Grumpiest Ginger

Consent doesn’t come in 50 shades


Gunter Kleist

Her eyes see through your lies

If I could count on each hand how many time I’ve heard people talking about how ~romantic~ “50 Shades of Grey” is I would have more than enough hands to pick up the book and read some actual quotes out loud to all of you. I’m not even talking about the sex scenes either, which are rape-y and abusive enough to make my skin crawl. I’m talking about the non-sexual aspects of the relationship between the main character and her supposedly studly man-friend. Honestly, everything about these books is pretty terrible, and I’m hoping the movie will be an absolute trainwreck when people realize how horrible the plot and the characters are.

Here’s some actual dialogue from one of the recently released trailers.

“So, you’re a control freak?” (This is the main character, Anastasia, talking. She’s portrayed as a pretty normal, if a little clumsy/messy, young woman. She’s also a virgin, which normally wouldn’t be even remotely noteworthy, but considering the context of this franchise it is a fairly important plot point.)
“I exercise control in all things.” (This is the ‘sultry, sexy, romantic’ dude character, Christian. I don’t know if that line was supposed to be alluring or what, but if some guy said that to me I would probably be creeped out. The idea of somebody saying they have control in ‘all things’ is a) really self-centered b) logically, not true, and c) a major warning signal.)

This guy isn’t kidding either. He is controlling. To the point of abuse, in fact. After meeting Anastasia when she interviews him for her campus paper (oh, did I mention she’s still in college?) he stalks her, shows up unannounced at her workplace, and lets himself into her house without her knowledge or permission. Don’t even try defending that, seriously. I don’t care how sexy this guy is supposed to be, that’s messed up.

Anyway, on to the worse parts. Christian explains to Anastasia that he’s a dominant, which means that he likes to take a dominant role in sex. He also likes to whip and hit and degrade his sexual partners (more power to you if you’re into this, but I think that most people in the BDSM community agree with me when I say that he is going about this entirely the wrong way). Except what he actually says is “I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard.” That one line of dialogue is nearly enough to make me cringe myself into the alternate universe where this takes place so I can laugh in this guy’s face.

The sex scenes are astoundingly poorly written and I would feel bad about making anyone read them so I’m not going to put in any direct quotes but I’m going to need you to trust me on this. There’s nothing sexy about it, it’s all awkward and Christian remains vaguely menacing throughout. Also, he’s pretty grossly into the idea of her being a virgin beforehand (I mean, I know that this is based in the idea that a woman’s worth is diminished after having sex, so he’s all riled up because she’s so “pure”, but that just makes it more gross).

Aside from being terribly written, the sex scenes are part of a much bigger issue. There is little to no consent in many of the “sexy” scenes between Anastasia and Christian. Most of the time she feels overwhelmed (and not in a positive way). Many times she consents to having sex with him because she’s afraid he’ll leave her if she says no, or because she’s too uncomfortable or shy to say no. Consent given under that kind of duress and pressure isn’t actually consent. It’s customary – actually, it’s a straight-up rule of BDSM – to have a safe-word for the submissive to use if they want to stop, and it’s also a rule that they won’t be punished for needing to stop (I’m not even involved in BDSM, but I know this because I did research, which was apparently too much work for the author of 50 Shades to do). Later on in the series, Anastasia has to use a safe-word and instead of caring for her, Christian gets furious. He screams in her face and storms out, leaving her to cope with the situation on her own.

Their whole relationship is textbook abuse. He stalks her, hurts her (and I’m not even talking about the physical hurt from the sex), then they go through a honeymoon phase where he’s apologetic and sweet, but then it all starts up at the beginning again. There is nothing romantic about these books, there is nothing romantic about their relationship, and it isn’t even a good example of the sexual demographic it is supposed to portray.

The movie itself isn’t much better. The actors playing Anastasia and Christian hated it, and they don’t seem all that fond of each other either, the author of the series and the director of the film hate each other, and overall it seems to have been a pretty unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Jamie Dornan, the actor playing Christian, said, “Mass appreciation of something doesn’t always equate to something good. Think of Hitler!” I mean, if you have one of the main cast members comparing a movie to Hitler that should probably be an indication of how horrible this movie is.

Here’s another quote from a cast member that should show you exactly how the people involved with the movie feel about its creation.

Dakota Johnson, the actor playing Anastasia, said of the sex scenes, “The parts of the movie that are difficult to watch were even more difficult – and emotionally taxing – to shoot.” Most actors agree that their sex scenes are awkward to shoot, not many have referred to them as emotionally taxing before.

For those of you who for some reason still want to watch the movie, I would suggest you don’t waste your money on something that repackages abuse into something romantic. And if you absolutely have to watch it, just wait a few weeks and illegally download it or something (just kidding I would neeeever suggest doing something illegal, obviously).