50 Shades of No Way

Unless you’ve been stranded somewhere devoid of internet and social contact for some time, you’re probably aware that this Saturday is Valentine’s Day. And you probably also know that it marks the release of a highly controversial “love story” – 50 Shades of Grey.

More like 50 Shades of No Way.
Admittedly, I’ve not read the books. But then, I’ve never had a desire to pick up something that I have been advised is, essentially, badly written erotica. When E L James’ paperback trilogy first hit bookshelves it was billed as “mummy porn”. Despite this, it was still possible to find it on store shelves not too far from kids’ magazines and young adult fiction. Before long it had become a worldwide phenomenon and then someone had the “brilliant” idea to turn it into a film. (As we seem to do with any wonderfully successful book appealing to women/young adults: cf Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Gone Girl).
I chose not to read the books and, unsurprisingly, I will be choosing not to see the film too. I’m not here to tell you why you shouldn’t see it but I am here to tell you that this is not the love story it is being billed to be. And I don’t understand why anyone would think it’s a great romantic Valentine’s Day treat.
It seems strange to me that, in a world currently fighting for gender equality, bridging the pay gap and getting outraged that women can still be labelled as “asking for a rape attack”, we’re signing up to watch a movie, which, just from my reading of reviews and watching one trailer, glamourises sexual abuse. Double standards much?

This is not ok.

Seriously.

Not. Ok.

It astounds me that things like the wonderful #HeforShe campaign is juxtaposed with the ludicrous advertising for 50 Shades of Grey. This movie is not about sexual or gender liberation, it’s about sexual exploitation. It’s not about love, it’s about power (and patriarchal power at that). And in a time where we are so obsessed with fighting for equality and giving people (women) a voice, how on earth did this piece of explicit exploitation creep past our checks and balances? If this Mr Grey character was an impoverished man, scraping together pennies here and there, I can’t help but feel there would be an entirely different story. Not just in the novel and film, but also in the media.

And yet, the media would have us believe that women everywhere are eagerly awaiting Saturday’s release. Amongst my peers, at least, opinion is (mildly) divided. However, most appear to lean on the side of “not interested”. Whether that’s because they don’t agree with it or just don’t think a movie could live up to a book (I’ve seen a few clips and it makes Twilight look like a brilliantly acted franchise) I couldn’t say. What I can tell you though is, personally, I’d rather watch grey paint drying than watch 50 Shades of Grey this weekend. Or, in fact, ever.

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