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50 Shades of Controversy

The sex-filled, controversy-sparking film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has debuted recently, and with $200 million in box office earnings so far, this phenomenon and its related controversies have swelled immensely.

The guilty pleasure of middle-aged women everywhere is also being called the story of an abusive and toxic romance. Opponents argue that it is a poor representation of a healthy relationship because “Christian Grey fits the description of a controlling, stalking, isolating mate who is emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive.” The American Film Association (AFA) is boldly calling for #50dollarsnot50shades, a campaign in which people can donate to women’s shelters instead of paying to see the unhealthy relationship depicted in Fifty Shades.

The defense claims that Fifty Shades of Grey is just entertainment, just a story, just fiction. Supporters claim that “it is important for people to pursue personal sexual freedoms”, and argue, “What great love story doesn’t have a little pain and heartache? This one is no different” (Everyday Health). This story can most certainly be classified as a love story, but I think that this love story is different and unprecedented.

Both sides of the argument have some validity, but the debate itself isn’t black and white; it isn’t just abusive or not abusive. Although BDSM is technically inflicting pain upon your partner, it’s fully consensual pain. What Anastasia enjoyed and consented to may not be understood or approved of by many, but it is something that people have the freedom to practice if they so choose. However, I would argue that their relationship, aside from the BDSM, is an unhealthy one. I’d imagine that the degree to which Christian controls Anastasia and minimizes her freedom is similar to how a real-life abuser would treat their victim. A man who was abused as a child and controlling in the most extreme sense of the word paired with a woman who is riddled with ‘father problems’ and lives to please him, doesn’t sound like the definition of a power couple to me.

In my opinion, Fifty Shades of Grey is simply the story of an overbearing man and a woman who is too afraid to be her own person so she settles as his mindless tool. Now a story of a healthy relationship with equal partners? That is something to stand behind, and “in my opinion, is sexier than anything that can happen in the Red Room of Pain” (Fifty Shades of Feminism).

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Elizabeth Lundin

U Mass Amherst

Liz is just your typical Massachusetts girl who shamelessly loves riding her bike and Netflix. She's one of three as a triplet(two brothers complete the ensemble).Shes working on her major in Psychology at U mass.
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