Sadistic abuse is not romantic

At a time when many of us are working flat out to help young women avoid controlling, manipulative, emotionally and physically violent relationships, comes a film which presents these behaviours as romantic.

Fifty Shades of Grey, based on E.L James blockbuster book, hits the cinemas tomorrow for Valentine’s Day.

Sex shops report a boom in sales, hardware stores are stocking up on cable ties and rope, and everyone’s getting in on the act. Anti-violence men’s group White Ribbon Australia was to be the beneficiary of a Fifty Shades screening until we pressured them enough to scrap it. A Uniting Care pre-school was to benefit also from a fundraising screening but the organization was persuaded that that wasn’t such a good idea either and the idea was pulled.

But the juggernaut rolls on. The film is being advertised on bus shelters outside high schools and even in respite care centres for children.

Why say “I love you” with chocolate when you can say it with blood and bruises?

Christian Grey, 28 — in reality a sexual sociopath worthy of a restraining order — is depicted as handsome, alluring, and exceedingly wealthy. Playboy Grey targets and grooms Anastasia (Ana) Steele — a virginal, klutzy, 21-year-old college student.

His obsessive and controlling behavior towards the naïve Ana is read as a sign of love and devotion. He loves her like no other.

In the advertising overdrive, the dangerous messages propagated by the Fifty Shades phenomenon should not be missed: stalking, aggression, sexual violence, threats, intimidation, manipulation, and control are sexy.

If he stalks you he must really love you. If you say “no,” that’s just a come-on. And if you love a sadistic abuser he’ll change and you’ll live happily ever after in a really big house.

None of these behaviours are marketed as problematic but, rather, promoted as romantic. That’s why domestic violence groups internationally have launched a campaign called “50 dollars not 50 shades,” calling for a boycott of the film and asking for donations to women’s shelters instead. They have seen too many real-life Anastasias.

One refuge worker has described Fifty Shades as a “classic narrative of domestic violence.”

But rather than walk away from the Christian Greys of the world, the genre tells women that if you love him and cop enough of his shit, eventually he’ll magically morph into the man you wanted.

Melbourne, Australia mental health profession Geoff Ahern agrees. “It’s fiction that glorifies fear, intimidation, stalking and violence against women. When I read extracts from the book I hear my clients telling the same stories and that is most certainly not fiction.”

Natalie Collins set up the campaign group, Fifty Shades Is Domestic Abuse. The Independent reports:

When Collins’ co-campaigner first read the books, she said she was “deeply disturbed by how it mirrored the abuse that she had experienced from an ex-partner… women are coming to us and saying, ‘We feel exploited, we feel that our stories and the abuse and trauma that we have suffered are being capitalized upon.’ We’re concerned especially how that’s reflecting and impacting young people.”

Men learn to be turned on by women in pain.

Grey calls Ana his “submissive” and expects her to sign a contract outlining the ways he intends to control her.

“I’m going to fuck you now, Miss Steele… Hard.” He “rips through” her virginity, making her cry out. Grey then tells her he wants her to be “sore.” 

Young women are growing up in a culture which grooms and socializes them to be subordinate. Fifty Shades reinforces that – with the expectation they should also find aggression sexy and desirable.

An analysis by Michigan State and Ohio State universities determined that Grey is a perpetrator who uses an “interlocking pattern” of emotional abuse strategies to manipulate Ana and control the relationship, including: stalking, intimidation, isolation, and humiliation. Physical and sexual violence are prevalent and Grey uses alcohol to impair Anastasia’s consent.

“Sexual violence is pervasive,” said the authors, citing Christian using alcohol to compromise Ana’s consent, intimidation, initiating sexual encounters when angry, dismissing Ana’s requests for boundaries, threatening her, and humiliating her.

The authors noted that Ana experiences reactions typical of abused women such as constant perceived threat, altered identity, stressful managing, engaging in behaviours to “keep the peace,” like withholding information to avoid Christian’s anger.

Researchers believed the popular book series had the power to influence attitudes and beliefs surrounding intimate partner violence, arguing “individuals regularly alter their real world beliefs and attitudes in response to fictional communication.”

The impact on Anastasia is consistent with that of other victims of intimate partner violence — constant perceived threat, managing and altering her behaviors to keep peace, lost identity, disempowerment and entrapment.

A 2013 Vic Health survey found a sizeable number of people believe there are circumstances in which violence can be excused.

We don’t need more myths about intimate partner violence being a reflection of true love. And the last thing we need is to romanticize domestic abuse.

We can’t ignore the implications of depicting a man worthy of criminal charges as hot, sexy, and desirable. The packaging of a story about an abusive relationship as “romance” perpetuates violence against women and undermines efforts to promote equal, respectful relationships.

This is an extended version of a piece which appeared in the Herald Sun (Australia) today. 

Melinda Tankard Reist  is a Canberra author, speaker, media commentator, and advocate for women and girls. She is known for her work on the objectification of women and sexualisation of girls and her work to address violence against women. Melinda has published several books, including: Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls.

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  • em laurent

    Thank you so much for this article. The eroticization of female domination is so pervasive viz. pornography and prostitution. This “novel” is harmful and so many womyn and girls are drawn to it. It’s really disheartening that so many of us can relate to the female character in this novel, weak, submissive, longing to be controlled. We need to end this narrative of abuse and create female characters that would castrate a violent man rather than jerk him off.

  • I just sit there with my jaw dropped wondering what happened. Years now, I’ve been (mentally) sitting there with my jaw dropped.

    There were the suffragettes and the 1930s and women’s liberation and consciousness-raising groups and then a narrative that it was all pure progress from here on out. Then, suddenly, somehow, we transitioned to being all done and past all that, even though women were still the ones terrorized, underpaid, and in all the service jobs.

    Now this. “Women are terrorized and they looooove it.” And everybody nods along and talks about “spicing up their sex life”. (Amateur tip: if the sex isn’t what’s spicing up your sex life, you’re doing it wrong.)

    Has the world gone mad? This is worse than the 1950s. Hell, it’s worse than in my Victorian grandmother’s day! Women then were told their abuse was some kind of unfortunate mistake. They weren’t told it was fun.

    • Morag

      “Has the world gone mad? This is worse than the 1950s. Hell, it’s worse than in my Victorian grandmother’s day! Women then were told their abuse was some kind of unfortunate mistake. They weren’t told it was fun.”

      Yes, it’s unadulterated madness. I’d say it’s even worse than “Lie back and think of England.” That’s bad, but at least there’s some honesty in that, because the power, and lack of it, wasn’t obscured. The exhortation that people smile and celebrate while they’re being fucked-over is, I think, one of the worst abuses inflicted on our minds.

      • Sabine

        This is where fun-fem or “feminism lite” (to quote Annie Lennox) has landed us. Nothing is damaging or need be changed! What’s the problem?!! If the oppressed decide to opt into kidding themselves they are “empowered” by their degradation and abuse then I really don’t know what to feel other than despair at this stage.

        That this woefully clichéd, achingly dull, spectacularly moronic piece of barely literate shit got published in the first place is still something my mind cannot process. But the fact it became this eye-watering phenomena makes me feel physically ill. The fact a woman wrote this makes me feel particularly unwell because had a man churned out such harmful, blatantly misogynistic drivel he would have been in danger of being publicly lynched. (And probably by some of the libfems currently defending this “expression of sexual freedom”). This hideous “love story” of sadistic sexual abuse glamorized by a WOMAN makes it suddenly a-ok. and that makes me LIVID.

        • derrington

          This is where neo lib philosophy and economic policy has got us. All profit is good, shut up whingers, you are loooooosers. Unions, socialism, children, the elderly, women, disabled, people of colour, the environment, in fact most of the world is simply numbers on a spreadsheet for the rich. Sexism sells, so sell it. Violence sells, so sell it. Smashing up the planet sells, so sell it. We are in a slide to some kind of hell that only the rich will steer clear off, unless the planet dies in which case the greedy fuckers will go up with us …

          • FrustratedRadFem

            The book used to be a fan fiction based on twilight. I’ve read better, more popular, non-abusive fan fictions before and they aren’t being published. But this rehash of bella/edward was? something is suspicious, don’t you think? It’s not what women want or because if they did some research they’d find things that would make men uncomfortable. This book is over-hyped, it’s a marketing ploy that is being forced. The TV mentions that book at least once every 2hrs I wish they’d stop.

            True, people need to reject neo-liberalist ideals, it doesn’t benefit oppressed/marginalised groups it pits us against each other, actively stunts progress and gives people the illusion of control. It puts the burden of societal problems on the individual but if they try to talk about or organise against it they are being ‘irresponsible’ and are ‘weak’ because they don’t change themselves to fit society. The way society is structured is not a personal failing of an individual. They know that if people start working together for their own best interest that they can’t take of advantage of them as easily. That’s why they are always saying women are ‘making themselves out to be victims’ if they talk about how they were victimised and how women are oppressed. How is it weak to talk about sexism/misogyny in a public forum knowing how men will react? How is it weak for women to collaborate there is strength in numbers and men have no problem ganging up on people. You can only frame it as a weakness if you making taking things in silence alone a virtue and anything else a fault. Neo liberalism is a divide and conquer tactic and so far it’s worked.

        • Jen

          The problem I am seeing. Women are wanting to view themselves as open minded and forward thinking, but they are not educating themselves on the issues they are standing behind. I did not have any interest in the book since it was a Twilight fan fiction, and ironically I thought Edward showed abusive tendancies and I thought Bella was a bad role model to young girls. Little did I know what was on the horizon… Now we have the abuser’s manual out. This is where I am outraged. Any true ‘sex positive’ feminist would look into the type of sexuality they are endorsing. A simple google search reveals that actual BDSM communities are in an uproar about this book’s inaccuracies. It took me about an hour to compile a list of why this is anything but empowering. The same goes for ‘not judging’ sex workers because that could be where they find ’empowerment’. Once again, google human trafficking. Granted, my best friend is an expert on the subject so I have a pretty amazing resource… But many of those empowered young ladies are held captive against their will, forced to perform and pretend to like it or else they will be disposed of. I personally know a trafficking survivor from California. She thought she was going in for an interview as a makeup stylist. Instead, she was abducted and trafficked for 3 years in the USA. The one time she cried rape to a John she was systematically beaten and put in an ice bath until she learned she had to pretend to love it to survive. When I see a sex worker, I don’t judge her, I call the sex trafficking hotline and give them every piece of information I possibly can. These women that think they are moving things forward need to open their eyes and really learn the issues. Also, I have grown to hate instagram because it truly is objectification at it’s worst. I try to put up positive quotes so young girls can see having a brain is wonderful as well, when I put up this quote… ‘Taught from their infancy beauty is a woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming around its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison’ by Mary Wollstonecraft. I had the beautiful girl with the naked photo and two pizza slices over her breasts #youarewhatyoueat like that quote… I just thought…. When will feminism lite be over I can’t take this anymore!

        • Randie

          Also, as I have said if this horrendous Fifty Shades Of Grey was about a Black person (written by a Black or Jewish author or not) “willingly” submitting to be dominated and brutalized by a White man,or a Jew for a Nazi,it never would have become so popular with Black and Jewish people,there would be a lot of totally justified outrage,and the media never would have promoted,glamorized and normalized it this way!

          Or of a woman dominating and brutalizing a man(not that this is healthy or right either although the revenge is tempting),the media never would have promoted,normalized and glamorized it this way and nobody would insanely,injustly,incomprehensibly say it was ”empowering” for the blacks and the Jews!
          And it wouldn’t be this disturbingly popular with women either,because sadly many women are still socialized to be passive,submissive sex objects and victims to please and serve men,and don’t identify with dominating and abusing men,and pornography and the mainstreaming of it is a *big* reason why!

          • Randie

            Actually if in the white racist society when black people were owned as slaves by whites,if a black person wrote a novel and it was turned into a movie called,Fifty Shades of Black that portrayed a black person as ”willingly” ”consenting” to be dominated and tortured by a white man and it was hugely popular with black people,and they were insanely raving about it and loving it,the blame would not be on the black author who wrote it,or all of the black people loving it,the fault would be totally on the white dominated racist society!

            Same thing if a Jewish person in the Nazi society wrote a best selling novel,and it was then also turned into a movie,about a Jewish person portrayed as ”willingly” submitting,and ”consenting” to be dominated and tortured by a German person or a Nazi,and millions of Jews loved it,the blame would be on the Nazi dominated society,just like it’s totally the very sick,sexist,woman-hating,gender stereotyped,pornographic male dominated society’s fault women are writing and loving horrible sexist,violent,woman-hating sh*t like Twilight and the even more woman-hating,violent,horrendous Fifty Shades of horror that E.l.James admits she based on Twilight!

            E.L.James author of the horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey admitted that she based it on the Twilight books and movies. She says here that she saw the Twilight movie when it came out and loved it,and then she read all of the books and loved them too and she (horribly and very unfortunately!) decided to write her own version)


          • Morag

            Randi, another novel about a sadomasochistic relationship, popular in its day, was 9 1/2 Weeks. It was supposedly autobiographical fiction, and the woman wrote it under a pen name — for many reasons, including the fact that she was then an editor for Ms Magazine.

            But, another reason for her anonymity was that her own father was a Nazi. The parallels were too close for comfort. One type of torture mimics the other.

            Also, importantly, it was not a love story. In the novel, the submissive woman escapes from her abuser.

          • Gloria

            Various reviewers have pointed out at the similarity between the 50 shades of Gray kinky “romance” and the one Ingeborg Day portrayed in the 9 1/2 weeks book. Day, an experienced journalist, born in Austria and ashamed of her Nazi family ties, published a -much better- written book in 1978, under an assumed name. Day´s book was a bestseller among women and inspired the 1986 movie. Featuring Mickey Rourke “coincidentally” as an aloof but successful business executive called Gray, with a taste for kinky sex and mind games, the movie became an on-screen classic on sadomasochism. In 2002 we had the movie Secretary, with another Mr Grey (probably inspired in the 9 1/2 weeks one) as the main character in a kinky sexual comedy. Since 2005 we have the Stephenie Meyer’s poorly written Twilight saga and subsequent film adaptations, which turn dysfunctional and manipulative “romance” into mainstream success. Now, in 2011 came Erika Mitchell (aka E. L James) recycling the worst ingredients of the above -including Mr Grey and the poor writing- into the Fifty shades trilogy (& now movie) with outrageous mainstream success.

            One wonders why are women the authors, main fandom, and most loyal customers of such market. Day managed to kept her authorship a secret until 1983, as being the editor of a feminist magazine as well as a divorced mother seemed to be in conflict with the portrayed affair. Mark Hughes, a reviewer of the fifty shades movie for Forbes says “I suspect not a small selling point for the book and film has been its allure for some women suspicious of — or outright hostile to — feminism, because it promotes female “empowerment” within the safe culturally approved traditional female roles as submissive and as seeking a powerful Prince Charming to rescue them from “ordinary” lives. Find your pleasure through feeding the man’s sexual demands, it says. It also presents a female protagonist whose entire arc is actually to not-so-subtly serve the male supporting character’s arc, to feed his transformation in the story (this is literally even stated outright in the film, such is its clunky inability to deploy subtext in any fashion whatsoever) more than her own.

            It is a “little revolution” so to speak, for women otherwise confined — willfully or not — to socially acceptable gender roles and expectations, as it provides an argument that there is happiness in slavery and that by submitting to a certain line and then holding back from the most extreme and (for mainstream folks) humiliating bondage, they are “asserting” themselves and taking control.”

    • FrustratedRadFem

      I’ve seen that’s woman’s blog she’s written a lot about the ‘scene’.

      There’s been a huge backlash against women going on for decades and this is the result of it. The ‘appeal’ of fifty shades is reassurance that he really does love you and everything will work out. The people who like it because it’s ‘naughty’ are basically acting like kids during sex education. It’s not being open and honest about sex it’s just ‘taboo’ of it. There is no taboo, it’s the same ‘good girl goes bad’ trope that could only exist from the madonna/whore complex. The more ‘experienced’ man who teaches a virginal young woman narrative is ancient. The idea that a men ‘corrupts’ a woman and that’s how she discovers her carnality isn’t new or exciting, it’s male fantasy being repackaged and sold to women.

      The media had better female representation during the 80s and 90s. Now the role models women used to have are now mostly boring and male appeasing and the role models men have are either macho assholes or slacker assholes. Both of the archetypes are based of of masculinity and male entitlement. I hate the celebrity culture and dumbing down of everything (reality TV instead of show dealing with reality).

  • I’m a little surprised this article made it into a mainstream newspaper, let alone one with reputation for being right-wing. I guess that within mainstream discourse you can get away with criticising the book, so long as you do not explicitly state that sexual activities that involve dominance, submission or aggression (i.e. BDSM) are wrong or anti-feminist. Of course, most of the mainstream media still glamorises and trivialises the franchise.

    I’m not faulting the author for writing this piece. I do not know what her views are regarding BDSM and she does not explicitly endorse “healthy BDSM” as the alternative, so I glad this article got published. I would, however, like to see an outright anti-BDSM article/report in the mainstream media (and no, articles that acknowledge the existance of anti-BDSM feminists while making them look like crazy prudes do not count), but that might interfere with the profits of sex-shops and pornographers and we can’t have that.

    “The film is being advertised on bus shelters outside high schools and even in respite care centres for children.”

    I can one up you, I saw it advertised at a bus shelter outside a primary school. The school is also three minutes walking distance away from a BDSM costume and equipment shop. It makes me wonder why no parent has spoken up, they can’t all be into BDSM can they? I guess the BDSM nature of the shop is not entirely obvious from the outside (I found out it was a BDSM sex shop via the internet), but someone (with influence) should have noticed by now.

    “And if you love a sadistic abuser he’ll change and you’ll live happily ever after in a really big house.”

    I am curious, in the books/movies do the characters end up not practicing BDSM? If so that would be a deviation from the usual pornographic narrative in which the woman ends up going along with the violent, degrading sex acts.

    Of course, it’s still a very sexist narrative and this whole phenomenon highlights the importance of focusing on the social effects of a franchise, rather than its “meaning”. The BDSM community thinks that the series is anti-BDSM, because they focus strictly on the narrative itself (which, if it ends with the characters abandoning the practice of BDSM, does have some anti-BDSM elements) and ignore the actual influence that the series has on society. It has increased the popularity, acceptability and profitability of the practice. It is what a story does that matters, not what it means in the eyes of liberals who read it. In most case it is not obvious what a story does, but in this case it is very obvious, which is why opponents of BDSM oppose the franchise.

    • C.K. Egbert

      It made it into the mainstream because apparently she’s a conservative and is anti-abortion. So she probably has much more credibility in the mainstream on account of that.

  • Naida

    Meghan, you know that I’m a big fan of yours and the blog and usually I comment on-topic and got something to say, but I did some research on this author just to find out she’s pro-life and conservative, just as someone above pointed out. I find this difficult on a blog like that one, with a socialist, pro choice stance, especially when so much has been written about SoG that you could easily find an article as well-written and eloquent as this one. It’s not like leftist feminists are all choicy agency empowered lunatics so that you have to resort to this kind of writer.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m not aware of her position on abortion nor am I aware of whether or not she has conservative politics outside of her feminist politic but I have interviewed her a number of times with regard to her work against the sexualization of women and girls and with regards to porn and support and appreciate that work.

      She sent me this article and asked if I would like to publish it. It is a good article and I am a fan and supporter of the author so I published it. You should check out Big Porn Inc. It’s very good.

      • bella_cose

        I’m a big fan of her anti-porn and anti-prostitution work, but I’m very uncomfortable with anyone who wants to deny women access to safe, legal, abortions. I agree with her stance that there are women who feel they have no choice but to abort, and they should have support in raising a child, rather than being forced to terminate a pregnancy. There are also women who just don’t want to be pregnant, and they should be able to terminate their pregnancy at will.

        If she were working to educate people about birth control, alternatives to PIV, and support services for pregnant women, then I would have no issues with her. However, I’ve read that she has actually worked with legislators to deny/reduce access to safe abortions, and that makes me not trust her very much. While I don’t think that negates the work she’s doing in other areas, I’m not comfortable with feminists who work to end the oppression of women in certain areas, while oppressing them in others.

        Btw, this isn’t a criticism of you for publishing her article. Like I said, I do think she does a lot of good in fighting against porn and prostitution.

        • christa.

          if she has indeed worked with legislators to restrict access to safe abortions, that is indeed troubling. that’s really too bad, i’ve enjoyed reading her blog for a while now.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I seriously doubt Melinda would work to restrict access to safe abortions and think it’s best we don’t speculate about such things… With respect.

          • bella_cose

            I would agree. I certainly hope she wouldn’t now, even if she has in the past, and it’s not something she herself has confirmed doing. I don’t have a problem with anyone being pro-life, as long as they work to try to prevent the reasons women need abortions in the first place, rather than restricting access to them. I think the choice argument is shortsighted in only focusing on a woman’s choice to have an abortion, and ignoring everything that leads up to it, and it sounds like she’s trying to change that.

    • christa.

      i think we have to avoid falling into the tumblr-trap of “so-and-so is a TERF so you shoud not publish anything she says ever, even if a particular argument so-and-so makes is a rather good one.” (i know no one’s saying terf; i just think it’s a similar argument.)

      • C.K. Egbert

        Agreed, I apologize if I caused any misconceptions regarding her work/positions. I was just looking her up because I found her interesting, and a feature article I believe described her that way (not presupposing that is accurate to her political position then or now).

        • bella_cose

          I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to discuss aspects of a feminist’s ideology that could be controversial. And if there are misconceptions, it’s a chance to correct them. I think the problem is when it becomes a reason to vilify them, and dismiss all of their contributions based on a difference of opinion in one area.

          That being said, I really can’t get behind pro-porn/prostitution feminists, so I do think there are some feminist positions that don’t have value in the fight to liberate women from male supremacy. Melinda Tankard Reist is working to support pregnant women, but who are the pro pornstitution feminists supporting?

  • Renate Klein

    Melinda Tankard Reist is one of Australia’s most influential commentator on prostitution, pornography and the sexualisation of girls. She is not a conservative but most of her views are radical feminist. Yes she hold pro-life views but in the sense that she is supporting women who decide to continue their pregnancy. For years she has supported premises where teenage women can live and continue school etc during their pregnancy. She is a thoroughly good woman and we at Spinifex, a radical feminist and lesbian independent publisher proudly support and publish her books: Getting Real, Defiant Birth and Big Porn Inc.
    For another piece against this dangerous and stupid Fifty Shades of Idiocy search Susan Hawthorne Fifty Shades of Grey and an excellent piece will come up published on

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you Renate! As I mentioned, I am a big fan and supporter of Melinda and her work (and of yours, of course)!

    • christa.

      “Yes she hold pro-life views but in the sense that she is supporting women who decide to continue their pregnancy. For years she has supported premises where teenage women can live and continue school etc during their pregnancy.”

      so basically she’s doing what pro-choicers always say anti-choicers should be doing – supporting moms who may want to keep their pregnancy despite incredible obstacles. unlike the rest of the anti-choicers who don’t give two shits about the women who need help. even if she is anti-choice, in whatever sense of the term we think of when we hear “anti-choice”, at least she’s doing something to HELP women. there’s a world of difference between picketers at abortion clinics harassing women, and a woman advocating for support for pregnant teenagers that want to continue with their pregnancies.

    • Sabine

      The Susan Hawthorne article is excellent. Thank you.

  • Hecuba

    Of course this vile book has the ‘power to influence attitudes and beliefs surrounding intimate partner violence, arguing individuals regularly alter their real world beliefs and attitudes in response to fictional communication.’ This is why advertising agencies exist because they know promoting their clients’ products/services ensures consumers will believe the lie ‘I must have this latest product/service.’ It isn’t rocket science.

    This is why men’s vile pornography industry has become a huge profitable industry because mens’ malestream media controls what is and isn’t published, which is why we won’t see or read any articles by Radical Feminists succinctly debunking mens’ vile pornography industry being published in mens’ malestream media industry.

    E.E. James admitted she accessed numerous pornographic films and websites and used these vile male created women-hating scenarios to construct her fictional story. Everything James wrote is taken from mens’ pornography industry and this is why mens’ malestream media are avidly bombarding women with mens’ lies that BDSM is ’empowering to women!’

    Reality check – only men are the ones benefitting from this vile porn book because this book reinforces and naturalises mens’ lie that women and girls only exist to be males’ dehumanised/disposable sexualised commodities.

    Remember men cannot harm women because men claim women aren’t human. Fifty Shades of Male Sexual Violence reinforces this misogynistic lie.

    Next step will be removal from the statute books of laws covering male sexual violence against women because men in political power will claim ‘the dominant view is that male sexual violence against women doesn’t harm women and girls because women and girls want to be subjected to male sexual violence. So therefore ‘consensual male sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls’ isn’t male sexual violence because women and girls consented and are merely expressing their ‘female sexual empowerment!’

    Male perpetrators will cite Fifty Shades as justification for their male agency and choice to sexually prey on women and girls.

    Welcome to what men have always wanted – total male oppression of women and no female voices speaking out against this male bombardment of male hatred and male contempt for women and girls.

    PS We must name the issue as systemic male sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls not ‘abuse.’ The term ‘abuse’ is malespeak language which sanitises/hides exactly what males are systemtatically subjecting women and girls to and that is male sexual violence – not abuse!

    • Talking about vile porn:

      I wanted to yell at some male porn-blogger on tumblr and when I went to his blog the first posts were all porn gifs and they were bad. And I mean man-putting-lit-cigarette-in-a-woman’s-mouth bad. I try to avoid any and all pornography but this was profoundly shocking. I seriously did not realise that it had become THAT bad.

      And the worst thing about that particular gif was: she was smiling. That’s what she was told to do. “Smile and you may fool the viewer that you like it.”

      Thank you for the comment, Hecuba.

      • Missfit

        ‘There is a series of photographs: a woman slicing her breasts with a knife, smearing her own blood on her own body, sticking a sword up her vagina. And she is smiling. And it is the smile that drives me mad.’
        – Andrea Dworkin

        See how woman is other? This is good empathy killer.

    • Morag

      “Next step will be removal from the statute books of laws covering male sexual violence against women because men in political power will claim ‘the dominant view is that male sexual violence against women doesn’t harm women and girls because women and girls want to be subjected to male sexual violence. So therefore ‘consensual male sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls’ isn’t male sexual violence because women and girls consented and are merely expressing their ‘female sexual empowerment!’”

      Yes, Hecuba. This is why I’m terrified for the outcome of the Jian Ghomeshi trial.

    • Randie

      Thank you so much Hecuba,

      Your post is so brilliant,powerful and great! I have been saying this,that E.L.James had to have watched a lot of pornography( I had read someone say this too on a blog a few years ago) likely with her husband and took her violent woman-hating descriptions directly from it, from the time I found out about this horrendous sexualized,romanticized,men’s irational 1000’s of years of woman-hatred,sexist inequality,and sadistic violence against women horror book series and now horribly a movie!

      But she also admits that she saw the Twilight movie when it came out and loved it,and then she read all of the Twilight books and she loved them too and she said she started to write her own version.

      E.L.James author of the horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey admitted what so many feminist strong criticisms and bad reviews have said,that she based it on the Twilight books and movies and made a worse more violent woman-hating version.

  • Carey

    Until you have been in the vortex of a sex addicted abuser, you would never understand the incredible manipulation, intense fear and denial you learn to live in. I read SoG when I was in the middle of a very sick relationship – I think I was attempting to ‘figure him out’. At that point in my life – I loved the ‘happily ever after’ ending. How her love changed him. It was perfect for me at the time – because I still thought my love, compassion and understanding could help him see the light. What a total waste of time and energy that was. These men are ill – most suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. they do not change. My ex almost killed me. He groomed and manipulated me to get what he wanted. He would give a little – make me think he was my soulmate – then unexpectedly fly into a rage over nothing and disappear for days on end. He would spend hours on porn sites and want to re-enact degrading scenes. If I didn’t i was ‘boring’ or a prude. I became hooked on his crumbs of kindness. Hard to understand when you are not in the sick, violent cycle. He progressed. Acted out with prostitutes and his students. Blamed me. I sunk lower and lower. Got more stuck. Until I finally woke up. I hope for anyone in this type of situation to learn to love yourself – and know you are OK on your own. You do not NEED anyone. And definitely do not deserve to be treated as a subservient.

  • Missfit

    I already wrote about this guy condemning the organized boycott of the movie by a feminist collective because, among other things, this is feminists imposing on others what they should or should not watch. And I’m thinking how this is again the same tired old reversal we’re constantly dealing with. The marketers keep imposing their stuff upon us. In every bookstore you are imposed whole shelves and walls covered with 50 shades of annoying. Now we have to encounter buses imposing images/ads of 50 shades of boring on us. All this to influence us in buying their story. But god forbids feminists would try to influence people with arguments. It’s perfectly okay though for those with money/power to do so using every marketing techniques. Who’s imposing what here? Like feminists being accused of dictating whatever each time we do some critical thinking. Like, being critical of gendered trends taking shape under patriarchy is an important part of feminism. We are dictated what is expected of us through patriarchal cultural norms, through gendered socialization, we are dictated what should be considered cool by a bunch of rich pervert men in LA who have power over the media machine, but hey, it’s feminists who impose/dictate… by speaking against misogyny.

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  • ArgleBargle

    I like this 50 Shades version, starring Ellen Degeneres:

    • Morag

      Thanks. Hilarious. It’s more parody than satire. But when she bites her lip and makes that frightened/aroused face, and he gives her that empty and predatory stare, that’s a pretty good commentary on the ridiculousness of constructed femininity and masculinity. It’s all so unbelievable that she, “Ana,” finds it difficult to stay in character.

      There are much more severe and serious criticisms that we are making about 50 Shades, of course. But, it also deserves this kind of plain old ridicule — just for being so stupid and silly.

      Ellen is always very funny, but also very careful (apolitical) about her criticisms of popular culture, I think.

  • Artemis

    I do get the outrage expressed at 50 Shades. From all accounts it is a dreadful book, and the movie is even worse. I also understand consternation expressed at the sexualisation of young girls and against sex industries in general. What I find missing from MTR’s work, and, I have to admit, that of much modern radical feminism, is criticism at other trends that have the same negative effects on women and which secure male entitlement. These include:

    1) The glorification of marriage
    2) Unequal domestic labour in heterosexual unions.
    3) Princess culture. Those dreadful pink, frilly tulle dresses and the princess culture that teaches young girls they will grow up to marry handsome young princes (I mean ewwww, how traditionally conservative can we get??)
    4) Adverts that glorify traditional domestic roles (she cooks and cleans and plays Betty Homemaker, while he brings home the bacon – look no further than the Victorian Worksafe Ads for evidence of this, or just put the telly on a commercial station for an hour or so). These are equally about gender, gender roles and a ‘proper’ and very 1950s way of living.

    I guess what I am also not seeing is advocacy for young (and other) women, to, if and when they are fully ready, to become sexual beings in the sense that they engage in and enjoy sex – and yes even PIV (if they want to).

    50 Shades is bad on a number of levels, but the marriage industry, the princess industry and the patriarchal family (remember Mitchell and Rowbotham, anyone?) are equally of concern and should also be as much of a target for criticism.

  • Topazthecat

    Men and the whole very sexist,woman-hating,gender divided,gender stereotyped,male dominated,pornographic society is totally to blame why women wrote and loved Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey!

  • Topazthecat

    And this is the same woman-hating society where millions of women love Fifty Shades of Grey, where 40% of white women voted for president Donald Trump after he bragged on tape that he grabbed women’s p*ssies and that he could get away with it and do whatever he wants because he’s rich and successful! He also made racist comments,woman-hating sexist comments,and many women have accused him of sexually assaulting and or sexually harassing them,including 14 year old beauty pageant contestants that he barged in on when they were undressed and he told them he could date them some day! He also said years ago on the woman-hater Howard Stern’s radio show that his oldest daughter Ivanka is a hot piece of a*ss and that he would consider dating her!

    • Thomas

      I read the majority of white women, something like 53% or something like that. Perhaps even more.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Of white women who voted… Not of all white women in the US.