Fifty Shades Freed: The Trailer

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We open on what appears to be a wedding dress, suspended from a chandelier.  Because that just screams “romance,” rather than “creepy psychological thriller, right, guys?!

We hear the impossibly dull sexy tones of Christian Grey, saying his wedding vows in a voice-over, as we watch he and Ana dressing for the wedding.  He promises to “trust and respect you” and I nearly give myself a hernia laughing, because GOOD LORD, this cretin hasn’t ever respected anyone in his life, least of all his hapless bride!  I mean, this is the dude who bruises his newly-wedded wife’s body on honeymoon, without consent.  “Respect” is a word I doubt he can even spell, let alone act upon.

He goes on to promise to keep her “safe.”  Yeah, if you really wanted her safe, sweet-cheeks, maybe you’d consider letting her get a hundred thousand miles away from you?  Just a thought.  After all, Christian Grey is the guy who returns home early from a business trip, because Ana has gone on a night out with a friend, without permission.  Never mind the fact that her being out of the apartment meant she wasn’t home when Jack Hyde broke in.  Grey is more concerned about Ana disobeying his precious “rules.”  Keep her safe?!  You’re fooling nobody, you arrogant control-freak.

He tells her: “All that I have is now yours.”  And she looks ecstatic.

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Try to contain that joy, Ana.

Of course, the biggest thing of Christian Grey’s that Ana will have, once the wedding is over, is his surname.  Which she doesn’t want, but which he sulks about and insists upon and eventually manipulates her into taking.  YAY, THERE’S THAT RESPECT HE PROMISED!

We discover that – shock, horror – this film is yet again scheduled for a Valentine’s Day release (because nothing says “true love” more than non-consent and psychological abuse!) and then we cut to Ana staring out of a car window at Grey’s private jet.  She gasps: “You OWN this?!”  To which Grey responds:

“WE own this.”

Such swoon.  Many romance.  Wow.  That totally makes up for all the abuse.  Damnit, I should have had my ex buy me a plane.

Anyway, Ana looks way more impressed by said private jet than she was by actually marrying Grey in the first place:

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Possibly because she could escape in it.

Then this happens and I think I might vomit:

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It’s okay.  I’m good.

After briefly perving over her new husband’s physique on a beach, Ana discovers a gun in his office and looks about as happy as I do when I discover that there’s no chocolate in the house:

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Let’s be very serious about this for a second: if you’ve just married someone and you don’t know they have a potentially lethal weapon casually stashed away, that could be a bit of an issue.  Particularly when the person you’ve married is someone who has threatened to “find you” wherever you run should you leave, and who has threatened, stalked and controlled you since day one of your relationship.

But then again, Ana knows very little about Grey at all.  He rushes her into a serious relationship (despite initially “warning” her not to get involved with him), hurries her into moving in and getting engaged and now they’re married and she knows almost nothing important about him, because he insists on being all vague and mysterious.  We’re supposed to find this sexy, but in reality, it’s just manipulative and controlling.  A healthy relationship is about having the trust to be mutually open with one another.  Grey quizzes Ana about herself and her life, but he’s evasive whenever she tries to do the same to him.

Ana, the ink’s probably not even dry on the marriage certificate.  Just run to that private jet, girl…

But, just in case the viewer asks questions about the validity of this relationship at this point, the trailer gives us some steamy, steamy sex scenes, to remind us that that is what this couple are really together for.  Yay.

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Is… Is he sniffing her under boob?!

The sexy, sexy boob-sniffing is interrupted by gunshots and Ana is kidnapped by Jack Hyde.  You know, the guy who doesn’t take no for an answer, treats women like property and blames his bad behaviour on his terrible childhood.  So, nothing like Grey…

And that, my friends, is a wrap.  Yep, it ends on a cliffhanger, presumedly so we can all get incredibly excited for the full trailer, which is released in November.

I can hardly wait…

 

 

 

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Fifty Shades Freed: The Trailer

Protestors will descend on the Fifty Shades Darker premiere

PRESS RELEASE – Tuesday 31 January 2017

Protestors will be descending upon the Fifty Shades Darker film premiere in London on 9th February 2017.  This is the second film based on the books by EL James and continues the story of Anastasia Steele’s relationship with billionaire Christian Grey.  The film is being released for Valentine’s Day, framing Fifty Shades Darker as a romantic story.  However, the aptly named film betrays that this franchise is much darker than kinky sex.  The plotline for Fifty Shades Darker provides Christian Grey’s backstory; a drug addicted “crackwhore” mother whose boyfriend tortured Christian Grey as a toddler and an adult woman who groomed teenage Christian Grey for sex.  This is revealed to be the motivation for Christian Grey’s desire to sexually dominate women.  He seeks out women who look like his mother in order to sexually punish them.

Practitioners of BDSM (bondage, domination, sado-masochism) and domestic abuse prevention experts have joined forces to raise their concerns about the messages the books and films portray through the Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse Campaign.

The campaign was founded in 2012 by domestic abuse prevention expert Natalie Collins, she says “Fifty Shades is more than just a fiction series, it is a social phenomenon.  Its success evidences society-wide ignorance about abusive behaviour, normalises abusers and perpetuates damaging stereotypes about BDSM sexualities.  As the recent Women’s Marches demonstrate, gender equality continues to be an unachievable goal, whilst powerful, abusive men gain greater power.  Fifty Shades Darker is further normalising abuse and we are seeking to peacefully protest its messages and educate people about abusive behaviour.”

The campaign is co-run by Emma Tofi, who read Fifty Shades whilst going through counselling following her own experiences of being subjected to abuse.  She says, “I had believed the hype about Fifty Shades being a love story and thought it might rekindle my broken faith in romance.  As I read the books, I was horrified to find myself reading about an abuser exactly like my ex-partner, and he was being repackaged as ‘sexy and romantic’.  Only by discovering the Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse campaign did I begin to realise that I was not alone in being triggered by the books.  This realisation strengthened my resolve to speak out against the dangerous abuse myths perpetuated by Fifty Shades and to begin educating others on the reality of abusers.”

The Fifty Shades is Domestic Abuse campaign will be using the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse in protesting at the premiere and on social media, encouraging protestors to do take photographs of themselves blindfolded, emphasising that the Fifty Shades series has, unfortunately, blurred the lines between abuse and romance, meaning many simply cannot see the abuse it contains.  Alongside this, the campaign is encouraging people to boycott the film and instead donate £5 to UK domestic abuse charity, Women’s Aid.  This can be done via their website or by texting FREE to 70500. 

The campaign will be holding a pre-protest meeting at O’Neills on Wardour Street, Soho, at 3:30pm, before heading to the Fifty Shades Darker premiere itself.  They welcome anyone who wishes to protest against the glorification of abuse, or the dangerously inaccurate portrayal of BDSM featured in the film.

/Ends

For more information contact:

Natalie Collins, Campaign Founder: befreeuk@gmail.com | 07928 031580.

Emma Tofi, Campaign Social Media Manager: mrsmanics@hotmail.com

Website: www.50shadesisdomesticabuse.webs.com.  Twitter: @50shadesabuse.

Protestors will descend on the Fifty Shades Darker premiere

Fifty Shades Darker: Launching Our Online Protest Campaign!

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On Thursday 9th February, Fifty Shades Darker, the second movie in the Fifty Shades franchise, will premiere in London.  Just as we did with the Fifty Shades of Grey premiere, we will be heading to London to protest the launch of a film that conflates abusive behaviour in all forms (emotional, psychological, sexual, physical and financial) with the notion of “romance.”

We would love as many of you as possible to join us in London.  The details are here:

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Our last protest was very successful, garnering a lot of media attention and enabling us to reach a wider audience, as we seek to shatter the many abuse myths perpetuated within EL James’ novels (and the subsequent films).  So, we are excited to be protesting again and we look forward to sharing the event with many of our wonderful supporters.  If you can make it to London, please do email Natalie to confirm your attendance.  Everyone is welcome; the more the merrier!

However, we also know that we are fortunate enough to have supporters all over the world, many thousands of whom can’t be there at the protest in person, but would like to be involved.  So, Natalie and I have put our heads together and come up with a plan…

DON’T BE BLIND TO ABUSE!

Our campaign motto for the Fifty Shades Darker premiere protest is “Don’t Be Blind To Abuse.”  We chose this phrase, because so many people now see the relationship depicted in the Fifty Shades franchise as loving and romantic, that the line between love and abuse has been blurred.  An enormous number of fans are either genuinely unable to see Christian’s abusive behaviour for what it is, or are completely unwilling to accept it as such, despite having heard evidence from domestic abuse experts, members of the BDSM community and abuse survivors alike.  So, in the days leading up to the premiere, we will be using the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse on our Twitter page and we encourage all of you to do the same, across all social media.

Then, on the day of the premiere itself (Thursday 9th February), we’re asking you all to take the hashtag a step further…

We want to see social media flooded with photos of people with their eyes covered, posted using the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse.  You can be wearing an eye mask, a tie over your eyes, black tape, cover your eyes with your hands, or even just have your eyes closed.  Once you’ve taken your photo, upload it to social media (with a brief comment of why you felt the need to get involved, if you’d like), then add the hashtag #dontbeblindtoabuse and post it for the world to see!  Our goal is to swamp social media with these pictures, to counter any news of the premiere that will be taking place.

The image of people “blinding” themselves to the abuse in Fifty Shades has, we think, the potential to be exceptionally powerful.  The more of you that get involved, the wider the protest can reach.  We don’t want our protest of the Fifty Shades Darker premiere to haoppen only in London; by getting everyone involved like this, we can make it worldwide.

The beauty of the #dontbeblindtoabuse idea is that it makes it easier for people to post their photos without appearing too recognisable in them.  This is also a fantastically simple way to get involved with protesting the latest Fifty Shades film release, from the comfort of your own home!

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So, on February 9th, grab your camera, get on Twitter (or Facebook, or Tumblr or any other social media site!) and join in!  Let’s see if we can get the hashtag trending…

We are also asking our supporters to text the word FREE to 70500, to donate £5 to Women’s Aid UK, rather than paying to see the film.  We ask our international followers to choose a domestic abuse charity closer to home, if they are able to make a donation.  After all, it is these charities who help the real-life Anastasias of the world.

There is still plenty of time to get in touch with Natalie, if you are able to make it to the London premiere protest itself.  If not, grab that camera and get involved right from the comfort of your own home!

As always, thanks so much for your continued support.  We will always keep speaking out against romanticised abuse, but knowing we have so many amazing people standing beside us – literally and metaphorically – makes it so much easier.  We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Emma & Natalie

#dontbeblindtoabuse

 

Fifty Shades Darker: Launching Our Online Protest Campaign!

Trump vs. Grey

He’s an enormously successful businessman.  He exercises control in everything he does; this isn’t a man who likes being told what to do.  He’s exacting when it comes to women.  If he sees a woman he wants, he expects to get her.  He’s not used to the word “no,” after all.  Nor is he a big believer in personal boundaries; if you want space from him, you can’t guarantee you’ll get it.  This is a man whose behaviour can seem erratic, but he has an excuse for everything.

But who is this man?  Because, from just this description, it could be either of the two men pictured above.  Yet, one of those men is rightly dismissed by most of us.  We call him a sexist, misogynist control freak with a warped sense of morality, because that is exactly what he is.  The other?  Millions of women swoon over.

In recent weeks, Donald Trump’s behaviour has crossed the line so many times that, to quote Friends, he can’t even see the line, anymore.  His now infamous rant about grabbing women by their genitals – which he dismissed as merely “locker room talk” – finally caused the scales to fall from many people’s eyes; this man is not a decent person.  He is not fit to be President of the United States.

But those sexist comments were, of course, defended by many of Trump’s supporters.  One in question, fomer Republican Congressman Joe Walsh slammed women who were disgusted by Trumps comments, by asking: “if women are so outraged by Trump’s dirty talk, then who the hell bought the 80million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey?”  He added the petty retort: “Grow up.”

As I’ve already mentioned, if you take the description at the start of this post, it’s fair to say that you could use it for either men: Trump or Grey.  That is an enormous problem and instead of grossly trying to compare the enjoyment of “erotic” literature to boasting about sexual assault, we should be addressing it.

Because, it’s important to state here and now that no matter how much we are opposed to Fifty Shades of Grey in every way possible, we will never accept the suggestion that those who read and enjoyed the books are somehow no longer allowed to express disgust at a hugely powerful man bragging about his ability to intimately touch women without consent, in real life.

It’s also important to note that Fifty Shades cannot be said to have “caused” a climate in which men can say disgusting things about assaulting women, yet we’re supposed to like it.  Trump made his deplorable comments in 2005.  Fifty Shades burst onto the scene in 2011.  Fifty Shades did not create this climate.  It’s merely a symptom of it.

We live in a world in which men like Trump can get away with groping women and behaving like a bully.  He gets away with it because he has money and power.  He has spent decades with the media in his hands, because of his wealth, fame and success.  Whilst not all abusers are famous, rich or powerful, in Trump’s case, it has certainly helped, as it has for thousands of others like him over the years.  Just look at the way Jimmy Savile was able to encourage people to turn a blind eye to his abuse of young people for decades, until it all finally came out after his death.  Money talks.  Power talks.  Men like Trump know it.  He even admitted as much in the recently revealed tapes, saying that he was able to get away with grabbing women by their genitals because he was “a star.”  Savile similarly used his wealth and fame to ensure that nobody spoke out.  He also manipulated people by reminding them of the charity work he did.

Our current culture is one in which women are routinely harrassed online if they speak out against sexism.  Where we are branded liars or sluts if we make accusations of sexual assault.  We live in a culture in which a former Congressman can casually describe an admission of sexual assault as merely “dirty talk.”

The media plays a large part in this, as do our attitudes.  Despite it being 2016, we still occasionally come across adverts focusing on women’s need to protect themselves from rape, rather than targeting potential rapists and making it clear that they should not make the choice to attack a woman, regardless of where she is, how much she’s had to drink, or what she happens to be wearing.  The fact is that no book has come along to “create” rape culture.  We created it ourselves and our media perpetuates it.  We should be challenging it, screaming at it and forcing change, because we as a society deserve better.

We deserve better than to live in a world in which anyone can hear Donald Trump casually boast about sexual assault and not be outraged.

But Trump was not some hot, brooding sex God, when he made these comments.  He didn’t have some tragic backstory to make it all somehow forgiveable.  When we look at Donald Trump, we don’t think “Phwoar!”  We don’t swoon over wanting to “fix” him.

Yet, throw in a chisled jaw-line, feed us a few lines about a sad childhood meaning he “doesn’t know any better,” and suddenly, you have Christian Grey.  The same control-freak businessman.  The same “if I want it, I’ll have it” attitude.  The same lack of respect for boundaries.  The same empty words about respecting women, about the importance of consent…  The same lack of any evidence that those bleeding-heart declarations are even remotely true.

EL James may have created Christian Grey, but our culture made him possible.  Our media, our societal attitudes and the general ignorance that surrounds abuse is what allows Christian Grey to exist as the supposed “romantic hero” he is all-too-often perceived as.  Because, somehow, we are supposed to forgive the unforgiveable if a person is attractive enough, sorry enough or talented enough.  We’re meant to accept that men in positions of power can and will do and get whatever they want.  We’re supposed to conform to type and expect the female lead in an “erotic” novel to be a drippy virgin with no self-esteem and no sexual urges whatsoever, until she meets a man who awakens both in her.

The rape culture that already existed, the lack of education on abuse and the society that views powerful men as being beyond criticism are responsible for what’s happening with Donald Trump right now.  It’s not the fault of a book.  It’s not the fault of readers who are spoon-fed rubbish about abusive men being excusable if their childhood is tragic enough and their sexual prowess impressive enough.  And we are all allowed to be outraged by it.  We all should be.

But if we’re outraged by this happening in reality – the incredibly rich, enormously powerful businessman, treating women like objects to be used any way he sees fit, excusing his behaviour and never taking responsibility for it – then we need to realise that it’s not acceptable to be presented with fiction that expects us to swoon over the exact same thing, just because the packaging is more pleasing to the eye.

We need to tackle our climate of ignorance and victim-blaming.  We need to stop fawning over dangerously powerful individuals.  We’re making a start now, with so many voices raised against Trump’s disgusting remarks.  But we need to go further.  We need to remember that no matter how powerful a person is, no matter how wealthy they are, they have no right to abuse.  They have no excuse.

EL James herself hit back against Joe Walsh’s comments, by highlighting that her book is fictional (and, laughably, by pointing out that she never uses the word “pussy” in them).  But if she – and her army of fans – really want to make a difference to the culture that allows men like Trump to do and say such revolting things, then she needs to start by analysing her own “hero.”  She needs to recognise that her own work, whilst not being responsible for Trump’s “dirty talk” or the culture that allows him to get away with it, is a symptom of the need for change.

Just imagine those 80million voices all raised against abuse.  Imagine how powerful that could be.

Let’s aim to live in a world in which men like Trump are rightly called out as what they are.  And let’s stop accepting fiction in which authors are giving those men a younger, prettier face, a tortured past and the title of “hero.”

I never did tell you which of those men – Trump or Grey – I was describing at the start of this post.  I’ll let you decide for yourselves.

Trump vs. Grey

7 Reasons NOT To Love Christian Grey

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So, this appeared in our Twitter timeline, recently (thanks to one of our lovely supporters who alerted us to it!) and us being us, we couldn’t just let it go.  In fact, this is one of those posts that’s begging to be unpicked, item by item, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do.  Let’s analyse those seven reasons to love Christian Grey and see how, when you untangle each one, they’re reasons to stay the heck away…

1. Likes his women to eat.

Yeah, he really does.  So much so that he’s not actually bothered about whether or not they really want to and is willing to threaten non-consensual physical punishment for them if they don’t.  From Fifty Shades Darker:

 “So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I’ll take you over my knee right here in this restaurant and it’ll have nothing to do with my sexual gratification.”

SWOON.  Except actually, bleurgh.  A guy who appreciates a woman’s healthy appetite might be seen as hugely attractive by many (he would be by me, but then I’m greedy…), but we’re not talking about that, here.  Food is just one of the many ways that Christian uses to control Ana throughout the story.  Long before she’s ever agreed to so much as try to be his submissive, he’s ordering her food for her in restaurants and getting annoyed by the idea that she might like a choice in the matter.  Indeed, in Grey, when we see his internal thought processes, he even admits that he’s “never thought” to ask a woman what she’d like to eat.  He just goes ahead and makes the choice for her, regardless.  In a consensual D/s relationship, that might be something that has been agreed upon, but in the case of Christian and Ana, it’s simply him allowing her no control, as per usual.  

2. Begs to take her shopping.

I hate to dwell on a theme here, but again, Christian’s desire to buy things for Ana is all about control.  He buys her a car, despite her insisting that she loves her old one and doesn’t want a new vehicle – selling it without her permission barely sounds legal (if Ana’s the legal owner, how did Christian sell it from under her?!  Maybe this is a US thing, but in the UK it surely wouldn’t fly and EL James knows that) and besides, it’s an act of control.  The computer he buys her?  Is to ensure she keeps in more constant contact.  The phone?  Ditto (and he tracks it to keep tabs on her).  Wanting to buy her clothes?  Is his way of ensuring that she looks the way he sees fit, regardless of the fact that Ana states several times throughout the trilogy that she’s happy with her own, informal style.  

Being showered with gifts might be nice, but if they’re gifts bought with the intention of further controlling you and keeping you in debt to your partner (even if only the debt of gratitude), then they’re not worth having.

3.  Loves his mother.

Serious question: WHERE DO YOU GET THIS RUBBISH??!!

Aaaaand breathe.  Okay, where to even start with this one…?!

Throughout the entire Fifty Shades trilogy (and in Grey), Christian refers to his mother as “the Crack Whore.”  Is that an indication of love?!  This is a woman who, despite being a drug addict and seemingly a prostitute, did what she could for her son; trying to protect him from her pimp’s beatings, buying him a toy car that he loved and baking him a birthday cake, despite being incredibly poor.  When she died, Christian lay on the floor beside her.  Young Christian seems to have loved his mother.  Adult Christian lays all the blame for his “f*cked up” personality at her door, referring to her using sexist, derogatory language and admitting that he likes to “beat little brown-haired girls” because they remind him of her.  Where – seriously, where – do you get “loves his mother” out of that????!!!!

And if you’re talking about his adopted mother, we see little more than mild irritation on Christian’s behalf, where she’s concerned.  He believes she prefers Elliot and Mia, he thinks she’s sticking her nose in when she shows concern for him and he utterly disrespects her by trying to masturbate Ana beneath the dinner table where his poor mother is trying to hold a family meal.

Loves his mother?  Don’t make me laugh.

4. Spoons in his sleep.

I mean, sure, he does this.  When he’s not ordering Ana not to touch him, that is.  And actually, his “spooning” sounds a lot more like “clinging.”  Ana even refers to him as being entwined around her like ivy at one point.  Considering how little space he gives her in the rest of her life, it could be argued that his obsessive clinging to her in his sleep is less romantic and more creepy.

5. Never plays video games.

WHY IS THIS A GOOD THING?????!!!!

I’m a nerd.  I like nerdy guys.  There is nothing – nothing – wrong with a guy who enjoys the odd video game, as long as he’s not playing it for 19 hours a day at the expense of any kind of life beyond his console.  And frankly, Christian is dull.  If ever a guy needed a hobby, it’s Christian “everything in my life is a business deal” Grey.  Seriously, the dude needs to sit down and play a game or two just to chill the heck out.  Maybe if he was spending an hour or two a day on Grand Theft Auto, he’d have less time on his hands to abuse actual, real-life humans.  Just a thought.

6. Great dancer.

Forgive me, it’s been a while since I burned my copy of Fifty Shades (on the advice of my abuse support worker, before anyone piles on me for book-burning; it was advised as a way of dealing with how terribly triggered I was by it – cheers, EL James), but I only recall a few scenes of his dance moves.  He slow-dances with Ana at his apartment – big whoop, anyone can slow-dance – and I think Ana references being twirled around the dance floor at that masked ball thing they attend in book two.  But, to be fair, we’re judging this entirely on Ana’s opinion and she thinks he’s wonderful at everything.  So…  Forgive me if I don’t take her viewpoint at face value.  Besides which, since when did being a great dancer make up for being a stalking, controlling, manipulative, coercive, threatening asshole?  Oh, that’s right, it doesn’t.

7. Always makes sure she finishes first!

I think you’ll find he orders her to finish first.  “Come for me, baby,” is a direction, given because Christian Grey has all the staying power of the first little pig’s house of straw.  One blow and it falls down, if you know what I’m saying…

Seriously, look at the sex scenes (if you can bear the dreadful writing and the constant repetition) and you’ll soon see that Christian is a guy who doesn’t actually last very long.  When he tells her to orgasm (because Ana is a perfect woman who can do that on cue, apparently), it’s because he is about to do the same.  

And actually, whilst you’re looking at those sex scenes, notice how infrequently he asks Ana what she wants in bed.  Notice how often he tells her how it’s going to go down (pun intended, sorry, I can’t help myself).  Now yes, you could argue that this is part of their D/s relationship, but let’s not forget that Christian believes their relationship to be “vanilla” and therefore things should be much more equal.  This is a dude whose principle concern is what he wants in the bedroom – his whole campaign to win Ana over is literally based on getting what he wants in a sexual sense, so let’s not make him out to be some incredible lover.  

So, there we have it.  Seven reasons women love Christian Grey, incredibly easily picked apart and revealed as seven reasons why he’s an utter douche nozzle.  Sorry, fans.  You’re going to have to do better than that to justify this abusive “hero” in our eyes.

7 Reasons NOT To Love Christian Grey

Introducing an exciting new project: ART AGAINST ABUSE.

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You may have heard recently that there are charity shops being inundated with copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and its sequels.  Indeed, one Oxfam store in Swansea, Wales, even built a fort out of their unwanted copies.

Whilst the thought that a series that romanticises stalking, threats and emotional abuse is cluttering up charity shop shelves, unsold and unwanted, is obviously enough to put a smirk on our faces, Natalie and I began to realise that simply recycling the books is something of a missed opportunity.  Why not use them?

Art – in all its glorious forms – is a wonderful way of spreading a powerful message.  Paintings, sculptures, sonnets and musical compositions have a way of getting under our skin and forcing us to confront issues.  So, why not use all of those unwanted copies of Fifty Shades… to create works of art?

This is where you come in!

We’ve hit upon the idea of creating a movement that rises out of all of those unwanted books, piled up on charity shop shelves.  We want to encourage as many of you as possible to go to your local charity shop, buy a copy of one of the Fifty Shades… books and turn it into a piece of art that stands against abuse.  Then, we’d like you to take a high quality photo of your artwork (or video, if you choose to record a song or make a film!) and send it to us, along with a short description (max. 200 words) of what you’ve created and why you felt you wanted to get involved.  You can either tweet photos/video directly to us on Twitter at @50shadesabuse, via our Facebook page, or even send them to us via email (50shadesabuse@gmail.com).  If you send your artwork to us on Twitter, please don’t forget the all-important hashtag, #ArtAgainstAbuse!  We’ll be sharing all of your creations with the same hashtag, in the hope of sending our message viral and we’ll be creating a public Facebook photo album of everything we receive, too.

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Please remember that to get involved, you don’t have to be a fabulous painter, or an expert in sculpture (although if you are, please do join in!).  Your art can be anything you like.  Some ideas include:

  • Using the pages to create a paper mache sculpture
  • Creating a collage from the pages
  • Making up a poem using the actual text from the books
  • Writing a song using the text as the lyrics
  • Painting a picture, using the book pages in the painting
  • Book-folding
  • Drawing sketches over the pages
  • Building a sculpture from the books themselves
  • Acting out scenes, focusing on the abuse.
  • Origami using the pages

 

If you need added inspiration, there is a gallery of images of books that have been turned into various different works of art here – although we don’t want to put pressure on anyone to be creating something massive (unless you want to!).

Our current intention with Art Against Abuse is to simply get the hashtag trending and spread the movement as far and wide as possible, so please, if you know anyone who paints, sculpts, draws, designs, writes or makes music, send them this blog and encourage them to get involved if they can!  We really want to turn all of these unwanted copies of Fifty Shades… into creations that speak out against the very thing that the books romanticise – abuse.

With time, we’d love to look into displaying a collection of the artwork that’s created during the Art Against Abuse project (ideally to coincide with the release of the next film), or even to produce a book of photos of all the artwork,  plus quotes from contributors as to why they wanted to get involved.  But first and foremost – let’s get this idea off the ground!

Please, please have a think about joining in with Art Against Abuse.  Pick up a pencil, a paintbrush or a pair of scissors and just see what happens!  Or, if you’re musically creative, pick up an instrument and have a think about how the books’ text could form lyrics and make us a video of the song you write as a result!  Recycle these books into something beautiful that sends a powerful message: we will not tolerate seeing abuse romanticised in fiction.

The project starts TODAY, so there’s no better time to get yourselves down to your local charity shop and start creating your masterpiece!  Send whatever you create to us with the hashtag #ArtAgainstAbuse and we’ll share it.  And PLEASE remember – we’re looking for ALL kinds of art.  If all you can offer is a simple doodle on a page, that’s fine.  We just want as many people as possible to join in!

Oh, and yes, we’ll be making our own works of art, too. 😉

Thanks as always for your amazing support and here’s to seeing what we all create!

Emma & Natalie

#ArtAgainstAbuse

Introducing an exciting new project: ART AGAINST ABUSE.

Rebutting The Rebuttal – Why Even Fans’ Defences Prove That Fifty Shades IS Abuse

Black and white

AMMENDMENT: Having been contacted on Twitter by the author of the original argument against there being abuse in Fifty Shades, we would like to offer an apology for suggesting that the author was discussing abuse in the books, when in fact, she was apparently discussing whether there was abuse in the films.  We were not initially aware of this and for clarification, would like to make readers aware that we are addressing the issues in the book.  However, we also fail to see how stalking, threats, coercion, manipulation and unwanted control are different depending on which medium they are presented in.  We hope that this clarification clears up any misunderstanding and would again like to apologise to the original author for any offence caused in mis-wording this post.  As always, we would also like to thank our followers on Twitter and Facebook for their continued encouragement and support.  Our original rebuttal continues below.

Recently, a fan page called Laters Baby came up with a post in which they claimed to tackle several arguments for abuse in Fifty Shades.  The link to the post is here, although we warn you that the writer claims in the opening to the piece that those who see abuse may be “making things up” and for very obvious reasons, we suggest you avoid reading the comments.

The trouble with this rebuttal of the arguments for abuse in the text (and we should stress that the original image that led to this piece being written was not created by us), is that it falls back on very common defences for abusive behaviour and is written by someone who has already convinced themselves that Christian Grey is not an abuser.  Whilst you could argue that we are writing this response from the viewpoint of someone convinced that he is, it should be remembered that the Fifty Shades Is Abuse campaign was set up by people who did not go looking for abuse in the series, but instead, were shocked to read the books and find it there in black and white.  So we’re not writing this on the defensive, in the manner that the original piece was.  We’re simply writing facts.

From this point, all text in italics, unless otherwise specified, are quotes from the original piece, arguing against there being abuse in the trilogy.  Here is the original image that led to the piece being written:

 

The first sign on the list is:

  • Monitors what you do all the time.

The piece refuting abuse in Fifty Shades has this to say:

“First, I’m not sure that 4 times over several weeks qualifies as “all the time.”

Okay.  Let’s remember that Fifty Shades is a story that takes place in a very short space of time.  There are barely more than six weeks from the start of the story to the end of the first book.  So actually, four times in around a month?  Is creepy at best, abusive at worst.  Imagine you’d met a new guy.  You’ve only known him for a month, but he has already stalked you hundreds of miles away, turned up at your house uninvited, appeared at your workplace out of the blue and tracked your phone in order to show up whilst you’re on a night out with friends.  That’s not romantic behaviour, nor is it behaviour to be dismissed, simply because it’s not “all the time.”  It’s worth noting that abused people often console themselves with the thought that their abuser is not abusive “all the time.”  If abusers never showed another side to themselves, their partners would be less inclined to stay, after all.  So this argument of “but it doesn’t happen very often,” which the writer uses as a defence in this piece, is actually evidence of the lack of knowledge many people have about abuse.  It doesn’t have to be happening “all the time” for it to be abuse.  And one instance is too many.  The original image goes on to mention Christian tracking Ana to a bar as the first instance of abuse (stalking).  Here’s what the fan defence is:

“Yes, he does track her to the bar when he becomes concerned about her safety because she is extremely drunk.  While they were more like acquaintances at this point, I hope my friends would do the same for me if they thought I was in danger.  As for removing her, she was fine with leaving with him once Kate knew.  And she was passed out, was he supposed to leave her on the floor?”

He tracks her to the bar because he’s angry that she’s drunk, not because he’s deeply concerned for her safety.  His wording the next day (“if you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week after the stunt you pulled last night”) clarifies this.  “I do it to protect you” is a really common excuse used by abusers and to see it being accepted and used by fans in this way is incredibly frightening, not to mention further evidence that education on what constitutes abuse is massively required.

Christian is also told “no” by Ana and turns up anyway.  Ana expressly tells him that she DOES NOT WANT HIM TO COME to “rescue” her, but he ignores her, tracks her phone and and turns up anyway.  That’s abusive.

And no, he shouldn’t have left Ana on the floor.  But as the fan actually admits, Ana was passed out.  She could not give consent to going back to Christian’s at that point and she certainly could not give consent to being undressed and put to bed with him.  He should have taken her home, especially seeing as he’d already found out where she lived.

The next point raised is that Christian Stalks Ana to Georgia.  Here’s the fan defence:

“He went to Georgia after Ana said she missed him and wished he was there.”

She also told him she needed space from him in order to clear her head.  She didn’t – at any point – say “please come to Georgia” outright.  She simply tells him in an email that she misses him.  If Christian had emailed back and said “do you want me to come to see you?”  There would be no problem.  But instead, he finds out personal information (her mother’s address, the hotel they’re at etc), turns up out of the blue and watches her in a bar before creepily texting her to ask how much alcohol she intends to drink.  That’s not romantic.  It’s called stalking.  And again, these defences are weak at best.

The next point under this first heading is that he tracks Ana at her workplace.  The fan defence says:

“Tracks is a strong word.  He was curious about her and went to where she worked to create an opening to see her again.  This is like walking by a cute boy or girl’s house, desk, locker etc and hoping you can generate a conversation.  He could have easily found out where she works from Kate’s father, whom he has done business with.  Where she worked wasn’t hard information to come by.”

“Tracks” is not a “strong” word.  It’s an accurate word.  Ana does not work anywhere near to where Grey lives or works and so it is literally nothing like walking past a cute person’s house (although this does make me wonder if the writer of this piece is a teenager, because that kind of behaviour should no longer be defensible by the time you’re out of your teens…).  Christian discovers Ana’s workplace by ordering a background check on her, within minutes of meeting her.  In Grey, when we see this scene from Christian’s perspective, the writing makes it absolutely clear that he has travelled out of his way to stalk Ana.  He even uses the word “stalking” and wonders what his therapist would make of it.  He goes in there intending to intimidate her and immediately starts putting pressure on her and warning off men like Paul and Jose.  This is not some cute, uncertain man timidly turning up on the off-chance of seeing a girl he likes.  It’s a very calculated move and the novel from his own POV proves this.

The final point under the first heading in the image is that Christian uses the phrase: “I’m incapable of leaving you alone.”  The fan argues:

“He’s explaining his need to explore a relationship with her, not an actual attempt to track her every move.”

Which doesn’t explain why he does go on to attempt to track her every move, really, does it?  The word “incapable” also conveniently absolves him of any blame for his own behaviour. It’s another way of saying “I can’t help it.”  Another common tactic used by abusers.

Moving on to the next heading in the original image:

  • Prevents/discourages you from seeing friends/family: Tells Ana not to see Jose or Paul.

The fan has this to say:

“He never says anything about Paul.  It’s Ana who doesn’t want to see Paul.  As for Jose, he did discourage her from seeing Jose.  Jose is the man that Christian witnessed trying to kiss Ana when Ana was very drunk and telling him no.  I was in a similar situation once and I would have been mad if my friends thought it wasn’t a big deal and the person was ok to hang out with.  And a boyfriend or romantic interest and the only thing they know about the guy is that he tried to force you to kiss them and then left you with an acquaintance when you were throwing up?  Frankly I’m shocked that anyone discussing abuse in Fifty Shades of Grey would use this as an example as it’s counter to their own arguments.”

Except it isn’t.  Because whilst we agree that Jose’s actions were revolting and that Ana has every right to not want to see him again, she actually decides that she does want to remain friends.  She describes at length the “warm feeling” his voice gives her when they speak on the phone.  We might not agree with her choice, but it is hers to make.  And let’s not paint Christian as some romantic saviour, here.  He “rescues” Ana from Jose and then his own behaviour is just as bad; taking her to his hotel and undressing her when she was unconscious and could not consent.  He is no better than Jose – they are both abusive.  His later treatment of Jose is less about his protective feelings towards Ana and much more about his obsession with her belonging to him alone.  If Ana makes the choice to see Jose, that is hers to make and Christian plays on the “you are mine” line much more than the “he tried to kiss you” line.  Christian is not the “good guy” in all of this.  He’s just another bad one.

On to the next point…

  • Controls your use of needed medications: Oral contraceptives are part of the contract.

The defence says:

“I’m not sure this qualifies as “needed” medication.  But, birth control is the responsibility of both parties. This was listed in the contract and was negotiable like the rest of the contract.  Ana negotiated several parts of the contract, but never brought this one up.  Furthermore, if Christian was trying to control Ana, it’s more likely he would have wanted her pregnant, so he could have a tie to her.”

It’s hard to read that with a straight face, isn’t it?  Christian wanting Ana pregnant?  Has this person read book three, when he becomes violently angry about her having a baby?!

Anyway, no Ana does not negotiate birth control.  She’s a virgin and incredibly naive.  She is also not given a choice.  Christian arranges her gynecological appointment without asking her about it first.  The writer is correct that birth control is the responsibility of both parties, which is why in a healthy relationship, it is DISCUSSED.  That simply doesn’t happen here; it’s Christian’s choice and Ana has to go along with it.  When he changes her method of contraception to the injection, again, Ana isn’t consulted.  Christian simply decides what’s best for her.  Contraception might have been in their contract – which she NEVER SIGNS – but when putting any kind of medication into another person’s body, that person, unless they’re in a coma or otherwise medically unable to, should have a say in what form that medication takes.  Christian denies Ana this.  He tells her that he knows her body and it belongs to him and she – ludicrously – tells him that he knows it better than she does.  An example of a massively manipulated woman if ever there was one.  Nobody knows your own body better than you and EL James should be ashamed for writing such crap about women.

  • Decides things for you that you should be able to decide.

There are five instances of this, according to the image used, so we’ll take them one by one.

1. Limits alcohol intake. 

The fan says:

“This is in the contract and only says she can’t drink to excess. This is in line with the recommendations of the government and is in general good advice.”

That would be the contract that she NEVER SIGNSwould it?!  Ana never signs and therefore we cannot assume her agreement to every clause.  And good advice or not, her alcohol intake is hers to decide, seeing as she has not agreed to Christian controlling every aspect of her life.  In fact, she actively asks him not to control every aspect of her life and he still tries to.  There’s a word for that and, funnily enough, that word is “abuse.”

2. Sets lists of prescribed foods.

The fan says:

“This was mentioned in the contract, but never enforced.  The discussion of this was cut from the book to the movie.”

Christian may not enforce a list of foods on Ana, but he does force her to eat when she isn’t hungry.  Book two: “if you don’t eat, I’ll take you over my knee right here in this restaurant and it’ll have nothing to do with my sexual gratification.”  i.e. I want you to eat and I will hit you in a non-sexual, non-consensual capacity if you don’t.  Nobody can argue that that line is not abusive, because it 100% is.

3. Sells car without consent.

The fan actually agrees with us on this one, so we’ll move on…

4. Withholds money.

The fan defence:

“This never happened.  If anything, he offers her stuff to decrease her financial burden.  When she asks for money for the car, he says he’ll send her a check.”

This isn’t an area we’ve focused on, however we will highlight that Grey uses his money to financially abuse Ana, by introducing her to a world she could never afford on her own and using his wealth to flatter and intimidate her.  His expensive gifts – the Blackberry and laptop etc – are usually tools with which to keep an eye on her and to ensure she is constantly in touch, therefore not free to live her life without him at any time.  If anything, the reverse of this accusation is actually true.

4. Forcefully removes Ana from a nightclub:

The fan argues:

“When he got there, she was so drunk, she was throwing up.  I’ve been that drunk.  when you’re that drunk, you’re not really able to make good decisions.  Then she passed out.  You can’t make decisions when you’re passed out. Christian made a good call on that to take her home.  Kate already knew that he was taking her home.”

Except he DID NOT TAKE HER TO HER OWN HOME.  This argument is so flawed I can’t even…  The fan hits the nail on the head; Ana wasn’t able to make a decision.  Therefore, she wasn’t able to consent to being taken to a strange place, by a man she barely knew, who then stripped her and slept with her.  She had to ask him if they’d had sex the next day!  A non-abusive man would have told Kate: “She needs to go home; does she have her keys on her, so I can take her back to your place, or can you take her there?”  He would not have taken her miles away without consent.  All of this also conveniently ignores that she told him NOT to turn up at the nightclub in the first place!

The next point is…

  • Humiliates you in front of others.

The first instance of this listed is:

1. Removes Ana from a nightclub

And the fan insists:

“When she’s so drunk she passed out, and after telling her friend.  He didn’t drag her or force her to leave with him so I don’t know that this qualifies as humiliation.”

Well, she was passed out, so she didn’t exactly consent to leaving and going to his place.  This isn’t so much humiliation as is his behaviour after the event, when he constantly berates her for being drunk on a night out.  That is humiliation.  He’s putting her down and criticising her in order to make her feel bad about herself and to create a dependency on him.

2. Follows Ana to Georgia.

The fan argues:

“She said she missed him and wished he was there. How is this humiliating her? The only person who knew was his mother, who seemed impressed that he came.”

Again, she never actually asked him to come.  She asked him for space to clear her head.  And his creepy text message (“how many of those are you going to drink?”) was intended to humiliate her, as she became aware that he was watching her, when she thought she was free to do as she pleased.  She then felt compelled to alter her natural behaviour as a result of his presence.

On to the next point:

  • Hurts you.

This is where we get into BDSM territory, so let’s see how the fans “defend” (consensual BDSM does not require a defence) a lifestyle their beloved author has completely thrown to the wolves, shall we?!

“I’ll address three of these as one (the crop, the spanking and flogger) – they were all done consensually and are regular parts of sexual and BDSM relationships.  Furthermore, she enjoyed the flogger and the crop.  The only scene that is actually worth listing is the scene with the 6 lashes of the belt.  Ana made a bad choice in asking for the belt  and did not communicate her feelings to Christian. However, she specifically asked for that, Christian did not force or even initiate that.”

Beautiful job of victim blaming, there…

Ana was entirely naive as to how painful being hit with a belt would be.  She asked for Christian to show him “the worst” there was.  At this point, Christian should have been a responsible Dom and spoken to her about this in more detail.  He should have reminded her of her safeword, told her that he would stop at any time if she needed him to and asked whether she was absolutely certain she wanted him to do anything.  Once the scene began, Ana was quickly in tears.  Christian should have been aware of what she was experiencing and, seeing as she was entirely new to actual physical pain being inflicted on her at such a level, he should have checked to see if she was coping even without her having to use her safe word.  Some members of the BDSM community have placed some blame on Ana for asking to be given the worst, but many more blame Christian for following through on it, when Ana had no idea of the pain she might experience, whereas he did.  This all points to EL James lack of actual research into BDSM.

Next point…

  • Threatens/uses weapons against you. 5 lashes with a crop. 6 lashes with a belt. 3 lashes with a flogger.

The fan responds:

“Again all three were used in a consensual manner and insinuating that there (sic) use was abuse is calling anyone who participates in the use of these an abuser.”

Wrong.  Our campaign is supported by many members of the BDSM community.  Whilst we don’t believe that consensual use of crops, floggers, belts or anything else constitutes abuse, we also don’t believe that Christian Grey is a responsible Dominant, who practises safe, sane, consensual BDSM.  We aren’t calling anyone who practises BDSM consensually an abuser and it’s a massive insult to suggest otherwise.  Ana agrees to much of the BDSM element of her relationship with Christian as a result of manipulation or coercion through alcohol.  Neither makes the outcome truly consensual – consent should be informed.  Ana is not truly informed as to what BDSM will entail.  She also negotiates her limits whilst under the influence of alcohol, which Christian openly admits to giving her deliberately, saying it makes her “honest.”  As the fan herself actually acknowledges, you cannot make a clear, informed decision when under the influence of alcohol.  Christian, as a supposed Dom of many years’ experience, should know this and should never be plying a potential sub with alcohol during a conversation which requires concentration and real honesty (without alcohol clouding judgement).  He would also not continually manipulate Ana (“I need this” and “this is the only kind of relationship I’m interested in”) if she showed any kind of resistance to the form of sexual relationship he was proposing, as that also negates consent.

So to reiterate yet again:  We are not saying and never will say that safe, consensual BDSM between informed partners equates to abuse.  We are saying that Christian Grey is an abuser using BDSM as an excuse for his many different forms of abusive behaviour.

Next point…

  • Controls your birth control or insists you get pregnant.

The fan says:

“Oral contraception are (sic) part of the contract.  I addressed this above, but I will reiterate that the decision to have children is the choice of both people, so yes, a man has the right to express his opinion on contraceptives.  If Ana could not or did not want an oral contraceptive, she could have refused this as she did several other things in the contract.”

Again, we’re referencing the contract that ANA NEVER SIGNS.  And let’s look at the situation:  She refused anal sex.  Christian told her that they’d build up to it, because he wanted to “claim (your) ass.”  So she said no to something and he ignored her.  There are other examples of this, so it’s not quite so simple to claim that she could have said no to this and actually been listened to.  Let’s not forget that Ana’s request for some space to think things through led to Christian stalking her to Georgia.  It’s not like Christian Grey is a man well-known for listening to and respecting the decisions of others.  In his own words, he exercises “control in all things.”

And let’s remember that crucially, Ana does not get a say in the contraception she has to have.  She hasn’t signed the contract (and never does), so we can’t use that as a defence.  Christian merely organises it without Ana having a say.  Something as personal as a woman’s contraception should be her choice.  Christian denies Ana that choice by inflicting his decision on her.  Saying “Ana could have said no” is victim-blaming.  It is also ignoring the fact that Ana has been thoroughly manipulated by Christian and is therefore highly likely to agree to his demands (and it should be noted that she has already shown signs of altering her behaviour out of fear of his temper, too).

The fan goes on to remind readers of the piece that Fifty Shades is not real; it’s just fiction, or as she puts it: “A fun fantasy to escape to.”

But for thousands of women, there was no “fun fantasy” within the pages of this trilogy.  For thousands of women, there was merely a deeply triggering account of an abusive relationship, portrayed as abuse.  And sadly, many of these “defences” rely on abuse stereotypes:

  • “She could have said no.  She could have walked away.  She let him…”
  • “He only does it a few times…”
  • “He didn’t drag her or force her…”
  • “He’s worried about her safety and that’s why he behaved the way he did…”

All of these are common excuses made for abuse.  So it’s worth reiterating:

  • A person can only say “no” if they feel it’s safe to do so.  In Fifty Shades, Christian tells Ana that he’ll find her no matter where she runs.  To suggest that she could just leave is merely apportioning blame onto Ana’s shoulders, which is not where it belongs.
  • ONE instance of abusive behaviour is too many.
  • Abuse is not merely physical or sexual.  It also incorporates manipulation (which is prevalent throughout Fifty Shades; each time Christian uses his tragic past s an excuse, he is manipulating Ana into not questioning his behaviour), threats (Christian threatens Ana many times; one example is given above in book 2, when he threatens to hit her for not eating), coercion and control.  ALL feature in this “LOVE story.”
  • Many abusers suggest that their behaviour is only a result of wanting to keep the abused person “safe,” or borne out of a love they can’t control.  These are not excuses for abuse.

Whilst we appreciate that the fan defence features a request that there is to be no name-calling or nastiness in the comments section and that they hope to have a respectful discussion (and we applaud that), we find it very difficult that so many fans have sent us abusive messages since our campaign began.  We’ve even had rape/assault threats.  And of course, the worst offender is the book’s author, who does not want a respectful discussion and instead blocks and ignores the legitimate concerns of abuse survivors, advocates and charities.

Lastly, we are aware that Fifty Shades is fiction.  But it is fiction that has become all-encompassing.  It has led to fans using common myths to defend the behaviour of a fictional character to real-life survivors of abuse triggered by the series.  It has led to women and girls claiming that Christian Grey is the perfect man.  It has led to “Future Mrs Christian Grey” t-shirts, key-rings and a whole host of other items of merchandise.  It has led to an enormous amount of anguish when those abuse survivors have tried to speak out, only to be silenced by the author and her fans.

Fiction has the power to influence societal views and vice versa.  That’s why we must speak out when fiction romanticises abuse in the manner that Fifty Shades has.  And this is not a matter of opinion:  Stalking, threats, coercion, manipulation and unwanted control all feature in Fifty Shades.  And all of those things are abuse.

Fifty Shades is abuse.

Rebutting The Rebuttal – Why Even Fans’ Defences Prove That Fifty Shades IS Abuse