Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows 'classic portrayal of an abuser', says domestic violence protest group

The film could inadvertently normalise abusive relationships, group warns

Kiran Moodley
Tuesday 10 February 2015 14:31 GMT
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film (Universal)

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The Fifty Shades of Grey movie will help to normalise abusive relationships, exploit the trauma of victims and negatively impact young people, according to a domestic violence protest group.

The film - due to be released on Valentine's Day - is based on the best-selling erotic novel by EL James. Fifty Shades has been given an 18 certificate for "strong sex and sado-masochistic practices".

Natalie Collins set up the campaign group, Fifty Shades Is Domestic Abuse, after reading the EL James trilogy. While she admitted to London Live that she had not yet seen the movie, she was anticipating how the film's popularity could influence people's ideas about relationships.

"The story line is a classic portrayal of an abuser; manipulating, coercing his partner into all sorts of things she doesn't want to do and essentially gaining a lot of control," she explained, commenting on the main relationship in the book between business magnate Christian Grey and college graduate Anastasia Steele.

When Collins' co-campaigner first read the books, she said she was "deeply disturbed by how it mirrored the abuse that she had experienced from an ex-partner...women are coming to us and saying, 'We feel exploited, we feel that our stories and the abuse and trauma that we have suffered are being capitalised upon.' We're concerned especially how that's reflecting and impacting young people."

Collins argued that some women who will watch the film may not have many previous sexual experiences or relationships, and so Fifty Shades may promote and normalise certain beahaviours. She said her group was not "against sex or BDSM" and that many from within the BDSM community were "equally as concerned not just about the domestic abuse but the way their lifestyle has been portrayed and misrepresented by the books."

For Collins, consent is a key area that needs to be better addressed when discussing the Fifty Shades phenomenon.

"The book is not depicting a woman who is saying, 'Yes please, I desperately want this'. It's somebody saying, 'I really don't want this, I'm being coerced into it'. If people want to explore BDSM they need to do that within a partnership where both parties are going, 'Yes please, this is what I want'. Consent is too low a bar, enthusiasm is what we're looking for."

Fifty Shades Is Domestic Abuse is particularly concerned about how Fifty Shades has become a social phenomenon. "You can buy baby grows that say, 'I wish my daddy was Christian Grey.' We're not just talking about erotica. This is something that has become part of popular culture and really normalising very abusive behaviour."

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