Friday, February 20, 2015

50 Shades of Fiction

He didn't ask her to sign a contract before he threw her down the hallway. He didn't receive permission to send her to work with a hand print across her face. She didn't tell him it was okay to call her those names or to make her feel worthless. She didn't use the safe word - she begged for her life. That's domestic violence.

(If you want to know what I think about 50 Shades, here goes. Otherwise, stop reading.)

This movie is about a girl who wants love, but settles for less because she wants Christian more. This movie is about a man with a past. A man who decides to spend his life as "the dominant" rather than a husband or a lover. He doesn't make love, he fucks. And that is his choice - a choice that he is 100% honest about. A choice that he reiterates time and time again to ensure Ana's understanding.

Ana reminds me a lot of myself. I can't count the times I've put myself in situations with men where I wanted more but settled for less. I'd fight through tear-filled nights and wake up as if everything was fine. But the reality is in being with someone who honestly tells you they can't love you, you are not a victim if you continue to see them knowing the truth. You have a right to feel heartbroken, but they also have a right not to feel remorse because they told you that's how it would be.

This man has every right in this world to make a choice to do whatever he wants with his life. And maybe he is a little screwed up and maybe he needs a little therapy, but that doesn't make him any less human than you or me. That doesn't make his desires inhumane or wrong. And it doesn't make Ana a victim of domestic violence if she stares him right in the face and says "punish me."

For those of you who want to look at this movie as a representation of domestic violence, you are actually making so light of such a devastating situation. For those of you who want to say that what Christian wants is "wrong," then your necessity to let societal pressures define what sex and relationships have to mean for everyone is just as wrong as the pressure of an unwarranted hand against the skin of someone's body.

Domestic violence isn't a movie. It isn't a book. It isn't some fictional story about some tortured male soul who can't seem to navigate love and therefore chooses a life of erotic, sexual pleasure. It isn't a story about a curious, virgin girl who looks a man in the face and asks to be shown his world. It is the realistic manifestation of a nightmare that women (and men) all over the world are forced to live through every day. So if you want to be angry at someone, be angry at the REAL people laying their hands on those who don't ask for it.

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