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Professor Gail Dines: "Boycott Fifty Shades of Grey"

- 12/02/2015, 14:49
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Gail Dines: "Unlucky women who meet sadistic Christian Greys of the world are likely to end up in a cemetery. And yet women of all ages are swooning over this guy and misreading his obsessive, cruel behavior as evidence of love and romance"

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Feminists everywhere have had enough, and now they are taking to social media and put their money where their politics are to protest the way Hollywood deals with one of the most serious public health issues of our time:  Male violence against women. Stop Porn Culture, together with the London Abused Women Centre of London, Ontario, are at the forefront of a campaign to stop eroticized violence against women by urging a boycott of the film Fifty Shades of Grey. Together we have formed the #50dollarsnot50shades campaign that advocates taking the $50 you would have spent on the movie, the popcorn, and the sitter, and give it to a local shelter.

Why? Because the female protagonist of the books and movie (due to open across North America on Valentine's Day), Ana Steele, would no doubt end up in a shelter, if she is "lucky". Unlucky women who meet sadistic Christian Greys of the world are more likely to end up in a cemetery. And yet women of all ages are swooning over this guy and misreading his obsessive, cruel behavior as evidence of love and romance. 

Part of the reason for this is that his wealth acts as a kind of up-market cleansing cream for his abuse, and his pathological attachment to Anastasia is reframed as devotion, since he showers luxury items on her. This is a very retrograde and dangerous world for our daughters to buy into, and speaks to the appalling lack of any public consciousness as to the reality of violence against women.

In his book on batterers, Lundy Bancroft provides a list of potentially dangerous signs to watch out for from boyfriends. Needless to say, Mr. Grey is the poster boy of the list, not only with his jealous, controlling, stalking, sexually sadistic behavior, but his hypersensitivity to what he perceives as any slight against him, his whirlwind romancing of a younger, less powerful woman, and his Jekyll-and-Hyde mood swings. Any one of these is potentially dangerous, but a man who exhibits them all is lethal.

This campaign has now gone viral, and gives a voice to all those women who are enraged with the way violence against women has been rebranded as romance in the trilogy, often described as a fairy story of love. In reality, it is a horror story of torture, degradation and misogyny, and one that fits perfectly with a culture that has been hijacked by the porn industry.

Fifty Shades also reveals just how pornographic our culture has become over the last decade or so. While the old romance novels had narcissistic heroes who toyed, sexually and psychologically, with their much younger prey, however remote and emotionally challenged he was, the hero did not have a torture chamber tucked away in his basement. Fifty Shades of Grey is a kind of romance novel for the porn age in which overt sexual sadism masquerades as adoration and love. New as this is, the ending remains depressingly the same for real women who end up falling for the Mr. Greys of the world.

If you have had enough, then join our campaign. Go to our Facebook page and donate 500 SEK to your local battered women's shelter. This might be a bit more than $50, but women and children are worth it!

Gail Dines,
Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies