in response to Christian's abuse.
Our analysis identified patterns in Fifty Shades that reflect pervasive intimate partner violence—one of the biggest problems of our time. Further, our analysis adds to a growing body of literature noting dangerous violence standards being perpetuated in popular culture.
I do not concur with the results and conclusions. If I were to read the erotic novel looking for behaviors that may resemble abuse, yet do not view it in the context of fantasy, erotic writing, consensual BDSM, then of course I would say it exhibited violence. Yet without the proper context how can we objectively view Fifty Shades of Grey as the researchers conclude.
Does this mean that when I read Harry Potter, I may believe I am a wizard and need to fear for my life from the Death Eaters? Or do I read it as fiction, an adventure, an excellent tale with spellbinding plots and characters.
I would postulate that Harry Potter experienced significant violence throughout his journeys: repeated assassination attempts, stalking by the Death Eaters, he resided in a state of perpetual fear; felt intimidated by his peers, followers of Voldemort and Voldemort himself, he was often disbelieved in reporting the truth therefore living in harms way on a daily basis. Truth and love potions were utilized to engage subjects into behaving in altered states. Harry and his crew were frequently trapped, dis-empowered, harmed and challenged by adults, creatures and wizards.
True child abuse and neglect as defined by anyone, yet it is the fantasy context in which we put aside our labels of violence and turn on our imaginations and escape into a wonderful story.
Do we limit this type of fantasy so that we avoid spell casting, broom flying, potion making and fighting the evil powers. If we did engage in such behavior, I do believe we may ostracize ourselves, be labeled with delusional disorder or schizophrenia and suffer low self esteem from the repeated failure of our wizardry skills.
If I dress up for Halloween in a sexualized Gryffindor costume, am I pedophilic in doing so, or engaging in fantasy and utilizing a costume to participate in both a holiday and role play?
If one participates in safe, consensual BDSM (Bondage & Discipline/Domination & Submission/Sadism & Masochism), these behaviors can be view as highly pleasurable and regularly sought after. The individual that views it as violence would not consensually engage in said behaviors because they are not consenting to power play and physical stimulation that is out of the mainstay of vanilla sex.
Life is in context.
If my husband blindfolds me, pushes me on the bed and spanks me with a metal spatula for pleasure in the privacy of my bedroom and we are both consenting parties, it is drastically different than if a colleague walks into my office, pushes me on the floor, blindfolds me and hits me repeatedly with his clipboard.
See the differences?
Role play, consent, agreed upon, stimulation, not entrapment, physical abuse and violence.
Context is everything.
As a sex therapist, I would challenge many aspects of Anastasia orgasmic ability. She loses her virginity, has no clitoral stimulation and has a world class orgasm. The chances of this are slim to none in real life. Women tend to be orgasmic. Female orgasm between 60 percent of the time with clitoral stimulation. Intercourse alone, that number drops to 20 percent.
Christian is virtually erect 24 hours of a day and ready to perform for hours at a time. Do I then research and present my case that Fifty Shades of Grey places unrealistic sexual expectations of both male and female readers? No. It's the same as in the porn industry; it is a performance art with editing, angles and placards to remind them to holler and moan.
While reading the erotic novel two years ago on St Patricks Day, I decided to add my Guinness beer to my reading pleasure and have a drink each time Anastasia experienced an orgasm. That was a bit tipsy making for my afternoon. My husband said to me, "Wow you just drank two Guineness." "Why yes," I replied. "Anastasia cums a lot."
It is the point of fantasy.
Do we want Anastasia to have an occasional yeast infection, vaginal discomfort and sexual refusals after multiple objects and his penis has been in her over and over within a 24 period of time. Or Christian to have too much wine and be unable to acheive an erection as this is much more like real life.
As readers of erotica, we want intensity, excitement, orgasmic explosions, sexual performances that should be in the record books. We want our bodies to feel titillated by Christian and Anastasia's sex life.
We want the passion, the all encompassing feelings of pleasure, the escape into bondage, sense deprivation, the surprise of touch, the heat of the whip.
Yes overpower me, consume me, please me.
This sounds delightful to me and not anything close to violence.
Both of their behaviors were ridiculous outside of the bedroom. Dramatic, insecure, jealous, over the top. Even the biting of the lip became nauseating after some time. Yet if you skip over the relational drama and dive into their sexual escapades, you can enjoy the fantasy.
BDSM is for safe, sane, consensual sexual play that can lead to a vast level of pleasure.
The unrealistic story of the uber attractive, way too young to be a millionaire, multi-talented Christian and the insecure innocent Anastasia is just that—a story.
You decide: Is Fifty Shades of Grey more violent than Harry Potter?
Double Crap?! I can only say EL James is not a JK Rowlings.
I'll take both.
More erotica advice from YourTango:
- What's It Like To Be An Erotica Writer?
- Confessions of an Erotica Writer
- 10 Celebrity Sex Tape Scandals You May Have Missed