One too many convoluted shades of Grey

by Marissa Ochoa, Staff Writer

That name has become iconic across America. Who would have predicted an erotic novel that started out as mere fanfiction would evolve into what is now one of the most talked about trilogies of the decade?

Let’s take a moment to delve into what exactly “50 Shades of Grey” is about. A successful businessman persuades a young woman to essentially sign away certain rights in regard to any sexual activities between them. As a result, a relationship blooms despite many internal and external obstacles.

Did I get it right “50 Shades” lovers? It sounds innocent and believe me when I first read the trilogy I was hooked. That is until I dissected what type of relationship the book revolves around. “50 Shades of Grey” isn’t about Bondage and Discipline/Sadism and Masochism, or BDSM turned long-term relationship. This is about a man who has suppressed his sexually and mentally abusive adolescence and takes it out on women who are too hypnotized by his good looks to run in the other direction.

First off, the relationship isn’t just chains and whips. It’s sexual abuse that Anastasia (the protagonist) is too insecure to see. She is a virgin, meaning she doesn’t know what is right and wrong in terms of sex. Yet, here comes Mr. Grey persuading her to sign not only her sex life, but also her daily life away for his own erotic enjoyment.

He searches for inexperienced women because they don’t know how warped his sex life really is. This isn’t a hardcore version of friends with benefits here. It is a man taking advantage of a woman with low self-esteem and no sexual identity, and using her until the last few pages.

The biggest problem I have is this whole charade on how a down-on-herself, no-self-esteem woman suddenly gets the confidence and sex appeal when she meets a man. What a way to shoot down the progression of women. So if I meet a man, I will suddenly gain respect for myself? Not only that, but they paint Mr. Grey to be a broken man who Anastasia wants to fix. I’m not saying issues aren’t prevalent in everyone, but it’s not a woman’s job to make sure a man works on himself. This book is teaching women of all ages to hate themselves until a man can make them feel beautiful and to fix his messed up life because he’s too immature to do it himself.

I got better relationship advice from the “Twilight” series.

The worst part about it is women have eaten this up and believe this is the type of hot relationship they need; a man that will dominate, abuse and wear fancy clothes. But hey, the good looks and wash board abs are way more important than a healthy relationship, right?

I’m not putting down the BDSM community here. If anything, I respect it for they know exactly how to treat each other. Mutual understanding and trust is huge for anyone involved in it. There is a code of conduct called safe, sane and consensual, which is followed religiously between both dominants and submissives.

“50 Shades of Grey” completely bulldozes over these points. There’s no mutual understanding or trust. Several points within the book even has Anastasia protesting to herself how she wants out of Mr. Grey’s seductive game but can’t leave due to her overwhelmingly childish lust over him.

An erotic drama, “9 ½ Weeks,” followed a similar path to the book and those who have seen the movie know what a train wreck that ended up being. Spoiler alert: the man sexually assaults, degrades, threatens and ultimately drives the woman away.

I wouldn’t have such a problem about the series if it had not been approved to appear in theatres. Books will only reach a certain number of people, but movies rake in viewers of all sorts. The “50 Shades of Grey” audience will more than likely double in size, leaving more women believing their future relationships need to include their own abusive version Mr. Grey.

How individuals run their relationships is up to them, but to glamorize a twisted relationship between a virgin and a dominant in mainstream media is a dangerous concept. Fancy words and darn good play on imagery wonderfully mask what this book is actually doing; illustrating violence and abuse against women of all kind.