By: Devin Riggs, Regular Contributor
This past weekend the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey opened in theaters. It’s been a hot topic of conversation since the Twilight fanfiction inspired novel was published in 2011 (no it’s not a joke, it really did start out as fanfiction). Most of the conversation is focused on the intense adult themes portrayed by the two main characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.
They meet almost by accident and both immediately feel an attraction. Very early on in their interactions Christian confesses that his tastes are intense and as the trailer says, “very singular.” This refers to his sexual exploits in the world of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, and Masochism) and his “Red Room” which he introduces the naïve and innocent Anastasia to.
While it can be argued that this bestselling series and film franchise has opened women’s eyes and their sexualities to a whole new world of possibilities including the BDSM community, the material also reveals itself to be problematic with the removal of Anastasia’s agency and Christian’s over-controlling nature.
In her review of the film, Lisa Wilkinson said, “It’s domestic violence dressed up as erotica,” and there are many people who agree. A social media campaign is calling for a boycott in regards to Christian’s abusive and manipulative behavior, using the hashtag, #50DollarsNot50Shades.
The campaign asks that instead of spending your money on movie tickets and concession food (which could amount to as much as $50), donate that money to a domestic violence shelter to help survivors of abusive and dangerous relationships.
This campaign is not about indulging the guilty or not so guilty pleasure. It’s not about sexual freedom and exploration. It’s not about the misinterpretation of an already misunderstood sexual practice. This campaign is about ending the glorification of abuse and manipulation within a relationship. It’s about real women who are living a nightmare and feel they have no control or ownership of their lives and who need help now because they are unable to advocate for themselves. It’s about women who end up running for their lives, and sometimes losing.
Just because it’s fiction doesn’t make it okay.
The books have sold over one hundred million copies. The Thursday preview showings raked in over $8 million and the estimated Friday intake was roughly $30 million (the highest opening day ever). Despite spotty reviews, reports say sales could reach $76-90 million over the first four days. That’s just the first weekend. That’s just the first film in a trilogy.
Imagine the impact all this money could have on the millions of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Imagine the change that could be made by making a conscious and pointed choice in where you spend your money.
How can encouraging small, everyday changes like the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign encourages enact big change?
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.