Concern #3: “50 Shades” Undermines Sexual Dignity (while suggesting it supports it)

While millions of women are fantasizing about the controlling and abusive Christian Grey of fiction, there are many other women dealing with the horrors of actually living with men like him.” -Dawn Hawkins (Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation)

IMG_0929“50 Shades” is being promoted in the entertainment and media industries as a story that empowers women. It supposedly gives them dignity historically assigned to men. They argue that stories like “50 Shades” empower and enhance the dignity of women. In reality, “50 Shades” devalues women and robs them of their individual, personal, God-gven dignity and power (Psalm 139:13-16).

During the Grammys Sunday night a young woman who is a human trafficking and domestic abuse survivor made a bold statement that rightfully received a response of thunderous applause from the entertainment industry crowd. Brooke Axtell declared with passion, conviction, and clarity that “Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence, shame, or abuse.”

How can key cultural voices of influence endorse secretive, coercive abuse in the storyline of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” book and movie while at the same time applaud the bravery of a Brooke Axtell? She challenged women in relationships that silence, shame, or abuse them to “Please reach out for help. Your voice will save you.” 

Our culture is sending battered women mixed messages! On the one hand, controlling abusive sex is healthy and empowering. On the other hand, controlling abusive sex devalues and is not authentic love.

Does it not make sense that fewer women who are experiencing domestic violence will speak out as our culture normalizes manipulation, coercion, domination, and abuse in sexual relationships?

Some supporters of “50 Shades” point to the consensual participation of it’s female lead, Anastasia. Others have explained how over the course of the three book trilogy she stays with the abusive male lead, Christian Grey,  to help him. Apparently, throughout the trilogy she recognizes he has deep issues of pain that shape how he views and approaches his sexual relationship with Anastasia.

One Facebook post I read said that by the end of the third book, Anastasia has helped free Christian from the demons that haunt him. Her willingness to travel the journey of his own pain with him through their twisted sexual relationship eventual liberates him. She stays in the manipulative relationship for good reasons.

What? Is this not the classic problem in domestic violence? Women who are abused often return to their abuser out of a desire to help free him from what ever torment causes him to abuse. Battered women believe they may be the only person who truly loves and can help the very person who battered them.


“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered.”   -1 Corinthians 13:4-5



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.